Mystery Place: Vermont man was original owner of Lauderdale farm

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Ginny Hall | August 22, 2014

You can see the Lauderdale farm and its barn quilt titled “Bear Paw” at W4726 County Highway A, just east of Wisconsin Highway 67, north of Elkhorn.  

The 1857 plat map shows that the owner of this property was Truman Bartlett.  According to the 1882 History of Walworth County, Bartlett was a native of Vermont.  He was born in 1815 and came to Wisconsin with his wife, Serena, in 1844.  He first settled in Spring Prairie where he ran a sawmill for 12 years. He supplied the posts for the fence that surrounded the public square in Elkhorn during the early days of that community.  

In 1856, Bartlett purchased this 100-acre farm in Section 6, town of Lafayette. By 1882, he owned 180 acres. This was accomplished in spite of the fact that when he came to this county with his wife and three daughters he only had $15 to his name. He died on March 24, 1911.

One of his daughters, Coris, married Levi Hare, who served in the Union Army, 10th Infantry, Company A. After Hare's death, Coris married William Hodges, who was known for making sorghum molasses. It also should be noted that a township road in this area is called Hodges Road.

Bartlett is listed in the various plat books through 1907. The 1921 book shows the owner as Sylvanus J. Lauderdale; he bought the farm in 1908.

The 1919 Prairie Farmer's reliable Directory of Farmers and Breeders of Walworth County, Wisconsin lists Lauderdale as owner of this property. His wife was Cora Davis and their children were Ray, who died at a very early age, and James. Sylvanus Lauderdale came to Walworth County in 1882.

Sylvanus is shown as owner of this farm through the 1964 plat book. In 1966 the owner is listed as Lauderdale Farms, then in the 1970 book, the owners are listed as Geo. & Leona Lauderdale. George's father was Sylvanus. He was born after 1919.  The 2012 book shows the owner as Lauderdale Farm Inc.

George served as a town supervisor from 1964 until 1975. In 1978 he was chairman of the town supervisors for one year. He became a member of the county board in 1970. He served continuously through 1995.  

Currently, Richard and Gene Lauderdale, George's sons, run the farm. Gene's son, Don, also is part of the operation. Richard served as town supervisor from 1983 until 1999. He was the town of Lafayette chairman from 2000 until 2007.
Ginny Hall, a historian from Delavan, is author of the “Walking around ...” and “Meandering ... ” books, which highlight the history of Walworth County communities.

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