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Thompson, Oscar T. / Home town : some chapters in reminiscence
(May 1942)

Chapter 2,   pp. 4-6 PDF (915.0 KB)


Page 4

in Dane county, where he was
well received. I don't know how
he happ'ned to come to Beloit but
here he arrived in the summer of
1850, making the trip from White-
water to Beloit on foot.
He soon got work at his trade.
For a time he worked in a small
shop located where the May Booth
property now is, between the Bill
Tucker home and the Grinnell
building. The old Lee stone house
was at that time a school house
and the children used to come and
watch the sparks fly from the
anvil. Later he worked in a shop
which stood in the rear of the L.
C. Hyde house in West Grand ave-
nue, which I believe was later in-
corporated into the main building.
For several years he worked for
C. W. Munger, who ran a black-
smith and wagon shop at the cor-
ner of Pleasant street and St. Paul
ave. He roomed and boarded with
the Munger family and it was
there he acquired his ability to
speak the English language as per-
fectly as a native American. He
never spoke English with the pe-
culiar brogue or accent of the
Scandinavian. Later he went to
Rockford and got a job at the
Briggs & Enoch Plow Works,
where he acquired the art of mak-
ing American style steel plows.
In 1856 times were getting
"hard." The panic and depression
of 1857 was coming on and work
and money were scarce. He decid-
ed to take a trip back to the old
country to see his mother and oth-
er relatives. That winter he met
and courted my mother. They
were married May 13, 1857, and a
week later started for America on
their honeymoon. They went by
way of Hamburg, Germany, and
came over on a German boat, the
"Brusia." On reaching Beloit they
were met at the station by Charlie
Hansen and were invited to stay at
their house for a few days till they
could look around and get settled.
He and my mother started
housekeeping in rooms upstairs in
the Benjamin Brown homestead
which stood back in a yard at the
corner of State and Grand aves.,
where the McNeany store now is.
That had not yet become business
property. All this property is still
owned by the Brown family.
Later he bought some property
on Third st., where he established
his own business in 1860. This was
the nucleus of the business, which
later became the Thompson Plow
Works and which continued up to
1918. He bought a house three
blocks up on Third st., where most
of his family of children were
born.
The American way of life in the
sixties was somewhat more primi-
tive than it is now in our present
era of luxury, but we were com-
fortable and had plenty to eat.
Perhaps our home on Third st.,
may be taken as fairly typical of
the average homes of that period,
not of course including the homes
of the well-to-do people of that
time.
Our house consisted of eight
rooms, parlor, living room, five
bedrooms and kitchen, and in ad-
dition pantry and wood shed. The
rooms were not spacious but we
got along very nicely. The parlor
was opened only for company and
was nicely furnished. In the kit-
chen was a wood range, and wood
stoves heated the rest of the house
in cold weather.
Just outside the kitchen doors
was the well and pump, and at the
kitchen sink was the cistern pump.
No house in those days was with-
out a cistern. In the yard was
usually piled up three or four
cords of wood. Oak wood rated
$4.00 to $5.00 per cord, poplar at
$2.50 to $3.50.
Chapter 2
Father kept a nice vegetable
garden ard mother had a bed of
"sparagus"  which   she   prized
very highly. We also had currant
and raspberry bushes, two cherry
trees and a plum tree. We raised
some sweet corn, but bought our
potatoes, winter vegetables and
apples. We did not know any-
thing about vitamins in those
days, but had a varied and whole-
some diet.
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