Fermilab History and Archives Project

Warne/Krause/VanVleet/Brigham/Geltz/Borneman/Molitor Farm: Sites 54, 55, 56

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The Warne/Krause/VanVleet/Brigham/Geltz/Borneman/Molitor Family History

John Warne, pioneer settler of the Big Woods, built the house at Site 54 on Eola Road in 1850. This farm was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Otto Krause in the early 20th Century. By 1940 Charles H. and Thelma Krause owned the 300-acre farm and the adjacent George Van Vleet 240-acre farm, which together became the 540-acre Krause farm (Sites #54, 55 & 56) on Eola Road in Winfield Township of DuPage County. Charles Krause already owned the 400-Hereford cattle, 10,000-acre F Quarter Circle Ranch in Roggen, Colorado. Cattle from his ranch were fed on the Krause feedlots. Mr. and Mrs. Krause also had a home in Hinsdale and another farm in Kane County. Mr. Krause died on his Colorado ranch in September, 1949.

Curtis Brigham and his son Charles J. Brigham rented and operated the farm for Mrs. Krause. It was a grain, livestock, and feeder farm with 250 laying hens, 300 lambs, two feedlots for 260 cattle (in later years there were up to 430 cattle) and three milking cows. In the fields there was a rotation of corn, oats and hay.

On March 1, 1949, Curtis Brigham hired Robert C. and Gertrude C. Geltz to work on the farm.  The house had inside plumbing with running water, and a coal furnace. The Geltz’ lived in the house at Site 56 and raised their five children: Lillian, Robert, Marion, Marshal and Darlene. The children attended the Big Woods School. The address of the Site 56 farm was Rural Route #2, Box 838, West Chicago. While the property was in Winfield Township, they had a Batavia telephone number, and the children later attended a Warrenville grade school and a Naperville high school. The Geltz’ oldest grandchild was born in 1959 on this farm.

When Bob Geltz was hired in 1949, Mr. Krause told him, “The pine tree north of the barn in the field – I like that tree Bob – and no one should cut that tree down.” Bob farmed around it, never cutting it down. In the picture below, the tree can be seen behind and to the right of the large white barn and is still there today.

After Curtis Brigham died at Site 55 in late 1949, his son, Charles J. Brigham, kept Geltz on. Henry and Tillie Borneman lived with and worked for Charlie Brigham at Site 55. Matt Molitor and his family lived in the stone house at Site 54 from 1957 to 1964, when they moved to Weston. Henry Borneman died in 1962. Molitor worked for Charlie Brigham until Brigham’s death in December, 1967. Bob and Gertrude Geltz left Site 56 in November, 1968 and moved to Oswego, Illinois.

The farmhouse and barn at site 56 are still in their original locations. Fermilab’s Indian Creek Riding Club has maintained the stables in the barn for almost forty years. The Geltz family attends the Fermilab Farm Family Picnic annually.

Click on individual photographs for more information.

Charles J. Brigham in his feed lot in 1949 Robert Geltz in his feed lot in 1949 Robert Geltz with daughter Lillian, son Marion and granddaughter Debbie
George and Betty Van Vleet and daughter Pam taken on May 6, 2006 The Krause Farm The Krause Farm
The Van Vleet Barn circa 1890 Geltz Cars with Bob Geltz Favorite Pine in Background, Site 56 Geltz Milk House along Eola Road, Site 56
Geltz Kansas Cattle May 1962, Site 56 Bob Geltz by his Favorite Tree Bob Wolsfeld, Bob Geltz and Harold Brown

Farm Families

Farm Families