Rural Missouri - August 2020 - 45

make it through the winter. The Seelinger family saved the
The only son, Adam John, left the farm to work with
corn cobs from the corn they shelled and made corn cob
relatives in Colorado. At family gatherings, the four girls
jelly, a sweet treat for the times.
would talk about what they wanted to see Poplar Heights
"At Christmastime, the family took jars of their corn cob
become. As years passed, each sibling passed their share
jelly and passed it out to everyone in thanks for all they'd
of the farm on to the youngest daughter, Ruth. She estabdone to help them get settled," Melissa says. "Making the
lished a charitable foundation which would take over upon
jelly became tradition and we make it here now."
all of their deaths. That foundation became active in 1998.
John Seelinger named the land Poplar Heights Farms
"Each sibling had something they wanted to see prewhen he took over. Under his ownership, John, his wife,
served," says Melissa Phillips, a fifth generation
member of the Seelinger family. "They wanted
Agnes, and their five children raised crops such as
a museum to show life as it was for an imtobacco, corn, flax and barley, along with Scottish
migrant family, a place for family heirlooms, a
Highland cattle, Percheron draft horses and a coop
farm, a haven for wildlife and a way to save the
full of heritage breed chickens - all of which can
history of Bates County for future generations.
be seen at the farm today.
Butler
"This is all about heritage," adds Melissa, who
And that's what it's become and more."
is a member of Osage Valley Electric CooperaThe land was first titled in 1856 to Anthony S.
tive. "It's great to know about each family memWalker, the first owner of what would later become
ber who worked this land and took care of it so
known as Poplar Heights. He passed away during
the Civil War, but not before passing the land on to
we could be here today."
Melissa joined the board of directors of the nonprofit
his son, John Read Walker, who built the home, threshing
Marais des Cygnes Society in 2012, representing the fifth
barn and smokehouse and began farming, all while also
generation of the Seelinger family. Two other Seelinger
serving a single term as a state representative. He later
descendents also serve on the board along with area busisold it to his brother-in-law, John L. Hickman, who would
ness leaders.
in turn sell it in 1884 to Adam Seelinger, Melissa's greatThe property now is designated as a living history farm
great grandfather.
and nature conservancy in Bates County. The grand open"When my ancestors came here from Germany, they
ing for the farm was held in 2010. The living history farm
knew America offered freedom," Melissa says. "They chernow shows visitors what life would have been like from the
ished the land because they knew if they took care of it, it
1860s to the turn of the 20th century.
would take care of them in return. They were also brought
Gail Tiller, program director for Poplar Heights, and
up knowing what it meant to be part of a community and
Melissa, are a dynamic duo of history resources. The two
help one another."
ladies work together writing grant requests which allow the
Melissa notes when her ancestors moved to the area, it
board to continue adding to and restoring Poplar Heights
was fall, and harvest time was complete. All the neighbors
Farms to the original splendor visitors can enjoy today.
brought them food and enough goods so the family could

photo courtesy of Poplar Heights Living History Farms

It was the dream of the four Seelinger daughters that their family farm be left for future generations as an educational site. John Seelinger's family
includes (left to right): Daisy, Maude, Adam and Ruth; (front row); mother, Agnes, Bertha and father, John.
AUGUST 2020 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP

45


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Rural Missouri - August 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - August 2020

Contents
Rural Missouri - August 2020 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - August 2020 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - August 2020 - Contents
Rural Missouri - August 2020 - 4
Rural Missouri - August 2020 - 5
Rural Missouri - August 2020 - 6
Rural Missouri - August 2020 - 7
Rural Missouri - August 2020 - 8
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Rural Missouri - August 2020 - 45
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Rural Missouri - August 2020 - 50
Rural Missouri - August 2020 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - August 2020 - Cover4
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