Thursday, July 28, 2011

The End of a Family Era

Coming up the lane to the home place.
Eventually it becomes inevitable that ancestral history and emotional family memories are trumped by the need to face the end of an era. The Bailey/Buchholz Farm is in the process of being sold. A deal closed yesterday on the portion of the land that includes the home place, the “North Farm”. Sale of the remainder, the “South Farm”, will close next month. That land will now be owned by a local farmer who is a family friend.

My husband’s maternal family, the Buchholz’, owned hundreds of acres of farm land in central Illinois' Ford County since settling there in the mid-1800’s. Rons’s grandfather and namesake, Ronald Buchholz, was the last in a long line of family farmers. He retired in 1980. The livestock and chickens had already been sold, and local sharecroppers Ray and Jimmy took over farming the corn and soybeans. Ron’s parents, James Bailey and Barbara Buchholz Bailey retired to the farm in the mid-1980’s. Jim reveled in his retired life as a “gentleman farmer” until his passing in 1995. Barbara succumbed to Alzheimers and spent the rest of her days in a nursing home in Springfield, IL. Ronald lived until he was 95. A cousin sold her acreage to a corporation over ten years ago. The beautiful old farm house has remained, loved but unoccupied, except for occasional family gatherings since 1995.

For many, many years in Melvin, generations of Buchholz’ were not only farmers, but entrepreneurs in the small town, and pillars of the community. The building housing Melvin’s general store and “opera house” even had the Buchholz name carved in stone on the fa├žade. It was demolished about 10 years ago, a depressing harbinger for the town of Melvin as well as for Bailey/Buchholz progeny.

Amandus Buchholz (Ron's Great Great Grandfather) in his general merchandise store.
The five Bailey heirs are scattered across the country, living their own lives and building their unique legacies. There is not a farmer among them. The rising value of farm land and commodities, and the deteriorating condition of the farm house, pushed the possibility of a sale to the forefront of consideration. It became clear that it was time to let go. So the sale moves forward.

Ron on the farm in the mid-80's.
Divestiture of the farm is providing an unexpected boost to our retirement. We always included Ron’s share of the farm as an asset in our net worth, but did not count on it being sold during our lifetime. It’s a bittersweet turn of events.

Current generations of family do not share the same dreams as our ancestors; however we believe that they would want us to live our own lives and follow our dreams. I think they would be pleased that they could help.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely home!
    I can identify! My siblings and I sold the home + 10 Acres that my parents homesteaded and where we all grew up to my oldest sister and her husband. It has been nice to be able to go back to visit without having the responsibilities. So far, all 4 siblings have retained the acreage - mostly used for a pine plantation. I can only imagine that the next generation will choose to sell - and that will totally make sense for them even though they will all have fond memories of their grandparents (and parents, ie my generation) and the way we all loved the land. Nice to have photos!