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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 IV: Pioneer experiences,   pp. [46]-57 PDF (2.2 MB)

Page 47

the steamer was stranded on a reef close to the shore. This
company had a large supply of potatoes with them for their
winter supplies and for seed. Melvin Haines whose father
had settled near there the year before tells of the Belgians
toting potatoes on their backs up through the woods for
    The brush shelters were no protection against the fall
rains. Moreover there were many bear, wolves and other
savage animals about, and many a choice piece of salt pork
was filched before the settlers learned how to protect them-
selves against these forest thieves. It was therefore neces-
sary to build log houses.
    It was close to Christmas time before all the settlers
had built their little loghouses, roofed over, some with
shingles and some with cedar bark. There were in most
cases no nails or other hardware in the construction of
these houses. The floor (when there was one) consisted
of split logs, the chairs were benches of split blocks, the beds
(most often two two-storied) consisted of balsam twigs
and leaves, and the trunks served as tables. The whip-saw
was necessary to rip a log into planks for a door, but hinges
were often made of leather strips or, still better, of knots
and crotches of limbs. Last to be built was the fireplace
and huge chimney built of field-stones, laboriously carried
together from far and near and laid up with clay. When
this was done and the first pan of salt pork was fried over
the fireplace within the house, they felt that they had a
home indeed.
    Now came the most important work of all, and that
was the clearing of land. Around them stood the dense
woods with huge trunks. There was no market for logs
at that time, and they had to be rolled together and burned

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