Codys celebrate a century of farmingIt’s hard to miss the Cody farm, which is located four miles east of New Richmond on Highway 64. It’s the one with the six-foot-tall replica of the “Wizard of Oz’s” Tin Man standing guard at the driveway entrance.
By: Gail Winship, New Richmond News
It’s hard to miss the Cody farm, which is located four miles east of New Richmond on Highway 64. It’s the one with the six-foot-tall replica of the “Wizard of Oz’s” Tin Man standing guard at the driveway entrance.
“People just stop their cars on the highway, get out, take their picture with the Tin Man and then get back in their cars and go on their way,” laughed Jim Cody, owner of the property.
While the Cody farm has stood in that location for 100 years, the Tin Man has only been standing since 2000. That’s when Jim’s nephew, Tom, needed a way to attract attention to his “fix-it shop” located on the property.
“It was an easy way to give directions,” Jim said. “Just go four miles east of town and look for the Tin Man.”
Jim and his wife Arliss were still resting up from their recent trip to Madison as they shared memories and family history in their cozy farmhouse kitchen.
The farmstead was honored with a Century Farm Award at the Aug. 5 Sesquicentennial and Century Farm Awards Program. But the farmhouse where the Codys still live is more than 150 years old. It was built by John Crotty in 1855.
The criteria for recognition as a Century Farm is that the Wisconsin property must have had continuous ownership by a family member for 100 years.
This year the Codys and 98 other properties joined the 8,083 Century Farms that have been recognized since 1948.
“It was nice,” Jim said of the presentation ceremony. “We had a good breakfast and visited with some people we know from the New Richmond area.”
Nonplussed by the accolade, Jim preferred to reminisce about Cody family history on the 120-acre farm where he and his five siblings grew up.
Codys head west
It was 1908 when Jim’s grandparents, Ed and Amelia Cody, moved from Horicon, Wis. to the New Richmond farm.
“With the help of their son John,” Jim said, “my grandparents began constructing a complete set of farm buildings.”
By 1916 the Codys purchased another 160-acre farm in Cylon Township. The family worked together to run both farms over the years until they sold that property in later years.
In 1919 John Cody married Marie Trow from Minneapolis and they welcomed seven children born at the farm between 1920 - 1928. Sadly, their only daughter died in infancy of pneumonia, which left the couple to raise a household of six sons.
John was educated as a teacher, but chose the life of a dairy farmer instead. However, knowing the importance of a good education, he made sure all of his sons: Francis, Charles, Gene, Jim and the twins, Tom and Dick, attended the Meadowvale Country School built in 1878 just down the road from the Cody farm. The boys also graduated from New Richmond High School.
Jim said of growing up during the Great Depression, “we were broke, but never poor because we had our family together and had a nice upbringing.”
Jim’s youth was a time when the family had no money but found ways to entertain themselves.
Days were spent swimming in the Willow River and doing farm chores.
“I recall that in 1936 the drought was so bad the Willow stopped flowing under the bridge on 64 east of what is now the Laurel restaurant,” Jim said.
When Jim was 15 years old, tragedy struck the family when the boys’ father was killed in a farming accident, leaving Marie to raise the boys on her own.
“Losing him (John) impacted our lives,” Jim recalled. “We missed his leadership and his judgment.”
Despite the loss of their father and husband, the family continued to run the farm and the boys continued their education.
Jim graduated from high school in 1945 and shortly thereafter, when he was just 20 years old, he purchased farmland that abutted the original Cody farm to the east.
A friend who had taken an interest in young Jim loaned him the $4,500 to buy the 120-acre parcel, which is still part of the current 240-acre Cody farm.
When Jim married Arliss in 1952 he brought his bride to the Cody farm to live. They raised three children, David, Mary (Anderson) and Jeannie, on the farm.
Not long after Jim and Arliss were married, a spectacular storm caused the young couple to begin again almost immediately.
“On Aug. 15, 1954 a storm destroyed the John Bernd barn down the road and proceeded eastward, taking two other barns with it,” recounted Jim. “The barn on the farm next to ours had been built just one month prior to the storm.”
Jim was in the milkhouse with his younger brother Dick when the storm hit. He recalled that the force of the storm destroyed every building on the Cody farm except the house and the milkhouse, which was made of block.
“My brothers helped me rebuild the barn, which took until about mid-October” Jim said. “The rest of the buildings I rebuilt myself.”
Jim rebuilt two machine sheds, two harvester silos and a garage.
With the farm rebuilt, the family continued to work in the dairy business until 1995.
“After 50 years in the dairy business we sold the herd in favor of a less strenuous life,” Jim said. “We raised corn and soybeans from 1995 - 2005. Now our nephew, Tom Cody, runs that operation and has a fix-it shop on the property.”
Jim and Arliss have shared their love for farming with their four grandsons, Erik and Brett Anderson, Christian Cody and Andrew McCormick.
“They have all spent time on the farm picking rock and unloading hay bales,” Jim said. “They’ve spent enough time doing farm chores to get an education. All the boys will be going to college this year.”
As Jim looks back on the history of the farm and his family, he reflects that “all things considered, Arliss and I feel as though up to this point we’ve had a wonderful life. We are lucky to live in a great community surrounded by nice neighbors.”