Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

100 + years farming and ranching in Kimball County


July 6, 2017

Courtesy Photo

The Adolph Engstrom family. Standing, from left, H. Elizabeth, Lawrence, Carl and Norman. Seated from left are Adolph and Selma.

For more than 100 years the Engstrom family has farmed the ground in Kimball and Banner County, raising cattle and children on the Nebraska prairie, and last weekend they celebrated the occasion with a reunion and dance.

In 1906, Adolph and Selma Carlson married in Rawlins, Wyo., after both immigrated from Sweden.

Adolph and Selma lived in Laramie, Wyo., before heading east to Sidney by wagon. Upon arriving in Sidney they met a doctor who led the couple to a homesteader by the name of Mr. Peterson who was in need of care.

Selma cared for Mr. Peterson and they built their home on his property. Mr. Peterson lived in a dugout with wooden support boards to hold up the side walls and ceiling then was covered with dirt.

Mr. Engstrom, a lumberjack, had no farming experience,but adjusted to his new career in the agriculture industry.

Throughout this all, the couples' four children were along for the ride, three boys, Norman Lawrence, Fredolph, Carl and and one girl, Elizabeth.

On June 13, 1917, Adolph and Selma were able to purchase the northwest quarter section across the road to the east of Mr. Peterson's place. Mr. Peterson passed away with no relatives, and decided to deed the part of his land to the Engstrom's for taking care of him.

During that same time the couple had purchased the adjoining section of pasture to the north in Banner County bringing their total land owned to one full section and two quarters.

The Engstrom family resides on this land still today and operate's their agricultural business from it, in fact, the house that was built by Adolph and Selma is still referred to as "the home place".

Adolph was born in Sweden, September 23, 1881, and died on April 3, 1949.Selma was born on September 17, 1882, also in Sweden, and died June 13, 1960.

Adolph and Selma's son Lawrence was born November 18, 1910 in Laramie, Wyo., and grew up on "the home place".

In 1941, Lawrence obtained the title to the property but when he joined the Army he transferred it back to his mother, Selma and brother Norman. A few years later, while he was in the Army Air Force, stationed at Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis Missouri, Lawrence met his would-be wife Lillian.

They were married April 17, 1944, and they had four children, three boys, Lawrence Gene (Larry), Carl Bruce, and Kurt Norman, and one daughter, Linda Louise.

Larry, the oldest of Lawrence and Lillian's four children was born April 30, 1946 in St. Louis, Missouri.

On July 4, 1946, Lawrence and his niece Mary Jean Christiansen, drove a 1940's Ford farm truck from Dix to Missouri to bring Lillian and baby Larry to the farm in Nebraska.

Fast forward to May 3, 1980, Larry married Diana Shandera in Kimball, and they became the newest residents of "the home place" and were eventually joined by their two sons, Lars Adolph and Alex Jon.

Lars married Wynema (Hunter) Thompson on December 3, 2011, in Kimball, and on November 19, 2012, their daughter Emma Louise Engstrom was born.

Currently Lars and Wynema reside on "the home place", making their daughter Emma the fifth generation of Engstrom's since 1916 to call it home.

Alex too lives on and works for Engstrom Farms.

Earlier this spring the Engstrom and the Cornils Family's of Kimball County applied for the 2017 Pioneer and Heritage Farm Awards sponsored by the AKSARBEN Foundation and Nebraska Farm Bureau, this program recognizes farm families in Nebraska whose land has been owned by members of the same family for 100 and 150 years. Both family's applied for the 100 year award.

To be eligible for such a prestigious award the family must meet the following qualifications; A family may receive one award at a time so apply for either the 100 or the 150 year award, the farm's current minimum size required to submit an application is 40 acres, unless the original deed or homestead documents state the original homestead was less than 40 acres, the farm's history needs to be factual. Additionally, the AKSARBEN Foundation requires that the county fair board for the county in which the land is located approve each application at a fair board meeting.

Most of the remaining Engstrom family members were in town this past weekend for a family reunion on Saturday at the farm followed by a big party hosted at the Kimball Event Center in Kimball for the memorable centennial celebration.

Larry and Diana were joined by Larry's brother Carl, as well as their sister Linda.

All of the memories of childhood, and the smell of the corn fields, came flooding back, Carl said, some of his best memories included branding cattle, harvest and just the summer time.

"The neighbors would gather to help brand, and help with harvest. It was great, everyone being together," said Carl.

Linda added that some of her fondest memories were holidays, that all the family would come out to the farm, enjoy family meals and get togethers.

"But most of all I just loved being out on the farm and having the chance to grow up out of town," she said.

Courtesy Photo

The Lawrence Engstrom family. Standing, from left, Linda, Kurt, Larry and Carl. Seated from left are Lillian and Lawrence.

Adolph and Selma's daughter, Elizabeth had two grandsons who attended the reunion as well. Gary and Tom Christiansen made the trip back home to Kimball to celebrate this great award as well as the life of their father the late Alex James Christiansen (Jim).

In addition to all the congratulations from friends and family, Alex and Lars presented their parents, Larry and Diana, with a gift commemorating this remarkable family award – a beautiful painting done by Brenda Webb of a photo taken by Diana of the Engstrom's cattle.

A night full of love, laughs, drinks, dancing, and great food came to a close in the wee hours Sunday morning, the family members started to say their good byes and the 100 year farmstead will live on in Kimball County.


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