While the days of the barn dances and the gatherings to cut ice from the pond for the ice house have long past, the history of one local farm is being preserved through the University of Missouri Extension’s Century Farm program.
Sherry McMillen recently was presented with Century Farm credentials for her family’s property, which was originally purchased by her great-grandparents on July 10, 1916.
B.J. “Ben” Huckey and Pearl Huckey were the original owners and constructed the 16-room house, barn, ice house, outdoor toilet and later a garage, all of which are still standing today.
Sherry’s mother Eilene Huckey was one of three children born to Ben and Pearl. Eilene and her husband, Elmer Finley inherited the Huckey homestead in 1958, and they passed it down to Sherry, as a third-generation owner of the Fairview farm.
“This farm has always been known for the blue roofs on all of the buildings,” said Sherry.
It served as a gathering spot for many neighborhood activities, including several dances held in the hay loft of the horse barn.
“Back in the day the only mode of transportation was by horse and buggy and my grandparents kept many of them,” she said.
The icehouse was also central to many of the neighboring properties, as many of the other landowners in the region would come together to cut ice from the pond and preserve it with sawdust in the icehouse.
“Back in the day before electricity, when neighbors would need ice, they would come to the farm to retrieve it,” she said.
Farms that have been in one family since Dec. 31, 1917, were eligible this year for the Century Farm recognition.
To qualify, the same family must have owned the farm for 100 consecutive years. The line of ownership from the original settler or buyer may be through children, grandchildren, siblings, and nephews or nieces, including through marriage or adoption. The farm must be at least 40 acres of the original land acquisition and make a financial contribution to the overall farm income.
“Family farms have been among our most vital partners since the founding of extension more than 100 years ago,” said University of Missouri Vice Chancellor for Extension and Engagement Marshall Stewart. “The century farm program is one way we express our gratitude to those who have contributed so much to Missouri agriculture.”
In 2008, the Missouri Farm Bureau joined MU Extension and the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources as a program sponsor.
“Missouri Farm Bureau is a proud partner in the recognition of century farms,” said Blake Hurst, president. “We applaud the hard-working farm families that have kept us fed and clothed for generations. They represent an important part of our heritage and laid a foundation for the bounty Americans enjoy every day.”
Applicants certified as owners of a Missouri Century Farm are recognized by the local MU Extension center in the county where the farm is located. Applicants are presented with a sign and a certificate.
Since Missouri began the program in 1976, more than 8,000 century farms have been recognized.