The Power of 160 Acres of Farmland
In July, 1853, Kersey Fell-brother of Jesse Fell, a founder of Illinois Wesleyan University- bought 160 acres of land four miles South and four miles East of Anchor, Ill. This was typical high-quality farmland that would yield abundant crops of corn, soybeans, alfalfa and wheat. The rich loam produced above-average crops, even in times of drought or in overly wet years. The land was good for the people, and the people were good to the land.
At times the agricultural economy was very challenging, and The Great Depression of 1929 made it extremely difficult for those who earned their livelihoods from the land. As with most farmers, however, a love of the land kept them going, and this rich Midwest farmland did not let them down.
It so happened that these 160 acres were acquired by Augusta Herrmann in 1933. The land provided for Augusta and her daughter, Gertrude Herrmann Modahl, for many years.
Following her mother's death in 1984, Gertrude's long-time tenant farmed the land until his retirement in 1995. Since 1853, farmland had soared in value, and the management of the farm was becoming more and more complex. Gertrude began to ask how the land could continue to provide for her and also do something to help others.
She talked with friends, bankers and financial advisors before deciding to transfer the 160 acres of farmland to Illinois Wesleyan University in exchange for a charitable gift annuity (see related article). The annuity would provide for her during her lifetime and also help students at Illinois Wesleyan through scholarship aid from the Adolph C. and Gertrude C. Modahl Endowment Fund.
This fund is part of the permanent endowment fund of the University. Generations of future students will receive scholarships in the name of Gertrude and her husband, Adolph, because of 160 acres of farmland located near the small community of Anchor, Ill.