In 1873 Washington Kistler walked from Ohio to Mason County in hopes of finding land that he could farm with his wife and eleven children. He came upon open land and a small plot of maple trees located across the road from here that he was able to purchase and farm. He planted fruit trees and started the family tradition of making pure maple syrup. When his John grew up he moved across the road and with his wife had eleven children and continued the family tradition of farming.
John’s love for fruit farming got passed on to his youngest son Maurice who decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and continue farming. Maurice diversified the farming operation by growing corn and hay building a sizable herd of award winning Brown Swiss cows. When he grew older, a fourth generation Kistler took over the farm and he too introduced new ideas.
Dan continued to farm and later elected to eliminate the fruit trees and focus on cattle. When he began working at Dow Chemical Company he decided to quit milking cows and shift to the less labor intensive business of raise beef cattle. When his youngest son Ron completed his degree in agronomy at Michigan State University, he yearned to come home to the farm and continue this strong family tradition. A new generation then made a dramatic shift by selling off the beef cows and planting fruit trees.
With the heir apparent uncertain, the future of his 131 year-old tradition of farming in Riverton Township is unknown yet lessons and values learned are an enduring legacy.
Living and working on a family farm instills many values and beliefs that bring each member closer together. Your work revolves around harvest season but your life revolves around your family and community. You gain the understanding that if you want something you have to be willing to work for it and in so doing you accept and rely on the help of others. Although you can never count on the weather man or what the crop will yield, you can count on a noble calling that many times brings a family closer together than ever before. Without even realizing it your family grows in learning and developing team work skills, appreciating the small things, and a respect for hard work that brings all of these values together.