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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 XIV,   pp. 796-832 PDF (18.9 MB)

Page 808

of this land is level, and some gently rolling. In a state of nature it was
generally covered with
scattering oaks of middling size, the river and some of the ravines being
fifinged with rich-appear-
ing yellow pines.   This ground for nearly a mile in length and half a mile
in breadth, was, in
the month of June, 1856, laid out in village lots, with two main streets,
one hundred feet
wide, corresponding with the principal points of the compass, crossing at
right angles half a mile
from the river, and all the other streets running parallel with these two,
eighty feet wide, and
dividing the whole plat into convenient squares and lots for residences and
      The first settler at this place was Alanson Holly, who arrived here
in November, 1855.
 He at once proceeded to the erection of' a dwelling-house, also of an office
wherein he was to
 print the Wisconsin Mirror.   "When we came here about the 20th of
November," writes Mr.
 Holly, " there was scarcely a beginning made in the woods at this point.
Part of the frame of
 our office, and part of the frame for a dwelling, were on the ground, that
was all. It was cold
 weather, and a dwelling for our family and a printing office were to be
prepared in time to open
 our press and materials, and issue the first number of the Mirror on the
1st day of January.
 By unavoidable delays this work of preparation was hardly commenced before
the 1st of Decem-
 ber. Then we had but four weeks to do all the work, of which time we needed
three weeks to
 open type, fit up the inside of the office, and set up and print the first
number. On the 22d of
 December, we had a dwelling so far prepared that we moved into it, and that
night the extreme
 cold weather commenced.  About this time the shingling of the office was
finished, and the
 '"boys " commenced opening type before the floor was completed,
and while the plastering was
 going on.  On the 25th, the plastering was finished and frozen solid, but
the office was still
 minus half the windows. In this situation, with the thermometer ranging
from ten to twenty-
 five degrees below zero, the compositors set up the type for the first paper--huddling
their stands
 around the stove, heating boards to stand upon, holding their fingers in
warm water every ten
 minutes to keep them limber, and working until 11 and 12 o'clock nights!
But the Wisconsin
 JMiirror made its appearance on the morning of January 1, 1856, and we submit
to those who
 saw it if its appearance wasn't respectable considering the circumstances?
And that was the way
 it was done."  As the editor well remarks, he was doing what was probably
never done in the
 United States before-printing a paper in the woods! Not a dwelling except
his own was within
 half a mile, and only one within a mile!
     On the afternoon on which the paper was to make its appearance, rather
an exciting and
pleasant affair transpired in the office.  A number of the friends of the
paper gathered in the
office to witness the operation of printing in the woods. Feeling sentimentally
inclined, before
the press was started, short speeches were made by Hon. S. H. Baker, of Dane
County, Jason
Weaver, of Ohio, Hon. Jonathan Bowman, Dr. Jenkins, Gen. Joseph Bailey, Dr.
Hooker, and
others, and it was proposed that the first copy struck from the press should
be sold at auction.
M. A. Holly, the editor's son, then struck off a copy, and G. F. Noble was
called upon to act as
auctioneer. The first bid received was from Mr. Bowman, who named $15, and
from that it ran
up rapidly to $40, $50, $60, and, finally, $65, and passed into the hands
of Mr. Weaver. The
second copy was then sold to Abram Vliet, for $10, and the third to Joseph
Bailey, for $5.
     As illustrative of life in the woods, and especially in this embryo
village, in the issue of the
Ilirror for February 5, 1856, the editor says: " We have just moved
into our new house, which
has been hastily prepared within the last few weeks. It is 20x25 feet, a
story and a half high,
bttened three-fourths of the way round; bricked below next to the outside
boarding; lathed on
a part of the partitions, and carpeted and blanketed on the rest; a hole
dug in the ground
10x14 feet, and 6 feet deep, for a cellar; some rough boards, some smooth
ones, and some dry-
goods boxes, for a buttery; beautiful frost curtains, and two stoves, smoking
hot all the time, to
keep the whole warm-no danger of burning the curtains though.  We rise early
in the morn-
ing-fly about awhile to make fires. Mrs. Holly and the girls bake pototoes
and pancakes,
which we eat for breakfast, and look out of the window at the quails for
meat; lug dry limbs on
our back for wood, because green oak don't burn good; girls washing dishes,
sweeping and mak-
ing beds ; boys working in the office; we snatching five minutes now and
then, between

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