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In extra large print, the headline of the Link Lake Gazette read, “Prominent Farm Leader Dies in Freak Accident.” A two-column story followed. “Jake Stewart, 65, was found Saturday under a large pile of fertilizer bags on his rural Link Lake farm.” The story went on to detail the events of Stewart’s death, including a halfpage photo of the toppled fertilizer bags with a visibly upset Stewart employee, Tiny Urso, standing nearby. Some wags in Link Lake thought it was suicide, as many people suspected Jake had financial problems, especially since the spotrot disease wiped out his thirty acres of cucumbers. But the coroner ’s report was clear and quoted in the newspaper. “Cause of death: farm accident.” The news story concluded, “The funeral will be held at the Link Lake Methodist Church on Friday at 11:00 a.m. with internment at the Link Lake Cemetery following the services. Lunch will be served by the women of the church following the internment.” Dewey John also wrote an editorial. 212 28 Remembering Jake 213 Remembering Jake    Not everyone always agreed with Jake Stewart, but everyone respected him as a leader in this part of Wisconsin. When farmers still planted an acre or two of cucumbers, Jake was willing to take a risk and plant thirty acres. When numerous farmers believed that a country-school education was good enough for their children, Jake argued long and hard that rural children deserved an education comparable to children in urban areas. When many farmers were skeptical of the university’s College of Agriculture and its teachings, Jake Stewart embraced it. He became a close friend of the county extension agent and also with a College of Agriculture cucumber researcher, who spent many hours at the Stewart farm. We will all remember Jake Stewart for his sincerity, his love of farming, his competitive nature, and his willingness to try something new. He is survived by his daughter, Amy, who until recently was employed by the J. I. Case Company in Racine. Of course the discussion at the grist mill, in the saloons, at Korman ’s restaurant, at the cheese factory, and wherever people gathered was about Jake Stewart’s farm and what was going to happen to it. “Heard that Lake National Bank’s gonna take it all,” one farmer from the east side of town proclaimed, as he sipped a glass of beer at the Link Lake Tap. “Yup, that’s what them banks do. You get in trouble and they come down on you. Take your land away faster’n you can say, ‘This was once my granddaddy’s farm.’ Them damn bankers just don’t care. Miserable bunch they are.” Fellow next to him agreed. “Yes sirree, that’s likely what’s gonna happen. Bank’ll take over the farm, then sell it. Wonder’s who’s gonna buy it? Big place. Thousand acres, you know.” “City guys, that’s who. City guys are buyin’ up all the vacant land around here. Buyin’ it for a summer place and a place to hunt,” another regular at the bar chimed in. He had just drained his glass and held it up to the bartender for a refill. “Know what I heard?” a local livestock hauler chimed in. “I heard old Jake’s daughter, Amy, is taking over the place and running it just like her old man did.” “Where’d ya hear that?” “Heard it over in Willow River when I was delivering pigs this morning. Everybody’s talking about Jake’s farm, even over there. Nobody in these parts has a farm as big as old Jake Stewart’s. Fellow I talked with knew Amy, said he went to high school with her. ‘She’s a smart one,’ the fellow said.” The stories began spreading around, most of them not built on a shred of truth. On Wednesday afternoon, a big Buick pulled into the Meyer farmstead and stopped near the kitchen door; Andy, Isaac, and Mary were just about to sit down for supper before Andy and his dad would go out to the barn to do the evening milking. “Looks like old Jake’s car,” Isaac said. “Yup, it is, and it’s Amy driving. Poor thing, wonder how she’s taking all this?” Amy, wearing a dark dress, walked up to the kitchen door and knocked lightly. “Come in, Amy. Come in,” Mary said. “It’s good to see you. We’re just so sorry...


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