Tag Archives: Probstfield Farm

The Terrible 20’s and the Great Depression

Ray Gesell in front of the OTM.

Clarence Oscarson holding two bags of onions and standing in front of the Old Trail Market.

Ray Gesell returned to the Probstfield Farm after the war was over.  While much of America experienced an economic boom during the Roaring ‘20s, farmers started their Great Depression a decade earlier than everyone else.  For twenty years, prices for grain, vegetables, and meat were too low for farmers to make a decent living.  “It didn’t make any difference how hard you worked or what you did,” Ray said years later. “You couldn’t come out even.”

Ray and his aunts and uncle on the farm were able to make it because of the garden.  While they had no money, they had veggies, a flock of chickens, a milk cow and usually a pig or two.  They were truck farmers, growing vegetables to bring into town or to sell at the Old Trail Market, the roadside vegetable stand on the farm.


The Torch is Passed

Ray Gesell, age 19, sitting atop a sprayer.

Ray Gesell, age 19, sitting atop a sprayer.

Before Fargo and Moorhead existed, settlers Randolph and Catherine Probstfield started a farm on a piece of high ground about three miles north of here.  They called the spot Oakport, and here they grew vegetables to feed the towns that grew south of the farm.  In Randolph’s last years, he took his young grandson Ray Gesell on his knee.  He told the boy that that this land was the best in the world and he wanted Ray to take care of it one day.

Raymond Gesell moved onto the Probstfield farmstead in 1916, when he was 19 years old.  He came to help his Aunts Millie and Josie Probstfield and Uncle Andy Probstfield.  Ray became the driving force behind the Probstfield Farm for the next half century.