Farm was close to dispersal once

CLEMONS – A Heritage Farm in Marshall County, at one time, was close to dispersal, but one family member stepped up and purchased the farm in order to keep it in his family.

“I kept it from being sold out of the family,” said Edwin Bartine II. “It was in possession of my third cousins, so I eventually bought shares until I had all seven bought out.”

Bartine said he wanted his farm to stay in the family for heritage reasons.

“There are not many farms that have 160 years in one family,” he said.

What is now a 256-acre farm was first settled by Robert R. Elder, brother of Bartine’s great-great-grandmother, Nancy Elder Clemons, in 1851.

Bartine’s great-great-grandparents came to the area in 1853 to scout the land, which, Bartine said, was frontier back then.

They eventually bought the land from Elder in 1854 for $10 per acre.

“It was probably only worth $1.25,” Bartine said, “But they wanted it bad enough because there was a creek and timberland.

“It wouldn’t be considered the best parcel for today’s standards, but ideal for back then,” he said.

The family’s first home was a log cabin, where it lived until the farm was established. Sod corn, Bartine said, was their first crop with oxen being used to break up the soil.

Later, wheat became one of the chief crops.

Sometime later, a part of the farm became the town of Clemons, but not until after the railroad was built.

Bartine said it was extremely important to have a railroad for frontier growth and expansion. The Clemons family, along with other farmers, built a depot and helped get the railroad access they needed.

William Clemons and his son Abraham Lincoln Clemons, platted the town and sold lots. They built and sold buildings there, too.

“A lot of the town was run by the Clemons family,” Bartine said.

There were some tough times for the farm, Bartine noted, including the flood of 1881, which inundated the farm and much of the town, as well as the occasional Native American scare.

“Once, when the family was away to Iowa City, Clemons was in the yard and watched a band of Indians strung out for a mile coming toward the house. William was worried, but fortunately, the Indians passed on by,” he said.

It wouldn’t be uncommon, Bartine said, for the occasional visitor to make a stop at the farm.

“Transients would stop and spend time, making the farm a stopping place for rest and refreshments,” he said.

As the town grew, more land was platted and sold. The Clemons’ town park was actually on the family’s farm at one time.

“They just let the town use it, the town never owned the park,” Bartine said.

The 162-year-old farm was managed by a member of the Clemons family, Bartine said, until 1940, when tillable acres were rented out.