Odebolt, Iowa - Lakin Ranch, Shinrome Farms, Stenoien

Charles E. Lakin - The Lakin Ranch

(Source:  “As Time Goes By”, Odebolt, Iowa 1877-1977, 
printed by The Odebolt Chronicle May, 1977, p. 113)

Charles E. Lakin operated the Lakin Grain Company and Lakin Implement Co.  He held the International Harvester franchise in his home town of Emerson.  With his wife and four children he moved into the large modern home Robert Adams had built for “Bill” Adams as a wedding present a short distance from the other farm buildings.  One of Lakin’s first steps was to build a new brick office at the heart of the ranch. 

He sold off several parcels of land on the fringes of the farm.  Leonard Hoefling, a local farmer, bought 100 acres north of Highway 175.  Wilbert Mohr, another local farmer, bought 135 acres north of the Chicago and Northwestern tracks.

In 1967 the Lakin Ranch came to the attention of the Shinrone Corporation in Michigan and the ranch was sold for the second time.


William Oldfield Bridge - Shinrone Farms

William Oldfield Bridge, a Bloomfield, Michigan trucking company executive and prominent in horse racing circles, is [in 1977] one of three directors of Shinrone Inc.  His wife, Frances, is president and a director.  The deed for the farm was held in escrow in an Omaha bank until 1975.  In February that year the deed was recorded in the Sac County Courthouse in Sac City.  The purchase price for the transaction was $4 million.

In 1971 the corporation bought the Pierce Gunderson 160-acre farm on the east of the ranch land.

According to an Associated Press release, Bridge was one of 10,000 whose tax debts in 1967 were cut by the IRS.  He told IRS he had only $10,768 in assets.  His tax bill for $594,398 was reported settled December 14 for $110,000.  The balance was written off the books.  Harold Snyder, chief of the IRS Collection Division, said that $140,000 was recovered from another person in a separate transfer proceeding.  September 29, 11 weeks before the settlement was approved in Washington, Shinrone Inc. bought the Charles E. Lakin Ranch at Odebolt.

After Shinrone Inc. acquired the property, a white army of machines invaded the farm.  A quarter million was invested in new equipment.  The tractors, combines and implements ordered from Massey-Ferguson were especially painted white, emblazoned with a green shamrock and the name of Ireland’s town of Shinrone.  The shipments came from plants in Des Moines, Detroit, Akron, Ohio, Algoma, Wis., [and] Bradford, Ontario, Canada.  The initial shipment included 14 large MF tractors, four combines, a garden tractor, and corn heads, disc harrows, planters and other implements.

A 5,200 acre field corn crop and a quantity of feeder cattle would be raised on the farm.

Roy Selley, who managed the operation for Lakin, was named farm manager.  William Rector, who was born on the farm and has been associated with it ever since, managed crop operations, and Wayne Carlson, a former Taylor County farmer, managed livestock activities.

Employment on the farm ranged from six to more than 20 in peak seasons.

Shinrone soon made changes.  A large feedlot was constructed in 1968, one of the largest in this section of the country.  The hillside feedlot contained 4,500 head of cattle at one time in a series of about 16 feeding pens.  Another 1,200 head can be fed at the Shinrone Farm old lot that was operated for several years.

What was once a cornfield now [1977] has concrete aprons to provide solid footing for cattle consuming rations at fence-line feed bunks.

Three large trench-type silos were built.  The feeding pens are created by a network of wooden fence posts and steel cables.  The fence lines angle to the southwest, which is designed to permit a more generous flow of summer breezes.  The southern slope of the hill on which the pens are located helps provide protection from cold winter winds.  Another protective device is a slat-board fence being built across the crest of the hill.

Water is provided in each of the feedlots, and each feedlot is shaped so they drain to the bottom of the hill.  The operation is [in 1977] Iowa’s largest single farming unit. Mostly corn is grown on the farm and most of this is chopped for silage each fall. 

In 1970 Shinrone had the largest consignment of cattle ever sold at the Sioux city stockyards from one farm when 5,000 head were shipped in three shipments.  Some of the cattle, 1600 to 2,000, came from the L.B.J. Ranch in Texas owned by the late President Lyndon B. Johnson, and were sold to Shinrone Farm in August 1969.

Roy Selley managed the farm until February 1973 when he left to manage a farm operation at Gehring, Neb.  Hans Sokolowski came as manager and he left in April 1976 for Parkville, Mo.  After he left George Cline assumed the manager’s position.

(Transcribed by B. Ekse)

Stenoien Buys 3 Sections of Original Adams Ranch

Odebolt Chronicle, Vol. 98, No. 16, Thursday, April 17, 1986

The sale was closed Friday for the center three sections of the original Adams Ranch. Douglas Stenoien, a Chicago businessman, purchased Section 4 and 5 of Wheeler Township and Section 32 of Richland Township for $750 per acre. The 1,883 acres were purchased at a total cost of $1.4 million, from the Federal Land Bank. The bank took over ownership of the three sections of land in 1983 when they foreclosed on former owner Ray Kluver.

The buildings have deteriorated the last few years and it is Stenoien's intention to fix them up. "At the present time we are looking for a good deal on the paint," stated Gary Stenoien, his son. "What the buildings will be used for yet, we're not sure of," continued Gary.

Paul Lindgren, a rural Arthur farmer, will be managing the operation. They have plans to custom farm the land.


The ranch originally consisted of nine sections, purchased by H.C. Wheeler in 1871 from the Iowa Railroad Land Company for three dollars an acre.

In 1896 Wheeler sold the ranch to W. P. Adams. For the land Wheeler paid $20,000 for a quarter of a century earlier, he reportedly received $185,000. W. P. had all the sections fenced with cement posts and shade trees lined every roadway around every section. When he died in 1937 the Adams Ranch had never had a mortgage on it and had never operated in the red.

Robert Adams took over the operation of the ranch following his father's death. In addition to the farming, he became interested in breeding, selling and showing saddle horses. He left the ranch to his son Robert Adams, who introduced Hereford cattle and built up a herd of registered stock in the ranch.

In 1963 the ranch was sold to Charles E. Lakin of Emerson. The ranch then consisting of 6,510 acres went for $2,500,000. He sold off several parcels of land on the fringes of the ranch.

William Bridge of Bloomfield, MI purchased the ranch in 1967 but the deed for the ranch was held in escrow in an Omaha Bank until 1975. In February that year the deed was recorded in the Sac County Courthouse. The purchase price for the transaction was $4 million. The ranch then became known as Shinrone, Inc. Changes were then made. A large feedlot was constructed in 1968. The hillside feedlot contained 4,500 head of cattle at one time in a series of about 16 feeding pens. Three large trench type silos were also built.

In 1970 Shinrone had the largest consignment of cattle ever sold at the Sioux City Stockyards from one farm, when 5,000 head were shipped in three shipments.

The ranch was split and sold off in 1978 with several area farmers buying portions of the land.


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