100+ years of family farming: Riverland property designated Michigan Centennial Farm

ESCANABA – The Germain family farm of Delta County has recently been added to the Michigan Centennial Farm registry of the Historical Society of Michigan. To be designated as a Centennial Farm, a property must be a working farm of 10 or more acres that has been continuously owned by the same family for at least 100 years.

The four-generation farm started in April 1905 when Joseph Sr. and Adelle Germain arrived from Clarence Creek, Canada. They purchased 80 acres of property in Danforth along with three horses, three cows, wagons, sleighs and farming implements.

Their son and his wife, Joseph Jr. and Regina Germain, purchased the farm in June of 1908. Besides owning a grocery store adjacent to the farm from 1921 to 1949, Joseph Jr. Maintained a herd of dairy cattle, horses and pigs, and the farm produced hay, corn and oats. He was also a timber logger and had his own camp near Hardwood.

In 1920, the barn was built using timber he had cut. In 1941, their house was destroyed by fire and the family moved above the store.

Joseph died in 1948 and the farm became the property of his son and daughter-in-law, Fred and Bertine. Soon after, they built their home upon the foundation of the previous home with timber Fred had logged. Fred maintained a herd of dairy cows and milk was produced for sale to a local dairy company.

He sold the dairy cows in 1978 but being one to keep busy, he purchased a herd of beef cattle and continued working the fields, making hay, and taking care of his large garden.

Fred and Bertine Germain raised five children on the farm: Donna (Seymour), Yvonne (Flynn), Jan Germain, Pauline (Gorenchan), and Ron Germain.

In 2002, their son, Ron, and his wife, Kay, purchased the farm and still keep a small herd of Black Angus cows, along with operating a horse boarding facility.

Tim Gorenchan, grandson of Fred and Bertine, became interested in the history of his grandparents’ farm and researched the necessary information to complete and submit the extensive application. His cousin, Tina (Germain) Rose, researched the necessary deeds and abstract information.

The Centennial Program is sponsored by Michigan Electrical Utility companies to commemorate the dramatic changes electricity brought to farm operation and family life.

The Upper Peninsula Power Company presented the family with a sign and the Historical Society gave a certificate and a membership to the Historical society of Michigan.