Sheboygan Falls — Pinehurst Farms of Sheboygan Falls, started in 1838 by David Giddings, was a model of innovation from the very beginning.
An article in the March 4, 1908, edition of the Sheboygan County News states the following: "Pine Hurst Farms, which is situated partly within the limits of the picturesque village of Sheboygan Falls and part in the town of Lima, is one of the most beautiful and productive farms in the Northwest, consisting of over 400 acres, about 200 of which is under a state of cultivation, 120 in beautiful woods and the balance in natural pasturage, well supplied with water by the Onion River and an abundance of natural springs."
Giddings, a consummate businessman and adventurous Yankee, never stayed very long with one occupation. He always took an active interest in political affairs. When the Greenback party sprang up, he became identified with it, and in 1878 was a candidate for Congress, receiving more than the party vote.
In 1863, he purchased a farm containing 577 acres southeast of Fond du Lac, and in 1874 went there to live, leaving Sheboygan Falls behind.
On Nov. 20, 1912, Harvard Giddings, son of David Giddings, sold the Giddings Pinehurst Farm to Peter Reiss, president of C. Reiss Coal Company. Pinehurst Farm became the summer home of the extended Reiss family. Reiss upgraded the buildings and in the fall of 1913 the completion of the new 210-foot long barn was celebrated with a barn dance hosted by the Reiss family.
An article from the Sheboygan Press in 1913, entitled "Hundreds Enjoy Barn Dance at Pinehurst," documents the event. "More than seven hundred were guests of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Reiss at a barn dance at their country home at Pinehurst last evening. The affair which will linger with pleasant memories for a long time, took place in the large barn which is being completed on the farm and until one o'clock this morning the guests enjoyed themselves... For instance there was one dance where the lights were turned off, and the two large automobile lamps furnished the light for the dance.
"This was a novel feature that brought forth applause from the dancers as well as the onlookers and the orchestra was called upon for several encores before the lights were turned on...from eight to nine o'clock the full Sheboygan Concert Band was stationed in the south end of the barn on a raised platform.
"Looking down a space of 210 feet on either side were strings of lights shaded by leaves of tinted paper giving a color that harmonized with the entire decorative scheme. Giant corn stalks together with pumpkins, and sheaths of barley comprised the decorative scheme...the concert under the leadership of Henry Johnson was one of the treats of the evening. But the grand march, comprised of 608 dancers was the highlight."
Peter Reiss enjoyed his farm and summer home for just fourteen years, passing away on Sept. 5, 1926. Peter and Mattie had two daughters, Carita who married Harold Bachmann and Gertrude who married John Corbett. Both families spent their summers at Pinehurst.
Mattie Reiss continued the operation of the farm after Peter's death, but in 1930, hired Harry Hill to manage it. Mr. Hill managed Pinehurst Farms for 14 years. Hill, a native of Scarborough, England, was widely known in regional farm circles. He was active in the Wisconsin Holstein Breeders Association and was awarded the Wisconsin Agriculturist gold medal in 1937 as one of Wisconsin's five outstanding farmers. Hill left Pinehurst in 1944 for a position in the farm industries' division at Curt G. Joa.
At that point the dairy stopped bottling its own milk, selling its product to Verifine where it was processed. Besides the cattle, Pinehurst also operated a greenhouse and continued to raise poultry. In 1948, Mrs. Reiss donated a part of the property to the city of Sheboygan Falls to be used as an athletic field.
The following year, the summer home, the original Giddings home, a large garage, two poultry houses, a greenhouse, 10 acres of virgin pine woods, 180 apple-bearing trees and twelve acres of garden land comprising 37 1/2 acres were sold to The Christian Home Inc., a non-profit organization which took over the property for a home for the aged. The corporation represented 13 churches in Sheboygan, Oostburg, Cedar Grove, Sheboygan Falls, Gibbsville and Hingham. The Giddings home, greenhouse, stable and apple orchard were sold to private parties. The remaining property was remodeled into a residence for the aging. This part of the estate became Pine Haven Christian Home.
In 1950, Mrs. Reiss sold the rest of Pinehurst Farm to her grandsons, Peter and David Bachmann. The two young men operated the property together until 1955 when Peter sold his share to David. David Bachmann became known as one of the best-known registered Holstein breeders in Wisconsin. The prestige and reputation of Pinehurst cows brought foreign buyers on frequent visits to the farm and animals were shipped to all parts of the world.
Lightning struck between a pair of concrete silos the evening of Sept. 16, 1983, during a severe electrical storm. The large L-shaped frame barn, a landmark along State 32, was destroyed by the resulting fire. The barn was immediately rebuilt, but on June 29, 1993 a second fire demolished the barns at Pinehurst. No cause was ever found.
The 1993 fire marked the end of Pinehurst as a dairy farm, but began the dream of a championship golf course on the property. Construction on The Bull, a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, began Aug. 4, 2000. The course meanders through the farm and features beautiful views of meadows, woods, wetlands and streams. Each of the 18 holes is named after a bull bred by Pinehurst Farms, each with its own unique story.
One hundred seventy-eight years later, this beautiful property, cared for by just two families, is a landmark of which the citizens of Sheboygan County can be proud.
Dippel is the executive director of the Sheboygan County Historical Research Center.