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(journey icon)1843

A Winter's Journey from Milwaukee to Green Bay, 1843

by Increase Allen Lapham
from the Wisconsin Magazine of History   1925

Increase Lapham

Mrs. Lapham

On Monday, Feb. 20, A. D. 1843, very early in the morning I took leave of my wife and family, being duly supplied by her with overcoats, cloaks and furs sufficient for a winter exposure at the North Pole; and left Milwaukee for a jaunt to the north in my cutter drawn by my favorite horse "Adelaide." As I passed through the streets but few signs of life were to be seen, at least human life; for at this early hour only the most industrious and enterprising (like myself) had shaken off old Morpheus and commenced their daily occupations.

Soon after passing the corporation line the moisture in the atmosphere began to congeal and fall in the form of hard round drops of snow or hail, which upon striking against me left a kind of sting which can be compared only to the bite of a mosquito. These drops gradually became larger and less compact until we had a regular built snow storm and I found my umbrella a very useful article. I went a little out of my road to call on my friend Gen. Crawford, whose accomplished daughter intended to accompany me as far as Tacheeda (Home-on-the-Lake)....

On reaching the house I found that my expected companion had decided not to go, and I proceeded on my way through the falling snow and through the woods solitary and alone!

To a person of contemplative mind this is by far the most agreeable way of traveling. The mind then has free scope to wander at random or to pursue certain courses of thought, or even to remain without any thoughts at all as may best suit one's own inclination. We can then direct our thoughts to such objects as most particularly interest us without being disturbed and distracted by the observations and thoughts of others. I therefore endeavored to persuade myself that I was precisely one of that sort of persons and look upon it as fortunate that I was alone. Was this not philosophy?

By following some partially beaten tracks through the woods and by small clearings I soon gained the main road and set Adelaide going in earnest for Fond du Lac, the first town of much importance to be met with on this road. The quantity of saw logs, fire wood and other products of the forest and the farms brought down this road is such that a very smooth and hard track is made over which we glided swiftly and easily having only to be careful to avoid striking the stumps and logs that are very close to the road. I crossed the east branch of the Menomonee and passed a sleigh load of men, at the same time, all covered with snow which was falling.

At fifteen miles from Milwaukee I passed in sight of the saw mill at Menomonee Falls, an interesting little water fall, which I did not see and consequently will not describe. Abundance of excellent lime stone may be quarried here, some good as building material.

Made the next halt at Vaughn's, seventeen miles from town where there is a very copious spring of pure water. Such springs are common here. From this place the settlements began to be more scarce and the distance between houses to increase rapidly. All exhibit indubitable evidence of recent construction, indeed one year ago scarcely any improvement could have been found beyond this point.