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Wern History

A few months prior to gaining statehood, Welshman John Andrew Williams arrived in Wisconsin during the spring of 1848. Homesteading 80 acres granted to him by President James Polk, he named his new property Wern Farm, meaning fertile valley surrounded by hills. One of his daughters later wrote of being hidden from Indians as a little girl, and of life on the farm during the Civil War. Importing the first Guernsey cows to America, his son in law D. L. Williams was an ambitious fellow who turned his family farm in to one of the biggest dairy operations in the United States. He added a milk bottling plant, milk delivery routes, a railroad for shipping to distant markets, electricity, paved roads and even a public school to the area. For a time he was the county’s largest employer and cows out numbered people in Waukesha County. D.L.’s two sons, Homer and Chester, followed their father’s footsteps for many years, but eventually went their separate ways. Splitting the two thousand acre farm in two, they sold the bottling business and milk routes to the Borden Company in 1968. Reluctant to modernize the farm, Chester continued breeding and milking about 300 head until the late 70’s. 1984 marked the last year of cows on the farm.

Chester and his wife Barbara had 3 children, Dave, Phil and Barbara (Bobbie). Phil died in his early 30’s after having two sons, Steve and Tom. Dave by that time was farming over 1,000 acres of corn, and Barbara was a well-known actress living in New York City.

Steve and Tom, like their Uncle Dave, has a tremendous interest in hunting pheasant. Their mother’s brother Donn Goodwin was also a pheasant hunter and spent many fall days with his sons and nephews on the farm. The pheasant opener was one of the most important events of the year for the entire family.

Back-to-back years of record snow in 1978 and 1979 all but wiped out pheasant hunting in southeastern Wisconsin. It was in the early 1980’s when, after being skunked for the first time ever on opening day, Steve first began raising pheasants (300 of them) as a hobby to supplement the farm’s ailing bird population. With only six weeks in the Wisconsin pheasant season, Steve soon realized he could extend his hunting by licensing the property as a game farm.

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