CHANDLER — When Carl and Gertrude Kreun began homesteading near Chandler in 1918, the challenge they faced was significant. Their farm was one of the last purchased from the railroad, and was considered less desirable than some other properties due to its hilly topography.
The Kreuns were Dutch immigrants — Gertrude born in Ede, Holland and Carl in Wisconsin after his father, Jan, immigrated to the United States. They were determined to make the most of their “land of opportunity,” and they worked their homestead into a successful family farm.
The Kreuns kept sheep, which are a smart choice for rough pasture. They also had some dairy cows, hogs and chickens and grew corn, alfalfa and oats. In a pre-tractor world, they rode horses to operate their farm equipment. They did what they had to do to make their farm productive.
More than a century later, Carl and Gertrude Kreun’s land and legacy are still thriving.
Current Kreun farm residents Bruce and Verla Kreun love living on the same property where Bruce’s grandparents raised their family.
In the decades since Carl and Gertrude Kreun first started farming, their descendants have christened the land Valley View Farm.
Bruce Kreun said his dad’s sister Johannah came up with the name. “Valley View” is a fitting moniker given the spectacular panorama visible from the farmhouse.
Kreun credits the view as a major reason he still lives on the farm — even more than the property’s sentimental value.
“This place kept me in this area,” he said.
By “this place,” he means more than 130 acres of rolling hills and green grass. The grass is still native prairie and is enrolled in a nature conservancy program. Tulips planted by Gertrude still bloom decades later.
Family also keeps the Kreuns living on the farm.
Bruce and Verla met in high school. Verla first married Marv Rylaarsdam, who operated a dairy farm on the adjacent property to Valley View Farm. After Marv died, Bruce started going next door to take care of some farm chores for Verla, and their relationship blossomed. They have now been married 27 years.
Valley View Farm has become the gathering place for extended family functions. The Kreuns said that every time their kids, nieces and nephews visit, everybody wants to take a group picture in front of the red barn with the “Valley View Farm” lettering visible above.
The icon has become a symbol of the Kreun family and its history.
To remember their heritage, the Kreuns have kept immaculate family history records chronicling the family’s immigration, settlement and progression. They have a family memory book full of written personal histories that explain what it was like to grow up on Valley View Farm.
Although the Kreuns no longer farm themselves, their youngest son, Daryl Rylaarsdam, raises calves on the land.
“We live very comfortably,” Kreun said, adding that he and Verla spend their days in the garden during summertime. Between the fresh produce they grow and the game (turkeys, pheasants and deer) available for hunting on their land, the Kreuns are fairly self-sufficient.
Verla Kreun agreed that the privacy and scenery make Valley View Farm an ideal home. She and Bruce love to watch the wildlife from their yard, including several species of birds that come to sample the grape jelly the Kreuns leave out for them.
“We don’t live in anything fancy,” Verla Kreun said, “but this is home.”