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Published August 05, 2011, 12:00 AM

Family’s roots run deep

7 generations have called place home
Sabin, Minn. - When it comes time to tear down Ashley Tucker’s house – and at this point, it may not be long – it’ll have had a good run.

Sabin, Minn. - When it comes time to tear down Ashley Tucker’s house – and at this point, it may not be long – it’ll have had a good run.

The building dates back to 1898. The homestead dates back to 1863, when her ancestors, Irish immigrants who worked their way west, settled here. When Ashley’s son was born a few months ago, he became the seventh generation in the family to call the place home.

Over the decades, it’s been a focal point for what has steadily become an expansive family tree. Freemont Pender, Tucker’s father, remembers Fourth of July gatherings where each side of the family had enough members to field its own baseball team.

“We still have that every couple years,” he said. “Everybody remembers this place.”

Pender’s parents were acknowledged in 1998 for hitting the century mark on the farmstead. His grandfather died relatively young at 39, leaving his grandmother to care for nine children. They kept on farming, and Pender’s father took over the farm when he came of age and got married.

By that point, “he had it easy,” said Pender. “They got power out here then.”

The family’s professions have since diversified. Pender works at the Cargill corn plant in Wahpeton, N.D., and Tucker works at Titan Machinery in Fargo. She and her husband live in the original house, with her parents a few hundred yards up the driveway in their own place (close by, she jokes, to better spoil her son).

Just a few heirlooms remain from the family’s long history – a simple stained-glass window, a medicine cabinet. The house itself is the primary keepsake, though it may not be around much longer. The basement is constantly taking on water, much of the wiring is ancient and the foundation is starting to crack.

It would cost $50,000 to put in a new basement; instead, Tucker and her husband are likely to tear it down eventually and start over.

But she says they won’t be going far. “We’d build right on the same spot,” she said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502

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