Family carries on century-old tradition
Moore still lives in 1891 house.
The original homestead certificate signed by President Grover Cleveland in 1895 officially granted Edwin Moore complete control of 160 acres of land south of Gothenburg.
Moore certainly had no idea then that a worn piece of paper and the very fields he had planted would still be in family hands 116 years later.
Actually, Edwin and his bride, Sarah, settled 4 miles south of Gothenburg in 1889 when five families moved here from Unadilla.
The Moore, Bothwell, Beyette, Soller and Fairbanks families all came to the same three-mile area together.
The Moore homestead was initially a tree claim so the family had to prove they’d planted trees before receiving their homestead document.
Cedar and elm trees remain around the old house which was built in 1891. The barn erected in 1893 is also still standing.
It’s been 122 years and four generations since Edwin Moore laid claim to the land. That makes a Dawson County Pioneer Farm Family Award long past due.
“I was gone from home in 1989 and Dad didn’t want to do it alone,” said Joe Moore, great-grandson of the original landowner.
This year Joe’s father, Fred Moore Jr., decided it was time to accept recognition for keeping the land in the family for more than a century.
“It’s a pretty amazing accomplishment in this day and age,” Joe said. “There’s a lot of history there.”
Fred Jr.’s father Fred Moore was born on the farm in 1890, one of eight children born to Edwin and Sarah.
After Edwin and Sarah both died, there was an argument between siblings over land.
Fred Sr. ended up paying his brothers and sisters so he could keep the home place to live there and continue farming.
Fred Sr. and his wife, Lula, carried on the farm and cattle business and passed the land on to their only son, Fred Jr., who still lives there.
“My dad was older when I was born,” said Fred Jr. “I remember him talking about all kinds of historical things. I just wish I’d have paid attention better.”
Except for a short time on a farm his father owned south of North Platte, the house south of Gothenburg is the only home Fred Jr. has ever known.
It’s also still known as “the home place” to Joe, the fourth generation of Moore men.
Fred recalls the white school house he attended just down the road, the Antelope Baptist Church a half-mile west of his home and the weekly Saturday night trips into town.
His parents used to park their car on the main street and visit with other folks who came into town for weekly groceries.
“If it was a decent film suitable for me to watch, I’d get to go to the picture show,” Fred said. “It cost 12 cents to get in and I’d get a whole quarter. That meant I had 13 cents to spend on popcorn and candy.”
Those days are long gone. Fred said it’s been 20 years or more since he’s been in a theater.
“It costs way too much now,” he said.
Joe also recalls the simpler days growing up on the farm when he went to class in the Little Red School House not far away.
“It’s amazing how much things have changed,” Joe said.
The land is still owned by the Moores but they don’t plant and harvest the crops anymore.
Mark Ostergard does the custom farming while Brian Scroggin takes care of the hay.
The cattle—about 75 head—belong to the Moores. Fred said while he’s busy working as a truck driver, he still does his share of cattle chores.
And the tradition continues.
“I’m just a hobby farmer and cattleman now,” said Joe, who works for Paulsen, Inc.
Just because Joe doesn’t depend on the land to support his family doesn’t mean his ties are any weaker.
“Nobody knows what’s going to happen down the road,” he said, “but I’m going to do everything I can to keep it in the family.”
Joe has already made a strong effort to connect his children to the family farm.
Megan, 13, and Korbin, 10, already have cattle of their own that graze there.
Joe’s sister, Jacie Moore, and her 6-year-old son, Patrick, have their own cattle there too.
“It’s a start,” Joe said.