Mystery Place: Farm created a specialty market

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Ginny Hall | October 21, 2016

You can see Steve and Darlene's Pinn-Oak Ridge Farms at N5784 Johnson Road in the town of Richmond, Wisconsin. The operation began in 1997 in Section 27. The Pinnows provide premium Wisconsin lamb to high-end restaurants, supermarkets and the general public.

The Pinnows work with about 20 small farmers to get the top-quality product they want for their customers.  These farmers are under strict guidelines for raising the lambs. 

Steve and Darlene raise around 350 to 400 lambs on their 180- acre farm. However, they process around 2,000 animals annually.  These animals are under 10 months old and are around 120 to 140 pounds. Two weeks before the lambs are harvested, they are fed a special diet of corn, soybeans, vitamins and minerals. The animals are hormone and antibiotic free.

The Pinnows' business grew when area chefs spread the word about their top-grade product.  They sell lamb in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.  The Pinnows have a retail store at their Johnson Road location and you can find Wisconsin lamb in area grocery stores.

Readers of the former Week newspaper remember the Pinnow name. Steve's father, Laurel, often brought in an interesting or antique gadget and readers were asked to identify it on the Thingamajig page.

I remember Steve's mother, Margaret; she was an active 4-H leader. Steve and his sister were 4-H members.

The 1857 plat map shows that a major part of the property that  encompasses the retail store was owned by Sylvester Paul. The 1882 “History of Walworth County” indicates that he had 200 acres of land in Section 36 in the town of Richmond and Section 1 in the town of Darien. 

Paul was born in New York and came to this area in 1847. He married Sophia Gibson on Christmas Day 1855. Their children were Dephonzo G. and Walter C. The older son moved to California and the younger one died at age 5.  Apparently the first wife died, because Paul married an Elizabeth Green on Sept. 10, 1862.  He served in the Union Army, 49th Infantry, Company K. He farmed until 1881, when he leased his land and moved to Delavan.

It appears that by 1873 the portion now owned by the Pinnows was owned by Frank McSorley. This continued in the 1891 book. In 1907 ownership changed to Paul Klug. 

The Prairie Farmers Directory of Farmers and Breeders shows an Arthur Klug with a 140-acre farm in Section 27 in the town of Richmond. He came to the area in 1895, married Ida Braun and called their farm Clear View Farm. He had a 10/20 Case tractor. There was a wood silo on the farm.

In the 1921 through 1940 books the owner is shown as Wm. Klitzke. The 1940 plat book indicates that the owners were N.E. & S.O. Simonsen. The owner in the 1960 through the 1966 plat books was Donna Mae Anselmo. In 1970 the owner was shown as Irving & Ruth Bridges. The 1972 book shows the ownership returned to Anselmo. In 1973, Irving & Gertrude Huth are indicated as the owners. In 1975 the property was owned by F.L. Trewyn.

In 1977 the property was owned by Laurel and M. Pinnow etal. In 1982 the plat book shows the property as owned by Laurel and Steve Pinnow. Now the plat books show the owners as Steven L. and Darlene F. Pinnow.

Ginny Hall, a Delavan historian, is author of the “Walking around ...” and “Meandering ... ” books, which highlight the history of Walworth County communities.

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