Just like many of the other abandoned places I’ve visited, this is one that has a special place in my heart, so I have visited multiple times. The first time I visited was in the summer. The farm buzzed with cicadas, and the late August breeze hummed through the blooming branches. The second time I photographed the property, a fresh blanket of snow covered the decaying farm.
The last visit, a year ago on mother’s day was my favorite. After hearing all of the trees had been leveled, I feared they would be back to destroy the buildings at anytime, so I headed back.
I found out after I shot the video from the old farmer who stopped by the property that the trees were taken out per the airport close by, because they were a danger to their fly-zone. He was initially upset when he saw me on the property, telling me he knew the owner and he was sure he would not be happy with my photographing the property. I politely explained who I was, why I wanted to take pictures, and visited with him for a while. He told me he lived right down the road, and the owner had actually rented the property, and the farm was over 100 years old, which I looked up online to find out exactly how old she is. The house was built in 1876, so it’s 141 years old! One day the tenant never came back. He was unsure why or what happened with the roof. I told him I noticed all of the furniture had been left behind. I told the neighbor I understood why he was worried about having a stranger on the property taking photographs, and I told him I would be on my way, and he said I was fine to finish. He knew I would not go inside and would be respectful, so I think that was enough for him. He was such a nice man, and I really enjoyed my conversation with him.
Each one of these places has a unique story, and I can not even fathom how much this 141-year-old farm has seen, not to mention the property. The hilltop on which it sits would have been the perfect spot for Native Americans and other weary travelers to stop and rest for the night, where they were able to observe anyone else passing by. Places absorb energy, and that energy leaves an imprint noticeable to almost everyone, perhaps just subtle enough you were unsure of what it was.
The following three photos are from the Bennington Historical Society. Since the property is only a couple of miles outside of Bennington, I thought I would include a few photos from Bennington’s past.
Below: 1889 Bennington Rifle Club–Top Row (l-r) Bernhard Storm, Henry Simonsen, Ed Cook, Emil Storm, Hans Hansen, Middle Row- Charles Gottsch, Pete Diederichsen, John Rohwer, Hans lamp, Herman Timme Sr. Front Row- Christ Steinert, Herman Timme, Jr., Willam Cohrs, Ferdinand Kuhl, Heinrich Gottsch.
Below: 1952: Bennington High School Seniors and Juniors in front to Peetz’s Place. (l-r) Wayne Sass, Rolland Harder, Charlie Gottsch, LeMara Misfeldt, Ivan Nelsen, Burton Schwaunger, Maxine Laaker, Ida Kruse, Marybeth Knudsen in front of Peetz Place
Below: Mid-1920’s, Intersection of 156th and Bennington Road-Henry Neumeyer, Ed Paulsen and Ben Petersen in Bert Seymour’s Car
Below: 1889 Bennington Rifle Club-Top Row (l-r) Bernhard Storm, Henry Simonsen, Ed Cook, Emil Storm, Hans Hansen, Middle Row- Charles Gottsch, Pete Diederichsen, John Rohwer, Hans lamp, Herman Timme Sr. Front Row- Christ Steinert, Herman Timme, Jr., Willam Cohrs, Ferdinand Kuhl, Heinrich Gottsch.
Some interesting historical facts from the same year that this house was built, 1876.
The Dewey Decimal System was developed in 1876, named after Melvil Dewey. Budweiser first went on the market in 1876, and the first successful phone call was also made in in the same year. June 25, 1876, in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, US 7th Cavalry under Brevet Major General George Armstrong Custer wiped out by Sioux and Cheyenne warriors led by Chiefs, Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, in what became known as Custer’s Last Stand.
Hay twitched in the breeze, waiting to be fed to the animals who once occupied the farm.
The tea kettle still perches atop the stove, along with it’s mug, like the owner is coming back any second….
I told my family I would be out for a short drive, and two sweaty hours, three ticks, and 100 photos later, I returned home smiling.
Trish Eklund is the owner and creator of Abandoned, Forgotten, & Decayed, and Family Fusion Community, an online resource for blended families of all types. Trish’s photography has been featured on Only in Nebraska and Pocket Abandoned. Check out the new Bonanza Store for AFD merchandise! Follow on Instagram and Facebook. Trish is regularly featured on The Mighty, Huffington Post Divorce, and Her View From Home. She has also been featured on Making Midlife Matter, and The Five Moms, and has an essay in the anthology, Hey, Who’s In My House? Stepkids Speak Out by Erin Mantz.