University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Holand, Hjalmar Rued, 1872-1963 / Wisconsin's Belgian community : an account of the early events in the Belgian settlement in northeastern Wisconsin with particular reference to the Belgians in Door County

Chapter II: The Belgian pioneers of Door County,   pp. [17]-34 PDF (1.7 MB)

Page [17]

THE news of this pestilence did not reach Belgium for
some time, and meanwhile thousands of other people were
preparing to emigrate. Most of them were small cotters
living on the estate of big landowners, and, being in very
humble circumstances, they were not able to depart so
quickly. They made their living chiefly by working in the
harvest fields and by thrashing the grain.  For cutting,
binding and hauling in the grain of the landlord they got
every twentieth shock. Later they spent their time all fall
and half the winter in thrashing by hand with a flail. For
this they also received every twentieth bushel. Thus, for
working the greater part of the year, they received one-
tenth of the crop which was not much. To this was added
a few cents per day for time spent in plowing or doing other
work. How alluring then was this prospect of becoming
independent farm owners and keeping the whole crop for
themselves! To get a share in these riches across the sea
became the dominant desire of all who heard these wonder-
ful letters read.
    But to most of these laborers with their wretched little
incomes it was a most difficult undertaking to save enough
money to buy tickets for the family and also lay aside a little
surplus on which to live until they could earn a living in
the new world. Many of them found it quite impossible,

Go up to Top of Page