The earliest known owner of our farm was Armine Pickett who purchased the farm from the United States Government in 1839. According to Jefferson County land records, the farm changed owners 15 times from 1839 to 1915. In 1915, Gust. Voight purchased the farm and we believe that this is the farmer that built the existing barn somewhere between 1916-1918. This is just a guess as there is no cornerstone or any other date indicator on the barn or its foundation. We believe Voight built the barn due to a reference in a Wisconsin Historical book which stated the fact, in 1917-1918 dairy barns all across Wisconsin were being built to help supply milk and other dairy products to their local communities.
A book published in 1917 called the The James Way: A Book Showing How to Build and Equip a Practical Up to Date Dairy Barn, highlights all the features that we see in our barn. From mangers to natural ventilation and feeding and manure equipment, this book really covers what the “Modern” dairy barn looked like in that time period.
The barn itself (was and still is) huge for its day at 37 feet by 140 feet. It housed stanchions for over 60 dairy cows, two large calf pens, a maternity pen and a bull pen. It featured two drive-in ramps for the hay mow, 4 grain storage rooms and two clay block silos. In addition, three large ornate cupolas adorned the top of the barn.
Like many farms of old, there were many different structures on the original farm. The farm boasted at one time a separate hired hand farmhouse, a hog barn, a large chicken coop, a couple of corn cribs, a windmill and 2 equipment sheds. Sadly all of them have been torn down by previous owners. All that remains of the structures are cement slabs. The farm was known in the area as Hi-Lo Acres, getting its name from the drumlins located on the farm. A very large drumlin is located on the southwest corner of the property. It is a favorite spot for our family. On the Fourth of July, we can see at least 6 area community fireworks displays.
The farm changed hands a few more times, and in 1967 the Tholen family purchased the farm. Our family milked cows until 1978. At that time, the dairy industry was rapidly changing. The choices were to either expand and modernize or get out of the business. Our family decided to sell the cows and return to off farm jobs. The barn basically sat vacant from 1978 to 2005. It was used as a gigantic storage shed and run-in shed for a couple of horses up until JRS Country Acres was “born”.