Tenure of Johann Langer 1883-1901

© 2017 by Edward G. Langer. All rights reserved.

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The farm was purchased on January 8, 1883 by Johann Langer for $3500.00 from Francis Duffy and Ann Dervin. Johann Langer had emigrated to the Watertown area in 1867 from the small village of Ober Johnsdorf, County of Landskron, Kingdom of Bohemia, Empire of Austria.

The Langers had a farm of about 50 acres in Ober Johnsdorf which was one of the larger farms in the village. It appears that Johann Langer emigrated to America as a reaction to the occupation of Ober Johnsdorf by Prussians troops after the Prussians beat the Austrians at the Battle of Königgratz. During the occupation, the Prussian army confiscated grain from Johann Langer and made him deliver the grain to the Prussians. (After the occupation, Johann filed a claim for his losses with the Austrian government.) The next spring, he and his family, including his 62 year old father, emigrated to America.1 They arrived in April and purchased a 60-acre farm in the Town of Emmet approximately 2 1/2 miles northwest of Watertown on May 28, 1867. Johann used a $400 mortgage to purchase the farm. He paid off the mortgage the next year, on October 24, 1868.

In sharp contrast to farming in America, there were no farmsteads in the Ober Johnsdorf area separate from the villages. In Ober Johnsdorf, the farm buildings were located on both sides of a road; farm fields stretched straight back from the buildings until they met the farms of another village. (In other areas, the farmers ended at the woods or an untillable hill). Generally, farmers in Ober Johnsdorf cultivated contiguous lands, not fields sprinkled around the area as occurs in other areas of Europe. It could, however, be a considerable distance from the farm buildings to the limits of the property. Also, some of the land was wooded or low, which provided a natural barrier separating tillable parcels within the farm.

The farm buildings were also different in Ober Johnsdorf. Generally, the living quarters were physically connected to the farm buildings. The more elaborate farmsteads were set up in a U-shape or formed a square with a courtyard in the middle. The latter square form probably developed in an attempt to provide some protection against thieves and foreign soldiers and it also allowed the farmer to secure his animals and crops from marauding animals.

By the 1880s, the Irish were leaving the farms of Clyman either for town life or for new lands in the West. I have found an ad for the farm in the December 3, 1881 edition of the Watertown Weltbürger. It reads as follows:

Farm zu verkaufen, bestehend in 157 Acres in Town Clyman an der Juneau-Road, 7 Meilen nördlich von Watertown. Davon sind 100 Acres unter Cultur, 12 Acres Holz, der Rest gute Wiese und Weide. Auch verkaufe ich die Farm auf Verlangen in mehrere Stücke getrennt. Preis billig. Wegen des Räberen wende man sich möndlich order schriftlich an Frau H Dervin, Clyman, Dodge-Co., Wis., oder an Ed. F. Masterson, Landagent in Watertown.

Translated, it reads:

Farm for sale, 157 acres in the Town of Clyman on the Juneau Road, 7 miles north of Watertown. It has 100 acres under cultivation, 12 acres of woods, the rest is pastures and meadows. I will also sell the farm in smaller parcels. Price cheap. Further inquiries should be directed, either orally or in writing, to Mrs. H. Dervin, Clyman, Dodge, Co. Wis. or to Ed. F. Masterson, land agent in Watertown.

About the time the Langers purchased their Clyman farm, two other families from Ober Johnsdorf, who like Johann Langer had originally settled northwest of Watertown, also bought farms in or near Clyman Township. One family, the Richters, purchased a farm east of the Langer farm, and the second family, the Kreuzigers, purchased a farm south of the Langers in Emmet Township. In addition, other German families, both Catholic and Lutheran, bought farms from the Irish.

In 1883, the Langer family consisted of 9 people: Johann Langer and his wife Barbara Schmid; their eldest daughter, Mary (later Mrs. Frank Klecker, born October 18, 1862); Anna (later Mrs. Ernst Klecker, born November 10, 1864); Emilie (later Mrs. John Kreuziger, born November 6, 1870); Emma (later Mrs. Bernard Zeiner, born February 14, 1873); Henry (later married Amelia Pitterle, born March 6, 1875); Edward (born July 23, 1872, died June, 1883); and John (later married Martha Indra, born November 15, 1880). At least two other children had died in infancy: another child named Edward (October 31, 1866 – March 12, 1867 who died during the trip to America) and Emil (July 8, 1868 – January 26, 1869).

An analysis of the 1870 and 1880 census data suggests several conclusions. (See Appendix). By 1880, the Langers were heavily involved in commercial agriculture. This is shown both by the extensive grain and milk production. The Langers sold 3500 gallons of milk in 1880, in sharp contrast to the limited sales by the Dervins of only 562 gallons. They produced 500 bushels of wheat, 200 bushels of corn, 220 bushels of oats and 160 acres of barley. The Langers’ purchase of the Clyman farm was probably prompted by a desire for more acreage for grain production and also to go into dairy farming in a larger fashion. This would explain why the Langers built a new barn when they bought the farm. (It should be noted that only the southern three-quarters of the barn was built by the Langers in the 1880s. Johann Langer’s son Henry added the northern end around 1910).

Ironically, less is known about the tenure of Johann Langer than about the tenure of Hugh Dervin. Unfortunately, the 1890 census was lost in a fire and the later censuses do not contain agricultural data for each farm. What is known is the following:

  1. The barn was built shortly after the farm was purchased.
  2. There was a carriage shed built south of the house, where the freezer house now stands. It is not known if Johann or his son Henry built this building.
  3. Around 1900, a second-floor apartment was added above the south section of the farmhouse for Johann Langer and his wife Barbara to live in after their son Henry took over the farm. This apartment consisted of a living room, a bedroom and a kitchen. For some unknown reason, however, Johann and Barbara moved to Watertown instead, where they lived until their deaths: Johann in 1906, Barbara in 1922.

It is not known whether the Langers cleared any land.