Walworth farm changes hands many times since 1850s
A photo gallery of this Mystery Place is HERE
The David and Joan Woodrich farm is located in the town of Walworth at 6645 Beloit Road. They have a barn quilt named American Pride.
The first transaction of this farmland was purchased from the U.S. government by Eliphalet Cramer in 1851. Albert Butterfield’s “History of Walworth County” mentions that in 1842, Cramer declined being named aid-de-camp to Major Gen. W.W. Brown, paymaster of the First Division Wisconsin militia. Later in the book, Butterfield mentions Cramer as a capitalist of Milwaukee. He bought large tracts of land in the county and then sold them to settlers who came to the area.
According to David Woodrich, the current owner, there are 18 people listed as owners of this property. Parts of the farm had different owners, making the connections difficult. The next owner was Henry Flinn; that purchase was recorded on March 10, 1852.
The next owner was George Delavan Pearce, recorded in July 1854. He paid $16 an acre. Remember the going rate for buying land directly from the government in those days was $1.25 per acre, so Cramer made a wonderful profit on this deal.
Pearce came from New York. He married Emily Jane Baker in Oneida County, N.Y., in April 1854. They headed to Wisconsin the day of their marriage. They spent three months in Delavan and then bought an eight-acre farm in Section 20, town of Walworth. He bought more land in the township as years went by. He was a member of the Brick Baptist Church and was a deacon for about 40 years. The Pearces had eight children.
James Sherburne became the owner of this property in September 1856. Another section of the farm was recorded to him on Nov. 7, 1863. That same date part of the farm was recorded as being owned by John L. Ward. In April 1879, Eveline Ward and Charles Ward, only heirs of John, were listed as owners. This was recorded by James Aram, attorney in fact. At that time, the property value was listed as $2,000. Then it came back to James Sherburne. Then on June 2, 1874, it was recorded as being owned by Sarah McCarty.
William Higbee was property owner on Sept. 24, 1874. Higbee was a stockholder and president of the Farmers Creamer Co. at Pugh’s Corners. He was also a wagon maker until a fire in 1892 destroyed all of his equipment. He built the double ironclad store building in the village in 1898. You still can see his name on the structure on the village square.
The property came back to Sherburne. He then sold part to Otho Bell, as executor estate of Caroline Hill, for $1,500 in May 1874. On April 29, 1879, this property was back in the hands of James Sherburne.
Thomas H. Pugh came to this area from New York in the fall of 1870. He returned to that state the following year, but came back in 1875, and worked on the farm until the spring of 1880, when he purchased it from Sherburne. Pugh’s wife was Mary McCarty, a niece of James Sherburne. Thomas and Mary had two children, Mattie and Frank T. His farm was 180 acres.
Pugh served as town and village assessor and president of the village board. He helped organize the Geneva Land Company which started the Glenwood Springs housing development. He was president of that operation for several years and was responsible for surveying the area, building bridges and generally improving that development. He served on the executive committee of the Walworth County Agricultural Society for several years.
Other names on their abstract include Horatio S. Winsor, Mary Brainard, Emma Crumb, William Long and Lena, Frank Long, William Nesslar, George and Susan Frey, Alfred Schweizer and Mary and W.V. Isham. The farm went into foreclosure. The sheriff's sale was held on Feb. 1, 1932, and sold to the Prairie Investment Co. It was taken over by the Walworth State Bank on March 16, 1932.
Frank and Edna Woodrich purchased the farm from the Prairie Investment Co. and the Walworth State Bank on March 9, 1934; the sale is recorded in the register of deeds office on March 16 of that year.
Their son, David, and his wife, Joan, bought the farm in January 1969. David has lived on this property since 1935. The farm didn’t get electricity until 1936 when Wisconsin Power and Light lines came west out of the village on Beloit Road.