Presentation to the Annandale History Club
August 4, 2008
The hilly farm is a beautiful property. It includes a large portion of the east shore of Lake Betsy, and the Clearwater River runs through it. Homestead for the 149.33 acres was granted by President U. S. Grant to Robert Mackereth in 1874, and ownership passed to Robert Mackereth, Jr. in 1906. Robert Mackereth, Jr. sold the property to Louis Andersch in 1914. Frank J. Schiefelbein purchased the farm from the estate of Louis Andersch in August 1944. Frank II purchased the farm from his father, and it has been Frank and Frosty Schiefelbein's home ever since and the nucleus of the now 4,000 plus acre Schiefelbein Farms.
Louis Andersch (1871-1944) was a wealthy man. He was a merchant of hides and furs and the author of the 1906 book, Andersch Bros. Hunters and Trappers Guide, illustrating the fur bearing animals of North America the skins of which have a market value. It is said that Andersch traveled to the farm in a Pierce Arrow with a driver. Andersch raised sheep on his farm. His goal was to build the ideal farm, but some of his buildings were not very practical. Andersch also built a large cabin on Lake Betsy. A renovation project is currently underway to bring the cabin back to the original specs. The cabin has a 500 sq. ft. wrap-around porch and removal of linoleum revealed hardwood floors.
Andersch had a bridge over the Clearwater River built on the farm. Frank brought a photo of the workers and horses building the bridge. Although Frank said that the bridge wasnt well built, it lasted until 1983 when high water washed out the pilings. Parts of the bridge are still in the river.
Frank Schiefelbein heard a story about Louis Andersch's son, Wesley Andersch (1899-1970), hiding out at the farm from mobsters. He had heard that Wesley Andersch escaped discovery by hiding in an oak tree on the farm while gangsters looked for him. The gangsters burned a Model T before leaving. Frank believes the story because he found the remains of a burned out Model T on the farm. If the story is true, an article by Tim Brady entitled Cold Blooded in the December 2007 issue of Minnesota Monthly may explain why the gangsters were looking for Wesley Andersch. Brady wrote, Walter Liggett was shot in an alley behind his home. Twelve days after the shooting, on December 21, 1935, Kid Cann was indicted for the hit. The principal witnesses against him were Liggett's wife and a neighbor of the Liggetts named Wesley Andersch, who claimed to have seen the murder from a back window of his apartment. Wesley Anderschs testimony was later discredited by his ex-wife. She said that he sometimes made things up. Isadore Blumenfield, aka Kid Cann, was acquitted. Kid Cann was a bootlegger during prohibition (1920-1933), who then tried to dominate legitimate liquor sales. He was Minnesota's most notorious mobster. Walter Liggett was a journalist and editor of Midwest American, who doggedly wrote about Kid Cann's crimes and his connections to Governor Floyd B. Olson.
Frank and his mother and brothers stayed at the farm summers and Frank fished and worked for the neighbors doing farm work. In the fall they went back to the city for school. A good student, Frank got a scholarship to St. Thomas Academy and later to St. Thomas College. After graduation from college with a math and science degree, he married and joined the Air Force. He told his wife that he wanted to move to the farm and become a farmer, but she didn't really believe it. In January of 1955, immediately after his discharge from the Air Force, Frank and Donna Frosty Schiefelbein moved to the farm (much to her dismay). Frank started farming. He knew about grain binders and pitching bundles. Otherwise he knew little about farming and relied on good neighbors like Harry Hinz to tell him what machinery he needed and how to go about farming.
Harry Hinz also filled him in on the social activities of the neighborhood and Frank and Frosty joined the Birthday Club, where each person entertained on his birthday. Soon the neighbors and new friends had fun predicting the exact day and time that the Schiefelbeins would give up farming and move back to the city. Frank said that he ended up buying the farms of six of those families when they quit farming, including that of his good friend, Harry Hinz.
Frank had some very funny stories about his first attempts at milking cows and planting crops with an old grain drill. He was a quick learner and eventually built up a herd of dairy cows and also raised pigs and a few beef cattle. Then he decided to raise only beef cattle. He was told to buy Black Angus -- big ones. He went into the packing plant and watched his beef cattle being butchered. He measured the ribeyes, checked for marbling and measured the carcasses. He wanted to be able to differentiate how good the meat was so he could develop the best program for feed. Today Schiefelbein Farms has enough track record that customers bid 10 cents per pound over the market for their cattle.
Customers can order beef cattle raised to certain specifications. Schiefelbein Farms has a natural program. The cattle are on a drug free program and, other than vaccines, no pharmaceuticals are used. When Hardees had financial difficulties, they called Tim Schiefelbein to see if he could suggest anything that would help them. Tim Schiefelbein suggested that certified Angus beef be used exclusively. Steer meat doesn't shrink and has more flavor, whereas cows meat has tallow added and shrinks. Hardees made a fast return from the brink of bankruptcy.
Schiefelbein Farms main business now is breeding stock (bulls and females). They send fertilized eggs out all over the U.S. and then offer a buy-back program for the calves. They know how long it will take to feed the calves and what the end product will be. Schiefelbein Farms in Meeker County has 4,000 acres, 2,000 acres in crops and 2,000 acres in pasture. Most of the land is in North Kingston Township, Meeker County, with some acreage in Southside Township, Wright County. Land is so valuable around here that they can no longer expand in this area as fast as they would like. Their main base of action is in South Dakota, but they have cattle raised in several other states. They merchandise the cattle all over the U.S.
The Schiefelbein family includes Frank and Frosty and nine sons. Sadly, son Bill is deceased. Eight of the sons (all married) work in the business, and so far two of thirty grandchildren are full-time partners. The sons chose schools that taught an aspect of farming needed for the business, so they have their own experts in the fields of genetics, feed, sales, etc. The boys attended different colleges. Of the last three, two attended Texas A & M and the youngest attended Colorado State. The family partnered with Colorado State and Con Agra to develop a grid system for buying cattle. 85% of the fed cattle processed in the U.S. are now sold under this system. The Schiefelbeins advise others on how to complete cattle deals and how to run a successful cattle operation. A new state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly barn is under construction.
Sports Illustrated did a story on the Schiefelbein family in 1991 after they were named National Wrestling Family of the Year. All nine of the boys wrestled at Kimball High School and a couple of the boys went on to wrestle in college. Other publications have featured stories on their family business. If you Google Schiefelbein Farms, dozens of entries are listed. The sons get along and work well together to run a successful business. Schiefelbein Farms is Minnesota's largest source of Angus genetics and 23rd largest in the United States.
The Schiefelbein Sons:
Frank III: Kansas State, cattle health expert
Rick: Iowa State, purchasing agent for the farm
Bob: Michigan State, work coordinator, crops manager
Tom: North Dakota State, feeder, engineer
Mike: Owner of Schiefelbein Trucking, part-time on the farm
Don: Texas A & M, general manager, record keeper, web designer
Tim: Texas A & M, buyer, bull marketer
Danny: Colorado State, geneticist, herd manager
Frank enjoys his time with family. He still comes up with his share of new ideas to try. Frank spends much of his time working on mental health issues and health care. He has chaired the State Mental Health Board. He has also started a company called Venture Health, a health care consulting association.
Summary by Secretary
Annandale History Club