This article was originally written by Carla Hunt and included in the program for The Sterling Affair, summer of 2005.
In the mid-1800s, Gottfried Schmeiser, a young carpenter, left Germany for the New World. After obtaining a land grant signed by Ulysses S. Grant, he headed west to "settle" his land. By 1868, he had built a lovely home, planted fields of wheat and an almond orchard, and married his neighbor, Sophia Oeste.
The Schmeiser Barn, 2002.
Gottfried and Sophia Schmeiser raised six children in the house that still stands on the property. Only one of the six children wanted to continue the family farm, and that child was a daughter! As unusual as it was at that time for a single woman to run a farm, Elmine Schmeiser did a bang-up job. Some Yolo County old-timers still remember feisty Elmine, who lived well into her eighties and ran the 160 acre Schmeiser Ranch.
When Elmine died, she willed the ranch and farmhouse not to her family, but to her neighbor, Doc Russell, whose ranch house is still visible just south of the Schmeiser Ranch. When Doc Russell passed on, he willed the land to UCD for agricultural research. The fields surrounding the homestead are owned by UCD, and leased to well-known Yolo County farmer Jack Meek.
For some time, the beautiful house and barns were rented out to students, and the homestead began a steady decline. The barn you are sitting in is the "new" barn, built in 1893. The "old" barn with its attached water cistern burned to the ground while the students rented the land. Fortunately, the home was saved. Soon after, Tosi Marceline and Phil Kitchens rented the homestead and started a family and a business here, the Three Palms Nursery, which is still in operation nearby, at Russell Boulevard and Road 95A.
For 20 years, Phil and Tosi loved the homestead and cared for it, making historically accurate renovations and maintaining the lovely home and barn. In 1996, the university put the house and nine surrounding acres up for sale. Charles and Carla Hunt (who, like the Schmeisers before them, have six children) bought the Schmeiser Ranch and continue to treasure it. This is a working barn, filled (in rainy weather) with horses, goats, sheep, barn cats, chickens, and 4-H kids.
But tonight, thanks to the efforts of many young and talented artists, the barn is your theater. The Hunts are very happy you could come tonight and share the amazing talent of these young people.
Enjoy the barn, and enjoy the show.