The Sauer-Beckmann Farm house.
Making a living on a farm is hard enough these days. One gets the impression it couldn't have been any easier in the past when visiting the Sauer-Beckmann Farm on the grounds of the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park. Here a cluster of buildings functions as a living farm where volunteers in period costumes carry on their chores exactly as they would have done 100 years ago.
German immigrants Johann and Christine Sauer settled here in 1869. The Sauers undoubtedly knew the Johnson family across the river since Augusta Sauer Lindig was the midwife for LBJ's birth! The Beckmann family acquired the property in 1900 and eventually constructed most of the buildings seen here today. In 1966 Edna Beckmann Hightower sold the site to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
The barn was constructed in or around 1915.
The Victorian-style house porches was built by the Beckmann's after a bountiful cotton crop in 1915. The stone and log buildings next to it predate the Beckmann's and were built by the Sauer's as they built up the homestead in the 1800's.
Real meals are prepared just as they were 100 years ago with ingredients mostly grown and harvested at the farm.
Cheesy westerns and Little House on the Prairie re-runs do little to give one a real appreciation for the hard work and ingenuity displayed by pioneers and farmers long ago. Living farms attempt to show things the way they really were complete with sights, sounds and smells. Watch someone making cheese, feeding the chickens, preserving meat, shoeing a mule, milking cows, gathering eggs, churning butter or plowing the garden.
How did people stay cool during hot Texas summers before the advent of air conditioning? At a living farm one can get a tactile appreciation for dogtrots and wide porches. Without freezers or refrigerators, how does one preserve meats? Try storing them in vats of lard. Sound tough? It was but, with tenacity, pioneers and farmers persevered and prospered.
The Danz cabin predates the Sauer-Beckmann farm.
The bus tour that starts at the state park and visits the national park across the river also makes a stop at the farm. However, one can simply walk to the farm for free and have a good chance of avoiding any crowds when observing the ongoing activities.
Also nearby, within the boundaries of the park, are some historic structures on what was once the Danz family. The Danz cabin was built in 1860 and features a prominent dogtrot between the two halves of the structure. A second cabin was not part of the Danz homestead, but moved here in 1974 and placed on top of the stone cellar that is believed to have been the foundation for the Danz's first cabin.