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Hibbard, Benjamin Horace, 1870-1955 / The history of agriculture in Dane County, Wisconsin

Chapter II: The movement of settlers to Wisconsin,   pp. 86-90 PDF (1.1 MB)

Page 88

ous instances of exchanges of western land for various pieces of
eastern property.
   Second, the failure in business of a large number of men in
the East turned attention to the West as a place in which to
start anew. The importance of this factor can hardly be over-
estimated. It was not men fond of the fringed hunting shirt, the
long rifle, and the general absence of civilization; not the class
who were anxious to escape from the restraints of old traditions
and customs, not to say laws, who turned their faces toward Wis-
consin during the few years following the panic of i837. The'
majority of the settlers who bought government land in Wiscon-
sin before i845, were from the farms and villages of New York
and New England. True, there were many Norwegians and Ger-
mans who came almost as early, but these were not yet citizens,
and so it may be said without qualification, that the people who
first organized the territory of Wisconsin, and for that matter
almost all of the counties within the state, were the sober New
York and New England people.
  Of this there is abundant proof. For example, in the town
of Roxbury, Dane county, the Germans have been entirely in the
majority, except for the first few years, and this is an important
exception. In the list of town officers for the first year or two
there is not a German name. The name Roxbury was given by
a New York man who had lived in a town of the same name in
his native state.12
  It is to these first organizers that credit is due for the vigorous
strides so early taken in establishing a public school system, the
equal. if not the superior, of that which they had known in the
eastern states. They were not afraid to vote taxes for im-
provements which were seen to be primarily needed for the
comfort and advancement of the new community. It may be
objected that these same institutions are also the work of for-
eigners; but when it is remembered that there were two main
classes of foreigners who came at that time, that they were set-
tled in communities by themselves, unable to read or understand
English, yet necessarily subject to our laws, it is hard to con-
12This is Mr. Jae. Steele, one of the oldest residents of the county, now
living In the town of Dane. It Is also of Interest to note that Roxbury,
York, Is in a district settled about a century ago by Massachusetts people
likewise bad brought the town name with them.

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