Somerset, Wisconsin: 125 pioneer families and Canadian connection: 125th year
[Rosalie Parnell's book on Somerset, Wisconsin], pp. 11-64 PDF (24.6 MB)
preserve this magnificent masterpiece, for such it had become to so many folks. Three generations were born and raised therein. The new tile house was as close to this as possible, in fact when household goods and pieces of furniture were moved they were shoved through a door of the new one from the north upstairs window in the old house. Thus came to an end the existance of the first log house built in this locality. Mr. T. Parnell was of Irish descent and of course spoke the English language easily. (Most of the settlers were French and several did not even understand English). This proved very helpful as he and several others would go and meet the Indians offering them food, coins and tobacco or such and usually one of them seemed to understand English. After a while the Indians would move on but the fear remained. One of the Parent brothers had reserved his claim directly above their landing place above the cliff. So the question of building a place of worship arose. He donated a piece of his land for same and his brother Francois gave a piece for the burial grounds. On the high banks above the landing place by the river at the junction of the two rivers, Saint Croix and Apple Rivers, in the year of our Lord 1856 a quaint little log church was built by all and a bell was placed in the small belfry. This bell served three purposes, calling the faithful whenever a missionary had arrived in the neighborhood, in ease of forest fires (nothing but woods) and last, but not least, an enemy attack.. Before the church was built, services were held in the homes. A year or two after their arrival Mr. Parnell walked to Fort Snelling, Minnesota starting out in the wee hours of the day re- turning the next day with a small riding pony. This was the first in the area for many miles. Boys were more than pleased you may be sure. He purchased the pony from the U.S. Army Head- quarters stationed there. This proved very beneficial indeed to notify the faithfuls when some Father came over with his guides. Through the woods the messenger would go, up and down the rough trails, even crossing the river at "La Traverse" (The Ford or the Falls). By this time many settlers were living across the river and further on towards Osceola, Farmington, New Richmond, Wagon Landing and Hudson (then called Buena Vista). Also across the Saint Croix River to Dakota (meaning Stillwater,Minnesota) and to Houlton. The Fathers kept coming more and more often always staying over for a few days in order to give all the faithful possible the chance to fulfill their religious duties. Conse- quently most every home held open house just like one extra large family -- only too glad to offer their hospitality. Some came from many miles with an ox, or some had a team of oxen, the carts moving slowly and roughly. There were no roads at that time. They had to wind around trees or fallen trunks, huge rocks, crooked upheaved roots and what not but happily they were on their way. Their religion they really cherished.
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