Video of Life on the Farm.
'Life on the Farm' Hands-On Experience

German Area/ Koepsell Farm

Open Daily, No Additional Charge

"Life on the Farm" is an exciting and new kind of hands-on experience at Old World Wisconsin. As you explore the German Area's Koepsell Farm, you will get the chance to discover what life was really like working and living on a late 19th-century farm in the Upper Midwest.

Here you'll follow the daily adventures of the Kruegers, a farm family of the 1880s who left the Old World to build a new life in Wisconsin. The Kruegers documented their lives through photographs and family stories across the second half of the 19th century and first half of the 20th. "Life on the Farm" is based on this unique record not only of who the Kruegers were, but also of how they sought to be remembered.

Costumed interpreters throughout the farmstead will help you step back to the 1880s and imagine the type of life that the Kruegers would have known. They will guide you through the Kruegers' typical chores, teach you about their farm animals, and show you how they used authentic farm implements.

Engage in Daily Farm Experiences

The Kruegers' farm chores changed by the day and season, so each time you visit "Life on the Farm" you'll experience it from a fresh, new perspective. Here of some tasks you might try:

  • Check the coop for eggs
  • Help in the heirloom garden
  • Assist with a carpentry project
  • Interact with the young farm animals
  • Don a pair of wooden barn shoes and "muck" the barn's stalls

Collect Krueger Family Biography Cards

To bring you closer to the experience at Old World Wisconsin, you'll receive one of six "Life on the Farm" biography cards containing information about one member of the Krueger family at the beginning of the tour. You'll see a picture of the family member and the typical chores he or she would do.

Learn even more about the person featured on your card by entering the URL listed on the card or scanning the QR code with your mobile device. You'll see more biographies, historic images and stories of the Kruegers and their neighbors, and gain an appreciation for the connections and cooperation of Pomeranian farm families of the time.

Loop the card's wool lanyard around your neck before you hop the tram or walk the roads and paths to the Koepsell Farm. Collect a new Farm Life card each time you visit Old World Wisconsin.

The Krueger Family Papers Collection

The family photos, documents and stories featured in the "Life on the Farm" exhibit are from the Krueger Family Papers Collection (1852-1965) housed in the archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Family member Alexander Krueger (not featured in the exhibit) photographed his family, property, kin networks, and the changing rural landscape. He documented both progress and the passing of ethnic customs and agricultural practices. He shot striking photographs in which old and new coexisted. Men, women, and children pose not only with family heirlooms, but also with cherished acquisitions.

These images recorded the lifestyle and experiences of one Pomeranian-American family at the turn of the century in rural Wisconsin. Like the Koepsell family, the Kruegers were everyday figures who shaped life in Wisconsin's 19th century farming community.

The rhythm of their lives was driven by daily, weekly and seasonal work patterns. In addition, they shared an ethnic bond with their neighbors who provided the inspiration, stories, and original building materials used to create Old World Wisconsin's Koepsell Farm exhibit.

'Six Generations Here: A Farm Family Remembers'

Learn more about the Kruegers in the book, "Six Generations Here: A Farm Family Remember" by Marjorie L. McLellan. Available at the Old World Wisconsin Museum store or online through the Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

Interested in the History of Old World Wisconsin?

Learn more about the museum's more than 60 historic structures on our History of Old World Wisconsin page.

Meet the Kruegers of 'Life on the Farm'

The Kruegers immigrated to Dodge County in 1851 from Pomerania, a region now part of modern day Poland along the Baltic Sea.

Family members featured in the "Life on the Farm" experience include Wilhelm Krueger and his sons August and Henry, plus Wilhelm's daughter-in-law Mary, and her sisters Martha and Hannah.

Click on the images below to learn more about them.