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Century Farm: Zebedee farm still boasts original house

ALPHA -- Joseph Zebedee founded a farm in 1894, and his land and name remain in the family more than 120 years later.Located a few miles southwest of Alpha, the farm was established a year before the post office was first functional in the city. ...

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Patricia Zebedee stands in front of the farm house holding a portrait of the original farmstead.

ALPHA - Joseph Zebedee founded a farm in 1894, and his land and name remain in the family more than 120 years later.
Located a few miles southwest of Alpha, the farm was established a year before the post office was first functional in the city. The Zebedee farm was passed down to Joseph’s son, Louis, and it remains operational today by his son, Joseph, who carries the name and legacy of the original owner.
“My husband’s grandfather was the one who bought the farm, and he built the house in the late 1800s,” said Joseph’s wife, Patricia Zebedee. “My husband was named after him.”
Joseph, who grows corn and soybeans, was busy planting earlier this month after several days of heavy rain kept him out of the fields. He also used to raise livestock, but he hasn’t done so for about 30 years.
“Louis had hogs and cattle and Joseph did, too, for a while,” said Patricia. “Joseph stopped raising livestock in the ’80s. I miss the animals. I always wanted to be a veterinarian, so I didn’t like seeing them go off to market.”
Joseph took over the farm from his dad when he married Patricia, and they applied for Century Farm recognition in his honor.
“We were married in 1961, and he bought the farm at that time,” she said. “We wanted to have the Century Farm in memory of his dad. He was such a nice person. He always told me that the house was built in the late 1800s, and he wouldn’t have told me so often if it didn’t mean so much to him.”
The house Joseph and Patricia live in is the original house built by his grandfather, and it is very important to the family.
“My husband was born and raised here, his dad was born and raised here, and our kids were raised here,” said Patricia.
The first building constructed on the farm was the house, and the rest of the farm grew from there.
“In the late 1800s they didn’t have the tools that we have today, but the house is built very well,” she said. “I am just amazed with his grandfather that he built such a solid house. He would have to have been an awesome man.”
Despite the house being 122 years old, it has truly lasted the test of time.
“When we first got married, there was no bathroom and no running water,” said Patricia. “We added onto the house, and someone suggested that instead we tear it down and build a new one. For us it was not an option. His grandfather built this house, and it’s solid. You can’t even hear a storm in the old part.”

Other than the addition, the house has only seen minor upgrades. 

“We had to replace the windows and put in new kitchen cabinets, but other than that we haven’t changed anything with it,” Patricia said. “It’s all original.”
Family has always been valued by Joseph and Patricia, as they first met through family connections.
“My family moved from near Chicago to Minnesota when I was in the sixth grade, and it was quite a culture shock,” Patricia said. “My husband was best friends with my cousin, and my cousin wanted to go out with one of my friends. My cousin told me that Joe wanted to go on a date with me, and he convinced me to go on a double date. He asked me out, and that was it.”
Of the Zebedees’ five children, one has taken up the family’s history in agriculture. Their oldest son, Bruce, farms just south of the Minnesota-Iowa border.
“Bruce helps us get our crops in, and Joe helps him with his. They farm together,” she said.
Although none of their kids plan to live on the farm, there is still a chance that it will remain in the family even longer.
“Our grandchildren have said that they want to live in the house, so I hope they will someday,” Patricia said.
But until the grandchildren are old enough, Patricia said that she and Joseph are not going anywhere.
“Family is important. Joe’s brother used to farm with him, but my husband can’t quit. He’s a farmer. The farm is in him, and we are going to live here until we die.”

Related Topics: AGRICULTURE
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