Family Farms: Planting the seed for future generations

As kids, many of us wanted to be exactly like our parents when we grew up.

And for some families, that pattern becomes reality, for over a hundred years.

"Our family had moved here in the 1860s in Central Illinois and been farming those generations, many generations, six or seven generations since then," says Dennis Wentworth of Wentworth Family Farms.

"My grandfather came over from Germany in 1905," says Les Schmidgall of Schmidgall Family Farms. "He came through Ellis Island and they came over one at at time."

Through the decades, farmers have put hard work into maintaining their fields. And even through the ups and down, there's one things that keeps them going...

"It's just huge to be able to wake up each morning and know that you're going to be working with your family," says Les Schmidgall.

Family farms in Central Illinois have been passed down from generation to generation. And although many keep it in the family, it's not always easy.

"It's been a challenge for the family to be able to maintain ownership, but to also stay in the farming business all those years," says Wentworth.

Dennis Wentworth is the proud owner of Wentworth Family Farms in Downs, Illinois. The farm just celebrated its centennial anniversary. But that milestone didn't come without challenges.

"It's certainly, for anybody, any family that's been able to have a centennial farm in their family; it's been a real challenge for them to be able to maintain that," says Wentworth.

Dennis and his wife Kathy started with nothing when they took over the farm. But something kept them going.

"The biggest thing is discipline and just being able to maintain some connectivity with the farm and family members," says Wentworth.

And over in Armington, Illinois, Schmidgall Family Farms has been running for over 70 years. Les Schmidgall and his son Jacob work together to make sure the farm is maintained properly.

"Some years we make more money than others," says Les Schmidgall. "The work is always about the same, but it's always good."

Working together, the Schmidgalls have learned some important life lessons.

"Perseverance, hard work, being thankful, and appreciate what you have," says Les Schmidgall.

"Definitely work ethic," says Jake Schmidgall. "I mean, when you're out there from such a young age, you just work, work, work."

Two families, celebrating each season with new generations helping at every harvest.

"I always remember slowly making my way back to the house to unload the children as they were sleeping," says Les Schmidgall. 

"Just seeing my kids come out every day," says Jake Schmidgall. "They beg to come to the farm."

"Everyday like this when Kathy can come out and she brings the dogs out and they can ride in the truck," says Wentworth. "I have seen our granddaughter riding in the combine with her mother and father."

Both the Wentworths and the Schmidgalls have planted the seed. Now, their children, and grandchildren, will continue to harvest the memories.

"You're proud that somebody wants to take that and maybe build on it or develop it into something they want," says Wentworth.

"The ideas that we can pass that on is just, it really makes a difference," says Les Schmidgall.

"There's nothing I would take over living on the farm," says Jake Schmidgall.

 

To get a glimpse of the Schmidgall and Wentworth families through the decades, check out this photo gallery: www.centralillinoisproud.com/news/family-farms-sharing-memories-through-the-decades/861167048


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