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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 108

groves scattered about the prairies, and so much open land dis-
tributed through the woods that a great many settlers were
enabled to choose both woods and prairie, or other open land,
and have the advantages of wood and water without the dis-
advantages incident to a farm composed wholly of either wood-
land or prairie. No doubt this was the wisest choice possible,
and as nearly as may be learned from the old settlers, such a
choice was made mainly by the New England, New York, and
English people, while the Germans, Norwegians, and Irish pre-
ferred the woods.
  It will be remembered that a considerable part of the oak land
of Dane county consisted of "openings" and the choicest of this
was, indeed, desirable land; it was easily plowed, and especially
while winter wheat was the main dependence, yielded the best
returns; plenty of wood was found upon it, and yet the matter of
grubbing out stumps was not formidable. Hence those who much
preferred prairie to solid timber land still might take the "open-
ings" in preference to either.
  The Germans and Norwegians were not at all averse to hilly
land, perhaps because they were accustomed to hills at home.,"
The foreigners were almost without exception afraid of wind
storms and for this reason avoided the open. The first three
Norwegians to enter claims in the county chose them in the oak
land near the northeast corner of the town of Albion. However,
the Norwegians were keen in the choice of land as in other things;
they soon learned to take the oak openings in Preference to the
more thickly wooded land, while many of them settled on the
border of the prairie.50 It was the Ohio farmer who feared the
prairies least; he had seen something of them before and had
learned by experience the comparative ease of subduing such soil
in contrast to the slow and laborious task of ridding the land of
brush and stumps. "Wheeler prairie" and "Stoner prairie"
named in honor of the first settlers, both from Ohio; and "To-
bacco prairie" in Rock county was also settled by Ohio farmers.
In the north part of Dane county is "Dane prairie" much the
largest prairie within the county, covering an area equal in size to
  HZistory of Daoa Countiy, p. 562, article by H. A. Tenney.
  50From statements made by Professor J. Q. Emery of Albion, Wis., who
has been familiar with the Norwegians of Dane county almost from the first.

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