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Shullsburg WI News

Southwestern Local Newspaper Shullsburg, WI December 28, 1895 by I.W. Glines

Having noticed in a recent number of the "LOCAL" a statement to the effect that Col. E.C. Townsend is the only survivor of persons who came to this county prior to 1840 and also having seen a correction of this statement subsequently made in the Darlington Republican, giving the names of the following persons all of whom are now living and all of whom came to Lafayette County, prior to the year 1840, Jame Bennett, James Bailey, Thos. Bracken, Joseph Billing, H.H. Van Matre, in Fayette, T.J. Van Matre, Joseph Van Matre in Darlington and Mrs. Nancy Monahan of Darlington. Although we have never had the pleasure of a personal acquaintance with any of the above named individuals, nevertheless the names of most of them have been familiar to us for years, and it now affords us the greatest pleasure to be able to add our name to this honored list of old settlers of Lafayette County and while we modestly ask this privilege it may not be amiss in us to give a brief statement of a few of the incidents attending our journey to this Country, and also the inducements which prompted the undertaking. It was late n the fall of 1833 just after the close of the Black hawk war that an uncle of the writer called on us and made a few days visit with the family. We were then just clearing and making a new farm in Morgan Co., Ohio, and just here we beg the sympathy of all who have ever gone through the ordeal of grubbing out and making a new farm in heavy timber. I was a boy then some fourteen years old, and permit me here to say I was quite ambitious in striving to clear this farm. I had been raised in the city up to this time and was now delighted with the change. Stumps and trees were but slight obstacles in the way of our ambition then, but the sequel will show how suddenly our ambition changed for newer scenes of adventure. The aforesaid Uncle had just returned from the lead mines and had been in this country before, also through the Black Hawk war, and during his stay with us related many an interesting and thrilling incident of his frontier life while in this region, and also gave many graphic descriptions of the lead mines in which he had wrought while here. These narratives so deeply impressed my father's mind that before the winter had passed he had determined to see the lead mines. The result was he and an older brother of the writer procured a horse between them and on the 15th day of April 1834, took their departure from home and friends and struck out across the country, bound for the lead mines. In those days the facilities for travel were not as they are today when one can get on board the railway cars and in twenty-four hours cover the space that required these weary travelers several weeks to accomplish. After traveling through a portion of the state of Ohio and Indiana in their route, settlements began to be more scattering and farther between, and many times our travelers were out of sight of human habitation for hours, and upon arriving at the borders of "grand prairie" in Illinois there lay before them a stretch of prairie nearly sixty miles in width. After partaking of the hospitality of a settler who was living on the borders of this great prairie overnight, they started early in the morning and at sundown had finished their journey across to Kellogg's on the opposite side. From here they pursued their journey till in the middle of May they arrived in the lead mines, and took up their board with a family by the name of Schofield who were then proprietors of what was known as "Buttermilk Springs", lying east of Council Hill on the Galena road. After a few days rest my father and brother commenced mining on the lower"east fork" diggings; here they followed mining during the summer of 1834 and the winter of 1834-5, and in the spring of 1835 my father returned home, leaving my brother Joseph behind. After hearing the glowing accounts of my father's, regarding the mines, that we could dig lead ore out of the ground in many places like digging potatoes; that the land here was as smooth as a newly harrowed field, and that all one had to to to make a farm was to plow up the ground and plant it. These stories so wrought upon our young mind that our former ambition to grub out and make a new farm where we were was now beginning to fail us. The stumps and trees looked larger; and the mattock was growing heavier, and finally we came to the conclusion that a man couldn't be exactly level headed that would undertake such a task, with the knowledge that with proper energy he could soon get to a country where the land was free to be had for the taking and already grubbed; and where money could be made fast by digging lead ore from the ground like digging potatoes.