Thursday, June 21, 2012

Glacial Lake Map 1921

Information below sourced:
The Geography and Economic Development of Southeastern Wisconsin
by Ray Hughes Witbeck
Madison, Wisconsin, Published by the State, 1921

Influential factors for pioneer settlement
The most influential factor in the industrial development of Wisconsin has been its frontage on Lake Michigan.  Along this water front the most important group of cities in the state has grown up.  From these cities the chief lines of transportation have been built into the interior, and so the lake ports became the commercial gateways of the state.

The second geographic factor making for economic unity has been the fact that the region is plain-like in character.  No deep valleys, separated by steep divides, have interposed barriers.  Therefore, roads and railroads have been readily extended in any direction.  The wide stretches of level or gently rolling land have made agriculture attractive and profitable.  The dominantly clay loam soils and the summer rainfall have combined to make dairy farming successful.  More than 90 per cent of the manufacturing was done in the lake shore cities and consequently manufacturing was handicapped in towns away from the lake.
This map shows the position of the shore line of glacial Lake Chicago at the Glenwood stage when the present sites of Kenosha and Racine were submerged.  This old shore line can still be seen plainly.
Click on map for larger view.
Click here to see historical marker on Highway E by UWParkside.

Recession of West Shore of Lake Michigan
The western shore of Lake Michigan is formed of glacial drift:  this loose material has little power to resist the attacks of the waves, which in times of storm dash against the soft bluffs causing the ground to give away and slide into the lake.  This has gone on most notable from Racine southward.  In Racine, the shore receded at the rate of 9.73 feet over a 24 year period.  A report by U.S. engineers stated thast the recession of the coast at Racine was at times as much as 12 to 16 feet a year.

As shown on the map above, the present sites of Kenosha and Racine and the lowest ground in Milwaukee were all covered the waters of Glacial Lake Chicago.  The old shore line extends north and south through the western part of the City of Racine and is a little west of the City of Kenosha.  On an average, it is from one to two miles west of the present shore of Lake Michigan.  The strip of land lying between the present lake and the old shore line of Lake Chicago is quite level.  Glacial Lake Chicago, at its highest stage, rose to a level 55 feet above the present surface of Lake Michigan, submerging the low land along its margin including the present sites of Chicago, Kenosha, Racine, and part of Milwaukee.

Minerals:  Limestone and Clay
The most important minerals in this area were limestone and clay. When limestone is burned in kilns it becomes lime.  In the pioneer days and immediately following, there were many of these lime kilns scattered throughout the region, and hundres of thousands of barrels of lime were burned yearly for use in making plaster and mortar.  A great deal of limstone is reduced to crushed stone and used in road construction.  Sand and gravel beds are very numerous throughout this region.
A large amount of glacial drift in Wisconsin is clay, mixed with sand, pebbles, and boulders.  The eastern half of Kenosha and Racine counties contain numberous clay beds which vary in depth from a few inches to a dozen feet or more.  These clays are used for making brick.  The clay is of a reddish color but when burned, turns a light yellow, producing the cream colored bricks which were so generally used in Milwaukee buildings that the city was known as the Cream City.  Besides brick, large quantities of drain tile and small amount of pottery for plant pots and jugs were made from this clay.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Soil Survey 1919 Map

1919 Partial Soil Survey Map of Somers Township, Kenosha County
(Source:  U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Soils)
Click on map for sharper view.
Grass Green: Waukesha Loam, sandy at 30"
Tan: Fox Silt Loam, sandy at 2-3'
Rose: Clyde Silt Loam, sandy below 3'
Orange:  Miami Silt Loam, sandy clay at 2'
Bright Yellow:  Clyde Clay Loam, sandy material in places below 3'
Light Yellow: Carrington Clay Loam, drab silty clay subsoil

The State of Wisconsin, working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, made a study of soils and agricultural conditions throughout Wisconsin.  The object of the survey was to make an inventory of the soils which would be of practical help to farmers, offering suggestions for management of their land.  Tracts of 10 acres and over were mapped but often smaller areas were shown.  Trained men traveled the counties and examined soils by boring to a depth of 36 inches and reports were made. 
Source of information:
Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey
Bulletin No. 56A, Soil Series No. 28
By A.R. Whitson, W.J. Geib and T.J. Dunnewald of the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Soils.  Madison, Wisconsin, Published by the State in 1919.

Different Soils Require Different Land Management
Before the greatest success in agriculture can be reached, it is necessary that the farmer have a thorough knowledge of the soil upon his own farm.  A soil may be well adapted to one crop, and poorly adapted to another crop, therefore, failure is certain to be invited when such important facts are disregarded or overlooked.
Soil fertility depends upon two factors:  physical characteristics such as water holding capacity, workability, etc. and second, the chemical composition of the material composing the soil.
Water holding capacity and other physical properties of soil all depend chiefly upon texture, which refers to the size of the individual soil grains, or particles.  A course sandy soil, for example, will not retain moisture so long as a loam soil, or clay loam, because the finer the soil grains, the greater will be the  total soil-grain surface area to which moisture may adhere.  Texture is determined in the field by rubbing the soil between the thumb and fingers, and with experience one soon becomes expert at judging the size of soil grains.

Examples (partial list) of Different Kenosha County Soils
1.  Carrington Clay Loam (light yellow color on the map).  This, part of the heavy soil group, is the most extensively developed in the area.  It is the predominating soil in all areas except those bordering Lake Michigan and those bordering Walworth County.  The surface soil of the Carrington Clay Loan consists of 12 inches of dark brown to almost black heavy silt containing organic matter.  Variations occur.  Drainage is somewhat deficient on account of the heavy compact nature of the subsoil and tile drains have been installed in a number of places to compensate.  At the time of this study (1919) the greater proportion of farmers on this soil did not follow any definite system of crop rotation.  Stable manure and commercial fertilizer is used.
1919 Sale Price:  Farms on the Carrington Clay Loam had a selling value of $75 to $250 per acre depending upon drainage, location, improvements, and character of the soil.

2. Clyde Silt Loam (rose color on the map).  This is one of the most extensive soil types in Kenosha County is is classified as naturally very poorly drained. When drained, this soil is probably the best corn soil in Wisconsin.  This soil which occupies the Lake Michigan terrace is devoted chiefly to sugar beets, cabbage, onions and potatoes.  This portion has a high value that the central and western locations.  The selling price ranges from $250 to $500 per acre where the land is improved.  This is mainly due to the high crop yields.

3.  Waukesha Loam (grass green color on the map).  This is somewhat limited, covering a total of 3,648 acres, the most numerous are found upon the Lake Michigan Terrace and along the Des Plaines and Fox Rivers.  The surface soil to a depth of about 10 inches consists of a dark brown to nearly black loam which contains considerable more organic matter of upland soils.  At about 30 inches stratified beds of sand or gravelly material are often found.

Civil War List of Somers

Click on image to enlarge.


Elma Cook Biehn and Frank Biehn
(Source:  Photo and caption courtesy of Carolyn Biehn Caflisch)

Hazel Biehn in 1917
(Source:  Photo and caption courtesy of Carolyn Biehn Caflisch)

Hazel Biehn (Perkins) in 1966
(Source:  Photo and caption courtesy of Carolyn Biehn Caflisch)

Roy and Alan Biehn
(Source:  Photo and caption courtesy of Carolyn Biehn Caflisch) 

Elliott Cook and Caroline Burgess Cook
(Source:  Photo and caption courtesy of Carolyn Biehn Caflisch) 

The Biehn Family
(Source:  Photo and caption courtesy of Carolyn Biehn Caflisch)

Alan Elliott and Roy F. Biehn, sons of Frank Joseph Biehn and Alma Irene Cook Biehn
Alan Elliott Biehn (1901-1972)
Roy Frank Biehn (1904-1988)
(Source:  Photo and caption courtesy of Carolyn Biehn Caflisch)

Roy Biehn
(Source:  Photo and caption courtesy of Carolyn Biehn Caflisch)

Roy Biehn
(Source:  Photo and caption courtesy of Carolyn Biehn Caflisch)


Alan, Hazel, Roy Biehn
(Source:  Photo and caption courtesy of Carolyn Biehn Caflisch)

Frances Heidersdorf and Henry Biehn wedding photo
(Source: submitted by Beth Christoffel 10-17-2010 on family site)

(Note:  Although the Biehn family are pioneers of Paris Township, Kenosha County, this biography is added for those researching the Heidersdorf and Myers families of Somers Township)

Among the well-to-do farmers and stock raisers of Paris Township is Henry Biehn, who owns and operates a valuable farm of eighty acres.  A native of Kenosha County, he was born in Paris Township, on the 1st of November, 1858, and is a son of Henry and Margaret (Myers) Biehn, both natives of Germany, the former born in 1825 and the latter in March, 1836.  The father served for two years in the German army and then came to the United States, as he had heard much concerning the unusually good opportunities offered the young men in this country.

He located in Kenosha County and for several years worked as a farm hand but following his marriage bought eighty acres of land, which he cleared and brought under cultivation as soon as possible.  he built a substantial residence and also erected barns and other buildings and made many improvements upon his farm.  After our subject was married the father bought 120 of land in another part of Paris Township and took up his residence there, where he passed his remaining days, dying in November, 1892.  He was a member of the German Lutheran Church and in all relations of life sought to follow the teachings of Christianity.  In politics, he was a Democrat and held a number of offices, service as Town Chairman, and Assessor of his township.  He was well informed and public-spirited and supported all movements seeking the general welfare.  He had a wide acquaintance throughout the county and was highly respected.  His father,  William Biehn, passed his entire life in the fatherland and gave his attention to farming.

Henry Biehn, Sr., was married in Kenosha County to Miss Margaret Myers, a daughter of George Myers, an early settler of Paris Township, and to this union were born 11 children, of whom nine survive, namely:  George, who is engaged in farming and fruit raising in the State of Washington; Henry; Carrie, the wife of C.E. Heidersdorf, who is foreman in the Belle City shops in Racine; Jacob, a real estate dealer of Milwaukee; Mary, the wife of John Adams, secretary of the YMCA at Fond du Lac; Maggie, who married Otto Schuetz, a farmer of Racine County; Frank, who is conducting a meat market and grocery in Union Grove; Emma, the wife of George Kruescher, a farmer of Paris Township; and John, who is a contractor living in Tacoma, Washington.

Henry Biehn, of this review, attended the district schools in his boyhood and youth and also early became familiar with agricultural work.  After putting aside his textbooks he devoted his entire time to assisting his father until his marriage, which occurred in 1882, when he began farming independently.  In 1888 he purchased the old homestead farm of 80 acres of rich land in Paris Township and he has since tiled it, thus adding to its value.  He has made many other improvements upon the place and takes justifiable pride in keeping everything in a good condition.  He does general farming but gives special attention to the raising of thoroughbred Shropshire sheep.
Mr. Biehn was married in 1882 to Miss Fannie Heidersdorf, a daughter of Christian and Margaret (Meyers) Heidersdorf, early settlers of Somers Township.  Her father is deceased, but her mother is still living at the age of 80 years.  Mr. and Mrs. Biehn have two children:  Camilla, the wife of Charles Fonk of Paris Township; and Howard, at home.
(Source:  City and County of Kenosha Record of Settlement by Frank H. Lyman, S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1916)

Oakwood Cemetery Burials, Somers

Oakwood Cemetery, Somers, Wisconsin
(Source: Photo Courtesy of Larry & Linda Kopet, USGenWebArchivesProjectWisconsin)

Oakwood Cemetery, Somers, Wisconsin
(Source: Photo Courtesy of Larry & Linda Kopet, USGenWebArchivesProjectWisconsin)

Cook - Biehn Marriage
"On Wednesday November 2, Miss Alma Cook, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Elliott Cook was united in marriage to Frank Biehn by the Rev. A.M. Sanford of the Rescue Mission, Milwaukee in the presence of a hundred invited guests.  The bride was attended by her sister, Mabel.   The bride has been a successful teacher in Kenosha County; the groom a prosperous farmer and proprietor of the Star Creamery.  They will take a brief wedding trip to Madison.  They will make their home in Paris Township."
(Source:  Racine Journal Nov 9, 1898)

Oakwood Cemetery, Somers, Wisconsin
(Source: Photo Courtesy of Larry & Linda Kopet, USGenWebArchivesProjectWisconsin)

Additional Information
 Some members of the Biehn family are buried at Sylvania Cemetery in Yorkville Township, Racine County.
1.  Heinrich (Henry) Biehn, Sr. was born on December 5, 1827 in Ketzenbach, Rheinbaum, Germany.
2.  He served two years in the German army before coming to America in April of 1851.
3.  Margaret Myers was born March 11, 1836 and she died May 13, 1897.
4.  Henry died November 9, 1895 in Paris Township.
5.  Caroline (Carrie) Biehn was born May 4, 1861.
6.  Jacob Biehn was born April 5, 1863.
7.  John Biehn was born March 3, 1867.
8.  Mary Elizabeth Biehn was born June 17, 1869.
9.  Frank Joseph Biehn was born October 4, 1871.
10.  Margaret Biehn was born January 22, 1873.  She married Otto Schultz June 5, 1895 at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Paris Township.
11.  Emma A. Biehn was born April 17, 1875.  She married George Kreuscher May 25, 1893 at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Paris Township.
(Source:  Sylvania Cemetery records, copyright 1991, Mary Ann Culshaw Falk, and the Sylvania Cemetery Board of Trustees)

Biehn Family "In the News" in Somers
"John W.  Fink sold the east 113 acres of his farm with the buildings to Jacob Biehn.  Mr. Fink retains the west 40 acres."
(Source:  Racine Daily Aug. 16, 1899)

"Mr. and Mrs. George Biehn and family, formerly of Somers, but who have spent a number of years in the State of Washington, arrived in Somers last week and will make Racine their future home."
(Source:  Racine Weekly Mar. 1, 1898)

"Jacob Biehn is out with a new Champion binder."
(Source:  Racine Daily July 31, 1900)

"Jacob Biehn has recovered from his late illness and is able to be out again."
(Source:  Racine Weekly Feb 6, 1900)

"Mr. and Mrs. Frank Biehn spent Thursday at the Pet Stock Show in Chicago and visited with Mr. and Mrs. L.R. Fink at Forest Glen, on their return."
(Source:  Racine Weekly Jan. 29, 1900)

"Somers Mutual Fire Insurance Co. was organized Sept 12, 1873 and commenced business on that date.  Amount of insured in force on Dec. 31, 1899 was $582,355.  Officers elected for year 1900 are:  President, Samuel S. Strong; Secretary Isaac T. Bishop; and Treasurer Jacob Biehn."
(Source:  Racine Weekly Jan. 11, 1900)

"Mr. Jacob Biehn put up a windmill last week for pumping water."
(Source:  Racine Journal Jan 13, 1904)

"Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Biehn placed a new piano in their home Friday afternoon."
(Source:  Mar 21, 1904)

"William E. Tucker, of Sylvania, has sold his two creameries located at Kellogg's Corners and Union Grove, to Frank Biehn, former owner of the Star Creamery and Paris Corners Creamery.  Mr. Biehn will take possession about Aug. 1.  The price paid for the property is said to be $7,000.  Those creameries are admitted to be the finest in the county and the butter supply is taken exclusively by Racine parties.  Mr. Biehn retains the services of the present butter makers."
(Source:  Racine Journal July 24, 1903)

"A doctor was called to attend a very sick horse for Jacob Biehn last week.  The animal has about recovered."
(Source:  Racine Weekly Dec. 26, 1901)

"Mrs. Jacob Biehn was taken to the Sanitarium in Kenosha last week."
(Source:  Racine Weekly March 29, 1904)

"Mrs. Jacob Biehn who lies very low with tuberculosis of the bowels and stomach, was removed to St. Mary's Hospital in Racine."
(Source:  Racine Weekly Aug. 23, 1904)

"Mr. Jacob Biehn will have an auction on Friday this week, November 23."
(Source:  Racine Weekly Nov. 20, 1906)

"Mr. Jacob Biehn is unloading brick at Somers for the foundation of his new barn.  Mr. Biehn moved into his new home Monday afternoon."
(Source:  Racine Weekly Nov 30, 1907)

"Mrs. Louisa Shenkenberg, formerly of Milwaukee and Mr. Jacob Biehn of the Town of Somers were united in marriage at 2 o'clock on Saturday afternoon in the presence of a few relatives and friends.  The Rev. Williams of the Presbyterian Church performed the ceremony.  Mr. and Mrs. Biehn will reside in Somers where they have built a fine residence."
(Source:  Racine Weekly, Nov 13, 1907)

"The creamery station in the Town of Paris just south of Union Grove, belonging to Frank Biehn, was destroyed by fire last night at about eight o'clock causing a loss of about $2,000.  The station was in charge of Mike Perry, who discovered the fire and gave the alarm, but as there was no protection and the fire had gained a headway there was nothing to do but watch it burn.  The station was used by Mr. Biehn for receiving milk from the farmers, and the cream was separated and sent to the Union Grove creamery to be manufactured into butter.  Mr. Biehn was called to the place and will doubtless soon make arrangements for another station there.  There was some insurance on the building."
(Source:  Racine Weekly, Apr. 9, 1907)

"One of the notable weddings of the summer in southern Wisconsin will be the marriage of Miss Mary Biehn, only daughter of Mrs. Margaret Biehn of the Town of Somers, and John W. Adams, general secretary of the Kenosha branch of the Young Men's Christian Association.  The wedding will take place on next Wednesday afternoon, July 9.  More than a hundred guests will be present at the wedding, the guests including many well known Y.M.C.A. men from all parts of the state.  Mr. and Mrs. Adams will go west for a wedding trip and will spend their honeymoon in the shadow of Pike's Peak.  The groom is one of the best known Y.M.C.A. workers.  He was for some time superintendent of the Y.M.C.A. at Ravenswood, Illinois but when new life was given to the Kenosha Association, Mr. Adams came to Kenosha to accept the position of general secretary here.  Through his influence a splendid $25,000 building was built and new interest was aroused in the work of the the Association in Kenosha until at the present time the Association is the third largest in Wisconsin."
(Source:  Racine Weekly, July 8, 1902)

"Gertrude and Dorothy Biehn, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Biehn of Somers, Kenosha County, who disappeared from their home on Monday night, were found in Racine last night and they were not kidnapped from their home.  Gertrude was at the home of O. Parker, 2815 Washington Avenue and Dorothy at the residence of L.K. Sears, 1715 Washington Avenue, where they had secured positions as servants.  After reading in the local papers of the disappearance of the Biehn girls, Messrs. Parker and Sears became suspicious of the two strange girls in their homes and at once communicated with Attorney Peter J. Myers, uncle of the two missing girls, and it was not long before the identity of the girls was established.  Mr. Myers at once notified the parents of the girls where they could be found and the story of kidnapping was exploded.
The two girls made a statement that they believed they were worked too hard on the farm and that disagreements often prevailed between them and their stepmother.  Believing that they could better themselves, the girls decided to leave home and seek to improve their conditions.  Plans were laid for the departure, unknown to their parents and successfully carried out.
On Monday afternoon they packed what clothing they could in two grips.  Early in the evening they entered their rooms.  Waiting until their father and mother were asleep they quietly got out of the house, intending to get the last electric car into Racine, but missed it.  The walked to a brick yard and found the watchman, a colored man, and asked if they could not remain in his shack until morning, explaining that they were going to Racine and missed the car.  Consent was readily given the girls.
When daylight came the girls, appearing to be well supplied with money, offered to pay the colored man for his kindness, but he refused to received pay.  Catching the first electric car north the girls reached Racine early Tuesday morning.  Immediately they searched for employment and were engaged at the Parker and Sears homes, where servants were desired, given fictitious names.  Then came the publication of the disappearance and possible kidnapping and the notification to the uncle Peter J. Myers.  The girls state that they got away from home alone, that no persons assisted them and that there was no man and carriage in the deal at all.  It was simply dissatisfaction at home and a determination to leave.  They are still at the Parker and Sears homes.  Whether the parents will take them home remains to be seen."
(Source:  Racine Journal, Aug. 25, 1908)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tractor Owners in Somers 1919

Prairie Farmer's Directory of Kenosha and Racine Counties, Wisconsin
Directory of tractor owners, showing the name of the farmer and the make of tractor.
By The Prairie Farmer Publishing Company.  Copyright 1919.

Farmer's Directory 1897-1897

Smith's Business and Farmers'  Directory of Racine and Kenosha Counties for 1897-1898
Shown below is the list of the farmers in Somers Township.
Following the name is the amount of property for which each is assessed and the Post Office of the farmer.