Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Visit to the Homestead

This past Saturday morning dawned early, and we were all up and ready to head down to the reunion site before long. As we pulled into the park drive, we began to see familiar faces. There were not many people there at first, but the ones who were there, we had such a wonderful time visiting with! Many we had not seen since the year before and some, we had not met before and it was also their first time to come to the reunion. We spent much of the morning visiting, catching up on the past year, and looking at some of the historical family photos that others had brought to share (which were really neat to see!) Then we began planning a little 'field trip' . . .

It has become an annual reunion tradition for at least some of us to visit the homestead of my great-great grandfather, Joseph Pelc, who homesteaded in Spencer, Nebraska. The farm is not owned by anyone in our family now, but the farmer who does own it is kind enough to let us go out there. This year, we, along with quite a few others, headed out to the farm Saturday morning. The buildings have deteriorated significantly more since last year which was sad to see. The barn looks like it is about ready to come down, and I would be surprised if it remains standing for very many more years. The house has holes in the roof now which will make the house deterioration progress even more rapidly than it already has been. But even with all of this, it was still wonderful to be able to see the old buildings and to go inside of them (though, I only ventured a little ways into the barn this time!) When looking at these impressive buildings, it is hard to believe that my great-great grandfather built them!

The house is one of my favorite styles of houses (I love old farmhouses!), and knowing that it is a part of my family heritage makes it even more special (the house was lived in by not only my great-great-grandparents, but my great-grandfather, great-grandmother and grandpa as well. My Dad also remembers visiting his grandparents at the house, too.)

It is difficult to see the house in this photo as the trees have grown up around it, but here is what it looked like (from a different angle) many, many years ago . . .

The house in the early 1900's with my great-great grandfather and other unidentified family members in front of it (the little building to the right of the house is where they lived prior to them building the big house. And before that, they lived in a sod-house.)

Photographing, visiting and exploring . . . just some of the things taking place while out at the homestead

Inside the house . . . reminiscing about old times

A taste of the beautiful woodwork in the house . . . from the bannister to the doors, to the trim, to the hardwood floors, to the wainscoating down in the dining room, the woodwork is amazing!

Some of the family visiting

The sadly neglected, once beautiful screen door

The barn

Leah opening the half-door to look inside the barn

Me walking around the barn which led to some photos such as this one . . .

The walls of the barn are beginning to not only lean, but to buckle and break as well.

The corn crib with an adjoining chicken house (the little holes at the top are for pigeons to go into)

The door into the chicken house

Me photographing . . . I think at this point I was taking photos of some of the family talking in front of the barn.

The fallen down hog barn


The view

After thoroughly exploring and enjoying the homestead, we drove a short distance over to the schoolhouse which my great-great grandfather also built, and which many of my great aunts and uncles as well as my grandpa went to school at . . .

And that sums up part of our Saturday! This was one of my favorite parts about the reunion as I love going out to the homestead and not only seeing and enjoying the buildings, but also hearing the stories and memories that others have to share about living out there. It was definitely a special time!

To be continued . . .


  1. How fascinating! I love history and seeing things like this. The work in the old house was lovely, wouldn't it be wonderful if someone could restore the old home?

  2. I like old farm houses too! And family reunions! We have them in New York, since that is where most of our family members live now. But we don't so we don't have them that often. But when we do, they are so much fun:)!

  3. I noticed that the house has some lovely door frames and other woodwork that appears to be in salvageable shape. Could some of that woodwork be used in your brother's home? It would at least help preserve a part of your family's heritage.

  4. How extreemly special, Sarah!!

    I love the pictures of the barn! Your absolutely right, it looks like if you even touch it, it will come down and fall into peices. It must have been so neat to see where, and what your relatives built. That old photo was special to see!

    Thank you for your email! You don't know how much I appreciate it!

    Love in Christ, with lots of imaginary hugs!!

  5. That's a bit sad Sarah, it would wonderful if you could preserve even some small parts of the house. It's your family history. What a good idea of Linda's to maybe see if some could be used in Ryan's new place.

  6. I, too, love history, Mrs. Hester, especially this time period and things related to the farming lifestyle. Like you shared, it is fascinating! And even more so with this because it was our family history as well. :) Yes, it would be wonderful if someone could restore the old home! It has been considered and worked towards by a number of different family members, but it doesn’t look like it is going to be able to happen for several reasons. While it is sad to know that the old farm buildings will eventually be gone, we are thankful that we have been able to see them and enjoy them for so long as well as take lots of photos of them!

  7. It sounds like we have similar interests in these things, Desiree! :) That is wonderful that you all have family reunions too, and I am sure you enjoy it when you are able to go. :) Spending time with family is always special!

  8. The house does have some lovely woodwork, Linda! And yes, at this point it is salvageable, but for quite a few reasons, that isn’t a possibility right now. While we would love to be able to preserve the family history by using the wood work and other things in my brother’s home (and elsewhere, too!), we are thankful that we have had the opportunity to enjoy the house for so many years and also to have been able to take so many photos of it. So even if the house is not preserved ‘materially’, at least it is preserved photographically, and the photos will be enjoyed for many years to come!

    Thank you for your comment! :)

  9. It was, Ashley! I am glad that you enjoyed the photos of the barn. :) Yes, it does look like it could fall down with very little effort! Last year Ryan and I went exploring in the barn, and enjoyed ourselves immensely, but this year, with how much it is leaning, we didn’t think it wise to venture too far in! It seems that it could come down with just a good strong wind (which Nebraska has quite a bit of!) Yes, it was neat to be able to see the buildings that my relatives built! It makes it that much more enjoyed knowing that the buildings are part of our family history in this way.

    You’re welcome in regards to the e-mail! :)

  10. It is sad, Elizabeth . . . we cannot go out to the farm without feeling some sadness about the deterioration of the buildings and knowing that someday, they will not be there anymore. But while we are unable to preserve the buildings, we are thankful that we’ve been able to visit the farm so many times over the years as well as to ‘document’ them through lots of photos! :)

  11. How interesting! To think of all the time that has passed, and what it must have been like for you great-great-grandfather all those years ago. I'm sure it must be neat to be able to visit there every year. There is something about old buildings that is fascinating, especially when you know the history behind them.

  12. Sarah, I love the way you are weaving a story around your family reunion!!!! It almost makes me feel like I'm there with you!
    Sounds like y'all had wonderful day!

    I really like the photo of you walking around the barn!! The photographer did a great job caturing the peacefulness of the scene as well as the rusticness- if that's a word- of the area!!

    Have a great day!


  13. It is interesting to me as well, Emily, to think about what it would have been like so many years ago when my great-great-grandfather and his family traveled by covered wagon to settle out there and to build their homestead. Times sure have changed since then! Yes, it is wonderful to be able to visit there each year! I, too, find old buildings fascinating, and, like you shared, especially when we know the history behind them. Thank you for your comment! :)

  14. I am glad that you have been enjoying it, Ashley! It has been fun to do these posts and to think back over those special days. Yes, it was indeed a wonderful time!

    Photo credit goes to Leah for the photo of me walking behind the barn! She did a great job, didn’t she? She has such an artistic and creative ‘eye’. It is always interesting to see what photos she ends up with!

    I hope that you have a great day as well!

  15. Thank you for posting. This was so interesting. Do you know why they make holes for pigeons? Thanks.

  16. You’re welcome, Anonymous! The holes were made for the pigeons so that they could fly in and nest and then fly out to get their own food (thus, they did not need any care). From what I understand then, the pigeons were used as a food source just like the chickens. I hope that helps to answer your question! :)


Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)