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Thompson, Oscar T. / Home town : some chapters in reminiscence
(May 1942)

Chapter 9,   pp. 15-16 PDF (607.4 KB)


Page 15

Chapter 9
No house was considered com-
plete unless it had a barn or stable
for the horse, cow, and pig. There
was also the very necessary ad-
junct-the outside toilet. People
nowadays who live in commodious
homes with modern bathrooms
can't appreciate too highly the
comforts they have compared with
the hardships of the outside toilets
in cold weather. Saturday nights
we children were given our baths
in a tub on the kitchen floor.
When I was about 10 years old
it was my job to do the chores. I
had to feed and water the horse,
the cow and the pig, clean out the
stable and milk the cow. After
milking in the morning "bossie"
was turned loose in the street to
wander around to find grass to eat.
All the west side cows usually
found their way to the open prai-
ries west of town where the graz-
ing was good.
In the evening some cows were
"good" and came home alone, but
some were not so thoughtful, so
we kids had to go out and hunt
"bossie" up and bring her home,
which at times was an exasperat-
ing job, as you could never tell just
exactly where she could be found.
This practice of letting the stock
roam the streets was abandoned
about 1870.
We boys also had to saw and
split the wood for the kitchen
range and pile it up in the wood-
shed. Nowadays, there is nothing
for boys to do except to ride bi-
cycles and go to the movies.
Along about 1869 John Bishopp,
living on Fourth street close to No.
2 school, imported a herd of Shet-
land ponies from Scotland. I was
told half of them died on the trip
over the ocean, but something like
30 or 40 of them arrived in Beloit.
We children found it very inter-
esting to go down to watch the
ponies. They were shaggy, little
animals, 30 to 36 inches high and, I
believe, quite gentle.
Mr. Bishopp developed the
breeding of the ponies into a big
business and sold them to circuses
and zoos all over the country, and
to rich people for their children to
ride and play with as pets. Later
on the herd was moved out into
the country.
The water works did not come to
Beloit until 1886. At the time of
putting in water works there was
a very strong sentiment for the
city to put in its own pumping
plant and water mains and to own
the works. But a number of our
influential citizens for various rea-
sons opposed this plan. There was
Cham Ingersoll, Editor of the Free
Press, William H. Wheeler, Charlie
Parker, C. B. Salmon, E. C. Allen,
C. D. Winslow and J. B. Peet. They
finally secured a franchise from
the city for 20 years to operate as
as a privately owned Water Works
Co.
The first electric light plant was
started by W. A. Knapp in 1887
and was located in Cross street. On
June 4, 1891 a franchise was grant-
ed to Wiley Warner & Company
whose plant was on Second street.
Later the Beloit Electric Company
was incorporated in 1898 by A. E.
Smith and E. G. Cowdery of Mil-
waukee and G. L. Cole of Beloit,
and acquired the properties of the
predecessor companies.
The Beloit Gas Light & Coke
Company was incorporated in
1855, but the plant was not built
till 1859. Joseph Hendley was
elected secretary and treasurer in
1860 and superintendent and re-
mained in charge of the plant until
his death October 10, 1899. In
those years gas was used for il-
luminating  purposes  only, in
streets, stores and a few resi-
dences. Because of the small out-
put it was expensive.
The old Brooks grist mill was
built before my time. It stood at
the east end of School st., now E.
Grand ave. It was operated by an
overshot water wheel in the rear
of the mill. The water was brought
from a dam farther up in the
Turtle Creek valley and was car-
ried down to the mill in a race
running around at the foot of the
high ground west of Hancock
Field The mill did custom grind-
ing. It was dismantled and torn
down 20 or 30 years ago.
From the Brooks mill the water
was carried down through another
race running along Race street,
now called Colby street, to the
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