WEEPING WATER – George Buell and Sylvanus and Louisa Woodard came to Cass County in 1869 with goals of establishing successful farms in Nebraska.
Their descendants celebrated the fruit of those labors Friday night during a special ceremony at the Cass County Fair.
Members of the Buell and Woodard families accepted 2019 Aksarben Nebraska Heritage Farm Family Awards. They received the honor for maintaining the farms in their family for 150 years.
Phyllis Buell and Mark and Sondra Buell were recognized for maintaining the Buell family farm. Phyllis Buell, Mark and Sondra Buell and Carolyn and Brian Geschke were recognized for maintaining the Woodard family farm. The families came together when George Elijah Buell married Lillias Idella Woodard on Jan. 1, 1873.
Phyllis Buell accepted a plaque on behalf of both sides of the Buell and Woodard family trees. She was grateful that a large number of descendants had come to the Open Air Auditorium to take part in the ceremony. She also said many people had played important roles in the journey to the 150-year milestone.
“There has been a lot of love, a lot of tears and everything else that goes into this,” Buell said. “We don’t own the land, the land owns us.”
The Aksarben Foundation, Nebraska Farm Bureau and Nebraska Association of Fair Managers sponsor awards for Nebraska farm families each year. They honor families who have reached either 100 or 150 years of consecutive farm ownership.
The Aksarben Nebraska Heritage Farm Family Award is presented to families who have consecutively held ownership of at least 40 acres of land for a minimum of 150 years. The farms can be handed down to future generations either through direct bloodlines or through marriage.
State officials began recognizing Nebraska residents with the 150-year award in 2014. Nearly 75 families have earned the honor since then.
Program representative Roger Wehrbein spoke about the George E. Buell farm first. Buell was born in Fulton County, N.Y., in 1848 and moved to Nebraska in January 1869. He and a friend traveled to Omaha by train and then walked from Omaha to Murdock. They bought yoked oxen in Plattsmouth on their way to western Cass County.
Buell walked to Lincoln in February to file on the homestead land, and he walked to and from Plattsmouth to purchase cottonwood lumber for a house. He and George Vandenburg also walked from Murdock to Weeping Water to pick up their mail.
“Anytime they went somewhere they walked,” Wehrbein said. “They would walk to Plattsmouth for lumber or they would walk to Lincoln for supplies. The dedication they showed was pretty remarkable.”
Sylvanus Woodard was born in Saratoga County, N.Y. in 1834. He married Louisa Jeffords in 1855 and the couple moved to Middletown, Conn. They later moved to Toulon, Ill., and Tipton, Iowa, before settling near George Buell’s homestead in the spring of 1869.
Sylvanus Woodard passed away in 1876 and Louisa lived on the farm for several more years. She moved to North Platte and later returned to Elmwood. She passed away in 1914.
George and Lillias Buell worked on the farm until they moved to Elmwood in 1921. George Buell passed away in 1926 and Lillias Buell passed away in 1931. Their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren inherited their land over the future decades.
Wehrbein said all of their descendants could be proud of the work they had poured into the land for many generations.
“The difficulties were there and they survived,” Wehrbein said. “You have to admire the tenacity of our pioneers.”