Farm once home to prominent landowner, country school

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Ginny Hall | November 8, 2013

You can see the barn quilt on James and Susan Leedle's barn at the intersection of County Highway B and Ridge Road in the town of Bloomfield. Their fire number is W2059 County Highway B. Their quilt is the “Farmer's Delight Triple Sunflower.”

The 1857 plat map shows that the first owner of this property was William Doughton. Albert Beckwith, in his “History of Walworth County,” mentions that Doughton came to Bloomfield township sometime between 1840 and 1848. He and Charles High built the first sawmill in Milwaukee. 

Charles High is shown as the owner in the 1873 and 1891 plat books. He was born in New York and moved first to Milwaukee. He was a millwright, a trade he learned in New York. He established a successful business in Milwaukee.

High married Nancy Bartlett Rolfe from Milwaukee.  Beckwith says she was a descendant of John Rolfe, who came to Jamestown and married Pocahontas after his first wife died.

Charles High came to the township in 1841, becoming one of the largest landowners in the area. There used to be a large brick house on County B that had been his home. You can see pictures of two of his houses in the 1873 plat book. 

High was a successful farmer. Beckwith stated that one time he made a shipment of fat cattle receiving payment of $10,000. He was one of the largest stock men in this part of the state. He increased the size of his land holding in the county. Eventually he owned 1,300 acres of land. 

The Highs had three daughters. One of them, Martha Alice, married William H. Whiting, an engraver. They lived in the High homestead. Whiting did many of the tombstones in the cemetery at White Pigeon Road and County B.

Charles High died on March 17, 1872, at age 53. It is interesting to note that the 1891 plat book still listed Charles High as the owner of this property.

In 1907 the owner of this property was listed as F.W. Adell. James Winnegar was shown as the owner in the 1921 plat book. Winnegar was again listed as the owner in 1930. 

The 1873 plat book shows a school located on the northeast side of this property where it connects with County B. The 1891 plat book lists the school as being in School District #1. That school was later called Congo School. The 1930 plat book shows the school was moved a little closer to Genoa City, still on County B. You may recall I wrote about the Congo School some time ago.

The farm has been in the Leedle family for 62 years. Lester Leedle purchased it in 1949. The barn was built in 1923. It was constructed of Southern yellow pine. It was originally used to house mules.  Now it is used for storage.

A Joseph Leedle is listed in Beckwith's history as being an associate supervisor in the town of Linn in 1905. Plat books show Leedle land in both Linn and Bloomfield townships.

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