"Our Friends on the Acres"
Mr. & Mrs. Henry Oldag
One of the neatest appearing farms in this vicinity is the farm of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Oldag, located in Grand Meadow township, Clayton county, about three miles southeast of Postville. The Oldags have been located on their farm for 33 years. It is a property of 126 acres which they purchased in 1907 from the late Charles Sonnkalb, paying $89.50 an acre. When Mr. Sonnkalb occupied the farm it consisted of 240 acres, but it was split up in 1907. The Oldags purchased a little over half the land, buying the south part of the Sonnkalb property, which included the farm buildings. The west half of the remaining property to the north was sold to Herman Webb, and the east half was bought by Chet Pearson.
Henry Oldag was born January 26, 1879, in Grand Meadow township where he has always lived. He was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Oldag, prominent agriculturists in Grand Meadow township for many years. His father passed away early this year, on February 13, and his mother on October 13, 1933. Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Oldag were the parents of seven children, all of whom are living. They are: Henry Oldag, the subject of this sketch; Emma (Mrs. William Willman), Edwin J. Oldag, Amanda (Mrs. John A. Schroeder), Malinda (Mrs. Arthur Schultz), Otto Oldag, and Lenora (Mrs. John Shipton). With the exception of Mrs. Shipton, who lives at Clermont, they all reside in Postville or in this immediate vicinity.
Otto Oldag is living on the home farm which was purchased by Geo. Oldag from the late Joseph Kapler. The home farm consisted of 150 acres. All of the Oldag children attended Grand Meadow District No. 1 school, which was located just across the road from the Oldag farm. "In those days there was quite an enrollment," Henry Oldag explained. "Quite often there were 30 pupils in attendance during the winter. But, of course, in the fall and spring of the years, the attendance would be smaller because most of the boys would quit school to help their fathers do the farm work." The school doesn't exist today as it was moved away when the Luana consolidated school was constructed.
On February 26, 1907, Mr. Oldag was united in marriage with Miss Louisa Knodt, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Knodt. Mr. Knodt was a machinist in Postville where the Knodts lived for many years. Mrs. Oldag has one brother, Ed. Knodt, of Rosemount, Minn., one sister, Alma (Mrs. Lawrence Welzel) of Postville, and three half sisters living in St. Paul, Minn.
A few days after their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Oldag moved to their new farm, on March 1, 1907. They have lived there continuously ever since. The farm is located directly north of the Oldag home farm, on which Otto Oldag family is now living. They are the parents of one daughter, Margaret (Mrs. Arthur Wagner). Mr. and Mrs. Wagner make their home with the Oldags, as do their three children: Karlton, Marilyn and Ardyth.
Although the farm is not the largest in Grand Meadow township, it is one of the most valuable properties. Mr. Oldag has continually improved the property by constructing substantial buildings and by dint of hard work the land ranks among the best in productiveness.
A year after they were married, the Oldags had the misfortune to be "hailed out" as were many other farmers in this vicinity. Hail stones as large as marbles fell on June 20, 1908, causing great crop damage. but they overcame this set-back and with the exception of one other partial crop failure following a hail storm on July 2, 1920, have enjoyed good crops during the years they have been on the farm. "During the last two or three years our corn and grain crops have been exceptionally good," Mr. Oldag stated. "I believe last year's crops were of the best quality I have ever seen." Last year 26 acres of corn were planted, producing 1,600 bushels. this is an average of slightly over 61 bushels of corn to the acre. Twenty-eight acres of oats yielded 1,355 bushels - an average better than 48 bushels to the acre. Fifty tons of hay were cut from 26 acres. Another crop last year was one-half an acre of potatoes for home consumption.
Mr. Oldag does the farm work with the assistance of his son-in-law, Arthur Wagner. Although they do all of the heavy farm work with a tractor, they have three head of horses and two mules. "I've driven horses all my life, but those mules are almost too much for me," Mr. Oldag joked. "Yes, that's right," Mrs. Oldag rejoined, "he has an awful time with them."
Livestock on the farm includes 26 head of cattle (including calves nad 18 milch cows) about 100 spring pigs and sows, and 150 cross-bred chickens. The barn and a small well house are the only buildings which were on the property when the Oldags purchased it in 1907. The barn, 30X60 feet, is a substantial building, which has been kept in good repair. In 1914 the farm house was rebuilt and although it is not as spacious as many farm houses in that neighborhood, it is entirely modern. Up until about a year and a half ago the house was illuminated by gas lights, but at that time the Oldags were hooked up to a high line, which runs through their property so now they enjoy electric lights. In 1926, highway number 52, which is just south of their property across the railroad tracks, was paved. The Oldag driveway is graveled, so they have no difficulty in driving to town in any weather.
Just east of their house lies the only timber on the property - four or five acres of woods. "We used to have more timber than that, but as the years went by, we cut down trees and grubbed out some of the land," Mr. Oldag explained. "The only wood we cut out of the timber today is the dead stuff. I've often considered planting a windbreak on the north side of the house," Mr. Oldag continued, "because we are on a high point of land here. But we can stand the cold winds in the winter time. It's swell in the summer. On those boiling hot days we get the benefit of even the slightest breeze." As their farm is located on an extremely high point of land, considerable trouble was experienced in drilling a well. They have one of the deepest wells in that neighborhood - a well 337 feet deep.
When Mr. and Mrs. Oldag first lived on the farm, they did all of their own work. With the possible exception of two or three summers they got along for 17 years without the aid of hired help. In the fall they often would husk corn for four or five consecutive weeks, working every day except Sunday, without a let up. But in those days they didn't think much of it as most of their neighbors did the same thing. Visitors at the Oldag home almost always have a complimentary word for their beautiful lawn, which is always well kept and neat appearing.
~Postville Herald, May 1, 1940
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