History Comes Alive at DeYoung Natural Area
The Campbell-DeYoung Farmstead, with its two old barns, a variety of outbuildings, and Victorian home, is an iconic landmark that signals to the traveler that they have left Traverse City behind and have entered the rural Leelanau Peninsula. This large farmstead, with acreage on Cedar Lake and Cherry Bend Road, was acquired by the Leelanau in 2008 from Louis DeYoung. This parcel was an unusual acquisition for the Conservancy as it included several buildings built from 1870 to 1940. These building were jammed full of furniture, equipment, and family documents relating to the Campbell and DeYoung families. So, the Conservancy turned to Eastern Michigan University’s nationally-recognized Graduate Program in Historic Preservation to assist in documenting and preserving these buildings and their contents. This five-year partnership has taken EMU and the Leelanau Conservancy on quite a journey. We have learned how ordinary farmers were extraordinarily innovative as they eked out a living on the Leelanau Peninsula. As you explore these pages, we hope you will see, in some ways, how history on the Peninsula can come alive in the story of a single farmstead.
The Campbells and the DeYoungs cleared land and adapted it for farmstead use, planted some of the area’s earliest cherry trees and cultivated other crops important on the Peninsula, and utilized bodies of water big and small to ensure successful farming on the Peninsula.
From adopting new machinery to trying new ways of cultivating crops, from erecting new buildings to renovating old ones, and creating new machinery from old parts of cars, windmills, and discards —the Campbells and the DeYoungs adapted and renewed to ensure economic survival.
In the late 1800s, Frank Campbell, the son of the man who built this farmstead, diverted a small stream that could then be harnessed to push a water wheel that could then be used to run equipment, light small light bulbs, and run through metal pipes to provide drinking water for the farm animals.
Many people play a part in the survival of a farm and a community. Farm workers were an important part of the economy; neighbors assisted the DeYoungs when illness struck. And Louis DeYoung was a respected community leader.
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For the love of this place: Interpreting the Campbell-DeYoung Farmstead is made possible in part by a grant from Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities