Thursday, September 3, 2015

On Sykes Farm

Two copies of the same photo have come down to us via Ida Rossow Hendrix. Handwritten notes on one of them identify the scene as "on Sykes Farm."

(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society and Tom Rainford.


We have no date for this photo, nor can I judge by anything in the photo, since I can't really see any fashions, and people around here continued to use horses for transportation into the 1930s and even later.

We know who Herman Rossow was, but Betty Koepke is a mystery to me.

From what we can see of the house in the background, it does look like the house on the Sykes farm we've identified, but as I've mentioned, there were several Sykes farms. However, the Rossows had a connection with the Wm. Sykes farm southwest of Hobart (which sounds like the one we've identified) through Harve F. Carey, who rented and occupied it for several years until the late winter of 1906.* Harve was the son of William H. Carey, the second husband of Augusta Stolp Rossow Carey, mother of Herman Rossow, and Ida Rossow Hendrix.

If the Rossows or the Koepkes (whoever they were) ever had a more direct connection with the Sykes farm, I haven't found out about it yet.

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[9/30/2015 update] Betty Koepke has become just slightly less mysterious since I found this item in the "Local Drifts" of the Hobart Gazette of Jan. 23, 1903: "Miss Bettie Koepke, of Chicago, was a guest last week at the home of Mrs. H. Rossow." I'm guessing that "Mrs. H. Rossow" was Augusta Stolp Rossow, widow of Henry Rossow and soon-to-be second wife of William H. Carey. (In January 1903 Mr. Carey was not yet a widower.) So whoever Betty was, she lived in Chicago and was a friend of the Rossows. She may have been the Bettie Kopke who was recorded in the 1900 Census as a 14-year-old schoolgirl, a daughter of a widowed German immigrant, living on Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago.

From the "Local Drifts" of the January 9 Gazette:
Wm. Sykes will have his public sale on Thursday of next week Jan. 15th, at his farm about three and a half miles southwest of Hobart, which is now under the management of his brother Henry. It will be one of the largest sales ever conducted in these parts. Besides farming implements, grain, some household furniture and several head of horses he will offer for sale some high grade Polled Durham cattle and many head of swine of the Victoria breed. He will give a credit of one year on all sums over $5.00. L.E. Fehlman will cry the sale.
It appears that Betty Koepke's visit coincided with the public sale on the Sykes farm, which, by the way, "was attended by over 500 people …. The weather was very pleasant and many stock buyers from distant points were present" ("Local Drifts," Hobart Gazette 23 Jan. 1903).

If Herman drove his mother and her friend Betty over to that public sale, and someone happened to take a photo of the two young people with their team and wagon, the only thing I would find surprising is that none of the other 497 people who attended were visible in the background.

Toward the end of January 1903, Harve Carey moved onto the Sykes farm, having leased it for several years ("Local Drifts," Hobart Gazette 30 Jan. 1903).

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[10/23/2015 update] Betty Koepke paid another visit to her friend the following autumn, as reported in the "General News Items" in the Hobart Gazette of Nov. 13, 1903:
Miss Helen and Betty Koepke and Messrs. Lou and Herman Rossow and Wm. Scholtz, of Chicago, visited over Sunday [Nov. 8] at the home of W.H. Carey, near Wheeler.
This provides an even more likely occasion for the photo above to have been taken: it would explain why no one else was visible in the background, and why Betty might be visiting a farm rented by Harve Carey — by then her friend Augusta was Mrs. Wm. Carey, Harve's stepmother. And this time, we know for sure that Herman Rossow was visiting as well.

Along with Betty (the newspaper tells us) came Helen Koepke, which supports the theory that the Bettie Kopke mentioned in my previous update is our girl, since the 1900 Census records that Bettie had a 16-year-old sister named Helene.

*A son was born to Harve and Kate Carey on that farm in 1903 ("Local Drifts," Hobart Gazette 6 Nov. 1903). An untitled social column in the Hobart Gazette of January 5, 1906, included an item advertising a public sale by H.F. Carey "on the Wm. Sykes farm southwest of Hobart." Late in February, Harve moved to the "Elmer Wolf homestead," which he had purchased, and the Charles Chester family moved to the Sykes farm ("General News Items," Hobart Gazette 2 March 1906).


Unknown said...

There's a Maria Elizabeth Koepke (1864-1857) born in Pulaski County, Indiana -- though by 1900 she was living in Minnesota.

Ainsworthiana said...

Maybe she came down from Minnesota for a visit!