Saline County Century Farm: Copelands trace history of Miami farm

Tuesday, March 11, 2008
The Neubauer farm at one time had up to four homes on it. However, all the homes are gone off the Saline County Century farm, but this windmill remains. Owner David Copeland now raises corn and soybeans on the land. (Marcia Gorrell/Democrat-News)

David Copeland has a thick pile of official papers, showing how the 320-acre farm near Miami, purchased by his great-grandparents, Edward and Mary Neubauer, in 1892, has been split among family members through the years.

But in 1994 Copeland and his sister inherited 160 acres of the farm after his uncle, Robert Howard Copeland, passed away. Then in the last five years, he has been able to purchase the rest from the heirs of his great-uncle, Harry Neubauer.

"This is why it has taken so long to do the Century Farm, because at that time I bought my sister's part out, so I owned half the farm. In the last five years, I bought my cousins that owned Harry's part out," he said. "And now the whole farm is back together again."

In November, the farm was honored as one of Saline County's Century farms. Copeland, who was raised a few miles away, does have a lot of memories of the farm where his grandparents, Alice (Neubauer) and Robert (R.W.), lived in a one-story home.

"I practically lived over there."

"I remember sitting around the old wood stove and they always had a coffee pot on the stove," he said. "That was their main heat."

He also remembered his grandfather as a hard-worker.

"He never sat still very much. He was always either building fence or out doing something."

His grandparent's moved to the farm in 1941 after his great-grandmother had passed away. It was then his grandmother had purchased 160 acres of the farm from her siblings. Her brother Harry (Neubauer) had purchased the other 160 acres and lived on his half.

Before that, the Copelands had lived and farmed in Howard County, south of Glasgow.

"My dad (and uncle) were born in Saline County and when he was 5 or 6 years old they moved to Howard County. They were over there about 20 years before they moved over here."

"They were always glad to get back to Saline County because they about starved to death over there," he said. "And until the day he died my dad wouldn't eat any gooseberries, because he said all he lived off of were gooseberries in the 30s." He said they also had done a lot of hunting to put meat on the table.

On the farm, Copeland said they still used mules when they first moved back to Saline County, but his memories were of his grandfather's Ferguson tractor.

"He started me on it and a two-bottom plow."

Although he now raises just soybeans and corn on the farm, at one time the biggest part of the farm was in pasture.

"They raised a lot of cattle over there," he said. "They raised just enough crops to feed cattle and hogs. That's what they did back then."

He said they also had a milk cow and chickens, which was "normal" at the time.

"I'm old enough I remember I had to go milk every night."

His grandparents had running water in the house, but it was the 1960s before a bathroom was built.

They lived on the farm until their death, leaving the farm to their two sons, Robert Howard and Copeland's father, Francis. Robert Howard, who also lived on the 160 acres, purchased Copeland's father's share.

Copeland said he had always hoped that someday he would be able to put the farm back together again.

"It's surprising the way it went. It started out as one and back to one," said Copeland, who has three grown sons.

"Hopefully it continues to stay in our family," he said. "Hopefully it can stay as one."

Contact Marcia Gorrell at marshallag@socket.net

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