Minnesota's Greatest Generation

Andrew J. Cardinal, Sr.

The G.I. Bill provided educational opportunities to returning veterans in both colleges and in technical schools. Andrew J. Cardinal, Sr. took advantage of the program to attend agricultural classes in Forest Lake and brought that knowledge back to the family's farm in Lino Lakes. Andrew and his wife, Stella, remembered their early years on the farm in a 2003 interview with historian Linda Cameron as part of the Anoka County Historical Society's Agricultural History project, reprinted here with permission.

L.C. Mr. Cardinal, how long have you been farming in this area?

A.C. The farm started, my great-great-grandfather came here, and they got it from the government. They got the land from the government. That is when it was homesteaded.

L.C. How many generations have lived on the farm?

A.C. Six. No, that would be seven.

L.C. How did you come to own the farm?

A.C. It was “hand me down”. That’s the way it went. My great-great-grandfather, his son had it, and then his son, Dolphus Cardinal, which is my grandfather, then he was farming here, and then my dad got it from his father, and my dad died three months after I got out of the service. So, then I was here with my mother. Then, three of my older siblings got married and moved away, and so I was the last one here with my two younger brothers. I was only 21 years old then, and I was taking care of my mother and my youngest brother. My other brother, he worked out. So, then, when it got down, it ended up I had to buy the farm from my other siblings, because she had made out a will. So, that’s how come I’m here.

L.C. None of your other siblings were interested in farming?

A.C. No. I had two sisters and a brother. My brother moved away, the one that was married, and he was on a hobby farm. My two sisters, well, they weren’t farmers. Their husbands worked out. One was a chef and one worked for a refrigeration company. My youngest brother was a little handicapped, so he was here all the time on the farm. My wife and I took care of him longer than my mother and dad did.

LC: You took over the farm in what year?

AC: My dad died in '47. I was still working the farm when my dad died. My older brother got married in October [1947], so then I was the sole oldest one here, and I was 21.

LC: What was your educational background?

AC: Farming. When I got out of the service, of course, we were married then already, but I went to agricultural school at night.

LC: At the University?

AC: No, in Forest Lake. It was the GI Bill that we had. We went twice a week.

LC: Did you find that methods had changed a lot while you were in the service? Did you find that there was quite a lot of new information that your dad hadn't used?

AC: Well, things were getting different, but not quite then yet. We were still cutting grain with the binder, still thrashing with the thrashing machine, still stacking grain. That was another thing – we had an awful lot of grain. I can remember we'd have 21 stacks of grain, and probably if somebody else had six that was pretty good, you know. We did good with it, and my dad was the first one around that we knew of that ever put commercial fertilizer on corn. I would say that it had to be around '35, at least that early.

LC: So, you've always been a serious farming family, haven't you?

AC: Oh, yeah. There was always plenty of work around here for us, you know. And, we like cattle. One of the first things that I did when I got out of the service – I bought a Hereford bull, and we wanted to have a beef herd along with that, so we were using him on our heifers and we were getting beef calves out of that, and then later on when we bought some beef cows along with the dairy. And of course, then, the tornado came and took the barn so we weren’t eligible for grade A milk anymore...That was when things were really changing. So then, what we did was, we bought veal calves and we put the veal calves on the cows. So, after that, that got to be more of a burden, finding the calves, so then we got more beef cows. Then we started with a bigger herd of beef cows. I can remember we had 75 cows at one time.


Cardinal, Andrew J., Sr.; Linda Cameron, Interviewer, Anoka County Historical Society: Agricultural History Project, 2003. Used with permission.