Since I was getting to Minnesota on a Sunday when there are no courthouses, libraries, museums, etc., open; I came prepared to visit properties I knew the Van Hoesens owned because of the records on the Bureau of Land Management site. Since finding the records there, I have obtained the homestead files from the National Archives.
I could show some photos of the countryside, but I'll probably save that for a photo album later. Robert C. Van Hoesen (my 3X-great grandfather) had taken out a homestead claim in Pipestone County, MN. His son Byron Wells Van Hoesen (not my ancestor) had taken the adjoining property for his homestead claim. They both proved up after their five years were up by 1885 or 6 or so. They moved to Rock County very near the Iowa border although right now my only evidence for that is that Byron Wells did get property there through GLO and my 3X great grandmother died in that township in 1889.
Here is the house that is on the property that was homesteaded by Robert C. Van Hoesen:
No one was home or answered the door. I was going to ask if they knew anything about the history of the house. Usually it's been obvious that the house was not original, or the property (for my other ancestors) has become a subdivision or an interstate. This was the first time I wondered if this might be the original house. I do have measurements from the homestead file, but not so that I could lay my hands on it while on the road. I doubted that this might be a house from the 1880s until later today I went to the Pioneer Village in Worthington. Those behind the Pioneer Village have collected many buildings and artifacts related to pioneer life. It is truly fascinating. Since Worthington was where the land office was located that my ancestors had to visit to put in their homestead claims, it seemed worth the trip to the neighboring Nobels County. They had a land office building. Some buildings are truly the buildings they claim to be (a town hall, a church, etc.), but the land office building is just an old building housing land office and surveyor artifacts.
There are lots of other very interesting buildings including three different house types. One house was that of James Green a pioneer in the area who homesteaded in the 1880s. Just at the same time as my ancestor. I thought the house very similar in style to the house on my ancestor's property.
There are a few little differences. When I went back to my ancestor's property later in the day hoping to catch the owners, I looked at the foundation more carefully. it was mostly covered with a foam board, but in one corner of the building, you could see the rotted wood that was very close to the ground and some bricks under it. The bricks had been added later, I'm sure. I left a note with contact information explaining why I wanted to talk to them.