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Clausens honor family farm's history

John Uebele purchased 'Ebelawn' farm in 1888

August 25, 2010 | 08:57 AM
Lyons Township — Russell Clausen was a very practical man who didn't show any interest in the state's centennial farm program.

But his widow, Arlene, is very interested in preserving the family farm's history.

She and her son, Kerry, enrolled the 206-acre Clausen farm in the centennial program.

The farm was recognized at the Wisconsin State Fair last year. This year, the Clausen farm will be recognized by the Walworth County Fair as one of the county's centennial farms.

An honor

It's a way of acknowledging the past, said Arlene. "It's an honor for the great-grandparents," she said.

The honor falls to John Uebele, who came to the U.S. when he was 18. He bought what is now the Clausen farm in 1888, when he was about 53. Uebele is Kerry Clausen's great-grandfather.

John Uebele named his farm "Ebelawn," using a phonetic spelling to reflect the correct pronunciation of his last name.

Now called Clausen Farm Inc., the former Ebelawn is on Clausen Road, in north town of Lyons. Yes, the road is named after the Clausen family.

Family road name

When the 4-H was naming roads in the area, the Clausens had been farming in the area longer than anyone else, said Arlene Clausen.

She and her husband, Russell, who died in 2008, were the fourth generation of Uebele descendants to farm the land.

Now their older son, Kerry, operates the farm. A second son, Scott, works for J.I. Case in Bolingbrook, Ill.

John Uebele wasn't the original owner of the property. Thomas Fowlstone bought the core of the farm, about 200 acres, from the Government Lake Office on June 11, 1839.

By the time Uebele came on the scene, the property had passed through several hands.

He bought it from the estate of Ezra Clark. The auction was done from the front steps of the house. Those steps are gone, but it was probably where the house's front living room window is now, Arlene said.

Houses joined

The Clausen home is actually two houses that were joined together.

Both houses were on the property when John Uebele bought it. The south side of the house, however, was about 100 yards away on a hill, Arlene said. Uebele decided that joining the two houses together would provide his family with a suitable home.

Arlene said she didn't know how or when the operation was performed, but there is evidence that the north and south sides of the house were not built as a unit.

The floors don't line up and windows on one side of the house are larger than the other.

John Uebele married twice and had 14 children. He and his first wife, Mary, had eight children. After Mary died, John married Emma and they had six more children.

John died at 82 in 1917. Emma died in 1927 at 80. Eleven of those children survived them.

Elza married Albert Reek and they had a daughter Audrey. Shortly thereafter, Elza died.

At the Methodist Church in Lions, one of the stained glass windows is in memory of Elza Reek, said Arlene. Audrey, Russell's mother, married Art Clausen and they took over the former Ebelawn.

Like so many farms of that era, Uebele and the Clausens ran a dairy operation.

Financial considerations led to the sale of the dairy herd in 1981, said Kerry Clausen. Today, Kerry grows winter wheat, corn and soy on the land.

"I want to see it to stay in the family," said Kerry. "I had concerns that if I didn't farm it, it would be up for sale," he said. Kerry added that his brother, Scott, also believes the family farm should be preserved.

Scott and his wife, Kathy, live in Bolingbrook. Grandson Aaron, 34, lives in Noblesville, Ind.. Granddaughter Elizabeth Homan, 29, lives in Portage, Mich.

Preservation is a passion for Arlene Clausen. Three years ago a fire damaged a corner second-floor bedroom.

The restorers wanted to replace smoke damaged woodwork with new woodwork, but Arlene said she insisted that the old doors and flooring that weren't burned should be restored.

Arlene said that when she dusts the old molding and cornices it reminds her that "it's what grandma Audrey used to care for," she said.

The Clausens now want to save their old dairy barn. Built by John Uebele, the century-old structure has no nails.

All the lumber is secured with wooden pegs, Kerry said.

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