Fermilab History and Archives Project

Theis Farm: Site 32

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Theis Family History

Mullins HomeHenry L. Theis was born in 1895 and married Mayme K. White who was also born in 1895. They had seven children: Jim, Marie, (Elizabeth) Betty, Raymond, Shirley, Henry, and William. Prior to living on their 146-acre farm on Old Batavia Road (Site 32), the Theis family lived on East Wilson Road (site 70). The farm at site 70 was used primarily for dairy cows, but was eventually sold around 1947 to Gilbert Barkei. Their next home, at site 32, was used for dairy and crops. They moved because dairy farming was a continuous, high-maintenance job that was physically draining.

The farm supplied the family with most of their food. They would can a lot of produce whenever they could and occasionally went to a small grocery store in West Chicago to buy things they couldn’t produce themselves. Henry Sr. preferred to use horses instead of machinery in the fields, but in 1938 Henry Sr. decided to make the change from work horses to mechanized farming and bought his first tractor. Mayme started a vegetable stand in their front yard in 1944. She set up an old card table and sold a variety of vegetables and her stand became very popular. Henry Sr. died in 1947 and one of their sons, Jim Theis, along with help from other family members, took charge of the farm.

After the state of Illinois purchased the land in 1969, Jim and his mother moved out to Maple Park near DeKalb and tended a new farm together. Although Mayme’s vegetable stand started as a hobby in the 1940s, it expanded into a sizeable business that is still popular today. The stand began selling vegetables and eggs, but now includes herbs, flowers, and vegetables. Jim continued operating the vegetable stand in Maple Park until his death in 2001 when the business passed on to his sister, Marie Theis Wiltse. It is now known as Wiltse’s Farm & Greenhouse. The family attends the annual Farmers Picnic at Fermilab.

 

Farm Families

Farm Families