Neighbors, relatives among Wisconsin Century Farm honorees

Dan Hansen
Arlyn Splitt, right, is joined by his niece Kari Berg, left, and sisters Bev Berg and Bonnie Splitt.

TOWN of BEAR CREEK – At a time when owners of smaller farms are regularly selling their properties to larger operators, it’s remarkable there still are many farms that have remained in the same family for multiple generations.

It’s even more remarkable when several farms in, basically, the same area have been in the same family for 100 years and more, especially so, when the current farm owners are related to one another.

Among those recognized as Century and Sesquicentennial Farms at this year’s Wisconsin State Fair were five farms from eastern Waupaca County whose owners are close relatives.

MORE: Centenarian Ella Faye Johnson shares stories of life on her century farm

Four of the farms located in the Town of Bear Creek include the Arlyn Splitt farm, N9050 Bell Corners Road, founded in 1880, by his great-grandfather August C. Schoepke; the Splitt Family Farm, N9137 Bell Corners Rd., founded by Oscar Splitt in 1921, and currently owned by Sandy, Kevin, Cheryl and Peggy Splitt.

The Dean and Sherry Peterson Farm, about one mile away at E7971 Bear Creek, was founded by Dean’s great-grandmother’s brother, Oscar Lundt in 1883. The Kenneth J. Rohan Farm at E9244 Blueberry Road, also recognized as a Sesquicentennial Farm, was founded by Patrick and Mary Rohan in 1867. It  is currently owned by their great-grandson Dave and his wife, Connie (Splitt) Rohan.

Cheryl Splitt, from left, Connie and Dave Rohan, Dean and Sherry Peterson and Peggy Splitt at the Century Farms Breakfast.

In the adjacent Town of Matteson, at E11374 Hanson Road, is the Greg and Kristy Hanson farm, founded by Greg’s grandparents, James and Amanda Peterson-Hanson, in 1921.

“Interest in the Century Farm Program started back in 1967 when the Kenneth J. Rohan Farm submitted a request for the centennial award,” explained Connie Rohan.  When she and her husband, Dave, became owners of the farm, there was a plaque hanging on the wall above the desk which stood as a reminder that the farm was eligible for the Sesquicentennial Farm Award. 

Greg and Kristy Hanson are joined by their son, Brian, left, and grandson Grant at the Wisconsin State Fair.

“Upon completing the sesquicentennial applications forms, looking at old plat maps and researching genealogy, enough information was gathered on the three other family-related farms in the Town of Bear Creek, for the Splitt Family Farm, Arlyn Splitt Farm, and the Dean and Sherry Peterson Farm,” she said. “Coincidentally, paperwork was also being sent in by Greg and Kristy Hanson on the 5th family-related farm in Waupaca County.”

Siblings Sandy, Kevin, Cheryl, Peggy Splitt and Connie Rohan are all cousins to Arlyn Splitt, Dean Peterson and Greg Hansen, and all  are the great-grandchildren of Andrew & Emma Peterson.