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Freitag Farm Sesquicentennial

 

July 18, 2019

Kim Tschudy

On Saturday, July 6th, family and friends gathered at the Freitag Farm to celebrate the farm's Sesquicentennial.

Over the past two centuries, many words have been spoken and written about the Wisconsin Territory describing the land we call home. Eloquent and touching words all. From the Winnebagos, whose land this was before white settlement, passing down their verbal history and love of this land we call Green County. Just as the Winnebago did, the Freitag family is passing down its collective history to their fourth and fifth generations of the Freitag family who carry on the history and love of this land in the Town of Washington, just north of Monticello.

There are many priceless stories and places that we cherish and honor, passed down by many different Wisconsin writers such as Ben Logan, who have written so beautifully of the land several generations of his family loved, and returned to often, to re-live those childhood memories, if only for a short time.

Perhaps the most eloquent of these stories in our area was written in the book, The Freitag Farm, 150 Years: 1869-2019. This farm lies just north of Monticello, on Hwy. 69.

"Welcome to the Freitag Farm Centennial. This is a very happy occasion. In fact, happiness is the strongest emotion attached to this lovely place. Many of us have spent many delightful hours, days or years here. Two people are primarily responsible for this Centennial. They are, of course, my parents, Elsbeth and Nic Freitag. Dad was born in that frame house in 1872. He lived here all his life-almost 80 years. Mother came here as a bride at the age of 21. They established and maintained a wonderful home for us children and transmitted to us all their devotion to this place, and to each other.

I think it is significant that we are all here together participating in the heritage they left us. There is no doubt about the fact that Nic and Elsbeth are primarily responsible for this happy reunion at Hillside Dairy Farm.

And now a special word to the youngsters. You put your initials into the concrete over there and you have planted six maple trees. But it takes more than that to know and appreciate this farm. It takes many visits. And walks out into the fields. Get on top of the hill over there and enjoy the view looking back this way over these productive fields. Take a walk just to enjoy the many magnificent trees we have. In fact part of knowing this place is coming down to breakfast to eat lumpy corn meal mush which has been made by one of your dear cousins.

This farm isn't going to make you rich in dollars, but it has values that are worth far more than dollars. So carry on, take good care of the place, visit it when you can. These fields and buildings and knowing your Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins will become one of the great satisfactions in your life."

On Saturday, July 6th, the Freitag family got together at family farm to celebrate 150 years of Freitag family ownership. Family members, several generations away from the founders, Elsbeth and Nic Freitag, attended from California, Indiana, Minnesota, Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Louisiana, Washington, and Toronto, Canada.

Stories were told of weekends spent at the farm, photos from various family albums collected and shown to the upcoming generations, earlier generations reminiscing with, "do you remember when we did this," stories that held the younger family members attention, and no doubt a few, "mom, dad did you really do this at the farm," questions.

Family members, approximately 100 of them, returning to walk the family land once again, pointing out where they made forts in woods, got chased by a cow who felt her calf might be threatened by the children, stories of where they found a litter of newborn kittens, reliving, one more time, experiences they will never forget of those long ago summer days spent on the family farm.

The Freitag farm has a very fascinating history. The first house on the farm, a log cabin, was replaced probably in the late 1860s, by the white clapboard house closest to the road which is occupied as a rental property. A house that once was occupied by Fridolin Streiff, a Swiss immigrant.

For some years the log cabin was utilized as the first cheese factory in Green County, started by Nic Gerber. A Wisconsin Historical Marker for this first cheese factory is located at the large MONTICELLO sign on State Highway 69, at Lake Montesian. A small metal plaque commemorating the first cheese factory is affixed to a stone near the garage. This early marker was set out by Emory Odel, a former editor of the Monroe Evening Times.

Kim Tschudy

The brick home on the farm was constructed in 1906. The property was inducted into the National Register of Historic Places on November 11, 2005, which attests to the significance of the property.

The equipment used in the on-farm cheese factory can be seen at the Swiss Historical Museum in New Glarus. Each October, a batch of cheese is made with the equipment from the Freitag farm cheese factory. The equipment was collected by Carl Marty of Monroe, himself a nationally known cheese maker and community benefactor. The factory was in use until the late 1890's, utilizing the milk from the Freitag farm, as well as milk from several nearby farms.

The beautiful red brick Greek Revival/Queen Anne home, constructed in 1906, was designed by Robert Roth, Monroe, and Karlen & Steinman of Monticello. The property was inducted into the National Register of Historic Places on November 11, 2005, which attests to the significance of the property.

One of the relatives conducted guided tours of the home which has carefully been preserved, as well as much of the early furniture that provided much needed respites from long days of farm work.

With the loving care of the land and home the relatives have provided this landmark, they are ensuring that the eighth and ninth generations will be gathering here in 2069 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Freitag Estate Farm.

 
 

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