By Jon Vrana
I can’t think of a better way to spend the day after Independence Day in Seward, Nebraska’s 4th of July city, that to head out to the farm. My family drove out to York for a visit to Wessels Living History Farm.
The farm has a house that is thought to be a Sears home dating back to the early 20th century. It was originally “in town,” but was moved out to the farm in recent years. It’s filled with beautiful furniture and assorted household items of the era, but more importantly, to a historian, it is filled with a number of stories. A young lady, attired in clothes of the period, spun stories as she played the crank up gramophone. Every detail reflected the early 20th century and its occupants – details like the assorted medicinal products to “cure one’s ills.”
I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to play music, first on the pump organ in the house and then on the beautiful pipe organ in the former Lutheran church on the property. I have a wonderful time speaking to the staff at Wellels, but the highlight of the day was talking a mixture of history and music with John. Responsible in large part for the beautiful sound that resonated from the pipes, John told me of his passion for getting young people to love music. The many stories he told of introducing youth to the beautiful of the organ and its music reminded me of the time that my Grandfather Vrana would play his concertina and then, one day, turned it over to me and said, “Now you play it, Jon.” I’ve been playing that instrument (and others) for many years now, thanks in large part to the love of music my grandfather instilled in me that day.
The farm visit wasn’t complete without walking through the tractor barn and seeing the animals. I would recommend that anyone that happens to live in or around Seward or York or visiting in the area, stop and visit the farm. I am sure that you will enjoy your visit and the opportunity to slow down a bit really refreshing from the fast pace of life.
Oh yes, I see in their information that July 15th will be Living History Days at the Wessels Farm. Going to have accordion players on the porch. If I was still going to be here at that time, you might have seen me up on the house porch on the farm, playing my concertina, and talking to visitors about life on the farm in southeastern Nebraska in the 1860s and 70s.