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Alfalfa Lawn Farm’s (ALF) primary business involved the breeding, promoting, exhibiting, and marketing the American Polled Hereford for seventy-seven years. The herd started in 1910 as a wedding gift to John M. Lewis, Walter’s father. From ten cows and one bull, John began to develop the herd. When Walter graduated from Kansas State Agricultural College (now Kansas State University) in 1935, John turned over the herd to him. Walter acquired his background in cattle breeding from his days in 4-H and working on the judging teams at KSAC, in addition to his activities around Alfalfa Lawn Farm as a young boy. John Lewis and his two sons, Walter and Joe, the youngest, managed ALF as a family-owned operation until the two sons died in 1987. Walter concentrated primarily on the business aspect of the herd, while Joe worked on the showing of the herd at the many events the Lewis’s entered around the United States.
Aside from being the foreman of the herd, Walter also traveled extensively to judge at shows and fairs. He was heavily sought after for his expertise and knowledge and judged shows in Australia, New Zealand, and England. Walter’s wife, Francis, was also active in managing the herd and farm operations. Judging from the collection, she took care of the various books and registers and performed secretarial duties.
As years passed, the quality and reputation of the herd grew, and, by 1987, progeny from Alfalfa Lawn Farm were found in virtually every state and in numerous foreign countries. Exhibition of its cattle resulted in eighteen National Grand or Reserve Grand Champion bulls and females. As the collection illustrates, people from all over the United States and many foreign countries came to tour the ranch or buy bulls. All sales, births, and deaths, of the cattle, were documented and registered.
Walter and Francis had two children, Robert “Bob” Lewis and Martha Lewis, and both attended Kansas State University; class of 1961 and 1963 respectively. Bob went to the University of Wisconsin where he received his Ph.D., while Martha continued her education at Pennsylvania State University where she received a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in 1969 and married the head of the Department of Agronomy. Walter’s brother, Joe, was married to Margaret and they had a son, John D. Lewis, and three daughters. Both Joe and Margaret were actively involved in managing the ranch. As more family members became involved in the enterprise, the business became known as “Alfalfa Lawn Farms, John M. Lewis and Sons” (records attribute the name of the business to both “Farm” and “Farms”).
Walter and Joe were involved in local, national, and international, activities, and organizations. Every spring they sponsored a field day-judging contest at the ranch where students from all across Kansas came to learn about judging and cattle. Walter was active in the Pawnee County Extension Board, Kansas Herford Association, National Western Polled Hereford Association, Kansas Polled Hereford Association, American Hereford Association, American Polled Hereford Association, while serving on other boards including the First National Bank and Trust Company of Larned, Kansas, and the Livestock and Meat Industry Council of Manhattan, Kansas.
Coincidentally, both Walter and Joe died in 1987. After their deaths, Francis and Margaret decided to have a dispersal sale of Alfalfa Lawn Farm in November of that year.
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Creator Source: Local Authority File