Family’s farm legacy started during 1870s

LAKE CITY – By the time 28-year-old Frank Pierce purchased 120 acres of Calhoun County land for $90 an acre in 1910, members of his family had been farming in the Lake City area for decades.

“According to family history,” said Joan Buse, “my great-grandfather, Ephraim, and his wife, Cornelia, came to Lake City in 1874, because they heard there were good people in Iowa.

Bose said her ancestors moved to Calhoun County from DeKalb, Ill., after emigrating from England.

Farming in west-central Iowa proved to be a good fit for the Pierce family. The tradition was maintained by Buse’s father, Von Pierce, who was born in 1924.

Graduating from high school at 16, Pierce began farming with his father. His farming career was put on hold when he was drafted in the military in 1943.

After serving in France as a paratrooper, Pierce returned to Lake City in 1946.

“Dad was very proud to serve his country,” said Buse, who is the youngest child of Von and Muriel Pierce.

World War II created pent-up demand for new farm equipment, and veterans were issued priority tickets that put them first in line.

While Pierce preferred a Farmall H, his priority ticket was issued for a John Deere A.

“Dad became a green tractor man after that,” said Buse, who noted her father later traded the A for a John Deere 3010, followed by a 3020.

Through the years, more John Deere tractors were employed on Pierce’s farm including a 4020, and later a 4430.

The family’s ties to John Deere continued when Buse married her husband, Ron, in 1976.

Ron Buse grew up on a farm in the Lake View/Auburn area. He worked as a mechanic at Snyder Implement, the John Deere dealership in Lake City, while establishing his farming career.

“I always said I wouldn’t marry a farmer, but I changed my mind,” said Joan Buse, who had completed medical assistant training at Iowa Central in Fort Dodge and began working at the McCrary-Rost Clinic in Lake City.

Agriculture was profitable in late 1970s, recalled Ron Buse, who started farming some of his in-laws’ land.

In 1978, for example, he sold all his corn for more than $3 a bushel.

While the Buses considered buying land, they decided the price was too high when it shot up from $1,800 to $2,100 an acre.

“That was right before the farm crisis hit,” said Ron Buse, a long-time member of the Calhoun County Farm Bureau board.

“Looking back, we were glad we didn’t get that land.”

To make ends meet during the 1980s crisis, Buse said he worked at a local meat locker in the winter, in addition to operating a farrow-to-finish swine operation and raising crops.

As the years brought an expanded farming operation, the Buses appreciated the opportunity to raise their three sons – Ryan, Scott and Greg – on the farm and carry on the Pierce family’s farming heritage.

“I’m proud of my ancestors,,” Joan Buse said, “and it’s a privilege to be stewards of the land that they so lovingly cared for.

“The Century Farm award makes you proud to be an Iowa farm family.”