Small Towns: The craftsman from Mt. Morris

Over the course of his life, a Waushara County farmer has expanded his horizons far beyond his livestock and crops.
Published: Oct. 12, 2023 at 6:44 PM CDT
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WAUSHARA COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Over the course of his life, a Waushara County farmer has expanded his horizons far beyond his livestock and crops.

He became a supremely talented woodworker and craftsman using timber from his land.

This week in Small Towns, we travel to Mt. Morris to see the house that Sid built, and so much more.

When his dad bought a farm in Mt. Morris in 1954, Sid Auck had already developed a love for woodworking.

“When I was a kid, I built my little brother’s little buildings to play with,” recalls Sid.

Sid taught himself everything back then and that never changed.

“I never took shop or anything, I just learned it all on my own,” explains Sid.

Over the years, while running the dairy farm he took over from his dad, and training racehorses, Sid somehow found the time to really expand what he could do with his hands.

“Well, I built five houses, and I built several garages and decks for people, I just figured it out, when I built our first house, I bought a housebuilding book to see how to do it,” said Sid with a smile.

Four of Sid’s homes, including two he built for himself and his wife Carol, one for his daughter, and the other on property he owned in Tennessee, were all constructed from trees he cut and milled on his property.

His current home finished on Valentine’s Day 1999, is made entirely of white cedar inside and out.

“It took about a day and a half to get 100 boards, I’d run them all through the table saw once and all through the planer twice, and all through the shaper, a lot of them are tongue and groove, a lot of them are just lapped, but they all went through the shaper twice and it’d take about a day and a half to get them ready and it’d take a little over three-quarters of a day to put them up and then I’d start on another 100, I just loved doing it,” says Sid.

With his final home finished, Sid was on to his next challenge, and a walk downstairs revealed what he’s been up to since then.

“This is my idea of an 1800′s log cabin,” points out Sid.

Sid’s basement is filled with replicas, all with the finest detail.

“That had to take you a long time?” I ask.

“These replicas are like from 120-150 hours on each one,” says Sid.

Along with the log cabin, there’s a modern-day farm scene, the one-room schoolhouse he and his brothers attended, and the racehorse barn he used to own.

Sid also built a replica of the home he built in Tennessee.

“They’re just like real rooms, built the walls, just like a real house,” says Sid.

All the replicas are built to 1/32nd scale and constructed exactly how Sid built the real one.

“That’s why they took so long to build,” says Sid with a chuckle.

Our tour continues with a look at Sid’s Fort Atkinson. And again, he turned to his land.

“I cut 60 little white pines and peeled them, it took me like 50 hours just to get the trees ready,” explains Sid.

Grand champion ribbons hang on most of Sid’s replicas, which he won by entering the local county fair. His most recent creation is a tree house completed last year.

“See it’s all boarded up inside and it’s all sided with pine trees,” Sid proudly points out.

And just when we think we’ve seen it all, Sid has one more surprise on display in his loft. It’s a massive collection of John Deere toy tractors.

“This tractor and this tractor, they gave to me when I bought the new ones in 1972 and that was the first two I had,” says Sid, who now owns more than 500.

And as for all the trophies in the rooms, and there are dozens, they’re all from winning tractor pulls with another one of Sid’s pride and joys, his full-size antique John Deere’s he still farms with today.

From his tractors to his replicas to his home, Sid is proud of all of them, and he says without question the best part of all is when he gets to share them with visitors whenever they stop by.

“Everybody says, oh this is just beautiful, that’s what they say,” says Sid with a twinkle in his eye.

Next month Sid turns 83 and he figures he has more things he needs to make, the biggest challenge though, is coming up with something he hasn’t already built.