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Our Family Farm

May 1st, 1855

The first recorded purchases of homesteaded land from the United States government by Patrick and Bridget Connaughton. Typically, these were 40-acre plots of land. In the following years several other families purchased land that would become a part of our farm with names such as: Smith, Wetmore, Phalin, Wanberg, Mosier, Lysne, Cumber, Olson, Kearney, and Keating. Read on for more of our family farm history.
— Ryan Champlin

Homesteaded land on our small family farm in La Crosse, WI.

October 12th, 1866 - June 8th, 1877

John Smith purchased 40 acres of our farm and was from Ireland. Notes indicate the original purchase may have been as early as May 14th, 1861. John is of significance in our farm history because his family ends up owning the property for multiple generations. John Smith passed away and in 1877 the land was transferred to Johana Smith, his wife, and her 8 children. One of which is William Henry Smith, also known as Bill Smith.

Our small family farm was started by Irish immigrants.

March 28th 1896

Property was transferred to Bill Smith from Johanna and he was appointed to be her caretaker. He was instructed to provide her 2 rooms in the home, food, medical care, and transportation to church whenever she wanted it. The primary home on our farm was built by Bill Smith and his brother in 1890 with Georgia pine that was shipped in via rail.

Our family farm in Wisconsin's Coulee region.

April 6th 1931

In 1931, Bill Smith sold the property to Ralph and Sylvia Torgerson. Bill was single at the time and continued to live in the house with Ralph and Sylvia until his death.

Our grass-fed farm in 1931.

April 23rd, 1951

One part of our farm, where we currently produce hay and graze our calves and finishing animals in the summer, was sold by Matthias and Inger Skrede to Harold and Shirley Mossholder in 1951. Their son Julius continued to live in the original homestead cabin until his death in the 1980s after my parents purchased the farm.

Our farm in the Driftless area of Wisconsin.

March 17th, 1971

My parents purchased the farm from Ralph and Sylvia Torgerson in 1971. My father was an ag teacher at De Soto high school at the time and transitioned to raising pigs and beef full time. My mother also worked at the school as well.

Our small family farm has raised grass-fed beef for decades.


My grandparents on both sides of my family retired to homes on our farm. They all had family farming roots and throughout my childhood were involved in helping our farming operation in some way. It was a huge blessing to have them daily a part of our lives and part of our family farm. In these photos, you see my grandpa with the beef herd, grandma with pigs, and my grandma and mom planting tobacco with my dad on the tractor.

Our historic beef farm in La Crosse, WI.

September 28th, 1984

My parents purchased a neighboring farm from Harold and Shirley Mossholder in 1984. My parents also purchased the dairy herd, and we milked cows and continued to raise beef until 1998.

Our small family farm in La Crosse, WI.

January 4th,1999

We stopped milking cows and sold a part of the dairy farm in 1999 to a family from Pennsylvania that was looking to move to the area. We continued raising beef cattle, hay for the cattle, as well as raise some row crops on our farm.

Champlin's small family farm in 1999.


We have 3 generations involved in our farm near Ferryville, Wisconsin: my parents Roger and Sheila Champlin, my wife Erica, our two boys Christopher and Ethan, and my sister Kim. I am the 12th generation Champlin (since 1621) in the U.S. and our hope is to continue to grow and improve our farm to provide an opportunity, should they want it, for the next generation to carry on with our farming tradition.

The Champlin family on their grass-fed beef farm.
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