This continues the story of the Martin Farm Auction.
In the 1914 History of Sac County Iowa, my grandfather is described. “Among the prosperous farmers and stock breeders of Viola township, Sac county, Iowa, who have made a notable success in their line of business, is Charles A. Martin …. For many years he has been a breeder of registered livestock, making a specialty of Aberdeen Angus cattle, and had in 1913 sixty-five head of registered stock of this kind. His farm is well improved in every way and he has a large and commodious barn and other outbuildings.”
What does the auction reveal?
The auction reveals that the real business of this farm – Aberdeen Black Angus cattle – is not for public sale. My grandfather’s share in that business (operated jointly with his brother Francis Martin) was sold to Francis.
The auction reveals that buyers were interested in horses, dairy cattle, chickens, farm equipment, and crops. I found it interesting that no hogs or pigs were listed.
The auction reveals that buyers were less interested in household goods. These are listed but not described, with one exception. The stove is given a brand “Acorn”and a description, “good as new”. A pre-electricity refrigerator is listed. The parlor contained rockers and chairs (no mention of a sofa), a bookcase, a music stand, center table. The dining room set includes a buffet.
The auction reveals a family with some discretionary spending ability. The Shetland pony, buggy, harness, and saddle was, by any standard, an expensive toy for the children. The piano is another discretionary item but, as is television for us, was a main source of family entertainment.
The auction reveals truth in the old saying ‘Everything old is new again’. Plymouth Rock and Brown Leghorn are two favorite breeds of today’s backyard suburban chicken owners.
The Plymouth Rock: The Plymouth Rock — a breed that comes in several varieties, the most popular varieties being white and barred — is a docile and friendly breed that makes a great starter bird for new hobbyists. They reach a considerable size of up to 9.5 pounds, which makes them excellent meat birds. They are also great brown egg layers.
The Leghorn: The Leghorn is one of the best chicken breeds for those raising chickens for eggs. Originally from Italy, Leghorns have one of the highest rates of lay out of any chicken breed.
We don’t know why my grandfather sold his prosperous business. Was he downsizing? Farmers of that era often moved into town from the farm as they got older. My grandfather was 49 years old. Was age 50 the 65 of yesteryear?
Family lore has it that the family rented in Omaha for a year and then returned to the farm when the United States entered WWI. We don’t know why.
At the end of the war, my grandparents sold the land and left again, this time for good. They purchased 40 acres at 84th and Q in Ralston, Nebraska, built a large stucco home, and spent the next 27 years raising sheep and vegetables. Ralston was rural, but close enough to Omaha for my mother to attend South High (about 5 miles) and Creighton University (about 8 miles).