MOVING AGAIN

 

Well, time marches on, and life is full of surprises. It’s now nineteen-fifty eight; ten years after we got to Missouri; and we are about to receive our biggest surprise of the decade. Pike County is about to issue us a notice of eviction.

 

Our parents had decided that we had lived in our current residence long enough and it was time to build a house. Dad took pencil and paper and started drawing. It would be a three story, square, cement block structure with a 2-car garage in the basement. Next, he had Stanley Hanson come with his bulldozer and dig a big hole in the orchard west of the old house. This was as far as our new house ever got.

 

I was out in the front yard when Jakie Miller, the Amish bishop, came by in his buggy. “Whoa,” he says to his horse. Curious about why he should be reining-up in front of our place; I wander to the edge of the yard.

 

“Dad building a new house?” asks the bishop.

 

“Yup,” I answer.

 

“Gonna have the ‘horse barn’ right in the basement?”

 

“Yup,” I say again; pleased that I understood his metaphor.

 

“Gidyup,” the bishop says to his horse. Without so much as a wave, he was off.

 

Without our being aware of it, two things had been happening over the last ten years. First, we were increasingly becoming an embarrassment to the Amish community; we were a ‘burr under the saddle;’ dressing Amish, and driving a truck; being very public and highly visible we were constantly becoming harder to explain.

 

The other thing that had quietly been happening had to do with the value of land. When our farm was listed for sale, Dad set a price, which made sure that it wouldn’t sell. Then he turned right around and unwittingly sabotaged his own plan. To start with, you are dealing with ‘supply and demand:’ as more Amish try to move into an area; the price of land always goes up. Also, improvements in the area had been steadily taking place; we were now living on a graveled road with farm-to-market roads within a couple of miles on both sides of us.

 

The most significant changes, however, were the ones we had made ourselves. We had drained the pond and built a bigger one: We had built fences, cut brush, and filled gullies: The biggest improvement was to the land itself. Dad’s farming practices were effective. Plowing with chisel plows, stopping erosion, and mixing manure and legumes in the soil had completely gotten rid of Dad’s ‘bottom soil.’ Ten years later, the land was yielding 300 to 400% more than it had when we started. While all this was taking place, Dad had pretty conveniently ‘forgotten’ that the farm was listed for sale.

 

A short time after Bishop Miller’s strange visit the real estate agent came by and, ’right out of the clear blue,’ announced that our farm had been sold. The bishop needed a cheap farm for a son-in-law, and seeing a way to deal with his other vexation; he did the “two-birds-with-one-stone” thing; bought the land and moved us from the area. Dad tried to protest that the farm wasn’t for sale any more but he found out that he was contractually obligated to sell and he had, after all, made a promise to some people in Iowa six years before. Bishop Miller, of course, could not just simply buy the land from someone who was excommunicated from the fellowship. He had found an intermediary, one of ‘the English,’ and offered a generous bonus for buying our farm and re-selling it to him. Even after paying this premium, the bishop was getting a fantastic deal.

 

Fernandez Bontrager sold us eight and one-half acres, “the second place north of the five-corners,” one mile east of Kalona, Iowa. We had an auction and sold the sawmill: Dad’s Iowa buddies showed up early in the morning with their trucks and hauled us and our belongings 200 miles north. We moved the first week in January in 1959; just in time to get “snowed-in” for four days. Until the day of his death, I don’t think Dad had ever gotten completely over that snowstorm.

 

From this base northeast of Kalona, Iowa; the six living descendants of Jacob Y. and Katherine J. (Schrock) Borntreger finished their schooling, came of age, selected their marriage partners and set out, each of them, into their world.

(Note: This concludes this section of family history. JJB)

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