By: Jim Fitzpatrick

Local Farmer in Polkton Township writes for the Coopersville Observer.

Along Brandy Creek

By Jim Fitzpatrick


The Coopersville Observer  March 7, 2005- - No. 47

The question is: how long do you have to live on the farm before it is truly recognized as yours?  Now this doesn't have anything to do with any legal business or anything like that.  Possibly you have the place completely paid for, maybe not.  Or, you inherited it from your grandmother, on your mother's side of the family.  It still doesn't make a bit of difference.  Here is what it all boils down to.  How long does it take before your long established neighbors stop referring to the land you live on, by the name of a past owner?  This is especially true if that previous land owner was second, third or fourth generation on the place.  "Oh yes", the man says, "Tim lives over there on the ol' Noppert farm".  Would you believe, Tim and Claire have already lived there fifteen years or more!  "Now let me think" said the 85 year old fellow to the 60 year old young guy, "You're just west of the church there on the ol' Bernard Culligan piece, isn't that right"?  Well, Bernard has been dead and gone for more than forty years.  You'd think that he still owned the land from the sounds of things.


This type of reference is so common that a person often finds himself talking about his own home in the same way.  "On the old Culligan farm, is where we live, just across the road from where Jake Venema farmed for so many years".  Again; Mr. Culligan has been gone a long time.  And Jake, most folks don't have any idea how long ago he died.  But Jake and Nellie still seem to have some sort of deeded interest in the place.


Time is a strange business and old names don't wear off easily.  This is especially true in the country, where family and tradition account for such a large part of the past, and the present.  An old family name has a much more significant ring to it's pronunciation, than that of a newcomers surname.  It is as if once you own a piece of ground, you are darn well going to have to prove yourself over time.  That initiation period is not going to happen overnight, either!  You'll be required to spend a whole lot of years on that chunk of land of yours, in order to have your name qualify as reference to the place.  Chances are pretty good that it may not even take effect til you're dead and gone!  And then again, maybe not at all; if the guy that owned it before you, stayed on longer than you did.

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