Second barn quilt hung in Lincoln County
Recently, the second barn quilt in Lincoln County was hung on the Pope-Will farm located on Pope Road just north of Merrill. This farm was a 2009 Century Farm Award recipient and joins the Hanson family on Highway 17 north of Gleason, another 2009 Century Farm Award recipient in being part of the Lincoln County Barn Quilt Project.
The farm where the quilt is hung was established in 1897 by Ben Pope and his wife, Augusta (Detert) Pope when they purchased a 40-acre parcel in the Merrill Township. Ben worked in town and Augusta “Gustie” did the farm work. When Ben’s co-workers asked him to bring surplus milk, they became his first customers. In 1907, Ben began peddling milk in Merrill on a regular basis. He then bought a milk wagon, hitched his horses to it every morning and headed to town.
On Feb. 14, 1929, son Harold, who lived a mile east of the Pope farm on what is now called Pope Road, bought out his parents and moved back to the home farm. At that point Harold and his wife Christena “Tena” (Kasper) Pope started a separate route, his brother Fritz also having a route. In 1934, the Cream Top bottle franchise was acquired and their business flourished. When raw milk was no longer sold, the Cream Top bottle became a relic and the Pope Dairy name was again revived. In 1957, Pope Dairy was sold to Seeger Dairy, Merrill.
Harold and “Tena” had three daughters, Ruth Draeger, Harriet Olivotti and Cora Pope Will. Cora and her husband Fred purchased the farm in 1959. When hearing about the Lincoln County Barn Quilt project, Fred decided to sponsor a quilt in memory of his late wife Cora and to honor the heritage of her family’s farm. Working with Natalie Watland, an artist from the Tomahawk area, the family designed a quilt pattern incorporating the Pope Milk bottle. The hanging of the quilt was done by Dan Prebig, Coy Zimmerman and Dale Marquardt from RTL Electric in Merrill.
Through the cooperation of the University of Wisconsin-Extension Lincoln County, the Merrill Historical Society, Lincoln County Farm Bureau and with startup funding from the Merrill Area Community Foundation, the Lincoln County Barn Quilt project was initiated in 2013. Although any barn in the county may be eligible for participation in the project, the committee felt it was appropriate to begin with farms that have been honored as Century Farms by the Merrill Historical Society. Through this project, people will be able to view our historic agricultural icons in their new role as public art.
The Barn Quilt Committee is currently looking for additional farm families who are interested in being a part of the project. For more information about the Lincoln County Barn Quilt project, visit www.merrillhistory.org or contact Debbie Moellendorf at the Lincoln County UW-Extension office at 715-539-0177 or Bea Lebal or Pat Burg at the Merrill Historical Society at 715-536-5652.