Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Thomas Piper Homestead
Somers Township
Location:  Southeast corner of Lathrop Avenue and Racine/Kenosha County Line Road
(Source:  Original Photo Courtesy of Annette Piper Hartung.  Copyright March 2012.  All Rights Reserved.)

William Piper and Eliza Hansche Piper
Wedding Portrait
(Source: Original photo courtesy of Carol Pattison, great-granddaughter of William Piper)


Augustus Piper
(Source: Original photo courtesy of Carol Pattison, great-granddaughter of William Piper)

J.I. Case tractor from William Piper's farm
(Source:  Original photo courtesy of Carol Pattison, great-granddaughter of William Piper)

William Piper's first car.  1908 Pierce made in Racine, Wisconsin
(Source: Original photo courtesy of Carol Pattison, great-granddaughter of William Piper)

William Piper dynamiting trees to clear more farm land at the Piper Bros. farms.
(Source: Original photo courtesy of Carol Pattison, great-granddaughter of William Piper)

Piper Threshing
(note cabbage field)
(Source: Photo courtesy of Warren and Lyla Kramer. Copyright February 2012. All Rights Reserved.)

Piper potato harvest
(Source: Photo courtesy of Warren and Lyla Kramer. Copyright February 2012. All Rights Reserved.)

Piper sugar beet harvest
(Source: Photo courtesy of Warren and Lyla Kramer. Copyright February 2012. All Rights Reserved.)

Piper planting
(Source: Photo courtesy of Warren and Lyla Kramer. Copyright February 2012. All Rights Reserved.)

Piper farm field looking west.  Home on left is Thomas Piper home.
(Source: Photo courtesy of Warren and Lyla Kramer. Copyright February 2012. All Rights Reserved.)

Thomas Piper farm, planter and horses
(Source: Photo courtesy of Warren and Lyla Kramer. Copyright February 2012. All Rights Reserved.)

Piper oat hay mound.  Notice man standing next to mound.
(Source: Photo courtesy of Warren and Lyla Kramer. Copyright February 2012. All Rights Reserved.)

Sylvester Piper
(Source: Photo courtesy of Warren and Lyla Kramer. Copyright February 2012. All Rights Reserved.)

Sylvester Piper, son of Thomas Piper, at age 22
(Source:  Original photo courtesy of Annette Piper Hartung.  Copyright March 2012.  All Rights Reserved.)

Country Club Road/Lathrop Avenue near the Kramer farm looking north toward Racine Kenosha County Line Road
(Source: Photo courtesy of Warren and Lyla Kramer. Copyright February 2012. All Rights Reserved.)

Thomas Piper
(Source:  Original photo courtesy of Annette Piper Hartung.  Copyright March 2012.  All Rights Reserved.)

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Piper
(Source:  Photo courtesy of Warren and Lyla Kramer.  Copyright February 2012.  All Rights Reserved.)

Wedding Invitation
of Thomas Piper and Emma DeGaris
(Source:  Original invitation courtesy of Annette Piper Hartung.  Copyright March 2012.  All Rights Reserved.)

Thomas Piper homestead
Corner of Racine Kenosha County Line Road and Country Club Road/Lathrop Avenue
(Source: Photo courtesy of Warren and Lyla Kramer. Copyright February 2012. All Rights Reserved.)
Piper:  In the News
"The Berryville Aid Society will give a picnic at Piper's Park on Saturday, August 26.  Supper and other refreshments will be served at the the grove.  Everybody is invited to come and have a good time.  Games and other amusements will be in progress.  The Rawson Band will furnish the music."
(Source:  Racine Journal August 24, 1899)

"Miss Ruth Piper of Milwaukee Downer and Harold Piper of Lawrence College are spending their holiday vacation with their parents, Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Piper on Lake Shore Drive."
(Source:  Racine Journal December 23, 1916)

"Mrs. Thomas Piper of Berryville left this morning for Canada where she will visit her sister."
(Source:  Racine Journal News October 5, 1912)

"For Sale-41 acre farm known as the Jackson farm.  Thomas Piper, Berryville, Tel. black 22."
(Source:  Racine Weekly April 22, 1904)

"ENORMOUS ONION YIELD. Thomas Piper Gathered 1800 Bushels From One and Three-Quarters Acres.  Market prices for cabbage took another jump today, $4 and $4.50 being quoted.  The crop is larger than ever before is admitted.  The total amount will run about 1,500 rail cars, 12-1/2 tons to the car.  The onion crop in Racine and Kenosha counties is also very large this year.  Thomas Piper, living a few miles south of the city, has the distinction of having broken the record.  Off from one and three-quarters acres of land he raised 1,800 bushels, and they were bought and stored by the Hansche Bros.  It is estimated that in the two counties 90 car loads of onions have been grown this year.  The prevailing price is 50 cents a bushel."
(Source:  Racine Journal October 28, 1904)

"An attempt was made to steal the horse and buggy of August Piper of Berryville some time during last night.  The thief broke into the barn, harnessed the horse, hitched it to a buggy, and drove it away.  The animal being rather high spirited drove into a ditch, threw the thief out, and dragged him a short distance and then ran into the premises of John Hansche where it was found this morning with the buggy badly wrecked.  Nothing could be found of the thief."
(Racine Daily October 15, 1900)

"For Sale or Rent - Farm 70 acres 3 miles south of city limits, and one mile from Berryville, Address F.K. Piper."
(Source:  Racine Journal January 25, 1900)

"The season of picnics has arrived.  Racine and Kenosha people have been enjoying themselves in Mr. Piper's and Mr. Krueger's groves during the last two weeks.  There was a large picnic held in Mr. Krueger's grove one day last week.  Everybody seemed to have a good time."
(Source:  Racine Daily July 25, 1899)

"Mr. Gus J. Piper is having his house remodeled, making it the most handsome house on the road."
(Source:  Racine Journal May 18, 1899)

"Mrs. Gus J. Piper and children have gone to Chicago for two or three weeks."
(Source:  Racine Journal June 21, 1899)

"Piper Bros. who reside near Berryville, are the inventors of the new onion cultivator.  Three hundred acres of land is devoted to the growing of onions this season in what is known as the Chicory and Berryville district.  It is by far the largest acreage ever known for that industry in the history of the county.  Farmers are devoting their time to onions rather than cabbage.  Besides, they are growing many acres of sugar beets.
To harvest and grow onions at the very lowest figures is one of the problems of farmers.  The cultivating has been done by hand and was slow and not satisfactory for the reason that the strength of a man would not permit digging deep in the earth.    They have made a machine that will do the work of 15 men.  The idea was suggested from the best cultivator.  By adding and improving the elements of several farm machines they have the cultivator operated by gasoline and it is a wonder.  This machine will cultivate six rows at a time and turns up the earth to such an extent that it retains moisture for weeks.
Usually one man can cultivate an acre per day.  This machine cultivates 15 acres.  The cost of operation is less than 75 cents a day for gasoline and oil, and one man can operate it.  Thus the services of fourteen men are done away with.  These men are usually paid $2 per day and so the saving in labor alone is around $25 a day.
It is estimated that an acre of onions will yield from 400 to 500 bushels, and the price fluctuates from 30 to 50 cents a bushel.  Most of the onions grown are shipped to the west and the south."
(Source:  Racine Journal July 10, 1915)
"Grave fears are expressed among the farmers of Kenosha county, that an epidemic of tuberculosis is prevalent among the cattle of the county, and especially in this true with the farmers residing in the town of Somers.   The State Veterinarian was called to Somers to make an examination of a herd of cattle on the farm of Frank Piper of Berryville.  The examination proved that more than twenty of the herd were suffering from malignant tuberculosis and they were ordered killed at once.  The cattle were appraised this  morning and slaughtered this afternoon.  The action of the state officer has caused great excitement among the stock raisers in the vicinity and every effort is being made to prevent any spread of the disease.  Notwithstanding the care taken, it is reported that several other herds in the neighborhood have been affected and more cattle will be killed."
(Source:  Racine Journal March 9, 1899)

"Excitement of seeing a deputy sheriff’s squad car crash into two trees brought on a fatal heart attack for Sylvester Piper, 70, near his farm home on Lathrop Rd. and KR. The sheriff was chasing an arterial stop sign violator when the accident occurred. The sheriff suffered two broken ribs and bruises.
Piper ran down the driveway toward the scene of the crash when he collapsed. Another patrol car at the scene called for the coroner who pronounced Piper dead. The driver of the car being chased paid a $10 fine for failing to stop for the sign.
Piper was born Mary 25, 1884 on the family homestead, the son of pioneer farmers, the late Emma DeGaris and Thomas Piper. Piper attended the Berryville School and studied also in Racine. At the time of his death he still was active in the management of his extensive farms which are located both in Mt. Pleasant and Somers. He recently traveled in Europe. In addition to farming, Piper was interested in music. He studied under the late Annie Peat Fink and for 37 years was organist and choir director at the First Baptist Church in Racine. He began his music career when 11 as an organist at the M.E. Berryville Church. Piper took an active interest in community affairs and had served on the Taylor Children’s Home Board and the Beebe School District Board. Surviving are his wife, Edna Wadmond Piper, one son, Guilbert, and a brother, Russell."
(Source:  Racine Journal February 24, 1955)
" Thomas and A.J. Piper Meeting With Excellent Results in Southern Climate.  Own Farm of 823 Acres on Rio Grande.  Believe There is Fortune for Those on the Group Floor - Able to Save Considerable on Shipping Bills.
Two of Racine County's most successful cabbage growers, Thomas and A.J. Piper, who live south of the city of Racine on the Lake Shore road are on their big farm near Brownsville, Texas for the winter, raising cabbage for southern consumption and have thus far been very successful in the industry which they took up primarily as an experiment.
The Piper Bros. own a farm of 823 acres in the Lone Star state and went down there immediately after the close of the farming season here.  Their plantation is located near Brownsville, Texas, which is in the extreme southern point of the state, not far from the Gulf of Mexico, and just across the Rio Grande Del Norte from Matamoras, Mexico.  Until the Piper Bros. went into the state there was only a comparatively small amount of cabbage raised there and none whatever south of Corpus Christi.  A large percentage of the cabbage used in that part of the country had to be shipped in from the north and the demand exceeded the supply.  Consequently prices were high and cabbage was a luxury.
Realizing that cabbage could be grown there, there was a fortune in sight for the men who got in on the ground floor.  Thomas and A.J. Piper quietly made an investigation and saw no reason why cabbage could not be profitably grown there.  They then purchased an 823 acre plantation and as soon as they had harvested their crop in Racine went down there and set to work early in September.  Their success thus far has exceeded all expectations.  Besides cabbage they raise onions and other vegetables largely used in southern Texas and Mexico.
By growing the cabbage down there the Piper Bros. are enabled to sell their products at a much lower figure than the northern growers, who ship their produce into the country and yet realize a handsome profit.  They made a great saving on shipping bills.  Transportation facilities are good and considerable shipping is done via the waterways.
That there is big money in cabbage growing cannot be disputed.  Many farmers in Racine County have grown rich from this industry alone and the Piper Bros. are among them.  The past year has been an excellent one for the cabbage industry and growers have already made considerable money off the crop.  Much of the cabbage raised during the season, however, is being held for higher prices and the big cold storage houses that dot the country around Racine are well filled.  More acreage is being devoted to cabbage raising by Racine County farmers every year and this is admitted to be one of the greatest cabbage growing districts in the world.
The difference in the climatic conditions in Wisconsin and Texas enables the Piper Bros. to raise two crops during the year and make two profits.  They raise one crop here and when the season is over they go to Texas where the season is just beginning and raise another.
(Source:  Racine Journal December 13, 1905)
"A SAD ACCIDENT.  A sad and heart wrenching accident happened about 6 o'clock yesterday afternoon on the farm of Mr. William Piper, located four and one half miles south of the city, in the township of Mt. Pleasant, resulting in the death of Wesley A., a four year old son. The little fellow, with his half sister, Ada, had attended a picnic of the Beebe School scholars during the afternoon, and enjoyed a happy time with their schoolmates.
They arrived home and were greeted by the mother. A short time after, John Knutsen Due, a hired man, who was on his way to the barn to milk the cows, noticed little Wesley fooling with an old corn shelling machine, standing on the east side of the corn shed. He warned the little boy to be careful and not to hurt his fingers and that he had better keep away from the machine and he then passed on to the barn and milked a cow and carried the pail to the house.
He strained the milk and Mrs. Piper started to dump the skimming's in a barrel located a few feet from where the corn sheller stood. She was horrified to see her little boy under the corn sheller, which had evidently fallen on top of him. In an instant she had removed the machine, which weighed nearly seventy-five pounds, and picked the boy up in her arms, believing that he was badly hurt or dead. The screams of the poor mother were heard by Mr. Piper and his men who were down in the fields at work and without delay Mr. Piper started on a run for the house, knowing that something terrible had happened.
In the meantime, Mrs. Piper almost crazed with grief, was carrying the lifeless body of her little son about the lawn and finally went to the house and laid him on the floor and sprinkled water on his face hoping that perhaps he was only stunned, but life had left the little body, and when the father arrived there was nothing for him to do but lift the body of his body to the bed.(More to story.  Stop here)
(Source:  Racine Weekly June 23, 1898)

Wesley Piper
(Source: Original photo courtesy of Carol Pattison, great-granddaughter of William Piper)

"A beautiful lawn wedding was solemnized at the country home of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Piper, of this city, at 4:30 o'clock on Thursday afternoon, when Miss Bessie A. Piper, daughter of Mrs. Kate L. Piper of Madison, was united in marriage with Gustav A. Sell, son of Mr. and Mrs. Herman A. Sell, of New Ulm, Minn.  The Rev. E.W. Blakeman of Madison, performed the ceremony and the bride was given away by her uncle, Thomas Piper.
The gown of the bride was of white georgette crepe and she carried a shower bouquet of asters and ferns.  The maid of honor, Miss Rena K. Piper, a sister of the bride, wore a yellow crepe de chine gown and carried a bouquet of marigolds and ferns.  The groom was attended by M.S. Nichols, of Madison, and the bridesmaids were Miss Florence N. Farmer, of Madison, and Miss Meta Sell, sister of the groom.  The bridesmaids were attended by Gilbert Barr and Russell Piper, both of Racine.  The rest of the bridal party included the ring bearers, the Misses Julia and Naomi Sorenson, and the ribbon bearers, the Misses Frances Post, Helen Crosby and Bernice Crobsy, of Madison; Alice Foxwell, Lucille Hansche, and Ilga Piper, of Racine; Elizabeth Gault of Portgage, and Mrs. W.G. Hyde, of Milwaukee.  To carry out the color scheme of green and yellow, the bridal bower was a bank of asparagus ferns and golden glow.
Mrs. W.G. Hyde and Lowell Wadmond sang, accompanied by Sylvester Piper, and the wedding march was played by Mrs. Sylvester Piper, of Racine.
The guests were Mr. and Mrs. C. George Wadmond, Mr. and Mrs. Williamm Piper, and daugher, Esther and sons, Wallace, and Howard; Mrs. A. Williamson, Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Piper and daughters, Ruth and Marjorie, and son, Harold; Mr. and Mrs. Chris Sorenson, father and mother of the little ring bearers; Kenneth Sorenson, Mrs. Thomas Piper, Miss Louise Boardman, Mr. and Mrs. W.F. Hansche and Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Hansche, all of Racine; Archer Fulton, of Baltimore, Maryland; Morgan Williams, of Omro, Wisconsin; Miss Kate Post and Samuel Post of Madison, and Mrs. Herman Sell, of New Ulm, Minn.
The bride and groom are both graduates of the University of Wisconsin, and the groom is a member of the Acacia social fraternity.  He is county agent of Winnebago County, this state, having received his appointment under the Hoover food commission.  The bride is well known here and in Madison.  After a short camping trip, Mr. and Mrs. Sell will be at home to their friends in Oshkosh.
(Source:  Racine Journal August 25, 1917)
"Mrs. Margaret Piper died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. A. Williamson, 1116 Washington Avenue, aged 85 years.  She is one of the oldest settlers in Racine.  She was born in Scotland, July 22, 1834, coming to Racine when a small girl.  She has made her home in this county for 75 years.  She is survived by three sons, William, Thomas, and August of the Kenosha Road, and two daughters, Mrs. A. Williamson, and Mrs. W.F. Hansche of this city."
(Source:  Racine Journal December 1, 1919)

"William Piper, aged 68, one of the best known farmers in Racine County, died yesterday morning at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Chris Sorenson, at Tomah, Wisconsin here he was on a Christmas visit.
Mr. Piper left his home two weeks ago today for Tomah, a week ago he was stricken down with typhoid pneumonia, and although everything possible was done for him, death ended his suffering.
Mr. Piper was born in the Township of Somers.  His boyhood days were spent on the farm and he acquired his education in the rural schools.  By hard work and after enduring the hardships of early days, he cultivated and became the owner of a fine farm.
In the community where he resided so long he was prominent and highly honored by everybody who knew him.  His death will be learned with sorrow by his many friends.
Mr. Piper is survived by his widow, two daughters, Mrs. Adolph Sorenson of Tomah, Wis.; Mrs. Phil Hilker, Racine; two sons, Wallace and Howard, Racine; two brothers and two sisters, August and Herman Piper, Mt. Pleasant and Mrs. August Williamson and Mrs. William Hansche, Mt. Pleasant.
The body will be brought to his late home and the time of the funeral will be announced later."
(Source:  Racine Journal December 27, 1921)

Racine Woman Visits Land of Midnight Sun
Mrs. S. Piper, Route 3, travels within 500 miles of N. Pole.
While Racine experienced some of its warmest summer days, Mrs. Sylvester Piper of Route 3 Lathrop Road, and her mother, Mrs. Celia Wadmond of New York City, were crusing in the land of the Midnight Sun, moving through lanes of ice packs in the northern seas in craft skillfully manipulated by expert Norwegian sailors, and eating quaint and appetizing fish dinners in the shadows of snowcovered mountains.
They were within 500 miles of the North pole and saw the spot from which Byrd Antarctic Expedition set out on his expedition.  they also visited the Amundsen hangar where the explorer launched the expedition the fate of which was never known.
Norway, Sweden and Denmark are prolific with tourists this year since many visitors do not care to visit countries over which war shadows hover.  Thus many Americans are getting their first real knowledge of the beauties of the Northland and are enjoying really "different" vacations.
The party vissited in Julling, Denmark, where the oldest church is located and where the first royal families were buried.  While there they encountered a funeral procession with the corpse on what resembled an open truck and the mourners and friends following in pairs, picking petals off flowers and scattering them along the way.
They visited Rebild National park where the memorial log cabin is built of logs sent from various parts of the United States.  There they saw the unusual display of horseshoes made by Christ Christensen of Racine and sent as a gift to Denmark.
They were four days in the Land of the Midnight Sun and fortunately, Mrs. Piper said, there was no fog.  One man had made 11 trips to see the midnight sun and had always experienced fog.  He was on his 12th and only successful trip at the time.  The trip from North Cape to Spitsbergen was one of the most fascinating features of the entire trip, Mrs. Piper said.  This is a coaling, whaling and fishing country but there is no vagetation and while men are employed under contract to work at these places, and are paid high wayges, they usually will not remain over a year.
At a stop at a little Russian colony, a Russian baker presented a cake to the Americans.  This was in appearance exactly like a book, with a flap turned back and bore an inscription greeting.
Mrs. Piper and her mother visited all the preserved old Norsk Folkmuseums where costumed characters are on hand to lend color.
Mrs. Wadmond visited in her old home and birthplace in Vejle.
(Source:  Racine Journal Times, publication date September 15, 1935)


  1. Wow!! What a wonderful, wonderful site! I can't wait to see all of it ~ So far I can't get off of the Piper page (which has so much related to my great Aunt Peg (nee Lahr) and Uncle Wallace Piper. The old photos ~ had never seen them ~ and the stories, some known, many only discovered here. What a treasure you are!!

  2. Does any of the Piper family know about the metal tokens used for pickers on the farm? I have some from Piper Produce and one marked S.P. 1 BU and wondered if it is from Sylvester Piper? Any information about dates of use for these and exact method of use would be appreciated. Thanks, Doug 262-833-0095