The second historic building obtained by the Ames Historical Society was the Bauge Log Home built of local materials by a Norwegian immigrant near Huxley in 1866. The home was given to the Society and Story County Conservation Board in 1988 at which time it was moved to a natural setting at McFarland Park northeast of Ames. Restoration was carried out between 1989 and 2001 by local craftsmen and Society volunteers. The home was used extensively for historical interpretation of the Norwegian pioneer heritage until its destruction by arson in 2004, and was especially appreciated by Story County fifth grade students.
These artifacts will serve to enhance year-round teaching of pioneer history as well as to memorialize the Bauge family. Once a permanent museum is obtained for the Ames Historical Collection, selected rooms from the log home will be replicated and furnished in a secure setting.
To obtain more information about the home or Norwegian pioneer heritage, contact Rollie and Willie Struss, curators for the original Bauge Log Home, at (515) 232-0865. The Strusses have researched the Bauge family extensively and conducted oral history with surviving family members. In order to see the area from which the Bauge family emigrated, the Strusses traveled to Norway in June of 2002 and visited the Bauge farm southeast of Bergen.
Nils and Synneva Bauge arrived with a large group of Norwegian immigrants to America in 1861. They hoped to find land in Illinois, but were disappointed when none was available. In 1866 they pushed on to Iowa and in southern Story County found rich land, excellent for farming at $5 an acre. The couple and their family, now numbering eight children, purchased 60 acres north of Huxley and built a log home. Outbuildings were built using materials at hand, and crops and animals were raised. The house was enlarged and the outside covered with siding.
In 1890, Nils passed away, and Synneva moved out so that their son, Lars, and his new wife, Anna (Fjelland), could move into the home in 1891. Lars and Anna had 15 children, 13 of which survived (seven boys and six girls). Because of the wide age range of the children, only about seven were living in the home at any one time. The family prospered as Lars farmed 80 acres, did carpentry work, and operated a sorghum mill, processing his own crops and those of his neighbors. The home was restored to the time period of Lars and Anna (1890 to 1910). Period furnishings include some objects original to the family.
1830s - Emigration “fever” starts in Norway
1846 - Iowa becomes a state; opens for settlement
1860 - Story County population is 4.051, including 625 Norwegians living in central Iowa
1861 - Nils & Synneva Bauge and their six children board a ship in Norway and journey seven weeks to reach “Amerika”
1866 - The Bauges move from Illinois to settle north of Huxley and build the log home
1870 - Almost 3,000 Norwegians live in central Iowa
1891 - Lars and Anna Bauge move into the log home and start their family
1900 - About 3,000 Norwegians live around Cambridge, Huxley, Kelley, Sheldahl and Slater; almost 9,000 live near Ellsworth, Jewell, McCallsburg, Radcliffe, Randall, Roland, Stanhope, Story City and Rosendal (now abandoned)
1956 - The last two Bauges move from the home
1988 - Avis and Everett Steensland donate the log home, located on their farm, to Ames Historical Society. In December, the home is moved to a natural setting near the restored prairie at Story County Conservation Board’s McFarland Park.
1989-2001 - Restoration of the home is carried out by local craftsmen and Ames Historical Society volunteers.
2001-2003 The home is open regular summer hours. Visitors number in the thousands.
2004 - On March 15th, the log home is burned to the ground by an arsonist. Fortunately, most of the antique furnishings survive in their customary winter storage quarters. To enhance the teaching of pioneer history year-around, the Board intends to include permanent and rotating exhibits of Bauge artifacts from the log home.