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Three generations of Loewens visit Adobe House

Staff writer

Ten descendants of the builder of the Pioneer Adobe House in Hillsboro met there Friday to tour the 143-year-old home.

It was built by Peter Loewen and his wife, Anna Wiebe Loewen, after they came to Kansas from Russia in 1876.

Albert Loewen, 93, of North Newton and Hulda Loewen, 91, of Hillsboro, Peter and Anna’s great-grandchildren, were the oldest descendents among the visitors. Their grandfather was one of 14 children.

Hulda said their parents took them to see the abandoned adobe house when they were teenagers and it was still on the farm southwest of Hillsboro.

Joe and Kathie Klassen came all the way from Herbert, Saskatchewan, on motorcycles to see the adobe house and visit with relatives. Joe’s grandmother was Peter and Anna’s ninth child. She married Cornelius Wohlgemuth and moved to Canada. Joe said Friday’s visit was their first trip to Hillsboro.

When Joe saw the kitchen, he turned to his wife and joked, “I don’t want to hear you complain about cupboard space again.”

Two of Albert’s three children, James and Lois, and Albert’s daughter-in-law, Kathy Loewen, were at the reunion. Kathy and her husband, Duane Loewen’s three children — teenagers Abby, Leah, and Sam — were the youngest family members present. They represented the sixth generation of Loewens in America.

A History

Peter Loewen was 39 and Anna was 34 when they came to America. They had had 10 children in Russia, and she was five-months pregnant when they arrived at their new home site in July 1876. By November, when their 11th child was born, they had built and moved into their new house. It had dirt floors and a thatched roof.

They made the adobe bricks themselves, using clay earth and straw. The mixture was placed into molds and allowed to dry in the sun.

The kitchen, in the center of the house, had an iron stove that was forged in Peabody. The kitchen was surrounded by a dining area, sitting room, girls’ bedroom, parent’s bedroom, and a work room that also served as a nursery. Walls next to the kitchen were made to hold and reflect heat.

The boys’ bedroom was the coldest room in the house. A pantry off the dining room had an entrance to a root cellar with stone steps and rock walls. Wall décor was composed mainly of framed Bible verses in German.

The Loewens came with a group of people, and many of them also built adobe houses. The Adobe House in Hillsboro is the only one of its kind to survive. It sat empty for years and was moved into Hillsboro in 1958. The walls were cut into sections and reassembled. The rock cellar also was reconstructed.

An attached barn had been torn off, but a similar barn was built onto the north side of the house after it was moved. It holds machinery and tools used in the early years.

The house is furnished with articles from that time period, but few pieces were actually owned by the Loewens.

Peter Loewen died in 1926 at age 89. He is buried in Hillsboro. Albert and Hulda Loewen grew up in the area.

The Klassens said they make one big trip a year on their motorcycles, and this was their trip of choice this year. They traveled 1,370 miles.

Last modified Aug. 14, 2019

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