Our House: Another Piece of the Puzzle

Apparently, I started a little post about some more history on our house. Somewhere along the way, the post was set aside and I completely forgot about it. So, I think it’s time I revisit some of our house’s past.

Some time ago,  I was watching a local University of Wisconsin program on PBS about historic aerial photos. They discussed a lot of cool features for the photography and mapping system, and a lot of then-and-now photos. I of course had to check it out. Many states have similar websites for historic aerial photos but, for Wisconsin, you can easily search for photos taken in the 1930’s by going to https://maps.sco.wisc.edu/WHAIFinder/.

I had to look up our house. I was easily able to find our neighborhood. If you read my my first two posts (here and here) about the history our home, you’ll know our lot was once part of a larger farm. This 1938 photo shows that! You can seen the farm and it’s original outline, which now coincides with a few of main roads in our neighborhood. It is fascinating to see what our part of town looked like as outskirt farms and newly built rows of little houses.

To pin point where our house would be in 1938, I used Photoshop to overlay the two images. I placed green squares over the houses already existing on the 1938 image and a purple square over our house on today’s modern Google image. With a little adjusting and aligning of a few landmarks, I am able to see where our house would be on the 1938 image. I used a real-estate website to get the ages of the houses behind ours, so I could figure out which houses they were in relation to ours. You can also do this with your county’s GIS map and tax info.

Old maps and aerial images are so wonderful. I can spend hours studying them and relating it to what still exists or digging into the stories of what used to be. I highly recommend it! It’s also fun to build on to the story of our home and the land.

 

 

The Potato Ditch Iris

A couple of years ago, Todd and I had the chance to dig up potatoes at the farm next door to where I board my horse. The farm decided not to dig the potatoes on that parcel because there was too much debris in the field.  As it turns out, that particular part of the field used to have a house on it.

It was a blast. Not only did we dig up several buckets of red potatoes, we found all sorts of bits of the life that had been lived there before.  There was a lot of glass, pieces of dishes, door knobs, and I even found a little glass bottle intact.

I also found a big clump of iris growing in the ditch next to the field right next to where we parked our car. They had been mowed down and driven over during the growing and harvest season, but I dug up a bunch anyway. I labeled them “Potato Ditch Iris.”

It was already well into October, but I stuck them in the ground anyway. I guess the house had been torn down many years ago. I wondered how long it had been there. I started searching for any available plat maps online, and sure enough, I did find proof that there had been a house their for many years. I have overlaid a 1949 county plat with today’s satellite image. The red circle indicates the structure that used to stand there. It matches the area where we dug our potatoes!

1949 Overlay Potato Field

I’m not sure whether these iris ever grew around that house or if they were just wanderers that ended up next to that particular field. But they gave me a spark of interest to see what the field had been before it was a potato field (not that it takes much for me to start investigating for old maps).

I did get a bloom or two last year, they are nothing special in the department of exciting iris, but they are definitely historic. What I love most is the experience of discovering the flowers, and collecting the stories that go along with the place.

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