After weathering nearly eight decades and two notable tornadoes, a piece of Pettis County’s farming history is slowly being dismantled.

The Reine dairy barn, built in 1939 by Robert R. Reine and Charlie Allcorn and now owned by Reine’s son Albert Reine, once processed, bottled and delivered milk to local residents. Reine, who recently sold 252 acres to Nucor Steel Sedalia LLC and 83 acres to the county, said that dismantling the barn is bittersweet, the Sedalia Democrat reported. The large barn sits next his home on the 250 acres he still retains. It is being taken down by Donnie and Becky Webb, of Tipton, who plan to use some of the lumber in their home.

Much of the wood used to build the barn was taken from the large family home that burned, for unknown reasons, in 1939. Reine’s father built the barn and a new home at the present location just north of Sedalia on Reine Avenue.

Reine, 79, said when the floor of the barn was poured, his father worked by the lights of a Chevrolet car. He said the first cow was milked in the new barn Dec. 25, 1939. It was his father’s Christmas gift.

“He was the only dairy farmer in his family, and I’m the only dairy farmer of my brothers and sisters,” Reine said. “And, the only one in my class at Smith-Cotton High School.”

Reine, who graduated from SCHS in 1957, noted that at one time the barn was the “biggest dairy barn in Pettis County.” A barn built to last, it survived two twisters.

On May 15, 1977, Sedalia Democrat Reporter Ron Jennings wrote about the devastating tornado that ripped through the Reine property. Jennings wrote, “It took two generations of Reines 40 years to build up their grade A dairy operation on a 600-acre spread just north of the Sedalia city limits.

“It took a tornado about 40 seconds to nearly destroy it,” Jennings added.

After the tornado blew the barn 6 inches off its foundation, volunteers came together, Jennings wrote in the front page article, and helped the family recover what they could.

Another even more devastating twister came through in 1980.

“It tore off everything I built,” Reine said. “The barn had heavy damage to it. My house had heavy damage, I lost three silos. In the two tornadoes I lost five silos, seven barns . destroyed my car, killed my horse, and I lost 100 head of cattle.”

Reine, like his barn, is resilient and never thought of moving from the family farm. With a sense of humor and tenacity, he could also be called a man of ones.

“I’ve never moved my whole life, I was born inside the house over there.” he noted. “I’ve only lived in one house, I’ve been married to one woman for 59 years, I’ve only had one job, went to one school, one church. I’ve never bought one lottery ticket, I haven’t smoked one pack of cigarettes, I haven’t drank one glass of liquor. I have one artificial shoulder, hip and a knee, and I have one artificial tooth. I’ve had one migraine headache in my life, and I’ve had one aneurysm I’ve overcome, too.”

Reine retired from the dairy portion of his farm when he sold his cattle in 1989.

During his time as a dairy farmer, Reine received three plaques from the Kansas City Department of Health stating his milk quality was at 100 percent. Wilmer “Wimpy” Ziegelbein, of Concordia, who was Reine’s former milk inspector with the Kansas City Department of Health, was responsible for Reine receiving the plaques. Reine recently invited Ziegelbein out to the farm to see the barn one last time.

Ziegelbein said he always remembered Reine as having a smile. Ziegelbein explained he oversaw milk inspections for several counties and that Kansas City had an ordinance that any milk coming into the city must be inspected first.

“Albert was always nice and congenial, and hopefully I was too,” Ziegelbein said with a smile.

“I have this here saying, that I when I sold the cows my wife (Patricia) said she had a new husband,” Reine said with a twinkle in his eye. “Because, I’ve got this theory that if I don’t have to milk it, and I don’t have to feed it, it can wait. But, I’m still hard headed, and I guess mean, and determined, and I don’t quit until the last bale of hay is in the barn.”

Seeing the barn, a family icon filled with fond memories being dismantled, gave Reine mixed emotions.

“Oh, I guess it’s like anybody dying,” Reine said. “You have your bad times and good times. I guess my hardest time was when I came out here and started getting rid of the machinery — that’s when it really hit me.

“I’m kind of an odd guy,” he added. “I believe out of anything bad that happens, there is always something good that comes out of it. Even though you can’t see it at the time.”

Information from: The Sedalia Democrat,

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