No. 146, September 2010
Life In A Log House
By Delores Miller
When immigrants came to Wisconsin from Germany, one of the first things they had to build, of course, was a house. This land was covered with virgin timber. In 1889 Ludwig Knaack, his wife Augusta (nee Hauschultz), and two sons, Charles and William came to Wisconsin, purchased 80 acres of land in Section 21 of Dupont. Planted a large apple orchard in front by the road and named their farm Orchard Lawn Farm.
In 1892, hemlock logs were hacked down from their swamp and they commenced to build a home. 25x35 feet, two story, 1750 square feet, a good sized home, but then again more children arrived, Lillie, Emma, Ottro, Frederick and Johanna. All were members of Trinity Luteran Church, West Dupont and family members are buried in the cemetery awaiting eternity. Walked to German Catechism classes at Marion for eighth grade confirmation.
Dug a partial basement, used for storing fruits and vegetables, trap door from the kitchen, outside entrance. Two doors front and back. Brick chimney half way down, wood cook stove and heater to warm the house. Four rooms downstairs, 3 upstairs. Porch front and back. Eight logs high on the first floor, 4 upstairs. Balsam roof rafters, pine boards covering and red cedar shingles. Dug a well for water, a cemented pit with a pump jack. Logs were squared and hollowed at the ends so they fit snuggly together. Cracks were filled with a plaster lime mixture, with shingles wedged. Rough boards and latts were nailed over to keep the plaster from falling out.
The Knaack family lived in this log house until 1947, when they had an auction, sold out and migrated to the Pine River area. Reinhard Hintz acquired the farm to pasture cattle. Ray and Violet Arndt obtained the farm in 1964. This log house stood forlorn and abandoned. Because the roof was rotting, Ray put metal on to save from deterioration.
The Marion Historical Society, with members willing to save the log house, contacted the Wisconsin Conservation Corps, who dismantled the log house, numbered each log, and reassembled the house exactly as it appeared in 1892 in Marion seven miles away. Doors were made from old lumber, inside walls were covered with shiplap lumber and old newspapers. A concrete base was poured, layered with 2x4s and matched pine floor boards. Items were donated, begged or borrowed: stoves, an organ, rope beds, cribs, cradles, pots, pans, rag braided rugs, pictures, etc. This log home located near the baseball field in Marion is a perfect example of life in a log house in the early years of 1900. Every one should go visit and explore and hear the history from the volunteers.
My axe is dull, my saw is gone,
These trees will stand forever.
The stones that I would lay them on,
Will one day break and sever.
The grass is in your garden now,
The weeds grow green and high.
Upon the hill I used to plow;
Our little creek is dry.
No happiness is here for me,
And though you bid me stay,
I only know, I only see
The road that leads away.
August and William Riske, twins were born on January 12, 1864, came to America in 1883 when they were 19 years old. Purchased land in Dupont, which now 125 years later is still in the Riske name, 120 acres. August Riske, 1864-1939, married Hermine Lutzow, 1859-1914, had two daughters Clara Genskow, 1896-1991, and Ella, 1890-1900. Ella died of typhoid fever when she was 10 years old.
William Riske, 1864-1941 married Hannah Dordell, 1874-1949, and had five children, Paul, 1896, Alma, 1898-1900, Martha Seelig, 1899-1979, Emil, 1902-1978, and Harvey, 1910-1981. All were members of St. John's Lutheran Church, Marion.
Both brothers were well-to-do farmers. William built a two story log house, 24x28, along with a blacksmith, wagon, and buggie shop. A two section barn, log and wood frame. A 12x26 concrete silo was built later.
August Riske bequeathed his farm to his daughter and husband Arnold and Clara Genskow who farmed until 1948 when the Emil and Frieda Riske family moved across the road from their log house. This is now the home of Edward and Mary Riske, located on Quarterline Road. The log house of William Riske fell into disrepair, trees and bramble bushes covering this fine home, and now in 2010 only memories and photographs remain.
copyright 2010, Russell and Delores Miller