Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fischer Farms

The other day we were geocaching in the past which is always fun, because it takes us to locations with history from a 100 years ago or more.  You can read about the beginning of our day here.  But the really interesting part of the day was the final location of a 2 part cache named "Churchville Cemetery - Illinois Spirit Quest."

The cache was hidden in a section of woods right next to Fischer Farms, so we parked in their parking lot and walked over to peer into the cabin windows.




The place was deserted, so we walked over to the barn and checked that out too....




Just then a guy came walking out of the main house and it turned out to be Jonathan, the property historian, and he offered to open up the buildings for us so we could walk through them.  Hell yes!!

The Fischer Family came over to America from Germany in 1836 and homesteaded on 1000 acres in what would later become Bensenville, Illinois.  It's now believed to be the oldest remaining homestead in the county.  Here Conrad Fischer and his wife built this small cabin and lived there with 5 of their children.



It'd hard to believe that so many people lived in such a small space.




I love this wall....


The 2nd floor was probably a huge bedroom....

At some point some relatives came to live with them as well, so they built an addition onto one side of the cabin.  Unfortunately the addition is no longer there.


Next we walked over behind the barn where an old piece of machinery was wedged between 2 trees.  The rusty form has been there for so long that the trees actually grew up around it.  They used this machine to feed logs through and cut them into planks for building....


Eventually they grew into a prosperous farm and dairy business.  We saw another barn, which was huge......



And the chicken coop......



The property just north of the barns has never been touched - it was never tilled or built upon and contains the 3 major ecosystems of Illinois: prairie, forest and wetland.  The land is in the same condition that it's been for hundreds of years and contains original seedbeds.


The main house on the property was then built in the 1920's.  It had 8 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a full basement and a full attic.  6 great grandchildren of Conrad Fischer grew up there.


Here are some of the bedrooms....





This is the 2nd floor bathroom...



The 1st floor dining room where I'm standing with Jonathan....

The kitchen....


I love the wood.....

The Fischers and their descendants lived on the property from 1836 until 1999.  They were the only family to ever live there.  Bensenville Park District now operates the property, which is considered a park and they are working to restore the property and grounds.

One of the walls had old family photos.....





Currently they hold a Quilt Show there in the spring and a Heritage Days Celebration in the autumn, as well as summer camps, hikes and special events.  There are also plans in the works for more events as the restoration work is completed.  Right now the property is open for touring on a limited basis, and its free, although they do accept donations.  

Count yourself lucky if Jonathan happens to be there when you visit - he's a fountain of information on the property and the Fischer Family and I could have stood and talked to him for hours.

Geocaching in the past is one of my favorite types of geocaching to do!

10 comments:

  1. This is so cool! Lucky you to get a tour!

    The wall that you love appears to be an old lathe and plaster wall minus the plaster. My last house had lathe and plaster walls. It was OLD!

    What a neat homestead!

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  2. What a beautiful area and that is too cool that Jonathon was there to show you around. I can't believe how much history is still there. I am glad that they are going to restore it and keep it, it would have been a shame to tear it down.
    xoxo

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  3. It's always interesting to explore local history. I love it when old building are preserved for future generations to see.

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  4. Wow, I wish I could have been there with you for this cache! I love visiting old buildings and imagining the lives of those who lived or worked there. I think I told you before that the cabin my great-grandfather built in the early 1880s still stands on family-owned land. Looks like it was about the same size as this one. The first eight of their children were born in that cabin before they finally built a large two story home and had two more. As you observed, how did so many live in such a small space? I think about that and realize I need to stop complaining about how small my new place is, lol.

    Hope you've been getting lots of snow/work, it has been a really mild winter here as well, though we did a freeze come through long enough to destroy the HUGE elephant ears growing in my yard!

    Hugs across the miles

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    Replies
    1. You would have loved to walk around this place. SO much history here.

      We are STILL waiting for the snow... It was supposed to start last night, but so far, nothing. Hmmmm. We'll see.

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  5. Fabulous! I love wandering around old buildings and thinking about the people who lived there and how they lived... fascinating! And sounds like you guys really lucked out with the guide! :o)

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  6. The guide was excellent - He really knew his history about the farm and the family.

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  7. Whoa....what a great post!
    Kim, I honestly don't know how you do it? Great on location pics and post, after post, after post, after post, after post, after post, after post, after po.............

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