Seven generations of the Kennedy/Burch family have called a Vernon County, Mo., farm home

Youngsters Kate, Cole and Jace Burch may be too young to understand that their family’s roots are deeply planted in Vernon County, Mo., and a farming way of life. They are the seventh generation of the family to live on the Kennedy/Burch Farms in Walker, Mo., which is operated by their father, Jered.

Jacob Newland and sons came to Vernon County in 1877 and Elijah W. and Sarah Jane Vanarsdall Ransdell came from Kentucky in 1874.

Elijah helped build the Vernon County Courthouse, the Mt. Vernon Methodist Church near their farm, and many other houses and barns in the area.

The families settled in and around Clear Creek Township, grew their acreage and prospered. Jacob’s son, John married Elijah’s daughter, Allie. John and Allie’s son, Elijah Clifton married Rena Preston, whose father, S. J. Preston, published The Walker Herald from 1892 to his death in 1931.

Clifton and Rena’s only child, a daughter, Helen M. Newland married Raymond Kennedy on Jan. 6, 1938, living on the land provided by Helen’s ancestors. They added acreage and part of those acres were Vernon County Centennial farms in 1976.

Raymond and Helen were the parents of one daughter, Jenise, who married Jerry Burch. Jenise and Jerry are the parents of two children, Jered and Laura. Jered married Crystal Comstock and they are the parents of Kate, Cole and Jace.

Jenise and Jerry Burch continue to live on the original 160 acres, and have added acreage. Jenise taught school until her retirement. She substitutes and grandparents. Jerry farmed and served as Missouri State Representative from 1978 to 1990. Since that date, Jerry continues to help on the farm, but is self-employed as a government consultant, operating Burch & Associates in Jefferson City, Mo.

The bulk of the farm operation has fallen into the capable hands of their son, Jered Burch and his family, along with a trusted employee. They raise cattle, bale their own hay and have some row crops. Jered enjoys working alongside nature and spends time researching and practicing valuable wildlife habitat management and conservation practices. He received the Grassland Farmer of the Year award in 2001. Jered has preserved the traditional ranching practices which has allowed him to incorporate horses and the cowboy way of life into his daily activities

The Kennedy/Burch Farms have a commercial cow/calf herd with their own choice of bulls. The cows calve in spring and fall partly for income, but also because they get better usage of their bulls and do not have to have so many for their herd of about 200 head of cattle.

About 10 years ago, Jered attended a low stress cattle handling workshop by Curt Pate from Montana sponsored by the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association. He has practiced a lot of the low stress ways before as common sense, but appreciates the fact that they don’t approve the “run and gun” method, but let the lead cow lead the herd when they are to be moved. They give time for the cattle to access the situation and not rush them. That way, they keep stress hormones out of the meat. Jered also practices rotational grazing.

Jered and Crystal’s two older children, Kate and Cole, both show livestock at the local youth fair, raise gardens and help around the farm in many ways. Kate recently got into roping and horseback riding. She has shown pigs for ten years but would like to be more competitive. She is in the Nevada FFA, Walker 4-H, Vernon County 4-H Council treasurer, on a volleyball traveling team and works part-time at Studio 1-19 because she loves art. Cole loves animals and knows all the breeds, is in Junior FFA and Walker 4-H, has a hive of bees and is a “Beek,” (beekeeper), and likes to ride his horse.

Their youngest, Jace, is only 3 and has some time yet before he takes on farm work, but has a John Deere gift book he carries around like a Bible. He knows every name of the farm equipment. He argues green versus red equipment to the frustration of his dad, who likes red as well as green.

The Burch families continue serving their community and area in much the same way as their ancestors. They have served, or are serving, on the Nevada Regional Medical Board, Northeast Vernon County School Board, township board, their church, State Farm Service Committee and Missouri Farmers Association along with many other services. Their roots run deep in Vernon County, Mo.


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