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Cottonwood County Farm celebrates 150 years of family ownership

Enstad family was honored in 2020 for farm's centennial status.

Open soybean field at sunset.
Open soybean field at sunset.Soybean field .
Dusan Kostic - stock.adobe.com
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REVERE — Recognized in June 2020 as a Minnesota Century Farm, even though the farm had been in the Enstad family since 1871, landowners Earl and Judith Enstad will now receive recognition for owning a Minnesota Sesquicentennial Farm — 150 years of continuous family ownership.

The 160-acre Enstad farm, located in Section 2 of Ann Township in rural Cottonwood County, south of Revere, was homesteaded in 1871 from the U.S. Government by Peder Enstad, great-grandfather to Earl.

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Peder Enstad was born in 1826 in the Gudbransdalen Valley near Lesja, Oppland, Norway. He emigrated to America in 1869, traveling on the sailing ship Hulda, and landing in Quebec, Canada, before traveling to Hanska. He found work on the railroad west of Mankato, and also worked for neighbors.

During the summer of 1871, Peder walked to Revere to pick out his homestead. In 1872, with a wagon pulled by oxen, he and his family moved to the homestead and built up a farm site in the southeast corner of the quarter with only a sod hut to live in.

The family lived in the inner part of the sod house, and the animals in the outer part, their body heat keeping everyone warm during the cold Minnesota winters. Twisted prairie grass was bundled and burned for heat.

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Once the sod hut was constructed, Peder and his son, John, 14, went to work on the railroad through Windom, returning home with lumber to build a house.

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Peder’s homestead had a Sioux trail traversing it, and one day a group of braves came by. One of them had a badly infected wound and Peder’s wife treated him with carbolic acid — the only antiseptic she had. When the remaining men returned a few days later, expecting to find him dead, he was sitting up and eating.

“They were amazed and delighted and stopped in friendship later when they came down that trail,” wrote Earl and Judith on their application for Century Farm status in 2020.

In 1878, John Enstad left home to work in the lumber camps in northern Minnesota and then moved to Montana to work on the railroad.

In 1884, Peder sold the farm to John for $400, and John relocated the buildings to the west side of the quarter. After losing his first wife and all but one son, John remarried in 1900 and he and his wife, Caroline, raised four sons.

Peder Enstad was the farm’s owner for 13 years. After he sold it to John, he and wife, Ronnaug, moved two miles east by Highwater Creek and raised their eight children. Peder died in 1919, at age 93, and Ronnaug died at age 90 in 1936.

The original Enstad farm was divided over the years into four smaller farms called Little Enstad, Middle Enstad, South Big Enstad and North Big Enstad, which had been Peder’s.

John and Caroline owned the land for 42 years. From them, the land passed to Melvin and Hazel Enstad, who were the land’s caretakers for 45 years. Phillip and Elizabeth Enstad, the great-grandson and daughter-in-law of Peder, then owned the land for the next 17 years, followed by Earl and Judith Enstad, who have owned the parcel for the past 33 years.

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In 2019, 150 years after Peder Enstad left Norway, a reunion was held at the Peder Enstad farm in Lesja, Norway, at the house that was built in the 1700s and still stands today and is maintained for visitors.

Related Topics: AGRICULTURECENTURY FARMSCOTTONWOOD COUNTYREVERE
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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