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Peace, solitude and privacy

Eleanor Juntunen has lived her entire life on her family farm in LaGrand Township in Douglas County. The farm was recently named a 2014 Century Farm by the Minnesota State Fair and the Minnesota Farm Bureau. (Courtney Bitzan/Echo Press)

By Courtney Bitzan

“I enjoy the peace, solitude and privacy of living on my farm,” said Eleanor Juntunen of Alexandria. “I see wildlife on a daily basis.”

Another unique thing about Juntunen’s home is that it has been in her family for 102 years, and Eleanor has lived all 94 years of her life there.

The property, located in LaGrand Township, Douglas County, was originally homesteaded in 1874 by Andrew Olson Solberg. Eleanor’s parents, Charles and Margaret Juntunen, purchased the 80-acre farm from Solberg’s estate in 1912 for $3,200.

The couple and their two sons, Peter and John, emigrated from Finland, originally settling in Soudan, Minnesota, where Charles worked in the iron mines.

The couple had seven more children while living in Soudan: William, Minnie, Willmar, Anna, Helmer, Edward and Nina. Nina died shortly after birth.

The family moved to the farm in Alexandria in 1912. Four more children were born on the farm: Emil, Walter, Florence and Eleanor.

Charles died in 1954 and Margaret died in 1968. The farm was left to the children, with Eleanor eventually becoming sole owner of the now 66-acre farm.

At one time, the family raised livestock, dairy cows, pigs and chickens on the farm. Crops of grain and hay supported the livestock.

Currently, Eleanor rents the farmland to an area farmer who has a rotational crop of corn and soybeans.

“I am proud that my parents were able to survive the hardships of farming, build a house, barn and other outbuildings and provide for myself and my siblings. It is my pleasure and heritage to be living in my childhood home,” Juntunen stated about her century farm.

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of articles on Douglas County farms recently named 2014 Century Farms by the Minnesota State Fair and Minnesota Farm Bureau.