On October 8th, at 12:00pm ParkLands Foundation visited a new 10-acre forest that was graciously donated to the organization from Barbara Schlosser and her husband Ike.
It was a beautiful autumn day as Ike shared with ParkLands some of the land’s historical highlights and his reasoning in gifting the land to the organization.
According to Ike, Mathias Elston Denman (Figure 1), and his wife Elizabeth Denman (Figure 2), along with their three children were the original owners of the forest.
Mathias was born in Licking County Ohio in 1820 and married Elizabth in 1842. They then moved to McLean County with their children in 1852, settling in Hudson with a 180 acre farm.
Figure 1. Mathius Elston Denman Figure 2. Elizabeth Denman
Ike recalls how Mathias was “obviously industrious, hard working, and a smart farmer” as he raised livestock and blacksmithed. Their family grew while in Hudson. Now with seven children the family moved to White Oak Township in 1867.
During his lifetime, Mathias accumulated 800 acres of land in Illinois and 300 acres in Iowa. 40 of those acres were in Woodford County, including the 10-acre property Ike and Barb Schlosser have now dedicated to the ParkLands Foundation.
To this day, a 330 acre farm just East of Carlock still remains in the Denman family. Mathias and Elizabeth Denman both passed away in 1901. However, they passed down their 10-acre forest land for the next five generations; starting from Daniel E. Denman all the way down to Barb and Ike Schlosser.
The Schlosser’s goal in handing down the land to ParkLands included honoring the long history of the Denman family by having it protected and preserved for many years to come. According to the Denman’s oral family history, Mathias may have kept the 10-acre forest to harvest firewood, but for the last 100-125 years it has been “largely undisturbed”.
Even though the Schlosser’s have been living in North Dakota for the last 42 years, they wanted to keep the land protected in some way. Their wishes lead Ike to contact the Nature Conservancy in Peoria, where they were then put in touch with ParkLands Foundation.
The more they read about ParkLands the more impressed they were. In particular, they appreciated the “broad perspective” in which ParkLands views the environment. For instance, they applauded how ParkLands strives to protect the entire Mackinaw River Landscape, including the prairie and woodlands and their connection to the river.
In addition, they were impressed with the “willingness of the Foundation to create a restrictive covenant” for the woodland ecosystem. In other words, they emphasized how much joy it would bring them to have the land, from the “the fungi in the soil to the birds at the top of the trees” be permanently protected.
The afternoon ended with the Schlosser’s extending their gratitude to ParkLands for the last time. As the Schlosser’s handed over their deed to the property through a Feoffment Ceremony, pieces of the lands soil and branches were also handed over to ParkLands, symbolizing the exchange. Lastly, Ike and Barb shook hands and took a photo with ParkLands Board President, Frank Sanders, and Dr. Angelo Capparella (Figure 3).