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Thomas Botko: Master Farmer


Suzette Ash


On August 2, 1910, my grandfather, Thomas Botko was born.He had three sisters and four brothers.

Mr. Botko's father is George Botko and he married EllaMahounsky. Ella was only four years old when she came to the United Stateswith her parents. George Botko came to the United States with his fatherwhen he was 1 year old. When they grew up, Ella and George met in Minneapolisand later on were married. They lived on a farm in Farley Township in PolkCounty.

My grandfather was the fourth oldest child in his family.He went to school in Farley Township. The schoolhouse had only one roomand one female teacher taught first grade through the eighth grade in thatone room. Like most females, she was deathly afraid of mice. One day, mygrandfather and some of his friends thought it would be funny if she openedher desk and found a mouse in it so they put one in her desk. They endedup washing blackboards and sweeping the floor every night after school forabout a week. My grandfather only completed school through the eighth gradebecause in order for him to go further in his education he would have tostay in town. His family couldn't afford this and they needed him to workon the farm.

Thomas Botko was baptized and confirmed in the Holy TrinityLutheran Church. He has been very active in church organizations all hislife.

When my grandfather was a boy, to raise spending moneyhe raised rabbits. He raised them with his brother, George. They would buybreeding stock and feed them until they were big and fat. They they shippedthe rabbits to some packing company. One time they shipped the rabbits toa different packing company in Minneapolis. Two weeks later they got theirrabbits back, skin and bones. On the crates there were notes attached sayingthere wasn't any such company.

Also, my grandfather would trap skunks. He would kill andskin them and ship the skunk skins to Minneapolis. He caught the skunksby gasing them. If he knew there were skunks under a shed, he would blockit off all around except for a small hole in which they could come out andthen attach a tube under the shed. He would start the pickup and go to theplace that he didn't block off and when the skunks came running out he wouldcatch them. His brother, George, was being mean to him one day and he toldmy grandfather, if he would come up behind a skunk real quietly and grabit by the tail to pick it up that the skunk wouldn't be able to spray him,but my grandfather really found that his brother was wrong in a hurry forthe skunk sprayed him right in the face.

At the age of seventeen, Thomas Botko wrote news at homefor the Grand Forks Herald. He enjoyed doing this and he got paid two orthree dollars a month.

When my grandfather was about 22 years old, he startedfarming with his father. He enjoyed farming very much. His father rentedhim 160 acres of land to farm by himself. He was proud of this little sectionof land and tried to do his best with it. With some money he had saved uphe bought himself a tractor, binder and a plow. He raised wheat, barley,and oats on his land. The next spring he cleaned out a wagon load ofabout 80 bushels of seed barley, for this man. He got paid twenty dollarsfor doing this. He then sold the seed barley to another man and got anothertwenty dollars. My grandfather did a lot of odd jobs to raise a little moneybesides farming, and he farmed this way for three years.

Then one day my grandfather met Clara Quern, my grandmother,at a dance in Tabor, Minnesota. She has five brothers and two sisters. Theystarted dating each other and on June 4, 1935 they were married.My grandfather and grandmother didn't have a place to live yet so they livedwith my grandfather's folks until the following March. During this timeTomas bought a farm from his cousin who lives in Minneapolis. Finally theymoved and got settled and were very anxious to start their lives together.My grandfather and grandmother had four children. Two boys which are twins,Jerald and Jerome, and two girls, Ann and Sharon.

They farmed to make a living and raised poultry, hogs,and cattle. In 1952, they started raising sugar beets. He bought another80 acres of land from his father's estate in 1967. They started raisingsugar beets from 30 acres and kept increasing his beet acreage to70 acres. He started with a one row harvester and used that until 1965.Then he bought a two row harvester, which he is using at the present time.

My grandfather started farming sugar beets because he wanteda row crop on his farm. He uses Mexican Labor to do his beets. He now growsall foundation seed for Minnesota Crop Foundation. In 1967, three Minnesotaseed growers were honored by the University of Minnesota and the MinnesotaCrop Improvement Association for their long and outstanding records in certifiedseed production. My grandfather was one of these three men. He has beena registered seed grower for 15 years. A seed and beef producer, he wasa director of the West Polk County Crop Improvement Association and hasbeen the Red River Valley Winter Shows Crops Superintendent, and in 1967was named master crop grower by the winter shows.

He is superintendent of the poultry shows in Marshall County.Also he received the award of Master Farmer at the Marshall County ShortCourse in 1954.

For five years, he has been superintendent of the graindepartment at the Winter Shows at Crookston, Minnesota.

Besides being a great farmer, my grandfather has been andstill is active in the community, township, and church organizations. For15 years he was township clerk.

So to sum things up, as you can see my grandfather, ThomasBotko has really accomplished a lot in his life time and had a lot of funin his younger years. Even though times have changed we will always haveour memories to turn to for information of the past.



Botko,Thomas, Warren, Minnesota. Interviewed on Dec. 26,1971


Botko,Thomas, Warren, Minnesota. Interviewed on Dec. 26,1971