Farm Horizons, May 2003

The story of an old barn

By Ryan Gueningsman

More than 100 years of history came to an end when an old Winsted barn was recently burned down.

The barn was once used as a livery stable behind where Tom's Corner bar is located.

Previously, Clemens Krueger bought the land, and shortly thereafter the barn was moved from Winsted to Krueger's land. Leona Drew of Winsted is Kreger's granddaughter.

"What's standing there now is the same barn that used to be there in town," Drew said several days before the barn was burned. "In its old days in town, it was a livery stable, where people rented horses."

The barn has a rich history. The first known photograph of it is from 1910 and appeared in the Winsted Centennial Book, published in 1987.

Almost 100 years prior to Winsted's centennial in 1987, the barn was built. Drew is not sure exactly when it was built or who built it.

"It would have to have been built after 1886, because that is when that street burnt," she said, referring to the fire that took out many buildings along Winsted's First Street. "I'm just guessing, but I would say the barn was built in the late 1880s or early 1900s."

Current land owner Ralph Millerbernd recalls hearing the story of how it was moved to his land.

"Jim Baird knew the whole story, but from what I understand they used a cable wench and a team of horses, Millerbernd said.

"They drove a stake down in the middle of the road, and using rope, came up with a pulley system. They used some rollers, probably round wood timbers.

"They would pull it as far as they could get it, than raise the stake and go again. The main problem was probably getting it up the hill."

Before being burnt, the barn was in rough shape. The second layer of siding has been removed, but the original siding is on there now, Drew said. The one side was also becoming dilapidated.

"The land and buildings have sure been changing lately. I'm glad grandpa doesn't have to see this now," Drew said. "It's pretty sad."

Tracing the land back to Lincoln

The land that the barn was sitting on has a rich history in itself. The land can be traced to Abraham Lincoln.

The land is now owned by Millerbernd and his brother Charlie, and is located just west of Winsted on Main Avenue West.

The Millerbernds have had the land since 1984, but it has been handed down, and sold and re-sold countless times throughout the years, beginning with Lincoln himself.

Drew has the documentation stating that the land had been indeed handed down from Lincoln.

The area had been divided up and, according to court records, the original 139.15 acres of land was given by then-President Lincoln to Oren Storrs March 1, 1862.

Several dealings were done with Storrs from 1862 to 1880. Following his stint on the land, Edward Mulvany and his estate owned it from 1880 until 1918, with Mulvany dying in 1917.

Around this time, Krueger bought the farm from the Mulvany family.

Shortly after the Kruegers had purchased the land, it was rented for one year to Fred Fasching. In 1919 it was sold to Paul Sherman who had it until 1927. In 1928, it was sold to Henry Klaus, who had it for two years until 1930.

James Cafferty apparently loaned the Klauses some money to make repairs to the barn, so upon going into debt, the farm went to the Caffertys for two years, and eventually back to the Kruegers.

Court papers show that the farm was sold to Frank and Eliz (Krueger) Hoffman, who were Drew's parents.

The farm was completely paid for in 1941, and the Hoffmans lived on the farm for the next 30-plus years. One of their sons, Louis, bought it from his parents in 1973.

The Millerbernd brothers purchased the land in the mid-80s and farmed it for several years, as well as rented the land to Jim Baird.

As of recently, major developing has come close to the old farmstead, with Grass Lake Farms in the works.

"We'll eventually sell the land to the developer," Millerbernd said. "The fire department is supposed to be burning the remaining buildings. In the meantime, someone was interested in getting some of the old timber out of it, so we sold the timbers to them."

A part of the original structure had been torn down last month. That part of barn ran east to west, while the barn that was recently burnt ran north to south.

"The part that was torn down was the oldest," Millerbernd said. "The part that was just burnt was the one that was moved from behind the bars."

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