Barn Quilts Honor Family Farms In Lincoln County

Wisconsin is known for it's long history in the farming industry, but as the years go by that history has started to change.

"Agriculture is certainly at risk in this country," said Merrill Historical Society Treasurer, Pat Burg. "Dairy farms have become huge and the small beginnings that we had, and we had a lot of farms in Lincoln County, it's kind of like your roots."

That's why the Merrill Historical Society along with a number of other foundations have tried to preserve and honor that commitment. They're doing that through the American Barn Quilt Movement.

"They're not what you typically think of as being on a bed," said Merrill Historical Society President, Bea Lebal. "They are large paintings that are done on...two 4x8 sheets of plywood."

They wanted to start their project with century farms.

"Being able to preserve that and the unbelievable commitment of some of these families to actually be on their homestead for a century through their families is pretty amazing," Burg said.

The first one recently went up on the Hanson family barn off of Highway 17 in Gleason.

"I've seen many quilts in other counties and I thought it was always kind of a neat thing to have on the farm to promote agriculture but also to represent the family heritage," Diane Hanson said.

The Hanson family homestead has a long history in the area particularly with Angus beef, which is featured on their quilt.

"The blue represents the Prairie River, which flows through the farm and the green represents the Hanson forest heritage," said Hanson. "Many of the Hanson relatives have historically been involved in forestry work, forestry activities."

The Historical Society said they hope people will come to learn and enjoy the farm history in the area. They said more quilts, like the Pope Dairy Farm's, are in the works and will hopefully be completed soon. The Historical Society said these quilts cost about $1,000 to create and hang up.

If you would like to contribute to a particular farm's quilt or to the project in general, visit the Merrill Historical Society website here, drop by or call them at (715)536-5652.

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