Tuesday, February 9, 2010

About This Old Farm

I'm getting cabin fever with the seeming endless snow storms. I'm going to be doing a little rearranging around the old blog here. Try not to trip over the couch. In the mean time, here's a little history lesson about how this whole thing got started in case you're new here and are interested...

Over 100 years after it was built, this old house is still referred to as the "Kurtz Home". We are only the third family to live here. Luzena Kurtz, the original owner of this old homestead, liked to call this place Front Porch Indiana because of the beautiful view from the front porch. Rocking back and forth, smelling the sweet scent of heirloom lilacs, from here you can see Indiana at it's finest. Corn and beans gently swaying, flocks of wild turkey wandering along the wooded stream, a chicken scratching in the dirt.

Mr. and Mrs. Kurtz moved here from Kansas in 1898 bringing the lilac bushes in the front yard with them on a covered wagon. At that time there was an old brick house on the property. They tore part of it down and built this house around it between 1906 and 1908. It had all the latest amenities of the day including central heat, acetylene generated gas lights, and a water system fed from two cisterns that would pump water upstairs to a bathtub. Pretty remarkable for a house in the middle of nowhere.

Everyone asks about the "thing" in the back yard. That's the gas generator I was referring to. Actually to be correct it's the second generator. What happened to the first you ask? Well, now that's a story, pull up a seat.

After completing the house, it seems the first winter was harsh. One particularly cold morning the gas lights had stopped working. At that time the generator was located in a small building somewhat similar to the three hole privy it was located near. Mr. Kurtz inspected the generator and determined that the pipes must have frozen. He decided to use some hot coals to warm them up while he went to town to conduct some business. Upon returning home he found the lights to be in working order. Problem solved, or so he thought. Later that evening the lights started to flicker. Mr. Kurtz bundled himself up, grabbed his lantern and headed out. Notice I said LANTERN.

Yes, as you can imagine, once he opened the door to the generator building there was an explosion that was heard for what the newspapers report as far away as 20 miles. The newspapers also report how far away his, uh, parts and pieces were found in graphic detail. They didn't leave much out in those days. Fortunately, all family members inside the house were spared even though all the windows in the home had been shattered.

It is told that the widowed Mrs. Kurtz lived in the dark for quite a number of years before being convinced to finally install the second generator. It's also told that this house has a friendly spirit living here. I've not met the so-called spirit personally since we've lived here. But I will confess that I've felt an overwhelming sense of peace since the first moment I set foot in the door, long before I was aware of Mr. Kurtz' demise. I love it here and feel like I belong. I wouldn't mind having my own ashes spread amongst these few acres when my time comes, although I would prefer a more gentle distribution method.

After that times were hard, especially for a widow, and the house fell into disrepair. It passed from generation to generation in the Kurtz family and eventually was only used as an occasional summer retreat. The black walnuts and hawthorn trees tried to reclaim the land Mr. Kurtz labored to clear. Pastures were overtaken by scrub and wild berries. Rusted farm equipment was left abandoned under the bushes.

Another family purchased the home and seven acres in the 1980s. Over the 20 plus years they lived here they did some extensive restoration of the house bringing the old place back to life. In 2006 they decided it was time to pass the torch to a new family. We gladly accepted the challenge and day by day, little by little try to restore this place back into a working homestead. I like to think that is just the way Luzena would have wanted it.

This place was Luzena’s dream. A century later, I’m just trying to keep that dream alive. I can't help but feel a kinship and certain closeness to Luzena in everything I do here. So I write this blog to keep her updated as to what is going on, as if she and I are sitting out there on the porch, just snapping beans and shooting the breeze. Seemed appropriate to name it after her. Thanks for stopping by and joining us. We love having you.

14 comments:

Cindy said...

Thanks for sharing the history with us. No wonder you love your home so much.

Dianna said...

Loved learning the history of your home! I love sitting on the porch to snap beans, or shell beans, or husk and silk corn! Those summer thoughts make this cold, snowy weather seem a little less harsh. Thanks for the "vacation" along with the history.

Ken and Mary Berry said...

A most interesting story. Thanks for the entertaining tale. Ken&Mary Berry of FancyFibers Farm

Conny said...

I loved reading about the history of your homestead - thanks so much for posting it.

My first husband's family lives in Indiana, I have visited there many times and so can picture the countryside you described. So beautiful in the summertime (okay, autumn in Brown Co. isn't bad either.)

Cheers ~

~Tonia said...

Very Interesting!!! I love old houses!

jan said...

I have just discovered your blog and I've been playing story catch up. You are a great story teller and you make me laugh out loud, What a treat. In your spare time you need to be working on a book.

Vivian said...

Thanks for sharing the history of your home for us new followers. I've described to my husband the adventures of your 4-legged family members, and I think he checks in on your front porch now and then too.
I enjoy my visits to your farm very much.
I agree with Jan. Your easy-going, conversational story telling could go into a book.

PatchworkRose said...

Love your story :-) Thankyou for sharing. It seems you have a house of Dreams and good feelings :-)
Cheers
Lynne Who is melting in toooo Sunny South Australia Send some of that weather down to us please

Jayne said...

I'd read the story of poor Mr. Kurtz before but I didn't know where the name of your blog came from. That's wonderful. I feel a kinship to the people who lived in my house originally, too.

Taryn said...

I love visiting for your stories. You make me want to pack my bag and head west. Except for the snow...and the cold...and all the work. Keep blogging; I'll live vicariously.

Callie said...

I loved reading about the history of your home and farm. Thank you for writing it up. And I love front porches!

Lori said...

What a story!!! It must be so wonderful knowing all that history to your farm.

Anonymous said...

We live in the southern part of Indiana on a small farm that has NH's family history intertwined on it. But I had never looked at it the way you just described. Thank you, is there more to tell us?

Sandra's Sewing Room said...

I always love reading your blog; you have such interesting stories. To know the history of ones home; must make it more special. Glad you feel the way you do about the previous owners; and that you want to keep her up on what is going on! LOL