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The history of Columbia County, Wisconsin, containing an account of its settlement, growth, development and resources; an extensive and minute sketch of its cities, towns and villages--their improvements, industries, manufactories, churches, schools and societies; its war record, biographical sketches, portraits of prominent men and early settlers; the whole preceded by a history of Wisconsin, statistics of the state, and an abstract of its laws and constitution and of the constitution of the United States

Chapter XI,   pp. 665-697 PDF (18.3 MB)

Page 665

                                   CHOAPTER XI.
                                THE CITY OF COLUMBUS.
                                    FIRST SETTLEMENT.
     Elbert Dickason was the first settler upon territory within the boundary
limits of what is
now the city of Columbus; and this brave and stalwart old frontiersman first
sought this place
as his abode, in 1839. He came hither under an agreement with Lewis Ludington,
as the
purchaser from the latter of a considerable tract of land on time. Erecting
a small log cabin
upon the west side of the Crawfish River, not far from the present site of
the railroad depot,
Dickason next turned his attention to the work of damming the stream   and
building a mill.
He evidently came with the full determination of staying and making, this
his permanent home,
for he brought with him a herd of cattle, a number of horses and a few wagons,
with the necessary
employed help to care for them and aid him in the improvements he set out
to make. But, alas,
misfortune bore heavily upon him. He lost most of his stock by the severity
of the winter and
the scarcity of food. Dickason, after many fruitless efforts to fulfill his
part of the agreement
with Ludington, relinquished his claim to the broad acres of fertile soil
he had tamed from the
wilderness.  The saw-mill, which had been in successful operation for some
time, also became
the property of Ludington. Dickason received $200 in cash for his right and
title to every-
thing, and withdrew from the scenes of his greatest ambition comparatively
penniless. It is
said he spent nearly $10,000, all he had, of his own money in the enterprise.
     There are but few men now living who knew Dickason in those days and
witnessed his
triumphs and disasters. Alexander McDonald, now a resident of Portage, says
he was in the
Major's cabin about the last of May, 1839. The house was of logs, covered
with bark, and
had Indian bedsteads around the sides. It had no floor or fireplace, but
the fire was put
against the logs at one end of the house, which was all 'burnt out. Dickason,
Mr. McDonald
thinks, built it the year before. McDonald stayed all night. The Major was
absent, but his
brother, the "Colonel," as he was called, was at home, and 'two
Stroud boys, his nephews,
were also there. Mrs. Dickason had not moved out yet. They slept on the ground
up in Mackinaw blankets, with "smudges" around to keep off the
mosquitoes. With Mr.
McDonald were Daniel Hyer and Mr. Palmer, who came on from Madison-,they
having been
hired by Maj. Dickason t, get out timber for a saw-mill.   They built a temporary
across the Crawfish, from Dickason's house, and went to work, while McDonald
returned next
day to Madison with the ox team.
     Wayne B. Dye'r, now of Durand, Pepin Co., was one of the earlie3t settlers
in these parts.
He came to Wisconsin in August, 1843, and when he passed over the present
site of Columbus,
the log cabin of Maj. Dickason, on the Crawfish, and that of Hiram Allen,
not far from where
the mill now is, constituted the entire village of Columbus. Mr. Dyer relates
an incident in the
experience of Dickason which illustrates the trials he bore.  Once the "Major"
got out of hay
and was compelled to drive his -cattle over to the vicinity of Beaver Dam,
and chop down elm
arid basswood trees for them to feed or "browse" upon. This operation
was called "grubbing
it," and what is now known as Beaver Dam was then known as "1Grubbville."
 In that same
spring of 1843, the deer lay dead upon the Crawfish--starved to death, because
the deep'snow

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