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The Hurelle Farms - Otsego, Wisconsin

Elmer with Claude and Walter in front of the Otsego farm house.

Elmer Hurelle stands on the right with his second son, Claude, turned away from the camera and a young first son, Walter standing next to Charley Ruthmyer, a hired hand in about 1915 in front of their Otsego/Doylestown farm homestead.

Della with the family dog and a new haircut.

Della pets the family dog and fashions a new hair style on the farm about 1918.

Elmer eating bowl of bluberries - goofing off - about 1915

Goofing off on the farm, Elmer shovels a spoon full of Whortel berries (similar to blue berries and are also known as bilberries - Della and her father picked them on July 29, 1903) while sitting in front of one of the many bird houses around the house about 1915.

Della, Claude and Walter enjoy their front yard

Claude, Della and Walter enjoy their shady yard with the front porch and swinging chaise in the background.

1890 and 1861 town maps of Otsego Wisconsin

1890 and 1861 maps of the town of Otsego with the North Branch of the Crawfish River wandering through.

(Directory and maps Courtesy University of Wisconsin Digital Collection).

Elmer Hurelle farm on Otsego map wisconsin

Drawn on a 1916 map of Otsego Township, the Elmer Hurelle farm with over 150 acres, sat 1/2 mile southeast of the town of Otsego on open flat plains dotted with marshy grasslands. Many family names of relatives and friends are close by including the Peck, Zuelsdorf and Henton families. The north and south forks of the Crawfish River wound around the area as the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad shot a straight line through the nearby Doylestown.

According to the 1905 Census, Elmer was living and working as a farm hand at the Theo Henton household, right across the street where Cora MATHEWS Henton was living with her husband, Jay Henton and their kids. How many times must Elmer crossed paths with his future wife, Della, as she visited her sister a stones throw away. It would be only three years later, Elmer and Della would own the farm property next door to both Henton families.

A marshy area would sit on the eastern portion of Elmer's property, one documented by the 1932 diary entry of a family friend and reverend, LeRoy C. Partch. The reverend also documents the winter sleigh rides and other family life together.

(Maps Courtesy University of Wisconsin Digital Collection).
1890 Business Directory for Otsego Wisconsin

Listed in the 1890 Plat Book of Columbia County Wisconsin is a Patron or Business Directory for the area of Otsego, listing the local businesses of Rio, Doylestown and Otsego with a couple of family relatives including Theo Henton and M. N. Peck.

(Directory and maps Courtesy University of Wisconsin Digital Collection).

1890 Business Directory for Otsego Wisconsin

Just north of Otsego, Doylestown was another regular stop for the Hurelle and Mathews families. (Maps Courtesy University of Wisconsin Digital Collection).

Otsego general store with wagons and supplies

About 1910, the merchant, in a tie with his wife and their family and employees and or locals including Emma Hurelle Peck (On steps, 4th from left) stand in front of the Otsego General Store with a horse drawn surrey and wagon loaded with supplies.

Much earlier in 1890 the dry goods and general merchant in Otsego was named S.E. James according to the 1890 Plat Book of Columbia County.

Emma Hurelle was married to Chas Peck, who owned a block of land northeast of Otsego.
Otsego general store with vehicles, wagons and supplies

Taken a few years later looking down the street, the merchant, in another tie, as in the photo on the left, sits in the horse drawn surrey with his wife again wearing a large hat. Employees and or local residents stand in front of the Otsego General Store once again. The store, with more weeds at the bottom of the steps and more posted advertising has autos and drivers in front this time and has "A.E. Lewis Gen'l Store Otsego WIS" written in the negative emulsion on the font of the photo taken by L.L. Cook of Lake Mills, WI.


Otsego school No. 3 classroom students in front of their one room school house.

In 1908, students and their teacher from the Otsego School No. 3 stand in front of their one room school house located about a half mile from the center of the small town of Otsego.

Della and Elmer lived just a half mile from the school, so their sons Walter, Claude and Willard most likely attended the little school early on.

Located on the 1861 map as SH, and School No.3 on the 1890 and 1916 maps, the school was used into the 1930's according to a local resident. No longer standing today, it has been replaced by the Otsego town hall. Notice the photographer is also a local, C. P. Ziegler out of the nearby Columbus, Wisconsin.

Elmer with Claude and Walter in front of the Otsego farm house.

Postdated November 3, 1916, an envelope is addressed to Mrs. Elmer Hurelle (Della Mathews) at their Otsego farm on Route 2. According to the 1910 and 1920 Census data, the Hurelle Family was living in the Otsego Township in Columbia County, many times with extended family, including Della's mother Josephine Mathews and Della's aunt, Charlotte Mathews Copeland, and Elmer's mother, Eliza Stanton Hurelle. The 1930 Census also has the family listed in Columbia County with a "general farm" and owning their home valued at $2000.00. The 1930 census also lists Walter, at 20 years old with an occupation as a "truck driver" on county roads and Elmer as a farmer.

With the help of two workmen, Elmer, performing brick ballet, build a silo for the Otsego farm while Claude and Walter stand below in a most precarious location.

With the help of two workmen, Elmer, performing balance beam brick ballet, built a silo for the Otsego farm while Claude and Walter stood below in a most precarious position.

Claude and Walter Hurelle in the hay field, Otsego Wisconsin.

Claude and Willard stand in a hay field in front of Elmer's newly constructed silo on the Otsego farm.

Walter and Claude hang out with friends and ride a horse.

Horsing around, Walter and Claude hang out with friends on the Otesgo farm - about 1917.

Walter, Claude and Willard hang out on the sidewalk on the Otesgo farm in about 1920.

Walter, Claude and Willard hang out on the sidewalk on the Otesgo farm in about 1920.

Elmer's milking herd wanders the alfalfa on the farm.

With the barn and silo in the background, Elmer's milking cows graze the alfalfa and grass in the wide open Wisconsin fields.

Colantha in 1915 Otsego photo postcard

Colantha, one of Elmer's milk producing holstein-friesians. Colantha Artis Coin #247060 was transfered to Elmer April 3rd 1915.
Lucky Boy

Ol' Bub, one of Elmer's prized Percherons.

Elmer joins the Percheron Society in 1913

Elmer joins the Percheron Society of America in 1913 with a $10 purchase of one share.

Elmer joins the O.I.C. Swine Breeders Asscociation in 1915

Elmer joins the O.I.C. Swine Breeders Asscociation in 1915.
Elmer joined the Jolstein - Fresian Association of America in 1916

A year later in 1916, he joins the Holstein - Fresian Association of America.

Alphonso pure bred Percheron stallion 1919

Elmer's registration for Alphonso, a pure bred Percheron stallion foaled in 1916. Dr. L. A. Wright was the examining veterinarian. The Wright family also married into the Mathews, much like Elmer and Della Mathews.
Percheron draft horse Edmonton 1919

Lucky Boy, a Percheron draft horse was sired in 1919 by Alphonso, both owned by Elmer.  Edmonton, was the "grandfather" of Lucky Boy and owned by Frank O. Lowden. The linked photo  Edmonton is pictured  with Charley Ruthmyer.

Edmonton in about 1915

Edmonton, a beautiful Percheron poses in the farm fields.


Again, Charley Ruthmyer stands with Elmer's Percheron "Bub."

Elmer's pure bred Holstein Bull photo postcard Otsego Wisconsin

Standing in front of the barn and silo, Elmer's expensive and pure bred Holstein calf would eventually breed world class, milk producing cows - see the article below.

Elmer was proud of his pure bred Holstein Bull

Elmer Hurelle's New York purchase news clipping.
The pure bred Holstein Bull grew in size through the years

A few years after his purchase of the calf, the bull grew in size in the 1920s.

Last days of horse power with the wide spred introduction of the tractor

The last days of horse power spread across Wisconsin with the wide spread introduction of the tractor. The horses sit idle with disconnected harnesses and watch their replacements roll away as community farmers watch the future roll in. Dressed in hats and suits, the audience could be attending an auction, even an auction of Elmer's own equipment in 1933 when he had to "sell stock."

Della with a broom and Lula Mae Mathews with shotgun eating cake

Off the back porch, Della holds a broom with her niece, Lula Mae Mathews who holds a shotgun while both enjoy a bit of cake

Della and Claude with family dog

Della with Claude and, Tige, the family dog
Elmer, Walter, Claude with family dog

Elmer, Claude and Walter Hurelle with the snoozing Tige.

Willard Hurelle born 1918

Balanced above the steps, Willard Russell Hurelle, born May 29, 1918 sits next the dog.
Certificate of birth Willard Hurelle born 1918

Willard Hurelle's birth certificate registration.

Willard catches a pike fishing in 1930

Willard's catch for the day - about 1930.
Willard rides his bike around the farm.

Willard rides his bike around the farm with Bonzo, his faithful dog in tow in 1930

Della's neice Lula rides a donkey on the Hurelle Farm

Della's niece Lula Mathews rides sidesaddle on a donkey in the snow on the Hurelle Farm. (Della's Brother Joseph Adelbert Mathews daughter)

Winter snow on the Hurelle Farm

Winter snow covers the ground below the clothes line. New Years eve on December 31, 1926, March 22, 1933 and Feb 2, 1935, the Hurelle's gave sleigh rides to family and friends according to the diary entries of Reverend LeRoy C. Partch. 

Studio portrait of Lula Mathews

Della's niece Lula Mathews sits for a portrait.
Marion Henton and Henteon family were friends of the Hurelle Family

Before Elmer was married, he was working as a farmer (servant) in the Henton household according to the 1905 Census. Marion's father, Theo Henton, owned property next door to Elmer Hurelle's property on the 1916 map  - just a few doors down from the Mathews family and his future wife, Della Mathews. Marion, at the time, was listed as a teacher in the census.

Florence Hurelle Peck stands next to her mother Elizabeth or 'Eliza Stanton Hurelle

In a photo taken about 1917, a young Margaret May Zuelsdorf (1916-1976) stands in front of Florence Hurelle Peck (1868-1956) who stands next to her mother Elizabeth or 'Eliza' Stanton Hurelle (1845-1920) along with another family member. Many Hurelle family members married into the  Peck family. In the 1905 Census, Eliza and Elmer were both living at the Nelson Peck household.

Margaret Zuelsdorf and Willard Hurelle on the Elmer Hurelle Farm 1921

Young Margaret May Zuelsdorf (1916-1976) stands next to a shorter Willard Hurelle (1918-1999) on the Hurelle farm in 1921. Fred Zuelsdorf (1890-1957), her father, owned a farm near the Nelson Peck and Florence Hurelle Peck family in nearby Doylestown. Margaret was the grand daughter of Florence Hurelle Peck (1868-1956) and John Mishler (1857-1927).

Elizabeth or 'Eliza' Stanton Hurelle

In about 1915, Elizabeth or 'Eliza' Stanton Hurelle (1845-1920) holds her grandson Claude (born on June 21, 1913) while her other grandson, Walter sits near his mother Della in the garden along the side of the house.

Walter pulls Claude in 'The Dreadnought Farm Wagon' with the dog

With big wooden wheels, Walter pulls Claude in 'The Dreadnought Farm Wagon' with the dog.

Claude Hurelle

Della writes on the back of a photo postcard of her son, Claude Hurelle.
Claude Hurelle with hired hand Oren in his Model T Ford in 1930

About 15 years after the photo on the left, Claude hangs out with a hired farm hand, Oren Gilbert, in his Model T Ford in 1930.

Hurelle second farm

Similar to the first farm in Otsego, the second farm was located east of Columbus in Elba Township, Dodge County according to the 1940 Census. The census also reports the value of the house they owned at $2500 and also, Claude and his wife Myrtle were living with Della and Elmer.

As times were tough in the 1930s, their first farm might have been lost during the Depression. According to a May 9, 1933 diary entry of Reverend LeRoy C. Partch, a close family friend, the Hurelle mortgage was 'tied up' and the bank forced Elmer to 'sell stock.' Most like refering to animal stock rather than stock and bonds, Elmer was forced to sell his prized milking cows or horses and eventually the property. Years earlier, he had purchased an expensive Holstein breeding bull, numerous milk producing holstein-friesians and Percheron draft horses. The letter below shows that at least by 1934 they were at their new farm location.
Della stands near the front porch in 1930

Wearing round glasses or spectacles with a necklace, Della  stands next to the latticed front porch at their second farm home around 1934, perhaps ready for visitors or church.

Hurelle second farm address on envelope - 1934

According to the envelope address, in 1934, the Hurelle Family was at their Columbus location at their second farm. The enclosed letter from a friend is below. Walter must have been away from the farm at the time and is not listed on the envelope.

Hunting letter from 1934

1934 Letter thanking the Hurelle Family for a hunting trip

Claude Hurelle and Myrtle Ada Johnston

Claude Hurelle and his wife Myrtle Ada Johnston (1921 - 2001) married in Columbus, 1940, were living with Della and Elmer also in 1940 according to the Census. Later, they moved to Horicon, Wisconsin.
Claude Hurelle Obituary 1983

Claude Hurelle obituary from 1983 in Horicon, Wisconsin.

Hunting letter from 1934

1931 Graduating Class of Columbus High School including Claude Hurelle and Albert Carl Mathews (ancestry from Germany).

Elmer and Claude

Elmer stands in front of a massive load of alfalfa with Oren Gilbert, a hired hand and his son Claude Hurelle in about 1930 on the second Hurelle farm.
Diary entries from Rev. Leroy C. Partch

Diary entries of Reverend LeRoy C. Partch, a close family friend of the Hurelles describes some of the events that happened with the family and friends in the area.

Percheron horses Elmer acquires in the early 1900s

Percheron pair harnessed in front of the barn
Standing in front of the barn, a matched pair of Percheron horses wait while harnessed to an old mechanical plow. Willard or "Pete" writes on the back of a photo "Dads last team of purebreds in 1941."

The same horse stands in the photo above from about 1922. The black Percheron with "spot on forehead" may be "Lucky Boy," foaled on October 16, 1919.

Della and Elmer with pitchforks

Elmer and Della in the garden about 1940.
Hurelle Street in Columbus Wisconsin

Hurelle Street and Maple Avenue in Columbus, Wisconsin, 2001.

Vist the Mathews Family
Visit the Hurelle's in Washington
Walter Hurelle's in WWII
Willard Hurelle's in WWII

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