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Hibbard, Benjamin Horace, 1870-1955 / The history of agriculture in Dane County, Wisconsin

Chapter III: The purchase of land from the government,   pp. 91-104 PDF (3.3 MB)

Page 98

mittee to carry guns and ropes and to indulge in remarks cal-
culated to stimulate the claim-jumper in his tendency toward a
speedy and amicable settlement. Very rarely did he resist rigor-
ously, but once in a while it required heroic measures to over-
balance his greed. The story is told of one "jumper" who re-
sisted, and addressed the committee in irreverent terms, daring
them to do him physical injury and threatening to bring the
strong arm of the law down violently upon their heads. The
committee exhausted their verbal arguments in vain, then putting
a rope around the waist of the culprit, led him to a pond, cut a
hole in the ice, and immersed him. He was soon drawn out,
but being still in a combative and profane frame of mind, was
treated to another ducking and on his second coming out was
unable to continue his side of the debate, so the negative was
declared closed, and after returning to the house the dripping
defender of that side set his signature to the papers and with
uplifted right hand swore that it was his "voluntary act and
deed."27  The squatter usually agreed to refund the money ad-
vanced by the "jumper," but custom allowed him to take his
time to it and no interest was paid.28
  Thus in true western style the Wisconsin farmers enforced
their own laws and fought their own battles. The justice who
presided at their trials and rendered their decisions may have
been lacking in knowledge of law, but he understood the men
and the times which he represented. He tried to do the right as
he saw it; he lived up to all the light he had, and having satis-
fied his contemporaries, history can not call him to account for his
methods or convict him for results obtained.
  It can readily be seen from the foregoing that the amount of
land sold and the amount actually settled during a given period
bear no definite relation one to the other, even when the amount
bought by speculators is known and considered.29 However, it
is of some consequence to note the sales before and after the
crash of 1837. The following table is for the state of Wisconsin
as it appears in the records of the land office:"°
  P7This Is partly told In the History of Doae Cousty, but I learned It from
old lady who lived near the scene, and was acquaInted with the circumistaeu.
   Letter from Mr. Robert Steele.
 nThe preemption law, of the few years preceding 1841 had much the
effect, though not so marked as that of 1841.
8eeate Docs., 26th Cong., 2d Sesalon, Vol. III., No. 61.

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