My Grandma Waller was born in 1886 on a farm in Dakota Territory. Her family spent the decade of the 1880s on this homesteaded farm where three of their sons had been born prior to the birth of my Grandmother—Mary Alice Tucker. Grandma’s parents, David and Margaret (Bibby) Tucker, and her grandparents, Alexander and Eunice (Wartman) Tucker, had owned separate farms in Jackson County, Wisconsin before they both homesteaded in Dakota Territory. The move from Wisconsin was probably because of poor crops here owing to draught conditions and the possibility of obtaining free land under the Homestead Act.

Only the elder Tucker couple continued to live on their farm in the new state of North Dakota, and they eventually died and were buried there. Their son, George, headed west and settled in Carnation, Washington where his descendants remain to the present day. David and Margaret and their four children returned to Wisconsin and bought a farm in Glasgow from a relative—the farm known to the present time as “The Tucker Farm.”

Two more daughters and then two more sons were born here in Wisconsin before both the mother and baby died during childbirth in 1904. The three Tucker daughters, as they matured, attracted the attention of a Norwegian bachelor farmer living on the adjacent farm. And so Mary, the oldest daughter, married Lemuel H. Waller and moved into a large, new, brick home on his farm. All eight of the Tucker offspring married and all but Mary and Richard left the community, and five of them settled on the West Coast. Richard remained on the Tucker farm.

Mary and Lem had eight children, and Mary was pregnant with the ninth child when Lem died in 1918. With her oldest child age sixteen years, Mary and her children were forced to operate the farm without the man of the family. In the early 1930s, at the height of the Great Depression, Mary’s father requested that she and her children should take over the Tucker farm and also care for her aging father in failing health. Mary, with five sons and one daughter, then moved to the Tucker farm leaving, her oldest son, Goodwin and his bride to run the Waller farm. Two daughters, Alice and Martha, had married earlier and had left home; both ended up on Trempealeau County dairy farms as also did their younger sister, Victoria.

Mary and her children managed the Tucker farm very well until the onset of World War II. During the war years, three sons, Sanford, Winfred, and Leslie, served in the military. One son, Roy, had tuberculosis and was confined to the TB sanitarium in Onalaska. Another son, Emanuel, suffered from a severe problem with hay fever and asthma and spent two summers out of state seeking relief from this disease. Mary’s oldest grandson, Milton Aleckson, also lived on the Tucker farm at that time and assisted with the farm work despite the fact he just turned fourteen years old in 1945. Assisting with the harvesting of canning peas on our farms were several German prisoners of war (POWs) brought out from their camp in Galesville.

The picture of Grandma Waller standing in an open field was taken in1953 during a trip that she took to visit her youngest son, Leslie, in the Air Force Texas, and her relatives in Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, and Montana. This might be the last picture taken of her while she was still in good health. A few days after she came home from this extensive trip out west, she had a debilitating stroke and then died a few months later in early 1954.

After Mary’s death, her son, Goodwin, bought the Waller farm and another son, Winfred, bought the Tucker farm. Because grandma had financed the purchase of a farm for her son, Emanuel, she had also become the owner of a third farm when he died from his hay fever/asthma mentioned earlier. This farm was then purchased by grandson, Milton Aleckson. We sometimes hear about “Women in Agriculture” as if it’s a new phenomenon, but it was simply fate that made our Grandma Waller one of Wisconsin’s early Women in Agriculture.

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