Bio: Ransom, Nathaniel Carpenter Ransom
Contact: Kent Marsden
Surnames: RANSOM COGGINS WAITE BALDWIN HEATH RILEY DONELSON
----Source: 1881 HISTORY OF NORTHERN WI, Chicago: The Western Historical Company, A. T. Andreas, Proprietor (grammar as is), Pg.. 252
NATHANIEL CARPENTER RANSOM, merchant, Unity, was born Otsego Co., NY, Nov. 27, 1832. His parents (John and Betsy Barber Ransom) moved to Cattaraugus County, where they were till 1845. N. C. attending school and working on the farm. He then went to Walworth County, and here worked at the carpenter and joiner's trade. Returning to his old home in New York, he went into the woods for Franklin Tape, and then came west to Walworth Co., Wisconsin, working for Edgar Topping and Judge Cotton, and then with the Bridge Construction Company at Dixon, Ill. Soon after this he married Miss Catherine Eliza Coggins, of Mt. Morris.
In 1854, he went into Waite Baldwin's saw-mill, at Farmington, then made reapers for Heath, Riley Donelson, and, in 1859, took a trip to Pike's Peak stopped in Kansas, and returned to Wisconsin, where he cleared and improved a farm. He enlisted, in 1863, in the quartermaster's department in 1864, in Co. H, 47th Wis. V. In 1865, he sold his farm, and tried another location but his wife not liking it, returned and took a farm next to the old one sold out in 1868, and went to Eau Claire in business in the firm of Powell, Ransom Bros., and was employed at different things till October, 1875, when he came to Unity, Clark Co. went into business with S. A. Cook at first, then into the business he now operates, also owning the Forest House. His children are: Harvey A. (deceased), Franklin O. (now on his farm in Nebraska), Lucy A. (deceased), Clara E., Arthur E. and Herbert Austin. Mr. R. is now Town Clerk of Unity, Justice of the Peace and County Commissioner of Poor.
Excerpts from The Diary of Nathaniel Carpenter Ransom
***Nathaniel Carpenter Ransom kept a diary for much of his life including much history of Unity, WI which was translated by Kent Mardsen.
My great, great, grandfather, on his father side, was born, lived and died in England. Of his children, there were four, three boys and one girl. The two oldest (boys) after coming to manhood, went to Wales. The youngest son after arriving to manhood started for America but was never heard of after. The daughter died when a young lady, (never married), my great grandfather was married in Wales and soon after came to America and settled in Connecticut, where my grandfather was born, being one of a family of twelve children. The most of his grandfather's brother's names he still remembers but, only one of the sisters, and not being able to tell them all as which was the oldest he omits the names. My father's name was Johnathan, born March 14th, 1786, my mother's maiden name was Betsy Barber, born February 11th, 1788. She was born in Connecticut but her parents were of Irish descent.
What year my father and mother were married I do not know as the old family bible with its record fell an heirloom to a sister. My father, and mother had a family of eleven children of which I am the youngest.
The oldest one was Lewis, born May 14th, A.D. 1810 and died a bachelor in the year 1863.
Levina, born, November 16th, 1811, died June 25th, 1815.
Nathan, born, September 3rd, 1815, died July 1st, 1817.
Jonathan, Jr., born August 31st, 1817, died June 11th, 1818.
Maranda, born April 6th, 1819, died November 27th, 1843.
Gernsha, born July 9th, 1821 died in June, 1876.
Harvey, born, August 19th, 1823.
Serena, born, March 16th, 1826.
James, born, October 28th, 1828, died, February 23rd 1830.
Anson Button, born, October 27th, 1830.
Nathaniel C., born, November 27th, 1832.
My father was a farmer, a large robust man; a great worker, and since my birth always had a good farm and home, but never wealthy, was always very hospitable and never let a person go away hungry. He experienced religion at 25 years of age and was an earnest Christian until his death, was a kind and loving father yet strict in discipline with his children. He lived with the author of this; the last nine years of his life; and died December 30th, 1871, aged 85 years, 9 months & 16 days. The author's mother died June 10th, 1840 of palsy leaving him motherless at the age of 8 years old.
Life in New York N. C. Ransom was born in the Town of Maryland, Otsego County, State of New York, 1832, in 1838 my father moved to the town of New Albion, Cattaraugus County, State of New York that being a wild, new, section of the state and father there bought 265 acres of land, and cleared up 85 acres of heavy timbered land making many hundreds of bushels of charcoal and when burning logheaps would save all the ashes, had his ashry and leached the ashes, and boiled the lye down to black salts. Sometimes would take the salts to the village 3/4 of a mile away and pearl them and take the salts or pearlash to Buffalo, N.Y. to sell them, 40 miles distant. Times were hard and every member of the family had to work early & late. No railroads or steamboats nearer than 40 miles. The school was 3/4 of a mile away and what time I could be spared I went to school. But summers, I being the youngest, while the older brothers and sisters worked with all diligence, I was allowed the privilege of keeping the crows and chipmunks off the corn field and where the corn was large enough to hoe, must ride the horses to plow among the hemlock roots often being jerked up on to the horse's neck, or withers when the shovel plow would catch on a root, and when too sore to ride, could walk ahead and lead the horse and lookout for toes when the horse got jerked back or mad when ten years old had to milk 4 cows, night and morning, those that milked the easiest. My father built a large, nice barn and had a spring brook running through the barn yard (until we moved to Wisconsin 1845, every blanket, comforter, quilt, sheets, pillow cases, table spreads, towels, thread and all the men & women's clothes, ropes, bedcords, clothes-lines, grain cradle, scyther snaths, rakes etc. etc. were of home manufacture.) Nearly every field had a nice spring in it.
In the year 1845, April 26th, my father having sold his farm, started with four loads of household goods and farming utensils for Wisconsin. The 4 team went to Buffalo and then we took passage on the old Empire steamer, it being the second trip it had made up the lakes. The deck was crowded full of horses tied to large cables or lines running across the boat and starting out in the evening, we boys, 3 of us, (Harvey just married before starting), Anson 2 years older than me, had to stay by the 3 horses until well out in the lake, and got so awful sea sick, we could not lay still by holding onto the planks, we were 8 days getting to Milwaukee, broke the shaft of the engine on St. Clair Flats & had to run back to St. Clair and mend it. Milwaukee was then a small village, only one ware house and West Water Street all a marsh. We then came to Concord, Jefferson County, Wisconsin, stayed a few weeks, then went to Lyonsdale, near Geneva, and lived until nearly harvesting. Father being disappointed like many others, expecting to find prairie and nice streams of water and just on the other side heavy timber. Not finding it thus; had resolved to move back to the State of New York, but having an old neighbor from the East at Sharon, Walworth County went and made him a visit, liked it better there, and moved to Sharon in July, 1845, rented a farm and all of us worked for his old friend Robert Young through harvest for one dollar per day for men, boys 50 cents a day. I bound 1/2 a cradle cut when not quite twelve years old.
That fall, not having work at home for all, father hired me out to a Mr. Bluet to drag on new breaking, or sod, with two yoke of oxen and (weight on the drag), wages one shilling a day. Was called at 4 o'clock in the morning to go one mile to the pasture of a neighbor in the brush and dew, and hunt and yoke the 2 yoke of oxen and get back to a 6 o'clock breakfast. Eat breakfast and drag until the oxen got too warm and lolled, then let them rest while I pulled the grubs and carried them off, thus dragged 20 acres three times over. I am sorry to say Mr. Bluet had no boys and was an Englishman, as I was part English. Well perhaps some boys have been more pleased to finish a job and get home. But I doubt it.
From that year father bought oxen and broke land every summer and bought a threshing machine and threshed all winter with horses; for the next six years in summer I had to drive breaking team (from 4 to 7 yoke) owing to the kind of breaking, and winters had to haul away the grain with 2 yoke of oxen while the other brothers run the threshing machine. To Racine market it was 53 miles and to Milwaukee sixty miles and no nearer market, and all merchandise & lumber to be hauled back for the villages; we hauled back for Delavan and the first two winters if a bag of wheat had fallen off I could not have got it on again. I remember once about 1846 or 1847, of starting with one yoke of oxen and 45 bushels of wheat. Got to Elkhorn 12 miles from home for dinner. At noon it began to snow and blow terribly, and as that was the winter of the deep snow. The first winter that they had any sleighing we had a long sleigh with cast steel shoes, the snow was then perhaps a foot deep and hundred of farmers hauling grain to market, the hotels were crowded all the winter; before night-it had drifted so that I could not keep the track. The wind was quartering in my face and 8 miles from Elkhorn to Spring Prairie, and no hotel between and but few houses. Toward night it turned very cold. The horse teams had all passed me long ago, and many a time I had to rub the snow & ice from the oxen's eyes, so that they could see. Would often get out of the beaten track on account of the drifts, not being able to tell where the track was, would sometimes get set, then stamp or tread a track back, and thus at nine o'clock at night got to the hotel nearly exhausted and frozen. Boys? This is no fiction but all realities, and while you enjoy good schools and scarcely any hardships, be thankful that you were not the son of a poor pioneer. But through it all I grew, was healthy and fat, and had as good a father and home as any boy that lived in those days.
In the spring of 1849 when I was in my 17th year, some neighbors of ours went up near Baraboo and bought government land and on their return father thinking they would not misrepresent matters bought a quarter section of one John J. Cooper, and paid him one hundred dollars cash, and sold him a nice span of two year old colts, and hired me to him for one year for $120. You may be sure I was proud to think I could get $120 while the going price for men was $100 a year. I put my whole soul to the task to earn my wages. I moved and laid up 80 rods of fence. (Beginning March 19th) plowed and put in 50 acres of small grain 15 acres of corn. The boss was badly afflicted with dropsy and only helped me part of one day dagging. For chores had a good horse team & 3 two year old colts to care for, 4 cows to milk & feed hogs to feed and wood to chop for the summer. After spring's crops were in, he built a barn, and hauling timber, stone, and lumber kept me out of mischief. Meanwhile father had been up to Baraboo to see the land purchased and stead out 40 acres for my brothers to go up & break. But found he had 100 acres of marsh & 60 acres of timber with a high ledge of rocks all the way between the marsh & timber. Well he came back and took me home and sued Mr. Cooper for damages and payments made. But the poor man died soon after, and being in debt, his property was all covered so that we lost it. So I went to breaking and hauling grain again each winter or spring.
I got a few weeks schooling until I was 15 years old. But there my schooling ended, except what I grasped as I could. When I was nineteen, my brother Harvey went to live on a farm in Farmington, Jefferson County; Wisconsin. Where he still lives and father broke up housekeeping and gave the most of his property to Harvey and lived with him for several years. I then hired out to one Harrison Koontz to learn the carpenter's & joiner's trade at $12 per month, I worked until the 3rd of July, and went to Richmond, Illinois to spend the 4th with an uncle Stephen Ransom and several cousins there.
Serena and George Washington Higbee
On my return home to Turtle Prairie, I found a letter from my sister Serena, who had married one George Washington Higbee, several years before. They had a nice 80 acres of burr oak openings in the Town of Porter, Rock County, Wisconsin. And were getting along nicely. But he had been on a visit to his father's and brother's & sister's in the town of New Albion, Cattarangus County, N.Y. had wrestled and jumped on the deck of the lake steamer. The day after he arrived home was prostrated with inflammatory rheumatism, or creeping palsy, the doctors did not know that it was, for sure, I was wanted there immediately, and I went 45 miles on foot the 7th of July and carried all my wardrobe on my back, got there at 9 o'clock at night very tired. It was a wet backwards season and I had my brother-in-law to care for and the corn and potatoes to cultivate and hoe. He was so bad off that about once a week for sometime a council of doctors would meet and at haying time his relatives there sold his farm and crops and, I then worked out by the day in haying and harvest near there and had to sit up with him 3 to 4 nights in a week, as my sister's health then was delicate. You may wonder how I could do it and work in harvest. I will tell you. He could not talk loud, but could just raise his hand and forearm to an upright position, and I tied a string to his hand and sat down in a boston rocker tied the other end to my thumb and slept. When he needed any thing he would jerk on the string until I waked up, thus time passed until September when as fate favors the poor they were given a little daughter; and in October by advise of the doctors I went to the State of New York with them to doctor, where his folks lived, who were tolerably well off. There I cut stove wood for his brother for 25 cents a cord from large maples that had blown over and buried in 3 feet of snow, and tended 1 span of horses and 20 cows for my board, thus I cut 26 cords, and with the money earned I bought my sister a barrel of flour and had 21 left.
Their money being all gone; I then went in company with 3 other young men and cut railroad wood 4 feet long from scaff to point got 50 cents per cord, for Jacob Smith. We lived in a log shanty and boarded ourselves. We each took our turn at cooking. We would have our breakfast ate by daylight and then chop until 11:30 when one would go in and get dinner and call the others, eat and then chop until dusk, this we chopped until March 15th, averaging 12 and a half cords per day, or 3 cord each. And we were happy jolly boys.
Time sped swiftly on, in March, 1852, I hired to messrs Franklin and tape to work at the carpenter & joiner's trade at $13 per month for six months. We scored and hewed 4,388 feet of square timber first, for the several jobs they had taken. They also had hired one of the young men that chopped wood with me, his name was Jacob Phillips. At that time there was no plaining or matching machines, and boring machines were just invented. They got one that raised the angur with a strap & spool. During the summer we built a barn for Nathan Payne 30 × 40 feet. A house for Widow Pierce, a house for William Hall, a barn for William Pepperdine, a house for Sweden Worden, and a school house & seminary at Cattarangers Station on the New York & Erie Railroad. While building the seminary they also hired a Henry Luce, and a splendid architect and builder from New Albion. I think his name was Hiram Blakesley. Of him I gathered much knowledge of styles, proportions, and drafting I gave him $15 dollars to teach me what time he could mornings, noons & evenings. I also read all the works I could find on building, and being bound to get all the knowledge possible read a great deal for many years afterwards. Of Mr. Blakesley, I bought a tool chest and a journeyman's kit of tools for $35 having passed a pleasant year near my former house and a profitable one in improvement of mind and trade.
Back to Wisconsin and Illinois
I bade them goodbye and started for Wisconsin October 4th, 1852. During my absence the first railroad was constructed in Wisconsin, in 1851. My brother next older than me had been married. To a worthy young lady Mary Jane Graves and lived near Sharow. After visiting my old friends a few days I went to work finishing off the upper rooms of a nice house just being built for Edgar Topping, at 75 cents a day. Then built him a stable for my first balloon frame. I then worked for John D. Briggs on Widow Allen's house one week. I then hired out 1/2 a month to Judge George Cotton on a farm to gather his corn in the snow, bank his house & mulch his shrubs at $10 a month. While he sat as county judge of the court at Elkhorn. November 27th I was done with my 1/2 month, and although the judge offered me better wages and wanted me to stay with him, I had heard of a railroad being built (the Illinois Central), from Chicago though Dixon.
So I started in company with one O'Connor who was going there with a team to work on the railroad. I took my tool chest with tools & clothing and after a 5 days drive, over very muddy roads arrived at Dixon, Illinois. Hired out to my Douglas railroad builder a few days to haul stone on the yard for stone cutters and help in the stone quarry at $1.00 a day. Boarded at C. Cokely's railroad shanty. Then made the acquaintance of Charles Edson. Hired to him to work at carpenters trade at $15 a month during winter. We built the first bakery for Mr. Hatch a bowling alley. Also the first one in Dixon and built a dwelling house for Mr. Garrison. Got out some timber for the dam across Rock River there. Went to John Burket's 41/2 miles northeast and finished off a barn. Then he (Mr. Edson) took me out to his place 4 miles from Dixon to finish off his hall, put up banister stairs and finish off the chamber. Just as I had it completed, I was taken sick with lung fever and was very sick 3 weeks. Dr. Gardner attended me. when I got well I hired out to Mr. Edson for the summer at $20 a month to begin. After I should make my father in Wisconsin a visit. He was going to Rockford with team and crew of men; 40 miles north to run a raft of lumber and shingles down for jobs he was to build. So I went with them that far on my road home. And although only 20 years old. Mr. Edson prevailed on me to take charge of rafting in the lumber & running it to Dixon & part of it to Gap Grove farther down. Which I did satisfactorily, passing over Rockford railroad dam 8 feet fall the first raft that ever run over it, over Oregon Dam, Daysville, Grand Delour, & Dixon dams. And he gave me the use of a horse to go home afterwards. Made a pleasant trip and visit home, went back and began my summer's work. To my surprise when I return, Edson had hired 8 men and concluded to run two crews to building and gave me charge of 4 men, all older at the business, I there made the acquaintance of my partner for life, Miss Catharine Olivia Coggins. Who had just finished her education at the Mt. Morris Seminary. The summer passed away very pleasantly. We built among other buildings a stock barn for a Mr. King of New York who had bought a large farm near Gap Grove. The barn was 45 by 100 feet, 20 foot posts, timber all counterhewed, mostly maple timber with feed room below for boiling feed: cost $1,645 by job. In May, past by urging request of a brother-in-law Lorain B. Smith, I let him have one hundred dollars to be paid by Edson, and taken from my summer's wages, with the understanding, at first, that Edson was to furnish $50 & I got $50 and Smith's wife & child (the youngest) of 5 to make her home at Edson's, Smith to put out the other four, and go to California and come back in 3 years and give us 1/2 of what he made. But when he was ready to go Mr. Edson had the money but had concluded best not to have any venture in it. So I paid it all, and Smith went and stayed over winter in Salt Lake. Returned in 21/2 years almost penniless. His children & wife were out of places soon after he went away, so I had to care for them over two years.
On November 11th, 1853 married to my present wife, Catharine O. Coggins. Moved into Dixon and for the next year worked for Legrand Wynkoop, architect & builder. We built new fronts in the court house, finished the Nachusa Hotel, built Exchange Bank, and finished a stone mansion for Esquire Noble. Built graveyard family fences, framed the frame over which the 3 street arches were laid to bear up 200 tons of mason work before the key stones were put in etc.. October 17th, 1854 a son was born to us, Harvey Rudolpho Ransom, but died November 9th, 1854, only living about 3 weeks.
In December, 1854 we moved to Farmington, Jefferson County, Wisconsin. Where my brother Harvey and my father lived. Moved all of Smith family along. Had only $7.50 left when we got there. Moved into a part of my brother's house and as Wait & Baldwin had just got in a steam saw mill 2 miles north from us, I got work there putting up bedstead machinery, horizontal boring machine, making broom handle lathe, etc., at one dollar a day. Walked to & from work, morning & evening, 3/4 of a mile through a dense forest with no road. Sometimes when very dark would have to use all my powers to keep from getting lost having no lantern. In the spring of 1855 I got out the timber and put up a barn and house for my brother at $1.00 a day. Barn 32 by 46 feet and house 18 by 24 feet to which he has since added 18 by 30 feet. Both building still being in a good state of preservation and good for many years to come. I then moved to Heath's Mills on Bark River 8 miles away where Heath, Reiley & Dousman had started a reaper factory. Here I built a house so that we could live in it through the summer. I worked on reapers until harvest then repaired saw mill, water wheels & put in a new flume, and just as I was ready to finish off our house, I was taken with ague in August.
And soon it got too chilly at night to live in such an open house, and hoping to soon get cured I tried in turn 4 different doctors, each assuring me that he could cure me in a few days. But what we should have done, only for my brother Harvey's kindness, I do not know. He came and moved us up to his home and October 12th, 1855 our second son was born, Franklin Odel Ransom, and me sick a bed yet with ague and not worth a dollar to bless us. Dr. Hinsworth of Rome then told me he would cure me in two weeks and charge me only $1.00 so he gave me a large dose of what I afterwards learned was calomel, he thought by salivating me he could break up the disease but it did not & after lying in bed two weeks with as bad a mouth as any man need have; gums black as a boot; teeth all loose, and saturating a bed sheet every hour, with drool but getting a little better when a watcher through mistake gave me a large table spoonful of strong solution of sugar of lead to swallow, which was to be used to rinse my mouth with & spit out. As soon as I had swallowed it I knew it was the wrong wash. My brother was wakened, he mounted a splendid horse of his, and run him to Rome 4 miles, waked the doctor saddled his horse while he was dressing & told him to run him there as soon as he could, and 45 minutes from the time my brother left the doctor was there. The good sister-in-law had given me all the sweet milk in the house and but for that, the doctor said he would have been too late to save my life. Then I had a relapse of a few weeks. I had the ague every other day at first now every day. And afterwards twice a day. Waking in the morning with a shake then the fever would come on, and about 4 o'clock in the afternoon another chill & the fever again and out of my head the last closing scene of the day. My wife & infant lying in the same bed and not able to care for herself. When I got a little better as cold weather came on I had my brother move us in his old log house so that they would have more room. And as we could, we husked corn & dug potatoes on shares. Well New Years came just the same, and five couple of my acquaintances were going to tend a house warming at Isaac Frank 8 miles away so they drove up & nothing would do but for us to go. So we bundled in making the 6th couple, & when we got there a ticket was handed me, and dance Imust. When the set would be finished I would be as wet as sweat could make me and tired out. Then I would crawl in behind the stove & wrap up in buffalo robes, and Mrs. Frank would bring me strong hot tea. And so we kept on until nearly morning. When we started for home I told them that would be the last of me. It was so cold and I so wet with sweat but brother spread a new robe in the sleigh & I laid down with my head to the front & rolled over & over and wound up in the robe. Well I never had another shake, I sweat it out so I must say dancing saved me, (that time). Well when I stopped shaking, I felt as though I had a new lease of life. But owed the doctor, as per his bill $24, and Harvey & wife $28 and a lifetime's gratitude. But I went to work and chopped from that until spring 51/2 acres of heavy timber for him for $5 an acre and boarded myself.
The next spring, April, 1856, we moved back to Heath's Mill. Our old house was gone to pay debts. I built another on a lot purchased of Mr. Heath & lumber furnished by him from his mill, and worked at making reapers again until fall. Then worked some at building. Then got out the woodwork for 200 reapers in the winter & spring. When the company moved their reaper shop to Palmyra, 8 miles south on the line of railroad. The wages 12/ a day would hardly do me to hire my board away from home. So I worked at my trade until harvest, when Myron Smith and myself took jobs of cutting and binding 16 acres of rye for N. Hattimer, 28 acres of winter wheat for William Moore, and 76 acres of spring wheat and oats for Mr. Blueit at $1.371/2 an acre and boarded. All this we done with our two cradles, and three men to bind after us. In the month of December, 8th day, 1856 our first daughter was born, it being the December before the summer past mentioned, who we named Lucy Ann. The September following I took William Higbee's farm to work on shares and he to furnish team, tool, seed, & house and give me one third in half bushel & of the hay. I got in a nice piece of rye, and one of winter wheat. But his brother coming back from California and his boys coming home, he bought me out. I went to Farmington again. Built a nice granary for my brother and moved into it. 1857 & 1858 Now being out of debt and just a cow, and a colt coming two years old ahead. During the winter I finished off a house inside for Fredrick Baker and took a yoke of steers coming three year 5 old for pay. (Perhaps you may think we moved quite often, well we had to go where I could get work, and then we could move our all; at one load; while now & of late it takes 4 to 6 loads.) In the spring of 1858 I took a piece of land to clear off for my brother for the crop it being to repay him for his kindness to us, and we had a nice patch of potatoes, corn, and turnips. I also put in some wheat on a widow baker's land, done my work with my 3 year old steers. When crops were in I got a job helping to build a nice school house in our district, 24 by 36 feet & 13 foot posts. I got $1.25 a day and board myself, after harvest I traded my steers & colt for a good span of mares & harness, with one Manira Scott, was to give $150 to boot in money when threshing was over. I then went in with brother Harvey, as he owned 1/2 of a threshing machine. I bought out his partner Thomas Baker was to do his threshing and build him a barn 30 by 40 the next spring for his 1/2 of the machine. We had a good fall, I paid up for my team and made a living.
In the winter we borrowed my brother's wagon and went to Mt. Morris, & Dixon, Illinois on a visit to my wife's folks. During the summer past there had been small pox in the township and the town supervisors to prevent it spreading employed Dr. Fellows to vaccinate every family in the town for $70. We among the rest were vaccinated but it only worked in the arm of Lucy Ann. It proved to be impure vaccine and she had scrofula, or running sores, on her neck that frightened us. While at Dixon we went to see a spiritual medium one that was making many remarkable cures. She went into a trance and personated an old Quaker doctor. She thus described the disease, delineated the cause and prescribed the remedy, while a friend of ours wrote it down. We purchased the remedies, two bottles, one to apply & one to take internally, paid $3.00 for it and $1.00 to the medium Mrs. Veoper, and it cured the child. (So much is true of spiritualism.)
While visiting at Mt. Morris I made an engagement to go to Pike's Peak, with Rodney Burnett. (Whose wife was a sister of my wife.) I sold him my team & harness for two hundred dollars, and took of him, a blind horse, at $50 and was to allow him one hundred dollars for my passage to the peak, and board while going, so I came home, hewed the timber, and built the barn for Thomas Baker, to pay for my 1/2 of the threshing machine. The 26th, day of March, 1859, I started with a two-wheeled rig and partial kit of tools, leaving my wife and two little children in a house a few rods from my brother's. My father then living with him. They had but a small supply of money, and a cow, and a hog. I thought by going to the Golden Region I could get a fortune, by a few years hard labor, as the papers gave such glowing accounts of Pike's Peak, and thousands were going. After a lonely muddy trip I reached Mt. Morris, where I had to help rig up the wagon, and covers for the horses and wagon.
It being a wet muddy spring, we did not start from there until April 18th. Our company consisted of four wagons, as follows, a four horse team George Swingley, John Bear, Daniel Hibarger, and a young man from Germany, a 2 horse team, Willard Pond, George Geiger, and Thomas Coggins, a 3 horse team, with David Randall, Jesse Randall Everet Randall and Judson Higby. A three horse team with Rodney Burnett, William and George Stewart, and your humble servant. The first day we camped near Polo, then as we journeyed on, passed through Sterling, and Prophetstown, in Whiteside County, Illinois. Then through Green River, Genneseeo, Portland, Cambridge, Andover, Woodhull, in Henry County, roads very muddy. Then through Oxford, Bridger's Corners, passed North Henderson Creek in Warren County, Illinois. Saw a mammoth basswood tree 23 1/2 feet in circumference. Then passed through Monmouth, to Oakwaukee, crossed on steam ferry down the Mississippi River to Burlington, Iowa. Intending to pass through Iowa, but grain being dear, and roads muddy, we shipped on the William Ewingsteamer, to St. Louis, passed La Grange, Quincy, Hannibal, Louisanna, Clarkville and Alton, arrived at St. Louis April 28th 1859. Bought Pike's Peak supplies, and took passage on the Daved Taturn for St. Joseph on the Missouri River. The boat was an independent boat not of the regular line but came from the lower Mississippi to engage in the Pike's Peak trade, and when we left St. Louis had on 1,400 tons of freight, including 42 Pike's Peak wagons. Mostly new ones which were taken to pieces, but our 4 wagons were hoisted up on hurricane deck, where we cooked & ate & slept in our covered wagons. Were 8 days getting to St. Joseph, the water was high and logs and flood wood running down to meet us. Sometimes we had to run over whole trees if they were crossways of the river so they would not snag the boat, we took our first meal (breakfast) in a house, that we had taken since we started from Mt. Morris. It was raining very hard, we had encountered several snags on our trip, tearing up the deck, throwing shingles and limber overboard, breaking the wheel house, and taking away a part of the cook room. But we were passing our time as best we could on the hurricane deck. On our way up we passed Alton, St. Charles, Moredock Landing, Augusta, South Point, Portland, Jefferson City, Providence, Rockport, Boonville, Arrow Rock, Bluff Port, Glasgow, Cambridge, Brunswie, Windsor City, Miami, Hill's Landing, St. Thomas, Waverly, Dover Landing. Berlin, Lexington, Farmville, Wellinton, Camden, Napolean, Cogswell, Wibley, Richfield, Blue Mills, Liberty Landing, Wayne City, Randolph, Kansas City, Wyandotte, Quindora, Parkville, Wimer, Delaware, Leavenworth City, Fort Leavenworth, Weston, Kickapoo, Gaton, Sumner, Atchison, Doniphau, Jearsey City, Palermo to St. Joseph. It being a distance of 570 miles from St. Louis. We ferried from St. Joseph to Bellmont, Saturday, drove two miles and camped over Sunday, in Doniphare County, Kansas Territory. Monday, May 8th, we passed through Troy, 8 miles from Bellmont, and so we journeyed on through the wild prairie here and there finding a few huts or shanties such as Kennekuk, Grasshopper Creek, Walnut Creek. (toll bridge). In the Kickapoo Indian Reservation, (Brown County) then struck Awhattan post office, Benneto Station 108 miles from Belmont. Here the Pike's Peak express passed us drawn by six mules, and having a mounted guard on either side, also on mules and two revolvers each.
Began to meet many wagons returning home saw two steam mills left by the wayside. Parties nearly all discouraged with the report of no gold at the peak. It is all a humbug. Now in Nemaha County, May 15th we lay over at Marysville, Marshall County. On the big blue river. It rained for the sixth day in succession. Ninety six wagons and 519 persons passed us on their way home, and that on Sunday when many would not travel. Here the valley was dotted for miles around with covered wagons and tents. Monday the ferryman (rocky mountain jack) shot and killed one Pike's Peaker and wounded another, on account of toll. Here we also met a Mr. Mitchel & nephew from Ohio on their return home. Mr. Mitchel had been an old California chum of our George Swingley. He had spent the fall and winter at Pike's Peak, and had left there two weeks since. He said it was all float-gold, no bed rock, and could not average 50 cents per day mining. We held a council and, all determined to strike through southern Kansas and western Missouri and see if we could find a place to suit us to move to. But that was the year of the Kansas drought and, although we found many nice locations we would sometimes have to drive a long ways to get water for our teams and before we got through the states we were glad to leave them for home, on our trip through Kansas and Missouri we passed the 3 Vermillion Creeks. Here the 2 Stewart boys left us, and went with a drove of cattle being drove to California. They had a horse to ride and were boarded through for their help to drove. Then passed Rock Creek. Then at a French trader's, in the Potawatamie reservation, sold him quite a quantity of supplies. Lay over Sunday near St. Mary's mission. Then passed Silver Lake, Indianola, and Kansas River. The ferry line was broken, and we lay 38 hours there before we could cross. Horace Greely came here on his western trip. And we heard him speak to a goodly crowd of people at Topeka. Here two teamsters of a Santa Fe train got into a quarrel one used a dirk and the other a revolver. One was shot slightly in the arm, and the other received two mortal stabs in the back, from which he must have died in a few days but when they were probed and dressed he had to pass on with the train. The Kaw Indians lived near Topeka. We crossed the Waukarusa river 12 miles from Topeka and then passed through Burlingame 25 miles south west Waterloo 40 miles. We left Emporia to the right which is 16 miles from Waterloo. We were in Shawnee County, and Richardson of late. We then passed Forest Hill, Florence, Camden, Ottumway, at Camden the mill owners just came in with their supply of meat. They had been 60 miles west with 3 yoke cf cows, had taken out salt in pork barrels, killed all the buffalo meat they wanted salted it in the barrels, captured six young buffalo, learned them to suck the cows, and brought them home to raise for teams. Also brought in the nice buffalo hides and would sell them for one dollar each. We then crossed the Big Muddy Creek & then the Osage River. Here we fell in with a drove of Texas cattle being drove to Westport and Kansas City. We had to layover 36 hours on account of a rise of water in the Osage before we could ford it. Now had started homeward passed through Hampden, Burlington on the Neosho River. Then through the Sax and Fox Indian Reservation, saw the cemetery or burial place of the tribes. There passed on to Blackjack. Passed 3 small villages, McAnish, Lanesfield, and Gardner. Then to Olafey, Westport and Kansas City. Then to Independence, Wellington, Lexington, Dover, Waverly, we crossed the Missouri River at Glasgow. Then passed through Roanoak, Huntsville, Fairview, Woodville, Clarence Station on St. Jo & Hannibal Railroad. Then to Shelbyville Sunday, June 12th. It rained in morning the first rain for two weeks. We had fried quails for supper. Then passed Warren, New Market, Palmyra. Then to North River, and ferried across the Mississippi River to Quincy, Illinois. Then passed through Ursa, Mendon, Woodville, Chili; Carthage, Laharp & back to Monmouth once more. Then to Henderson Creek, Bridge's Corners, Pope Creek, Viola, Donihew Creek, Sunday June 19th traveled 17 miles, the first Sunday we traveled since leaving home. Passed through Preemption & Camden to Rock Island.
I heard by Thomas Coggins' letter that my little daughter had died May first. This was the first I had heard from home since we started from Mt. Morris. We then passed Colma, Spring Hill, Portland, Prophetstown, Dixon & Mt. Morris, where all of our company stopped but me. I got a letter from home Thursday June 23rd. I attended the annual exhibition of the Rock River Seminary at Mt. Morris. I then traded my note against H. Burnitt for Old Dave horse, got $28 to boot and started for home next day, stopped to see my brother Anson on Turtle Prairie. Found brother Harvey & wife there. The next day June 26th I drove home 37 miles, it being 3 months and one day since I left. During which time, our only cow had died of murrain. Our hog had died, and our only daughter 2 years and five months old had died.
All we now possessed was 1/2 of an old threshing machine and an old span of horses & harness, and had been married nearly six years. The crops were very light the coming fall, and we soon were through threshing. Having no feed to keep a span of horses, I sold them for one hundred dollars, on time, I then hired a part of the John Riggle farm, and took another part on shares. My brother signed a note with me for the rent, and also for a yoke of cattle. The price of the oxen being fifty dollars. That winter was a very hard one for a poor man. Banks were breaking, and bills worth forty cents on the dollar. Work was scarce and wages low. I cut twenty five cords of stove wood for Harrison Koontz for seventeen cents a cord, and made oak shingles for a Pease's house for one dollar and twelve cents a thousand. 1860 & 1861 From this time we began to have better luck. The year of 1860 was the year long to be remembered. Every one was blessed with bountiful crops of all kinds, our wheat yielded 37bushels an acre, and the farm having a good orchard we sold apples the next spring. I sold $150 worth of apples. The next fall work was plenty at my trade. In the fall I bought 19 nineteen acres of land, a log house and barn of Joseph Look for $350. The next spring my father came to live with us. I hired a man on the farm and jobbed it at my trade, in the fall I bought seven acres of land, of Abram Pease joining our other piece of land. The price of good wheat was only 59 cents a bushel, but everything I bought seemed to gain in value. The fall of 1861(I think) I sold our 26 acres, Jo Look place, for $450 and bought Barbara Fowler's share of Riggle farm, 33 acres paid $700. I hired a man on the farm in the summer and, hired three to four men to work with me at my trade. And in the fall I sometimes hired out to Coons & Crosland to hull clover and thrash with the machine, as I had now got a horse team, in the fall of 1862, I bought another share of the J. Riggle farm consisting of 37 acres for which I paid six hundred and eighty dollars. Grain, pork & everything were advancing in price all the time now as we were in the midst of our civil war. Wheat was as high as $3.25 per bushel. In the fall of 1862 when the 16th Wisconsin Volunteers, was mustering and war meetings were waking up men to their duties. I offered my self as a voluntary but was rejected on account of a broken ankle of years ago. 1862 & 1863 In the spring of 1862 I took jobs to build among them was a barn for B. F. Mathews, a barn for Briggs Alden, a house for Abram Jacobs. This summer I hired Adam Petrie and my brother Anson. During this time the Union Army were meeting with defeat, and losses and it became necessary for President Lincoln to call for more troops in calls of 500,000 & 300,000 at a time, and nobly our country responded to the calls. In March, 1864, as our town had sent most of her men and many companies were coming in to rendevous at Madison, the state capitol. Our town voted a special tax to pay local bounties as did nearly all the towns to volunteers who left their homes & families and offered up their lives for the defense of their country's cause. I was elected treasurer and agent for the town to secure men to fill our quotas in the draft which now found us 33 wanting, and over a hundred had already gone to the war from our town of 6 miles square and not a village or city in it. I went to Madison twice and filled our quota, this spring, 1863.
I took a barn to build for Michael Crossland 52 x 70 feet. A house to build for John Sell 24 x 42 to finish and paint, and a manufacturing establishment to build and paint for J. B. Wait of Waitsville: 30 by 60 feet & 2 inch posts with a bell for 12 feet square where roof joined on to the saw mill that I had built the year before. The sills were white oak 141/2 by 161/2 and the smallest girt was 10 x 10. It had 29 windows, 24 lights each. The lower floor was 3 inch white oak plank, the second floor 21/2 basswood plank lined with 1 in boards. The 3rd floor 2 inch lined with 1/2 inch boards. 1863 & 1864 I hired Amos Mantz to work on the farm and Joseph Vanderveear, Henry Riggle, & Charles Higbee to work with me at the trade. I built a barn for myself the first work in the spring and finished it off, 30 x 40 feet then built M. Crossland's barn 52 x 70 feet then put up the factory and enclosed it. Then went to work on John Sell's house got the frame up and enclosed.
The Twenty Ninth regiment was now being organized. Our town again turned out 30 more men. Thinking that as we had need of so many soldiers perhaps they would accept me now. Therefore, I left my men to finish my jobs in case I could go and Adam Petrie and myself went to Jefferson, the county seat and drilled and soldiered three days waiting for an inspection or examination for Dr. Spaulding of Watertown before the Captain Holmes would enlist me. But I was again rejected on account of my left ankle being broken when I was a boy. I told them the ankle would not give out, and that I could walk as far as any man in the company or throw any man at any holt I was now 31 years old and without boasting was considered good on the wrestle, or ruff and tumble. I have yet to say at fifty years old, I never met a man since I was 19 years old to the present that could throw me, best, two falls in three. But I could not go to war. So I went home and as Adam Petrie would not enlist unless they would take me, I finished up my jobs. And began to prepare for building a house for myself. I sold my span of colts for $210 to Mr. Hale. 1864 I then bought a large bay span of horses of Piper & Gibbs of Ixonia for $200. During the winter I hauled logs to Ixonia 6 miles & Waitsville 31/2 miles, sufficient to build my house 26 x 36 two stories high. I got the logs sawed and hauled home before spring's work began. I dug a cellar 18 x36 which was 9 feet deep from sills, I dug a cistern, got a mason, Hugh Smith, to lay my cellar wall, and underpinning and cistern wall. I then put up my house and got it enclosed.
The first day of September, 1864 I took my white oak & basswood flooring to Watertown. Got it planed and matched. Adam Petrie took a load for me also. We both enlisted that day in the Quartermaster's Department as mechanics for six months at seventy five dollars a month, and found and transportation to & from our work. I went home at night shoved the flooring in at the windows and the next morning we left for the south. We went to Chicago, St. Louis, Cairo and then to Johnsonsville and Nashville. We lay around the government boarding house, that was then called "Blue Hell", until September 13th. There being no lumber for us to work in that department we allowed ourselves to be transferred into the Military Railroad Department at $3.00 a day, and board. Boarded & worked in J. C. Bergen's gang of 160 men worked on government buildings a few day, and was then sent to government & measure lumber and load government teams, with 6 men to help me until I was taken sick and was taken to the hospital where I lay until the last of September bloody piles and dysentery. Got discharged and got home October 1st,1864. Doctored with Dr. Chapman a month or so. Got better. Fixed our new house so we could live in it over winter. 1865 As I was able to work a little, Mr. Gallop of the firm of Wait, Wood, Gallop, & Baird came and hired me to buy logs for them and scale logs in the mill yard.
In February 13th, 1865, the men were quite scarce. I went to Jefferson and enlisted in Company H of the 47th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers, was accepted, and in company with twelve townsmen were sent south never having a leave to go home after we enlisted. The 27th of February we were started for Dixey's land without any tents except one for the officers. We went to Louisville, then to Edgefield. The bridge at Bowling Green was moved downstream, 3 bents in the center so that we could not go over with the train. We camped out at Edgefield with the 151 Illinois Regiment 2 or 3 days without even a dog tent. It rained the first day quite hard then turned cold and snowed 4 or 5 inches deep. Then came a sleet, and froze. The next morning twelve of our men were sent to the field hospital from our company. The first lieutenant W. W. Fields being one of them. We then marched over the bridge carefully in 2 rank. The train ran back and got the engine behind; and shoved the train over, as far as they dared to, they left the engine uncoupled from the train, and an engine backed in from the other side and drew the train over. We tarried a short time near the Mammoth Cave then started for headquarters at Tullahoma. General Rosencrans had just driven General Bragg out of his fort with four miles of rifle pits, with 60,000 soldiers in Bragg's command. Rosencrans made a feint on Shelbyville, opposite where Rosencrans' army lay, with a light force and a small battery. General Bragg sent out a strong force to reinforce Shelbyville, and Rosencrans slipped in upon Bragg's strong hold on the McMinnville road and took the fort with a short fight. We then were ordered to clear off the ruins of the village of Tullahoma, and we made a brigade drill ground 3/4 of a mile long, and nearly 1/2 a mile wide. Here we were brigaded with Major General Milroy, with Brigadier General H. M. Dudley as drill master of the brigade. Here we had to guard the railroad from Chattanoga to Nashville, and clean out Forest and Nelson's & Quantral's, mounted bushwhackers, who were making raids on the trains and stations along the line and killing every union soldier caught out side of our picket lines. We made several trips out after them. We were scattered all over Tennessee and part of Alabama at election precincts and saw that every poor white union man could vote as he chose. The result of that election gave us a large Republican majority. We went down to Stephenson with a detachment of six companies of infantry., and four companies of cavalry then on the Memphis road to where Woodville used to be, and then made a forced march over the spur of the Cumberland mountain and across Paint Rock River and other streams to Tirrey's Mill in Alabama where Nelson's bushwhackers got their supplies. Here we scoured the country with our cavalry for a couple of weeks, and by the aide of Captain Sparks Independent Cavalry Company. We effectually cleaned out Nelson's whole gang on our way out. (I see I am getting things mixed a little as to which occurred first.) We cleaned out Nelson in Alabama in April, 1865, and the elections that we guarded I think was August 3rd,1865.) Our company was the last company of the brigade that left Tullahoma, Tennessee. We were mustered out of the U.S. service at Nashville September 4th, and mustered out of the state service at Madison, Wisconsin September 13th, 1865. I was sick when mustered out of service but as I had a good doctor & the blessing of rest & home, got able to work in a month or two and finished off my house.
In winter of 1865, I sold my farm known as the Riggle Farm to Nelson Nutting for $3,050. And in company with Harrison Koons, and my brother Anson went up to Sparta, Black River Falls, Eau Claire & Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin in search of a new home. My brother bought near Eau Claire. Mr. Koons and I went home and then went to Outagamie County, Wisconsin, and I bought 120 acres of land with two houses, an orchard and 60 acres improved for $2,800. Moved up there in March, 1866, Town of Dale, 4 miles south of Hortonville. It was a splendid county, but my wife got homesick and would probably have soon died had I stayed there. I then made an auction and sold off everything. Rented my farm to one Herman Buck and went back to Jefferson County. Stayed a few days at Adam Petrie's.
Back to Concord
Then traded my farm in Outagamie County with William Pennewell for a farm of 80 acres just across the road from our old place, gave him $350 to boot on the 20th day of April, 1866 and moved in part of the house the 21st. Let the farm to J. T. Vandiveear. I then set out 4 acres of hops, built a tenant house 24 x 26 and hop house 18 x 36. I built a large barn for Dr. E. R. Chapman during the summer. I also bought 40 acres of state swamp land joining my 80 had 200 rods of ditching done by Edmund Colwell. In the following summer, 1867, I built a basement barn for Phillipp Forncrook 36 by 48 feet, also a hop house for Edward Aulsebrook 18 by 36 feet. Also an addition to J. B. Waits house 18 by 30 feet and a bridge across the Oconomowoc River. William Hanson and James Maazs & Henry Riggl, worked for me, and December 11th went to Johnson's Creek to help finish the United Brethren Church inside, worked until finished about two weeks.
The next spring went to work at my trade jobbing again, built a barn for George B. Mathew, house for Henry Riggle, a barn for Jacob Hayes etc.. J. T. Vanderveear still working farm and hop yard, picked and baled 4,265, pounds of nice hops, paid 50¢ a box for picking, prospect good for 50 cents a pound, hops go down, sent hops with other to New York City. After some delay was sold, netted us 4 & 93/100 cents a pound. Many a man lost his farm this fall, by the fall in price of hops.
Eau Claire Saw Mill
We go on a visit to Eau Claire (all hands) to my brother's, while there buy with him 1/2 interest in a stearn saw mill on the Chippewa River for $4,000, come home and sell 20 acres of land for $1,150. I started alone for Eau Claire January 20th, 1869 to take charge of our saw mill. Built seven piers filled with rock to which we made ninety rods of thorough shot boom of the ice. Then a stiff sheer boom at the mill, then a boarding house 30 by 40 feet, two stones high. My family arrived at mill March 7th, 1869. Found me sick in bed. We kept the boarding house. I kept the mill in repair, had charge of lumber yard, top loaded rafts, sent them down the Chippewa River & still down the Mississippi, and my partner, Mr. L. W. Farwell would go down on a steam boat & sell the lumber and get the money. July 9th river been on the rise two days, highest ever known. Everything on the river in shape of piers and booms give away, we loose two million feet of logs, go down the river. Soon after a jam formed on the Chippewa Falls dam above us and as the jam is being broken, we saw the logs that we can get in our boom, as does each mill company by mutual consent keeping account of logs sawed of every mark or brand on the river, for which we give $5 for thousand. Sawed until October 10th, sold out to L. W. Farwell packed up and started for Jefferson County the 11th of October, to our old home.
Threshing in Minnesota
My brother Harvey had been threshing for many a year every fall. This fall had sold 1/2 of his threshing machine to Noyes boys, and after most of the threshing was done in Jefferson County, they drove to Minnesota to thresh and sell or trade their horses and machine. My brother came home sick and sent for me to go to Minnesota and dispose of his 3 horses and machine. I went to Rochester, Minnesota and there walked eight miles north found the machine and horses, but his partners were in Rochester drinking and gambling. The next day I went and got them, and not being able to sell the machine, as the threshing was nearly all done being now November 7th, I stored the machine and we started for Waubasha, then crossed the Mississippi River, and up on the north side of the Chippewa to Menominee and Eau Claire. Sold one horse for $250, one span of mares for $450, and went home. My brother being well pleased with my trip.
Sawing in Concord
I was then appointed insurance agent for the Phoenix Insurance Company of Hartford: worked up the business for the season in our vicinity. On December 27th, 1869. J. B. Wait of Wait, Wood, Gallop, & Baird firm, came after me to go and make frames for a crossing and slitting saw, and hangers and pulleys for a counter shaft and go over to Coopersville, Michigan, and attach them to Perry & Morse's saw mill and buy white ash logs for hand rakes. I did so, and bought nearly $100,000 feet. Had them split up 11/4 in thick, then crossed them up and slit them into rake handles & heads, tied them in bundles and sent them to Watertown, Wisconsin. For which he gave me full time expenses and board at two dollars per day. While there I also hired two young men to help me. Returned home March 19th, 1870. This coming summer I built horse barn & privy for Edwin Lloyd and put a new roof on his log house. Built a house for Garance Colwell, built granary & hogpen for J. F. Shepherd and put on sills laid double floor for basement barn for J. F. S., and finished stall and stanchions in basement. Fixed A. Petrie's hop house for a horse stable. January 4th, 1871 began work for Wait, Wood, Jones, & Baird, buying logs and scaling logs in mill yard at $1.50 per day and board. Worked until March 15th. April 12th , 1871 commenced building a granary, wagon house and corn crib for Henry Riggle. July 12th went Grand Haven, Michigan to work for J. B. Wait. Built an office and addition to shop, etc., etc.. Worked at Grand Haven until September 16th , 1871. Came home, built an addition on my barn, and new boarded and battened my barn all around. Then went to Wailville and took down machinery, took out one engine and boiler and shipped them to Watertown, to be sent to Grand Haven, 8 1/4 days work. Then November 9th Charles Weber and I bought the Waitsville Mill, with 39 acres of land and blacksmith shop and 6 tenant houses and house and two acres all for $3,000. We had it all refitted and bought new saw and sawed two days. 1871 & 1872 My father was taken sick and I sold out to Mr. Weber. Father died December 30th, 1871. I started for Grand Haven, Michigan January 19, 1872 and worked for J. B. Wait putting in a saw mill until February 22nd at $2.50 per day and expenses paid. March 14th, 1872 I bought Schwartze's store & house & lot at Concord paid $625 for it. Went to Madison June 3rd as grand juror in the United States circuit court. During the summer I built F. J. Shepherd's barn 40 x 60 feet, John Sells' barn 36 x 46 feet, O. B. Mathews barn 36 x 46 feet finished them and painted the last one. June 13th was appointed post master at Concord, Jefferson County, Wisconsin In the fall I build a house for Henry Talmadge. (G. D. Aspinwall worked my farm) then tore down the old store, dug cellar, laid good walls, and built a new brick veneered store for myself at the Corners, 24 x 40 feet. Built a new horse barn and put a new roof on the house.
Went to Milwaukee and bought my first stock of general merchandise December 4th to 7th1872. Had a fair trade until the next spring when I sold my stock of goods to John M. Wigginton and rented him the store for $150 a year.
In the winter of 1873 & 1874, I sent Franklin O., my oldest boy, to Bernard High School at Watertown, then to the North Western University at Watertown one term. Then in 1875 he went one term to the Jefferson Institute and got his diplomas as a book keeper.
I bought the county right for a patent sickle grinder, paid $20 down was. To pay $200 in all. It was Sanford's patent, sold several, but sold out my right to Jacob Hayes & got out in good shape. I then built an addition to Edwin Leloyd's house and built a brick house for John Friday by contract & painted it. We organized a company of 10 members and built a cheese factory. I was elected secretary. I built a large basement barn for John G. Hull, and built an addition to house for Garance Colwell. Charles Grout & Erastus Cleaveland worked for me at trade. I raised and picked 127 boxes of hops this season. Sold my last year's crop September 8th for 18 cents a pound; came to $224.28 and contracted my new crop at 34 cents a pound. Got $100 down on the contract had 1,448 lbs - $496.40. I rented my farm to Mr. Yager, for one year. Had an auction sale October 22nd, amount of sale $520.59. Then built a large barn in the fall for Garance Colwell. H. Webb & Hewlet worked for me. My son, Frank, began to teach his first term of school November 2nd. January 1st, 1875 I helped John M. Wigginton take an invoice of his stock of merchandise at Concord, Wisconsin And helped him in the store a few days. January 15 paid up my mortgage to Mrs. Comstock. Money borrowed to buy part of stock of merchandise $l,000. I then took book agency. Sold books entitled Ten Years in Washington, on life & scenes at the national capital, &Tell It All, or A Woman's Life in Polygamy, & Cast Adrift & Three Years in a Mantrap &Women to the Rescue. Had very good success. Also had insurance agency for the Phoenix Insurance Company. Hartford & Continental Insurance Company of New York. March 8th wrote my first article for the Jefferson County Union, W. D. Hoard publisher. Continued to write for him until after I left the county and went north.
March 23, 1875 we organized a stock company to make cheese. 10 stock holders, viz J. D. Petrie president, N. C. Ransom secretary, John Sell treasurer, H. Kellogg salesman, F. J. Shepherd, Thomas Bell, Charles Spence, D. D. Capan, J. M. Wigginton, & A. Petrie. We each sent our milk to the factory & bought all the milk we could, and a Mr. Fox, an old cheese maker, to superintend the making of cheese, I kept my share of stock in the factory until after I moved to Unity.
April 6 we took measures to form a Town House Insurance Company. April 14 we organized a Home Insurance Company & elected officers as follows: J. D. Petrie president, N. C. Ransom as secretary and agent, D. D. Capen as treasurer. I was instructed to charter from Peter Doyle, Secretary of State and get necessary blanks printed. Saturday, April 24, my wife and I were initiated into Lodge of Patrons of Husbandry Lodge No. 380 & took First Degree, after took all degrees. During the summer I wrote up 138 policies for Town Insurance Company; stock taken or insured $469,000.
I painted William Berkholtz house, put up shelves for cheese in cheese factory. June 9thbegan to move & turn Mathew Potter's barn 32 by 60 & raised it up and put a basement stable under it. June 21st went to Andrew Russell's. Put new sill under barn, spliced a post, raised barn on rollers, moved it about 20 rods and raised it up in two days.
June 29th Adam Petrie, an old neighbor & fellow comrade twice south started with me to go north to Unity, Eau Claire & etc..
July 3rd A. Petrie and I bought of John Wells of Unity 2 lots & small old building in Colby. House & store & 4 lots in F. H. Darling plat of Unity & 3 lots in E. Creeds plot of Unity, Marathon County, Wisconsin. Paid for all $1,250.
Sunday July 4th, 1875 Celebrated by attending meeting and then took dinner at Edmund Creed's in log shanty. Raised the American flag on a pole stuck in top of stove pipe on roof. Very few buildings at Unity then, country very new. Wisconsin Central Railroad just opened up the country for settlement last summer.
July 5th: Started across the forest for Neillsville & Eau Claire spent a few days with my brother Anson B. Ransom.
July 10: Went to Elroy, visited Rev. D. C. Talbot's folks.
July 12th:Went to Kendel & visited Henry Pennewell's folks, at dinner then to William Drum's at night, on the dividing ridge. Then visited Alexander Armstrong, Henry Rowley, Charles Clute, etc., then to Ontario, visited W. H. Thayer's folks, then from Ontario to Norwalk by stage, then by cars to Sparta, & Tomah. Visited Harry Lea, Nelson Alverson & Archa Voorhees.
July 16: Started at Tomah for Watertown & home.
July 26th: My daughter Edith finished her third term of music lessons on organ by Miss Jaynes.
July 28: Mr. H. C. Shepherd an old gentleman 85 years old, having a bruised hand which being so bad had to be amputated. I took my horse and buggy and John Sell and I took him to Watertown; 12 miles. Stayed over night and in the morning Dr. Cody took it off. I held the hand while being taken off mid-way between wrist and elbow. Mr. Shepherd lived several years after that.
August 6: An old Pike's Peak comrade, Willard Pond, his wife and daughter, and our sister-in-law, Sarah J. Coggins came on a visit to see us from Mt. Morris, Illinois with horses and buggy.
August 8: We all went to Oconomowoc expecting to find Mr. Pond's brother. He had moved away. We took dinner at the William Tell house kept by Mr. Garber. Took a pleasant drive around town, flower gardens, Labelle Lake, and home again.
August 10: Mrs. & Mr. Pond, and daughter Laura, Sarah J. Coggins, Kate, my frau, and I went to Watertown; 12 miles. Visited Matilda Ransom in Mr. Hirscher Mammoth Store. We all dined at the Watertown House kept by Mr. Marrigould where now stands the Watertown Commercial Hotel and home again.
September 6: Finished picking our hops had 210 boxes in all.
September 7: I went to Oconomowoc to cattle & horse fair, traded horses twice. Wrote application for Thomas Bell in Home Town Insurance Company, $2,100, making now 107 policies that I have written in this town insurance company up to this time.
Monday September 13th: Took my son Frank to Jefferson to take a term of school at the Jefferson Institute 14 1/2 weeks term. Gave him $25 and left $40 with William P. Forseythe for him as needed. Paid up for Edith's organ $140 and interest.
September 17: Went to Mathew Potter's to turn barn 1/4 round. Raise it up for basement stable. Adam Petrie went with me. We turned it, raised it up and finished off basement in 10 3/4 days, wages 14 per day & board.
September 28: Wrote application and policy for Rev J. G. Hull of Farmington $3050.
October 1: Bargained with Herman Zimdars to sell him our farm for $4,700.
Saturday, October 2nd: I sent in my resignation of the office as postmaster at Concord, Jefferson County, Wisconsin to which I was appointed in 1872.
October 4th: Wrote up 4 Town Insurance policies, making 118 now and attended dairy association meeting at cheese factory.
October 5th: Went to Watertown. Made out deed of our farm to Herman Zimdars. Took mortgage back on farm for $2,000. I deposited $2,000 in 1st National Bank & Bank of Watertown: $1,000 in each.
October 6: Wrote three applications and policies in Home Insurance Company and posted notices for our auction.
October 7: Wrote three insurance policies, and posted auction notices.
October 8: Bertha Reardans began work for us, also Milo Hawks. I began work on J. G. Hull's house repairing siding.
October 11: Mr. Yager gathered our apples.
October 13: Wrote six insurance policies. Wrote H. M. Magill and returned my blank for Cincinnati Insurance Company and left my blanks of Phoenix Insurance Company with J. M. Wigginton as sub agent. Packed 1 box of goods in readiness to move to Unity.
October 15: I went to Corners and attended dairyman's meeting and resigned my office as secretary of dairy association. Also resigned my office as secretary and insurance agent of Town Insurance Company. Austin Kellogg was elected in my place.
October 17th Sunday: Harvey & Charley Ransom & Frank, my son, were at our place I let Frank have $20 more making $85 this term.
October 18: Herman Zimdars paid note for balance due on farm aside from mortgage. A. Petrie went to Oconomowoc with my horse and buggy.
October 19th: We got ready for our sale. Adam Petrie brought over 3 loads of goods to sell at our sale.
October 20th: Had our sale preparatory to moving to Unity, Marathon County, Wisconsin.
October 21st: Packed our goods and measured out goods sold at sale
October 22: I took 3 wagon loads of goods to Oconomowoc and messrs. Piper and Gibbs left 10 bbls of flour on car for me. Adam Petrie also took 3 loads of goods there and we hired a car and loaded it for Unity
October 23rd: My brother Harvey came with team took me to Corners & Watertown. Settled up and paid every one I owed. Took notes for money due me and went to H. Parsons at night.
October 24: Harvey & wife, Kate, and I went to J. H. Aspinwall's for a farewell visit, warm and pleasant for the time of year.
In leaving Concord, we had lived since October 1859 a space of 16 years through the prime of our lives, where I had jobbed it at my trade in Concord, Sullivan, Farmington, Ixonia, and Summit and hulled clover & threshed and insured property, it gave me an acquaintance with many, with whom we were both to part their friendship and associations will ever revert to me as memory reverts to olden times.
October 25th: We started for Unity. Mr. Adam Petrie's family and ours, Mr. Petrie and I had worked together on several jobs. Had been south twice, together during our civil war as comrades, caring for each other, and sharing the same blankets together nearly all the time, and had lived intimate as neighbors for 16 years. When we got to Watertown I was subpoenaed to attend a suit of State of Wisconsin vs. Isaac Frank at Juneau, Dodge County. I came through to Unity with my family and returned on the next train as witness. Left my family at the Marathon Hotel, A. Carton, an old army comrade, proprietor.
October 30: Set up things in same house with Mr. Petrie family took supper at home.
November 2, 1875: I tended election at Marathon Hotel house not being able to get possession of my store yet, I worked on S. A. Cook new store 5 1/2 days.
November 27: I was 43 year old. We moved into our store building, only got the living part yet after a long delay in which S. A. Cook gets all the fall trade, we get possession of the store part.
November 30th: Frank Ransom came home from Jefferson Institute with his diploma as bookkeeper from Professor Rogers of La Crosse.
December 1st: I started for Milwaukee to buy a stock of general merchandise. Bought dry goods and part of notions at Landauers, some notions at Kirby & Newbre, groceries at Ricker Crombies, boots & shoes at Green & Buttons, crochery of Eisenfeld, clothing of Foiend & Bros.
Sunday, December 5: Went to M. E. church and heard messrs. Whittle & bllss preach & sing. I started in trade with $3700 worth of goods.
January 6th, 1876: Sold my store, house, & barn in Concord, to J. M. Wigginton for $1400 cash paid-up for all my goods and soon after by request of S. A. Cook we went in company in mercantile business. We done a good business. The next summer my partner got married to Miss Jennie Christie of Chilton and went to the centennial exhibition on their wedding tour. Returning we done a fine business until October, when my partner thinking (rightly) that I would not buy his interest, proposed to buy or sett out, simply to make all the profits instead of 1/2 we had on book there $4,200 besides a good stock of goods. I sold out, making a sad mistake, as Mr. Cook, in a few years amassed a fortune right here in trade, owing to the growth and demand of the country.
Philadelphia and Washington D.C.
October about 15thI started for Jefferson County made a visit and then October 26thstarted in company with J. D. Petrie to attend the centennial exhibition at Philadelphia. Went to Niagara Falls by way of Sarniac, stopped at the Niagra House, took a carriage to Whirlpool Rapids and elevator. Then to Whirlpool Falls and outlet, then across Great Western on new suspension bridge under the railroad track. (A long train passed over the bridge while we were crossing under them with carriage.) Then visited table rock in Canada side went up in the tower, then hired oil cloth suits and went down under the falls on Canada side the length of span of new suspension bridge is 800 feet, height of towers above wagon road is 80 feet height of railroad track above the river is 245 feet. Each main cable to bridge is composed of 3,640 wires. We crossed back over the old suspension bridge near the falls, which is 1,300 feet long, and 196 feet from the water, where we got the best view of Niagara Falls, Goat Island & Horse Shoe Falls. Had a very interesting trip, cost $6.85 each.
Then started our journey at 3 o'clock p.m., past Lockport, Rochester, Utica, & stopped at Little Falls to visit Mr. Petrie's relatives and old friends, stopped at the Hickman house.
Sunday 29th: Took a walk to the Little Falls. And aqueduct, canal locks and before breakfast then down to Gulf Bridge, past the old academy where my friend Adam Petrie used to attend school, then up to Furnace Hollow, then to Henry & William Nelson's, where we took dinner. Then William took his team & buggy and took us to Uncle Isaac Petrie's, and past J. D. Petrie's old home where he was born & also Adam Petrie my old comrade 1876 then to John Nelson's, then to Herkimer village, to General George Petrie's, where we stayed over night.
Monday, October 30th: We went to old Mr. Grnall's, then on the cars to Ilion to Remington Armory & Gun Works, back to the village of Mohawk, had an introduction to General Frank E. Spinner, U.S. Treasurer, had a pleasant chat, then back to Herkimer village, took tea at Mr. Smalls, then went to Little Falls where we called on George Ransom, stayed at Mr. Nelson's over night.
October 31st: Started from Little Falls at 6:48 a.m. arrived at Albany at 9:40 a.m. laid over 50 minutes, we walked up Maiden Lane, and around the new capitol building, then being built, arrived at New York City at 4 o'clock p.m. at Grand Central Depot, took 4th Avenue street car for Frenches Hotel where we stopped. Visited Tribune building, post office building, city hall, and attended P. T. Barnum's museum in the evening.
November 1st Wednesday: We went on elevated railroad to Grand Central Park. Then back and down Broadway to Trinity Church. Then down Wall Street. to the U.S. treasury building, custom house, Fulton Ferry, around the dock to Castle Garden and Battery, along dock to Franklin Street, up Franklin St. to Broadway, down that home to Frenches Hotel. In the evening went to the old Bowry Theatre.
November 2nd: Went to Hamilton Ferry crossed over to Brooklyn, visited Greenwood Cemetery, then to Prospect Park. Visited the Brooklyn navy yard, then to Brooklyn suspension bridge just then being built. Wrote a letter home. Went to Jersey City stayed at U.S. Hotel.
November 3rd, 1876: Started from Jersey City at 5:45 a.m. for Philadelphia, 90 miles away. Passed through Newark, Elizabethtown, Rahway, Trenton, Brunswic, etc.. Arrived at Philadelphia at 9:40 a.m. took rooms at Rufus B. Lords, in Kershaw Avenue 12/ a day breakfast, supper, & lodgings each. Took dinner on the exhibition grounds. Went on grounds, visited machinery hall & glass works, Canada & Virginia & turkey buildings. Weather very pleasant.
November 4th: We went through main exhibition building pretty thoroughly it took until 4 o'clock p.m. then went through annex main building. We went up on observatory of main building 169 steps in going up, or 120 feet high. In this building saw the Gatling guns. One carried 1/2 lb ball, range two miles, fired 300 shots per minute. The sonak one carried ounce balls and could make 800 to 1000 shots per minute. Saw a chunk of solid silver that weighed 4,002 pounds, value $72,000.
Sunday 5th: Took street car down Arch Street, to Broad Street, down through new court house, to Chestnut Street, down that past new post office building being built, down to old Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, then to Carpenter's Hall built in 1772, then to dock and went out on board the Man of War vessel, Plymouth then back & to Fairmount Waterworks & Reservoir. Then up in elevator 238 feet high, there viewed the statue of Abraham Lincoln, Alexander von Humbolt, etc., then to Girad College, then to zoological garden. Then up Lancaster Street home. Monday 6th we visited the art gallery, agricultural hall, U.S. government building and various state buildings. Bought a resurrection plant. After supper tended street minstrel shows.
November 7, 1876: Election day. We visited again the old Independence Hall and the mint building then started for Baltimore and Washington. After we got to Washington we put up at 1212 Grand Street, N.W., between 12th and 13th Streets.
November 8th: We visited the patent office and post office building, then the capitol buildings new treasury building, then the old Ford's Theatre or national museum, then the White House or president's home, then the Smithsonian Institute & then state armory & navy buildings then being built, then 4 of us hired a carriage to drive us to Georgetown and over across the Potomac to Arlington Heights, or General Robert Lee's mansion, saw 4 mounted canons pointing to the 4 points of compass on a monument over the bones of 2,211 soldiers. Then went through the National Cemetery grounds where lies buried 17,000 soldiers, on what was once Lee's plantation containing 1,100 acres of land in Virginia. Then we passed down by Fort Albany, crossed the Richmond Bridge 1 1/4 mile long, passed the new Washington Monument being erected 500 feet high. Here my comrade J. D. Petrie and I parted he to go to Florida & I to Nebraska. I left Washington and arrived at Pittsburgh at 8 o'clock next morning, & arrived at Chicago next morning at 6:50 a.m.
November 10th: Bought a ticket to Omaha for $12 left N.W. depot for Omaha at 10:30 a.m.. Crossed the Mississippi at Clinton about 4 o'clock p.m.. Arrived at Council Bluff at 8 o'clock next morning. Bought ticket at Omaha for Kearney 186 miles west for $9.80 started for Kearney at 11:30 a.m..
Twelve miles west from Kearney I found two of my nieces, who had married J. E. Chidestern and G. D. Aspinwall, J. E. Chidester had married Betsy Ann Ransom my brother's oldest daughter and moved to Nebraska in 1872 and when I was there was one of the 3 county commissioners, G. D. Aspinwall married Cecelia Ransom, next younger daughter of my brother and had moved to Nebraska in 1873. He also held the position of deputy county clerk, for two years since. While visiting them I purchased 4 village lots in Kearny City for $200 also a quarter section of land on the Platte valley for $455 with 30 acres broke on it.
Monday November 20th: I started for home, where I arrived Saturday 25th.
(Notes concerning Philadelphia)
Here I have run on to some jotting in my diary of objects of interest that I made note of at Philadelphia Exhibition. 1st the Fred Krupp cannon, or coast gun, 26 feet 3 inches long, the bore was 14 inches in diameter, weight of gun 63 1/4 tons, weight of heaviest ball 1,160 pounds, amount of powder for a charge 280 pounds, range 15 miles, would penetrate a 24 inch iron plate. Saw a knife & fork 9 feet and 7 inches long made by Mallory Wheeler & Company of Massachusetts cost $1,500 made of coin silver. Saw a chesterwhile hog raised by Lemuel P. Cooper of New Hampshire that weighed 1,307 pounds, also one raised by James Gillson of Massachusetts that weighed 1,255. Saw a mammoth horse 21 1/2 hands high weighing 2,800 lbs., raised in Ohio. Saw an ox, raised in New York that weighed 3,100 pounds. Saw the Bailey gun, that would fire 1,200 shots per minute. Saw a skeleton of a Megatherium from Buenos Aires. Think it was a species of mastodon that stood 17 feet high on its shoulders at the old Independence Hall I saw the silver inkstand, used when the Declaration of Independence was signed July 4th, 1776. Saw the table and chairs used by the president of the congress in 1776. Saw the doors that were pierced with bullets and battered with battering ram, at the Battle of Germantown October 4, A.D. 1777 taken as a relic years & years ago from the house of Andrew Chews. At the Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn I saw the John Mathews Monument, and the Chaunceys Monument, saw the 15 lakes in the cemetery grounds. Saw the monument of Charlotte Canda who was killed while horse was running being thrown from carriage. She was only 17 when she was killed. Saw the monument of James Gordon Bennett, the author. Saw the Soldiers' Monument erected in 1869 by the United States in memory of its heroic dead, etc. etc..
Back to Unity
After I go home to Unity, did not engage in business right away. January 6th, 1877 I bought 160 acres of heavy timbered land 1/2 a mile from the village, of John Week, a big lumberman, bought me a yoke of oxen, made me a sleigh for logging, let jobs for chopping 24 acres of fallow to three different parties. My son Frank and me cut out and cleared a logging road from farm to D. G. Spaulding's steam saw mill on line of Wisconsin Ceut Railroad 1/2 a mile west of our land. Then we began cutting and skidding sawlogs, had very little snow all winter in March we got a snow of about 8 inches. I hired Eugene Sweet with his oxen and sleigh and in two weeks we put in logs to the mill that sold for $315 and had 10 or 15,000 feet of the poorer logs sawed for myself. Dug me a well 56 feet deep, and logged off an acre to build on. Tapped 360 sugar maples, bought 200 wood pails and 100 tin sap pans, a boiling pan and 1 1/2 barrel kettle, made some sap troughs and made 500 lbs of sugar, besides quite a quantity of syrup. Hewed out part of the timber for a basement barn & sills for a house. My wife would not consent to move out in (the then) woods as we owned a good house 2 lots & barns where we lived in the village, and I not liking the walk back and fourth 3/4 of a mile from that part of town where we lived to farm twice a day, therefore we made another foolish trade, and got the hotel property of Charles Duval, 4 lots, barn & a nice hotel 32 x 50 and 21 feet high just finished outside and floors laid and his old hotel or building adjoining it 20 x 26. We traded the 1st of April, 1877. At the town meeting I was elected town clerk of the two townships in Town of Brighton. Marathon County - also elected justice of the peace. I made some apparatus to raise hotel something like this (drew a picture) by raising the lever, letting the jaws together push them under sill & when once you get a solid foundation 3 of them would raise any building side 1877 I hired 6 men and raised the hotel and addition & platform up two feet and 3 inches before I began to finish it. I then hired C. C. Barber as foreman and D. K. Hall and other mechanics and finished off hotel in best style. Plastered it # coat work. Hard finish painted 3 coats, grained and varnished the office, and furnished it, had a hall 32 feet square.
The Fourth of July, 1877 we had a ball, company coming from Colby and Spencer. We sold 103 numbers at $2.00 each, which all thought was the largest crowd they ever saw for a wilderness country. We had for music two violins, bass viol, clarinet, and organ but being new and thinly settled country for the first year hardly paid expenses.
April 1st, 1878 I rented the hotel to Edward P. Craney for $200 a year, taxes to be kept paid and insurance of $2,500 kept paid. I was again elected town clerk and justice of the peace.
The Move to Nebraska
During the summer I bought lumber & timber, framed us a house and got out cornice, window & door frames, got out all the casings, stairs & corner board for a house 16 x 26 two stories high to take to Nebraska. Our son, Frank, had gone out there in May, bought a nice span of mares & breaking plow and went to breaking, but starting so late and it being a dry season there he only got 20 acres broke, making 50 acres broke now in all. In October I shipped the car of lumber to Elm Creek 216 miles west from Omaha and packed our goods and moved west to Odessa Precinct, Buffalo County, Nebraska. Stopped with G. D. Aspinwalls a few weeks while building my house on farm there.
November l0th our son, Frank, was married to Miss Josephine Hallowell of English descent a very nice young lady of good parentage. Isaphine was a school teacher, but raised on a farm, is possessed of a good disposition.
We dug a nice cellar under house, made a stable mostly underground in the bank, 16 x 32, built a corn crib, made a splendid hay rack, a hinge drag, grindstone frame, hung grindstone, bored a well and afterwards dug a well 56 feet deep, curbed it up part way quick sand very troublesome. We had nothing to do on prairie farm in winter but cut and haul our wood, which we got 12 miles north, over the bluffs, at Wood Gulch, and on the islands in Platte River, it all being very poor wood such as willow, cottonwood, box elder, water elm, etc.. We had a severe winter, an uncommon amount of snow for that country. We bought a new milking cow paid $33. Bought 5 hogs, built bank hog pen, and bought poultry, bought grain drill & 200 bushels of corn, 100 of wheat, pork for the summer etc. etc..
Mr. Craney who had rented our hotel in Wisconsin for 3 years, not having much custom, got discouraged and was bound to vacate it, and as we could not rent or sell it through any friend or agents there we had to move back to Unity. We left farm, team, new wagon, breaking plow, sulky plow, cow, hogs, poultry, all farming tools needed wheat, also lots of new furniture & stove, corn, pork, potatoes, and bid our son and daughter-in-law good bye and arrived at Unity March 27th, 1879. Went into our hotel and for the next year and five months done well, had lots of boarders and commercial travelers.
We cut up hotel hall, finished it off so as to give us room for 6 more beds, carpeted and furnished the rooms, bought 20 acres of land close by hotel cleared 6 acres paid for it all and put $500 in pockets besides in 19 months. But it was almost impossible to keep a good cook and my wife had to stand over the cook stove a greater part of the time it made it very hard for her, we thought we could, get a good living easier, so we rented it again. This time to Augustus Homestead for $300 a year, taxes and insurance kept up besides. We owned a store just across the railroad & street, that had been rented so we moved in over that and put in a general assortment of goods, run in debt for all but $600 trusting to selling the hotel to pay out together with sales of goods. Here again we made a mistake. Times were hard and we had to trust out goods largely. I was appointed justice of the peace soon after moving there it being in another town (Unity) in Clark County and in the spring was elected justice and town clerk had a fair run of trade bought nearly $12,000 worth of goods during first year. During the year and four months, we had got $2,400 trusted out on the books and not being able to sell the hotel, had to mortgage it to my creditors. In January, 1882 I sold my stock of merchandise amounting to $3,300 and some odd dollars for freight, and 15% off making a loss to me of over $800 but everyone I owed I paid in full. We then moved in our house in Marathon County side. In April, I traded our hotel property house and barn, all furnished to Edward Bowen for a farm in town of Beaver, Clark County, with well, barn & new framed house painted white, 120 acres of land, 38 acres nice improvements, 9 miles west of Unity on Neilsville turnpike, but my wife would not move on it. While living in the store in Clark County, I was also elected one of the 3 commissioners of the poor of that county. Settled with the overseer of poor house or county farm, R. C. Evans, in November, and April 1st, 1882 we settled with him again and turned the poor house, & farm into the new overseer's hand, viz: Ira Fike. While doing the duties of that office, assisted several families temporarily and took some aged persons to the poor house. My associates in office were William Campbell and M. B. Warner. In April, 1882 after paying up all my debts and, having very poor success collecting, I took a job of building a barn for M. B. Peterson 36 x 66 for $140 and board. Finished it up satisfactorily. In July, 1882 I made a trip to Eau Claire with my whole family, and Sarah J. Coggins and hired girl. Spent the 4th & 5th with my brother Anson's folks; had an enjoyable time. In August went to Jefferson County. Helped my brother Harvey through harvest, went to Chicago & home by way of Milwaukee. In September Mr. William Crawford and me entered into partnership to put in a steam saw mill at Unity. We bought a nice stationary engine boiler & saw mill of Mansfield Machine Works of Ohio 45 horse power. Cost $2,800. 1882 & 1883 We went to work with a will clearing pond and mill site, I was soon prostrated with peritonitis. Was very low for 5 weeks. Machinery did not come when it should and with my sickness it made it late. With snow on the ground before we could get the mill up ready to run, and sidetrack laid. Snow came over 3 feet deep and weather very cold we had from six to 15 men working for us. Put up line shaft put in rollers, slasher, edgar, shingle mill, lumber track, etc.. Traded off my store got $400 to put in and house and lots by the church, sold house where we lived. Sold hay and oats on farm and after paying in, all I could scrape in, about $650 and labor since September to February 28th and my partner about the same amount. He got discouraged and being a bachelor he ran away, leaving me with all the debts to pay. He sent back bill of sale of his 1/2 of logs in pond, & sent power of attorney to F. H. Darling to sell and dispose of his 1/2, but so that he could not run it with me, we had in about 1,000,000 feet of logs in all and nearly 200,000 feet of our own. Was in debt $1,921. 99 besides $2,650 on mill. Our saw bill if we could have cut out logs would amount to over $3,000 besides having 150,000 feet of our own logs left which when sawed and dry would have been worth at least $1,500 but as I had no ready cash and Mr. Darling could not help raise money and run it, we had to sell it, which we did to Miss Rosenfeld and Newman of this place, Unity, who had a large store and doing a fine business. They are to take all company effects, pay all company debts, release mortgage on my farm and we to sacrifice all we had put in labor & all owing some individual debts and wishing to get out of this place we sell our 20 acres of land and two lots in town of Unity, to Gotleib Groelle for $550 being now out of business for a few days, and feeling rather down in spirits I write up these facts so if they are not entertaining you know perhaps how I feel.
March 20th: The thermometer at 4 below zero, I thank my God and father that I have never wronged anyone intentionally, and no one ever lost a dollar by me thus far in life.
The Unity Guards
I was 50 years old last November. I see that memory is getting poor, and while in store, or hotel I did not keep a diary, consequently many events of life have been omitted, our state like many others, had passed laws relating to state militia, knowing the condition of our army when the civil war with the South broke out and knowing that in a few decades of time, our soldiers, would all have passed off the stage of action. They therefore legislated rules and made provisions for a state militia, not to exceed 30 companies. This new country being very patriotic and many old soldiers in their midst, a petition was sent in to Governor Smith to allow us to organize a company here and in the fall of 1883. I was appointed mustering officer to enlist, organize, and officer the company. And November 15th, 1878 the organization was completed with a company of nearly 100 men. Each man buying his own uniform the first year, the state furnished the guns and accouterments. After the company was officered, I enlisted under Captain J. H. Cook and the orderly sergeant not being able to attend to his office, I was elected in his stead, which position I held for four years. It being a lumbering district many going and coming, it made it unpleasant and hard work to keep up the company, so in the fall of 1882 we sent in a request that our company, the (Unity Guards), be mustered out which was done, and a company at Wausau put in our place in the battalion, yet at this age I love military drill and discipline, and when tired, to step into ranks and drill a half hour seemed to rest me.
Being out of business a short time feel lost, Mr. Joseph H. Petlet, a merchant at Unity, Wisconsin, being involved and harassed by his creditors, mortgaged his effects to his wife who inherited most of their means from her mother. He therefore determined to sell off goods at auction until all debts were satisfied. I began work as clerk in store and clerk of auction on Monday, March 26th, 1883. Sold at cost & auction two weeks at sore selling over $1,600 worth. There we packed the balance of his dry goods, clothing, notions, hats, caps, boots, shoes, etc. and sent a Mr. L. A. Thompson as auctioneer, and me with charge of goods and to take all money to be responsible for same, to Ashland, where we hired a room & sold goods for several days. Ashland is 139 miles north of Unity. The next day after we arrived in Ashland or April 9th it snowed hard all day and the morning Of the 10th there was 28 inches of snow on sidewalks & in the streets of Ashland. When we left there April 16th loaded teams were still crossing on the ice to Bayfield 18 miles from Ashland. We came back to Medford, the county seat of Taylor County, and 20 miles north of Unity and hired a room and sold goods until Friday April 20th when we returned home to Unity with the few goods left, giving perfect satisfaction to Mr. Pettel by whom we were employed. But I was taken sick the morning we left Medford & went home quite sick of my old army complaint's: piles and catarrh. April 25th, 1883 being somewhat better we gave possession of our old home to Dr. N. D. Briggs And moved into our house near the church, worked 2 days that week for Mr. Petlet in the store changing goods forward, putting in partitions and ceiling.
Gold Company Investment
Got a letter from Frank Ransom the 26th that he had sold out farm in Nebraska for $1,800. I then turned my attention to settling up my accounts, taking a few notes and but very little money, have been reading up Oregon & Washington Territory from the Oregon & Columbia Transportation Company's pamphlet, also from the Northern Pacific Railroad's pamphlet, and have made up my mind to go to Nebraska where my son Frank lives, and get him to join me in a trip to Washington Territory.
When some friends of mine take a trip to Pueblo, Colorado and invest in a gold & silver mine Mr. Campbell, superintendent of the Wiscent Railroad, and S. A. Cook, a former partner here in trade, take stock in a mine there, form a stock company with $1,000,000 capital in shares at $10 each or 100,000 shares, non-assessable. They have elected J. H. Cook who went out with them, came home and went back as assistant manager in Mr. Cambell's stead. They have two crushing & smelting mills nearly ready to run. The assays are splendid and indications look very flattering. I am offered stock in said mining company, which are now being offered at 1/4 the face or 25%. I am at a stand whether to invest or not. 1883, May 12th I have a long talk with S. A. Cook. I am almost persuaded to buy some shares, and go there instead of going to Washington Territory. In the evening concluded to buy 200 shares and did buy two hundred of S. A. Cook shares in the Combination Mutual, Gold and Silver Mining and Milling Company of ten dollars per share, purchased now of the company for 25 cents on a dollar being five hundred dollars paid for the 200 shares, paid up, in full, I therefore unpacked my valise already packed to start Monday. Pack my trunk for Pueblo, Colorado.
Therefore on Tuesday May the 15th, I start for Neenah to join S. A. Cook. Fall in with E. McMillan at Mannville, who is also going out to Colorado with thoughts of investing in the mining company if all looks favorable. I stopped off at Neenah, took supper with S. A. Cook & family, at 9:15 p.m. we took sleeping car for Milwaukee.
Wednesday May 16th: We took breakfast at the Plankington House: 75¢. I visited Dr. Southwell & family on Grand Avenue, also John H. Topping, an old schoolmate, who is agent for the Colby Ringer Company. Took dinner at the Kirby House and supper in Chicago. Left Chicago for Omaha at 9:10 p.m., in a sleeper.
Thursday, May 17th: We rode through Iowa. Arrived at Council Bluff at 7 o'clock p.m.. It has rained all day. Left Omaha for Denver, Colorado at 8 o'clock p.m..
Friday 18th: Arrived at Kearney Junction just at day light, saw Johnnie Chidester, G. D. Aspinwall, Claude & Charlie, rode through the Platte River valley to Denver where we arrived at 6 o'clock p.m.. Stayed at the St. James Hotel. Bill $2.50 each.
Saturday Morning, May 19th: We left Denver, city of 70,000 inhabitants, after spending an evening with Mr. Waldo taking in the Tabor's Opera at the opera house, it being the best and costliest opera house in America, and only one better in the world & that is in Paris. Then visited The gambling houses and Chinese quarters, etc., etc.. We then struck out for Pueblo 118 miles South. Then from Pueblo to Canyon City 60 miles. Then from Canyon City to Silver Cliff 28 miles. From Canyon City to Silver Cliff the fare was ten cents per mile. Stayed at the Powell House. Silver Cliff used to have population of 3,000 now only 1,200.
Sunday May 20th: J. H. Cook met us at hotel with conveyance and we rode past the Bassetville Mines over to Hardscrabble or Chester. Looked over the company's mill and mines. The Elevation is very great: said to be 13,000 feet above sea level. We are up near timber line where no vegetation or timber grows. Air very light and dry, can run but very little way until acclimated. Fresh meats hung up in the sun keeps good. Stock dying along the road is not buried or removed but does not smell offensive.
Monday 21st: I got up at 4:40 a.m. walked up on the mountain to Honest Abe Lode, or mineArrived there at 5:30 a.m. sun shone beautifully. Then back to breakfast. The name of the mining company is the Combination Mutual, Gold and Silver Mining and Milling Company. The officers are: Charles C. Smith president, George P. Carr, vice president, G. Campbell general manager, Thomas Bell, Jr., secretary and treasurer. The inventor of the new style crusher & amalgamelos is Mr. Benson, the assayer is Mr. Prof Mason of Appleton, Wisconsin. I boarded with a Mr. Powell $5.50 per week, viewed the different shafts and claims, found plenty of ore but of a peculiar kind; very hard rock, which has to be crushed and smelted to separate it from the rock. All or nearly all of the officers were present and business seemed not satisfactory. Some of the parties not coming on with ready cash as agreed on. Mill not yet ready to run. Credit of company at the cliff very limited. J. H. Cook, George E. Smith & Ed McMillen went over to the Dora Mills 11 miles on railroad to see mill & then 6 miles to Silver Cliff. Got back at night with my trunk and Mr. Carr came also.
Tuesday May 22nd: Very nice and pleasant. Things look very unsatisfactory. S. A. Cook has not yet paid in to company money for my shares. And according to promise if, all was not favorable at mines. Paid back the money for my shares in the afternoon. J. H. Cook, S. A. Cook, C. C. Smith, Mr. Benson, and myself went to Dora Mills, viewed the concentrating works, and then drove to Silver Cliff. Stayed at the new St. Cloud Hotel. On our way to Dora Mills we visited (J. E.) S. A. Cook and I visited the fort where Kit Carson with one comrade kept 300 Indians at bay for three days. It is near Dora Mills. We also saw several magpies and a gray wolf close by the road.
May 23rd: Weather very fine. I stayed at Silver Cliff at St. Cloud Hotel waiting for my trunk to be brought in from Chester. Mr. Bassick of NG came, he was the man who first found and worked the rich Bassickville mines near there.
The next day I started for Kearney City, Nebraska, where my son Frank lived. The railroad ran along down the Grape Creek nearly to Canyon City, then along the Arkansas River to Pueblo where we arrived at 1:40 p.m.. It is 28 miles from Silver Cliff to Canyon City, and 60 miles from there to Pueblo, then 118 miles from Pueblo to Denver City. The state prison and military academy are at Pueblo Also, large smelting works. I met S. A. Cook on train just north of Colorado Springs. He returned to Denver City with me, where we met George Peterson going to the mines at Chester. He got off of train and stopped with us at Denver at the Central House.Friday May 25th: I left Denver at 8:30 o'clock a.m., rode down the valley, took supper at North Platte, arrived at Kearney at 10:30 in the evening. Stopped with my niece & nephew G. D. Aspinwalls. Visited there the next day. Frank Ransom came there at noon; I went home with him toward evening.
Sunday May 27th: Went over to J. B. Waits and spent the day, had a good visit. Stopped a short time with Richard Waters' folks on our way home to Frank's. John E. Chidester got home from North Platte and came to Frank's in the evening. I wrote a letter home and one to D. C. Stevens of California, also one to Harvey Ransom. The next day rode with J. E. Chidester, a nephew, over north in bluffs. It rained and hailed quite hard in afternoon. We passed ten covered wagons going to Washington Territory. Thought of visiting D. C. Stevens in California but got a letter with route and distances given from the U.S. railroad which prevented my visit and conclude to go direct to San Francisco. Had I went to D. C. Stevens should have had to stopped off at Reno, then went by stage 90 miles to Susanville, then 70 miles to Adin or Beiber. 6 miles from Stevens, then by stage 120 miles to Redding, Then 234 miles to get to the Oregon railroad running to Portland. It was too much of a mountain stage ride. I went to Kearney 12 miles. Stayed with G. D. Aspinwall again.
To California, Oregon, and Washington
Wednesday May 30th: I wrote a letter home. Bought a ticket to San Francisco for $45. Let G. E. Chidester have a ticket to Wisconsin to pay for in the future. Wrote an article for the Phonographpaper, and start for the West at 10:45 a.m.. Very long train and very full: day was fine, got to North Platte at supper time, 90 miles. It being an emigrant train we traveled slow, but very pleasantly, having time to get out and view each town or place we came to.
Thursday May 31st: We passed Sidney at 5 o'clock a.m., and Cheyenne at 3 o'clock p.m.. We passed through 5 long snowsheds. At 6 o'clock p.m. we see lots of snow along the snow breaks and on the mountains. The rocky scenery was beautiful, at Sherman, the summit, was a monument showing the likeness of General Sherman. There the waters divide, on the east flowing to the Mississippi and on the west, to the Pacific Ocean. Sherman is the highest altitude any point on the road. We arrived at Laramie in the evening.
Friday June 1st: We are well up on the mountains. The soil is very sandy and plenty of alkali, and sage brush. We saw some antelope. We crossed the North Platte River at Fort Steele at 7:30 in the morning 337 miles east of Ogden. There were three companies of soldiers stationed here, altitude 8,200 feet above sea level. Soon after we pass two drove or herd of deer, and some antelope. Some shots fired at them, but only scared them. Passed Rawlins at 8:30 a.m. A large round house here and quite a village, 332 miles to Ogden, west, and 710 to Omaha, train stopped at Bitter Creek for dinner at 3 o'clock we traveled all day through an arid desert. We passed Rock Springs at 7 o'clock p.m., a coal town from which large amounts of stove coal is shipped. Three tramps came in our car in evening, for plunder or to beat their way but we ousted them at first station past Green River City in evening.
Saturday June 2nd : We pass Evanston on Bear River, a very rapid mountain stream. We also pass Echo City and the 1,000 Mile Tree, Devil's Slide, and Tree Tunnels, Weber City at the west end of Weber Canyon, 24 miles from Ogden. At Ogden I sent a card home and one to Frank. We left Ogden at 2 o'clock p.m. and soon began to go around the north end of Salt Lake. Then we began to climb the Sierra Nevada mountains. At night we just began to cross the Great American Desert.
Sunday June the 3rd: Still crossing the desert until 7:30 a.m. when we arrived at Toano where we got some water (Arthur S. Ransom graduated while I was in the west in June, 1883) I got the first good cup of coffee since we left Nebraska 10¢; paid 25¢ for 1/4 of lb of butter. Arrived at Humbolt Wells or Humbolt, at 10 o'clock a.m.. Saw some Shohoni Indians. Took supper at Elko, the county seat of Elko County, Nevada. The Tuscarona Gold Mines, are 50 miles west of here. We passed Carlin just at dusk, still following the Humbolt River.
Monday June 4th: We arrived at Winnemucca at early morn 463 miles from San Francisco this is a great grazing country, still passing down the Hombolt Valley, arrived at the Humbolt House at 8:20 a.m. 432 miles from Frisco and 459 miles from Ogden. It has been all sand and gravel for a long way. There is nice grass and garden caused by irrigation from mountain and fountain in a sandy desert. Arrived at Rye Patch 9:30 sent a paper house. Passed Brown at 12:30. Saw some Pioute Indians. Saw my first swift, a species of lizard. Just below here the Humbolt River sinks into the ground. Then we begin to ascend upon and pass over the White Plains, a dreary waste of sand & gravel; for 60 or 70 miles; at The southwest end of plain we passed in sight of the hot springs, arrived at Wadsworth at 5:30 o'clock p.m. 328 miles from Frisco. We crossed the Truckee River here. A new round house is being built here. We passed the Truckee Meadows at sunset. Arrived at Reno at dark, a very nice place of 3,000 inhabitants, one of the oldest cities in California, and formerly one of the roughest towns. Arrived at Truckee in the night.
Tuesday June 5th: At daylight we awoke in the Sierra Nevada snowsheds, the longest one being 1659 feet long, this is number 6, the total length of sheds being 40 miles. We pass on winding around the mountains, rounded Cape Horn spur at 9:15 a.m. Arrived at Auburn we saw them raking and hauling hay, oats also ripe. Mrs. Hopkins, son & daughter fellow passengers left us at Roseburgh Junction for Marysville, a very warm day. Arrived at Sacramento at 2:30 p.m.. A very large, nice city, but the river is sometimes higher than the city. Protected by a nice levy. Sacramemto Valley is a very nice country. Barley is ripe & wheat is nearly so.
Wednesday June 6th: We arrived at Oakland Ferry at 3:00 o'clock a.m. on the ferry boat at 5 o'clock arrive at San Francisco at 6:30 a.m.. Put up at the Franklin Hotel, traveled the city quite thoroughly in company with fellow passenger George Carston, who is looking up a schoolmate, found him at last. G. Carston is on his way to the West Indies. I wrote a letter home and one to Frank & one to G. D. Aspinwall.
Thursday June 7th: Hunted up an old friend, Clinton A. Edson, went home with him to Alameda across the bay. Stayed all night, wrote an article for the Phonograph.
Friday June 8th: Left Edson's at 7 o'clock a.m.. Left hotel for the ocean steamer Columbia at 9 o'clock, left Spear Street dock in steamer for Portland, Oregon at 10 o'clock a.m.. Passed out of the Golden Gate about 11 o'clock. About 4 o'clock p.m. saw a large black whale soon after that a heavy sea came on. The water came splashing over hurricane deck. Portholes and all openings were closed up. Passengers nearly all sea sick. We were running in sight of shore with rocks and breakers well out in the sea at dusk. The foghorn was blown at intervals until it was thought unsafe to keep their course, and they put out to sea.
Saturday, June 9th: The sea was high all day. All lay sick in their berths, most of the day.
Sunday June l0th: Was too late to cross the bar at the mouth of the Columbia river when the tide went in, had to lay off until 2 o'clock p.m.. Then we passed in over the bar, saw the wreck of the steamer Great Republic on the bar. We stopped at Astoria at 3 o'clock. I went on shore and got a meal, the first I had ate since Friday noon. Left Astoria for Portland at 5:30 o'clock p.m.. Passed up the Columbia River in the night, arrived at Portland At 2 o'clock a.m.. Lay on boat until daylight.
Monday June 11th: Put up at the Burton House, after breakfast. Nine of us (fellow passengers) took a stroll through the city. At 8 o'clock went to the post office. I got a letter from J. E. Chidester and two from home. Then went to the Bureau of Immigration for information and maps of Washington Territory. Wrote to Frank Ransom & one to home. At night was sick. Bought a ticket to Sprague, Washington Territory: $19.25.
Tuesday June 12th,1883 : Left Portland for Sprague at 7:20 a.m.. Rode on cars through a splendid scenery. Close by the south bank of the Columbia River, at Cascade there is some government improvements being done on locks. Passed along by the many villages to Wallula Junction. Then from Wallula Junction, we took passage on the Northern Pacific Railroad not yet completed. From Portland to Wallula Junction is the Oregon River and Navigation Company Road. We crossed the Snake River at Ainsworth on a steam ferry boat. Run whole train on in two sections. Pass on to Sprague where we arrive at 2:30 o'clock a.m. next morning.
Wednesday June 13th: We stopped at the Ryan House, kept by J . J. Ryan. Four of us viz, H. W. Creason, A. W. Bryant, John Lyman, and myself. Wishing to make a trip into the Big Bend of the Columbia, we tried to buy us each a pony saddle and bridle. Prices here were rather high and good ponies scarce. So we concluded to go on to Spokane Falls.
Thursday June 14th: We went to Spokane Falls 40 miles. Stopped at the California House, bought each of us an outfit pony, saddle, bridle, blanket, lariat rope and provisions For the trip and started out at four o'clock p.m.. Pony & rig cost me $2.50 besides provisions. Camped first night about 10 miles out at Mud Springs.
Friday June 15th: Left mud springs at 5 o'clock a.m.. Passed Deep Creek a new town 16 1/2 miles out. Grist mill, 2 blacksmith shops, l store & 2 saloons. Stony all around village site. The country is nearly all a high very dry rolling prairie except near the streams. There is scrub pines or jack pines. A stage is run from Spokane Falls to Fort Spokane 50 Miles. We passed a place just started 25 miles from Spokane Falls called Fairweather. Farther on we pass Cottonwood 41 miles out, here is a small spring brook with willows along its banks. Still farther on is Wildgoose Bill, an early settler who makes a living by hunting and trapping, and showing the lines of vacant land to newcomers. We camp near a stream of water. Wolves are around our camp at night, but they dare not come inside our pickets of ponies, which are picket all around us and snort and give us warning of their approach.
Soon after this is nice level prairie for 20 or 30 miles. The Big Coolies must be about 85 or 90 miles from Spokane Falls and 75 or 80 from Sprague. I think within two years there will be a railroad passing through near the Coolies and so on to the Sound. But I am so old and it being so far from settlement, I don't think my family would like to move there. We then make for the railroad in a southwesterly direction. When we struck Crab Creek we found the first natural meadows, two or three of the which was taken long years ago. It is a very rough stony prairie country. We strike the railroad just below a new station being built by the name of Harrison. We then follow along near the railroad on the north west side up to Sprague. Here we sold our ponies and saddles. I sold my whole outfit for twenty five dollars. Here I separate with my comrades. They going back to California and I go to Spokane Falls again, send their baggage to them. Here I stop with my fellow passenger across the Uprra Ellis & family, a mechanic. I also find lawyer, O. F. Weed & wife here, formerly from Palmyra, Wisconsin. I wrote another article For thePhonograph. I then leave Spokane by railroad, cross the Idaho line, Rathdrum, Cocoalla, Lake Algonia, a nice clear lake in the mountains surrounded by fir & cedars. Took breakfast at Sant Point On the Pend, d'Oerille Lake, or as they call it there Penderey, at 8 o'clock a.m. pass on to Heron Siding, in Montana. Here I hired out as carpenter at $4 per day, first worked at a double section house.
Thursday June 21st: Bought comforter and began to live in a tent.
Saturday June 23rd: We put on building paper and rustic siding. At evening there was a railroad collision, on the curve just east of Heron Siding. We turned out and helped clear away the wreck and get the men from under the trains. 61 Chinamen missing, engineer (Uncle George) killed and a painter by the name of Joseph Hayes. The engineer of the wood train thrown about 50 feet in air, and fireman about 25 feet high. They light on the side of the sandy grade or embankment were sadly bruised but still lived.
The next day Sunday June 24th our gang made 34 coffins for the dead and I packed the white men in ice to send them home. The railroad bridge at the 2nd crossing of the Clark Fork River is declared unsafe.
The next Tuesday after supper 40 volunteers from the three gangs working here were called for to go and repair the bridge which is 95 feet high. One of the piers is settling over one side. So we broke camp loaded up and were off at 11 o'clock at night. Arrived at crossing at 2o'clock in the morning. Put up three tents and then at early morning we examined the bridge and began our repairs and a risky job. We put a new set of caps across the top of pier, and then heavy braces up to the trusses and also to the bent and pier from both sides.
It was very warm weather Thursday morning the job being completed we were waiting for the train to convey us back. I went to mountain spring and brook, got one speckled trout for my dinner, loaded up and started for Heron Siding at 3 o'clock p.m. and arrived there at 7 o'clock. Took supper at Benson's Boarding House, were allowed extra time.
Friday June 29th: M. B. Potter's gang with whom I worked, started for White Pine to build a tool house and double section house about 40 miles east of Heron Siding. Here we worked until I started for Dakota August 6th. White Pine is in a dense forest 4 miles east from Beaver Creek. Game very plenty: deers, bears, etc..
Saturday June 30th: An engine ran off into the Clark Fork River about 4 1/2 miles east of Thompson between Thompson and Eddy.
Tuesday July 3rd: I took 3 men and went to Trout Creek 10 miles and got a hand car for use. As we boarded with section boss 2 miles west of work, had plenty of venison, 12 men in our gang viz foreman, M. B. Potter, N. C. Ransom, Hugh McKinnon, workers at the bench. E. C. Wood, J. R. Wood, John Rowan, F. H. Smith, Thomas Goss, W. Nelson, John Scott, George Scott, Henry Towerton.
Sunday July 22nd: We moved our tent up from old camp 302 to 304 where our work was a saloon followed up from Heron Siding but we soon froze him out. We made twenty window frames and 19 door frames for sec house. Mike Mathers has 42 boarders now, 3 gangs pile drivers, bridge crew & ours, & 4 well diggers. I was fortunate in buying a kit of toola when I first went to work and when I left sold them to H. Towerton.
Sunday July 29th: I wrote another article to the Phonograph.
Monday August 6th: I left white pine for Missoula, passed Belknap, Thompson, Eddy, Paradise, Horse Plains, Jocko; Arlee; Flathead Reservation. Arrived at Missoula at 5 o'clock at night. Stopped at the Occidental Hotel. We then went on construction train to Cramers: 23 miles. Then took stage for Helena. My fare $21.50. Rode to Deer Lodge before we slept: 63 miles. Stopped at the International Hotel. The next day we rode, in stage from Deer Lodge to Helena: 45 miles. Bought a ticket to Jamestown, Dakota for $48.45. There I left Frank Horr Whom I met at Missoula.
Thursday Aug 9th: I left Helena at 6 o'clock a.m. followed down the Missouri River, passed Gallatin. Then up the Golden Valley, a very fine country, to Livingston, then through the Yellowstone Valley to Billings where we arrived in the evening. In the next morning we arrive at Glendive, then on to Allard. We then pass through what is called the Badlands. We arrive at Bismark in the evening of the 10th.
Saturday Morning Aug 11th: I arrived at my daughter's in Jamestown, Dakota at 3 o'clock in the morning, or at Dimmick Marsh's. Found Dimmick and Edith well. I had a very pleasant visit here. My wife and Herbert A. Ransom, our youngest son, & Mattie Marsh left Unity, Wisconsin the same day I left White Pine, Montana. Expected to arrive at Jamestown before I did, was taken sick at Eau Claire, stayed at my brother's nearly two weeks then came on to Jamestown. While there I put on cornice and sided Dimmick & Rob King's houses.
Monday 20th: My wife got there sick and tired out.
Sunday 26th: We all ride out to Dimmick's homestead 16 miles and tree claim 20 in. Had an awful blizzard and rain.
Thursday August 30th,1883: Edith's birthday 20 years old. Ma gave her a new book called Farm Ballads and a new dress. I gave her a postenomie and hoop skirt.
Friday Aug 31st: Started on morning train for St. Paul & Eau Claire. Arrived at Fargo about 8 o'clock for breakfast. We had passed the Dalrymple Farm in Dakota of 28,000 acres. They were just in the midst of harvest. We saw 25 self binders cutting on one piece of wheat. We rode through Minnesota all day and arrived at St. Paul at 6 o'clock. Stopped over night at the Clarendon Hotel for Ma to rest. F. H. Welz proprietor, the Grand Nprr Excursion Party will be here Monday September 3rd.
Saturday September 1st,1883: It rained in the forenoon until 9 o'clock, Bert and I strolled over the city. After the storm Ma & Bert took a walk. We took the 12:45 train for Eau Claire. Fare from St. Paul to Abbottsford Junction $6.15. Round trip ticket $10.50. We arrived at Eau Claire at 5 o'clock p.m.. Nancy Ransom was there to meet us. Clara was also in town. Got to Anson's at sundown.
Sunday September 2nd: Anson and I took a walk. took dinner with Delos and Rose Ransom. Saw Chauncy Pechtel, and James Holden about getting lots at Truax side track.
Monday 3rd: Anson threshed at Mr. Osmond's just across from his home. Nancy & Kate went down to Anson's.
Tuesday September 4th: We start for home and Eva goes with us. Went to Mr. Petrie's to stay until we get our house which is not vacated yet.
Wednesday 5th: We get possession of our house in afternoon, but before we get there we sold out to Prof James C. Hall for $300. I then buy two lots of Prof J. W. Salter for $85. Grub them and build on them. We moved into the lower story of I.O.O.F. Hall convenient to my work. We moved into our new home Tuesday October 30th, 1883. The front part, or store, not completed. I work away at house and get shelves up & counter in store.
November 26th: Had thought of putting in some drugs and patent medicines, but have concluded to put in millinery, dress making, & ladies furnishing goods. So have made arrangements with Mrs. Sarah J. Coggins, a sister-in-law of Polo, Illinois, to come up and go in partnership with my wife in the business.
Sunday November 25th: Quarterly meeting here, presiding elder is Mr. Erish, it rained toward evening.
This winter or December, I went to Milwaukee and met Mrs. Coggins on her way to Unity. We bought a stock of millinery & dressmaker's goods and she and my wife went into the business. When I got home I hired out to M. B. Peterson who was putting in a saw mill 3 1/2 miles east from Unity at two dollars a day and board. I hewed the engine bed timber And helped get the overlays on basement to mill. I was then sent to Romeo 3 1/2 miles south from Unity; at William Van Hooslar's mill (News Article below) to scale logs on the pond, and mill yard where M. B. Peterson had 27 sleighs hauling logs, besides many farmers' teams hauling logs & selling to Van Hoosear. Snow was about 2 1/2 & 3 feet deep. It kept me very busy from daylight until 8:30 o'clock in the evening reconing up and making out report every night to the bookkeeper, Ed Reardons, in the store.
In April, 1884 as my family did not wish to move out on the farm 9 miles west. I traded the farm to James Peterson for a billiard hall and restaurant in Unity 24 by 48 feet with hall & 78 chairs stove above & below. Hired a man and put him in there where we done well. My wife sold out the millinery business to Mrs. Coggins. After running & renting the hall for nearly 3 years, it caught fire and burned up while George Thron was running & renting it together with billiard table. Pool Table; 2 stoves; about 85 chairs above & below & everything in it. I got $1,250 insurance.
My son-in-law, Dimmick Marsh & family moved back from Jamestown, Dakota in November 1st while I was at Neillsville as juryman: while there, I was taken with rheumatism or partial paralysis in my left shoulder, arm & hand. Dimmick worked that winter at Little Black Building, a mill.
In February, 1888 I bought an 80 acre farm of W. W. Woodruff, 2 miles from the village of Unity for $1,285 and in Clark County, Wisconsin, and a 40 acres of marsh or meadow land in Marathon County, Wisconsin, 3 miles from the farm. We moved on the farm March, 1888 with 21/2 feet of snow there on the ground. The farm was in bad condition. No stable, house up on blocks 21/2 feet from the ground just barely sheeted, floors laid & roofed; & outside doors & windows in. We opened up a sugarbush, with pails & pans to catch the sap: boiling kettle and sap pan. Tapped about 250 trees; had a poor season; but made quite a quantity of sugar; molasses and vinegar. As spring advanced we stumped; broke-up and cropped about ten acres, move and set up a hay barn 24 × 30, sixteen feet high. Moved an old log house, finished it off for a stable; and moved a hewed log ice house from town that I owned and finished it off for 5 head of cattle. Built a hog pen; tore away all the fences while there; put up about 120 rods of wire fence and laid over all the other fences. We had about 38 acres of improvement. Cut quite a quantity of lame hay and 12 to 15 tons of marsh hay on the 40 acres. Herbert Austin Ransom, our youngest son, attended the high school at Unity. (Herbert A. Ransom graduated at Unity High School in June, 1890)
(Diagram drawn on cellar) After haying and harvest, we dug a cellar 20 by 24 feet. Stoned it up and put a good wall under the whole house. Partitioned of the chamber and lathed and plastered the whole house; built a bow window in front room. Crops were very poor this season on account of dry weather. In the winter we took a job of skidding and hauling 1,100 railroad ties 3 1/2 miles to the railroad and skidding and hauling saw logs for Asa Williams. Snow became deep: and one of our big horses died. We did not make anything teaming this winter.
In January I hired out to William Van Hoosear & Company to help put in the machinery for a new saw mill: 6 miles west from Unity at $1.75 per day and board. Worked a few weeks and was taken with palsy and rheumatism in my right shoulder and arm, the same as I was the winter before in my left. Was laid up until warm weather in the spring. This season we stumped, broke up more of our meadows and had very fair crops. Papered and sided our house & painted it. But everything was low in price and we were in debt 5 or 6 hundred dollars. So we had an auction. Sold off everything but 1 cow & hog; moved back into our house at Unity. Dimmck Marsh worked for G. W. Henderson there making pumps. We rented our farm for 1 year. Dimmick moved to Fond du Lac in the spring and he and my oldest son Frank worked in the bridge crew for the Wisconsin Central Railroad Company the next winter Dimmick & Edith moved back on the farm. I bought a span of horses, harness & wagon & 3 cows. They worked hard, but it was a very cold, wet summer; crops except hay was very poor. We sold out the farm in the fall of 1891 to O. H. Baird for $2,100. Paid up for lands & all and in December Dimmick and I went to Milwaukee and bought a house and lot at 942 Robinson Avenue for $1,500. 1892Dimmick and Royal Weed logged a little. I went to Manville for Henry Sherry twice, first to invoice stock of store goods & personal property and then again to pack up store goods to ship away. Dimmick went with me the last time. I also had the agency of William Vanhoosear & Eighmy to sell their lands that had been cut over. Took R. H. Brown in with me and we sold 52 forties to Dowdson & Company of Winona, Minnesota, at $3 per acre. My commission came to $324.50.
April 14th, 1892 Thursday: We had an auction; sold off all we did not want to move to Milwaukee. We shipped 4,500 lbs. of goods & tools.
Friday April 15th: My wife, Edith and her 3 children and Bert went to Fond du Lac to visit with Frank Odel Ransom's family & then Wednesday next came on to Arthur E. Ransom's at Milwaukee. Dimmick & I packed up the goods and took them to depot at Unity on Saturday April 16th, and he came on night train to Fond du Lac, and on Monday went on to Milwaukee. Moved in to our house when goods arrived Friday, April 22nd, 1892. I stayed at Unity to consummate the deal for Van Hoosear land. Went to Neillsville. Made out the deeds & mortgage back; got back to Unity April 30th and went that night to Milwaukee. Arrived at home Sunday May 1st, 1892.
After having the lagrippe the second time last spring my health has been very poor. Have a pain in head and eyes & rheumatism. We paid up in full for our house in May, 1892 and I deeded it to Dimmick E. Marsh. He to support Ma and me While we live. I worked a little for George Stearns and Michael Hickey during the summer. We tore down pantry partition and stair, put in new stairs in cellar & up above: Finished off pantry, made screens to windows & door and painted them. In October Kate & I went to Jefferson County on a visit to Iva Campbell's, Clark Dibble, Harvey Ransom, etc., etc.. Got home about November 12th and Sally Ann, Harvey's wife, came with us. My pension was allowed while we were gone at $6 per month. Sally Ann went home Monday. Tuesday the next day I got a telegram that Harvey's youngest daughter, wife of Chussing Elery Petrie was dead. Wednesday Kate & I started back to Harvey's and attended the funeral November 26th. Then came home Saturday. Steady cold weather ever since with a few days mild weather. No January thaw. Up to this date February 21st,1893. In August last, 1892, I presented my card from the G.A.R. Unity post. While a member of Unity post had held the offices of quartermaster: adjutant and commander: owing to the hard times consequent upon the presidential election of Grover Cleveland, the saborers & mechanics were (many of them) out of employment. My son-in-law D. E. Marsh; managed to have work until July, 1893. Then sought for work until November, 1893 without success. My wife and I went to Ira Campbell's in Dousman on a visit and to see if I could not find something to do.
Dibble Farm in Summit
I finally found a chance to run the Dibble & Brown farm in Summit, Waukesha County. I there sent for Dimmick to come out there & we struck up a bargain. We to have $375 house rent, firewood, half acre garden, milk & butter for family & half of eggs & poultry raised. We had 17 cows to milk & 8 horses & lots of hogs to care for & farm of 150 acres to work: We rented our house in Milwaukee for $10 per month. Found Mr. Dibble a very nice mare. Had a pleasant home for the year. Then Dimmick took the farm for the second year. In August last, I felt such pain in my breast that I could hardly lift any considerable weight up to my breast. I went to see Dr. Wilkinson & then Dr. Miller of Oconomowoc who told me I had a tumor in the breast. Dr. Miller treated me for over a year at this writing, September 1st, 1895 & still the bunch & trouble is there yet.
Last February, 1895, I thought I would correspond with relatives in regard to making an effort to collect a supposed fortune for us left in England. All seemed anxious to have our claim investigated. But most of them held back: did not want to chip in to pay expenses. I thought it my duty to see if there was anything left in England for me: my children & relatives. While life was yet spared me. So in June I hired a man in my place at home: furnished my own money for expenses to Vermont, Massachusetts, & Connecticut: (by a sale of house & 2 lots I owned at Unity). So I started to hunt up the genealogy or records in the East. On my trip I stopped with Albert F. Ransom of Burlington, Racine County. He has lost his wife since I was there. Then bought an unlimited ticket by the Waubash Line to Boston. Stopped at Niagara Falls: then to Buffalo, N.Y., where I called on Dr. David Ransom's family. Then on to Rome, N.Y.. Called on James H. Searles, whose mother was Martha Gott Ransom. Then on to Eagle Bridge & north to Rupert, Vermont. Then back to Eagle Bridge & through Hoosar Tunnel 4 3/4 miles long & to Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. Then north to Colerain, then back & on to Boston. Then on to Middleboro, Massachusetts. Then to Providence, R.I.. then to Plainfield & Canterbury, Connecticut. Then on to New London at the mouth of the Thames River: arrived just in time to see the shell boat race between the Yale & Harvard college cubs. The Yale won: time 4 miles in 20 minutes. Then on to Lyme, Connecticut. At the mouth of the Connecticut River & in sight of Long Island Sound. Then by carriage to Hamburgh where the Old Lyme records were. (The town having been divided) by the way I will state that all records of births, deaths, & marriages: also real estate are kept in the town clerk's offices in the New England states. The oldest records during the time those states were under British rule before the Revolutionary War, the writing was in old style and the records not in alphabetical order: but entered promiscuously: as they came in: real estate, births, mortgages, marriages, deaths, etc.: in whatever name it might be. So that it was a tedious job to hunt them out, and all lands settled under the rule of King George the III was set off in small tracts. Surveyed then divided off in lots: in size according to quality & location to make them nearly equal in value. Some being in the valleys, some on top of the hills or mountains. Then those that wanted lands would meet & draw cutts for choice of draws, usually 36. So each would take his pick until the last three lots. One of which was set off for school: one for church & the last for Leits, which I suppose meant: to government to pay for survey, etc.. In one office Middleboro, Massachusetts I had 16 books to examine & in Lyme or Hamburgh 14. I found Ransom records in Hamburgh dating as far back as 1709. It took me a long time to look over the old records. The Ransoms had all died or moved away from all of the places I had any knowledge of: I found a long list of records, but nearly all of whom I found a record are dead & gone years ago.
When I got home I went to Milwaukee & saw lawyer W. C. Williams: who had been to London 2 years ago & collected a fortune. He would go to England for us if we would get him $300 for expenses & if he found a fortune, would collect it for 5% for those who helped pay the investigation. As I had been all the expense so far: and not being blessed with much ready money, I asked those of my relatives who would to contribute something to send Mr. Williams to England. He said if he went this year he must go soon so as to be back in time for all term of court. So Ira Campbell, who married my sister Serena's daughter Julia, gave me $25 & Clark Dibble, who married Serena's oldest daughter Maranta, gave $25. Heman Newton, who married brother Harvey's 3rd daughter Matilda M., gave $10. Brother Harvey gave $25. Brother Anson B. gave $25, and E. B. Ransom of Fisk Station, Winnebago County, Wisconsin sent me $40 which made $150, just half required to send the lawyer. So Harvey Ransom hired the balance required and went with me to Milwaukee on Monday, July 22nd,1895, and made arrangements with lawyer Williams to start that week Wednesday for New York and start across the ocean on Saturday, July 27th. We paid him $300 & took his receipt & contract in writing he gave me his address in England where to write him or how to send him a telegraph dispatch if required: which he said would be 22¢ each word. He is to look up the family record in England, etc.. I wrote him August 12th, 1895 and am expecting to hear from him now this coming week, September 8th today. I forgot to say when I returned from Milwaukee July 22nd at night I found a letter from the Dr. David Ransom's family of Buffalo, N. Y. with a check for $100 (may God bless them.) So now we are only $50 back.
Well Mr. Walter S. Dibble, for whom we are running this farm went to Boston, Massachusetts, started two week ago yesterday to attend a big Masonic conclave there. We have 15 acres ready to sow to rye, but our threshing not done yet. Corn planted 32 acres about half cut, 37 hogs fattening, 7 horses on the farm: and all sick with the epasotic; or distemper; one is nearly well again. Expect Mr. Dibble home this coming week. It has been very dry the past two seasons here: pasture very poor: milk 12 cows at present; only get 130 to 150 pounds of milk per day. Lovely faced country here; but gravel too near the surface on Summit Prairie.
My wife & I went to
Oconomowoc yesterday and spent last evening with J. M. Wigginton
& family. Learned of the death of Michael Crosland of Little
Falls, Minnesota, an old neighbor in Concord, Jefferson County,
also Mrs. Daniel Webb of Concord; and so we older ones move along;
on the stream of time; will have to bid adieu to earth &
earthly things soon. (Aug 8th, 1896)
More on the Genealogy Search
I write again in this. Our lawyer W. C. Williams returned from England in October, 1895. Brought back copies of 4 estates advertised in London for Ransoms, but nothing to help our interests there. We must first find where Robert Ransom, (my great great grandfather), was born in 1683; i.e. in what shire or parish and his parents' names. I wrote a letter to the rector of the Church of England at Colchester, England December 24, 1895 but never got a reply. There in April, 1896 I wrote the rector at Canterbury, England & enclosed an express money order. That was returned to dead letter office & then to me marked (refused at Canterbury by Rector) I still keep up correspondence with some relatives, one George W. Ransom of Bookenstraw; Chautauqua County, N.Y.; they have annual reunions, wanted me to go to England. Was to have a meeting June 24th, 1896. Wrote as though they would raise money for expenses of trip: but have not heard from them since meeting: although I have wrote them since. Perhaps I shall pass away & our ancestry and fortune- never be obtained in England.
When our two years expired on Mr. Dibble farm November 21st, 1895, we hired a house & moved to Dousman 4 1/2 miles south & 8 1/2 miles south of Oconomowoc. My son-in-law with whom we live made a trip to the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. Like it well. But we could not go there until we can sell our house & lot in Milwaukee. We stayed at Dousman all winter. He then hired out to Captain Antell Store of Summit. Commenced work March 21, 1896 to work one year. My wife & I are with them. Spring opened early, plenty of rain during summer: crops fair: (I was elected justice of peace) but chinch bugs worked quite bad in barley & corn: Army worms troubled some farms badly. We are just through harvesting & stacking. Had 21 acres of rye; 14 of barley; 33 of oats; 18 of corn; 15 of meadow; have 5 horses; 8 cows: 5 two-year old heifers; 11 sheep; 32 hogs; & 62 hens on the place: we get $360 a year; house; firewood; garden; of the eggs & of poultry raised, board ourselves. Conventions over. Major William McKinley nominated for president & Garret A. Hobart of N.J. for vice president on Republican ticket. Major Edward Schofield for governor. The balance of state officers re-nominated; finance and tariff seem to be the only issues. When our year was out for Captain Stone; we hired a farm in Ottawa; Waukesha County, from Allen Muckelston; for which we pay $160 cash rent; only 45 to 50 acres improvement. We got a poor bargain. Land sandy and gravelly. Snow on ground when he took it March 21st, 1897.
I was elected justice at town meeting. We bought a buggy of William Cramer for $18, a six-year-old horse from George wait $20, from John Lurvey for $30, a new harness from Mr. Klaus of Dousman for $23.85. bought a wagon whippletrus & neck yoke & plow, at a sale. We took 8 cows & brood sows on halves from Henry Lydeker. During the fall & winter we earned $77 for carpenter work. In spring following, March 17th, 1898, Dimmick took a farm with 2 brood sows, stock hog & bull left on farm from William H. Lean in Town of Sullivan County for term of three years. We furnish team; wagons: machinery, half of seed & tools. Get one half of proceeds from milk: increase of cattle, hogs, poultry & but not plow land. Hired Frank Cramer eight months: for $112. I was again elected justice of the peace for full term. Crops fair: acres of clover hay; 6 of rye; 16 acres of oats; 2 1/2 of spring wheat, ? acres of corn; Willis P. Sisson: Dimmick's half-brother, made us a long visit from Chicago in August & September, again at Christmas & New Year. At the present writing, January we are getting over 300 lbs. Of milk; milking 17 cows and heifers, feed over five bushels of ground feed daily. Hired a young man by the name of Richard Winkler November 26th Year: for $152.50 & board and washing.
Winona Daily Republican Wednesday, July
07, 1886, Page: 2
AN ENTIRE WISCONSIN HAMLET REDUCED TO ASHES.
Spencer, Wis., July 7.--The entire hamlet of Romeo was burned at 1 o'clock this afternoon, including a saw mill, planing mill, five million feet of lumber, a store, boarding house, and the dwelling houses of William Van Housen. Loss, $150,000; insurance, $50,000. The woods are on fire, and further particulars cannot be obtained.
**Paschal Wallis of Greenwood, Josiah Baker of Richfield (Wood Co., WI), Thomas Peckham and Peter Shafer of Dorchester, also served with the 47th Wisconsin Regiment.
**Family Note: N. C. Ransom died March 22, 1904 at Palmyra WI. He married Catherine Olivia Coggins on November 11, 1853 at Dixon IL. His ancestors from his great grandmother, the Burgess family, arrived on America's shores aboard the Mayflower.
**This Autobiography Transcription is used with permission of the Translator, Kent Mardsen.
Bio: Ransom, N. C. (History 1832)
Contact: Jim Kendall
N.C. Ransom kept a diary for much of his life.
© Every submission is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.
Show your appreciation of this freely provided information by not copying it to any other site without our permission.
A site created and
maintained by the Clark County History Buffs