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The Bockwitz Farms


Bradley Hemmes

The Bockwitz Farms of Humboldt, Minnesota have contributed to the development and served the surrounding farmers unfailingly. The following essay, describing the growth and decline of the farms, is a memo to their helpfulness.

Humboldt, Minnesota is a small, quiet town located just six miles straight east of the Red River. Humboldt was founded by the famous James J. Hill. When Mr. Hill bought up the railroad rights surrounding what we now call the Great Northern Railway; he became involved in one of the largest farming operations in the state of Minnesota. Humboldt was just another town where his hired help could stay. Soon a sizable town grew up around Mr. Hill's men and all surrounding farmers began to ship their produce here.

Because of the pressures other than the farm, Mr. Hill decided to descillate the immensely large operation. He sold parts of his farm and parts of his railway rights to individuals interested in breaking up the land for the purpose of farming. These were excellent chances for ambitious men to gain. Men could buy excellent land from Mr. Hill at very reasonable costs. When they completed their farming operation for the year, they could ship their produce on a reasonable and nearby railway. Ambitious men who took advantage of such bargains often paid for their complete farm in two or three years. From then on was time for expansion and more security in their own farms.

One of these ambitious individuals was Fred Bockwitz. Along with his family, he built one of the largest and most prosperous farming operations in the Red River Valley. Fred Bockwitz and son, Virgil, began their farm in the early 1930's. They came to the Red River Valley seeking land to farm just as many other 'could be' farmers. The Bockwitzs bought their farm from parts of the Hill farm and surrounding pieces of land near Humboldt. They proved themselves ambitious, intelligent and hardy. Within a short period of years, they had paid for the farm and began to increase this now beautiful operation.

In 1934, Virgil Bockwitz and wife, Vera, moved a home to Humboldt from a Matthew farm. This house still resides in Humboldt. Alfred Rustad now owns this fine old house. It was in this home that Mr. and Mrs. Virgil Bockwitz had their first child, Madrienne.

The Bockwitz Farms continued to grow and prosper. In the period prior to and during Christmas Eve, 1941, Mr. and Mrs. Virgil Bockwitz spent their time preparing a new home. In a rather well timed Christmas gift, the Bockwitz family enjoyed a new home just across town from their other home. In this large, rather stately home is where Mr. and Mrs. Bockwitz reside today. Their four children have grown up and married, but they still lead a rather busy life in their home.

As the Bockwitz Farm grew, so did the family. Mr. and Mrs. Bockwitz were blessed with three more children: Jewel, Rodney, and Robert. The children helped directly on the farm or participated in the farm activities in some way. This too contributed to the expansion of the farms.

The Bockwitz Farms grew not only in terms of land and machinery but also in buildings, tools, and livestock. At one time, the Bockwitz buildings and area surrounding these same buildings was larger than the entire other part of Humboldt. The farm not only produced grain products but rabbits, chickens, meat and dairy cattle, pigs, sheep, and even dogs and cats. It took a large crew of men to take care of such an operation. The Bockwitz Farms benefited the Humboldt community immensely in population, wealth and even community spirit.

As the large farm grew and contained every facet of farming, the rising expense became apparent. The rising cost of farm expense was soaring and problems concerning maintenance were ever increasing. This along with the headache of such a large operation forced the farms to descillate. Finally in 1966, partly due to finances and considering that all his children were grown and making other livings, Virgil Bockwitz made the step of retirement.

Ever since the arrival of Bockwitz family to the Humboldt community, life for citizens has been a little nicer. Mr. and Mrs. Fred Bockwitz were important community members as well as being very helpful individuals. Mrs. Fred Bockwitz now resides in a large, yellow home, built by her husband in Humboldt, Minnesota.

Mr. and Mrs. Virgil Bockwitz have certainly not been idle in town affairs. Virgil has been an active member of the Humboldt school board, the elevator association, and the town council, to mention a few jobs. Vera has been a WSCS member, a Ladies Aid member, and a Homemakers member. Virgil still owns a shop where all the nearby farmers can buy their needed repairs, bolts, etc. Mr. and Mrs. Virgil Bockwitz are and will always continue to be some of the most helpful persons within the Humboldt community.

The Bockwitz farms is only one of the many examples of Red River Valley history. The history of the valley is likely to continue in a similar fashion until this valuable land itself is finally gone.


Personal Interviews -

Vera Bockwitz, Humboldt, Minnesota

Virgil Bockwitz, Humboldt, Minnesota

Wilbert Hemmes, Humboldt, Minnesota

Leona Hemmes, Humboldt, Minnesota

Kittson County Enterprise. 50th Anniversary Edition. J. E. Bouvette and Sons, September 11, 1935.

Picture -

Mrs. Harris Easton, Humboldt, Minnesota