Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day 13 on the Seaver Family History Mystery Tour

It was a gray, windy and rainy day in southeastern Wisconsin today - just perfect to go to Old World Wisconsin to visit the Four-Mile Inn built by my third great-grandfather, Ranslow Smith (1805-1875). 

It didn't open until 12 noon, but we were there by 11:30 a.m. and spent the wait in a shelter near the entrance talking to a family from the Milwaukee area. 

After paying our $14 each admission (senior rate), we boarded the tram and got off at the Crossroads section which features the Four-Mile Inn, built in 1853 in Rolling Praiirie, Dodge County, Wisconsin.  It was "rescued" in 1980 by Old World Wisconsin, affiliated with the Wisconsin Historical Society, and moved to the present site. 

Here is a photograph taken today of the front of the house:

That's me in the doorway...

From the corner of the house:

My attempt at the "My Photo" thing from the corner of the house (the vintage photo is from 1930 on the site in Rolling Prairie):

As you can see, the house was changed between the 1930 photo and the 1980 restoration at Old World Wisconsin.  The major difference seems to be the porch on the first floor, and the railing on the second floor above the porch.

When we got there, we explained to the docent that Ranslow Smith was my third great-grandfather, and she told us about the house and some of the occupants.  A second docent came by, and when we explained who we were, she encouraged me to explore the basement and the two upper floors also (which were blocked for other patrons).  We were the only ones there at the time.  I did so, and took many pictures, but my camera battery became exhausted, and fortunately we had Linda's camera to use.  The second docent knew that Martin Perkins, the Curator of Research at Old World Wisconsin, was on the site on Sunday, and she called him to see if I could talk to him about the house, the process used to obtain and restore it, etc.  We had a 4 p.m. appointment! 

We took the tram back to the visitor center and had lunch in the Clausing's Barn restaurant.  Linda went to the museum and shop, while I took the tram over to the Norwegian settlement and explored the Kvale house.  I watched a docent working with the spinning wheel and a second docent explaining the life and times in the Norwegian community in the 1840s time frame.  I took more pictures, and caught the tram back to the museum for my appointment.

Martin Perkins was there talking to Linda, and we discussed the house history (he did most of the excellent newspaper research back when they obtained the house); the position of the house in Rolling Prairie (it faced east on the southwest corner of the present County Road I and Prospect Road); and the restoration (the stairs up to the porch is "new," and the livery stable was not included).  We had a wonderful 30 minute conversation.  The museum had a beautiful 10 x 14 color photo of the Four-Mile Inn, and an Old World Wisconsin booklet, for us, which I greatly appreciate!  Martin told me that they knew I was coming to Old World Wisconsin, but didn't know exactly when, because they have a Google Alert and read my blog about the visit.

We headed back to Delavan to our hotel so that we could watch the Chargers-Patriots game (it ended badly for my Boltz - 35-21).  Oh well!  Then it was off to dinner at the Perkins Restaurant across the street (it was raining harder now), and then back to the room to download all of the photos from two cameras to the laptop, and to charge the camera batteries. 

All in all, it was a very good day (except for the Chargers game), and I really enjoyed exploring the four floors of the Four-Mile Inn and hearing the stories of the building.  My thanks to the docents and to Martin Perkins for their kindness and hospitality! 

I will have more information about Old World Wisconsin in a future post, and will have more pictures.


Kerry Scott said...

Yay! I'm so glad it went well (I love OWW). I am really envious of your behind-the-scenes tour too!

Unknown said...

Hello! I visited Old World Wisconsin yesterday and had a rather interesting experience at The Four Mile Inn. Since you seem very knowledgeable on the building, I was wondering if you've heard any stories about the building being haunted? I've been Googling all morning and have yet to find any information, just curious if you had ever came across anything.