The beautiful farmhouse ruin on our property has a long history dating back to the 1800s. The parcel was purchased from the federal government in 1836, and sometime before 1860 the original farmhouse was built using fieldstone from the property (left side of structure above).
The farmhouse became the home of one of the few female lightkeepers in the nation. The Port Washington lighthouse keeper, Bernard Schommer, passed away in 1859. His wife, Margarete continued to keep the light by moving her family into town and climbing the St Mary's hill several times a night to tend the light. She had eight children (7 living) and was pregnant with her 9th when Bernard passed away. A new lighthouse was completed in 1860, and Margarete and her family moved into the new structure where she gave birth to a daughter, the first baby born in the new lighthouse.
Margarete worked as the lightkeeper until August of 1861, when she married John Schneidish and moved into the newly expanded farmhouse on our property. The brick on the expansion is reported to come from the Guenther brickyard down the street in Port Washington. In the Schneidish house John and Margarete had three additional children, Francesca, John Jr., and Christoph. John Sr. fought in the Civil War as part of the Wisconsin 16th infantry, where he sustained a severe injury to his arm. Margarete used her knowledge and acumen of the harbor to keep the farm running during the war and get their wheat to the Port Washington shipping piers.
Margarete passed away in 1882, and John Sr passed away in 1888 when his wagon and horses struck a telegraph pole. Their son Christoph took over the farm, and kept it running as late as 1902.
Historical information courtesy of Port Washington Historical Society