LOYAL — For sisters Deb Hyde and Linda Snell, driving away from their family’s century farm was a little different this time. The farm, which has been in the family since 1883, was sold at an auction in the beginning of August since there was no one in the next generation to take it over.
The farm was purchased by August and Christina Blado, the sisters’ great-great-grandparents, after they immigrated to the U.S. from Schonhangen, Germany, in 1882. The original 80 acres was woods and was cleared primarily by hand the first year. The family was later able to get a team of oxen and use a “jumper” to clear the rest of the land.
The Blados and their five children built a three-room log house and a log stable to live in on their new farm. Their son, Charles, who was 16 when the family came to the U.S., married in 1894 and took over the farm following his parents’ deaths. He built the brick house and the barn in 1911.
Hyde said the house has not been changed since it was built with the exception of a new roof and some insulation. She said the family used the resources they had to build the house.
“When the house was built, they took down the log cabin to use in building the house. They lived in the granary while it was being built,” Hyde said.
Charles and his wife, Emma, had two daughters before Emma passed away in 1917. Their daughter, Martha, married Peter Capelle in 1921 and together they became the third generation to live and work on the farm.
Their son, Delmer, married Violet in 1948 and they moved into the brick house in the early 1950s.
“We moved in when I was 3 years old. Grandma and Grandpa lived upstairs. It was nice having immediate family so close,” Snell said. “They farmed together until Grandma and Grandpa moved to town around 1960.”
The sisters, along with their brothers, Larry and David, helped on the farm, which by that time was around 160 acres and primarily dairy.
“Dad milked cows until he was 73 years old,” Hyde said. The family also raised sheep on the farm, at one time having about 300 sheep.
“We never ate any of them, they were like our pets,” Snell said. The family would bottle-feed some of the lambs as needed and those would be the lambs they would name. Hyde said the lambs would follow family members wherever they went.
The family was very active in 4-H, showing sheep and cattle at the fair. Delmer even won a master shepherd award at the fair at one point, Hyde said.
In addition to being a dairy farm, the sisters remember the family growing peas when they were kids.
“We would take our milk pails and dip them into the viners, eating the fresh peas,” Snell said. According to Snell, the peas would be taken to the local cannery and then the kids would go out into the field and spread out the vines so they would dry to be used for bedding.
The sisters said they all worked hard on the farm, but their dad also loved to travel and have fun.
“Even after a whole day of baling hay, he would pack us all up and take us to Rock Dam to go swimming,” Snell said. “And in the winter, we would go to Perkinstown to go tobogganing.”
They also remember one summer going on a road trip to California.
“We had an early first crop one year so then we took off for California,” Hyde said. During the nearly monthlong trip, the family stopped at national parks and stayed with family along the way. “Dad loved to travel and wasn’t nervous to leave the cows (in the care of nearby family).”
The love of travel was instilled in all the kids and has migrated to the grandchildren as well, with much of the family living far away, including Snell, who lives in Florida.
After retiring from farming, the Capelles lived on the farm until Violet’s passing in March 2016. Delmer continued to live there with the help of a family friend, who took care of the lawn and other tasks as needed.
In September 2016, Delmer decided to move into assisted living and the family had to make a decision. They always thought Dave would take over the farm from their parents, but he passed away in 1998.
The sisters said they had hoped one of the grandchildren would step up and buy the farm, but when it became apparent that was not going to happen, they came to terms that this chapter of their family history was closing.
“Mom always had a good attitude and her big saying was ‘it could be worse.’ Now we find ourselves all saying that,” Snell said.
Snell, Hyde and their husbands spent most of the summer getting the place ready to sell, reminiscing about their time growing up and their former way of life.
“They lived through the Depression and we really started to notice that as we were going through things. They didn’t throw anything away,” Hyde said.
“It is sad for us. It is the end of an era for our family,” Snell said. “This is where we always got together. Now we are all wondering, where is our family gathering place?”