CHANDLER — A newly earned century farm designation is one more way the Strampe family of Chandler carries on the legacy of its ancestors.
The family farm has been under the Strampe name since 1920, when William and Lizzie Strampe purchased the land for their son, Edward, who was serving in World War I in France.
William was born in Hanover, Germany and had immigrated to the U.S. around 1870 with his parents and siblings. He and Lizzie operated a creamery in Paullina, Iowa.
Great-grandson Curtis Strampe describes William as “a busy, talented man with many irons in the fire.”
In addition to his regular living, William also kept busy with many side jobs. He was a skilled carpenter and helped build the Lutheran church in Germantown, Iowa. He helped his brother, Henry, run the Paullina meat market. The family owned Paullina’s silent movie theater, and two of William’s daughters played the piano to accompany the films.
A year after William and Lizzie purchased the land in Chandler, Edward and his wife, Rose, were ready to buy it from them.
Under the second generation of ownership, farming began on the property. Edward and Rose grew small grains like oats and corn, and raised four children on the farm.
Less than a decade into farming, the Strampes ran up against the Great Depression.
“It was a struggle during the ’30s,” Curtis explained. “My grandpa (Edward) had a hard time paying his dad (William) back.”
Although Edward and Rose considered other financial options, they were able to scrape by and keep their farm running through the difficult time.
Edward, Curtis explained, “was known as a rock hound.” He didn’t just collect rocks, but he made art out of them, from corner rock posts on the farm to flower garden ornaments to Western bolo ties. Curtis recalled his grandfather’s collection of Prince Albert tobacco cans filled to bursting with rocks, which the grandkids loved to shake like maracas.
Edward and Rose’s oldest son Vernon married his sweetheart, Beatrice, in 1951, and the couple lived on the farm while Vernon farmed with his dad. When they were ready to retire, Edward and Rose sold the farm to Vernon and Beatrice, who subsequently raised their children, including Curtis, on the land.
Curtis shared that one of his happiest childhood memories was having his grandparents just across the lawn. He liked to go to their house and eat raisins for a special treat.
In addition to cash crops, the farm could practically stock its own farmers market, boasting a variety of fruits including apples, cherries, mulberries, chokecherries, raspberries, strawberries and grapes.
Beatrice fondly recalled tending the fruit trees and canning the farm’s abundant produce, as well as raising chickens and collecting eggs from the chicken house.
Unlike his father, Vernon hated rocks, Curtis noted.
“If he had to pay for the whole piece of land, he was going to farm the whole piece of land,” Curtis said. While other farmers would simply work around rocks that were too big to move with a tractor, Vernon wanted them gone. He would drive down to Slayton and buy dynamite, then blow the boulders to smithereens and get them out of his way.
Vernon died in 2009 after more than 50 years of marriage to Beatrice.
In 2013, the furnace went out in the original farm house, and Beatrice moved to Slayton. She still owns the original, tillable land, and Curtis now manages the acreage, using it to raise Holstein calves and sheep. The old chicken house is now used for lambing.
As soon as the farm reached 100 years of Strampe ownership, the family knew it had to apply for the century farm designation. Both Beatrice and Curtis expressed how proud they are that their family has earned this honor.