The historic house, at 9090 Riley Lake Road, is one of the last remaining log-built homes in Eden Prairie. Built in the 1860s and originally located along Pioneer Trail at Settlers Ridge, it was moved to the Riley-Jacques Farmstead in 2002 to save it from demolition.
The house has been meticulously restored and is used for educational and interpretive opportunities. The home interprets the life-ways of an Eden Prairie family during the early years of the twentieth century. The home includes a functional wood cooking stove, ice box and pitcher pump in the kitchen. No electric lights are found here, just kerosene fixtures.
One of the most unique features of the house is its hewn log construction. Log building technology was a craft skill that evolved in the northern European countries, central Europe's alpine areas, the Baltic region, and Russia. You can see the detailed construction inside the home.
THE GEISLER-RHYMER FAMILY
Around 1884, Prussian immigrant Francis Geisler was determined to establish his claim in the Riley Lake area. In order to do so, he needed to be over 21, declare his intention to become a citizen, and most importantly, erect a dwelling. Many settlers constructed a temporary structure for the first season, then retreated to a nearby town, which is what Francis may have done. But an 1855 map clearly showed that within a year he had tilled and cultivated a good-sized crop. On April 2, 1857, Francis made the day-long trip to the General Land Office in Minneapolis to claim his 130 acres.
In 1858, Francis was joined by his brother William, who began to farm the land just to the west. Within a few months Francis had married Elizabeth Fick, and William married Caroline Wittlieb. It is likely that during the 1860s, the families worked together to construct the log home- a two-story, 22' by 26' log house on a fieldstone foundation. The Geislers chopped down local trees and carefully hewed them into square logs with v-notch corners. Thick layers of chinking filled in the large gaps between the logs. Store-bought windows and clapboard siding were installed.
Francis and Elizabeth raised four children in the home. By 1870, the family produced spring wheat, rye, corn, oats, and barley, and raised swine, sheep, milk cows, and other cattle. Work on the edge of the frontier was non-stop, and family ties were critical. Five months after Francis died in 1871, Elizabeth married Henry Rhymer and raised two more children in the home. It was likely around this time that the 18' by 20' balloon frame kitchen was added. The family lived in the home until 1889.
John Mertz, who bought the property from the Geisler-Rhymer family, rented out the farmstead during this time.
In 1905, Herman Dorn ushered in nearly a century of ownership by his family. Initially, his daughter Annie Dorn Blume and her husband and two daughters lived in the home. In 1907, the house was transferred to another daughter, Elizabeth Dorn, and her new husband William Richard. Elizabeth gave birth to her daughter Irene in the house in 1910.
Like many others in the area, the Richard family raised crops, dairy cattle, and chickens to make their way. In 1925, a tornado tore across their farm, destroying the barn. Insurance paid for a new barn and new siding on the home. Throughout the Richard years, modest additions and updates were made to the house.
William Richard died in 1932, and Elizabeth remarried in 1935. After that, the farm was rented out to the Hennen family. Electricity was run to the house in 1939. In 1948, daughter Irene Richard and her husband Alex Dorenkemper and their young daughter Ginny returned to the home.
Irene and Alex Dorenkemper were proud of their family's legacy and lived there until their deaths. Alex in 1989 and Irene in 2000. In 2002, Dan Herbst, President of the Pemtom Land Company, moved the house to this location and restored it to its circa 1870s appearance.