Near Cross Plains in Dane County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
The Matz Farmstead
1852 - 2012
You are standing in front of the stone remnants of the Matz farmhouse. The land was first homesteaded in 1852. Friedrich describes the initial living quarters as, “An American farmer isn’t set up right away like a German, he simply builds himself a house, so that he can live, and the barn is finished right away, the sky is the roof and the ground is the floor, that’s the kind I have.”
The Matz family raised oxen, cropped hay, and grew produce such as corn and potatoes on the land. At the time, plowing oxen could be sold for $120-150, which was described by Friedrich as “unbelievably expensive”, and wheat was being sold for $1 a bushel.
The house pictured above was built of local stone about ten years later after Friedrich returned from his service in the Civil War. Unfortunately the house burned down in 1949. This photo features Friedrich and Katherina’s son, William (second from left), his wife, Anna Evert (far left), and their children Raymond, Erwin (far right), and Linda. Dane County Halfway Prairie Wildlife Area, which features the Matz farmstead,
After traveling to Milwaukee in 1848 from Landsendorf, Germany, Friedrich was reunited with his brother Christian and began working on the local railroads in order to raise money to buy property. In 1852 he traveled west to the town of Berry and purchased his initial plot of land.
In March of 1865 he was conscripted into the Union Army for the Civil War. He was mustered at Camp Randall and assigned as a private in 11th Infantry, Company E. He participated in the Battle of Fort Blakely in Baldwin County, Alabama, considered the last major battle of the war. He was officially discharged on the 5th of September in 1865.
Katharina Schubert Matz
Originally hailing from the Oberfranken region of Germany, Katharina, her son, Friedrich, and her father, mother, and brother arrived in America in 1850. She was wed to Friedrich Matz on May 1st, 1854 in Sauk City. Together they had five children: Richard, William, Herman, Henry, and Anna. Many of their descendants still live in the local area today.
To honor the men who went to fight in the Union Army during the Civil War, the Women’s Club of Berry planted thirty-eight fir trees in the year of 1861. A few can still be seen at the intersection of Hwy 19 and Old Settler’s Road. The
”I’ve often said out loud that I’m happy with America, but I say it privately to myself even more often. I owe God many thousand thanks for...putting me in a free and better country, where each person only has to worry about himself...”
-Friedrich Matz, in a letter addressed to his family in Germany (1855)
Erected by Dane County Parks.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Agriculture • Settlements & Settlers. A significant historical year for this entry is 1852.
Location. 43° 11.772′ N, 89° 37.31′ W. Marker is near Cross Plains, Wisconsin, in Dane County. Marker is at the intersection of State Highway 19 and Matz Road, on the right when traveling west on State Highway 19. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Cross Plains WI 53528, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. St. Mary of the Oaks (approx. half a mile away); Indian Lake (approx. half a mile away); Indian Lake Passage (approx. 0.8 miles away); Kerl School (approx. 4.4 miles away); Father Adalbert Inama -- St. Norbert House (approx. 4.6 miles away); In Memory of Rev. Adalbert Inama, O. Praem. (approx. 4.7 miles away); The Plain Good Building of Cross PlainsOld Halfway Prairie (approx. 6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cross Plains.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 26, 2017. It was originally submitted on September 29, 2017, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 5,264 times since then and 483 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on October 26, 2017, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin.