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The Bley Family Farm

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These photos were taken on the James W. Bley farm about 1915, give-or-take a few years, possibly celebrating the confirmation of one of his children.  Two of his nephews, Henry John Glasnap and Albert E. Glassnap (sons of his Sister, Eliza Bley Glasnap) are in the above photo.  Henry is 3rd from the left and Albert is 5th from the left in the front row holding their prayer books.  Perhaps Eliza was there to help Mary Ann with all the preparations for the affair.  It was a big confirmation class.  The other children in the picture have not been identified.

The group gathered on the east side of the front lawn to have this picture taken.  The boys are all dressed in their “Sunday best” with their fresh floral boutonnieres, holding their confirmation candles.  The girls look so pure and sweet in their white dresses with their lovely confirmation veils and floral bouquets.  They are holding their rolled confirmation certificates.  It was a proud moment in their lives.  In the background of this shot, the stately, five-pillared front porch of the Bley farmhouse can easily be seen.  In this early photo, the extra columns on the sides of the porch gave it an almost majestic look.  This is probably what it looked like when John and Ellen Bley lived there.  On the next page, in a later photo of the same house, the look of the porch was changed when they put a new floor in.  They didn’t replace the side columns and they made a few other changes.

A Confirmation Celebration At The Bley Farm

The Bley Farmstead During the Late Twenties

This is the same home that John Hugo Bley built in Center Township, Outagamie County, Wisconsin.  The earlier confirmation pictures probably better show us what it looked like when he and Ellen lived there.  He died in late 1907, not too many years before those pictures were taken.  It underwent a number of changes through the years.  The side pillars were not put back up when they put a new floor on the porch.  They put up a drainage gutter along the front eave, which changed the look of the crown, and the steps were removed from the east side.  The many trees and shrubs surrounding the house are also gone in this picture.  These changes give the house a different look.  This photo was probably taken in the late nineteen-twenties, long after John Hugo’s death, but the farm stayed in the Bley family for three generations: from John Hugo Bley to James W. Bley to John Patrick Bley.  The old car parked at the back of the house appears to be of a late “twenties” vintage.  The house sat back from the road quite a distance, so they had a large front lawn to mow.  There were no power mowers in those days either, only the hand-push kind (unless they used the hay mower which would account for why they removed so many trees and shrubs).  The windmill shown in this picture was later replaced by a pump and the large front porch was later removed completely.  Times change and so do styles and circumstances.  In this photo, it looks more like a traditional, old-style farm house of that day.  As things continued to need repairs, it was probably just easier and simpler to remove the big porch than it was to repair or rebuild it. 

The Jim Bley family gathers at the farm for a picture.  Jim is probably in the center with the cap.  More architectural details in the left alcove of the house can be seen.  The decorative cornice motif across the left alcove is repeated in the screen door.