Making Room for Hay

I have been searching off and on to find more of the history about our farm and the Lake Julia Sanatorium that it was part of. So far I have found a fair amount of fiction and the facts I find are not what I seem to be looking for… not that I know exactly what that is.

I found a gal online that grew up on the dairy and am waiting for her to finish her book about it, which is maybe what I am looking for.? There isn’t much to know about an empty building besides the craftsmen who built it, the floor plan and legalities. Beyond that it’s just a building. If I had to guess I would say I am looking for first hand experience from those who were there, which in my family there are none left, there are a couple of the children that remember bits and pieces. That’s what makes history, buildings and their remains give the memories a visual location. A place to close your eyes and “see” the recounts come to life.

If I dug deep enough, I could probably find a few photos of family members while they were there and some that have been made public by the historical society and other public records. There are a lot of stories on Dr. Mary Chapman Ghostley, if you are looking for a female role model she would be one to read up on and when it comes to the sanatorium, history on her is mostly what I have found (aside from fictional crap). A very amazing women to say the least. I don’t live at the sanatorium, I live at the dairy farm, which by looking at the land titles and deeds, was once under the same parcel of land. I’m more interested in the daily happenings on the farm and so on. Talk about hard to find! I have the basics of the house; floor plan, legalities and such. Again, empty facts.

Photos and stories about and from the farmers and others that made life at the sanatorium possible are a real challenge. Farmer’s kept the place fed on a daily bases; no farmer, no food (same as today except they are even more forgotten these days). They were self-sustaining when it was still a normal way of life and not the newest “movement”. Looking back there is little to no recognition in the history books for these hard working families.

We have been slowly working on the barn and I know it’s probably not all original to what is was years ago just by seeing some of the old foundations in there. The manger and stanchions were broken out before we moved in. The barn is in need of a fair amount of work but it’s still straight and we use it.

I really like to restore rather than replace as much as possible in a compromise with my husband I get to keep the last 2-3 milking stalls in place with the original concrete and rebuild the manger for my milk cows. The slab on the north side gets to stay too. The rest of the broken, unused foundations will go at some point. (Not the one from a horse barn that burnt down though! Don’t think I’m giving in on that one! That’s not part of the dairy barn.)

A complete restoration of the barn is not doable for us, monetarily or functionally but the pieces that I can use and work into what we need I plan to keep. Our first year we added a fence for the cow’s pen, the second year was the goat pen and now we have started a hayloft over that portion. (“we” again is Mike, dad and brother) The hay loft addition will give us more ground space. The cow’s pen will be expanded some and the goats reconfigured. It will also give us a spot to park our “new” tractor and such.

Next summer hopefully we can tackle the outside as the majority of the boards are beyond fresh paint and need replacing. I plan to finally put in permanent stanchions where they used to be and rebuild the manger with field stone as it once was. The wooden stanchion that I made last fall for temporary use can then be modified to fit a goat or just taken apart and made into something else. The couple stanchions will be my own little tribute to history and rather than a museum piece, they will be functional and used daily. My quilting mother has said it’s more offensive to set the quilt aside in fear that it is to use it often and wear it out. That’s what I plan to do; restore what once was and wear it out!

Setting support posts
Setting support posts
Not this little boy's first time setting posts!
Not this little boy’s first time setting posts!
More progress!
More progress!
In desparte need of new siding... It's nice to feel the breeze and work in natural light I s'pose...
In desperate need of new siding… It’s nice to feel the breeze and work in natural light I s’pose…


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The Lake Julia Tuberculosis Sanatorium

I woke up this morning with a bur under my saddle and I have been ready for a fight all day. It’s just one of those days I guess. This evening I was just cruising Facebook to see all the news, that really isn’t news, and most of which I don’t really care about. I found this:

One of the most absurd articles I have read in a long time. The first comment I made on this post they must not have liked because I see it wasn’t published. But they need to know that their story was completely wrong (I’m sure they do know this, but I wanted the satisfaction of letting them know I know too.) and that maybe the should do some better research before they go spreading such rumors.

I haven’t written much about the bigger history of our farm and maybe it’s time. I will get some more facts together about it for you. It’s really kinda interesting. I didn’t know what we were buying until we did. That may be more of a winter writing project. For now here’s my “fire” about the above.

The farm that we live on was part of the Lake Julia Tuberculosis Sanatorium. It produced the dairy and a lot of the food that fed those living and working at the facility. In fact the old gutters and remains of the manger are still in the barn today. Though the house has been added on to over the years the original part is still at the heart of it and the old plaster and lath walls still remain.

The blog post above it so far from the truth I can’t even sit still to think about it. There is plenty of lore out there about the place and truth if people actually care to hear what actually took place. If you want to write fiction than state that it if fiction. Don’t write fiction and let people believe it’s true! That’s a good reason that historic places and old houses are broken in to and vandalized; because of some crazy story that people believe to be true and want to see it for themselves.

It was a sanitorium years ago. Yes, there are incinerators there. It’s not like they the means to safely transport infectious materials and refuse to be disposed of in a different location like we do today. To some it may seem like a spooky place to others it’s just how things were (and are).

The next two links are from someone who lived on our farm in the very beginning. She has some real stories about how things were when everything was up and running. Take a few minutes to check them out before you get too sucked into the fiction.

Lake Julia Tuberculosis Sanatorium

Photo was taken by Bemidji Pioneer

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