Family Farm Heritage

Honoring Centennial/Sesquicentennial Farms in DeKalb County

Pritchard Farms

Location: Pritchard Road, Maple Park
Township: Pierce, Sections 23 and 24
Original Date of Purchase: 1849
Current Owners: Pritchard families
Acres: 160

Farm History: David and Wilhelmina (Oover) Gerlach emigrated to Erie, Pennsylvania from Stuttgart, Germany in 1830. These pioneers and their eight children worked their way west across the country to Illinois. Among the places where they lived was Naperville where they met Gottleib Buerer, an emigrant from Baden-Baden, Germany. A romance developed between Gottleib and one of the Gerlach daughters, Henrietta, which led to their marriage in 1846. The two families continued moving west, finally settling in Pierce Township, 1849. They were among the earliest settlers in Pierce township.

Bob and Greg Pritchard

David Gerlach bought 160 acres in the northwest quarter of Section 24 of Pierce Township for $200. He built a colonial house in the center of the property while the Buerers eventually built a Dutch colonial house at the northwest corner of the section and farmed 120 acres. Gottleib, a trained architect, helped found/build North Central College in Naperville.

This Dutch Colonial house was built by Gottleib and Henrietta Buerer in 1850.

Following David’s passing in 1873 and Gottleib’s in 1874, the nine Buerer children helped their mother continue the farming operation. The youngest son, Will, eventually took over and in 1889 married Mary Riedelsperger. Will was killed in a farm accident in 1906 and his wife, Mary, continued to farm through severe troubles and hardships.

One of Mary’s five children, Erma, married Oliver Pritchard in 1916 and they moved to the farm north of Hinckley in 1918. The Pritchard’s raised Poland China hogs, chickens, horses, and Holstein dairy cattle. Oliver and Erma had four children but it was Earl who joined the farm operation after high school. Soon after he married Jeanne Dolder in 1942 they bought the adjoining farm to his parents, originally owned by David Gerlach.

The changing farmstead through the years: Will and Mary Buerer’s farmstead, 1906. Erma Pritchard and son Earl (and Jeanne) farmstead, 1972. The Pritchard Farm’s base today on Pritchard Road, north of Hinckley.

When Oliver died in 1959, Earl took over the crop and dairy farm for his mother and also raised beef and chickens. Earl and Jeanne had two sons, Don and Bob. When Earl died suddenly in 1972, Bob and his wife Mary ran the farm with his mother and grandmother. Bob and Mary had two sons, Matt and Greg. Greg returned after college to be the next generation of farmers.

The original Gerlach and Buerer farms are the current base of operation for Pritchard Farms and where Greg and Becky Pritchard live with their sons Mark and Scott. Their farm grows corn and soybeans and the eighth generation raises beef animals for 4-H projects.

Bob and Mary Pritchard’s family: (top row) Becky, Greg, Matt, Rowena (middle) Mary, Bob, (front) Greg’s children Mark and Scott, and Matt’s children Miriam and Jamie.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Centennial & Sesquicentennial Farms Program honors generations of farmers who have worked to maintain family farms for 100+ years. The DeKalb County Farm Bureau recognizes these local farms and families – the 11th in a series of features. To have your farm featured, contact the Farm Bureau.