The Gross Farms Story…
We are often asked who we recommend for many different meats and other local products. For quite some time, we have searched for a bison, buffalo, and beefalo farmer that we'd give our stamp of approval and pass along to our customers. After meeting with multiple farmers that just didn't quite meet our standards, we finally found one... and right in our area! We received a call from our butcher, who introduced us to Gross Farms. We couldn't be happier, and we're happy to pass this product along to you! You can find these products @ The Farmstand!
On November 11, 1926, a man was born that would eventually develop a product that would not be appreciated for many years to come. He was one of 8 children that were raised on a ranch that had been homesteaded by his family in Russell, Kansas shortly after the Civil War. His grandfather became the first acknowledged breeder in the state of Kansas to raise Aberdeen Angus on this ranch, and was actually one of the founding members of what would become the American Angus Association. Having been exposed to his father Norman’s livestock at an early age, he along with his brothers and sisters grew up with a love of the animals and a passion to care for them. So much so, that 5 of the 8 siblings became Veterinarians, all graduating from K-State. They included Dr. Glen G. Gross DVM, Dr. Dean R. Gross DVM, Dr. Joanne G. Gross DVM, Dr. Robert U. Gross DVM, and himself. This man, Dr. William C. Gross DVM, made his way along with his siblings to the Jacksonville area to all start businesses that have helped and supported the many farmers and animal lovers in this area of the state for almost a century. With him, “Dr. Bill” as many refers to him, brought to Illinois a passion for the old west. As a child he used to say, “When I grow up, I am going to write a cowboy song and make a million dollars”. While he did write many limericks, and sang many old west songs as he bounced along the country roads between veterinary calls, the fruits of his labors were realized in the care and nurturing of the many sick animals in Jacksonville and the surrounding area.
Shortly after establishing his veterinary practice in Winchester, Illinois, Bill and his brother Glen bought a farm south of Jacksonville to support their own personal interests and love of the outdoors. Glen wanted to develop it and sell plots for houses, but Dr. Bill wanted to raise livestock, which would soon not only include the original herd of Aberdeen Angus from Russell, Kansas, but also exotic animals. They came to a decision to split the farm in half so each could pursue their individual interests. Glen chose the eastern half that was bordered by Massey lane, and Dr. Bill preferred the “more secluded” western half. Dr. Bill soon began to develop his part of the farm with “double high fence” to contain his future hobby…raising buffalo, several varieties of deer, and eventually elk. This was the beginning of what would soon become a most unique training ground and diversified learning opportunity for himself and his family.
In 1958, Dr. Bill went to Fort Sill, Oklahoma to the Woolaroc Ranch which is owned by the Phillips Petroleum Family and purchased part of their resident herd of American Bison. In that day there was no one in the Jacksonville area that had introduced them to this part of Illinois as of yet. After a highly eventful journey back to Illinois with the feisty animals, he established his herd south of town. Not too long after, he began to grow interest in cross breeding the American Bison with his father’s herd of Aberdeen Angus. Little did he know what would lie ahead with regards to the national promotion of “Certified Angus Beef” being the American Standard to which all other beefs would eventually be graded against, let alone the future benefits in flavor and health that creating “Beefalo” would offer!! Undoubtedly he would be the first in Illinois to embark on such a project, and very possibly in the whole of the United States.
While being kept fairly secluded in the early years, other than the occasional school field trip or private viewing to friends or acquaintances, the Gross Farm is not so well hidden today. In 2003, the property was divided by the building of the Corridor 67 highway, so that what was once a private haven is now available for public viewing. Many a car now stops or pauses its highway speed to take in a view of the buffalo and interesting looking Black Angus Beefalo that have inhabited the Gross Farm for decades. We are proud of our father’s efforts and our family’s heritage in forming the “Black Angus Beefalo”. We have enjoyed its lean attributes and superior flavor for decades ourselves, and have decided to now make it available to the residents of Jacksonville and the surrounding area. We hope you enjoy the wonderful flavor, the juiciness, and the associated health benefits that we have been blessed with for many years. Bon appetite!