One of my hobbies is genealogy. And how I love family history! As a farmer/blogger, I often ponder who my ancestors are? What was their life like? Why did they move to the Fairmont area? Why did they make the decisions they made? For me, it’s interesting that both sides of my family (my parents) have family that started farming in the area. And having most of them farm 70-90 years ago was not unusual. In fact, almost all families farmed because they needed to provide food for their families. Today, many of us take for granted the availability of food. Face it. We can just go to a local grocery and have an abundance food available for us to purchase. It’s not a life or death issue of growing food for our families any more. And my grandfather, A.W. Schott, was a Market Gardener who’s gardening tradition carried on to his family.
I did not know most of my grandparents. Three out of my four grandparents had passed away before I was born. And because I did not know them probably contributed to why I am curious and want to learn more about them. This past weekend I had time to think about my father’s side of the family. My father was one of 14 siblings and on Saturday, our family laid to rest one of his sisters. And three weeks prior to that, another sister had passed away. I couldn’t help but think and try to put the whole family into perspective. One thing that is particularly disturbing is that we are losing our oral history. We do have some stories, but as always with family history, more questions arise with each piece of family history uncovered. It is our family history that explains who we are today.
My grandfather’s family, Anthony Schott (pronounced Scott), immigrated from Denmark and settled in the Dwight, Illinois area. As a young man, he moved to the Fairmont, MN area and me this future wife, Sarah Luckow. My grandfather was a Market Gardener. In 1923, he purchased land on the north end of Fairmont. The original family home is located on the corner of Margaret and Ida (it is still there) and the land he used to grow produce extended from that house to the south towards the banks of George Lake. Next to the house, where the garage is now, was a greenhouse. My grandpa, Anthony Schott, also sold greenhouse produce plants in addition to the grown produce. I try to envision in my head what it must have looked like in the early 1920s and 1930s. Prior to truck farming, my grandfather worked in masonry. Our family has been told he help build the building on the corner of North North Ave. and 9th Street – the building that was used as a wholesale warehouse.
But his calling was gardening. Fortunately, my mother had a copy of his price list of the plants he sold.
As I look through my current family, it is amazing how many family members have followed in the gardening/farming family footsteps. Many of my aunts/uncles/cousins love(d) gardening (even have some master gardeners!) including my dad who gardened most of his life. Only when gardening was just too hard on him, did he quit. And to this day, I have a garden. And at times I feel inadequate and humbled because of my family history. But I will continue my family’s tradition to garden and farm with my family as we continue to grow food for our family, as well as other families. And I will reflect and remember my ancestors and their life and my imagined life for them. I will not romanticize it. It was a hard life.
I know that.
A very hard life. And I will not forget. . .
Does your family have any special traditions?