Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
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  • 205 The Barn

    Alvin (2nd from right), Robert (center) and Roderick cousins.

    Alvin describes their barn.

    After the farmhouse, the barn was the heart of the prairie farm. Even though only foundations remain, they tell us a wealth of information about the history of this farm.

    On the left (south) portion of the closest foundation you’ll see local dressed limestone, incorporated into later concrete construction. Within the poured concrete foundations on the north (right) you can see the milking stalls for the dairy operations of the farm, with channels running east-west in the concrete pad to facilitate drainage and to allow flushing the stalls into the barnyard.

    The foundations of this barn suggest episodes of modifications and expansions over time. In his interview, Alvin Schumacher said that in the 1930s the family had approximately 20-25 milk cows on the property. Dairying operations were in the north part of the barn (right side in the photo) where the roof is lowest. Horses were kept in the south side of the barn.

    Arthur Schumacher continued to use horses long after many other farmers had switched to tractors. In 1940 he traded in three of his draft horses for a Massey Harris combine.

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    Turn left (south) and continue until you reach sign #6.