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)
IIIBBARD-HISTORY OF AGRICULTURE IN DUANE COUNTY. 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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