Fencing the Prairie

Successful Farming

Successful Farming

This is the story that triggered the Grandpa Guy’s Stories blog. Everyone in the family knows this story as it was one of Grandma Fanny’s favorites. Grandma told this story every time we visited, and we visited her often.

At the risk of repeating myself; my brother Linn, our cousin Ted and I were riding in the car to Ted’s house one afternoon. We started reminiscing about Grandma’s stories. One of us recounted the Chandler Story. Another pointed out the errors in that version, and the third one of us laughed at the incongruities of both versions, telling what was certainly the true version of the story.

Esther clearly recognizes that many versions of the story exist, and I could point out a couple of discrepancies in this version, and perhaps add more details. Grace had her own short version of the story which she recounted in one of her letters to me in 1994. Grandma Fanny’s version of the story took about twenty minutes to tell, and may have had more detail than any one of us remember.

The Successful Farming newspaper published the attached advertisement. You can click on the photo to read a Google Books scan of the paper. In another story Esther talked about how Grandpa Ted liked to read. I can imagine him sitting at the kitchen table with his favorite book or magazine. Something tells me that Successful Farming would have been the one.

Ted may have already been a regular customer of the Jim Brown Fence company. Perhaps there was a similar advertisement for the contest? Ted took the bait and entered the contest to see who could sell the most fencing. His success story entered the Luehr family history.

Grandpa Guy Havelick



Esther writes:


Esther on the farm in North Dakota

I must tell my version of this story even though others may remember it a little differently. In 1925 Papa and many of the neighbors were fencing their land, and, as recounted earlier, he consolidated orders for fence materials to save on shipping costs. He ordered fence materials from the Jim Brown Fence Company in Ohio. That summer the company sponsored a contest to entice customers to buy more fence wire and posts, with the first prize being a Chandler car and the second prize a Dodge car, and other prizes.

The first rail freight car load of fence materials ordered that year had been credited toward the contest, so he got some more orders and probably added some on speculation that he could sell it, and ordered another full car load. Near the end of the contest, the company sent a wire that he was among the top contenders, so he decided to order another car load. He won the top prize, and traveled to Ohio by train to claim the car and drive it home.

Unfortunately, somebody had to look after the farm and the kids (Melvin was a small baby) so Mama had to stay home. Papa visited his sister Frieda and her family in Michigan on the way home.