I’ve been working on some of the historical information we have about the farm – trying to organize it and get it up on the web site. I’ve got all the historical documents and maps that we have up on web pages. (Here are links to all those documents, if you’re interested in the details: Old Survey Maps Surveyors’ Notes Original Homestead Land Grant documents Aerial Photos)
The earliest records of this land, that we know of, were the two surveys that were done in the mid-1800s by the federal General Land Office to divide the land so it could be homesteaded. In this area, the survey that established the township and range lines was done in 1848, and the one that divided the townships into sections was done in 1852. The records of these surveys are available online, so I was able to get copies of the surveyor’s notes for the lines that go through or around our land, and the maps that the surveyors drew.
To get you oriented, here’s our land in the 2009 plat book. Most of our property is in section 3 of T22N, R11W – now included in Lincoln Township. But the northernmost piece is in section 34 of T23N, R11W – now Gilmanton Township.
Here are the old surveyors’ maps of those two sections.
This is T22N, R11W – where the bulk of our land is. The wiggly line is Little Waumandee Creek, which runs through the southern part of our property.
This is section 34 in T23N, R11W – it’s mostly the flat tops of the hills, so there aren’t any interesting land features – at least in the southern half, which is our part of it.
This is an example of the surveyors’ notes from the 1848 survey, with typed transcriptions below. This page includes a description of putting in a couple of the posts that are actually on, or along the edge of, our land – I’ve highlighted those in pink.
Between Township 22 & 23 North, Range 11 West
Chains West Between Sections 2 & 35
Variation 8 45′ East
6.00 Enter ravine SW
14.00 Leave same SW
40.00 Set 1/4 Section Post in mound pit 8 links East
80.00 Set post at Corner Section 2, 3, 34, & 35
B. Oak 8 S 83 E 133
B. Oak 9 N 78 E 146
Br. Oak 7 S 88 1/2 W 235
B. Oak 10 N 59 W 235
Soil 2nd rate
Oak bushes & a few Black and Burr Oak trees
Between Townships 22 & 23 North, Range 11 West
Chains West between Sections 3 & 34
Variation 8 45
40.00 Set post at 1/4 Section Corner
B. Oak 6 North 19 E 9
B. Oak 5 S 44 E 4
80.00 Set post at Cor. Secs. 3, 4, 33, & 34
B. Oak 18 N 65 W 255
B. Oak 9 S 51 W 75
Timber Blk Oak & Bur Oak & Oak bushes
Here’s one page of the surveyors’ notes from the 1852 survey, with transcriptions below (the handwriting is sometimes hard to read). After they finished an area, they would write a general description of the landscape – this is the description of T22N, R11W.
General description of Township 22 North Range 11 West 4th Principal Meridian Wisconsin
This township is interspersed with hills & valleys about equal divided also about equal divided with good cultivation land and land too rolling for cultivation. Mostly covered with scattering Black, Burr and White Oak, Aspen timber. Surface nearly covered with prairie grass which give it a oak opening. Country is well watered with small spring brook and creeks, near which streams is gently rolling prairie good for farming purposes and with the rock which the hills abound. There is timber sufficient for all the good farming land in said township.
When the land was homesteaded, the original owners got documents recording their ownership from the General Land Office. Two different people got the land that is now combined into our farm. Herman Gunther (sometimes spelled Hermann, or Guenther), and Carl Lähn. Carl Lähn was the great (I don’t know how many greats) grandfather of our neighbor, Emmett Rutchow. At some point the family changed the spelling of their name to Laehn. Laehn Ridge Road, at the top of Praag Valley, is named after them. The Laehn family owned our land up through the time when Emmett was growing up. His aunt and uncle owned it then, and he remembers playing and exploring here.
Here’s the homestead document for Carl Lähn.
When we first bought our land, we went to the NRCS office in Alma, because they had all the old aerial surveys that had been done of this area. Here’s the earliest one we found of our property – from 1939.
Here’s the way it looked in 1998 – a few years before we bought it – with our boundary lines drawn in.
And here’s the latest aerial from Google Maps – we think this was taken in the summer of 2011. Now there are prairies in all the old farm fields, and we’ve added 30 more acres south of Hwy 88.