"Our Friends on the Acres"
Edwin C. Gordon
Edwin C. Gordon is probably as well known in this vicinity as any farmer as he has been living on his property, three miles southwest of Postville, for 76 years. He ranks second in the Herald's "half-a-century" club. Readers of this column will recall that Dorf Opperud of near Gunder heads the club with 83 years of consecutive residence on the same farm.
Mr. Gordon was born September 3, 1864 in a log cabin on the Gordon farm, the youngest member of the family of Mr. and Mrs. James Gordon. He had two brothers, Orren and Arthur, and one sister, who passed away in infancy. Orren passed away on February 22, 1940 and Arthur on July 24, 1896.
When Mr. Gordon became of school age he attended the Henderson Prairie school, just a short distance from the Gordon farm. "It was an old stone building in those days," he remarked, "and the enrollment was often too large for the small building. My first teacher was Miss Hattie Henderson, niece of Col. D.B. Henderson, who taught in the school before the Civil War. There weren't any grades in those days and we didn't get any report cards as the children do in the schools of today. We went to school two terms a year, the first term starting in April. We attended classes until the latter part of June, then had vacation during the busy months on the farm. After helping on the farm during the hot summer months, we would go back to school in November and study until the middle of March. Mr. Gordon was 17 years old when he decided he had attended school long enough and in spite of the protests of his parents, he went to work on the farm. "The old Henderson Prairie school was abandoned several years ago," he said, "and the building, which replaced the old stone school, has been unused for some time."
Mr. Gordon's father was born in Canada near Montreal and came to this vicinity in the fall of 1854. "Dad wanted a farm of his own so he contacted Dave Hudson immediately," he explained. "I have heard Dad tell the story many times. Hudson was breaking the first ground on this farm when Dad approached him. Hudson was holding the plow and D.B. Henderson, who was just a boy, was driving the team. When Dad told Hudson he wanted to buy the farm, they quit working and closed the deal. I think Dad paid $1,000 for 164 acres. This included 124 acres on which the buildings are now situated, and 40 acres of timber about five miles to the north." The Gordon farm is located in Grand Meadow township, Clayton county, and the 40 acres of timber are in Allamakee county.
Mr. Gordon continued to reminisce, saying, "There never was very much timber on the farm, just a little brush, so it wasn't much of a job to clear the land. About the time U.S. Grant was a candidate for the presidency of the United States, Dad purchased an additional 31 acres of property from A.C. Henderson. The 31 acre piece adjoins the farm on the south." Two towns were often visited by the Gordons in those early days, Moneek in Winneshiek county and Postville. "Moneek was about the same size as Postville, but as it was a little farther away, we didn't do so much trading over there," he stated. "We also made regular trips to McGregor, where we hauled grain. It was a long trip, usually taking us all day, but we thought the road was a good one and never hesitated to make the journey if we had a large supply of grain on hand. As I remember it, the only hazardous part of the trip was near McGregor, where we would go down the long hill. It was steeper in those days and in order to arrive in McGregor right side up, it was necessary to drive a winding trail, much similar to the roads in the Rocky mountains.
Mr. Gordon's mother was Nancy Stiles Gordon, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Stiles. She accompanied her parents to Postville in the spring of 1855. Her parents were well known in Postville, living here until their deaths many years ago.
One of the first buildings to be erected on the farm was a granary. It is still on the Gordon farm and is one of the oldest farm buildings in this vicinity today. The farm house, a brick structure, was built in 1867, replacing the old log cabin in which Ed Gordon was born. It is in good repair today and is one of the most substantial buildings on the farm.
Mr. Gordon's parents have passed away, his father in 1900 and his mother in 1917. "After Dad's death I purchased the property," Mr. Gordon explained, "and for 15 years I farmed the land. My brother, Orren, owned a farm adjoining this property on the northwest, and the two of us worked both farms. In 1917 I rented out part of this farm, but Orren and I continued to do a little farming and kept some livestock. He sold his farm in 1930, and we lived here until May 3, 1935, moving at that time to Postville, where we lived in the Postville hospital. During the warm months of the year we would spend our days on the farm and then go to town at night. After Orren passed away I continued to live at the hospital until last June, then I took a railroad trip to both coasts. Since my return I have lived out here." Mr. Gordon doesn't care so much for cold weather any more and he is planning a trip into the south this winter. "Of course, I haven't definitely decided to go," he said, "but in all probability I'll go when the weather gets bad."
~Postville Herald, Oct 23, 1940
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