Family Farm Heritage

Posted: September 19, 2022

Centennial/Sesquicentennial Farms in DeKalb County

Schafer Farm

City: Malta
Township: Malta
Original Date of Purchase: 1903
Current Owner: David Schafer
Acres: 160

Farm History

William Schafer came to DeKalb County from Port Byron, Illinois in 1900 at the age of 30. In 1903 he purchased 160 acres in Section 14 of Malta Township on the northwest corner of Malta from the Frank D. Pease family. He paid $115 an acre.

William Schafer was the patriarch of the family purchasing 160-acres in 1903.

In 1904 William married Althea Plapp and they became the parents of three sons – Rudolph, Willard and Delos. William and Althea later purchased two adjoining properties in Malta Township. Beside farming, William also was the Malta Township Supervisor for 19 years.

David Schafer is the 4th generation to own the farmland.

William’s son, Willard, farmed the “home farm” property and was later joined his son, Ralph, (wife, Sandy) in 1960. Together they raised corn and soybeans as well as cattle and pigs.

The Schafers fed cattle for several years on the home farm. Here, Willard is shown in the feedlot in 1950.

In 1990, Ralph and Sandy’s son, David, joined the farm operation. The Schafers eventually quit feeding livestock but continued growing grain. Their daughter, Jacquie, and her husband Bill Young joined the operation in 2015. Ralph passed away two years ago and his family carries on the family farm tradition.

The latest generation of Schafers are the Ralph (dec.) and Sandy Schafer family with Dave and Sue, Randy, Jacquie and Bill, and their children and grandchildren.

David recently purchased 146 acres of adjoining farmland from his Great Uncle Del’s family so it remains part of the Schafer Farms.

The original farmhouse dates back to the 1900s and has been occupied by three generations of Schafer family members – William, Willard and Ralph. Ralph and Sandy moved into the farmhouse in 1962, shortly after they were married. The farmhouse has been remodeled and added to over the years. As a reminder of the past, a gas light fixture is still on the wall of the basement entry.

The original farmhouse with its grandiose wraparound porch from the 1900s and an aerial view of the home farm in the 1980s shows the changing structures on the farmstead.

The landscape of the farmstead has changed over the years with machine sheds replacing barns and cattle feeding confinements. Grain bin structures were erected for grain storage next to their concrete silos.

The Schafer Farm is owned and farmed by a descendent of William Schafer after 119 years. David Schafer is the fourth generation of family members. The farm has proven to be a wonderful
place to enjoy and raise their family.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Centennial & Sesquicentennial Farms Program honors generations of farmers who have worked to maintain family farms for 100+ years. The DeKalb County Farm Bureau recognizes these local farms and families – the seventh in a series of features. To have your farm featured, contact the Farm Bureau.