Rigsby Family Farm receives Century Farm designation

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 10/14/20

The Rigsby family farm is one of four farms in Maries County to receive the Missouri Century Farm designation in 2020. Because a dinner event can’t be held this year due to the coronavirus, …

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Rigsby Family Farm receives Century Farm designation

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The Rigsby family farm is one of four farms in Maries County to receive the Missouri Century Farm designation in 2020. Because a dinner event can’t be held this year due to the coronavirus, they are being recognized and honored with a display in the Maries County Bank lobby in Vienna from Oct. 12-18.

The following was written by Jason Rigsby about the family farm, which is located on MCR 628 in the Dixon area:

The Rigsby Family Century Farm has its beginnings with our great-great-grandfather, James Thompson (Thomp) Powers. While staying overnight in Tuscumbia, Missouri after delivering a load of grain, he overheard two men talking, It quickly became apparent they were discussing filing on the land he wanted. Hitching up in the middle of the night, he wasted no time making his way to Boonville, where the land office was located.He was found sitting with his back against the door when workers came to open the office.In addition to farming his homestead in Maries County, Thomp also had employment with the ironworks at Meramec Springs. Through his connections at Meramec, he met and later married Margaret Westlake. This union produced eight children, one of whom was Matilda Powers, who would become our great-grandmother.

Matilda was raised on the Powers farm in a house that survived not one, but two showdowns with bushwhackers during the Civil War. During both of these confrontations, Margaret Westlake Powers, with Matilda witnessing the encounters, single-handedly held off her intruders, as her husband was away serving in the Missouri Home Guard. Matilda later married our great-grandfather, James Rigsby, and made a home on 80 acres that were gifted to them by Thomp and Margaret. It was here that our grandfather, Wellon Rigsby, was born on August 15, 1879. Grandpa Rigsby was a renowned horseman and also bred and raised mules. In 1911, he bought 100 acres adjoining the Powers farm, and lived there with his mother, who was widowed in 1896. He married Evelyn Hollis, a local school teacher, on February 24, 1932. The couple’s four children, Jessie Lea; James Virgil (Bud); Lois Pauline; and Dwight Jefferson, were born on this land, spent their entire childhoods on this land, toiled on this land, played on and explored every inch of this land, learned the history of this land, broke bread in celebration and in sorrow on this land, made memories on this land, and loved this land.

Our father, Virgil Rigsby, became a man two weeks after his 11th birthday when his father, Wellon, succumbed to cancer in the very house he built on our farm. Dad then tirelessly devoted his life to this acreage. Some of the greatest lessons we learned from him were to never be scared of hard work and to always cherish and revere this farm. Though he now lies at rest beside his father on the original Powers farm, his teachings are very much alive within us.

We are proud of the Powers, Hollis, and Rigsby blood linking us with our ancestors and are so appreciative of the opportunity to continue the legacy we have inherited. We come from strong, sturdy, tenacious folks who looked a setback in the eye without blinking, took nothing for granted, and respected and improved their land for over 100 years. We are honored to be the next link in the chain connecting those who had, and those who will someday have, the Rigsby Family Century Farm.

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