107 year old pump house is as sturdy as farmers who once lived on the land

Jerry Apps
107 year old pump house has stood the test of time on the Apps' farm in Waushara County.

Those who have followed my writing over the years know how much I like old buildings. I have written about barns, grist mills, one-room schools, cheese factories, and breweries. I discovered that every old building has a story to tell; sometimes it just takes a little work to discover the story.

Pictured here is the old pump house at my farm (There is a special beauty in these old farm buildings, especially after a fresh snowfall). The building was built in 1912, when the Coombes family moved their farm buildings across the road from where Tom Stewart, who homesteaded the place, built the first buildings in 1867. For several years, a windmill straddled the east end of the building, pumping water from the well that was located inside.

On a cold winter day in the early 1960s, the nearby farmhouse caught on fire and burned to the ground. The pumphouse also caught on fire, but the neighborhood farmers managed to put out the fire on this old building. To this day, the charred boards show evidence of the fire.

When we bought the place in 1966, the pump house provided our water as well as a storage place. Some years later, when we drilled a new well and installed indoor plumbing in the cabin, we turned the pump house into a woodshed. We continue to cook and heat the cabin with wood stoves.

Our woodshed, now some 107 years old is as sturdy as the farmers who once lived on this land.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Respect the old farm buildings, for each has a story to tell.

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to