behind the homestead walls

Life is full of surprises.

South Dakota photography

For instance, taking a walk to mindlessly search for horns led to an interesting discovery behind creaky walls.

South Dakota photography

A creaky house with one creaky door held shut by a padlock and chain, more for warning then prevention.

Well, this girl is no law-breaker, but the glimpses behind dusty curtains and weathered windows pushed my hand up to unravel the chain and led my curious legs through the doorway, a husband shaking his head and smiling beside her.

Old dog said This is as far as I go. I’ll be out chasing pheasants if you need me.

South Dakota photography

The large entryway designed for the ranching and farming life greeted us, the first clue telling us little ones ran in and out these doors

South Dakota photography

South Dakota photography

Like a ghost from the future we floated over floors once full of life and purpose.

Why they left so much behind is a mystery to me.

South Dakota photography

But what they did leave spoke of the kind of life they once led.

This was a family of faith…

South Dakota photography

A family of celebration?

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A family who couldn’t have possibly conceived the places technology would take us…

South Dakota photography

South Dakota photography

i pushed keys

or that we’d be celebrating 90 years of a delightful magazine this year.

South Dakota photography

The stairs weaved up to rooms where it seems the children stayed, young girl’s dreaming of a ticket out of the Land of Boredom often found in the country life.

South Dakota photography

The unstable top floor led me back down the stairs quickly, ready to make our leave.

South Dakota photography

Stepping back outside, I felt thankful for the connection to the past this house gave.

South Dakota photography

Replacing the chain and lock, we headed back toward the pickup, toward home.

Gotta live to leave a hand print in this world, right?

South Dakota photography

Seems the old boy knew this all along.

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72 thoughts on “behind the homestead walls

  1. Wow, I don’t know that I would have been brave enough to enter the house without permission! My heart would have been racing! But – wow – what treasures you found there.
    Sad, isn’t it?

  2. Someone around your part of the world must have known the people who lived there. Did you ask Country Man’s parents about them? Our old farm house has been pretty much completely gutted. I did find when looking up the volunteer fire department that it appears that no less than four members of the family that lived them from the 1930’s to the 1960’s are on the fire department. That’s going to be interesting and weird if they are part of the crew that comes out to burn the house down. Sad that our house and this one seem beyond saving… Most of the treasures we’ve found were stored in the loft of a rickety barn.

    • Hey Aster! Interesting story; that will be a monumental day for the vol. firefighting family. I am reading Beth Hoffman’s book, “Saving CeeCee Honeycutt”, and the character talks about old Savannah, GA homes and how we are so quick to get rid of history and move on. It made me think of this old house. I know my husband has told me a little bit about the previous dwellers, but some things, I simply like to imagine.

      Thank you for stopping in!

  3. I found an old home about an hour east of town, and my husband was right there beside me (pushing past me) to get a look inside. It is quite an unexplainable feeling, just sharing space with something unknown from times gone by. It’s a sad moment to think how many memories have likely been forgotten. Up on the second story of a very rickety, dark, scary barn, we were even graced by the company of a barn owl who just hung out with us for about 10 minutes while I snapped photos and flashed him in the face over and over, hoping my face wouldn’t get shredded. My memory card malfunctioned, go figured, and I lost all the house pictures, but happily some of the owl ones were saved. I should put them up on my blog. Anyway, love this post :)

    • That’s just how I felt. I rarely get “feely” when entering a house, but I was almost breathless walking through this place, knowing the many feet that walked before here when everything was alive.

      The owl photos would made a great post – such lovely creatures!

      Thank you for stopping in!

  4. I agree with Aster. Someone must know something about the people who once lived there and why they left so much behind when they left. Makes me sad to think of the possibilities.

  5. Reminds me of my East Coast youth and hundred year old abandoned homes and farms. Exploring those homes and barns of the past was like a looking glass into local history. Thanks for sharing and the wonderful pics.

  6. I just knew you would find some good heirlooms of the past. We used to do this when I was a child. For us it was houses that the coal mines had bought up. Thanks for bringing back that memory for me.

  7. I’m so jealous. I am in love with the parts of life frozen in that house. I hope it stays there for decades and decades more. Giving a reason for others to pause, look, wonder. Thank you for sharing this. Just fabulous!

  8. Love this old house! I’m always so scared to go inside these abandoned houses… I really should get over myself… so many wonderful treasures you found! And your photos are wonderful… especially that first one. Stunning!

      • Well yes, a husband with a gun makes things much less scary :) Mine is away a lot for work, so most of the time I’m alone with my kids! I’ll have to drag him out one day when he’s home :)

  9. Loved this story – how exciting to find such a home – had to laugh at the Readers Digest page “You’re only as old as your hair”! – as mine is well and truly grey now but I dont feel as old as I look…. that typewriter brought back memories I can tell you, from school and work!! Joy

    • Hi Joy! I got such a kick flipping through the RD pages. One article was on meat-buying, and said something about housewives overpaying for meat because, “they just don’t know the difference”. So much has changed in that regard. As for the typewriter, I love that it brought back memories for you. I wanted to take it home!

  10. Wow! This reminds me of walking down the gravel road next to my Grandparent’s home. There was a small, abandoned house far down the road. There were clumps of old-fashioned daffodils still growing in the yard. Inside, there was a fireplace and the surround was made of hand-sized river pebbles. There were growth markings on a door frame so I know there were kids there once. I used to beg to walk to that house. That house is long gone, but it’s a great memory. Thanks for bringing it back for me. Love your blog and learning from you!

    • Wow – the house you described had a lot of life in it. Making that fireplace frame must have taken a great deal of time. Some of these old homes above the river and along the hills have bases made of rock, and I can only imagine the time and labor it took for the men to go down to the river and carry up these huge rocks.

      Thank you for reading, Joanna! Glad it brought back a sweet memory.

  11. I can feel every word you spoke with every picture…I have seen some houses out here like that too where they left everything behind…and you wonder what happened and who they were…life…families…and truly you shared it beautifully…

  12. I love this post — I felt like I was along for the whole adventure .. beautiful pictures and a touching sense of place!! (Good for you for going in … wow, I love trespassing on the past!!)

  13. I’ve been in similar homes and – like you – there’s a combination of reverence peppered with curiousity that draws me in. If I close my eyes, I can hear the children laughing, see a Mother at the stove stirring supper. I can imagine a Father coming in from the field, setting down his lunch pail and washing up for the meal.

    The experience makes me wistful and sad .. and a little homesick.

    Your pictures and words capture the moment so beautifully… MJ

  14. Oh you brave girl, not so much for the removing the chain …but, for actually entering a foreboding, cold, deserted homestead..I would be afraid of what I’d find, or perhaps what would find me…(critters and such).

    What a fun little adventure, thank you,
    Jess

    • Many of these places are simply left alone if they’re not in the way. I gather the owner’s were collectors (aka hoarders), which would explain why they left so much behind.

      I do know the current landowner is the brother of the former home-dweller. He is in his late 70s, early 80s. Things always change when ownership changes hands. We’ll know more down the road!

      Thank you for reading!

    • I hear you. I don’t know about some of the items, but I would love to get my hands on that typewriter and a few Reader’s Digest magazines – the floor was scattered with issues. The house is about a mile away, so we’ll know if they do anything with it.

      Thank you for reading, Perfecting Motherhood!

  15. What a wonderful story and beautiful pictures! I love glimpses into other people’s lives and imagining what they must have been like. I would have been too curious to turn away as well. Thanks so much for showing us these intimate views into someone else’s life. Makes me take another look at all the items in my room and what a stranger would think upon viewing them. :)

      • That is very insightful, and I think you’re right. As for books, I think it’s possible, but I hope not. I love books, and although as a writer, I embrace the digital age and ebooks, there is still nothing like the smell of an old book, dog-eared pages, underlining, putting asterisks on the parts I love, and the weightiness of a book. It is hard to believe how far technology has come in a relatively short period of time!

  16. Wow. Do you ever wonder what could have happened to make a family leave so quickly, they left so much behind? I’d be curious to know who owns the land it’s on today. The bank? Were they foreclosed back in 1972 and that’s why? You could write a whole story about this, drawing in the “clues” you found littered around the house. It’s like a sad museum. That Remington typewriter, alone, is quite a catch. Love your photos!

    • No, not the bank. The brother of the man who lived in the house owns the property. He is in his late 70s, early 80s. His son rents it from him, and my father-in-law rents some of it from him. A little wordy, but that’s how a lot of small farmers operate and make it work!

      When ownership changes hands, probably after the father passes (his wife just died a month or two ago), we’ll know more about what the son and his family plan to do.

      It would be an interesting story, for sure! I would love to get my hands on that typewriter. Thank you for reading!

  17. That looks very cool, I am a sucker for old barns and building so I probably would have done the same. How is the horn search going? have you all dealt with any “antler poachers” out there? Apparently they have become very popular items to sell and thus people are trespassing to find them… even wearing ski masks to protect faces from trail cams. Really sad if you ask me. We looked for upwards of 15 hours this year and only came up with a few. We hope to train Wyatt to help find them by next year though, hopefully that will help
    Anna
    http://www.akginspiration.com

    • Anna, good to see you! I am seeing a common characteristic between commenters and myself; we’re all up for a sense of adventure.

      Shed hunting is going well, and we have no problems it seems with horn poachers. My husband has found about 15-20 dead whitetail, who were hit hard with blue tongue disease this year.

      That’s sad you’ve dealt with poachers. It’s frustrating when people have no respect for land ownership and their right to allow who they choose to hunt on their land. We live in a tight-knit community, so it would be hard to pull of stealing horns here. However, west river in the Black Hills, a person could easily get away with it.

      My husband would love to have an antler dog, and wouldn’t be surprised if he looked for that quality in one after his passes on.

      Thank you for reading!

  18. This made me sad. I love that you let the photos speak for themselves with minimal words….it allowed me to imagine in a way that I would not have been able to. It makes me wonder if some kind of tragedy took place. Anyway – thank you for a delightful post.

  19. Very interesting….I wonder where the people that lived there, are now? Children that are now maybe in their 40’s or 50’s?
    These pictures were a reminder that time stops for no one. It moves on……..and yet, you lucked into this time capsule.

  20. I got chills looking at these photos and reading your words. I love the mystery. I have so many questions I want to know about this family. Do you have any way of finding out what happened to them and why they left so much behind?

    • Hi Jackie, my husband suspects the family might have been collectors/hoarders and just left or put everything in the house they couldn’t toss but didn’t have room for, either.

      It seems some people of the Depression-era can have a hard time throwing things out and leave it the kids, who are often scattered across the country. At least around here, anyway.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if this house was torn down and burned someday, contents and all. I hope to find out first and ask for the typewriter (not that I know about it, of course) :) .

      • That typewriter is a real find. I hope you’re able to get add it to your collection.
        It would be a shame if the house was just torn down and the contents thrown out. Around here those things would be sold at a collectibles store. There is a bit market for vintage items like those.

  21. Amazing! What a fabulous post! I LOVE old places like that. I agree – why do people leave behind such things? Cool stuff…and even clothes! Makes me wonder what that story is…so many possibilities…love it.

  22. The photos are like pastoral, impressionist paintings….all those fading robin’s egg blues and winter wheat. Just love it!

    This would be the coolest book…a collection of images and words, written about abandoned places. Just amazing. Thank you for sharing this!

  23. This is one of my favorite posts that you’ve done. Love the honest-to-goodness, true vintage-y-ness of it. Love the house prowling – I’ve done it, too, and that feeling of history and past life hanging all over everything is so tangible.

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