George Thern purchased the former fairgrounds in May 1914 and immediately began converting the property to a farm. Buildings not essential to farm operation were dismantled and the land was readied for spring planting. Thern Farm had a relatively small dairy herd, no more than 20, consisting of Holsteins and a couple Jerseys or Guernseys. This was enough to supply the family with milk as well as sell milk for income.
His daughter, Pearl, wrote in the family genealogy that the farm was the “most ideal setting” to grow up in. Although a telephone was added in 1921 and electricity in 1922, indoor plumbing was not installed until 1974. Pearl wrote of taking the dog and a lantern for those trips in the dark and using the Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogs as toilet paper. “How did we survive?” she asked. The outhouse still stands behind the house.
George’s son Earl took over the farm when George retired. Earl and his wife, Marie, milked 10-15 cow by hand twice a day. He tried a milking machine but found cleaning it was more of a burden than just milking by hand. Like his father, Earl was a beekeeper, He sold honey for $.10 a pound with the most common sale being a 2 quart bucket which would hold 5 lbs of honey. Earl retired from farming in 1978 but continued working with his bees. Marie continued living at the farm after Earl's death in 1982. Her daughter, Sandra, inherited the farm after her mother died.
Sandra spent many years lovingly, and meticulously renovating the farmhouse to capture its vintage character while seamlessly blending modern conveniences. Sandra was born and raised on the farm.
Her childhood was spent helping with the dairy farm, beehives and garden. She had a passion for preserving the history of the farm and sharing it with anyone who was interested.
In 2014, Thern family descendants received the Century Farm Award for 100 years of family ownership of the land. The farm and land was gifted to the New London Heritage Historical Society after Sandra's death in July 2015.
Sandra (Thern) Fuller