"Our Friends on the Acres"
Mr. & Mrs. Ben Shafer
Although Ben Shafer has not been located on his farm north of Postville in the Ludlow community long enough to belong to the "half-a-century" club, he has spent 28 years on his property and rightfully can be classed among the better Allamakee county farmers.
He was born October 16, 1893, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Shafer. The early years of his life were spent on the Shafer homestead, which is also located in the Ludlow community. (This farm is now owned and operated by his brother, Edward Shafer.) Ben Shafer obtained an education by attending rural school near his home and to this day well remembers some of his school experiences. "One of my first teachers was Mary Jenkins," he reminisced,"and what a time she must have had making us behave. The enrollment was quite large for a rural school, as there were from 25 to 30 children who attended regularly."
Mr. Shafer's father was born in Germany and came to the United States in his youth. There were six children in the Ernest Shafer family, all of whom are now living in the Ludlow vicinity: Carl, Paul, Edward, Mrs. August Held, Mrs. Paul Fiet, and Ben, the subject of this sketch. Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Shafer are still living in that vicinity, being located on a property adjoining the old homestead. He is 80 years old and Mrs. Shafer is 70.
The farm on which Mr. and Mrs. Ben Shafer are now located was once owned by the Lambert brothers, Steve and John. They sold the property to William Kostman, father of Mrs. Ben Shafer.
Mrs. Shafer was born November 21, 1891, in the Ludlow vicinity, where she has always lived. Her parents are also living today, being located in Waukon. Mr. Kostman is 82 years old and her mother is 74. She has one sister, Mrs. Walter Rolfs of Forest Mills, and four brothers, William of near Lansing; Elmer near Harpers Ferry, and John and Paul, living near the Ben Shafer farm.
Twenty-eight years ago Ben Shafer purchased the property from Mr. Kostman and has owned and operated it since then. Mr. and Mrs. Shafer were married August 19, 1913, and their union has been blessed with six children: Esther (Mrs. Walter Schutte) of near Castalia; Minnie (Mrs. Lloyd Block) living south of Postville; Albert who works for Henry Benjegerdes; Velma of Waukon; Ray and Bernice at home.
Since 1912, when Mr. Shafer purchased the farm, he has made many improvements to the land itself as well as the buildings. It is one of the better farms in this vicinity as can be easily understood since Mr. Shafer paid $90 an acre for the 80 acres. About 15 years ago he added to his holdings by buying an additional 40 acres of land which adjoined his farm to the southeast. The entire farm is located on high land, commanding an excellent view over the surrounding country side. The land is rolling and requires constant care to prevent erosion. Although the land is quite hilly, only six acres of the property are lost due to sinkholes, timber, etc. One ten acre field, which is planted to corn this year was well fertilized this spring by 100 loads of manure.
It is probably Mr. Shafer's care for the soil, which has been partly responsible for some outstanding crops in past years. Last year, on approximately 11 acres of land, he husked corn which went 90 bushels to the acre. He had a little over 13 acres of oats planted and last fall harvested 535 bushels. This year he has 10.2 acres of corn planted which is already ahead of the majority of fields in that neighborhood. Another crop he puts in every year is sorghum cane. He has two acres devoted to this crop. From the two acres last fall he obtained enough sorghum cane to produce 200 gallons of sorghum. After pressing the stalk, the juice is boiled and is ready for use. As he receives approximately 75 cents a gallon for the juice, it is a valuable sideline for him.
Nearly all of the buildings on the farm have been remodeled or rebuilt under his ownership. The house has been enlarged and improved, water has been piped from a cistern into the house, and various other buildings have been erected. About 10 years ago he enlarged the barn, which is the home of 17 cows, seven calves and two teams of horses. He also owns six sows and 40 pigs. Two chicken houses have been erected for a flock of about 250 chickens. One of the houses measures 36X12 feet and the other, 8X18 feet.
Mr. Shafer has two hobbies which he follows in his spare time. Probably the hobby he is most interested in is boxing and wrestling. He has always followed these sports and has seen some of the greatest wrestlers in the world perform. As a violinist he whiles away his spare time and has spent many enjoyable hours playing with orchestras and for his friends.
~Postville Herald, June 5, 1940
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