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

Chapter IV: Selection of land,   pp. 105-113 PDF (2.2 MB)

Page 106

made by the speculators in i836 with a view to owning corner
lots in the law-making city. From the entry-book it is seen that
a small quantity of land was sold in i835. A Mr. Rowan en-
tered thirty-five acres on the east side of Lake Monona and
settled upon it, and several sections were bought the same year by
speculators. In i836 the land around the Four Lakes was taken,
each buyer hoping the capital would be located in his neighbor-
hood, or at any rate that a popular summer resort would grow up
on the lake shore, and thus contribute to his prosperity. A few
hundred acres along the Wisconsin River were taken by men, who
in their mental vision, saw a great commercial center near where
Prairie du Sac now stands. Mr. Brigham and others took land
near Blue Mounds in hopes of fortunes from digging lead. Thus
nothing can be predicated as to the sort of land chosen by the real
tiller of the soil until such purchasers began to arrive in 1839 or
'4o, and little can be known of the motives governing selection
after i854 because the unoccupied land was by that time very
   The difficulties in the way of definite results in this chapter can
hardly be exaggerated. In the first place the geological maps
are not scrupulously accurate and it cannot always be determined
from them whether a particular piece of land is hilly or level,
prairie or woods. In the next place there was often a variety of
considerations that resulted in a particular selection; perhaps it
was a choice between having neighbors or being isolated; per-
haps a choice between congenial neighbors and those with whom
even conversation was almost impossible. Nearness to a highway,
to a river thought to be navigable, even to places where it seemed
game would be abundant, turned the scale against odds which
would now seem of greater weight; but oftener than either or all
of these, the question of securing a convenient supply of wood
and water was the controlling influence. Again the settlers
"squatted" on the claims until they were compelled to enter them,
that is until the land came into the market, and thus the time of
entry may or may not show the order in which different claims
were taken.
  There were innumerable springs in the hilly districts and small
streams were numerous.45 It was possible to do without flour
"A large share of these are dry of late.

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