Germans in the fields strawberries did grow


Searcy Daily Citizen, May 5, 2000

trawberries have reached the peak of the season, so now is the time to buy them from a road stand, a grocery store or find a field and "pick your own." My late husband, James Alexander (J.A.) Bauer, Jr.’s family heritage included the love of strawberries. His grandfather, Jacob Caleb Bauer, along with several other families who came from Germany, settled in the Plainview community and started growing strawberries. Cotton was the other principal crop.

The other families were George, Mart and Louie Hubach (Mart and Louie didn’t speak to each other most of their lives over an experimental variety of strawberries), Hans Keller, Henry Miller, Fred Muellar (changed to Miller), Bill Stein, the Fenskes and the Huffmans (changed to Hoofman). George Hubach and his wife Elizabeth didn’t try to master the English language. George would say "throw the cows over the fence some hay," and Elizabeth said concerning her birthday celebration, "all who comes is invited."

Back to the Bauer berry business, Jacob’s son, James Alexander Sr., became interested in selling plants as a business, hence the J.A. Bauer Plant Company was started in 1905 in a small building about one-half mile north of the Plainview Store, now owned by Donnie Stevens. He later sold the plant business to Arthur W. Hoofman, who moved to Searcy. The J.A. Bauer Plant Company was moved to Judsonia and in 1915 it was a thriving business. His catalog listed 25 varieties including excelsior, St. Louis, klondike, dunlap, evening star, missionary and aroma.

Judsonia was, at one time, the strawberry capital of the world. The berries were taken to the Judsonia depot in wagons, loaded in an ice-cooled freight car and delivered to all parts of the nation, with St. Louis being the biggest buyer. In 1941, Roy Waller built the Farmers’ Market at Bald Knob and buyers came from all over the United States. The berries were hauled by air-conditioned trucks, and the varieties included blakemore, belmar, missionary and klondike. In 1946, he built the Market Café. His daughter, Geneva Boyce, and her husband, Sonny, are the present owners. Her mother, Betty, was the daughter of George and Lizzie Hubach.

Some of the other descendents of the original German families living in the area are of George and Lizzie Hubach: Marye Wood, Kathryn Hastings, Lou Joyner, Emogene, Susan, Donnie and Matthew Miller; Bauer: Norma Young, Charles Bauer, Melissa Lacy, Leah Miller, Meredith Lacy and Elizabeth Patterson of California (who now visits Judsonia and Searcy); Stein: Richard (Boots); Huffman (changed to Hoofman): Helen Golden, Carol Ross and Richard Hoofman.

Some of the present contenders vying for the title of king of the crops are soybeans, beef cattle and rice. Wheat is being used as a second crop in much of the soybean land and strawberries and cotton have dwindled.