John Otto Spannring Family Farm
A stormy crossing from Germany to Baltimore, a three-day quarantine, and a long train trip west finally brought John Spannring, his wife Mary, and their four children to Montana in 1910. A fifth child was born a month after the family’s arrival in Livingston. John homesteaded south of Reed Point, breaking sod with a shovel, hoe, and hand rake. By 1916, the family had acquired a tractor, a four bottom plow, a grain separator, and a deed for the land. The Spannrings sold their first homestead and purchased the core 1,276 acres of this farm in 1917. In 1920, John and his sons built the stone and frame Bungalow style home, a symbol of the family’s hard-earned success. John died in 1924 and extended drought precipitated near loss of the property. In 1926, sons Joseph and Walter assumed operation of the farm, building the stone and frame dairy barn. Wheat was the main crop and Spannrings threshed their own as well as their neighbors’. Aided by brother Simon, a Northern Pacific employee, additional acreage was purchased during the depressed 1930s. By 1939, all the Spannring children had married except Joseph, under whose supervision the farm continued to prosper. The final addition to the Spannring holdings came in 1943, when friend and neighbor Edward O’Dowd conveyed his adjoining homestead to Joseph, bringing the total acreage to 2,286. Joseph married in 1948 but died the following year and the homestead abruptly ceased family operation. Like other immigrant families who settled in this area, the Spannrings battled drought, crop failure, grasshoppers, and hard times. Unlike many, however, they triumphed. It is no small tribute that their hard-won acreage remains intact. In 1988, Nancy and Edward Clement of Salisbury, N.C., purchased and meticulously rehabilitated this historic property.