Garfield Farm Heading

Garfield Farm home page | News Index

News from Garfield Farm

175th Anniversary of Garfield Farm Museum Barnraising - April 13

Campton Hill IL — On Thursday, April 13 at 6:30 pm a celebration of the raising of settler Timothy Garfield’s hay and grain barn will be held at Garfield Farm Museum. In family records, the handhewn barn was raised on April 13 of 1842. Over 50 neighbors and friends came and raised the framing of the barn when there were less than 84 farms in all of Campton township.  

     The barn was designed to stored bundles of grain, especially wheat, which was the main cash crop of 1840s Illinois. Cut with grain cradle scythes, by 1848, Cyrus McCormack’s Virginia reaper was used to replace the laborious hand cutting. Still bundled by hand, stood up in shocks in the field, the shocks were then loaded on to wagons as time allowed but before the wheat dried and the grains fell to the ground. The bundles or sheaves of wheat were stored in barns that had a threshing floor.

       To prepare the wheat for market, the sheaves would be layered on the floor and then horses could trod out the wheat or farmers would take flails to the wheat striking it and knocking the kernels loose. This would then be scooped up to be winnowed either in a tray by hand, tossing it in the air and then catching the grains as the small leaves of chaff blew away on the breeze or poured through a hand cranked fanning mill that separated the grain.  Once cleaned, the wheat could be bagged for shipping by wagon to the Chicago port destined for Europe.  

      Timothy Garfield’s barn also provided a mow for storing hay for winter feed in addition to the 3 different level open lofts above for the grain bundles. At floor level in one corner was a walled in room that stored the cleaned grain (a granary) and the other corner is believed to have stabled the valuable 2 working teams of oxen or Timothy’s driving horse team.

      An observance of the barn’s building 175 years ago to the day and the recent restoration of the barn by Trillium Dell Timberworks from Knoxville, IL will include refreshments and a brief presentation of images of the barn’s restoration. The Jeffris Family Foundation, the Kane County Riverboat Fund, and the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley helped the many individual donors who contributed to the barn’s restoration.

      A $6 donation is suggested for the refreshments and reservations can be made in advance to secure seating by calling 630 584-8485 or e-mail The museum is located 5 miles west of Geneva, IL off ILL Rt. 38 on Garfield Road in Campton Hills. Attendees should dress for the weather.

       Garfield Farm and Inn Museum is the only historically intact former Illinois prairie farmstead and inn being restored as an 1840s living history farm and museum by donors and volunteers that have hailed from over 4000 households in over 44 states. The site is one of the largest in Illinois listed on the National Register of Historic sites. The program is part of a series of celebrations and events for the 40th anniversary of the museum's founding.