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

Chapter V: Difficulties of early farming,   pp. 114-120 PDF (1.6 MB)

Page 115

of barrels of pork are annually imported from below on account
of a lack of farmers to supply the great demand for this article
from the mines." 62
  Some idea of the manner of making a home in the wilderness
may be gathered from the reminiscences of an old Rock county
pioneer: "During the summer of '37 I made a claim on the bank
of the Rock river three miles above Jefferson. In December fol-
lowing I took an ax, a ham of pork, and a blanket, walked down
to Jefferson, bought a few loaves of bread of E. G. Darling, also
borrowed a boat of him-went up to my claim to make the neces-
sary improvements to hold it until spring.
  "I worked upon my claim for four weeks, chopping trees, build-
ing fences, etc. Having made the necessary improvements on my
claim, I went back to Rock river to work until spring. During
the winter I picked enough cat-tails to make me a bed. Also
caught and salted a keg of fish, bought a yoke of oxen and pre-
pared to go onto my claim in the spring. In April, '38, I bor-
rowed the hind wheels of a wagon, put in a temporary tongue and
box, loaded up my shanty outfit, drove to Ft. Atkinson and crossed
the river on the ferry, thence to Jefferson; again ferried across,
cut my own road through the timber, three miles, and reached my
claim. The next day I took the wagon on the boat borrowed of
Mr. Darling and returned it to Bark river running the distance
of twenty miles, and returned to my farm the next day ready for
farming. I cleared about two acres, made a harrow with wooden
teeth, and planted the land with corn and potatoes. I paid four
dollars a bushel for seed corn to plant. The corn not coming up
the first time, I replanted June 3, paying sixpence an ear for the
seed. Raised a splendid crop of corn and potatoes. The nearest
grist mill was at Beloit and several Jefferson people carried their
corn there to grind. One of my neighbors, Mr. Britton, dug a
hole in an oak stump for a mortar and pounded his corn to supply
a large family. Having raised something to live on and having
built comfortable houses to live in, we all turned our attention to
building roads through the timber. A territorial road was opened
from Milwaukee to Madison by the United States Government in
1838 and '39-at this time I went to Milwaukee for a load of pro-
"Wfto*M  Buu rer, November 2, 1839.

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