Mill Farm in Bogdaniec - Lubuskie Museum in Gorzow Wielkopolski

Mill Farm in Bogdaniec

Open-air museums in Western Territories are a very interesting issue. There are not many museums of this kind in that part of Poland, but those which do exist, show different material culture than the ones from central or eastern parts of the country. They concentrate on pre-war time and show everyday life of Germans settled in that region.

The whole area of the Prussian partition differed from two others in architectural styles. The half-timbered construction, the so-called Prussian wall, was very popular in that region. A few different construction types can be singled out like the Lower Silesia, the Kashubian, the Lubuskie, the Lusatian, the Sudetian, and the Wielkopolska. Construction was promoted by the Prussian authority to save on building material. Instead of using a lot of timber, people used clay, brick or clay blocks dried in the sun, the so-called peca. From the second half of the 19th century, in the area of the Prussian partition, burnt brick buildings were became more popular. However, this kind of building development was not so popular in the rest of Poland because of the costs. In the Museum of Rural Culture and Technology in Bogdaniec, in the Lubuskie Provice, we can see not only the half-timbered mill built in 1826 but also a small red brick farm building erected much later.

The history of the mill farm is closely related to the history of the village. Bogdaniec was founded in 1768, initially as German Dühringshof. At that time, the emperor Friederick II drafted 32 families of colonists, not only from the depths of Germany but also from the Polish lands, to drain the marshes on the Warta riverside. The specific direction of the village’s development was conditioned by the high groundwater level and the ice marginal valley of the Warta. The Bogdanka Stream was used to power three water mills built in the first half of the 19th century. One hundred and fifty years later, a museum was built in the Upper Mill.

This is how Ruth Henke, née Werk, a daughter of the last pre-war owner of the mill Richard Werk, recollects her childhood in the 1930s. ‘My childhood was wonderful. ... We used to play outside with other boys and girls from the village. ... Once the working day in the mill was finished, we used to go there to play, only with the father’s consent. The best for us was the time when we used a chain to pull each other up and by using the lid we got to the loft and back. Only when the father categorically told us not to play, we did not. ... The working day in the mill started between 7 and 8 a.m. Once a week flour was loaded onto a tilt horse cart. Then, it was transported to cooperatives in Gorzów, or loaded onto a barge on the Warta. It took one day to get to Gorzów. The rest of flour was bought by the local bakers. The inhabitants of the village also used to buy flour, bran, and feedstuffs. The farmers from Stanowice and the area around, arrived by horse carts filled with grain. Bags of grain were unloaded in front of the mill and down in the courtyard bags were filled with flour and bran. Payment took place later, sometimes also with a glass of wine.’

Despite the Werk Family leaving Bogdaniec in June 21 1945, the mill operated until the 1990s. Unfortunately, today it is not possible to restore it. All off the equipment and machines, which were used for grain processing such as mortars, quern-stones, barley peeler with sorting machine, buckwheat cleaning machine, and winnowing machine, are still inside the mill. In separate exhibitions we can see objects connected with bread baking such as kneading troughs, trenchers, bread shovels or the so-called pociosek (a long wooden stick ended with a vertical small board, used to clean the ashes from the stove). The interior of the living part of the mill was also reconstructed. Nowhere else but here, Richard Werk and his wife Elisabeth invited guests, and during Christmas Eve Ruth used to play the piano, and her brother the violin. Everyone got colourful plates full of gingerbreads.

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