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6557 County Hwy T
Spring Green, WI, 53588
United States

Built in 1886 by, and for, the descendants of Richard and Mary Lloyd-Jones, Unity Chapel is a living testament to the simple and contemplative lives our ancestors created for themselves in the New World


Enos Lloyd-Jones

Enos, the youngest child, was born in Ixonia, Wisconsin, on August 5, 1853. By the time he was four years old, the family had moved to the River Farm near Spring Green, and by the time he was ten they had moved across the Wisconsin River to the Valley. He grew up as a farm boy and died as a farmer and farm manager . By the time he was old enough to notice, the family was relatively prosperous after the early harsh years at Ixonia, but rural prosperity in the final third of the 19th century was still a life of very hard work.

Enos went to a school of sorts in Spring Green. He was one 15 pupils in the beginner's class; there were 60 children in the school. His class "recited" four times a day, and the rest of time was spent waiting. There were few books, and the teacher was harsh. Spelling seems to have stuck in his memory, perhaps because sister Anna helped him, perhaps because the system of teaching emphasized the oddest elements of English spelling and that made it harder, or perhaps because he triumphed in a spelling bee. Despite the limitations of the school and perhaps because of the hopes of his father, Enos aspired to become a physician.

After the family had moved to the Valley, he and a neighbor boy went to the newly established Academy in Spring Green. A brother would take him in a wagon to the river where the boys would row across, or to New Helena, where they could walk across the railroad bridge, or (in the deep winter) to the edge of ice. The boys then stayed the week in town, eating mostly foods they brought with them from home. From the account of his eldest son, Chester, one imagines that it was much like an impoverished vocational school of our time, if that good.

Still it was good enough to prepare him for the trip to the University of Wisconsin in 1872. He had to stay to help his father harvest the crops, for his brothers had their own farms to care for, and thus he arrived after classes had started. The train was late, so he reached Madison late on a cold night. He persuaded the station agent to let him sleep in the locked and barely heated depot, but he was restless, so around daybreak, he crawled though a window and headed for the ramshackle campus. No one was up. Finally a man came to draw a bucket of water - that was plumbing - and Enos sought his aid. The man was an instructor, who brought him to the custodian, who in turn took him inside to his own quarters. Eventually the "Superintendent" came and took him to his bare room. Enos rented furniture and bedding and went to the store for food. His possessions were meager, so he didn't need much for furnishings. He was admitted to the preparatory department, for the Academy had not quite prepared him. His first term was devoted to arithmetic, algebra, and history. Only the latter was a problem. The second term included algebra, geography, and grammar. By the middle of the second term he had removed his deficiencies.

The academic victory was short lived. Financial reverses used up money that might have helped him stay in school, and anyway his labor was needed on the farm. The next six years were a problem. Although his brothers prospered, he had no capital. He considered moving to the Black Hills, where there was still government land, but his brother Jenkin talked him out of it. He took a business course in Janesville, and did well, but he was not enthusiastic about business. He worked in the general store in Arena, and he bought a share of his brother John's milling business, which was growing, but he didn't see that as a career for himself.

The good part of this period was being drawn into the family of Welsh descendants in Arena. Enos' widowed sister Margaret had married Thomas B. Jones of Arena in 1873. Tom, later known as Uncle Jones, had four children: one by his first wife, and three by his second wife, Margaret Morris. Margaret Lloyd Jones Evans had succeeded Margaret Morris. The oldest daughter of Margaret Morris was Eleanor, a lovely and energetic red head. She and Enos were married in 1879 and thus created the continuing riddle of family humor about sisters and mothers-in-law.

The couple honeymooned briefly in the Dells, called on Jenkin in Janesville, stopped at the Jones farm in Arena to pick up a horse and a heifer, and went on to the Valley to stay with John until they could get their own farm. Since there was no open land, they had to buy an established farm. They much wanted to stay in what had become a family compound. As it happened the Bernard farm across the road was available. It was twice as big as Richard's farm, well developed with buildings, crop lands, and woods. It was expensive, but after much discussion and Richard's help, they bought it and Enos was officially a farmer of his own land.

Eleanor turned the bright house into a gathering spot for the clan and, later, for children at Hillside. She organized picnics and games and taffy pulls and soap making and general sociability. She also was a stalwart in the Lend-a-Hand group of women who studied issues of the time and helped neighbors in need. "She did hard things the easy way and work to her was essential as laughter" said a nephew. She seems to have been a model of affirmation.

The eighties was a period of great growth and change in American farming, and Enos and his brother James were much a part of it. They were part of Farmer Institutes that encouraged rotation of crops and careful breeding of grains and animals. They enlisted support from people at the University, and both were later appointed Regents of the University with a special interest in support the school of agriculture. Enos had 40 Holstein cows and directed the operation of a cooperative cheese factory. He had the first silo in the area, and used the farm machinery that was augmenting human labor. The children worked on the farm, but with the help of machines. Perhaps the expansion was overly ambitious, for prices fell in the last decade of the century. The American born children had been optimistically expansionist and supportive of each other, so when James died suddenly in 1907, the size of obligations became apparent. Enos and Eleanor lost the farm and most of the equipment, although they still had the farmstead and some machines. In the thirties they moved to Lake Bluff to live with their oldest daughter, Agnes. Eleanor died in 1934, and Enos died in 1941, shortly after the death of his son Chester.

Enos outlived all of his siblings by a decade and a half. When in 1935/6 Chester wrote an account of Enos' life, "The Youngest Son," the others had been dead more than a decade, so although Chester's book is the best source of the details of the lives in Valley, it also is a product of fading or embellished memories as well as a few documents. Chester himself augmented the accounts with historical backgrounds for context, but even such scholarly care is not entirely free of the pre-conceptions of the era. Several of Richard's children made a point of saying that evening entertainment in the family often consisted of reading the Bible and story telling. The favorite stories were those of life in Wales and of the movement westward. Around the fireside, stories grow, and a child's memory is selective.

Given that disclaimer, consider some of the stories of life in Sauk and Iowa Counties. Life on the River Farm for a pre-teen was mostly routine. Feed the chickens, call the men for dinner, bring the cows in at dusk, watch the foresters' logs float down the river in the spring, note the change of the seasons. A special privilege was riding a horse in the team when brother John was plowing or cultivating.

On one occasion he went from the plow to visit a lumber drying business started by a brother and neighbor. Green boards from King's lumberyard (which had supplied the lumber for the River Farm house) was cured in a shed built for the purpose. When Enos arrived the shed seemed empty, but shavings had burst into flames. The youthful Enos tried to put out the fire, but air from the now open door sent blazes higher. The partner, who had been sleeping, awoke to rescue the boy and send him for help, but the business was a total loss. Another time he and John stopped after plowing in a nearby slough to cool off themselves and the horses. Enos was riding Kate, and she was so pleased with the cool water that she went on into the river, slipped, and dumped Enos under the water. John rushed to the rescue, and both were drenched and late for supper. Kate was a good companion, though. Once when Enos was watching the sheep, wolves attacked. The sheep panicked and ran, as did most of the horses. Enos himself was unable to raise an alarm, but Kate used her hooves to keep the wolves at bay, until the general noise brought adults to the scene. Three sheep were killed, but Kate and Enos survived.

Once the boy Enos was left alone at night while all of the others joined in a charivari for a newly married neighbor couple. The noisy party was prolonged, and the boy awoke with terror, searched house but found no one, and sought comfort in a neighbor’s house, also almost deserted. Fortunately, at that house some older people, who had left merry making to the young, were roused and took the boy in and put him to bed. When Richard's family returned, there was no boy to be found. Since a band of Indians had been camping nearby for a week, there were fears that Enos had been kidnapped, but before a posse could be organized, the boy was found. To be sure, the family had generally respected the Native Americans. When on one cold night Richard had found an Indian drunk and sleeping on the road, he brought the man home and left him in front of the fire. By morning the Indian had left, but a few weeks later Richard found a side of venison at his front door, a kind of thank you note.

Enos was fond of dogs, and in a memoir he wrote in his early 80s he biographized dogs he had known as a way of helping his grandchildren relate to the world of his own childhood. The first dog of his own was "Major," a companion when he watched sheep. During the winter Enos trained Major to pull a sled to bring wood from the woodpile. When in the spring he and Major went for the cows, they greeted Blackie, a favorite. Most of the herd simply followed the usual route home, but one occasion Blackie suddenly charged, knocking the boy down. There was a calf, and Enos was sure that Blackie has misunderstood Major's barking. Enos was not badly hurt, and Major and Blackie managed to get themselves back to the barn.

After the move to the Valley, when Richard was sowing grain by hand on the newly broken land, and James was following with Kate to harrow the seed into place, pigeons began to take the new planted seeds. Enos was bringing a jar of buttermilk for his father to drink, and he and Major were set to driving the birds away. Richard and James soon joined them, but the birds prevailed. Sowing was delayed until t he flock moved away. Major died after protecting James from the attack of a boar owned by the Bernards. The boar had a way of breaking through fences to get the grain. James on a three year old colt, Fleetfoot, tried to move the boar away, but the animal charged them, just missing James foot, although tearing his new denims. Fleetfoot departed and James cleared out, but Major kept trying. After a lengthy battle the boar won.

Quito was brother John's dog, and a faithful attendant at the mill. When John was dying over a long period, Quito lay by his bed occasionally licking his fingers. Enos was a frequent visitor in those last days. When John died on June 6, 1908, Quito left that farm and came to live with Enos. Although Aunt Nettie and Cousin Dick tried to get her to return, Quito remained a faithful companion to Enos.

Gwen, a collie, was the last dog and a favorite. She had been the dog of Cousin Grace, but when Grace died, Gwen adopted Enos. He was manager at Hillside, and Gwen would go with him on his rounds. On Sundays, however, Gwen knew that Enos would be going to church, and she did not think she wanted to go to church even when Enos urged her. She stopped at the corner of the yard. But she was a guard dog by temperament and would not allow strangers near the house. Especially peddlers. But she also was known to refuse to let houseguests into their bedrooms. She even brought in the cows on her own. When Eleanor and Enos went to Lake Bluff, they could not take Gwen. The first renters accepted her habits and they got along well. The second renters considered her merely a dog and kept her in a shed. When Enos came to visit, the dog was beside herself, but by then the time was short for them all. Gwen was buried with the other family dogs.