On the maternal side of the family, Great Grandfather John Merk was an immigrant from the Austria-Hungary Empire that later would become Lvov, Russia. Fearful of being forced to fight against his own people, he hid aboard a sailboat coming to America.

John Merk later met Minnie Ewy who was also an Austrian immigrant, married and eventually homesteaded in Finney County Kansas. Living in a dugout, Grandmother Merk remembered reaching up and almost touching the buffalo running over the top of their home.

On the paternal side, Grandparents Lawrence and Minnie Irsik were what was known in the early 1900’s as sodbusters. With nine children in tow, they traveled to where they could find work, but struggled to get a firm foothold on the land.

When the dust bowl began in the early thirties, nothing could stop the severe drought and conditions that caused thousands of farmers to leave the area. Basically broke, the Irsik family left the Western Kansas area and returned to Central Kansas.

With a background and legacy like this, working hard is a given, not an option. Successful family farmers are raised with discipline, taught teamwork, shown integrity, and instilled with a sense of responsibility to the care of the land.

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