Scenic USA - Indiana
|Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website
Seeking work and other people from the same ethnic background, Swedish immigrants gathered in the greater Chicago area. When the railroad came to the lakeshore in 1850, Porter County immigrants provided the labor force for farming, railways and the lumber industry. Here in Porter (Baillytown), Indiana, today's Chellberg (Kjellberg) Farm is a fine representation of a late 19th century Swedish-American farm.
The Kjellbergs arrived in America in 1863, finding work in the area clearing brush and trees for planting. Anxious to own their own property, the Kjellbergs purchased 80 acres nearby Lake Michigan in 1869. Clearing the land was a slow process, and most likely the Kjellbergs were able to work five acres a year. The farmland supported poultry, cows, sheep, swine and horses. Their Indiana crops most likely included corn, rye, wheat, and hay.
The brick farmhouse (inset), built in 1885, replaced a wooden structure which had burned. One can imagine members of the community pitching in and lending a helping hand, but there is no record of what the family used as residence until the new home was complete. The barn, built in the 1870s, is the original. This classic design, a three bay structure with a gabled roof, used a mixture of oak, elm, ash, maple and basswood for building material.
As with most farmers during the post Depression Era, the third generation of Chellbergs could no longer keep up with the changing economy, eventually taking jobs in the city. The Park Service took over in the early 70s and added the Chellberg Historic Farmstead as a historic site to the Indiana Dunes National Seashore parkland. The National Park Service restored the majority of the farmhouse to its early 1900s appearance, except for the dining room, which had been modified by the Chellbergs in the 1920s.
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