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Histories:  Trempealeau Co. Historical Accounts:

"History of Trempealeau County Wisconsin, 1917":

Chapter 10:

Scotch Settlers of Glasgow and Decorah Prairie

-As transcribed from pages 205 - 207


The early Scotch settlers who founded the settlement known as Glasgow - the postoffice so named because the people were mostly Scotch - came as a rule from the mining districts of Scotland to follow the occupation of mining in this country.  Wages in Scotland were low and the coal pretty well mined in many of the old localities, so they set out for America to improve their condition, settling in Maryland, Kentucky and other States where coal is mined.  After saving money and hearing of homestead lands awaiting settlement in Wisconsin and other Western States, they came farther West and, locating in Trempealeau county, proceeded to open up to civilization a new country, much as others under similar circumstances had done, until success came their way.  their farming methods at first were crude, and for years they suffered the hardships incident to prairie life, but with Scotch tenacity they stuck to the work until they had established comfortable homes and were deriving a good living from the soil.  The early settlers of Glasgow were James Hardie, Richard Bibby, John Bibby, Joshua Bibby, Peter Faulds, Andrew Gatherer, John McMillan, and also the parents of the McMillans - these with their wives formed the little Scotch settlement of Glasgow at its origin.  they were nearly all related, Mrs. James Hardie's maiden name being Margaret Bibby - a sister of the three men named above.  Mrs. Richard Bibby was Mary Faulds, a daughter of Peter and Mary Faulds.  Mrs. John Bibby was Mary McMillan, a sister of John and Niel McMillan.  Mrs. Joshua Bibby had no blood relations in America at that time; all were left in Scotland.  It is no wonder she often used to sigh for the old home across the sea, and to sing, "O, why left I my hame," when memories proved too strong; but that was just for a time.  She loved America the best at last.  The Gatherers were related to the Faulds.  The McMillans were natives of the Highlands of Scotland, while the others came from Lanarkshire or thereabouts.  All were devoted Presbyterians and all worshipped God on the Sabbath.  No matter how hard they worked through the week nor how much remained to be done, all work was dropped on Saturday night; the Bible was read and prayers said, as described by Burns in "The Cotter's Saturday Night."  Sabbath school was held in the schoolhouse every Sabbath, Richard Bibby or Joshua Bibby  taking charge.  Before the Presbyterian church at North Bend was built, of which later they were all members, services were held in the schoolhouse, a pastor from Galesville filling the pulpit.  Visiting among themselves was practically all the amusement there was in those days.  Quiltings were favorite pastimes for the women, and were profitable as well as pleasant, as the quilts were, as a rule, always needed.  The late Joshua Bibby, the youngest man in the colony, and a half-brother of Richard and John Bibby - the elder Bibby being married twice - was a lover of music and poetry, and a great reader.  He used to read and recite Burns, was a member of the Burns Club, and loved a game of "curling" on the ice - an old Scotch game.  He was a genial, winning man, who radiated good cheer wherever he went.  the others took little interest in Burns and rarely attended Burns festivals. 

Alexander Vallens was another old Scotch settler whose name must not be omitted.  He, with his good wife, occupied the farm adjoining Joshua Bibby's.  "Sandy" was a hot-tempered, although kindly man, whose "dour" disposition and queer ways led him to leave his farm and go back to Scotland, never to return.  He refused for some reason to pay his taxes, and the result was too much for his sense of right - hence his decision.  All these farms join and form one continuous whole.

The Decorah Prairie settlers were mostly from the mining districts of Scotland, also, having left their native land for the same reasons that influenced those of the Glasgow settlement - to improve their condition as miners, but eventually drifting farther West and settling on homesteads.  Among the first to settle there were James Sampson, John Davidson, Thomas Hunter, Robert  Oliver, William Dick, David Cook, Duncan Grant, Robert Grant, Collins Irving, Robert Sommerville and Robert Oliver, a relative of the one above mentioned.  Decorah Prairie is fine farming land, and these hardy Scots waxed prosperous thereon.  They built even in the early days handsome homes, and all were, as a rule, well-to-do.  They were, as a class, genial and fond of company.  Dances amused them often, many being musicians of no mean ability, so an orchestra could be extemporized on the spot.  The Scotch sons were sung at all their merry-makings with a vim and heartiness that showed they came from the heart.  The good old Scotch brogue was there in abundance, and no one was ashamed of it either, God bless them.  The Galesville Burns Club originated with them, and to these good old Scotch folk belongs the honor of it for all time.  Of course the years have improved it, as most good things improve with time, but in the midst of it in all its glory let us not forget those old Scots who founded it in the early days and did their best to keep alive the memory of Robert Burns, the much loved poet of dear old Scotland.

(By Jemima Bibby.)





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