Histories: Trempealeau Co. Historical Accounts:
"History of Trempealeau County Wisconsin, 1917":
The County in 1871
-As transcribed from pages 159 - 162
At the close of school in March, 1871, I knew little of Trempealeau County personally, outside of Trempealeau Village, Galesville and the Prairie. The county was generally spoken of as the Tamarack, the Openings, Caledonia, Black River, Decorah Prairie, Hardy Creek, Beaver Creek, French Creek, Lake Cooley, Over the Pass, Holcomb Cooley, Over the Ridge, Square Bluff, American Valley, Travis Valley, Chimney Rock, Elk Creek, Bruce Valley, and the Beef River Valley. The county was localized in these terms, but the territory was not definite, as each overlapped the others nearby. The postoffices, as I recall them, were Trempealeau, Galesville, Ettrick, Arcadia, Pigeon Falls, Chimney Rock, Osseo, and Hamlin. The natural objects in the county were Trempealeau Mountain, Trempealeau Lake, Trempealeau Bluffs, Decorah Peak, Whistler Pass, Barn Bluff, Square Bluff and Chimney Rock. They no doubt will remain a monument to the Almighty power to whom all nature responds.
I had then been no farther north than the one trip to Arcadia Christmas Eve, but I knew of Caledonia as the home of Donald and Alex McGilvray, Joshua Rhodes, Charles Holmes, D. D. Chappell, Pussy Williams, John Bohrnstedt, Christian Schmidt, Thomas Hayter, John Arntz, William Suttie, Frank Bender, Ira Ramsden, John Hess, R. C. Towner, John Towner, Gilbert Gibbs, Al Gibbs, William Post, Moses Ladd, Charles Pickering, J. C. Polyblank, C. C. Bigelow and Mr. Beardsley.
Over the Pass - Dodge, not then organized, as the home of Mat Brom, R. Baumgartner, Charles Keith, Jake Schaffner, Joe Pellowski, Paul Rudneck, J. L. Sanderson, Joseph Utter, Frank Rushka, John Wier, Andrew Losinski, John Wicke, Peter Pellowski and Charles Cleveland.
Ettrick as the home of Iver Pederson, C. G. Beach, Robert Cance, Con Lynch, Maurice Casey and James McCarthy.
Burnside as the home of George H. Markham, A. A. Markham, Giles Cripps, Martin W. Borst, Lee Hutchins, William Russell, D. C. Cilley, John Haakenson and James Reid.
Arcadia as the home of Dr. I. A. Briggs, N. D. Comstock, Collins Bishop, Gay T. Storm, D. C. Dewey, John D. Lewis, H. B. Merchant, Douglas Arnold, Jerry O'Brien, James Gaveney, David Massuere, Daniel Bigham, John Bigham, Thomas Simpson, Carl Ernst, George Webb, Isaac Newcomb, D. L. Holcomb, Frank Zeller, Carl Zeller, Phillip and Henry Hartman, William Bohman, Christian and John Haines, J. W. Ducker, Henry Pierce, J. B. Gorton, Joseph Kellogg, Louis and Simon Wojczik, Andrew Pietrick, Ole O. Peterson, Joseph Stahoski, William Robertson, George Dewey, Henry Dewey, Sidney Conant, Alexander Bautch, Ole A. Hegg, John Wool, Nic, Casper and Peter Meyers, Emory M. Stanford, Thomas Busby, Jonathan Busby, Ira Penny, John Truman, Herman Tracy, Dr. G. N. Hidershide, Dan English, A. F. Hensel, Frank Pellowski, John Tuschner, P. H. Varney, Charles Mercer, J. H. Gleason, P. Tucker, Peter Case and William Arnold.
Lincoln as the home of Thomas Lake, David Wade, Henry Stratton, Henry Freeman, F. W. Ingalls, Moses B. Ingalls, David Wood, Alvah Wood, G. M. Follette and Mr. Irving.
Preston as the home of Henry Lake, James McKivergin, Gullick Olsen and Henry Carpenter.
hale as the home of M. J. Warner, David Maloney, Robert Warner, Silas Parker, D. S. Watson and Charles Wagoner.
Pigeon as the home of Peter Ekern, J. D. Olds, George Olds and H. A. Fremstad.
Albion as the home of D. J. Odell, M. B. Gibson, R. P. Goddard, Ed. Borwell, Henry Teeple, A. D. Wingad and Mr. Englesby.
Sumner and Beef River Valley as the home of R. C. Field, J. L. Linderman, Ed. Matchette, Charles Shores, V. A. Gates, William Henry, Otto Langerfield, W. F. Carter, Alex. and John Tracy, W. H. Thomas, P. B. Williams, D. J. Lyon, Ben Webster, James Rice, Dennis Lawler, D. L. Remington, Thomas Cox, V. W. Campbell, James King, Hezekia Hyslop, Scott Hotchkiss, Elias Gay, F. Fuller, John Lovesey, William Lindsay, James McIntyre, Henry Gilbert, John Carter, William Boyd, Zeb, John and Cosle Jones, James W. Grant and William Tomlinson and Robert Bowers.
There are other names which deserve mention and a place on this list that do not come to my memory after forty-one years of active busy life of responsibilities and cares. I trust no person or family will feel disappointed or slighted in the omission of names from these lists. There has been no wish or purpose to leave any name off these lists; and if names are not correctly spelled such errors were unintentional and unavoidable. To prepare such lists after a long span of years is not an easy task.
A the time of which I write, Whistler Pass, a fall or dent in the bluff above the farm of James Field, over which the highway was built from the Prairie and the Tamarack Valley into the Trempealeau Valley, now in the town of Dodge, was a term of frequent mention, and much of the travel from the western part of the territory over the ridge was on that highway. The Pass attracted my attention through curiosity, no doubt, and led me to make an early visit to it. From Martin's Corners the Pass was plainly seen to the north. Whistler Pass remains, but has lost much of its frequent mention, and of its early notoriety.
Many Winnebago Indians were then camped and lived much of the year along the river above Trempealeau Village, and one village near Trempealeau Lake was said to number 800 or more people, a portion of whom were of mixed blood. Several "half-breed" families lived in Trempealeau Village, the men generally being strong, fine-looking fellows, the most distinguished among them being Antoine Grignon, and some of his descendants, with those of the Bibault family, have been and are residents of the county, and on the whole have been good citizens. Thede Booher was styled "The Big Indian," a name generally applied to him about the county to the time of his decease.
Trempealeau Village, in the fall of 1870, was a thriving, busy place, its streets and market-places full of teams, and its business places full to overflowing with country people, farmers who came to market produce and purchase farm and home supplies. They came from Decorah Prairie and beyond Black River; from the head of Beaver Creek Valley nearly to Black River Falls; from the head of the Trempealeau Valley nearly to Merrilan; from Pigeon Creek northeast into Jackson County; from the Elk Creek valleys and over the ridge in Beef River Valley; they came from Chimney Rock Valley, and the Traverse Valley away out in the Mondovi country. Many came to the Trempealeau market 30, 40 50 and 60 miles. Before this I had not seen so busy a mart, emporium, entrepot, or place of traffic as was the beautiful village of Trempealeau nestling at the foot of Trempealeau Bluffs, and fronting on the Mississippi River, with its teeming activity of soil products and human freight carried by the then wonderful Mississippi River steamers, with skow bottom, and of ponderous width.
The most frequently mentioned as wealthy people in the county, as I recall, were Ben Healy, John Rhodes, W. A. Johnston, Isaac Clark, Wilson Davis, George H. Markham, and R. C. Field. The most popular politicians in the county, that is, the most likely to be elected when candidates for office, were N. D. Comstock, A. A. Arnold and A. W. Newman. The most noted horsemen were Moses King and Lee Hutchins. The wittiest lawyer was Frank Utter. Among the jolliest men were Ralph Martin, Pussy Williams, Marvin Babbit, Sr., Thomas Sutcliff, Jimmy Field and Henry Teeple. The most popular man with the women was Gay T. Storm. The most frequently mentioned clergymen were James Squier and D. O. Van Slyke. The most powerful men were Jack McCarthy, Aaron Kribs and John Bugbee. The only brewer was Jacob Melchoir; the leading miller was Wilson Davis, and the best known butcher was Bill Blume. The noted Indians were old Chief Black Hawk and "Big Indian," Thede Booher. The most skillful blacksmith was J. B. Ingalls, while the greatest threshers were Jim Merwin and Ike Wright. The leading saloonkeeper was Pete Eichman, and the most dead-sure rifle shot was Bob Nibs. The great mule-driver was Philo Beard, the best known stage-driver was Jerry Webber. It is my impression the most noted singers were the Grignon sisters. Others, no doubt, deserve mention, but memory fails me.
Some of the pioneer women of Trempealeau County had been delicately reared, most of them had known the comforts of life, all had left associations which were dear to them. The sundering of these ties was not easy, nor was it a condition to be sought. It is but natural that they were strongly attached to their old homes, friends and comforts. Ties of kindred and friendship were to be broken; comfortable homes left behind; friends of a lifetime to be parted with, when with their husbands they set their faces westward for a new life and new homes, they knew not where. All beyond the city of Buffalo was then the West, Detroit was in the West, and Chicago and Milwaukee were in the far West. In many instances they knew it must be among strangers, and that privations, and even extreme dangers, were to be met and mastered - at least endured. These pioneer women shared in all the toils of weary journeys, in sunshine and in storm, ever westward. They did not grumble of the coarse fare and humble, oftentimes rude, accommodations of wagon and roadside; the canal-boat and the open stage, the log tavern, and at times the open-air bivouac. These women were always the brave members of the family or the party. Often late in autumn, or in the early spring, not infrequently in the cold storms, the discouraging sleet and mist and the complaining chilly winds, they went bravely on to the very outposts of civilization, over long, lonely and far-reaching prairies, the gloomy forests, dismal roads, often mere trails beset with stumps, quagmire, and where no sight of civilization or human habitation was to be seen, except the wigwam and hut of the then dangerous savage. They traveled largely through a country without settlers or any evidence of civilization, at times even making roads upon which to travel.
Can we picture the trials that came to their brave hearts, in hours of bitterness and loneliness, thus removed from the homes and kindred they had left behind - remembrances which must have risen up before them often and often, and how extremely bitter must have been those recollections, and yet, through their tears which must have silently flowed, they stood brave sentinels to their little ones who clung to them for comforting words and care. A word picture fails to give the full facts. Such feelings were natural and nurtured in their hears; yet they bore these and other burdens as bravely as did the renowned "mothers of ancient Sparta." Who will, I ask, who can pay these pioneer women of the West, and of Trempealeau County, the full measure of praise they so richly deserve?
The many sports and pleasures for the pioneer man, such as hunting the deer, the wolf, the wild fowls and other game; the sport of fishing, and the pleasure of roaming at will, all suitable to the rougher nature and coarser tastes of men were denied to these women, who with their children were shut up in log cabins or rude huts, often without floors, doors or windows, - often filled with smoke and into which the chill of winter whistled, and the stars at night looked down upon those faithful women and mothers and their sleeping children; often with no furniture except the rudest kind, and without kitchen utensils save kettle and frying-pan, and almost totally destitute of crockery, - seldom even with tinware, they made their dearest condition of life, the home, possible and a positive fact. For weeks, for months and even for years in a continued struggle without modern-day conveniences and helps, they struggled and they won; and these pioneer women helped make Trempealeau County what it is today.
(By Stephen Richmond.)
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