History walk: Better than a crumbling foundation

posted Nov 18, 2018, 10:27 AM by david.g.peters   [ updated Nov 18, 2018, 2:50 PM ]

Originally posted Aug. 4, 2018 by Dave Peters.


Four of us took a history walk on the barrens today, and evidence of the past was a little different than expected. Mark Nupen, Vern Drake and Maggie from Staples Lake joined me in looking around the early 20th Century homesteads of William and Mary Clemens and Samuel and LuAnn Turner on Dry Landing Road.

The walk got a little soggy because the morning rain soaked the woods and barrens. Mark's rain pants were a good idea.

We started at the site of the Clemens farm west of Dry Landing. They arrived on the barrens around 1905 and left in 1923. They and their two sons are buried in Lakeside Cemetery in Cumberland, Wis. We knew there were a couple old silo foundations but were hoping to find a house foundation.

No such luck, but we did find what apparently was the old well, a sturdily built stone shaft about 4 by 4 and maybe 10 feet deep. We discussed jumping down in but visions of Hardy boys adventures went through my mind and we decided against.

If actual building remains were sparse, we did find botanical evidence. Sharp-eyed Maggie spotted stalks of delicate asparagus scattered around the clearing and there were plum trees near where the home would have been, green fruit the size of big marbles ripening. Both seem likely to have been planted by someone living there, surviving and healthy 100 years later.

Then we drove down Dry Landing less than a mile to the Turner farm. The Turners arrived in the 19-teens, I think, and stayed into the 1930s. Friends board member Gary Dunsmoor told us that years back a badger had dug up a 1930s newspaper here, apparently used as insulation. We found no newspapers, but we did find a couple depressions that likely were from buildings. They were about 50 yards apart, one containing a little old broken crockery. In between the depressions was a huge orchard of plum trees, all bearing green fruit.

Again, we were strongly tempted to assume we were standing where the Turners had harvested. "I can smell the plum pie Mrs. Turner was making," Maggie said.

Better than a hunk of concrete.

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