DescriptionIn the 1860s, an 83-acre property on what was then Smith Road, now South 51st Street, in Franklin, Wisconsin was bought by our great grandfather, Johann (John) Barg and his wife Maria (nee Tietgen). The Barg homestead's main barn was erected in 1877. Later, his son, our grandfather, Edward J. Barg and his wife Annette (nee Meyer), operated the farm. Still later, the farm was maintained by our dad, Vernon E. Barg and his wife Virginia (nee Stepke).
Over the years two substantial private gardens were planted and tended primarily by our parents. They grew, canned, froze, and preserved on the earthen floor basement: beans, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, onions, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, squash, and tomatoes. In the vast yard, many fruits grew wild for picking, eating, baking, and cooking including: apples, blackberries, crab apples, mulberries, raspberries, and strawberries. Near the sewer field, there was a patch of rhubarb that was harvested to make desserts.
During the growing season, the air was fragrant with the aroma of: apple blossoms, black-eyed susan, daffodils, daisies, forsythia, honeysuckle, irises, lilacs, lily of the valley, peonies, Queen Anne's lace, roses, trilliums, tulips, and wild violets dotting the landscape around the yard. Alfalfa, clover, hay, oats, soybeans, straw, and wheat also contributed to the heady scent in the fields.
A herd of dairy cows lived in the barn and fields and had to be milked on a daily basis. Long before it was fashionable, we raised free-range chickens and ducks. We also had our share of dogs, field cats (and mice), one horse, two workhorses, rabbits, cooing pigeons, and squirrels. We were expected to pitch in and do chores, but when those were done we were free to roam most anywhere and everywhere without fear. Our paternal and maternal grandparents lived a few miles away on either side of the homestead. So in a sense we were being monitored from a distance while our parents and extended family tended to their everyday activities.
Marsha Barg-Karp, Hamilton, Virginia
Geanine (Barg) Maurer, Brookfield, Wisconsin