Mystery Place: Reference directories track farm's ownership

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Ginny Hall | December 12, 2014

The Ken and Betty Baerwald family farm is located on County Highway H north of County A and south of Green Lake Road in Section 33A in the town of LaGrange. Their barn quilt is called “Father's Choice.” Baerwalds have owned this property for more than 17 years.

The 1857 plat map shows the owner of this property as Hiram Cross. He owned 133 acres on both sides of the road in Sections 33 and 34. Hiram came from New York to this township in 1842. He was a member of the Walworth County Board in 1857.  

Cross showed matched horses at the first county fair held in 1850 in East Troy and received a second premium.  In 1853, 1862, 1865, 1866, 1868 and 1875, he was a county fair director and was president in 1854. He died in January 1882.

The 1873 plat book indicates that James Wallace owned the property. He also had acreage on both sides of County Highway H in Sections 33 and 34.  

In 1891, J. Noland owned the 80 acres in the northeast corner of this section on the west side of the road. In both the 1907 and 1921 plat books, the owner of this 80-acre parcel was Anna O'Donnell.   

The 1919 Prairie Farmer's Reliable Directory of Farmers and Breeders of Walworth County, Wisconsin lists Patrick J. O'Donnell as the owner of 90 acres in Section 33, town of LaGrange. His wife was Anna Eckert. Their children were John and Amy. Amy was no longer living on the farm at that time. Patrick came to the area in 1855. He drove a Studebaker car.

In 1930 the owner was John O'Donnell. In two plat books labeled “after 1936 and before 1942,” the owner of the 80 acres was Prudential Ins. Co.  

The 1948 book shows the owner as Garford Larson. In the 1961 book, Edwin and E. Bethke were the owners of 20.95 acres in the extreme corner of this section.  In 1964, Edna L. Bethke is shown as owner of these acres as well as 153.27 acres to the north in Section 28. In 1966 the plat book again shows the owners as Edwin and E. Bethke.  

From the 1970 through the 1982 plat books, the owners are Alex and S. Contino.

J.J. Pilger is shown as the owner of the land in 1986; it is described as 19.73 acres. In 1988 the owner is shown as T. & S. Partipile. E. & M. Stage are listed as the owners in the 1990 through the 1994 plat books. The 1996 book shows the owner as R. & J. Osborne.
Ginny Hall, a historian from Delavan, is author of the “Walking around ...” and “Meandering ... ” books, which highlight the history of Walworth County communities.

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