Mystery Place: History of farm's owners includes hint of family tragedy
This farm, located at N6650 Hodunk Road in the town of LaFayette, has had a number of owners. The 1857 plat map shows the owner as T. Pollock. The 1992 “History of Walworth County” shows that Thomas Pollock was discharged from the Union Army on Jan. 17, 1863, for disability. He was in the 28th Infantry, Company I. He was a member of the Old Settler's Society and is listed as coming to this county in 1840. He died in February 1882.
According to that history, Thomas and Susan Manderson Pollock were natives of Scotland. They had four children. One died in 1856. Tragically, the other three siblings died within seven months of each other just two years later. In February 1878, the Pollocks adopted a baby and named her Susan R. She grew up to marry F. MacKenzie, a farmer in Fayetteville. This Lafayette community was also known as Pecks Station.
The next owner is listed as Fred Litka in the 1873 plat book. I'm wondering if the spelling changed or if the next ownership changed because the 1881 book indicates the owner is Fred Ludtke. F. Ludtke Est. was listed as the owner of that 80-acre property.
The 1921 plat book shows the owner as C. Rieck. This was shown in 1930 and 1948 as Chris Rieck. From 1961 through 1970, the books list the owner as Geo. Pontel.
From 1972 through 1982 the plat books show the owners as Harland and Lyla Pontel. They later moved to the town of Whitewater. That farm is off of Stader Road.
Leo and Karen Hurtgen are shown as the owners of this property in the 1986 book. Karen is an artist and I believe she designed Grandma Murphy's Crazy Quilt barn quilt, which can be seen on their barn.
You might be curious about the name of the road on which this farm is located — Hodunk Road. If you have ever traveled that road you would know that it has a steep hill. I was told the story about a farmer on that road who owned a donkey. Neighbors would often hear that farmer yelling at his animal as they traveled on that road. “Whoa, donk, whoa, donk,”?he'd yell to keep him steady going down the hill. And that is how the road was named!
Ginny Hall, a historian from Delavan, is author of the “Walking around ...” and “Meandering ... ” books, which highlight the history of Walworth County communities.