May’s Century Farm Barn in Crum family for over 125 years

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 5/20/20

VIENNA — On a beautiful spring day in Maries County on the Travis Crum farm, the grass is growing tall and green, a big catfish disturbs the placid surface of the spring-fed pond, the birds …

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May’s Century Farm Barn in Crum family for over 125 years


VIENNA — On a beautiful spring day in Maries County on the Travis Crum farm, the grass is growing tall and green, a big catfish disturbs the placid surface of the spring-fed pond, the birds call to each other in constant chatter, and spring water pours steadily from a pipe on the rock springhouse on the farm. It’s not a fancy place, but it’s lush and green and quite beautiful nonetheless.

The Travis Crum farm is the May selection on county collector Jayne Williams’s Maries County Century Farm Barns 2020 calendar. Williams said she took the photo of the springhouse and the barn on a beautiful day when the blue sky was full of white clouds and the ground all around the barn and springhouse was covered with green grass. She thought it would be a good choice for May. Many people have told her this is one of their favorite photos in the 2020 calendar.

The Crum farm came into existence March 3, 1893, with the purchase of 80 acres about a mile and a half from Vienna by Joseph Peter Crum and Vivia Evalen (Gillispie) Crum. They lived in a small log house on the property built next to a natural spring.  Joseph was 47 years old when he died and his father-in-law, Lum Myers, kept the farm from being sold away from the family, buying it until Joseph’s son, Henry Ellis Crum, Sr. was old enough to purchase it. Myers sold Joseph’s 80 acres along with his own 40 acres to Ellis, Sr. and he had three expansions to the house and upgraded the outbuildings. In 1951, he had the rock structure built over the spring. Ellis Crum, Jr., also known as JR, said the rock springhouse was built by Harrison King and Gene Doyle. The children of Ellis, Sr. and Dolla Mae (Wagner) Crum are Ellis, Jr., Cellis, Columbus, and Juanita Crum Davis.

The farm has been in the Crum family for 127 years. It was split in half, with JR Crum owning the south part and Cellis the north portion with each having about 60 acres. Travis, just before he was married to his wife, Stacey, bought the north part of the farm from the estate of Cellis and Edith Crum in 2015. Travis and Stacey and their family live in Centralia. He is a financial advisor at Central Bank in Centralia and Mexico. They have a young daughter, Lillie Mae, age three, and Stacey has three older children, Parker, Kaitlyn and Grant.

The farm is rented to Bill Meier. The Crums like to come to the farm on weekends — more in the summer — and enjoy the beautiful setting and the peacefulness of the farm. Travis said their plan is to move to Vienna and to the farm when they retire. They want to run some cattle and plant a big garden.

Travis has fond memories of the farm. As a child, the farm “had a little bit of everything” from cows, pasture, hay, horses, chickens and a big garden. He always thought the springhouse was “pretty cool” and he and his brothers would play on top of it, running and jumping off of it.

The spring and the rock building that covers it are very interesting. Travis said he’s heard the spring has never quit running except for a few days following a big earthquake somewhere in North America. The spring runs steadily from a pipe inside the springhouse into a horse trough outside and into a pond and a cattle waterer without the use of electricity. JR says when he was growing up there, the water from the spring was the water for the house. The springhouse also was used in the past to store canned goods as the temperature stays steady. JR recalls keeping butter and milk in the springhouse.

Ellis, Sr. was a barber by profession but an accident in 1960 threatened to end this. The solution was to add on to the house again and he moved his barbershop from Vienna to the house. This addition brought with it indoor plumbing and no more outhouse. Travis said the barber chair and equipment are still in the room. His daughter will have her first haircut in the barbershop as her sister Kaitlyn is a hairdresser and will give her the haircut.

Travis said they like coming to the farm and sitting on the front porch enjoying the view of the pond while drinking coffee in the morning. “It’s peaceful,” he said.

The barn if very old and no longer used. One time Ellis, Sr. had an old F 12 tractor and he tried to get it to start by rolling it down the hill. JR said his father was not mechanical at all. The tractor got away from him and it hit the corner of the barn, knocking it off its foundation. Travis said they got a newer tractor at that point. JR said it took a tractor to get the barn back on its foundation.

Travis said he and his wife “kind of stuck our necks out” when they purchased the north part of the farm on the eve of their marriage. He was always interested in owning the farm and says now he doesn’t regret it. “It will stay in the family one way or another. The Crum family will be around for a while. That’s the plan. I can’t tell the future, but that’s the plan,” he said.

It is special to the whole family. JR recalls the first year he and Shirley were married and planted 100 pounds of potatoes and harvested 1,000 pounds of potatoes. They gave them away and still had more than they needed. They didn’t plant that many again. The farm is so special to them they had Shirley’s mother’s day dinner at the farm earlier this month.

Travis has a plan to have a museum on the farm for his antique tractor collection, specifically Allis Chalmers tractors. Plus he has a collection of Western Auto memorabilia a museum could be made with.

His parents, JR and Shirley, owned and operated a Western Auto in Vienna for many years. When Western Auto went out of business in 2003, their store became Shirley’s Furniture and JR’s Hardware.

“I was raised in that store,” Travis said. “It’s the cause of my success today, learning how to sell, how to talk and deal with people” and his hard work ethic. He also spent “many an hour mowing yards in that town. It paid for college,” he said.

He has many irons in the fire as besides being a financial advisor, he and his wife own Crum Farm and Stables which is 37 acres where they board horses and raise honey bees. Travis said Stacey was a city girl “but no more.” JR says they are both very hard workers.

Travis said he bought the place because it had a 60x192 horse barn he thought would be a nice place to put his tractors, which it is. He also began boarding horses to help pay the mortgage. He didn’t know a thing about horses, and has since discovered “horses aren’t the problem; it the owners.”

Travis learned about beekeeping from his uncles Bud and Johnnie Hollis as they learned from their father, Ray Hollis. “There is a lot to it and an ever-changing situation. I learn something new every year.” He and Stacey have been successful with it, as with their 18 hives they harvest about 100 gallons of honey a year. They sell it and it, too, helps pay that mortgage. Their customers are people who stop by wanting honey, people who come and buy it at his parents’ store in Vienna, and they attend three or four craft shows a year to sell honey.

Travis and his family are proud to own a Maries County Century Farm. “It’s a magical place,” he said. “I’ve always felt that way about it. It’s home.”


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