By PETER HUSSMANN
The Richland Grange in Killduff is asking the district court to determine whether language contained in a 52-year-old quit claim deed that allowed the now deceased previous owners of the land to buy back the property for $50 if it was ever offered for sale is applicable to the new owners of the adjacent property.
The Grange, which is winding down its affairs, filed suit against Bar-O-Farms, Inc., seeking a declaratory judgment from the court on whether the corporate farming operation is able to buy the .76 acre tract the Grange purchased from John and Tillie Van Gilst in July 1960 according to the terms of the deed.
The Richland Grange had planned that any proceeds of the sale of the property would go to the respective state or national Grange organization pursuant to Grange by-laws but Bar-O-Farms claims that it is successor in interest to the property and is entitled to buy back the property for $50 as stated in the quit claim deed granted by the Van Gilsts.
The clause in the deed states that "Sellers retain option of buying back above described premises for a price of $50, if it is ever offered for sale, and sellers further state, and second parties agree, that is (sic) may never be used by them for any purpose other than a Grange Hall, or community Hall."
Tillie Van Gilst died in 1963 and John Van Gilst died in 1974. Documents with the Secretary of State's Office show that Bar-O-Farms was incorporated in 1975. It owns 32 acres adjacent to the Richland Grange, as well as 16 other farm ground parcels in Jasper County. Adah Hunziker of Newton is President and Treasurer of the corporation, with Nancy Slegh of Prairie City acting as secretary and Mark Hunziker of Cresco and Bonita Vander Weerdt of Searsboro listed as directors, state filings indicate.
In asking the court to determine the rights of the parties, attorneys for Richland Grange argue that the clause in the quit claim deed "was not a vested right held by the defendants as the deed does not recite that is binding on any heirs, successors or assigns and therefore it was personal to the sellers and ceased to exist at the death of the last of them in 1974."
The Grange is asking the court to find that it is not obligated to sell the real estate to Bar-O-Farms, Inc., for $50 as the corporation claims.
Lelah Main, Master of the Richland Grange, signed off on the court documents filed on behalf of the Grange.