It’s Spring in Wisconsin. The buds are on the trees, the sun is out, and the first green leaves are starting to emerge from the ground. It’s also construction season! They are widening the highway just south of where I live, in the town of Plover. This now residential and commercial town has little (if anything) left of it’s original appearance. Widening the highway has wiped out the one or two remaining original town buildings that were left, as well as many other buildings and houses that once stood. My husband and I were driving through just a few days ago and I was looking at all the destruction and construction taking place. I noticed a large bed of what I originally thought were Iris (Nope. They’re daylilies) coming up that will be demolished and swallowed up by the highway expansion.
It was a short glimpse and a day or so later, we drove by once again to see what was surrounding it. Nothing much anymore. The patch sits in/near the construction zone, next to an old parking lot. What is it’s story?! What is it’s fate!?
Well, with fear that the daylilies would soon meet their end, I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to try salvaging them. I armed my self with a large nursery pot full of fresh dirt, a sharp knife, and a small garden shovel…and off we went.
At first I felt pretty ridiculous standing on the side of the road digging up stuff. It was nearing rush hour too! Then, as I tried to make it a quick endeavor, I lost myself in the battle. These suckers did not want to come out of the ground easily. I managed to get about half a dozen decent specimens before Todd started to hurry me. Satisfied, I gave up and got in the truck with my pot full of daylily babies. Now, the real test…keeping them alive! I will have to wait for them to bloom to see what color they are.
Like the good little historian that I
am try to be, I did have to do some research about the property before I went digging it up. My first stop was the Portage County GIS Interactive Map. I located the parcel of land where the lilies were spotted. It was, as I expected, a large tract of land that had been purchased by the Wisconsin State Department of Transportation. Excellent. I did not want to accidentally dig up somebody’s much loved garden without permission. DoT though…I don’t think they’re going to miss it. Once I had looked up the current owner, I decided to go back to it’s beginning. To BLM GLO website, I go!!!
The land where these flowers are located was once part of a parcel of land first purchased in 1849, by James Shane Alban. The patent number is 10147 for Portage County, Wisconsin. He was a lawyer in the area of Plover before joining the 18th Wisconsin Infantry in the Civil War. Colonel Alban was mortally wounded in the battle of Shiloh and died April 7, 1862. He was 52 years old. You can read more about his life on his Find a Grave memorial page.
My next big link to the daylilies is in 1915, the plot of land (much smaller than the original patent size) is owned by Elvira Beach, a widow. She was an active member of the Plover community as president of the Women’s Relief Corps, regularly making appearances in the Stevens Point Newspaper. In 1917, the year of her death, Elvira sold her property to Kate Barnsdale for only $1.00. Kate was also an active member of the Plover community.
From here, my simple internet search has come to a standstill. I believe a trip to the archives will be in order soon!