Farming is for keeps with the FredericksonsHERON LAKE — While it’s the 108-plus-acre plot owned today by Ardith Frederickson that is being celebrated with a new Century Farm designation, Ardith’s daughter-in-law Bonnie Frederickson has a brother who also lives on a 100-year-old family farm in the Canby area.
By: Jane Turpin Moore, Worthington Daily Globe
HERON LAKE — While it’s the 108-plus-acre plot owned today by Ardith Frederickson that is being celebrated with a new Century Farm designation, Ardith’s daughter-in-law Bonnie Frederickson has a brother who also lives on a 100-year-old family farm in the Canby area.
“I have Century Farms on both sides,” affirmed Bonnie proudly. “We have a real legacy of family farming.”
And Ardith Frederickson, 91, has been present for all but the first nine years in the life of the Weimer Township farm (located six miles east of Heron Lake) that her grandfather, Tollef Egge, purchased in 1911. Ardith’s ancestors were a part of regional pioneer history well before the 1900s, however.
“Tollef Egge was born in the United States of Norwegian descent,” Ardith explained. “His mother, Ingeborg, came from Norway, but her first husband was killed in the Civil War.
“Ingeborg had three sons and a daughter and was living in Jackson County at the time of the Indian uprisings. She fled with her children and neighbors to Fort Belmont for safety.”
Tollef Egge’s oldest daughter, Ella, was born in 1894 and became Ardith’s mother in 1921 following her marriage to Ernest Brodin in 1920.
“My father, Ernest Brodin, was born in Delafield Township and was a twin,” she revealed. “He was Swedish — one of four boys in the Brodin family — and they all married Norwegian girls, so things must have gone ok.”
Ardith moved with her parents to the family farm when she was a year old and spent most of her next 90 years in the same spot.
“I’ve been living in an apartment in Windom just since last winter, and I have a sister, Ruth Mickelson — she married a Swedish man, too — who also lives in Windom,” she said.
During her childhood, Ardith’s parents grew small grain — oats, barley, flax, corn and alfalfa — and they had hogs, dairy cows and chickens.
“When he (Ernest Brodin) was farming, they mostly used horses,” Ardith recalled.
After her father suffered a heart attack in January 1948 and was advised by a doctor to give up farming, Ardith and her husband, Herbert Frederickson, moved back to help with the farm work. Sadly, her father lived for less than three more years, but Ardith’s mother remained on the place and continued to assist the couple with farm chores and their two young sons, Paul and Karl, who were born about a year apart.
“We increased the dairy herd and milked more cows,” Ardith said. “We still had hogs, and we gradually got rid of the horses and went to tractors.
“When our oldest son, Paul, was born, he had allergies and was allergic to chickens, among other things, so we no longer kept chickens.”
Over time, Ardith and Herbert’s farm focused more on corn and soybeans “when those crops came into their popularity in the area,” and, Ardith laughed, “It seemed like I always did a lot of cooking. My mother helped me, so I didn’t have to have a hired girl, and I used to raise a garden and I always did canning and of course, freezing, too.
“We got our first deep freeze in 1950, about the same time my father passed away, and I was glad for the progress,” she said.
“We only had a hired man and other hired help during the busy seasons, but of course that made for more cooking,” Ardith added.
When she wasn’t busy with her sons, cooking or farm work, Ardith enjoyed knitting and counted cross-stitch — plus she collected angels and bells — and there was always music in her life.
“We were members of the Delafield Lutheran Church south of Wilder that was closed and moved to Fort Belmont in 1998,” Ardith shared. “I was organist there for 46 years — I played both organ and piano — but my vision isn’t good enough for music reading anymore.”
In fact, Ardith’s grandfather Tollef Egge was the first delegate to a church convention from Delafield Lutheran Church.
“My father’s family belonged there, too; there were German, Swedish, Norwegian, I don’t know what all, but many nationalities were represented in that church and everyone worked hard and got along fine,” she attested. “We were very happy the church was moved to Fort Belmont. It’s comforting to know it is still being used — for Sunday evening services in the summer, weddings and baptisms.”
The Frederickson land, which Karl continues to actively farm along with his wife Bonnie (he worked with his father Herbert until his death in 1990), has an Artesian well that the family prizes.
“The first one was dug in January 1930,” said Ardith. “Later, because of the constant motion of the water, the casing wore out and there was nothing to do but dig a new well. It’s almost alongside the old one, in the same vein. That’s something special at our farm.”
Ardith’s eldest son, Paul, lives in Eagan and works for Lockheed Martin. All four of Ardith’s grandchildren are college graduates, and Ardith also has four great-grandchildren.
“Our family is lucky, being able to go between the farm and the city,” Ardith said. “Paul’s family always enjoyed coming out to the farm, and Karl’s family enjoyed visiting them in the Cities.”
Ardith is grateful for her near-century of healthy life — “It doesn’t seem like I should be close to 100,” she exclaimed — and is pleased to know Karl and Bonnie are striving to keep the farm in the family in the future.
“I feel I’ve always had a good life,” Ardith confided. “I had a very nice husband, my children have been good to me and I enjoy my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“I have been very blessed.”