A century of homegrown memories

Saukville farm family reflects on bumper crop of country experiences as it receives 100-year designation

THE VANDE BOOM FAMILY is pictured on the front lawn of the family homestead on Hillcrest Road in the Town of Saukville, with Albin and Violet seated. The farmhouse, built from a Sears kit, has been home to the family since 1920, qualifying it as a Century Farm. Photo by Sam Arendt

THE 70-ACRE VANDE BOOM FARM on Hillcrest Road in the Town of Saukville was designated a Century Farm this year, having been in the family since 1920. At left, Albin Vande Boom and his wife Violet are shown in an undated photo standing next to his 1954 Dodge pickup truck, which he restored and is still used on the farm.
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Vande Boom family has been a fixture on Hillcrest Road in the Town of Saukville for four generations and 100 years.

If there was any doubt as to that fact, it became official this year when the family farm was recognized by the Wisconsin State Fair’s Century Farm Program.

“It’s almost unbelievable, that that many generations could have stayed here,” Violet Vande Boom said this week.

Violet is married to Albin Vande Boom. Together they bought the 70-acre farm from Albin’s mother Agatha in 1960 after his father Leo died. It’s where they raised their three daughters, Cindy, Donna and Sheila.

The farm was purchased in 1920 by Albin’s grandfather Gerhard, who immigrated to the United States with his parents from Germany in 1861 when he was 12 years old. The family moved to the Saukville area in 1891.

The Century Farm designation has provided an opportunity for the extended family — which includes eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren — to reminisce and share stories about the family and what farm life was like.

For instance, how the four-bedroom house was ordered from a Sears catalog and all the lumber and parts were delivered by train before being assembled. Then there’s the time the snow was so deep that Albin could stand atop a snow drift, his legs straddling the overhead telephone wires.

Then there was the time the county widened Hillcrest Road, which was gravel at the time, and Albin offered the workers some liquid “refreshments” from his homemade wine supply for lunch, an incentive to get them to pare down a hill so he could more safely transfer his cattle from one side of the road to the other.

“When the same offer was made the second day, my dad was asked to reduce the amount of refreshments 50% as the men were taking afternoon naps instead of working,” Albin’s daughter Donna Cardarelle said.

For many years there was no electricity, until the Rural Electrification Program in the late 1940s and early 1950s brought power to the farm. 

“It was like the beginning of a whole new age,” Cardarelle said. 

The dairy cows didn’t care for the new technology, however, she said, since they were disturbed by the “exceptionally loud” air compressor.

“There was no milk for two days,” she said.

Some of the farm’s history is still living.

The farm’s first tractor was a 1944 Minneapolis-Moline “R” model, which is still operating on the farm. 

Another cherished relic is a 1954 Dodge pickup truck, which Albin restored to include a floor bed of wooden strips divided by steel ridges. It still retains its original engine.

One farm tradition was an annual Easter egg hunt in the barn that started in the early 1980s and continued for more than 30 years.

That came to an end, however, when the barn was struck by lightning in 2007 and was destroyed.

Even though the barn, like so much else, is gone, the family wants to keep those memories alive and keep the farm in the family for many more years.

“That’s our hope,” Violet said.



Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


User login