Fick farm has maintained all of its original buildings

BEAVER CREEK -- Peter Fick was just 16 years old when he embarked on a journey across the Atlantic Ocean in 1891, leaving his family behind in Cadenberge, Germany, in hopes of finding prosperity in America.

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Harold and Marlene Fick, along with their son, Eric, stand in front of the wagon built by Harold's dad, Fritz, with their original family farmhouse shown in the background. (Julie Buntjer / The Globe)

BEAVER CREEK - Peter Fick was just 16 years old when he embarked on a journey across the Atlantic Ocean in 1891, leaving his family behind in Cadenberge, Germany, in hopes of finding prosperity in America.

His travels didn’t stop at America’s eastern shores, however. Peter was destined for the rich, black farm fields of the Midwest, and found his first home near Boyden, Iowa, where he worked as a farm laborer. He’d spend 15 years tending to crops and livestock for others, earning money to one day buy his own plot of land.

That dream came true after he met and married his wife, Dorathea Winter. Her family had a farm near Boyden, and they rented a place in the area that first year after they were married. Then, an opportunity arose to buy farmland near White Lake, S.D.

“They lived there from 1905 to 1909,” detailed Peter and Dorathea’s grandson, Harold. “There were no buildings on the site. They built everything out there.”

Harold and his family have visited the site; all that is left are a few stone foundations in the middle of pasture land.


From White Lake, Peter and Dorathea purchased a farm at Olivet, S.D., where they farmed from 1910 to the spring of 1917. With two sons born at White Lake, they added four more boys to the family during the years near Olivet.

“The building where my dad was born in is still standing on the Olivet farm and is used for livestock,” Harold said. His dad, Fritz, was the fifth born.

After a dozen years in South Dakota, the Ficks realized the farm fields were not like Iowa soil and the rainfall was short. That’s when they found land offered for sale at $135 per acre in western Rock County, southeast of Beaver Creek.

“All of their property - household goods, machinery and livestock - was shipped by train each time they moved,” Harold said.

The Beaver Creek farm - 121.44 acres in Section 2, Martin Township - had no existing buildings when they arrived, so the Ficks, with their six sons, stayed with the Frank Thone family across the road until their home could be completed.

“The house, garage, barn, hog house, chicken house and granary, as far as we know, were all built that first year,” Harold said. All of the buildings continue to stand today.

“We think the granary was the last one built because of all the short siding used,” added Eric, who represents the fourth generation of Ficks on the family farm.

Once Peter and Dorathea were settled, they added two more sons to their family, for a total of eight boys - Henry, Louis, Albert, William, Fritz, Paul, Arthur and Herbert. They all became farmers, with all but William, who farmed near Hull, Iowa, settling in Rock County.


Eventually it was Fritz who became the second owner of the Fick farm.

“My grandpa had bought places for the older ones already,” said Harold.

In 1939, just after marrying a neighbor girl, Fritz and Malinda moved in and Peter and Dorathea retired and moved to Luverne. It wasn’t until 1955, however, that the younger Ficks took ownership of the parcel.

During their 40 years of farm ownership, Fritz and Malinda purchased an adjoining 40 acres to make their parcel just over a quarter section.

“Peter originally grew corn, oats and hay, and later my dad raised corn, oats, soybeans, flax, wheat, barley, alfalfa and clover hay,” Harold shared. “My dad was one of the first people in Rock County to raise soybeans.”

“He also raised certified seed oats and certified soybean seed,” added Eric.

In addition to the crops, Fritz and Malinda raised Holstein dairy cows, hogs, chickens, sheep and had work horses.

“I remember putting up hay with a hay loader and I also remember the last straw pile from threshing,” said Harold, who was born in the home on the Fick farm and attended the District 57 one-room school house through the eighth grade. He, along with his four siblings - Dorothy, Gordon, Roger and Glenn - all graduated from Hills High School.


“We did a lot of work when we were 5 or 10 years old,” Harold said, adding that everyone helped with chores, from milking cows and feeding calves to managing the farrow-to-finish hog operation and ewes and feeder lambs. “We helped clean manure out of the barn, chicken house and hog house by hand - there was no skidloader.”

Harold also recalled picking up corn by hand after the fields were picked in the fall.

“In 1954, when we got done, my dad bought our first TV,” he shared.

The first tractor on the Fick farm was a 1939 or 1940 H Farmall, which Fritz purchased by trading a horse and a quarter of beef. A few years later, Fritz transitioned to John Deere, and the family has operated the green machines ever since.

Harold said he still remembers the 1967 John Deere 2510 diesel his dad purchased brand new from Hohn Implement of Adrian.

“I can remember the day they unloaded it out here,” Harold said. “I have that tractor yet.”

The one they don’t have, but wish had been kept, was that first H Farmall.

Fritz and Malinda remained on the farm until 1986, when they moved to Luverne and retired. That was the same year their oldest son, Harold, and his wife, Marlene, married and became the farm’s caretakers. They have owned the land since 1995.

“My grandparents and parents had many hardships and struggles,” Harold said. “They would be amazed at what farming is like today - with different types of struggles. In early years, effort was the chief determinant of farming success. Now, however, farm management and effort are important skills.”

Eric, who graduated from Hills-Beaver Creek High School in 2011, and completed the ag production management program at Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Worthington, focuses on grain marketing. He checks prices offered at more than 50 different outlets each week.

In addition to farming with his dad, Eric works as a crop adjuster.

“Eric will continue the family farming legacy,” Harold said. “Our family is proud of our agricultural heritage. Farming is still a very good life. With hard work, we can keep this farm in the family for a long time.

“I think it’s really exciting for me to be the third generation living here and my only son being the fourth generation on this place,” he added.

“It’s something I think about, too,” added Eric. “This is the same spot where my dad was, my grandpa was and my great-grandpa was.”

In addition to being rooted in the land near Beaver Creek, the Fick family has been rooted in St. John’s Lutheran Church in Luverne since Peter and Dorathea settled in Rock County. This year, the church is celebrating its 125th anniversary.

“God certainly has blessed us,” added Harold.

Related Topics: AGRICULTURE
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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