Address: N1569 Cty. Hwy. A, Endeavor, WI
Owners: Marie & Melvin Johnson
Sponsor: Meadowbrook Farm
“I always fly the flag,” said 76 year old Melvin Johnson during a recent visit to the family farm near Briggsville. So it was no wonder that when it came to choosing the colors for the quilt block mural that now adorns their barn, he chose red, white and blue and added a star in the center of the pretty pattern.
The patriotic Johnson barn quilt can be seen on County Road A north of Briggsville on the farm that now has the fifth generation on the land. Melvin and Marie (Nemitz) Johnson have been married 49 years and were just set to head off on a week’s vacation in their motor home when they stopped to talk about their farm and barn quilt.
In 1900, Melvin’s grandmother and grandfather Melvin and Jeanette Butterfield, moved to Marquette County from Token Creek, Wisconsin. Mildred, their daughter, married Jack Johnson and together they raised four children in the home Melvin and Marie live in today.
“My grandfather was a horse doctor,” said Melvin. “He raised horses, too, and my father was a blacksmith.” Thus the horseshoes that grace the sign under the Johnson/Butterfield barn quilt.
Melvin pointed out where the blacksmith shop, grocery store that was run by Melvin’s mother’s uncle, and gas pump used to be located across the road from their home. They burned down the year Melvin was born, in 1934.
Named Meadowbrook Farm, Melvin recalls hand milking cows in the barn built in 1900 and when the Rural Electric Administration (REA) brought in electric services in 1939. The Johnsons had tenant farmers who lived across the road where on the same land today, their son Kenneth and his wife Sharon raise their own family on the Butterfield/Johnson Meadowbrook farm.
Looking over an expansive vista that reaches to the horizon behind the red barn, Melvin pointed to a line of pine trees. “There’s an Indian mound there,” he said. “Years ago, people from the University wanted to dig it up. We said no.”
The Briggsville area was occupied by Native Americans for thousands of years. It’s all part of the history of the land where the Butterfields settled and five generations later, Melvin and Jeanette’s descendents are still connected to the earth that yielded their livelihood.
Melvin Johnson’s red, white, and blue barn quilt shines with his patriotic pride and sings of his heritage of hard working Americans building their lives on the land.