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

Chapter V: Difficulties of early farming,   pp. 114-120 PDF (1.6 MB)

Page 117

market. All went well till on his way down the Wisconsin, afloat
with his entire stock of goods, the clumsy raft went to pieces in
the Baraboo rapids and was at once converted into worthless
driftwood. This would seem to be enough to cure the western
fever in almost any case, but not so this. time. He retraced his
steps to his native state, married a wife of equal pluck, and with a
few borrowed dollars again set out for Wisconsin and the claim
he had located, found it awaiting him, and he is still the owner
of it together with many contiguous acres. At the risk of wan-
dering a little from the subject we must follow this man a stage
or two farther. He served three years in a Wisconsin regiment
in the Civil War, homesteaded and preempted half or three quar-
ters of a section in Dakota when the first general rush to that
territory occured, and in I9oo, forty-nine years after his first visit
to Wisconsin, spent a summer in Cuba grubbing out brush and
planting fruit, and already has bearing bananas in the island.
This is a sample of the stuff that the genuine American pioneer
was made of.
  The importance of the little markets at the mines and pineries
was greatly overestimated. "For many years to come the sur-
plus produce of the settlers will find a ready and profitable market
at the Wisconsin pineries, Ft. Winnebago, and other points on the
river." 05
  Bv the time the first farmers were fairly settled and had suc-
ceeded in producing a little more plain food-stuff than was needed
for family use, the much-vaunted "home market" bubble had
burst. In the early '40's butter sold at the country stores as low
as five, or even three cents a pound. Wheat was worth from
thirty to fifty cents in Milwaukee and the cost of hauling it there
was equal to half or two-thirds of its value. Hogs although few,
as we now view it, were a drug on the market, and after being
dressed were often hauled forty or sixty miles to the pineries to be
bartered for shingles, and in many cases the load of meat would no
more than pay for a load of shingles."" Pork was quoted at two
and three cents, beef about the same, and even at these figures the
payment was seldom made in cash, there being almost no cash in
the country, and that little going for taxes and postage stamps.
  "Wiscomn Enquirer, November 14, 1840.
  *I stayed one rainy day the summer of 1901 In a house In Dane county
which still had shingles on the roof obtained In this way-it leaked.

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