Four generations of the family have lived on the acreage
By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
The Bob Jamma farm will soon be designated a Century Farm. He and his wife Darcey will receive the plaque during the Morrison County Fair in August which they will place at the end of their drive.
“It will be nice that others will know the farm has been in the Jamma family for more than a century,” said Darcey.
Bob’s great-great grandfather, Anton Jamma, came from Germany in about 1880, and his wife, Josepha, and three children came in about 1884. Bob’s great grandfather Louis, born in 1881, was one of the children that traveled to the United States.
When the family was finally together in the mid-1880s, they lived with Josepha’s brother, a Bednar, in Pierz. He eventually had his own farm, but Bob is not exactly sure where it was located.
“My great-great grandfather died when he was in his 40s and Josepha remarried and had several more children,” said Bob.
In 1907, when Louis was 26, he purchased 200 acres that Bob currently lives on. He married Martha Heigl from Pierz and the two ran mainly a dairy farm but added a cash crop of red clover seed to extra income.
“He used horses to farm and probably to help clear the land,” said Bob. “When he bought the property, it was mostly white pine. He probably used the wood to build his log home and his outbuildings, and sold the rest to the companies in Little Falls.
Louis and Martha raised four children: Frank married Gertrude Tax; Theresa married Henry Faust; Bob’s grandfather Edward married Rose Konen; and Ludwina married Ben Faust.
When Louis and Martha were first married, they rented his father, Anton’s, farm in Pierz. They worked there for approximately six years. In 1907, Louis and Martha then purchased from Joseph Schmitz, the 200 acres that Bob and Darcey currently live on.
Louis and Martha built the home that still stands on the property in 1915. It’s where Bob and Darcey now live.
Louis died in December 1941 of cancer. He was 61 years old.
Martha continued to farm with the help of her children. She moved to Pierz when she retired and rented the 200 acres near Freedhem to her son-in-law, Henry Faust. He farmed there for several years.
Edward, born in 1906, acquired the farm in 1943 and eventually added another 40 acres. He was strictly a dairy farmer growing crops for feed. His Brown Swiss herd consisted of about 20 head plus calves.
Edward and Rose had two children: Ester, born in 1932, who married Herbert Britz and Bob’s father, Donald (1939 – 2009), who married Arlene Veith.
“I remember my father and grandfather talk about the hard winters,” said Bob. “I also remember grandmother saying she would get up at 5 a.m. when the thrashing crews came though. She would butcher chickens to feed all of them.”
Bob said several families would go in together on farm machinery and share in the work.
“That doesn’t happen any more,” he said.
The kids learned how to work, growing up on a farm.
“It was never too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter,” Bob said. “I’m sure there are easier ways to make a living, but I knew that I wanted to be a farmer when I was 5 years old.
Donald purchased the farm from his father, Edward, in 1961, and Edward and Rose moved to Pierz. He passed away in 1964 and Rose died in 2000.
Don and Arlene had two children: Bob, born in 1963, married Darcey Sommers; and Rhonda, born in 1965, married John Atchley.
Don continued the dairy farm tradition by raising Brown Swiss cattle. He also rented another 120 acres of farmland.
When Don passed away in 2009, Bob took over the farm, purchasing it from his mother, Arlene, who still resides in Pierz.
“Prior to that, I did rent the farm for six years,” said Bob.
Bob now strictly farms the 240 acres and rents another 200. He raises corn and soybeans, cash crops only. Bob ended the tradition of dairy farming.
“I also do custom combining for neighbors and round baling,” he said.
While this season was hard on Minnesota farmers with the late spring, Bob said he remembers other tough years.
“In 1977, we had the worst drought ever. There was no crop insurance, so it was a tough year for the family,” he said. “In 1972, the area flooded. We were OK, but some of our neighbors had severe damage.”
Bob also remembers in 2006, there was a killing frost in August. The plants died before they matured. Then in 2007, hail took much of the farm’s crop.
“But by then, we had crop insurance to see us through,” he said.
Farming is always a gamble, but the Jamma family has persevered for four generations on the farm that has been in their family for 106 years.
The Century Farm program is sponsored by the Minnesota State Fair and the Minnesota Farm Bureau. It recognizes farms which have been in continuous ownership by a family for 100 years or more. Since the program began in 1976, more than 8,500 Minnesota farms have been added to the list.
The property must be at least 50 acres and currently be involved in agricultural production. It must have been in the family for at least 100 continuous years according to the abstract of title, land patent, original deed, county land records, court files or some other authentic land records.
For more information on the Century Farm program and how to apply, go to www.mnstatefair.org.