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Holand, Hjalmar Rued, 1872-1963 / Wisconsin's Belgian community : an account of the early events in the Belgian settlement in northeastern Wisconsin with particular reference to the Belgians in Door County

Chapter III: How the Belgians obtained their lands,   pp. [35]-45 PDF (2.2 MB)

Page [35]

ORDINARILY when prospective settlers come to a new
district to take land, they make a careful inspection of the
topography, soil, drainage, etc., and then, sooner or later,
go to the land office to file their claims. But this procedure
was in most cases reversed by the Belgians who came in
1856. They first went to the land office and asked to be as-
signed some land in the general vicinity of the Belgian set-
tlement. Upon payment of the required charges the clerk
entered their names upon some forties of land in Door or
Kewaunee counties as the case might be. As they did not
know what kind of land they were getting, this was indeed
buying a pig in a poke, and they were therefore very curi-
ous to see the nature of the prize they had drawn.
    The principal reason for this unusual procedure was
the great influx of settlers who came in 1856. These im-
migrants knew nothing about American land surveys or
descriptions, and they came too fast to be taught. For this
reason each new group, guided by an earlier immigrant,
would tramp the seventy miles to Menasha and there get
the proper description of the lands allotted to them by the
land agent. Then they would return to Bay Settlement
and there await the convenience of a Mexican half-breed by
the name of Ricard to locate their lands for them. He was
a famous land cruiser, and usually the little group would
have to wait some days until he returned from one of his

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