Updated: Nov 7, 2021
We attend the Wisconsin State Fair every year. We love wandering through and looking at all of the animals and exhibits that our state's youth have worked so hard to raise & create, eating anything fried on a stick and enjoying a ride or two. This year we will still be doing that, but we'll start our day at the fair by attending the Breakfast Program for the Sesquicentennial Farm Award on August 10th.
The Wisconsin Sesquicentennial Farms Program recognizes farms that have been held by descendants of the same family for 150 years or more.
In 1884, when Darrell's Great Grandfather Frederick Gustav Schoeneberg was 17 years old, he traveled by Steam Ship from the port in Bremen, Germany to New York and then on to the Town of Leeds, Wisconsin. A year later, his parents Emelia & August joined him.
Emelia had an Uncle named Johann Heinrich Ludwig Kind (a.k.a - H.L. Kind) already living in Portage, WI. H.L. had arrived here in September of 1848. He worked in the grain elevators along the Portage canal for 8 years, before opening his own grocery store.
The farming economy in Germany was very poor in the 1880s, and many farmers chose to emigrate to Wisconsin. There was affordable land here, and the landscape was very similar to that in Germany. There was also an extremely large German presence here. In fact, in 1886 there were two German language newspapers in Columbia County. According to census records, Fred's parents & in-laws never learned to speak English. George, Jr. remembered that his grandparents, Fred & Emma, continued to speak German - but only when they didn't want the kids & grandkids to know what they were talking about.
Frederick Schoeneberg later married Emma Peeper in 1893. They purchased land in Leeds, Wisconsin from Emma's parents, William & Anna, who originially bought it on October 12, 1871 (14 years after arriving in America from Germany). That same piece of farm land has been taken care of by five generations of Schoenebergs. From being worked by horses, to the first little Farmall B tractor (that we still have) to tractors with GPS - we have taken care of it. Through good times & bad - we have held on. We are honored to have been and still be stewards of this land.
In 1871, there were 102,904 family farms. We now have 64,793 farms in the state of Wisconsin. Since the start of the Sesquicentennial Farm Program in 1998, 955 families have received the award for farming the same land for 150 Years. We are extremely thankful to be among them.