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Somerset, Wisconsin: 125 pioneer families and Canadian connection: 125th year
(1990?)

[Rosalie Parnell's book on Somerset, Wisconsin],   pp. 11-64 PDF (24.6 MB)


Page 19

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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