Mystery Place: Tracing farm ownership requires some conjecture

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Ginny Hall | February 3, 2015

The Eugene and Jane Ruenger farm is located at N7537 McCabe Road in the town of Whitewater, Section 36. Their barn quilt is called “Acorn's Promise.” The Ruengers have been at this location since at least 1970.

The 1857 plat map shows the owner of this property as M. Wood. The only reference I could find remotely connected to M. Wood was a Martin K. Wood listed in the 1882 “History of Walworth County.” He was shown as serving on the county board of supervisors representing the first ward of Whitewater.  

The 1873 plat book indicates the owner as Jas. O'Donnel. In 1891 the owner is listed as W. O'Donnell —  probably the same family, but another “l” has been added to the name.

In the 1907 and 1921 books, the owner changes to P. McCabe. In 1930 the owner is listed as P.F. McCabe. This is probably why the road past this farm now has the name of McCabe Road. The Prairie Farmer's Directory of Farmers and Breeders lists Pat McCabe as having a farm in Section 36 in the town of Whitewater.  

McCabe came to the county in 1863. He married Margaret Dougherty and they had two sons, John and Thomas. The plat books continue listing P. McCabe as the owner until 1961, when the book shows the owners as McCabe Bros. I assume that must be John and Thomas. The plat books skip from 1966 to 1970 when Eugene and Jane Ruenger are shown as owners.

The Ruenger farm was called Prairie View Farm. They raised Chester White pigs and Barred Plymouth Rock chickens. Their farm had a stave silo. They drove a Ford car.  
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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