By Delores Zillmer Miller
One hundred and thirty five years ago our ancestors came from overseas to seek their fortune. Settled in Central Wisconsin, which was a wild land of forests, trees and rocks. In their German/Prussian/Poland homeland, they were peasants working for rich absentee landlords. Houses and barns were built together, the cow herds provided the heat for the house. Emigrant tickets were provided by relatives already in America. Here they decided to become dairy farmers.
Four feet of frost every winter forced boulders to the ground surface, which had to be picked before the land could be cultivated. A contraption known as a stone boat, 4 feet wide, twelve feet long, looped upwards in front and pulled by a good team of horses. These peasant children walked over the acres hoisting pebbles, rocks, stones, cobblestones and boulders. Sometimes the horses spooked and ran away, scattering stones over freshly picked soil.
In the early years of the twentieth century, farmers decided to build barns. The barn was essential for storage and livestock shelter. The good Lord had provided these rocks: granite, basalt, quartzite, sandstone. Masons worked for a dollar a day, building a stone wall, ten foot high, two feet deep, three feet in the ground. Rocks weighed about thirty pounds, and for a 36x50 foot barn, 4000 rocks were needed for the 272 feet total of rocks. Filled with a sand concrete mortar, huge boulders made the corner stones, chiseled the year. This took about six weeks, crews slept in tents, housewives cooked and baked each day to feed the crew. No one builds barns like this anymore, only in our memories the lore and legends remain.
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