In 1943 my parents purchased the 80 acre farm, farmhouse and barn for $2,800. In 1944 the current home was built on the site of the old homestead. The white barn is the original barn that was on the property when my parents purchased the farm which makes it about 100 years old.
At the time, America was using all of our resources to fight World War II, therefore building materials were hard to come by. All the lumber used to build the home in 1944 was used lumber bought from a lumber yard in Brighton Illinois.
There was no basement in the original farmhouse, so dad dug the basement with a scoop pulled by a team of mules and as the main support for the house my grandpa hand hewed the beam from a white oak timber found on the farm. This beam is still supporting the homestead to this day!
No electric, no gas, no running water!
It wasn’t until sometimes in the fifties did we have electric, until then we saw by kerosene lamps and mom cooked on a wood stove. There was no running water but we had a cistern to catch rain water which was then pumped into the house by a hand pump. You can still see the cistern around the back of the house.
Chicken, pigs and milk cows all lived on the farm. Now the farm has 25 head of white faced Angus cows.
In 1964 an addition was added onto the living room. In order the make way, the original steps (hand poured) needed to be moved. Dad had an old John Deer tractor that he used to work the farm, it was all that tractor could do to move those old steps a few feet from the house where they remain today. (Pictured below)
In 2003, with the help of my family, the Homestead Retreat was one of the first guest houses to open in Grafton. With a new front porch the mud room converted into a sun room, a fresh coat of paint and a few pillows we were ready to go. But mostly it's just like mom and dad left it. Yes there is running water and indoor plumbing!!
Converting my childhood home into the Grafton Homestead Retreat has been, and still remains, a labor of love.
I hope you find peace and Gods presence my family and I have found at this special place.