A century in the making

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Farm Forum

Civil war veteran James Alexander Criswell joined the American Aberdeen-Angus Breeders Association in 1916, under the name J.A. Criswell & Sons. The ornate membership document is still preserved as part of the family’s history today. James Alexander was the second generation to raise cattle on the family farm in central Missouri, and the first with registered Angus.

Today when Matt Thomas, the sixth generation, checks cattle, he walks the same ground as his ancestors before him. He and his wife, Amy, live on the original home site that was established in 1829. Now known as Thomas-Criswell Angus, the family is celebrating 100 years of Angus cattle grazing their hills and pastures.

The American Angus Association is proud to recognize the Angus breeders who have sustained their farms and ranches for more than 100 years. The organization presented the Century Award during its Awards Recognition Breakfast Nov. 7, hosted as part of the 2016 Angus Convention in Indianapolis, Ind.

Matt Thomas accepted the Century Award on his family’s behalf.

“It’s an honor to carry on what my grandpa, my Pap, used to do,” Matt Thomas says. “Not only him, but also his granddads before him. It’s a way to honor what we came from, and hopefully it is going to be here a long time.”

In the farm’s early years, the Sons in J.A. Criswell & Sons grew the land to 480 acres and continued registering cattle under that same membership their entire lives. The following generation, Russell Criswell, maintained the herd until 2005, fostering a lifelong love of Angus cattle in his daughter, Evelyn. She and her husband, Keith Thomas, currently live on the farm, and their son, Matt, manages the herd.

The last century has brought much change, challenges and opportunity to agriculture. At Thomas-Criswell Angus, they incorporate genomic technology and artificial insemination (AI) to bring out the best in their genetics. Home to about 20 mother cows, Matt knows their pedigrees and performance inside out.

Like those who’ve gone before them, the family is committed to caring for the cattle and preserving the land for the next generation.

For more information on the American Angus Association’s Century Award, visit www.angus.org.