Anderson farmstead stays in the family for a 100 years

GLADSTONE -- Although their families' land meet at one point between here and Taylor, Linda and Jim Perhus didn't meet until going to college at North Dakota State University.

GLADSTONE -- Although their families' land meet at one point between here and Taylor, Linda and Jim Perhus didn't meet until going to college at North Dakota State University.

The two were married in 1957, 50 years after Linda's grandparents, the Andersons, bought the land still worked by family today and on which they are celebrating 100 years of farming and ranching.

"Our families were friends and Jim only lived about six miles away," Linda (Anderson) Perhus said. "I wanted to marry someone who was living nearby."

The Anderson's farmstead is celebrating 100 years July 4 by bringing practically everyone from the Anderson clan. More than 30 people from five states are expected for the celebration.

"It's unique how the two of them met and their families' lands were adjoined to became one successful operation," daughter Emily Perhus-Zarak said.


Emily is the fourth generation to work her family's land. She and husband Chris also have their own land in South Heart. The couple lives in Dickinson with daughter Tessa who is 4½ months old.

The Anderson ranch sits next to the Knife River. It is located in Dunn County two miles south of Rock Spring, or about 15 miles southeast of Dunn Center and four miles east of the old town of Emerson.

"It makes you proud to see all the centennial farms in the area being operated by their families," Perhus said. "It is a big deal with so many ranches being bought up by bigger operations."

In order to keep a family operation going, someone must want to continue working it, she added.

"They can't give up when they encounter obstacles like drought either," Perhus said.

On Jim's side of the family, he has relatives in the area who have spent 100 years farming and ranching family land and includes Arnold Hueske, Richardton, and Tom Perhus, Marshall.

Family roots

In the spring of 1907, Frank and Saraphine Anderson came to the area with their three sons Lester, Elmo and Odin from Mayville. Frank journeyed first by railroad to build a frame shack and the rest of the family later came by train into the Taylor station.


The Anderson homestead was used as a stop-over point for people traveling from Dunn Center to Taylor for supplies. The road to Taylor passed between the house and the barn as it was just a cross country trail.

Frank Anderson was born in Elm Grove, Minn., in 1869. Saraphine Kolstad also was born in 1869, but in Sioux City, Iowa. Both of their families moved to Buxton and the two were married in 1900 in Buxton.

Leaving the fertile Red River Valley for drier land was a challenge for the Andersons, who got free land but a drier environment than they were used to working.

"It's the hard work from the previous generation which makes us able to be here," Jim Perhus said. "They did so much more than we do now. I can't imagine seeing this land when the Anderson family first arrived and figuring out what to do or even not knowing what they were in for."

In those first years, the grain and hay they raised were mainly to feed their animals and sustain their own needs. Today the ranch is a cow-calf operation that includes small grains mainly as feed for animals.

During those early days, they did sell grain that was taken to Taylor on day trips by a team of horses and a wagon. The railroad did not get closer to them until 1914 when it came through Dunn Center.

Saraphine and Frank bought 320 acres of land eight miles north of Dunn Center to give their boys when they were high school age. The couple was keen on giving the boys as many opportunities, especially with education, as they could. They were always very active in the community with particular emphasis on supporting schools.

The Andersons maintained ownership of the homestead property east of Emerson and may have rented the land out or farmed it themselves.


"They started out with 169 acres," Jim said. "Today, Emily works 2,000 acres alone and my family's land is 5,000 acres. It has increased over the years, but in order to continue operating, you have to expand. You have to be careful not to do it all at once though."

He added there is no record of the family having to sell all the land to get by during rough years, although there were mortgages found when land changed in size.

All three boys went to school. Lester graduated from Werner High School. Elmo and Odin attended high school in Werner and Dunn Center, but both graduated from Model High School at Dickinson State College.

In 1935, a double wedding was held at the Latter Day Saints Church in Dunn Center where Lester married Elnora Dinehart, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Dinehart who lived west of Emerson. Odin married Erna Fritz, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gottfried Fritz who lived north of Dunn Center.

Elmo remained a bachelor.

Although all three boys were afflicted with polio, Lester was the one who suffered the most and used crutches the rest of his life. He didn't let the ailment keep him from riding horses and he had a career as a Dunn County judge for many years.

Odin's polio only affected one foot and he took over the family's farm in 1937.

Saraphine passed away in 1934 and Frank died in 1955, while Elmo died in 1961 in Dunn Center.


Additional land was purchased during the years and the ranch contains 2,000 total acres today. Odin and Erna raised four children - Dale, Sharon, Wayne and Linda - on the homestead. As the children grew up they became involved in various aspects of the farm.

Dale now lives in Fargo with wife Claudia Brown. He is retired from the Greater North Dakota Association. Sharon lives with husband Ron Sorenson in Lakeview, Mich., and is a retired teacher.

Linda's brother Wayne died in 1966 after his body rejected a kidney transplant. He farmed with his parents at the time. He was the one to bring Black Angus cattle to the ranch that started with Herefords and began the Angus-Hereford cross cattle raised there today.

Linda would inherit the family's land after Odin died in 1988 while feeding cattle with his John Deere tractor.

"My father (Odin) was a John Deere man," Linda said. "We just restored a 1943-A John Deere tractor to display for the celebration."

Grandfather practically bled green, added Emily.

"The equipment has changed over the years," Linda said. "It's been updated, although there's still some older equipment around we use."

The family's farming practices also have changed, as they now practice no-till farming.


"This is sandy land so no-till works well," Linda added.

Linda and Jim want to see the land stay in the family for as long as possible and daughter Emily is hoping to continue the family tradition into the future.

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