THE OLD SETTLERS' JUBILEE
The Mauston Star, June 28, 1888
The general committee selected by President J. B. POTTER to carry out the plans for the Old Settlers' Jubilee was just the right one for the occasion. The Chairman J. T. HANSON, has a reputation for adapting himself to the work to be done and at once taking hold with a will and odes not rest night nor day until he ha attended to every detail. He has in this instance been very ably assisted by H. G. ANDERSON and B. C. DOCKSTADER from first to last and by I. H. STEWART while he has been in the city.
The program as heretofore published was carried out in full except some minor details.
Had the All-Wise Being been supplicated to give us the two most beautiful day imaginable. He could not have chosen more beautiful weather for the Jubilee.
The first day the log cabin was completed and a knot of pioneers were soon seated within its shadow relating some of their early experiences.
At noon the Old Settlers' restaurant was filled with the hungry while many were eating their picnic dinner on the grass or in their wagons.
In the afternoon noe of the old setters could be prevailed upon to give a speech, but many "yarns were spun" among the multitude there assembled.
The foot race of men over fifty years old was amusing. George NEWKIRK was behind in the start but hugged the inside of the circle closely and when about half around he shot ahead and won by several rods. Hiram CLAWSON came in 2d and Mat. GRINNOLDS 3d.
It was sometime before any one seemed inclined to bring out their old horses for the scrub race but when time was nearly up three put in an appearance and without scoring went at it with the following result: F. F. POTTER's horse 1st, Alf SHELLY's 2d and Bird ROBINSON's 3d.
There was an old fashioned base ball game, but only for practice as only one side was on the ground.
The evening was taken up by walking over the grounds and enjoying the beautiful moonlight, and by dancing in the fair building which had been used for dancing and filled all day.
There was an Indian race in the afternoon not down on the program which was quite interesting and resulted as follows: Charley SIMONS 1st, Will DECORIE 2d, John DECORIE 3d, Jim DECORIE 4th.
At the hop in the evening and at precisely nine o'clock the "old boys" selected by some one for an old settlers' dance came on the floor with their partners. We have not the list of the partners except that Mrs. L. M. ATKINS danced with B. C. DOCKSTADER. The list of men is as follows: B. C. DOCKSTADER, Mat. GRINNOLDS, P. R. BRIGGS, J. B. POTTER, Wm. CASE, C. W. POTTER, S. C. PLUMMER and I. C. BALDWIN, and a more jovial lot never got on the floor to enjoy the mazy dance than that lot of old boys. One rather amusing feature of the cane was that Orsoh WRIGHT was superintendent and as such most of the time found that he was not only ticker collector but floor manager and although he never before did such a thing and never danced he seemed to get along quite as well as the most experience could have done.
The morning of the second day brought a crowd the like ow which was never seen before on the grounds. It was fairly filled with people and every one enjoying themselves.
The exercises were opened by the Ideal Band playing some choice music. Rev. W. C. ARMSTRONG then delivered an appropriate prayer. Enoch FOSSBINDER led the singing and "lined the hymns" in the old-time way and the old singers sung them.
President J. B. POTTER then in a brief but well worded address introduced Hon.John TURNER to speak to the old settlers. Mr. TURNER has been a sufferer for some time and was physically weak, but his powerful voice, clear and distinct accent showed to the assembled pioneers that he had not lost that old-time fire so characteristic of him. no report can do justice to such a speech as it cannot reproduce his emphasis or action or the laughter or cheers of the audience. The following is the substance of the address:
THE OLD SETTLERS - WHAT THEY HAVE DONE. THE YOUNG SETTLERS - WHAT THEY MUST
Time is but a name; it is what is done in time that is the substance. What are twenty-four centuries to the hard rock, no more than twenty-four hours to man, or twenty-four minutes to the ephemera? Time is said to be "the warp of life." Did you old settlers weave it well? I answer my own question by pointing to the great State of Wisconsin. When you came it was a wilderness, "the Wild West." Today its fields are the flower beds of the Continent, the chosen seat of culture and the home of art and science. When I came to Wisconsin it was a State, yet it was but just out of the swaddling clothes of its territorial babyhood. At Milwaukee, at the old Cross Keys tavern, I hired a good team to convey me and mine to Fort Winnebago, now Portage, Columbia County. Myself, sister and luggage did not weight over eight hundred pounds, we were over eight days making the trip. Think of it. Only ninety-five miles from Milwaukee to Portage. Eight days! Today I can start from Mauston and land in Liverpool in about the same number of days. How many times our wagon upset on that trip I cannot tell, but I do remember that I met with an accident that then looked like a calamity. I had a plug hat. It was a beauty. It had come from France. It was packed in a leather case. I watched that hat from London down the thames to the Nore, through the North Sea to the Foreland, where, under the rainbow hues of an English sunset, I bade farewell to the home of my birth and the grave of my sires; across the Atlantic, in storm and in calm, I kept that hat, Thieves in New York did not get it, during the nine day voyage up the Erie canal, I guarded it; on Lake Michigan I kept strict watch of it; with what result? Only to see the wagon upset in the Bark River woods, below where Watertown is now, and that hat and its leather case so flattened out that it looked like a blackened, underdone, soggy, doubled up buckwheat pancake. Oh! What a fall was there my countrymen!
But what did I find! You, who are now the old settlers working, aye working, for it took work, to make Wisconsin what it is; the brilliant gem in the galaxy of States that make the greatest, the freest, the richest, and, deservedly so, the proudest Nation in the world.
But a few years before, in 1836, the year Wisconsin was made a territory, it had but eight public schools, with two hundred and seventy five pupils, now, as per the report for1885, we have over six thousand public schools, besides all the private, denominational and other educational institutions, and there was raised from taxation and public funds for the support of these public schools in the same year nearly four million dollars. Who built these temples, who tilled the farms that made it possible to pay such immense sums?
In one of the oldest law books in my library I have read that God donated a homestead in the garden of Eden to the first old settlers whose names have been preserved. I forget how they forfeited their claim. Perhaps Satan jumped it. But He who made the first homestead law blessed them and "said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth, and subdue it." I cannot answer for Adam or Eve, but for the Old Settlers of Juneau County and Wisconsin I can say and prove that obedience to that command has been to them a labor of love. See the result. In 1836 we had no census but it was estimated that there were then in the Territory 9000 persons.
These are the official figures since:
1840 ......... 30,945
1850 ....... 305,391
1855 ....... 553,109
1860 ....... 775,881
1865 ....... 868,325
And the value of lands and lots, and manufacturing establishments, as returned by the assessors, not the real, actual cash. value is reported by the Secretary of State at $869,797,330. In material wealth, as well as in that better wealth, good men and good women, the old settlers of Juneau County have been fruitful, multiplied and replenished the earth.
From the same report, the census return for 1885, compiled by our Secretary of State, we learn that during the preceding year we made 33,478,9000 pounds of cheese; of the value of $2,984,813. Of butter there was made 36,240,431 pounds; of the value of $5,850,420. Even the poor sheep, though dogged to death, and over whose fleece the politicians are now quarreling yielded 6,174,527 pounds of wool of the value of $1,337,088. Remember that these figures, large as they are, usually approximate less than one-half of the true value.
I cannot tell the cash value of the roads and bridges you have built. I cannot tell the cost of the school houses the churches and public buildings you have paid for. The aggregate would be immense. Who did this work, who paid for it? The old settlers. The labor was done by them, the tax was paid with their produce. In England they show as monument of Caesar's greatness the great highway that he constructed across that little island. But our old settlers built roads across a territory equal to a contment; bridged rivers so deep and wide that the Thames would make for some of them only a rivulet; erected buildings equal in strength, and many of them surpassing in splendor palaces and cathedrals celebrated in the old world. How did they do it? With the seat of the brow, with hands hardened and muscles strained with toil. They did it because they were and are American citizens. I care not for their parentage or the name of the State or country they came from. They were, they are American citizens, a people that know how to dare and how to do; a people that in peace as in war know no such thing as failure.
Speaking of roads let me tell you when I came into the State for this section the principal place of business was Galena. My first trip to that city was made on an Indian pony and the major part of the road from Portage down was only a trail. My business was the purchase of groceries and supplies for the use of the Potter's emigration Society. We dealt with the house of M. F. TRUET & Co. They chartered two small steam boats, the Tiger and the Enterprise to transport the stock up the Wisconsin. For awhile it looked as if the question of navigation on the Wisconsin was an accomplished fact. But time proved that there was more sand than water in the channel of that stream; both boats met with disaster, one was sunk and the other, I think, was burnt and transportation by water was abandoned. Since that time many boats have been placed on the river but, as I am informed, without success or profit to the proprietors.
Senator Kingston must have a vivid recollection of the old trail from Galena to Portage. Once he started on foot, headed for home; his companion was one Johnny DOLAN. When night came they stepped from the trail and of course were soon lost in the woods. While wandering about, without guide or beacon light a screech owl hooted from a tree top. Hoo! Hoo!! Hoo!!! Imagining it was a person calling "who are you?" the Irishman promptly replied "Johnny Dolan, the first Irishman that was ever in Galena."
While on the subject of roads and highways, I must call your attention to another wonderful change. The day of the prairie schooner and the lumber wagon as vehicles for the transportation of emigrants has passed away. When many of you came here the screech of the locomotive was unknown, the telegraph had not been invented. Today there is in Wisconsin nearly five thousand miles of railroad track over which in 1885, the last report available to me, there was carried 5,087,459 passengers. Think then of the tens of thousands of miles of telegraph and telephone wires in the State and you will look in vain for the skeptic who shall refuse to grant or utter doubt when we claim that the old settlers will leave the State better than we found it. Last year the railroad, car, telegraph and telephone companies paid into the State Treasure, as tax on their earnings, $757,853.46.
Look at our public buildings.We may have carried some of them to an unnecessary extent in convenience and ornamentation. I remember that some years since I took Mr. Richard FAGAN of Kildare, through the Juneau County Jail, explained the strength of the immense stone arches that from the solid rock in the basement support the structure. Showed him the bath rooms and illustrated how the hot and cold water was supplied to every part of the house. I was proud of the work. Proud that the old settlers were able to build a house where even criminals could be well cared for. Dicks' criticism was a sneering "Yes, 'yere building a palace for the ---- thieves."
Then see our Churches and our Court Houses. Figures are distasteful. I will not detain you with details of cost. But we have the buildings. You paid for them, I know more about Cort houses than I do about churches but woe betide him who shall injure one of these. It will make no difference; a wrong done to church, for there virtue, morality, the real good and the highest aim of life is taught; or a court house, emblematic of the seat of justice will he be as swiftly and surely punished. have you ever thought of the difference in our mode of procedure in courts today and what it was when we first set in to make the State of Wisconsin. Then courts were often a bear garden and the scene of riot. I remember one interesting trail. Joseph HEWITT, of Armenia, chairman of the town, had been arrested for misappropriating four hundred dollars of the swamp land fund. The case was tried before R. A. WILKINSON. I prosecuted, Judge WINSOR defended Mr. Hewitt. The court room was up stains in Mrs. CLEMENT's building , the room was, is, about seven and half feet high. During the trial Judge Winsor said some harsh things Justice Wilkinson. in spite of that Wilkinson discharged the prisoner. Then shutting up his dociet, he left the table, told Mr. Winsor he had taken too much of his abuse now he must "take that." With the words came a blow; behind Winsor was an old fashioned box stove, it went down and down came the stove pipe. Tom HYDE was sheriff. He well understood his duty as conservator of the peace, so rushed into the crow, threw some men one way some another, and finally made an opening, hardly as large as a prize ring, exclaiming "sthand back by'es sthand back by'es, give the men a chance."
There is one thing we have lost. I don't regret it. I have not seen a nice case of prairie itch for years. In the good old days it was not unusual to see several members of the family at the house corners rubbing their backs against the butt ends of the logs, each one doubtless wishing that some good Duke of Argyle would do for them what he did for the tenantry on his Scotch estate erect convenient and plenty of scratching posts. Perhaps it has been succeeded by that worse disease, the itch for place, love of office, and greed in money getting. Fortunately this has struck only some monopolists and money sharks, it has never seriously afflicted the yeomanry, the old settlers, the real producers of wealth. I have yet to learn of there having been in this county, or vicinity, combinations of capital against labor or of labor against capital. The employer and the employee have worked together in harmony, some of the good results of their joint efforts I have just presented. Perhaps Pat. KILLBRIDE, of Necedah, will object to this statement, for he once claimed that his employer, Senator KINGSTON, abused him only because he was a hired man. It was years ago; every one then, as now, sympatheized with and desired to aid Ireland in its efforts to relieve itself from England's oppression. To that end branches of the Fenian organization were established all through the States. There was one here in Mauston another at Necedah. Of that at Necedah, Senator Kingston was the Head Centre. On a certain evening Gen. McWILLIAMS addressed the circle on the subject that excites American sympathy and awakes the national feeling in every Irish breast. Killbride, excited with patriotic fervor instead of attending at the opening of the meeting attended a meeting of the lime kiln club, so, when he did get into the Fenian Circle he was better able to walk a circle than to walk straight. He at once addressed the meeting: "ladies and Gentlemen and Hon. John T. Kingston." Calling him to order did no good so the presiding officer left his place and marched Pat. down stairs. Then he concluded to take him home. On the road Pat. objected, saying "Mr. Kingston because you're my boss you have no right to treat me this way. You are the master and I am the man but that's no reason why you should lead me through the streets and make me follow you as if I was a dog." This is the first and the last serious trouble I have heard of between employer and employee in Juneau County.
This success, this wealth has not been garnered without trouble and suffering. Twenty-seven years ago nearly every dwelling was the home of anguish. Then and within a short time thereafter, Wisconsin placed nearly a hundred thousand men in the filed. Husbands, sons, brothers, the stalwarts, the bone and sinew of the land, moved to the front, many, too many of them never to return. Then the old settler women proved their worth. Valiant unto heroism, generous unto abnegation, daring unto temerity, suffering pain, martyrdom, they gave their loved ones if they wept, they wept unseen, prepared to, and for years they fought the battle of life in lone efforts to preserve their homes and support their little ones. Who can think without a thrill of admiration of these obscure, many unknown women, who piloted their crying children through that prolonged ordeal of misery? Of all things on earth, after love, that which a human being most needs is strength; as the ancients accounted a lioness with her young more dangerous than a lion, so the very fact that woman is the mother of the human race makes it essential that she would have some vigor of will. It is desirable, doubtless, that a man should be strong, but a woman must be. The old settler women were strong. Though weak in body, suffering with anxiety and often racked with pain, they were strong enough to sustain Wisconsin during the years of its direst peril and keep it in such progressive, prosperous condition that, as result, we today proudly boast of the State's greatness, wealth, power and brilliant prospects.
With this brief review of what has been accomplished by our old settlers I must close with a word to the young settles. Their toils, tribulations and hardships will be comparatively light. The roads are open, the wilderness subdued, therefore their paths must be paths of peace. But the path of peace is the path of duty. The old settlers without means, without facilities, in spite of war, in spite of the loss of thousands of their youngest, most active, chivalrous sons, have made for Wisconsin a name and fame second to none. This they have done from 1848, the State's birthday to 1888 the date of this Old Settler's Reunion. Forty years. Can you, will you, the young settlers, perfect the picture, add to its brilliant tints and thus intensify its beauty? I know you will. Then will it be said of Wisconsin, in the language of the inspired writer, the Prophet Jeremiah, that Wisconsin is a State, "Great among the provinces." Lam. i., 1. "The perfection of beauty. The joy of the whole earth." Lam ii., 15.
Time after time the speaker was interrupted with applause and shouts of laughter and when he concluded he was honored by three rousing cheers at the request of President Potter.
After dinner the program was nearly carried out. The winners in the sixty year old walking match were as follows: T. VALLEAU 1st, A. C. CLAWSON 2d and S. ROOT 3d.
Owen REYNOLD's side won in the foot ball match.
John CARROLLS's baby which bears his father's name got the premium for beauty.
A race was made between a white and red man and George NEWKIRK beat Jim DECORIE a short distance.
In the scrub horse race Jerry PRICE's horse came in 1st and Alf SHELLY's 2d.
There was an Indian race but we do not know the result.
There was an Indian dance which attracted the whole crowd and the dancing hall was at once deserted.
The old ball game was played and declared a draw in order to let the "new fangled" game be played.
The election of offices in the afternoon resulted in the election of B. C. DOCKSTADER, President; J. T. HANSON, Secretary; P. R. BRIGGS, Treasurer. The other officers we have not learned nor at what date will be the next jubilee. The Secretary received quite a number of votes more than the other officers which showed pretty clearly that his services were appreciated by some one as of more importance than that of the other offices. The astonishing amount of work done by J. t. HANSON can only be guested at except by those who are with him. He is not only a "born Secretary" but is skillful in planning, and has the energy, pluck and enterprise to carry the plans to a successful termination. The Old Settlers' Association is very fortunate in having secured his services as Secretary.
B. C. DOCKSTADER is a worker and will make a good President and a good help to the Secretary.
Hon. J. B. POTTER, who has just left the Presidency was a tireless worker, full of enthusiasm and could impart it to others, and was ever ready and willing to do anything to make the celebration a success and his services were highly appreciated by all. Secretary Hanson is unstinting in his praise of the work done by J. B. POTTER during the past year.
About 100 new members joined the Association during the jubilee.