In the summer of 1900, two sons of John and Alice Coughlin biked across dirt roads from Sibley, Iowa to Clark, SD. They then rode back and shared the exciting news with the family that there was plenty of inexpensive good farmland available. John Coughlin and Alice came up on the train the next summer in 1901 and bought the original Oak Tree Homestead.
Throughout its history, our family has worked to expand the farm and keep it in the family.
The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl or the Dirty Thirties (from 1929 until 1940) cost thousands of families their jobs and their farms. Farming and rural areas suffered as crop prices fell by approximately 60 percent. 1 2 3 Unemployment rates skyrocketed while personal income, tax revenue, profits and prices dropped, and international trade plummeted.
One of the proudest moments in Oak Tree history is that the Makens family and their farm made it through that difficult time surviving all the hardships and turmoil.
Through the years we have raised corn, soybeans, wheat, sunflowers, potatoes, oats, flax, rye, cattle, and other crops and live stock.
In 1973, Bill Makens and his brother Pat bought the original homestead from the third generation. In 1996, Bill Makens purchased the family farm, over 5,000 acres at that time, after the death of John Makens at a bank auction. In 1998 we renovated the old Woods farmhouse and turned it into Oak Tree Hunting Lodge. In 2000, we built the Main Lodge and in 2002 expanded the dining room and added a Great Room. In 2005, the West Wing was added. In 2007 the farmhouse was completely renovated a second time. In 2007 we constructed a 13,000 square foot maintenance building for our farm equipment powered by geothermal energy. In 2008 we erected a wind turbine to provide clean, green, renewable energy to the lodge.
We are now in our sixth generation. In 1901, we began with 160 acres, and now we have expanded to over 8,000 acres.