Mr. Clary crossed the slough with his oxen at the same time and went up with Mr. Drew. Mr. Wheeler remained on the prairie for a day or two before he joined them at the colony.
When Mr. Lord was consulted relative to these incidents he assumed a reflective attitude for a moment and then with an almost audible smile, replied:
E. B. Drew's loaded wagon was the first to ford the slough and the first along the bluffs. No wagon trail had ever been opened. O. M. Lord was the pilot and guide on the trail. In crossing the slough Mr. Drew gave his special attention to the care of his cow. In his anxiety for her safety he was forgetful of self and got a "duck" or two. His clothing was in the wagon and did not suffer from his mishaps.
This loaded wagon was the first to make its entrance into the colony of the Western Farm and Village Association. They crossed the creek near Noracong's shanty, Mr. Noracong himself selecting the fording place and directing their movements. This covered wagon was used by Drew and the Coryells as their headquarters ~ their home for some time after their arrival.
The cow was an important item of their possessions. Bread and milk, mush and milk, and milk as a beverage, were staple luxuries. Fresh butter of home production was sometimes indulged in. Their cooking was done by their camp-fires. Bread was baked in a tin oven before the fire. Sometimes they used an iron bake-kettle, which they covered with hot ashes and coals. For boiling, a kettle was usually suspended over the fire from a pole supported on crotches. Mr. Drew says a heavy tin bucket made the best camp-kettle. It would heat quickly and economized time in cooking. These, with the frying-pan and coffee-pot, where the most important cooking utensils of their camp outfit. Their supplies furnished them a variety in the way of diet. Fresh brook trout were plentiful and common in their camp.
About daylight on the morning of Sunday, May 9, 1852, another large party, on their way from Rolling Stone, was landed on Wabasha prairie from the Dr. Franklin. Among these passengers were Robert Thorp and son, Robert Taylor, wife and three children, D. McRose, wife and three children, John Burns, wife and three children, James Gardner, wife and daughter, a young woman, and quite a number of others.
On account of the flood and insufficient means for transportation they were detained at Johnson's landing several days. They built a shelter on the bank of the river by piling up their boxes, forming a small inclosure which they covered with boards found near by.
One of the party, Robert Thorp, furnished the following incident. He is yet a resident of the county, a hale and hearty old farmer, living in the town of Rolling Stone. He has preserved his certificate of membership and a copy of it has been procured to show the form of this relic of the association:
These certificates are embellished with emblems of industry and civilization. But two of them have been preserved.. The other is held by James Wright, of Minnesota City, to whom it was given. It is No. 15, and dated August 15, 1851. When the association was first organized its members were mechanics of different occupations living in the city. Mr. Thorp was a blacksmith, and had worked at his trade in New York for about twenty years. He was born in England.
He left New York on April 15, 1852, with the members of the association who started at that date, taking with him his eldest son, John. The remainder of his family, consisting of his wife and three boys, Thomas, Robert and William, remained in the city about a month before they joined him in Minnesota. All except the last are yet living.
Mr. Thorp brought with him his blacksmith tools and all things necessary to start a shop in the new colony, and also some household goods. On account of delay in the transfer of his heavy freight at Dunkirk he was left behind his party. On reaching Chicago he shipped his own goods and the goods and baggage of William Christie, D. Jackson and others down the canal and Illinois river to St. Louis, taking passage over the same route.
At St. Louis Mr. Thorp bought his supplies in connection with Taylor, Burns, McRose and Gardiner, members of the association, who were there on their way to the colony. They took passage to Galena, where they were transferred to the Dr. Franklin.
To his great surprise and sorrow Mr. Thorp learned that William Christie, who had left him at Chicago and whose baggage was with his own freight, had died but a few hours before and was then lying in Johnson's shanty. Mr. Christie had arrived a few days previous on the Nominee and had been up to Rolling Stone. On Saturday he came down expecting to meet Mr. Thorp at the landing. On his way he forded the back slough, and without changing his wet clothing lay down to rest, complaining of not feeling well. He was taken with what was supposed to be cholera, and died before morning.
Mr. Christie was a Scotchman (sic) ~ a large, strong and healthy young man when he landed here. He was highly respected by his acquaintances for his good qualities. He joined the association in New York city, where he was working at his trade as a machinist. For economy he, with others, walked from Cherry Valley to Galena and came up the river as deck passengers. While at Rolling Stone he had been almost without shelter; the demand was much greater than the accommodation. Provisions of every kind were abundant and none suffered from want of sufficient food. The colonists were liberal in relieving each other when aid was required.
William Christie was buried on the Evans claim. His coffin was made by E. H. Johnson from the common unseasoned pine boards lying on the bank of the river. A short funeral service was held in the open air in front of the shanty by the Rev. Edward Ely. Mr. Thorp, with the other members of the association, accompanied by the settlers and strangers on the prairie, followed the dead body to the grave and aided in depositing it in its last resting-place.
The occurrence was one long to be remembered. William Christie was relatively a stranger. He had died suddenly, far away from the land of his birth and from his personal friends and relatives. His death was the first on Wabasha prairie, the first among the members of the association and the first among the settlers in the county. His funeral was the first, but before the summer was passed funerals were frequent both on Wabasha prairie and in the settlement at Rolling Stone. A young man by the name of Morgan, a stranger, died after a short sickness not long after Christie's death.
A fatal sickness attacked the families camped on the bank of the river. Robert Taylor lost two of his children here. He removed his sick wife to La Crosse, where she soon after died. Mr. McRose lost two children; one of them died on the flatboat while on the way to Rolling Stone.
Mr. Thorp stopped at Johnson's landing for a few days until he could get transportation for his freight and supplies. He then went to Rolling Stone to prepare for the arrival of his family. For temporary accommodation, which could be the most readily provided, he built a "gopher" on the lot drawn by him before he left New York. This location was in the field a little above where the barn of James Kennedy now stands. This hut was an improvement on the ordinary structures of the kind. It was about 12X12. The basement, or part below the surface, was lined with a framework of logs. It was here that the family of Mr. Thorp began housekeeping in Minnesota.
In the morning of May 12th another large party of immigrants for the colony landed from the Caleb Cope at Johnson's landing. Owing to unfavorable reports in circulation down the river relative to the condition of affairs, some left their families at Galena and came up to explore the country. Among these were James Wright, John Nicklin, David Duryee, James Brooks and many others. Some who landed with their families were compelled to put up temporary shelters on the bank of the river to protect themselves from the drizzling rain while waiting for transportation.
Although the day proved to be stormy, a large number of the men went directly to Rolling Stone. As there was insufficient shelter, a company of nine built a "gopher" for their immediate use. This was constructed by digging a hold about 8X12 and about eighteen inches deep, over which a cover was made. The body of this structure was of small basswood logs, about eight feet long and about eight or ten inches in diameter. These logs were split and placed on end close together along the sides and one end of the hole in the ground, with the tops resting on a ridge-pole supported on posts with a crotch at the top. This framework was covered with coarse, dry grass and a layer of earth, over which was laid a covering of sod. The turf, by careful arrangement, made a roof that readily shed the rain of ordinary showers.
In this "gopher hole," on a floor of dry grass, the nine men of this company slept the first night of their arrival, and occupied it as their lodging-place for a week or two afterward. This "gopher" was built on the land now owned by James Wright, and where he now lives in Minnesota city. It was afterward used as a stopping-place for the family of Mr. Wright. The most of this party of explorers decided to continue in the colony. Some sent for their families, others went down the river to escort them up. Mr. Wright and Mr. Nicklin were among the latter.
Mr. Charles Bannon came up the river on the Caleb Cope. He was one of the directors of the association and one of its earliest members. He, with his wife, started from New York with the party that landed from the wood-boat at Rolling Stone. While on the way up the river he left the boat at Davenport and, in company with M. A. Allen, stopped to buy cattle. Mr. Bannon purchased three yoke of oxen and Mr. Allen two yoke, which they drove through the country to Dubuque, where they took passage with their stock. These oxen were designed for use as breaking-teams and for general farm work.