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Free Land Puts Life In Dying Town
Free land puts new life in dying town Remember Bud Kissner, the North Dakota farmer who offered free land to "homesteaders" as a means of keeping his home town of Antler from dying? Thanks to the publicity Kissner received in FARM SHOW, (our Nov.-Dec. issue a year ago) and on nationwide TV and several daily newspapers, the idea is working. Antler lives. This fall, 41 pupils answered the school bell and all but 17 were children of Kissner's "homesteaders", and 6 of the 17 were from new families who chose to come to Antler on their own.
Here, according to a report in the Minneapolis Tribune, is why the families came:
"Jim and Frances Murry came because they had lost all they owned in a house fire in New Hampshire. Mike Ellis, a welder, left a good job in Salt Lake City to start his own business with his sons. Frank and Margie Navarett came to raise goats, which they couldn't do in Los Angeles. All had reasons.
"All have proved up their land, too: fences, wells, houses hauled in by flatbed truck, or mobile homes. All have found work.
"Counting all the parents and kids, more than 60 newcomers have descended upon Antler, which had had just 100 people."
"This is a good place to live, a friendly place," says Kissner. "If the school had closed, Antler would have just passed away. Without a school, little towns like this wither and die. I've seen it happen. It was going to happen here."
Kissner had no children but he had land. He decided to give away 42 acres of it, worth about $500 an acre, to put new life into his dying home-town. The "giveaway" involved three 9 acre plots and three 5 acre plots. Homesteaders' will obtain title to their land in five years if they "prove up" by enrolling their children in the Antler school, staying on the land and improving it with a shelter.

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1982 - Volume #6, Issue #6