The name of the Century Farm is The Bilyeu Farm.
Josiah and Karen Bilyeu were the original owners in July of 1918. Four sons were in the service at the same time. Roy was too young and farmed with his father. Josiah died at age 57 and Karen continued to farm with Roy. With help from her sons, Karen kept the farm together during the depression. From 1950 to 1959, Roy and his brother Merle farmed together. Merle was Keith's father, and he bought the farm from his siblings, along with his wife, Adeila, in June of 1961. Roy and his wife, Norma, started a business after 1959 and moved to Mason City. Merle retired in 1990 and started renting out the farm to Jim Steffen and Matthew Swingen. They cash rent and farm the land. Keith is also retired and has kept up the rental agreement. Adeila is 90 and in a nursing home in Story City.
The first mortgage on the Bilyeu farm in 1918 was $15,768 or $146 per acre. In 1961, Merle bought the farm for $275 per acre.
Acres were 108 at first. Now there are 240 acres. The Conservation Reserve Program acres are used for pheasant hunting.
Corn and beans are rotated today. Josiah and Karen had milk cows, hogs, chickens, ducks, geese and sheep. Oats, straw and Timothy hay were for the horses, corn for the hogs, and alfalfa for the milk cows.
A lot of horse-drawn equipment was sold or cut up for metal. A manure spreader is from the late 1940s or early 1950s. The family had no running water until Keith was 16. Electricity came in 1940.
There are no buildings on the farm, but some foundations are left: for the hog house, the hen house and the house.
Over the years, production has changed a lot. When Keith graduated from high school in 1967, it took a month to harvest. Now corn is out in one day and soybeans are out the next day. There was an 8-row planter when Keith went to college.
The hope is to keep the farm in the family. Keith and his older brother are the most connected and he says his kids don't have farming in their blood.
Legacy of the farm was celebrated for four days by 100 family members related to Josiah. The celebration started the day after the Awards Ceremony.
The reunion was organized by Steve Bilyeu of San Antonio, Texas, Beth Bilyeu of Clear Lake, and Keith. Family came from California, Utah, Texas and Iowa.
They went to the Iowa State Fair, a picnic in Forest City, the Grant Township Cemetery close to the Century Farm and then to the Century Farm. While the adults went to reminisce in the Woden Community Center on Saturday, the kids enjoyed themselves at the City Park, getting used to the merry-go-round. The Forest City Lodge was rented for more memories and a brunch was Sunday morning.