Histories: Trempealeau Co. Historical Accounts:
"History of Trempealeau County Wisconsin, 1917":
Black River Valley
-As transcribed from pages 78 - 79
The Black River Valley in Trempealeau County embraces the eastern part of Caledonia Township, and Decorah Prairie in Gale Township. Tradition ascribes Indian village sites to Decorah and Red Bird, Winnebago chiefs, in this immediate region. The first white settlers were sturdy Scotchmen.
Caledonia early received settlers in that portion lying along the Mississippi adjacent to Trempealeau. James D. Olds was the first to take a claim in that portion lying properly in the Black River Valley. He came to Trempealeau on May 6, 1851, and walking out on Caledonia Prairie, selected a claim in Section 7, in what is now Caledonia Township. He cut logs, rolled them up for the body of a cabin, and marked out a claim, cutting the name and date on the log.
The first man actually to settle in the locality was William Cram, who started building a cabin south of the Olds claim, in May, 1852.
In 1853 came Joshua Rhodes, accompanied by William Hanson, who lived with him for a while. During the same year came Rufus Comstock, who settled on the claim of James D. Olds. The same year William Olds came in and purchased William Cram's place. Alexander McGilvray, who had reached Trempealeau in 1852, moved his family to the banks of the Black River.
Bostwick Beardsley led the vanguard in 1854 by settling on Section 28. There were numerous other arrivals about the same time. He found in the neighborhood, John, Richard and William Nicholls, Charles Holmes, B. B. Healy and Alexander McGilvray.
This year marked the opening of McGilvray ferry. The ferry was started by Alexander McGilvray. In the summer of 1854, J. D. Olds purchased property at the ford, and built a store and blacksmith shop, and opened a farm.
From this settlement, the pioneers spread onto Decorah Prairie further up the river, where a flourishing Scotch settlement was founded.
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