Seminole Valley Farmstead

W of Cedar Rapids, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

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Seminole Valley

Taken June 1, 2013

Photo taken by Dave King

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Description 

The history of Seminole Valley Farm goes all the way back to 1848 when the first claim to the land was made by a Pvt. Joseph Tenney, a soldier of the Mexican War (1846-1848). He never saw the land as he signed away his land grant soon after the war. Because so many people laid claim to the land, it is not known if any one person ever lived on it till the 1890s. Lafeyette and Sarah Franks were the people known to build on the land. They lived in a dogtrot cabin that was built near today's barn.

In 1899, Joseph Dostal bought the farm from the Franks and moved a former hotel building from Cedar Rapids and it became the farmhouse we have today. At that time the area was called Linn Junction. They also cleared more land for crops. They retired, left the farm, and moved to Cedar Rapids in 1906.

Ownership was transfered in 1909 to Joseph Jasa and his wife Maria Dostal Jasa, Joseph Dostal's aunt. The family moved to the farmhouse between 1907 and 1909 bringing 6 children with them. In 1915 the barn burned to the ground. John Ford, a valley farmer and carpenter, built the present barn. He was paid 2 dollars and 2 meals per day for his work. The farm also grew from 30 acres to over 200. Four bedrooms were also added upstairs to the house. The Jasa family moved from the farm to Cedar Rapids in 1921 after the deaths of 2 of their sons in the 1918 flu epidemic.

From 1921 to 1927 the farm was rented out. Then in 1927 the farm's ownership was transfered to his daughter Francis and her husband Wesley J. Miller. They also made many improvements to the farm. The present Museum building was built in 1954 and had all the concrete mixed by hand. The summer kitchen was rotated 90 degrees so that it was easier to move cream from the barn to the seperator inside. The Millers owned the farm until 1965 when it was sold to the city of Cedar Rapids and it became the newest city park, Seminole Valley Park.

While the farm has survived many natural disasters over the years, the record flood of 2008 is the one that took its toll on the buildings and contents. Two previous record floods never saw more than 2 inches of water on the ground floor of the farmhouse. In 2008 there was 2 to 4 inches of water in the upstairs of the farmhouse. Most of the out buildings were under water. The barn had water into its loft. There was over 12 foot of water around the farmhouse. All the contents of the museum were either severely damaged or destroyed. The tool shed, the hen house, and the smoke house, along with their contents, were washed away completely. An arson fire claimed the outhouse several months before the flood. At this time Seminole Valley Inc. is in the process of rebuilding. While it will take many years and thousands of dollars, we hope to preserve this site for future generations to enjoy.

National Register information 

Status
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on October 8, 1976
Reference number
76000779
Area of significance
Agriculture
Level of significance
Local
Evaluation criteria
A - Event
Property type
Building
Historic functions
Single dwelling; Agricultural outbuildings
Current function
Museum
Period of significance
1900-1924
Significant years
1902; 1903
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 5

Update Log 

  • June 2, 2013: Updated by Dave King: Added Description & Link
  • June 2, 2013: New photos from Dave King