Sunday, June 3, 2012

Abandoned Farmstead

About a week ago I had to load up the boys in the car and go pick up Travis in a field somewhere in the middle of no where.  This is routine for us, especially when Travis’s dad and mom are not at the farm.  When you run an operation with no hired help, everyone – even the farmwife with two kiddos that take at least 15 minutes to pack into the car – has to pitch in.

There are many parcels of land that we farm that I have never been to.  The location that I was traveling to this time was about one mile north, then one mile west, then a half a mile south of our farmstead.  Travis was moving the sprayer from one section to another and then needed a ride back to the farm to get a pick-up and drive to another field somewhere else to roll the recently planted soybean seed (just imagine a couple large rolling pins going across a black field making it nice and flat).

Since most of the roads are not marked you have to use landmarks or distances in your description of how to get somewhere.  No GPS assistance here!  Travis gave me the directions and we were off.  Thankfully, I saw Travis driving the sprayer just before we were to make our last turn, because I am fairly certain that I would have got lost on this trip.  It didn't help that I was distracted by an old abandoned farmstead.

I was intrigued.  When I see an old abandoned farm, I always wonder who lived there and why the buildings were let go.  When Travis got in the car I asked him about it.  Come to find out this was his dad’s grandpa’s old farmstead, or Travis’s great-grandpa’s farm, or Charlie’s great-great-grandpa’s house.

After interviewing Travis’s parents and grandma Margaret, we got the story behind this old abandoned farmstead.  I always knew that the farm we are living on was not the original homestead of Travis’s family, but this abandoned farm was also not the first ground his namesake took root when they came over from Sweden.

John and Maria were the first to come to the United States.  It is still unclear to me where their homestead was, but it was in the same area that we live today.  They had sons, two of them being Oscar (also known as E.O.) and David.  Oscar married Fannie.

The first place that Oscar and Fannie lived in was built by David out in the country near our small town, which is now located next to the public golf course.  That house is no longer in the family, and we don’t know who lives there, so on the way home from church today we just did a drive-by.

Not much to look at due to the pine trees.

This is the house where Travis’s grandpa Vern was born, son of Oscar and Fannie.  Vern eventually married Margaret, who ironically was born on the next homestead over.  She still lives in an apartment in town today and is one of the sharpest and mobile 90-something-year-olds that I know (not that I know many 90-year-olds).

When Vern was still a boy, Oscar moved his family from this farmstead to another place in the country near a town about 12 miles north from our hometown.  They moved again to the farmstead near our farm today, also known as the abandoned farmstead.

Oscar lost the farm sometime in the early 1940’s due to the Depression.  According to my father-in-law, it was not uncommon for families to move around a lot during that time.  It makes sense, as things were not as financially stable then (like the really are now for that matter).

The last resident of the farm was an old man living there until the very early 1990’s.  The farm is now owned by a neighboring farmer in the township.  It is fenced off and used as pasture land, so on day we were there we had to cross a barbwire fence to get a closer look.

Travis jumped over the fence, but I was not wearing appropriate clothing for such
an adventure (t-shirt, shorts, and the footwear of champions: Crocs).  Charlie and I crawled under the fence army-style and we transferred Levi over the top.

The house is in very rough shape.

Due to my aversion to all things scary, I was not going to enter the haunted-looking house.

Then I walked by one of the broken windows and thought I saw a ghost…to later find it was just an old jacket hanging on a door.

There no way I was going to set foot in that place, which was smart considering the basement has caved in and only the footings appear to be holding the rest of the structure up.

Still, Travis insisted on exploring the interior, so I sent the camera with him to document his findings and hoped that he wouldn’t seriously injure himself.  He later reported that the house was actually very well built (it was also built by Oscar’s brother David).

Inside there were all sorts of things that were left behind.

There were also some old neat finds scattered around the outside of the house like this clothes washing pail and Watkins bottle.

Walking around the property we didn’t have to worry too much about Charlie.  He was basically paralyzed by the cow manure.  He kept saying, “There’s too much poooop!” and would not move.

And speaking of poop…

I am so thankfully for modern plumbing.



  1. Fun! Kind of sad though...I hate to see cool old houses like that end up in ruins! There was a huge old house near where I grew up that was abandoned by a wealthy family...they even had their own family cemetary with big gates and a fence around it on the property! The place was the subject of many urban (or rural I guess I should say) legends and had been looted and vandalized excessively over the years until it finally burned down. It just made me feel bad to see a huge old house like that wasted!

  2. That's too bad! That could have been a great house to someone else! Although I'm not sure how I would feel about having a cemetery next to my house.