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Looks to pass farm on to 4th generation

August 28, 2011
By CLAYTON RYE, For The Messenger , Messenger News

EAGLE?GROVE - George Gross, of Fort Dodge, remembers growing up on his family's Century Farm, south of Eagle Grove on Iowa Highway 17 in Wright County.

When his father, Lyle Gross, was cultivating, he could see when George and his siblings got off the school bus.

They had 15 minutes from then to change their clothes, get something to eat and anything else they needed until they had to be outside doing their chores.

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Clayton Rye
George and Linda Gross stand beside their John Deere B tractor that stands next to a field that is part of the Gross Century Farm south of Eagle Grove along Iowa Highway 17.

At the time, George Gross thought it seemed to be an imposition to work like that, but he recognizes now that the farm was a great place to grow up. In high school, George Gross was an FFA member, farrowing hogs as a project.

Lyle and Helen McNeal Gross raised beef cattle, hogs and 1,000 chickens, plus a garden that Lyle Gross worked on several hours a day.

Helen Gross, who had the nickname of "Peachy," delivered eggs and fresh chickens to customers in the Eagle Grove area through the 1960s and had her own garden for flowers.

Fact Box

Gross Century Farm

Established: 1907

Generations: Third

Township: Troy

Acres: 70

Awarded: 2010

Lyle and Helen Gross worked hard on their farm "keeping everything up to snuff," according to a 1968 edition of the Eagle Grove Eagle.

After graduating from high school in 1968, George Gross became an electrician in 1971 and an electrical contractor in Fort Dodge in 1979. His wife, Linda, recently retired from teaching school full time and now substitute teaches.

The original 70 acres in Troy Township that became the Century Farm was purchased by Charles Gross in 1907. The farm was passed onto George Gross' parents.

He bought the farm from a cousin, Charles Stare, who had bought the farm from the first family owner, Charles Gross.

It was Lyle and Helen Gross' wishes to see the farm stay in the family even if no family member was farming the ground. Lyle Gross rented the farm to Les and Shirley Southard, of Woolstock, when Lyle's health started to fail.

The Southards rented the farm for more than 20 years and retired to Clarion when Lyle Gross died.

The farm was then rented to Gary and Sharon Fisher, of Thor, who farm it now.

It was Gary Fisher who alerted George Gross that the farm was eligible to be a Century Farm.

Fisher was instrumental in the idea of the John Deere tractor that is used to mark the Century Farm's location along the highway south of Eagle Grove.

George Gross observed that in 1907 his great-grandfather bought the first 70 acres and 100 years later, in 2007, George was negotiating buying the land from his brother and sister.

It is George and Linda Gross' plan that the farm, now 219 acres, will continue to stay in the family and will be owned by their children, Michael and Marci.

Contact Clayton Rye at



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