Roedel Family Farm: A piece of Michigan History

A Michigan woman recalls the history of her fifth-generation family farm

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The Roedel family farm was originally purchased from the State of Michigan on January 3, 1854, by William Ladd. He sold it to William Wenn on July 8, 1856, who sold it to James Applebee on November 13, 1857. We have the original deed from the State of Michigan.

On January 29, 1866, James Applebee sold the family farm to John L. Roedel. The land at that time was covered with virgin timber.

John L. Roedel Sr., with his wife, Margaretha, nee Ortner, came to America from Oberwurmbach, Germany, in April of 1852. At that time they had four children, including John Leonard Roedel Jr., who was 12 weeks old when they came to Frankenmuth, Michigan. When John L. Roedel Jr. was 29 years old, he purchased the farm from his father, built a house and brought his bride, Barbara Geyer, to this farm. They had six children: three sons and three daughters. The oldest son left the farm to make his fortune in the city, but the other two sons farmed for a living. Three daughters also married farmers.

John Roedel Jr. sold the farm to his youngest son, Otto, on April 18, 1921. Otto brought his bride, Linda Fischer, to the farm on May 29, 1921. They also had six children: three sons and three daughters. One son and one daughter died in childhood. One daughter married a farmer and the other daughter became a nurse. Both of the remaining sons became farmers. During the years of Otto's farming, he had a bit of everything – cows, pigs, sheep and chickens. He raised crops to feed the livestock and some crops for cash. Of the 74-acre farm, 20 acres were left in timber so that there would be enough wood to heat the house for generations to come.

Otto Roedel sold the farm to his youngest son, Howard, and his wife, Grace, nee Hecht, on May 2, 1955. At that time they were the parents of three girls.

Howard and Grace farmed the Roedel homestead for 35 years until Howard's death in September of 1990. During our years of farming we cleared the 20 acres of woods. Today the house is heated with natural gas. We had a dairy operation until March of 1980, a beef operation until the fall of 1988, and then we raised cash crops, including sugar beets, corn, wheat, soybeans, hay and oats.

Through the years our daughters were a big help on the farm, but all have their own homes now. The youngest daughter, Joy, and her husband, Larry Kischnick, live in the farmhouse that was built by Joy's great-grandfather, John L. Roedel Jr., in 1881. Their two daughters, Erin and Leah, have the distinct honor of being the fifth generation to live in the same house.

The farm has been in the Roedel family for more than 125 years. We are thankful to our good Lord for letting this happen. We also hope that the farm will remain in the family for many years to come.

Grace Roedel
Frankenmuth, Michigan


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.