BY GAYLE STUART
(above picture: Stuart Family at the Iowa Heritage Farm Award Ceremony)
The Iowa Heritage Farm program was created in 2006 by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation to recognize families that have owned a farm for 150 years or more. On August 17th, 2023 at the Iowa State Fair, this year’s award winners were recognized. Around 30 members of the Stuart family, under the Scotch Hills banner, were in attendance to accept a Heritage Farm Award.
In the summer of 1870, John Stuart, grandfather of Robert and Leo Stuart, along with his older brother Donald, rode on horseback across the whole state of Iowa looking for potential land to buy. They did like the land in Greene and Carroll Counties, but this land was out of first hands and was priced at $25 per acre.
In February of 1871, John purchased all of Section 11 and the North half of Section 14 of Layton Township, Pottawattamie County, Iowa, less the right-of-way of the Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. The land was purchased for $10 per acre from George Keeline, a realtor from Council Bluffs, Iowa. The land was virgin prairie and had expired military Patents on it.
John retired in 1903 and his sons Alex and Leo took over the farm.
Upon his return from World War I, and the death of Leo from the Influenza Pandemic of 1919, Cecil returned to the farm to begin his operation.
Cecil retired in 1960 and his two sons, Robert and Leo Stuart, took control of the farm. In May of 1973, Cecil’s widow, Winona, along with Robert and Leo, established Scotch Hills, Inc. as a family farm corporation.
In 2018, Leo’s son, Grant Stuart, took full control of the farm operation.