Western Farm and Village Association, Winona County, Minnesota
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Winona County, Minnesota
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: THE
Pages 195-203 (excluding page 196-197) From the book
"History of Wabasha County" Published in 1884
Concerning Wabasha and Winona Counties in Minnesota
The association by which Minnesota City was first settled originated in the city of New York in the summer of 1851. This organization was never generally understood by the western public, nor its special objects clearly comprehended by the early settlers in this part of the territory. It is, indeed, more than probable that come of its members had but indifferent ideas of its operations and special design when practically demonstrated. The people generally considered the association to be a body of fanatical communists ~ a socialistic organization with such visionary and impracticable theories of colonization that failure was but an inherent destiny. These mistaken ideas and false impressions prejudiced other settlers against them from the first. The apparently clannish exclusiveness and mysterious manner of the colonists confirmed these vague opinions and excited a jealous rivalry with settlements in other localities. A mutual antagonism resulted, which time alone dissipated, but not until long after the association had ceased to exist as an organization.
This association was composed of persons of different nationalities, different religious and political opinions, and of different business occupations, united for a special object. It was an emigration society, designed to aid its members in leaving the city and forming a colony on government lands in the west. The organization was but a temporary one, and never designed for any other purpose.
That the plan of colonization was practicable under favorable circumstances, in the hands of practicable men an d under the management of practicable leaders, there is but little doubt. That it was, to a great extent, a failure, that the results were not fully in accordance with that anticipated from its programme of operations, was evidently attributable to the incapacity and inexperience of the leaders rather than to radical defects in the plan. Justice to these pioneer settlers of the county exacts a brief sketch of the organization by which the colony was located.
William Haddock, one of the discoverers of the town site at the mouth of the Rolling Stone valley, was the founder and president of the association. In July, 1851, Mr. Haddock, then a journeyman printer living in New York city, conceived the idea, and in a public lecture at a meeting of mechanics called by him for the purpose, presented the outlines of a plan whereby the mechanics of the city would be able to secure "homes in the west," to leave the city and locate on government lands, to go in a body and form a colony.
His audience manifested considerable interest in the subject of his lecture, and appointed a committee to take the matter into consideration and draw up a code of laws for an organization on the plan proposed. The committee made a report the following week, and a form of organization was effected, with William Haddock as president and Thomas K. Allen secretary. It was not, however, until about the middle of September that the association was considered fairly organized, although weekly meetings were held for the purpose of perfecting the laws and in many ways modifying the original plan proposed by Mr. Haddock.
That the plan adopted may be impartially presented, the following extracts have been copied from the "Constitution and By-Laws of the Western Farm and Village Association."
WHEREAS, We whose names are hereunto subscribed are desirous of locating ourselves advantageously on government lands in some of our western states or territories, and,
WHEREAS, We wish at the same time to avail ourselves of all the advantages of civilization which can be immediately secured only by emigrating in large companies and settling in close proximity, we do hereby adopt, for the more effectual attainment of our object, the following constitution and by-laws, to which each one of us subscribes and pledges himself to conform:
SECTION 1. This association shall be styled "The Western Farm and Village Association, No. 1, of the City of New York."
(SEC. 2 enumerates the officers.)
ARTICLE II. Object and plan of action.
SEC. 1. The object of this association shall be the organization and settlement of one or more townships and villages on the public lands, in some of the western states or territories of the United States, with the view of obtaining, if possible, a free grant of the same from congress.
SEC. 2. The number of members which this association may embrace shall not exceed five hundred, and shall consist of a proportional number from each of the principal departments of industry.
SEC. 3. The condition upon which congress shall be solicited to make a free grant of land to members of this association shall be actual settlement and improvement; and no member shall be allowed to subscribe for more than 100 acres and a village plot of four acres.
SEC. 4. As soon as the funds of this association shall permit, and experienced and reliable member shall be commissioned to look for a site or sites for a township and village, who shall, while thus employed, act under the instructions of this association, and make such reports to the same from time to time as he may deem necessary, or may be required of him.
SEC. 5. When the member thus commissioned shall have performed the labor assigned him a competent committee shall be elected to re-examine such localities as may have been reported by him, or such other places as may be authorized by the association; which committee shall give a full and true account of each locality to this body.
SEC. 6. The sight of the township and village shall be determined by a vote of this association before any choice of land shall have been made by any of its members; such determination to be based upon the committee of examination, or upon such other facts, circumstances or information as may be deemed important.
SEC. 7. When the site of the township shall have been chosen by the association, the different kinds of land outside the village plat, such as timber, prairie and suburban land, shall be so laid off as to render all the landed advantages growing out of this association as equally available as possible. Maps shall be drawn representing the village, suburban, farming and wood plats, accompanied by a brief description of each and every lot. When this shall have been done and approved by the association, the order of choosing among the members shall be settled by numbers, after which each shall make his selection of lots according to the number of his choice.
SEC. 8. The village site shall be so surveyed as to allow each member of this association, after deducting liberally for streets and parks, to have a village plat of about four acres.
SEC. 9. The time of emigration for this association shall not extend beyond the 15th of April, 1852.
ARTICLE III. (Defines the duties of officers).
ARTICLE IV. Membership.
SEC. 1. The qualifications for membership in this association shall be good moral character, industrious habits, and a willingness to conform to the constitution and by-laws.
SEC. 2. Applications for admission into this association may be made through any member of the same, at any regular meeting; whereupon the application shall be immediately laid before the board of directors; if, upon investigation, he or she shall be found acceptable by a majority of the board, they shall report accordingly at the next meeting, when, if the candidate receive a majority of votes of the members present, he or she shall be entitled to a certificate of membership on payment of the initiation fee.
SEC. 3. Every person on being elected a member of this association, shall pay an intiation fee of one dollar. (This was afterward raised to five dollars).
SEC. 4. No member of this association shall be allowed to subscribe for, or hold more than 160 acres of land and a village plat of four acres.
SEC. 5. Any member of this association may be suspended or expelled for misconduct or neglect of official duties; but no member shall be expelled without a fair trial by a committee of five members.
SEC. 6. Should any member desire to withdraw from this association, he or she may transfer his or her interest to any person not already a member, subject to the approval of the association; the said person shall pay a transfer fee of fifty cents, which shall be an acknowledgment of his or her membership. But in the event of this association obtaining a free grant of the land, this section shall be rendered null and void.
SEC. 7. In the event of the death of a member of this association, all moneys paid by the deceased into the society shall, at the option of the association, be promptly restored to his or her legal representatives.
SEC. 8. Persons residing at a distance may, on being elected members of this association, remit their initiation fee and weekly dues to the financial secretary, in sums of one dollar for every eight weeks.
ARTICLE V. On the election of officers.
SEC. 1. All officers shall be elected by ballot, and shall serve until the objects of this association shall be attained, unless disqualified by misconduct or incapacity.
ARTICLE VI. Dues.
SEC. 1. The weekly dues of all members of this association shall be twelve and a half cents, commencing the first day of August, 1851.
SEC. 2. No dues or initiation fees shall be refunded to members of this association in consequence of their withdrawal from the same.
SEC. 3. If any member of this association shall neglect the payment of his or her dues for a longer time than four weeks, he or she shall be subject to a fine of twelve and a half cents for each succeeding week while in arrears.
ARTICLE VII. (Relates to drawing money on deposit).
ARTICLE VIII. On disbursement of moneys.
SEC. 1. All moneys paid into this association shall be devoted to the payment of such expenses as are necessary to the attainment of its object, and to no other purpose, and no moneys shall be paid out without a vote of the association.
SEC. 2. When this association shall dissolve, by its own mutual consent, the books of all officers shall be balances, and if any funds remain on hand after settlement of all liabilities of the association, they shall be equally divided among the members that then exist.
ARTICLE IX. (Enjoins harmony among the members).
ARTICLE X. (Relates to altering or amending constitution).
ARTICLE I. (Time and place of meeting).
ARTICLE II. (Quorum for transaction of business).
ARTICLE III. (Fines of officers for non-attendance).
ARTICLE IV. (How discussions shall be conducted).
ARTICLE V. Rule of Order. – As this association is organized for a specific object, its rule of action shall be distinct, and no question shall be in order or entertained, that does not apply clearly to the object specified in the constitution, and the means of carrying such object into effect; neither shall anything of a sectarian or political character be introduced into the discussions of this association.
The officers were: President, William Haddock; vice-president, Wm. Skinner; recording secretary, Thomas K. Allen; financial secretary, Charles E. Wheeler; corresponding secretary, E. B. Thomas; treasurer, John Brooks.
The board of directors were Augustus A. Gilbert, J. T. Caldwell, James Wright, James Potter, E. B. Tanner, Charles Bannan, John Hughes and D. Robertson.
As soon as the organization was effected the scheme was favorably advertised in the editorial columns of the New York "Tribune" and other papers. A few numbers of an official paper, called the "Western Farm and Village Advocate," w3as issued by the association, under the editorial management of Mr. Haddock. The association increased in numbers, but very many of the later members were from outside the city, in New York and other states.
About the first of November Ransom Smith was commissioned to select a suitable location for the colony. After exploring some parts of the States of Wisconsin and Iowa along the Mississippi without accomplishing his object, he resigned his position about the first of January, 1852. When Mr. Smith was appointed exploring agent, he was specifically instructed as to the kind of location that he was expected to make choice of. The city members of the association apparently desired him to make discovery of another garden of Eden, with all modern commercial advantages attached. Mr. Smith failed to discover any locality that very much resembled the one pictured in the written instructions furnished for his guidance. The local members who controlled the organization were nearly all mechanics, the most of them inexperienced in matters outside of their business occupations.
The leaders of the organization were aware that, to insure success and move on the opening of navigation in the spring, prompt action would be necessary in the selection of a location for the colony. Accordingly a locating committee was appointed, consisting of Mr. Haddock of New York, Arthur Murphy of Hempstead, L. L., and A. E. Bovay, a resident of Wisconsin.
The discoveries and selection of Rolling Stone as a location for the colony have been related. This selection was made without proper investigation of its fitness for the purpose designed. Their examination was but superficial, and their decision prematurely made. They assumed that the village site was on the Mississippi, but it proved to be six miles from a navigable channel. This selection was a serious mistake. It was not a proper location for the proposed colony. This very serious mistake was, unfortunately, the cause of its failure. It is true Rolling Stone was first settled by the members of the association, but the organization collapsed before its specific object was accomplished.
When the association was first organized it was supposed possible to secure from congress a free grant of public lands for the members to settle upon, but in case this failed the lands were to be purchased from the government by the members of the association, and each pay for the land he occupied.
Petitions numerously signed by members of the association and others were sent to congress, asking this appropriation for the benefit of the members of the colony. These petitions were presented by Hon. H. H. Sibley, the delegate from the territory of Minnesota. No action was taken, except that the petitions were received and disposed of by being referred to the house committee on public lands.
On the return of Mr. Murphy to New York city from Rolling Stone, the report of the locating committee was duly made to the association. It was received and approved without delay, such was the confidence of the members in the judgment of the committee. Rolling Stone was then formally selected as the location for the proposed colony.
A more elaborate plat of the village site was drawn from that furnished by the committee and lithographed for the members. It was numbered preparatory for the drawing, which took place March 31, 1852. The following circular was then issued, and sent to each of the members of the organization:
Western Farm and Village Association Office,
New York, April 3, 1852
The association at length have the pleasure of informing you of their location. Mr. Arthur Murphy, one of our locating committee, has just returned to this city, having in conjunction with our president selected a spot which has been unanimously adopted as our homes. It is situated in the Territory of Minnesota, on the Mississippi river, about forty miles above Root river, and six miles above a place called Wabesha (sic) prairie, on a stream of water known as Rolling Stone creek; for a full description of which, with the report of the committee, the corresponding secretary refers you to the forthcoming Advocate. In the meantime, he has been instructed to send you the following circular, embodying so much of the report of its last meeting as is herein contained.
After the adoption of the report of Mr. Murphy, the association, on motion, went into the choosing of lots; all members whose dues were not paid up to the first of January being declared by vote ineligible to participate. A committee, consisting of Messrs. Cauldwell, Potter and Bannan, were appointed to choose for country members. The names of all those eligible were then placed in one hat, and numbers to the corresponding amount of members in another. Messrs. Thorp and Stradling presided over the names, and Messrs. Gilbert and Fitzgibbons superintended the numbers. A number was then taken from a hat, and a name from the other, and the number so drawn was the choice of the member whose name was drawn with it. The entire list of drawing so made is herein contained, with a map showing the position of the lot up to 132. The reason of there being none higher than this is that the committee, deeming that sufficient, surveyed no more; and members who have drawn a choice over that number will be allowed to choose on the ground, from lots to be surveyed, or from lands forfeited by the non-settlement of members in July, in the order they run above the lots numbered. Mr. Haddock, who is now on the ground, has been telegraphed to survey 100 more; and persons joining now will choose in the order as admitted members.
In addition to the above, the corresponding secretary has to state that the pioneer squad will start from here on Wednesday, the 7th, and passing over the Erie Railroad, will probably arrive at Chicago on or about the 14th; thence by rail and team to Galena, and boat up the river. This will also be the route of the main body, and all members who live near the city, or who can make New York in their route, will meet here on April 14, to start on the 15th, so as to arrive at Galena by May 1.
Should the lakes not be open on April 15 the association will not start on that day, but wait until they are.
Those of our members who may not arrive at Galena by May 1, can learn full particulars of us by inquiring of Col. James Robinson there.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
For . . .
E. B. Thomas, Cor. Sec'y.
102 Nassau street.
Accompanying this circular was a plat of the village site and a list of the names of 174 members, with the order of their choice and the number of the lot chosen by or for 132 of them.