Abandoned Homesteads and Their History

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Cindy in KY, Jan 2, 2004.

  1. Cindy in KY

    Cindy in KY Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    50 miles southwest of Louisville
    The house looks too stark out there in the picture. Where are the huge trees for shade that always surround the old, old homesteads? Did they cut them down? You know there had to be some, as the heat would be un-bearable in the summers. And the 200 year old shade trees, humongus trees, are the best way to see where the origional farmhouses sat, or still sit.

    Our farmhouse was abandoned 10 years before we found it and brought it back to life. The only huge shade trees on the 12 acres are around the house. There are allot of abandoned farmhouses here, lots, barns too. Inside our house is a one room (with upstairs) log cabin, and we ripped the one wall down to the logs and the other 3 to the wains-coating. The beams on the ceiling are hand-chinked. The log room is one room out of the 6 very large rooms in here. I have pics of it on my site. The origional farm had 183 acres, with this house high up on the hill.

    As Rio said, ours was added on to one room at a time as needed. We have the 2 story log cabin metal roof, and the big back part of the house has a metal roof inside another metal roof in our attic where they added on over the years. The log part of the house sits on rocks, and the back part sits on blocks. I am still looking for the hidden money box, haven't found it YET. :)
  2. posifour11

    posifour11 Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2003
    SW MO
    there are quite a few of these in southeast kansas. if i had more time on my trip, i would have stopped and looked around. any of them could have been used in "The Grapes of Wrath". i'm assuming that's how they got abandoned in the first place.

    pretty sad to see them just standing there, just waiting on thier families to come home.

  3. lribookend

    lribookend Guest

    I live in Central Kentucky, and have found 7 abandoned houses within sight of the roads I drive to work each day. The past few days my sons and I decided to explore some of them. Although the condition of the houses is pretty poor, at least a few appear salvageable. But, the ghosts remain in the items left there. One house appeared to have been vacant since the 1970's. There were the remnants of a stereo, a 45 rpm record (by the Spiral Staircase), a Kelvinator refrigerator, and other items that all appeared to be early 1970's vintage. Also, there were Christmas lights and boxes, with an extension cord running to the front porch. The box to an electric can opener was on the floor (a Christmas present, perhaps?). It appeared the family had moved out quickly around this time of year many years ago. The soil had built up about 2 inches around the door, which had to be removed in order to open the door. The house was within 50 feet of the Elkhorn Creek which eventually flows into the Kentucky River near Frankfort.
    Another house had children's books on the floor, and school papers from 2 years ago, apparently the last time anyone had lived there. Some of the houses are boarded up and locked, so of course, I did not break and enter, I just walked around the outside. But the vision of what the houses must have looked like 50 years ago was very haunting. I too, am interested in bringing them back to life. Any idea how I would go about trying to find the owners?
  4. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

    May 11, 2002
    My trailer sits off to the side of where the old family house use to be. Torn down because the previous owner wanted to reduce his property taxes. I have asked the family which lived in the house for about 75 years, and a couple of renters afterwards, if anyone has a photograph of it. None do - not even in the background.

    Ken S. in WC TN
  5. Steve in Ohio

    Steve in Ohio Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    This place is our second Antique homestead,the first one was rental property for many years so it had been lived in up till we bought it in 84.That place was an 1806 log house with a post&beam addition that showed up on the tax records as being added in 1821.Just about the same time the canal system was put through the back of the farm.The tax records for that county were still intact,so by going through the old records we were able to find alot about what was there and who lived there.
    So on with place number 2,this one was abandoned for 10 or so years.Some friends who live close by suggested we take a look at this place that had been for sale for a good while.Here is the pitch they gave"Hey you have got to see this place,great old house and right in the middle of 135ac."The first time I saw this place I said NO...NO....NO. A rutted mud lane that was only passable with a 4 wheel drive,and a 1/2 mile long..............again NO-WAY.........
    Anyway I lost the battle and here we are.this link will show what we started with and as it is todayhttp://groups.msn.com/Countrysidefriendspictures/oldeorchardfarm.msnw
  6. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

    Aug 13, 2003
    A plat book should show who the owners of the property are. We get ours at the Farm Bureau, or you can try the FSA office for farm country.

    Someone does own those houses and checking them out is trespassing. Be careful of angry farmers with shotguns :)

  7. deberosa

    deberosa SW Virginia Gourd Farmer!

    Dec 13, 2003
    Floyd County, VA
    What a beautiful place!

    I acquired my own antique homestead this year- the farmhouse was gone but I have an 80 year old cedar barn that is in pretty good shape that I am starting to clean up and use. Haven't found much to pin down the exact date it stopped being used as a farm, but finding lots of clues to it's former uses. Chickens, cows, horses and pigs for sure.

  8. FolioMark

    FolioMark In Remembrance

    May 10, 2002
    illinois but i have a homestead building in missou
    There are tons of these abandoned houses around our place in missouri. There is one tiny little 3 room house that we are always sure will have fallen down when next we pass but its still there. And I agree you cant help but wonder about the history they have seen. On our homestead there is an old log road and if you follow it through the woods you come around this corner and there is the most wonderful abandoned place. First time we saw it was in mid summer and there was this plain little house made of cement blocks and metal windows, prolly built in the late 30s. It was sheltered by two enormous oaks and the front yard was a solid blaze of tiger lilies, roses and sweet williams. Just took your breath away to see those flowers and that house nearly buried in them. Remains of an old barn and couple sheds and just beyond the house, the edge of the woods and an open field.
    On the far side of the field was the county road. It must have been a beautiful place in its day. It was still beautiful and you can imagine whoever lived there must have loved it.
  9. Karen

    Karen Well-Known Member Supporter

    Apr 17, 2002
    Beautiful SW Mountains of Virginia
    That wouldn't happen to be Waterville, Ohio by any chance? I grew up in Toledo and remember a lot of beautiful family farms in Waterville. My sister-in-law was recently telling me about how many farms in the area have been abandoned over the years due to farming crisis, reloction for financial reasons, etc. People want the land for crops, but not the houses.
  10. Margaret in CO

    Margaret in CO Well-Known Member

    Nov 17, 2002
    Our relatives own an entire ghost town! The family owns a cabin built in the 50's by my fil--in the middle of an abandoned mining town called Baldwin. It was founded in 1887. New Baldwin that is, it was moved from Old Baldwin in 1910. The land was just used for grazing for years, but one old miner stayed on until the 1950's and is buried there. The land around it sold for trophy homes, but some cousins bought the whole town (probably would qualify as a Superfund site now) and so we have access to it. The old buildings have really taken a beating the last few winters, but my children still love to play on the old teeter-totter at the school. The picture says slide, but it's a teeter-totter:

  11. Bob_W_in_NM

    Bob_W_in_NM Well-Known Member

    Sep 28, 2003
    New Mexico
    I've always found this kind of thing interesting. I'm more interested in "contemporary" archaeology than ancient.

    Here in New Mexico there's quite a few abandoned adobe homes scattered about. In the eastern part there is (or used to be) a fair amount of frame homes. In the eastern part I think that a lot of the area was homesteaded in
    the early days of the 20th century, but it turned out that a living couldn't be made in this arid country. The homesteads were bought up by neighboring property owners and consolidated to an economically viable size, much larger than a quarter section. Some of the old homes remain.

    On a lot of lots in the town where I live now there is an OLD, unoccupied (except maybe for storage) adobe home, with something newer built on the lot or a mobile home. Some of these places are so old you can see a bathroom
    attached ("tacked on") as an afterthought. It's easy to see that the original
    structure was built pre indoor plumbing and electricity.

    Apparently around here, if the structure doesn't have an real value to anybody in it's present state, the property taxes aren't excessive.

    These old buildings will stand for a long time on their own if there is a halfway decent roof on them. Seems like once the roof goes, the rest isn't far behind.
    In the case of the old adobe structures, the things literally "melt" away.
  12. I too feel sad seeing all those abandoned homesteads.I used to live not far from the
    Saskatoon area myself and have farmland there. I have one beautiful old farmstead
    with old buildings, one 12'X22' building we fixed up for a cabin and retirement homestead.
  13. Abandoned farmsteads? Bull-pucky!

    I'm 57 years old and I've yet to see an abandoned farmstead. Someone still owns them, pays taxes on them, etc. Perhaps they have even stored the original furniture in them from when they moved to a new house. Perhaps a sudden illness or death forced a sudden move, leaving behind treasures when there was no room at the new location.

    I cringe when I see an Ebay listing that says "I got this from an old abandoned farm."
    Damned tresspassers! Damned thieves!

    Shame on each and every one of you that tresspass onto other peoples property!!!
    If I find someone on such property I think they are there for one reason---to see what they can steal. The owners more than likely know exactly what is still on the property, and when they finally find a use for the item---it is gone, taken by thieves.

    Yes, I feel VERY STRONGLY about this. Look from the roadway and think about it all you want, but STAY THE HECK OFF OF OTHER PEOPLES PROPERTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Ozarkguy

    Ozarkguy Well-Known Member

    Aug 12, 2003
    Right HERE, of course!

    Hey there, take a pill "unregistered guest". Not everyone in this world is a thief, or out to take something from you.

    I too, like to see these old places. I wonder about who lived there, and I look at how they built them, and sometimes it's just a nice way to spend a few hours walking around.

    The last time I had the desire to "take" something from one of these places, it turned into something rather nice. After seeing a flagstone walkway at this old place that was actually falling over, I decided I really liked it and it was very beautiful. Not just limestone, but multi-colored rocks of peach and greens, and browns, and other assorted colors, hand layed into a beautiful walkway.

    After MUCH work, we finally found out the owner of this "abandoned" homestead now lived in a town not too far from us. We traced down a frail little old lady, that barely gets around with the use of a walker now a days. Being alone and sickly, she finally had to move away from the place, as she could not take care of the property or herself any more.

    When I offered her money for the stones in the walkway, tears came to her eyes. She grew up on that property, and she later raised her own family there. She refused to take any money, and was thrilled that part of her place could now bring happiness to others. She had always loved that walkway also.

    We later brought her one of my gals' famous pot roasts, and home made apple pie, and we're all good friends to this day.


  15. Bob_W_in_NM

    Bob_W_in_NM Well-Known Member

    Sep 28, 2003
    New Mexico
    Well let's see. From the discussion in this thread I don't see anybody intimating that nobody owns these old places. In this case "abandoned" means some place, domicile, etc. where someone once lived and no longer does.

    I don't see any posting that advocates trespass much less theft. The only "taking" mentioned was a photograph.

    I think most of the people here would look with disdain on someone who went
    somewhere they weren't supposed to or took something that didn't belong to them.

    Just maybe you ought to save your wrath for an individual or group of people more deserving of it.
  16. Upham

    Upham Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2003
    Massachusetts 02048
    Steve, what a great job you did on the Olde Orchard Farm. Absolutely beautiful!
  17. Jane in southwest WI

    Jane in southwest WI Well-Known Member

    May 14, 2002
    Our place was always a farm since the 1800s, but the buildings were all burned and dozed before we bought the land. We bought the land from a farmer (who still farms it) and he and his wife got rid of the buildings to save on the taxes. When they burned the old farmhouse, they realized that it was a log house underneath the siding. Needless to say they were sick about it.

    When I work in my garden, not far from where the farmhouse was I often turn up bits of broken glass, china, and old rusty nails. We have a couple of "historical sites" on the property too where I find rusty old enamel ware and pieces of broken crocks. There is even the metal part of an old piano.
  18. jassytoo

    jassytoo Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 14, 2003
    Western WA
    We recently bought a place with an old cabin on it. It was origianally a 1400 acre ranch but was cut up by the heirs into about 8 pieces. The cabin is falling in now so can't be salvaged. We still enjoy having it though. There is a great old rusty cookstove in it that someday we will get out and maybe we can restore it. I'd love to find out about the people who lived there. It such a beautiful spot and they must have loved it as much as we do. There is a pond near it and a beautiful lilac tree that must have provided shade for the home.
  19. fellini123

    fellini123 Well-Known Member

    Feb 2, 2003
    Central Virginia
    Hubby and I often go driving around to see what kind of interesting houses we can find. We call them "fixeruppers." We found an absolutely beautiful one in the downtown area. It had a large lot, that someone was appartently still mowing. But it had been vacant for years. We went to the county office and found out who owned it and got her permission to see inside.
    It was just lovely, but falling apart. It is an old victorian type, wish I could do pictures. Anyway we found the tax report and it was appraised at 8,000. We offered the lady 15,000. She turned us down. She was willing to sell for 60,000!!! This is for a house where the kitchen has no floor. There are no bathrooms, or kitchens. Many of the windows are gone, the porch and the fornt of the house will have to have some foundation work done. And the off street wall of the house is 1/2 gone!! Oh an did I mention wiring?? There isn't any!!
    It is a wonderful house, but 60,000 is a crock. So she is letting it rot away instand of selling it to someone that would restore it the way it should be.
    I wonder about people
    Alice in Virginia
  20. pilot_34

    pilot_34 Well-Known Member

    Aug 7, 2002
    IL smak dab in the middle

    play nice now!