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Wallewein Family

Submitted by Chris Browning, Louanne & Mike Wallewein

Adam Wallewein was born in White Russia sometime around 1884 in a predominately German settlement.  His father died when Adam was around age 9 and his mother soon remarried.  There were eight or nine children in the family and since it was, at that time, against the law for her children to leave that country with a stepfather, they were left with other families to be raised while his mother and stepfather came over to settle in Canada.  Over the next few years, Adam lived and worked with numerous families and continued his education until the mandatory age of 16 at which time the government said their education was completed.

At the age of 18, Adam joined the Russian Army and stayed there for the next three and one half years.  During this time, family members had been in touch with his mother and upon his discharge, Adam and one of his brothers decided to come over to Canada to find her and their stepfather.  Their search brought them to the Coutts / Sweetgrass area but they were unable to find their mother.  Finally, they were recognized by their uniforms (which they still wore as it was the only clothing they had) and they were sent south to where they were finally reunited.

Adam Wallewein found his mother and stepfather on their homestead (Englehardt) which was located approximately 3 miles south of what would later become the Adam Wallewein homestead. Times were extremely tough and his inability to speak English made things even more difficult.  Adams mother had to tell him that he could not stay there as there was no additional food to feed him.  He went in search of work and a place to stay – finding none he returned to the family home and spent his first winter hunting every day so the family would have food on the table.

By trade, Adam was a carpenter, though through the years he did whatever jobs he had to do to make a living including a lot of rock picking.  The first spring he spent in Montana, he went and found work on the John Kiehlbaugh place (later the Stoltz place on Pederson Road). Adam filed in 1910 on his own piece of ground that was located between the Englehardt Homestead and the Kiehlbaugh place. When the “land man” came to take him to the county office to get his deed in 1915, Adam did not go for fear of losing his job on the threshing crew. The job, for him, was more important than the land.  With another problem in 1916 when the “land man” was supposed to come, it was finally 1917 before he was finally awarded the deed at the land office in Havre.

In the beginning, Adam farmed with horses and horse drawn equipment but he bought his first tractor, a Twin City 21-32, in 1927.  During the early years, he farmed his 320 acres and yielded approximately 500-1000 bushels of wheat. Also on the farm was the milk cow and usually a pig or two.

Adam married Helen Mueller in 1923, whom he met while on a threshing crew together. She was the cook, and together they had two children, Johnnie and Ethel.  Johnnie would go on to work the family farm with his father until Adams death in 1977.  In addition, he bought the Charlie Davis place (made up of several other homesteads) where he also farmed and ranched on his own.  Johnnie married Louise Kleinert and they had a daughter and four sons and (Melissa, Mike, Tom, Andy and David).  Over the years Johnnie continued to add land and equipment and saw the operation grow, finally incorporating in 1980 when they officially became Wallewein Grain & Cattle, INC. Like his father before him, he stayed on the farm until his death in 1992.

The oldest son, Michael worked along side his father learning everything he could. He graduated from NTCHS in 1978 and spent a couple years at Northern Montana College in Havre and also joined the Montana National Guard.  Through it all, he continued to keep a hand in every aspect of the farm.  He would take over the entire operation in 1992 at the age of 32 with his brother David.  Mike married Luanne Morley in 1981 and they have three children, Lance, 26, Jamie, 23, and Jesse, 20.  Lance works along side his father on the farm today doing everything from seeding and spraying to harvesting. Jesse is there working all aspects of the cattle and sheep operation when she is home from going to college in Bozeman. She started her own herd of cattle in 2010. Jamie also worked with the sheep until she moved away in 2005.

The Wallewein Grain and Cattle, Inc. operation today has grown to 12,000 acres and  includes 200 cows, 80 sheep and any number of chickens, ducks, geese, horses and a milk cow also wandering the place.  Up until a couple of years ago, they had run a successful pig operation of up to 500 hogs for a period of 20 years.  In addition to the animals, they harvest approximately 100 tons of alfalfa hay and sanfoin, 90,000 bushels of barley, 70,000 of spring wheat, 50,000 bushels of durum (which goes to a local plant in Great Falls for production into pasta at “Pasta Montana”) and 6,000 bushels of mustard that is also shipped to Great Falls for further production into French’s Mustard. In their spare time, Mike, Lance and David do custom spraying, haying and harvesting for other local area farmers.

A look around the office walls show that the farm has been recognized for their success in many ways.  There are many awards for “4-H Symbol of Excellence” for Mike’s work with the hog operation and the production of quality hogs for the 4-H program.  There is a “Steer of Merit” award showing the quality a cattle that come from the herd, and literally totes full of awards that the three Wallewein children were awarded while in 4-H which depict again, the quality of both the farming and animal operations.  Another wall shows a “Toole County Conservationist of the Year Award” depicting the family’s concern for the environment.

No matter how busy they are, there is always time for a farm tour at the Wallewein’s. They have been visited by many 4-H Student Exchange youth, International 4-H Youth Exchange students and even a church group from Tanzania that wanted to learn more about our methods of farming.

The Wallewein home today sits on the original homestead and the original homestead building is still standing.  There are many modern buildings and lots of new machinery but amongst it all are the buildings where it all began 100 years ago!  The new mixed in with the old but oh, the memories!!

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