COTTONWOOD Prominently displayed last Saturday was a photo of Joseph and Mary Wemhoff. It was appropriate to have them here, said Earl Bennett, Dist. 2 trustee, Idaho State Historical Society (ISHS).
“John and Mary stood here 100 years ago and looked out over the prairie, wondering what they had gotten themselves into,” Bennett said.
That beginning established a family legacy, recognized Sept. 9 when the Brendan and Mollie Arnzen Family Farm was recognized as an Idaho Century Farm through ISHS and the Idaho Department of Agriculture.
Established in 1990, the program recognizes the importance of Idaho’s farming pioneers by designating farms or ranches that have been in the same family for at least 100 years, and that include 40 acres or more of the original land parcel. More than 400 Century Farms have been recognized since, of which about 25 are in Idaho County.
“This is about the 10th we’ve done on the prairie, and it’s always a great place to come,” Bennett said. This is the third one the ISHS has awarded to an Arnzen family, and considering the census data, “I know there are a lot more of them out there,” he laughed.
John and Mary moved from Nebraska in 1917 and purchased their first 80 acres for $225, and they raised cattle, hogs, grain and chickens, “and 11 kids,” Bennett said. Daughter, Margaret, married Lawrence Arnzen, and another daughter, Dorothy, married Virgil Schmidt. John died in 1967 and the operation was taken over by Virgil and Dorothy. When Virgil died in 1998, the place was taken over by Brendan and Mollie.
More than 90 members – overall, five generations were represented — of the Arnzen and Wemhoff families, and friends, attended Saturday afternoon’s recognition ceremony, packing the double garage on the family farm just north of Cottonwood. Among those present was Dorothy, 92.
Brendan spoke for the family, recognizing the relatives who attended and the legacy they proudly maintain from the start given it by John and Mary 100 years ago. That was recognized by Cheri Holthaus of Cottonwood, one of Dorothy’s daughters.
“Thank you for keeping the place up so nice,” Holthaus said. “We had a great childhood here. It was a wonderful life.”
“This is a working farm,” Brendan said, that produces hay, wheat and cattle. The barn and machine shed are the only remaining original structures from when the Wemhoffs first started; the house was built in 1929. Brendan and Molly have two sons: Dereck, a senior at Prairie High School; and Jeffrey, 8th grader.