Chellberg Farm

The Kjellberg Arrival in America

Anders Ludwig Kjellberg (born 22 March 1830) and Johanna (Anderson) Kjellberg (born 28 April 1829) were married in Sweden in the 1850s. They emigrated to the U.S. in 1863 with their son, Carl (born 1859). Family tradition says that they immediately moved to the Bailly area. They did not set up a home on the current location. They first lived, south on Mineral Springs road, south of the tracks from the Swedish Lutheran Church.

The 1871 Great Chicago Fire destroyed much of the Swedish community in Chicago. Many Swedish residents choose to move to the Swedish Community of Indiana. A popular story that is the Kjellberg family met Joel Wicker (the son-in-law of Joseph Bailly) while in Chicago and that Joel hired Anders to clean out brush in preparation for planting. Joel is said to have provided a small log house for the family.

Anders Kjellherg had been a tailor and a lay preacher the Lutheran Church in Sweden. He continued to place an emphasis on his religion after immigrating. And helped to establish the Swedish Lutheran Church, now the Augsberg Lutheran Church. The Kjellberg's second child, Carolyn, was born in the mid 1860's. She died at the age of three or four. The family also had a foster son, Simon Larson who was born in 1874 and joined the family before 1880.

Swedish Community

Swedes located in Baillytown for several reasons, one being that there were new jobs available, another because like most immigrants, they sought out others like themselves. Baillytown's proximity to Chicago connected it to the larger paths of Swedish immigration from the 1840s to the 1920s. The railroad came to the region in the 1850s and it provided for settlement and the transport of lumber from the lakeshore. A local story has it that an earlier Swedish immigrant, Jonas Asp, aided Joel Wicker in recruiting Swedes, including Kjellberg’s to work his lands. These settlers then encouraged friends and families to join them. The immigrants provided the necessary labor force for developing farmland, railroads, and industry in the area. The close-knit Swedish-American community emphasized their cultural heritage, teaching their children Swedish, establishing Swedish churches, and participating in social events where Swedish traditions were observed.

The Chellberg Farm

In October of 1869 the family took legal title to the Chellberg Farm property. On 1 November 1869 the Kjellberg (Chellberg) family took possession of what is known as the Chellberg Farm. John Oherg and Anders Kjellberg represented the family in the purchase of 80 acres from J. H. Wicker. It cost $12.00 per acre plus they paid off an older contract of Wickers worth $1000.

There were no structures on the land, nor was it cleared for agricultural use. The 1870 Population and Agricultural Census. The family of four living on the property with only four acres of improved land. No crops had been produce in their first year, but they had several animals, two milk cows, two other cattle and two swine. Their only farm production and possibly only source of income was 100 pounds of butter that had been produced. Meanwhile John Oberg’s farm also had four improved acres and a higher production level, 10 bushels of Spring wheat, 25 bushels of Winter wheat adn1 bushels of Irish potatoes. The Oberg’s owned on swine, two milk cows and had produced 150 pounds of butter. There appears to be some confusion over whether the Chellberg’s were actually on the ‘farm site’ or if it was the Oberg’s who were residents at the time of the census.

Clearing the land would have been a slow process. In a good year, they might be able to clear only fifteen acres per year. It’s more likely that they only cleared five to ten acres a year. Clearing the land would produce sellable lumber and cordwood, i.e., firewood. Most farms in the area were small and did a little of everything. The Chellberg’s had an orchard which may have produced apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries, grapes, strawberries, and raspberries.

On April 4, 1872 Anders Kjellberg purchased and additional 40 acres, the northern half of the property, from Joel H. Wicker. The house (prior to the current brickhouse) and the barn had been built between 1869 and 1872 when this additional land was obtained. It is assumed that the well and outhouse also built early for use by the family. By 1879 the farm included thirty poultry, eight cows, two sheep, eleven swine, and five horses. A chicken house was probably constructed between before 1879. Evidence also indicates that a corncrib may have been built prior to 1879. That year, the farm produced 100 bushels of Indian corn, from the 40 cultivated acres. Nine acres of Indian corn produced 100 bushels. Three acres of oats produced another forty bushels and one acre of rye produced fifteen bushels. One hundred and twenty-two bushels of wheat came from nine acres. Hay is measured in tons, and five tons were harvested from five acres. An acre was planted in Irish potatoes, which produced 75 bushels.

The construction of the brick farmhouse in 1885 was a major addition to the farm. For many families the construction of a new, larger house would have indicated an improved level of prosperity, however, the Chellberg farmhouse was constructed as a direct result of the disastrous fire that consumed the original family home. The use of brick for the new house was more likely to be an attempt to guarantee that another fire would not threaten the family, than a display of a new level of wealth

Second Generation at the Chellberg Farm, 1893-1908

Anders Kjellberg was 63 when he died on 16 April 1893. His son, C. L. Chellberg became the owner of the farm when he bought his mothers' and sisters' inherited interest. C. L. paid $3500 to the two and agreed to shelter and feed them for the rest of their lives. C. L. took a more scientific approach to farming. He read The Farm Journal for a year, considered alternative approaches to farming and courted Ottomina Peterson. His scientific approach was furthered, beginning in 1896 when he subscribed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmmer's Bulletins.

It is likely that C. L. Chellberg was in the process of developing the herd in 1901. After Emily Kjellberg married Alfred Borg in 1897, she and Alfred continued to live at the farm with their two children until 1901. Alfred was a carpenter and brick worker by trade so; he may have provided cash income by working off of the farm. In 1899 Johanna Kjellberg died at the age of 70. C. L. Chellberg and Emily and Alfred Borg continued to live in the farmhouse together until C. L. married Ottomina in 1901. Then, Emily and Alfred, with their children moved away. They lived with other relatives until ca. 1904 their home, Oak Hill Road and a ravine from the farm was completed.

Chellberg Dairy Farm, 1908-1937

By 1908 the Chellbergs had switched from grain production to dairy and grain farm. The Chicago, South Bend and South Shore Railroad had been completed and a stop was only a mile away. With the daily train, they could sell milk to the dairy in East Chicago. Over the following years, the children of C.L. and Ottomina (Naomi and Carl) and their children continued to work on the farm. Naomi (born 1907, died 1988), moved away from the farm only after her marriage to Alden Studebaker in 1926. Even the grand children, Ann Chellberg Medley, daughter of Carl and Hilda Chellberg and Henry Studebaker and Arthur Studebaker, sons of Naomi Chellberg Studebaker and Alden Studebaker spent much of their childhood on the farm. Somewhere between 1920 and the 1930’s, the dairy operation. It may have been when the South Shore closed it’s stop near farm or slowly over time as it became more difficult to get the milk to the train each day.

Third Generation at the Chellberg Farm, 1937-1972

C. L. Chellberg's died in 1937. The farm was between his spouse and three children. His son Carl Chellberg took on the primary management of the farm, but everyone was actively involved in the decisions. They did not keep up with the changing economy as industry replaced farming as the mainstay of commerce. Like many farmers today (2008), he worked in town to make ends meet. Carl found employment in a machine shop in Chesterton.

In 1938, Carl married Hilda Johnson. They had two children. The remodeled second floor of the farmhouse was an apartment where they and children lived. Minnie Chellberg died on 15 November 1952 at the age of 82. Minnie managed the house gardens, both the v vegetable garden and the flowers in the front yard. She also oversaw the orchard. She also continued to raise chickens.

Sometime in the forties Carl Chellberg began raising sheep and kept about sixty head. The sheep were sold at auctions for meat. The sheep grazed throughout the entire farm property and were kept in two sheep sheds that were constructed during this period. A large extension was built onto the south side of the barn in 1954. It was constructed by Carl Chellberg, Henry Studebaker, and Arthur Studebaker. Another sheep shed was constructed behind the granary. The building was smaller than the barn addition and constructed of corrugated iron. Eventually (sometime in the mid to late 1950s) Carl Chellberg took a job a machine shop in Chesterton and sold the sheep. Hilda Johnson Chellberg worked as a cook at a local restaurant. Once both Carl and Hilda had jobs off of the farm, the farm operation became a secondary effort and no longer the main family business."

Circa 1940 electricity was reestablished at the farm. It was used until the utility company power was brought to the farm in the 1940s after the war.'' During 1943, 1944, and 1945, Henry and Arthur Studebaker grew vegetables at the farm for sale to local residents. They had a two-acre garden in the eastern portion of the field south of the orchard and north of the current visitor center parking lot. They grew vegetables to sell door to door in Dune Acres. They grew asparagus, lima beans, yellow and green snap beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery (white), kale, leaf lettuce, endive, cantaloupe, watermelons, okra, green onions, leeks, parsnips, peas, green and red peppers, red, white, and sweet potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, red rhubarb chard and white Swiss chard, Jerusalem and butternut squash, red and yellow tomatoes, turnips, rutabagas, kohl robi, cicely, sweet corn (yellow bantam and country gentleman), horseradish, dill, sage, chives, and parsley.


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