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

Chapter III: The purchase of land from the government,   pp. 91-104 PDF (3.3 MB)

Page 92

degree than where their holdings were more or less interspersed
with actual home-seekers; but there seems to be no available testi-
mony on the subject. At all events, the entry-book shows num-
bers of whole sections side by side sold to one man in i836, while,
in later instances, equally large purchases are distributed over
perhaps a quarter of a town.
  By act of congress June 23, 1834, that part of Wisconsin east
and south of the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers was divided into two
land districts. The division line between them passed through
what is now Dane county, that part west of the line between
ranges eight and nine being in the Wisconsin land district, and
the portion east in the Green Bay district. The Green Bay
district was cut in two by act of June 15, I836, and the southern
part was called the Milwaukee district. A few pieces of land in
Dane countv had been entered at Green Bay previously to this
date, but with this exception the entries were made at Milwaukee
and at Mineral Point.
   The method of selling government land was the same as had
been followed almost from the beginning of public land sales,
although sonic very important modifications had been imposed by
the buvers themselves. The land was offered at auction to the
highest bidder, with the minimum price set at one dollar and a
quarter.s It rarely happened, however, that the bids were above
this minimum no matter how desirable the land or how numerous
and keen the bidders. The buyers soon came to see that such an
auction was an example of one-sided competition for as soon as
the dollar and a quarter bid was made, no matter how little they
had in common beyond the desire to buy at the cheapest figure,
they managed to cooperate with great success for securing this
result. That these organizations were wholly voluntary no one
pretends. Neither can it be supposed that all the bidders present
subscribed to the requirements for membership in the organiza-
tion, but circumstantial evidence is abundant to show that the
speculator rarely "volunteered" to over-bid the humble settler
who came with perhaps fifty dollars to pay for a forty, although
it would appear that any bid above the minimum would secure
him the land. The commissioner of the general land office at
  Washington in a circular letter dated April II, i836, complains
  17there was no "double minimum" land In Dane county.

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