STEEN — If there’s one thing Glen Paulsen will never forget about growing up on his ancestral Century Farm located one mile north of Steen and four miles east of Hills, it’s his early morning bus rides to school.
“My grandpa Fred, grandma Laura and my dad all drove school buses for the Hills school district for many years,” said Paulsen, 56.
“Most days, I rode to school with my dad driving — so I was usually the first one on the bus around 6 a.m. and the last one off at the end of the day.”
A Hills-Beaver Creek High School graduate, Paulsen is the youngest of JoAnn and the late Melvin Paulsen’s three sons. He furthered his education at Southeast Technical College, Sioux Falls, S.D., and has worked as a computer programmer for 38 years.
“I was probably the least likely of all of us to come back to the farm — but I did,” said Paulsen, mentioning that while his brothers continue to own a share of the Paulsen acres, Floyd now lives in Indiana and Mark in Marshall.
When Melvin Paulsen’s health started declining some years ago, the Paulsens began cash-renting their farmland. Melvin died in 2015, and JoAnn now lives in Luverne.
But since 2017, Glen and Marla Paulsen have resided on the original seven-acre homestead that Otto and Kate Paulsen first purchased in 1918. The Paulsens, who own the family’s original 80 acres, have two children of their own — son Grant, 21, and daughter Morgan, 17.
“Yes, my grandparents were Danish — and there is some German and Dutch on my mother’s side,” said Paulsen.
Besides being a farmer, Paulsen’s great-grandfather Otto was a civic-minded man who proved to be a strong leader, not only locally but also on a statewide basis.
“Otto was a banker in the Steen area at the time he bought the farm,” said Paulsen.
According to the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library’s records, Otto Paulsen was born on March 29, 1875, in Wisconsin and moved to southwest Minnesota with his parents in 1879. Otto served as a Steen town and school board member and a Rock County commissioner before filling two terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1935-38.
During the heart of the Depression, the Paulsen patriarch sat on a variety of state Congressional committees, including agriculture and horticulture, dairy products and livestock, state parks and emergency relief.
Otto and his wife, Kate, were the direct owners of the Paulsen property for only 13 years.
Thereafter, their son Fred and his wife Laura owned the land for 43 years. Melvin and JoAnn were the owners for the following 40 years.
“The crop was always corn — we never did beans,” said Paulsen. “We used all our corn to feed the ton of animals they had when I was growing up — anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 sheep and also some hogs.”
Although the Paulsen farm is fairly unremarkable topographically, the family made it memorable nonetheless.
“My parents were famous for their flower garden,” said Paulsen. “When I was a kid, they put designs in the flower beds — things like flags during the U.S. Bicentennial celebration, or the old smiley face.
“Designing the flowers was something my dad Melvin loved doing.”
Paulsen is proud to reside on his family’s Century Farm.
“My grandparents survived the Depression and held onto the farm,” he observed. “Then my parents survived the early ’80s farm crisis and held onto it.
“They all put a lot of effort into this land, and I wanted to keep it in the family. I feel very privileged to be back on the farm, and it is an honor to continue this legacy and keep it as a family farm.”