St Croix River Road Ramblings

Welcome to River Road Ramblings.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

September's Bright Blue Weather

October's Bright Blue Weather by Helen Hunt Jackson
(we are very close to October so I took a little liberty here!)
Dad memorized poems as part of his 8th grade education back in the 1920s. In his 80s, he often quoted quoted this favorite as the greens of summer became the spectacular autumn colors.  

O SUNS and skies and clouds of June, 
        And flowers of June together, 
    Ye cannot rival for one hour 
        October's bright blue weather;


    When loud the bumble-bee makes haste, 
        Belated, thriftless vagrant, 
    And Golden-Rod is dying fast, 
        And lanes with grapes are fragrant;

    When Gentians roll their fringes tight 
        To save them for the morning, 
    And chestnuts fall from satin burrs 
        Without a sound of warning;

Some corn lis eft behind the combine to feed the wildlife
    When on the ground red apples lie 
        In piles like jewels shining, 
    And redder still on old stone walls 
        Are leaves of woodbine twining;

    When all the lovely wayside things 
        Their white-winged seeds are sowing, 
    And in the fields, still green and fair, 
        Late aftermaths are growing;

    When springs run low, and on the brooks, 
        In idle golden freighting, 
    Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush 
        Of woods, for winter waiting;

   
 When comrades seek sweet country haunts, 
        By twos and twos together, 
    And count like misers, hour by hour, 
        October's bright blue weather.

    O suns and skies and flowers of June, 
        Count all your boasts together, 
    Love loveth best of all the year 
        October's bright blue weather.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Old River Road

The old River Road north of St Croix Falls shows a little color

Little and big Bluestem north of Wolf Creek 

A little color in the maples at the maple sap shed at the cabin

The River Road near St Croix Falls 


The Alexander Ives stopping place north of Wolf Creek

Bluestem grows as a remnant of the old prairie that covered
the sand hills between Wolf Creek and The St Croix River

Big Bluestem prairie grass north of Evergrfeen 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Combining Corn at Orr Lake--Rural Life Video


Today Chuck and Roy were combining corn on our field south of the cabin.  Chuck rents the land and had corn there this year.  It looks very good this year.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

River Road Ramble Saturday!!!!

C Farmall, H John Deere, two B Allis Chalmers and another H John Deere at Eureka Town Hall

Two very Old Tractors at Eureka -- from James Anderson Collection

Scenes from the Eureka Farmer's Market

Scott and Margo had a double load of pumpkins and squash


Margo had her long johns on for the cold windy day -- selling $200 worth of veggies helped warm her up!

Some color starting along Hwy 87 near the cabin
Much more down by St Croix Falls



Margo and Scott spent Saturday selling pumpkins and squash at the Eureka farmers market where a cold west wind burned their faces.  I spent most of the day at the Cushing museum visiting with the crowds of history lovers with the thermostat turned up to 70 for the day!   Lots of friends, neighbors and visitors from afar dropped in.  Cousin Sheila and Eddie from down by Milwaukee were up at Menominee for the weekend and toured on up to visit!  They said the colors were just getting underway across Wisconsin.

Got two $10 Sterling Eureka and Laketown History Society membership renewals (get a free book that sells for $10 as a premium! --  SELHS WEBSITE

The number of folks who stopped at the museum increased this year--about 60 folks, up from 50 last year.  Haven't heard how the rest of the stops did, but Eureka was busy.  Margo Scott and I joined some of my St Croix Falls HS class of 65 friends at Wolf Creek for bacon cheeseburgers baskets after the ramble.   Marcie, Shirley and Gary, Carol and Bob, and Sandy K had a great visit and caught up on lots of local happenings!  Marcie, knowing I sometimes post pro-Obama stuff on facebook   Russ' facebook timelinegave me a Romney-Ryan sign to put up.  Haven't quite figured where to stick it up yet but do plan to find a place (maybe in my big swamp along Hwy 87 ;-)   Now I have to find an Obama/Biden one to balance it out!

At sunrise Sunday morning, I took the loop around Hwy 87 and the River road from just north of the cabin at the north end of the Ramble to the Info Center in St. Croix Falls picking up the Ramble signs along the way.  The sun was coming up over a wonderfully frosty world!   Deer were out along the freshly harvested fields; crows seemed thick all along the highways, and the early sun made the early fall colors wonderful--especially in St. Croix Falls, where color is farther along then up here at the cabin.   What a colorful and quiet time, Sunday morning, for a Ramble loop tour.

The Ramble is put on by the Sterling Eureka and Laketown Historical Society, with this project headed up by Joan Swanson, assisted by Marcie Marquardt and Justin Swanson.  They do all the behind the scenes work of getting folks signed up, making tour guide and maps and encouraging others to participate.   At Wolf Creek, Donna Blair, our secretary treasurer heads up the celebration at the Methodist Church and this year David Anderson and his daughter Shaila Johnson took care of the Eureka townhall while the Farmers Market people organized that side of the event.  Others had sales, open houses and made the 7th annual even more fun than the previous ones.

The one complaint I got was that the Hanson family didn't sell apples and maple syrup this year--and I take full blame for it -- I had a knee replacement that prevented me from tapping maples (and it turns out they didn't run this year anyway), and then I got Myasthenia Gravis that laid me up and stopped me from spraying the apples at Mom's farm and although there are a lot of apples, they are extremely wormy!   I normally spray them every two weeks from June through August with Sevin--and boy did they need it this year!  The apples are so wormy, that when one falls on the ground in a sunny spot, the worms crawl out and drag it into the shade where they are more comfortable!  So next year with Margo done with cancer and with me getting my MG under conrol, we will do better.

Margo has been doing very well with her first round of chemo.  She feels almost normal most of the time (with the help of nausea medicine).  Her sodium and potassium levels tend to be low with the chemo, so she has taken to eating 3 bananas every day dipping them in a bowl of salt to bring both up to normal!  She plans to be up next Friday for the last Eureka Farmers market where she will be selling pumpkins in quantiies of 1, 3, a dozen and per ton!  Lots of them still left in the garden as well as a full sized pickup load and trailer ready to go.   Did you know that in the olden days, farmers cut up pumpkins and fed them to the cattle and horses as fall and winter food?  Excellent  for dairy cows -- where pumpkin butter comes from!

This week, Monday afternoon is Polk County Genealogy help day at the Luck Museum 1-3:30 followed at 7 pm by the Polk Genealogical monthly program  Richard Kremreiter, of Osceola, will be taking us on a tour of doing family history including his own experiences with DNA testing to find relatives.  He is a retired Methodist minister, and a very good speaker. Free and refreshments at the Luck Museum

Tuesday night is the Polk County History Society meeting and Thursday the Luck Historical Society meetings.  I will add the info for them as soon!


Website for the 7th annual River Road Hwy 87 Ramble HIstorical and Fall Color Tour of the Upper St. Croix
   The oldest road in NW Wisconsin  is celebrated with a series of open houses, sales, historical events and miscellaneous stops, tours, and beautiful fall color

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~wiselhs/ramble.htm

The Map
http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~wiselhs/RambleMap2012.pdf
The List of Stops
http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~wiselhs/Ramblestops2012.pdf

Margo will be at the Eureka Farmer's market selling pumpkins and squash
Russ will be rambling in the morning and at the Cushing Museum in the afternoon
Watch for the yellow and blue signs along the road

This is the area north of St Croix Falls   This year there is an orchard at the north end, lots of garage sales. lots of food stops, and historical stops at Eureka, Wolf Creek and Cushing

FREE


Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Cows are out Rural Life Video

The Rambler takes the Cub Cadet for a drive, finds the cows out.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Early September Stroll at the cabin

Trail next to the cabin

Maiden hair ferns are still green 
With my knee feeling pretty good and myasthenia gravis somewhat under control, I took a stroll through the back woods at the cabin late this afternoon and took a few snapshots.  It is dry, some hints of color, but mostly green yet.  No bugs!!!
Wild fall asters


Bottle Gentians slightly faded 


Golden rod

The lake

Our Pumpkin field


Crab apple

Wild apple tree at the cabin--tart hard apples not wormy, made a good pie! 

The Cabin built from home sawn lumber in 1975
Ladders are because I have been doing some roof work this fall
The siding is rough sawn jackpine from the Sterling Barrens
cut on our own mill and never painted. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1850
U.S. Government Indian Affairs

The US Government Indian agent/commissioner's view of the Ojibwa living in the St. Croix Valley and surrounding area in 1850.  It is shows some of the stereotypes of the era.  Another in the series of earliest written historical records that include the St. Croix Valley.  


The Chippewas number within the limits of the United States about eight thousand souls. Of this number four hundred, at the present time, reside in the State of Michigan, three thousand in Wisconsin, and the remaining four thousand five hundred in the Territory of Minnesota. As those living in Michigan and Wisconsin, on lands ceded to government, will soon fall under the jurisdiction of this superintendency, having been ordered to remove to the country appropriated for them within this territory,—I have thought proper to embrace them in a brief sketch of the history, numbers, villages and modes of livelihood of the different divisions of the tribe. For much of my information upon this subject I am indebted to the researches of Mr. W. W. Warren, an educated Ojibway half breed.

Five thousand Chippewas are equal parties to, and receive annuities under the treaties of St. Peter's in 1837, and of La Pointe in 1842. Of all treaties from time to time entered into by the several bands of this tribe, these two are in every respect the most important. In these treaties they ceded to the United States all their possessions in Wisconsin and Michigan, comprising the rich mineral .district which extends along the south coast of Lake Superior, and the valuable pineries which skirt Black Chippewa, St. Croix, Rum and Wisconsin rivers, and tributaries. For this large cession they receive annually for the respective periods of twenty and twenty-five years, the sum of sixty-four thousand dollars in goods, money, &c. The parties to these treaties, with the exception of the Mississippi division, numbering some eleven hundred, still reside upon the lands they have ceded. By treaty provisions the term of their stay was left optional with the President, and not till last spring was a mandate for their removal given by the Chief Magistrate of the country. Besides the body of five thousand who receive annuities under treaties at St. Peter's, La Pointe, and Fond du Lac, a division of one thousand, known as the Pillager Chippewas, residing in Minnesota, receive a stated amount of goods under the treaty of Leech Lake, in 1847, wherein they sold the lands which have been set apart for the Menomonees. The remaining body of two thousand, residing in this territory, receive neither annuities nor presents.

The Chippewas are a well-marked type, and leading tribe of the Algonquin stock. They call themselves Ojibwaig, the plural of Ojibway, from Ojibwah, "puckered," or "drawn up.'' According to an eminent writer, this name "denotes a peculiarity in their voice or manner of utterance." But as there is no discernible "pucker" in their voice, or mode of speaking their really musical language, a more natural genesis of the word could probably be derived from a circumstance in their past history. Upwards of two centuries ago, they were driven by the Iroquois, or Six Nations of New York, into the straits of Mackinaw, where Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior, are "puckered" into a small channel, or narrow compass. Prior to this event, there is nothing in their traditions, or in the writings of early travellers, to indicate that they were known by the name of Ojibwaig. When interrogated upon the subject, some of their old men affirm, that they are named after the Ojibway moccasin, a peculiarly made article "puckered" into a seam the whole length of the foot.

The history of this tribe, prior to eight generations ago, is collected entirely from oral traditions, which savor of the marvellous or supernatural, and from which but vague and unsatisfactory deductions can be drawn. From these traditions, however, we learn, that they once were familiar with the salt-ocean, that they lived on a large river, again on a great lake, where they exterminated a tribe they call the Meendua, and at last in a large centre town, on an island in the Bay of Shag-uh-waum-ik-ong, on Lake Superior, or Keche Grumme. The old men of the tribe agree in saying, that to this spot their ancestors first came about eight generations, or two hundred and forty years ago, estimating an Indian generation at thirty years. They were driven from the east by powerful tribes, whom they denominate Nodowaig, meaning "Adders.'' These were the Iroquois, or Six Nations of New York and Canada, who coming first in contact with whites, became first armed with their deadly weapons, giving them great advantage over our more western and remote tribes, who still wielded the primitive weapon of bow and arrow. Driven westwardly upon Lake Superior, the Ojibwas came in collision with the Ab-boinng Sioux, -or "Roasters," and the Odugaumecg,"opposite side people," or Foxes. These two tribes became their inveterate enemies, and for a long time hemmed them in upon the Island of La Pointe, where they subsisted mainly by fishing and agriculture. From this period they relate their own history with considerable accuracy. Their village and cultivated grounds occupied a space upon the island, about three miles long and two broad. Here they cherished a perpetual fire as symbol of their nationality; and in their civil polity maintained a certain system, very much confused and tinged, however, with their religious and medicinal beliefs. The Jl-cah-wauh, or Loon totem family constituted the royal line, and the Mukwah, or Bear family, led them to war, and protected them from the inroads of their enemies. The rites of Meda-we-win, or their mode of worshipping the Great Spirit, and the lesser spirits which fill earth, sky, and waters, were in those days practiced in their purest and most original form. Upon the island was erected a large wigwam, called the Meda-we-gaun, in which the holier rites of their religion were practiced. The building, though probably rude in structure, and perishable in materials, was yet the temple of a powerful tribe, and in their religious phraseology the island is still known by the name of Meda-we-gaun.

The Ojibwas were for a time so harassed by the Sioux and Foxes, that they were not even safe from attack upon the island of La Pointe, though situate some miles from the main shore of the lake. Twice their enemies found opportunity to land among them in the night, and carry off prisoners and scalps. It was not till the earlier French traders had supplied them in a measure with firearms, that they became formidable to their enemies. From this era, now about two centuries ago, can be dated the dispersal of the Chippewas from their island home, and the expansion of their bands along the shore of the lake, and over the country in the interior. In a severe engagement on Point Shag-ah-waum-ik-ong, they killed over one hundred Sioux warriors, and in a lake fight, near the mouth of Montreal river, they killed and drowned upwards of three hundred Foxes, who had intruded upon their island in the night, and taken prisoners. In a concentrated effort they destroyed with one war party six villages of Foxes, scattered along the Chippewa river. About eighty years ago the Foxes made their last stand against them, at the falls of St. Croix. The Chippewas, led by their war chief Waub-o-jeeg, were victorious, and from that time the Foxes finally retired from the country. Gaining possession of the head waters of the Mississippi, it became an easy matter for the Chippewas to descend in their enemies' country. Within two centuries they have occupied by conquest a tract of country extending west from Lake Superior to the Mississippi, and south from Red river of the north, and Selkirk's settlement, to Lake Michigan. Diverted by the tempting resources, and lured by the varied seductions of so extended a region, they have become separated into several divisions, of which a brief sketch will here be given.

Lake Superior Chippewas. This body number about thirteen hundred, and are known as the Ke-che-gum-me-win-in-e-wug, or Great Lake men. The principal villages at Ance, Kewenaw, Ontonagon, La Pointe, Fond du Lac and Grand Portage, on the lake shore. They subsist mainly on the excellent fish with which the lake abounds. Since 1842, they have received the services of four blacksmiths, three farmers and two carpenters, embracing, with the exception of one blacksmith and one farmer, all the laborers allowed the entire quota of bands who were parties to the treaties of 1837 and 1842. In consequence of this help among this division flattering progress has been made.

The Ance band, numbering three hundred, have become comparatively civilized. They dwell in houses, assume the costume of the whites, and are essentially agriculturists. Their chief, and some of the principal men have been admitted to the rights of citizenship in the State of Michigan.
The La Pointe band number about four hundred. Among them are many who are partially civilized, and besides dwelling in houses, and owning cattle, are devout members either of Catholic or Protestant churches. Among the elder chiefs and headmen, however, are others still attached to primitive customs. The religion of their fathers is engraved upon the hearts of these, and guides their daily habits of life. The improvement of this band for the past ten years has been gradual and sure. They own a large farm upon Bad river, from which they raise corn and potatoes sufficient for their own consumption, and not unfrequently a surplus for sale. They also manufacture large quantities of maple sugar, which they sell to their traders: and catch and salt fish, for which they find a ready market.

The Fond du Lac band, who reside upon unceded lands in Minnesota, number about four hundred. They are much less advanced in the arts of civilization than the two bands last mentioned, and depend for subsistence upon the scanty and precarious supplies furnished by the chase. One cause of this is the absence of good soil in the vicinity of their present location.

The Ontonagon and Grand Portage bands number a little over one hundred each.
The Lake Shore Chippewas have an inexhaustible resource in the fish, which plentifully abounds in the waters of the lake. They are naturally well disposed towards the whites, docile and harmless. Owing to their distance from the Sioux, they have not, for the past half century, joined the war parties of their more western brethren.

The Wisconsin Chippewas are physically larger and stronger than their more northern brethren.

The Saint Croix division. This portion of the tribe reside upon the St. Croix river, on lands lying partly in Wisconsin, and partly in Minnesota, ceded in 1837, by the treaty of St. Peter's. They number about eight hundred, and have their villages at upper St. Croix Lake, Num-aguag-um, Poka-go-mon, Yellow and Rice lakes, and on Snake river. They are known among the tribe as the Mun-o-min-ik-a-she-ug, or "rice makers." The country they occupy abounds in wild rice, and formerly these bands were noted for gathering large quantities of it. Since the sale of their country, they have become the most miserable and degenerate of their tribe. Living altogether among the prairies, which of late years have been so much resorted to by the whites, their deterioration, through the agency of intoxicating drinks, has been rapid, and almost without parallel. Murders amongst themselves have become of frequent occurrence; and quarrels arising in drunken brawls, have caused feuds between families, which have grown so serious, that small war parties have been fitted out against one another. During the past few years a number of 
whites have also been murdered, and a most aggravating case of homicide occurred the past summer.

This state of things calls for prompt action from government. Living but a short distance from their own lands, about Mille Sac, they should without delay be removed thither, though after removal it would probably require a force to keep them within bounds. The residue of the tribe labor under the belief that the bad conduct of the "rice makers" has accelerated the mandate of the President for their removal from the ceded lands. Hence the St. Croix bands are obnoxious to their brethren, and no measures, even of forcible removal, would excite for them sympathy. For their own good, as well as for the safety of the white population who are exposed to their depredations, their immediate removal should be enforced. To carry this object into effect, it will be necessary to settle their bloody family feuds. At present they fear one another, much more than they fear any common enemy; and they will not coalesce until their implacable resentments are appeased. It is proper to mention the St. Croix lake bands, numbering over one hundred, have kept aloof from the white settlements, fearing to be implicated in the act of their brethren, and have even gradually removed towards Lake Superior. The chief of the Snake river band Nodin, and a principal man Mun-o-min-ik-ash-an, have migrated this summer to Mille Sac, and located within their own lines, and are inducing as many as possible of their bands to follow their example.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

1854 St Paul to Superior via the St Croix River Valley


From Harper's New Monthly Magazine 1864 
(We follow the trip from St. Paul, to Little Canada, Wyoming, Sunrise, Wood River, Clam Falls, Yellow River, Namekagon, Gordon, and Bayfield--part of the Rambler's collection of very early accounts of the area).

OVERLAND FROM ST. PAUL TO LAKE SUPERIOR.
BRIGHT shone the sun on a warm July afternoon when a cavalcade of carriages and baggage-wagons drove from the portico of the International Hotel at St. Paul, on a joarney across prairies and through forests to reach the far-famed Lake Superior. Kind friends assembled to bid farewell; the polite landlord handed the ladies to their seats; waiters and porters gathered to wish "good luck," nnd to wonder (no doubt) why people who could sleep on good beds, and " fare sumptuously every day," should choose to lie on the ground and eat from tin dishes with iron forks. But it was even so; and the hearts of the youthful members of the party beat high with hope and expectation of wild adventure and romance; and those of more mature age were in nowise daunted at the prospect, although heat, dust, mosquitoes, and hostile Indians had been held up before them in terror.

The conductor proposed that after driving six miles we should encamp for the night, thus gaining the first experience of camping out at a near point to the town, so that in case of any unforeseen deficiency he could send back and have the want supplied. Accordingly, on the shores of a beautiful little lake, and near a French settlement called Little Canada, the tents were pitched, a fire made, and the table-cloth spread on the grass, milk being purchased of a little French girl who hung around the encampment, enchanted with the gay laughter of the party and the unusual scene near their quiet and retired hamlet.

The bell of the little chapel tolled for vespers, reminding ns that we should strive "not for one moment to live the guests of such dread scenes without the springs of prayer o'erflowing all the Boul." There was something so exciting in lying down on the hard ground, with all the surroundings, that it was long before we could compose ourselves to sleep. Then suddenly came a burst of joyous merriment, proceeding from the lake, where the men who had charge of the horses, accompanied by Antoine, a foreign attendant of the party, had gone to wash off the dust of the day. Long and loud were the shouts, and above them all rang forth the toice of Antoine. The horses were near the sleepers, they, with the wagons, forming a sort of semicircle at the back of the tents.

In the early morning the ladies bathed in the lake ; and after a breakfast of fish caught from Bass Lake, one mile distant, we again moved forward. Bass Lake, which we next passed, is a beautiful sheet of water, adorned with lovely white lilies. The ground on one side rises to a height of forty feet, and the slope was covered with groups of cattle. A solitary man occupied a small house in the neighborhood.
From Bass Lake we moved on through the sandy road and across the prairie to Rice Lake, stopping to water at the log-cabin of a German, and thence proceeded to the town of Columbus. The heat was excessive, and the drought had been severe, making the sand in the roads very deep; but the horses were the only sufferers. All were impressed with the solitude of the scene. Hour after hour passed by, and not a human being nor a dwelling was visible. Indeed, during the whole journey of two hundred and ten miles we met only six wagons. Columbus, comprising only one house, was nevertheless laid out on paper for a large city, having streets eighty feet wide, with churches, schoolhouses, etc. So confined also were the limits of this house that we were obliged to eat the excellent dinner which the landlady provided in the kitchen, where glowed an ample fire not at all needed for our comfort, with the thermometer at 90°.

The landlord threw out some words of discouragement as to what was in store for us, and fears were entertained by the more enthusiastic of the party that the wiser heads might propose beating a retreat. The horses were fagged, and the heat and dust still continued to be excessive. But the hearts that composed the party were made of unyielding stuff. " Onward" had been their motto through life; and so when Wyoming—another large city, containing two houses was reached after a drive of eight miles, and a consultation was held, the most delicate of the Ladies boasted of Herculean strength, and the young gentlemen and ladies declared that, rather than yield to any thing so ignominious as a return to St. Paul, they would walk to Bayfield! So after deciding on driving to Sunrise the next Jay, we prepared ourselves to enjoy Mrs. Tombkr'a good fare, and the ladies were accommodated with a large sleeping-room and good beds, l:a\ing the gentlemen, in American fashion, to bleep on the floor in an ante-chamber.

Wyoming is on a dead level, and could not without too much poetical license be called "fair." But as the carriages passed through these vast solitudes, the mind was busy picturing the time, not far distant, when inhabitants should people these solitary places ; and when the lovely prairie flowers every where abounding should be transferred to well-arranged gardens, nnd the white pond-lilies covering the little lakes should grow in artificial ponds within the pleasure-grounds of Country seats.

And now, tho next morning—more hesitation, no abatement of dust, though the dew had made the night cool—there arose a question: Should we make for Prescott and take a Mississippi boat? But Sunrise seemed such a tempting name, and the " onward" feeling was so predominant, that, though the more delicate ones drooped a little with the heat (which through all these days was from 90° to 100° in the shade), the drive to Sunrise was decided on. The road, as heretofore, lay through deep sand —deeper because for nearly two months previous no rain had fallen—but lovely flowers abounded; and from the carriage where the young people were seated voices raised swelling notes to sing heart-stirring strains, and still were they urged on to sing again the old loved melodies.

On reaching Sunrise we found that the place did not correspond with its name. It proved to be a miserably small and unfinished village, where were stationed a company of soldiers to allay the fears of the inhabitants respecting the Indians. The terror which had been aroused by the massacres of the Sioux in Minnesota the previous antumn had reached thus far. On the .Sunrise River were a saw-mill and school-house. The water was clear and cold, and fine fish are sometimes taken there; but the fisherman of our party had no success. Deep black sand abounded in this place. We passed the night at Sunrise, the gentlemen sleeping in one of the tents, and the ladies in rooms where unplastered laths permitted free vision and ventilation.

After breakfast the next morning we left the village, and made our way to the ferry over the St. Croix River, which is the dividing line between Minnesota and Wisconsin. The ferryman was absent and the scow on the other side. But two of the active young teamsters swam the river and brought it over; and, after two or three hours' delay, the whole party crossed, together with an additional wagon to convey oats for the remainder of the journey. From what we had been told we expected, after leaving Sunrise, "to bowl along" over the ground. But, alas for human hopes, a new road had been laid, and for the first and last time we were jolted over several miles of stumps and stones and rough uneven ground. One carriage was in advance of the others, containing a gentleman, three ladies, and the driver, when suddenly a gust of wind arose and a strong smell of smoke and burning wood filled the air. The sky was overcast, and we felt that we were too far ahead of our party. So a halt was made ; some refreshment and rest revived our minds and bodies, and reassuring ourselves and our driver, who i feared a burning prairie ahead, a hail-storm, or hostile Indians, we waited trustingly till the others should come up. Soon were heard the cheerful voices of Billy and Tommy, two young wagoners, exulting over the capture of a tiny partridge. From the first encampment the young gentlemen supplied the party with wild pigeons, prairie hens, partridges, and ducks.

After meeting and exchanging mutual congratulations at the cool breeze which had arisen, all jogged merrily forward, hoping soon to find a spring of water. A spring there was, but so obscurely marked that the forward carriage passed it. There we met a mail-carrier in a one-horse wagon—quite an event—and we all stopped and spoke a few words to him, and then moved on again. Steadily we advanced till lo! at last a house, and a barn, and a lovely spring of water, and a river! Here it was determined we should pass the night, and we proceeded to make ourselves as comfortable as possible. The horses were refreshed with oats and water. One carriage was drawn by a pair of mules, remarkable for their instrumentality in saving between sixty and seventy persons from the late Sioux massacres. Good, stout little mules they were.

Our landlady at Wood River was an interesting woman, but seemed in feeble health. She was a "good shot," and said that it was necessary in winter, as the wolves came to her very door. A little Norwegian girl found a home in this family; and, with all her cares and weakness, the kind lady was teaching this child. Her open hook lay on the table. Oh, many a lesson can be learned in the lowly habitation of the poor! Too many, alas! despising these humble followers, forget our Saviour's words: '' Whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother." The little Norwegian Anna seemed anxious to do all in her power for us, and assisted the ladies in preparing their own simple meal. We were told that about two miles from Wood River is a Norwegian settlement of about forty families, possessing barely the necessaries of life, but very industrious and religious.

After a good night in our tents and a comfortable breakfast the next morning we took leave, enveloped in every available article of warmth, for the day was very cold. We drove on, passing the Keith Rapids; and, while the horses were being watered, conversed with and gave books to two or three Swedes—young men with fine faces, who seemed happy to receive a few words of kindness. At Wood River, while we were sitting around the table, a French Canadian and his son—a lad of twelve years— suddenly dropped in. They had walked thirty miles that day, and as our route was theirs we invited them to ride on one of our baggagewagons for the next day's journey.

We lunched at Clam River, where we met the first Indians ; and one of them having a canoe, the ladies were paddled up and down the river, seated in the bottom of the frail bark. Clam River is a tributary of the St. Croix. At the spot where the party paused the view was perfectly beautiful. It contained all the requisites for the picturesque—a cottage, a river, a bridge, undulating ground, a group of Indians, and a canoe. The owner of the house was a Virginian, his wife a Norwegian. They seemed much gratified with the little books given to the children, and received the party, ns did the few other families encountered on the road, as welcome guests, hanging around them, anxious to serve in some way. The young Indian who paddled the canoe for the ladies said that on the day before he had brought three barrels of flour from the Falls —a place seven miles distant. It showed that the canoe, although so light and airy in appearance, was in reality very strong.

Eight miles farther on we came to Yellow Lake. Here is a trading post, a house owned by a half-breed Indian, and two or three wigwams. The road during the afternoon lay along the banks of the Yellow River, which takes its rise in Yellow Lake; and the encampment for the night was at the junction of the Yellow and St. Croix rivers. Here, too, the site of ground chosen was beautiful. A good bridge spanned the river. A settlement had once been made here by a company from New York, and the frame of a mill was still standing. But they became discouraged and left the place, and the Indians destroyed all traces of their buildings. This spot had evidently been a famous Indian camping ground. The land rose gradually from the river to quite an elevation, and the gentle slope was covered with the bones of animals on which the red men had at various times feasted.

A short distance from where our encampment was made was a high knoll, on which were several Indian graves. A tall pole marked the place. Some of the graves were covered with an inclosure of birch bark and boards. The golden sunshine rested around and adorned these simple, lonely tombs of the poor children of the forest; and those who with such care had laid the sleepers in their silent beds- had moved on, probably never again to stand upon the spot where once they paused to lament their dead.

Back of our tents and very elevated was a formation of ground which one of the drivers said had been a fort, and beneath which it was thought many bodies were interred. A very heavy dew fell during the night, and breakfast would have passed off as but a melancholy affair had it not been for Antoine's excellent soup— such soup as only French cookery could have supplied. He had pronounced the poultry when first purchased as of " the time of Le General Washingtone;" nevertheless, he managed to set before the hungry travelers most admirable dishes therefrom. He was full of wonder "why" and "what for" his ladies came there; but as they were there he endeavored to turn all the discomforts into causes of merriment, ever ready with some droll remark to excite the laughter of the youthful members of the party. Handing the young ladies water—rather warm, sometimes not quite clean, and in a tin cup—on observing them drink it eagerly, he would remark, "Ah, it is much better than iced water in a silver pitcher."

Long the party lingered around this encampment, unwilling to leave such a beautiful spot. But the conductor was anxious to reach Nimakogan at noon; so once more the cavalcade took up the line of march. At noon we passed a stream, which the driver said abounded in trout; but as it was Sunday none of the party felt inclined to fish. Whortleberries were plentiful along the road-side, and we occasionally paused to refresh ourselves with a few of them. Tha ground here became more broken, but the road was good and the weather perfect.

Nimakogan, at the junction of the St. Croix and Nimakogan rivers, was a romantic spot. A good bridge crossed the river, where a short time ago was only a ferry-boat. We stopped at the house of a lumber merchant, and gathered together in a small but clean room for morning service. We invited the men around to join with ns in worshiping God, and a few accepted the invitation. The lessons for the day proclaimed the Lord God as the great "I Am;" and as the solemn petitions of the Liturgy arose we hoped that the hearts of these men, living far from all the means of grace, might be touched. After service we had dinner at the house. A young German waited on us with a sort of affectionate and earnest zeal. He was the cook of the establishment, and extremely neat and orderly in all his arrangements. He seemed pleased to receive a present of a Testament, and when asked if he would read it, replied, in a serious and decided tone, "I will." At two o'clock we left them,refreshed in body and mind.

After driving two miles, all became aware of a proximity to burning woods. Trees and grass in flames seemed to surround us. As we drove on the fire extended to the right and left. The conductor rushed ahead, knocking over one or two charred trees, one falling but a moment before the carriage reached the spot. While the conductor was running through the fire he picked up a young rabbit, which was bewildered by the smoke, and gave it to one of the young ladies. Poor Bunny! in spite of all the fostering care of its loving protector it lived only two days. Not one drop of mill: could be procured from Wood River to Bayfield. After passing the burning district we came to a country whero we saw numberless evergreens, occasionally many acres being overgrown with young pines and balsam-firs. Then, again, appeared a large district covered with half-burnt trees—charred trees still standing, others lying on the ground in wild confusion—no signs of vegetation to be seen. We passed numerous small lakes, many of them very beautiful, and some inviting camping grounds. But the conductor advised going as far as Antoine Gordon's, the usual stopping place.

At seven o'clock the weary horses drew up at this station. It was not very attractive in external appearance, having no inclosure in front, which was a barren sandy area. At the left of the house stood a garden, blighted by a heavy frost the night before (July 11), which killed all the corn. We found Mrs. Gordon anxious to accommodate us, and as the dew was falling heavily we thought it best to take shelter under her roof. So we spread our table-cloth in the kitchen, while she cooked in a shed adjoining. Her husband, a French half-breed, was absent. She was the daughter of an Englishman, and her mother—a squaw—lived in a wigwam on the plain in front of her daughter's house. Another wigwam was seen in the distance. Mrs. Gordon spoke English, French, and Chippewa fluently, and waited on all the party with much alacrity.

Leaving there at half past seven in the morning and driving twenty-two miles, we came to the loveliest spot that a wilderness could ever contain—a beautiful lake about six miles in circumference, in the centre of which arose an island covered with fine trees. The house stood feeing the lake, with a lawn gently sloping to the water's edge, where was a small dock and a little boat On either side of the house was a well-kept and well-arranged garden. The frost had not visited this place. A neat log barn was at a convenient distance from the house, and an ice repository occupied an accessible place near the lake. The forest, vocal with birds, formed a semicircle in the rear. As we entered the house, the neatly-ceiled walls, the Indian mats covering the floors, the vases filled with white pondlilies and other flowers, and the general aspect of two bedrooms adjoining the parlor, so delighted the party and appeared so much like civilization, that the ladies were clamorous in their requests to go no further that day. So after due consultation it was decided upon, as best for the tired people and somewhat jaded horses, to tarry a while at this tempting resting-place.

Those who wished to bathe soon plunged into the waters of Island Lake, and found it most refreshing to wash off the dust of the drive in the soft clear water. One of the young ladies '' pushed the light shallop from the shore," and well could she appear as " Lady of the Lake;" for, with her bright face beaming with happiness and in her picturesque woodland costume, she paddled the boat toward the Island. Oh ! when did dinner ever so gratify the taste of hungry wanderers as that prepared by Mrs. Taylor, aided and directed by Antoine!

After dinner the party separated—some to fish, others to shoot; some to read, and others to rest. One lady sat apart and sketched the scene. What | an oasis, what a paradise this lovely spot ap| peared! so replete with comforts, so neat and so inviting. At evening the hunters returned with I game, and the fishermen with fine perch and | bass; and we were regaled with a fine supper of nicely-cooked fish and duck. We took entire possession of Mrs. Taylor's house; all lay down and slept peacefully. Most reluctantly in the morning did we prepare to depart; and gladly would the kind landlord and landlady have detained us, for this solitary couple lived far from any human habitation, twenty-two miles being the distance to the nearest neighbor. No lady had visited the house in more than a year. But they made themselves happy by their industry and good management; thus securing for themselves every comfort of which their situation admitted. The mail-carrier passed through twice a week on foot. He was an Indian halfbreed, and carried his burden on his back with a strap around his forehead. We heard that he walked forty miles a day for two days consecutively.

After leaving Taylor's the train of wagons soon plunged into the woods, and here fur a whole day we drove through a splendid forest over an excellent road. The hearts of the travelers were lifted in adoration to the great Creator, as their eyes were raised to trace the height of those silent monarchs that for years had reigned in these vast solitudes. Beautiful ferns and a variety of lovely vines grew at the base of the trees and on the side of the road, and red wintergreen berries covered the fallen logs. All day long there seemed to be some new variety of the vegetable creation to cause wonder and admiration. Occasionally some of the party would alight and take long walks. Near a pretty little lake and under some of the majestic trees all were seated at noon for luncheon.

Two of the party walked on ahead, and becoming fatigued, seated themselves on a log at the edge of the wood. Suddenly two Indians made their appearance, and although Indians they could not conceal their astonishment at seeing a lady and gentleman quietly seated in that lonely spot. They asked, in broken English, where we were from and whither we were going ? On being told, they said: "You walk all the way ?" " No," we said ; " carriages behind and more people." They then spoke a few words together and vanished in the woods. On going further they were found standing at the door of a house, where dwelt a brother of Antoine Gordon's. This was twenty-two miles from Taylor's, and the last station before reaching Bayfield.

About sixteen miles from Gordon's we had our last encampment. It was cold, and four large camp-fires were made; and as different groups gathered around them, and night set in, the effect of the scene was beautiful, and furnished a good subject for a sketch, which was made. The beds that night were luxurious. All hands were busily at work gathering ferns and spreading them on the ground before the canvas was laid down. So we slopt grandly on that last night of " camping out."

How sad the thought that it was the last! So pleasant had been the journey, so charming had been the interchange of thought, so strongly had this sojourn in the wilderness bound the sympathetic hearts together, that as the end drew near all shrank from it and wished it might yet be postponed. But Bayficld would be reached at noon. So we ate our last breakfast in the wilderness; and when will fish and eggs be enjoyed with such a relish? When will those dear old woods again resound with so much gayety and mirth ?

Another pleasant drive of twenty-six miles over a wild hilly country, and lo! the white houses of little Bayfield, the blue waters of the lake in the distance, the old church at La Point.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Upper St Croix Valley 1849

Sketches of Minnesota 1849   I include an excerpt from this book about St. Croix Falls and the river valley to the north.  


Sketches of Minnesota: the New England of the West : with incidents of travel in that territory during the summer of 1849


    Logging in the Pineries north of St. Croix Falls

 The time occupied in the pinery is generally about six months, viz., from November until the disappearance of the snow. Last winter was a favorable winter for business in the pinery. The snow was from one to two feet deep, and free from crust. In milder winters a hard crust is sometimes formed by the melting of the snow by the sun, causing a considerable obstruction to business. There is generally no pine timber on the immediate banks of any of the tributaries. It is mostly obtained from half a mile to two miles from the rivers. The trees average three logs, of sixteen feet in length each. On Clam River there is considerable maple and other hard wood growing among the pine.

This business, unless prosecuted with a good deal of system, proves unprofitable to those engaged in it. A detail of the modus operandi of "logging" may not be uninteresting to those who live far from the pine region. Ten laborers make a full compliment of hands, viz.: two choppers, who cut down the trees; one barker, who strips off the bark from one end of the tree that it may slide on the ground; he also cuts off the branches; one sled-tender, who helps to load, and also aids in cutting off the limbs; one teamster, with an ox team for hauling the trees to the river; one swamper, or road-breaker, who is constantly employed in keeping the roads open; two sawyers, who saw off the logs on the bank of the river; one cook, and one extra hand. In this way the business goes on like clock-work, each being confined to his own department. Two things most essential to success are a heavy, well-trained team, and a good driver. The common wages paid to laborers in the pinery, are $26 per month to experienced hands, and $20 to those inexperienced.

The only species of pine obtained here is the white pine, technically called the "timber pine." It is said, however, that there are groves of the yellow, or Norway pine, on the Nemekagon River, an eastern tributary of the St. Croix. The quality of the pine on the St. Croix is not so good as that of the Wisconsin River. The trespasses made upon the timber of the unsurveyed lands, by private citizens, have been frequently a subject of complaint to the General Government. But when we take into consideration the amount of timber that may have thus been rescued from destruction, and appropriated to a beneficial use in building up the cities and towns in the Mississippi valley, these alleged trespasses may not, perhaps, be a matter of regret, or worthy of censure. It is said that fires are annually burning the pine timber, and that millions of lumber are thus destroyed. There are extensive pine barrens where only a few scattering trees are left standing, the remainder having been probably destroyed by fire. Brule, or Burnt Wood River, derives its name from the destruction of its pine forests by fire.

The Dells, one mile below the Falls, are at the head of steamboat navigation on the St. Croix. Above this point there are several series of rapids, and the river, as you ascend, decreases rapidly in volume. Snake River is an important tributary. It is connected by an easy portage with Rum River, and forms the favorite route of the Indians to Mille Lao and Sandy Lake. Yellow River and Namekagon Rivers are two considerable tributaries of the St. Croix, which are connected, by lakes and portages, with the Red Cedar branch of the Chippewa River. The St. Croix is connected by a portage of two miles with the Brule of Lake Superior. There is another portage of seventy or eighty miles, from the head waters of the St. Croix, just above Clear Water River, to La Pointe, on Lake Superior. There are several Chippewa villages on this river; and although the Indians have relinquished the title to the land, government has suffered them still to occupy it. The estimate of the Indian population on this river and its tributaries, in 1832, by Schoolcraft, was 900 souls. The population of Indian villages remain so nearly uniform in numbers through a long series of years, unless the small-pox, or some similar calamity, sweeps off the inhabitants, that the census now would not probably vary much from that of 1832.

The Falls of St. Croix may be regarded as the dividing line between savage and civilized life. Beyond that point on the river, white traders and others have Indian wives; and the entire population,' with few exceptions, is Indian or half-breed. A monthly mail is conveyed on foot by half-breeds, between the Falls and La Pointe (or Fond du Lac), on Lake Superior. There is also a semi-monthly mail between this place and Stillwater. I was present at the arrival of the mail from the south, and was amused not only in witnessing the excitement which such an arrival produced, but also by an exhibition of the genuine democracy of the citizens. The mail matter was emptied out upon a bed, about which all the citizens who were present gathered, and aided in assorting the mail, and selecting their own papers or letters. There seemed to be no distinction between the postmaster and others, as all seemed to be equally engaged in distributing the contents.

Only about half a dozen farms are cultivated in the vicinity of this place. The land is generally covered with timber of a large growth. There are two small prairies, some three or four miles east, on which there are cultivated farms. The soil is of a good quality, and susceptible of a high state of cultivation.

The land on which the town-site is situated is not yet in market. Below the Falls, the land on both sides of the St. Croix, and between the St. Croix and the Mississippi, extending above the Falls of St. Anthony, was exposed to sale, for the first time, in August, 1848.
This is a fine country for sportsmen. Deer are killed here in great numbers. The elk is now seldom *seen, although formerly very plenty. The bear and the large gray wolf are often seen. Wild geese and ducks resort here in great numbers. The small rivulets and spring branches in the neighborhood are well stocked with the brook trout. In the St. Croix, cat-fish, buffalo, and other species of fish, are very abundant. The country abounds with raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, etc. Some ripe strawberries were gathered while I was there (June 8th), being the first of the season. The cranberry grows abundantly in the tamarack swamps, within a short distance of St. Croix.

The healthiness of this place can not be questioned. A single death by sickness has not occurred among the white population within the last year. The only death was that of a young man, killed by the falling of a tree. The winter diseases are inflammatory, such as lung fevers and pleurisy. The only summer complaint is the diarrhea. Opthalmia, and various diseases of the eye, are frequent, owing to the reflection of the sun from the snow in winter, and new lumber in the summer.

I walked up to the burying-ground, which is on an elevated situation, in the rear of the village. Here are seen about half a dozen Indian graves, protected by a tight covering of boards. These graves are near the shade of a tree, from which a Chippewa was hung last summer, by authority of Judge Lynch, and to which a white man was tied, and severely whipped. The Chippewa had been guilty of the murder of a white man; and, as there was no legal tribunal in this part of the country, Judge Lynch was regarded as fully competent to pronounce sentence of death, after a fair trial had been granted to the Indian, before a jury of twelve men. The white man, who was whipped, was implicated, to some extent, in the same transaction.

There are several causes of an incidental nature, which tend to interfere with the prosperity of this place. First, its isolated situation. Although connected by steamboat navigation with the Mississippi, yet steamboats seldom ascend as high as this place; and the difficulty of getting up here by batteaux or by land is so great, that few travelers attempt it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Margo has temporary treatment delay and Russ eats a watermelon


A mouse is making a jack-o-lantern in the sand garden
Today Margo was running a small temperature, and so they skipped her chemotherapy.  An x-ray showed a spot on her lungs which seemed to be pneumonia, so she is on antibiotics for 10 days to make sure it clears up before more chemo treatments.   She says she feels fine, her temperature is 99.9, where normal is 98.6, so barely a degree high.  Chemo knocks down your immune system, so treatments wait until things are all normal again.

The better news is that last Friday she had an early MRI after the first 3 treatments to see what was happening  The results looked good:   The main tumor is just a tiny bit smaller, the two other lumps are much smaller and almost gone, and nothing new is starting in the left breast or lymph nodes.  The "washout kinetics" have decreased. meaning I think. that the blood supply to the tumors is being cut off (the experimental drug does this)--also good. She also had a biopsy, but the results of that are not back yet.  This test is part of the research study and normally she wouldn't have an MRI and biopsy until the end of the first 12 weeks of treatment.

The Golden Rod is Yellow, 
 So nothing is growing larger, and some things shrinking.  Nice to see that things are on the right track all ready.  As soon as her temperature drops she will be back to chemo and hopefully continue getting rid of the cancer.

This weekend Margo's brother Larry and wife Judy are driving over from West Bend, WI for a quick visit. I am at the cabin for a few days and headed back for the weekend too.

The Corn is Turning Brown
Got the cabin roof patched this morning, the hot water heater element changed after it burned out when the bears broke the garden hose outside that drained my water system and let it overheat the empty tank; got the tire fixed on the Cub Cadet and drove it around the woods, mowed the trails, and had a couple ripe watermelons.  The sand garden has dried up so most of it has died back except some tomatoes and the melons. The pumpkins are mostly ripe; no squash, Mom's apples are wormy because I didn't spray them, and the corn fields are turning brown!
The trees in apple orchard, with fruit are bending down


Watermelons are ripe, but the vines have dried up mostly

The birds are eating their winter food early this year