Cottonwood County MN Biographies-Gustav Rasche
"History of Cottonwood and Watonwan Counties of Minnesota, 1916"



Gustav T. Rasche, one of the best-known and most progressive farmers of Cottonwood county, proprietor of a fine farm of one hundred and sixty acres in the Westbrook neighborhood, one-half of which farm lies in Westbrook township and the other half in Rose Hill township, his home being in the latter township, and who for years has been recognized by the agricultural department of the United States government as one of the leading alfalfa experts of the country, is a native son of Minnesota and has lived in this state all his life. He was born in the city of St. Peter, county seat of Nicollet county, April 9, 1878, son of Henry F. and Caroline (Campe) Rasche, both natives of Hanover, Germany, who became pioneers of Cottonwood county, where their last days were spent.

It was in 1873 that Henry F. Rasche and wife and their young children came to this country from Germany. Upon landing at the port of New York they lost little time in proceeding to Minnesota, this state having been their destination when they started from their native land. They located at St. Peter, where Henry F. Rasche was engaged in the lumber business until 1878, when he came to this section of the state and located in Cottonwood county, where he homesteaded a tract of eighty acres in Rose Hill township, on which he threw up a sod house and there established his home, that sod house serving as a home for the family for six years, or until supplanted by the substantial house in which the subject of this sketch now lives. Henry Rasche and his wife were earnest and energetic pioneers and took an active part in the work of developing that part of the county. Mr. Rasche was an excellent farmer and as his farming operations prospered he added to his land holdings until he became a very well-to-do man. He first pre-empted a timber claim of a quarter of a section in Westbrook township, then bought eighty acres of railroad land in Westbrook township, just across the road from his homestead farm, and then bought another quarter section in Rose Hill township, becoming very well established. His wife died on the homestead farm in 1902 and he later retired to the village of Westbrook, where he died in 1910. They were earnest members of the Lutheran church and their children were reared in that faith. There were seven of these children, of whom the subject of this biographical sketch was the last-born, the others being as follow: Henry C., of Regan, North Dakota; Ernest A., of St. Peter, this state, head nurse in the men's department of the state hospital for the insane at that place, a work in which he has been engaged for twenty-five years; Caroline D., wife of E. A. Watschke, of Lake Wilson, this state; Christine, now deceased, who was the wife of the Rev. H. Flathmann; Charles J., a farmer of Westbrook township, and Louis A., of Rose Hill township.

Gustav T. Rasche was but an infant in arms when his parents moved from St. Peter to Cottonwood county and he therefore has spent practically his whole life on the old homestead farm on which he still resides. He supplemented the schooling received in the local school in the neighborhood of his home by close home reading and early was attracted to the possibilities of scientific farming. In 1893 a peck of Grimm alfalfa seed was obtained from Henry Peterman, of Waconia, in Carver county, and he started in on a series of experiments with that variety, the result of which experiments has caused his name to be known among thoughtful agriculturists from ocean to ocean. So satisfactory were the results of his original experiments that Mr. Rasche pursued his labors in that direction with even greater care and for twenty-two years or more has kept that particular strain of seed isolated from the rest of the stock and has produced a distinctive variety of alfalfa, which government bulletins declare to be one of the hardiest strains grown in the Northwest. It would appear that when the agricultural department is asked for information regarding this seed inquirers are directed to Mr. Rasche for the desired information, for he has received letters bearing on the subject from all parts of the country, from the state of Washington to the state of Maine, and one inquirer even wrote from Madison Square Garden, all stating that they had been referred to him by the department at Washington.

In 1913 Mr. Rasche took the short course in agriculture at the University of Minnesota farm and in 1914 was appointed a delegate from Minnesota to the sixth national corn exposition, held at Dallas, Texas, February 10-24, his appointment coming from Hon. Adolph O. Eberhart, then governor of Minnesota. Mr. Rasche is one of the most active members of the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association and for several years past has given most of his attention to the breeding of seeds, especially of that particular strain of alfalfa seed which he has produced, all the seed he raises being eagerly bought by the government for distribution. Among the prizes he has taken on the Rasche strain of Grimm alfalfa may be mentioned the following: First premium, Minnesota state fair; first premium, Minnesota seed fair; first premium, Northwestern corn and grain show, and fourth premium, world's class, national corn exposition. Mr. Rasche has also been, successful in breeding what is now known as the Rasche "sixty-day" oats, a variety that has attracted widespread attention, and he is widely recognized, not only in Minnesota, but throughout the Northwest generally, as one of the most advanced farmers and seed experts in the country.



2005 Cottonwood County Minnesota AHGP