The next day we hunted as usual and that night we set out 58 traps and caught 8 rats and one mink
October 12, 1872
Saturday we concluded to build us some kind of a hut to stop in for it was getting rather cold nights. We had been stopping in an old hay shanty that was stuck up for the purpose of haying which would not keep out the cold very well nor shed rain none the best so we went to work.
"The nights were cold we had no stove So we built a Hut in the little Pine Grove George cut the logs the foundation I layed And I dug a hole without any spade.”
“The object of this hole I'll tell without teasing Was to put potatoes in to keep from freezing Although some of them had already froze As sure as people have corns on their toes."
"We had a bed in one corner a place for to lay The roof was built out of Pine boughs and marsh Hay And just as sure as an egg is without bone The fire place we built was made out of stone."
"And we all three made out to be boss So we stoped up the cracks and corners with moss And the chimney we built without any codd We dug up the marsh and made it of sod.”
"It smoked very bad George swore like a curse And cut a hole through the roof which made it smoke worse One morning we got up at the break of day Got breakfast and cleared the dishes away."
"George went out a little ways back To watch on a runway from off a Hay stack While the Old man put some brush on the fire to see To put on his mocassins to go out with me."
"When lo ! the fire caught in the moss on the wall And the old man was scared and loud I did call I had such a cold I could not call loud And the smoke from the roof made such a dark cloud."
“The old man went to work like a boy at play while I got on the roof to throw off the hay But the more I raised the hay the faster the flames rolled I could not work fast I had such a bad cold."
"We had fur in the hut such as mink and muskrate But the worst thing that perished there was the old man's hat The things were throughed out the logs were burned black When George had got back from off the hay stack.
"Now my kind friends I have finished my song I hope you will think I have sung nothing wrong! For writing poetry I never did care And I dont care a d.. .m for that old hut there.
And after the fire had ceased and everything was quiet on this solemn occasion we concluded to go up the little Elk some farther to see if we could not find some old lumber shanty to stop in for awhile but we wasent successful in finding any so we turned around and went back. It seemed that everything was agin us so we concluded to go back to Green prairie and stop for a few weeks. The task fell on me to go so I started about one o’clock and on my road I saw one deer and he was off so far that I would not shoot at him. I bent my steps onward and I did not reach Green Prairie until dusk.
I went to Mr. Halls [the old man that I spoke about wanting us to husk corn) for the purpose of getting a team to moove back. But Frank was to Brainard with the team and would not be back until the next day so I stayed there until Sunday when I and Frank took the team and went after George and the old man and our things. We mooved our things down to the prairie and stoped with the old man Hall. He told us that we could stop with him for three dollars $3.00 per week. We wanted to trap some on the river so we told him that we would stop with him for awhile. Now he had got us just where he wanted us in the first place to husk corn. Well to get rid of the old man we come to the conclusion to husk for awhile at five cts per Bus. and three dollars per week for board. We worked a few day and found that we could not more than earn our board so the old man went to trapping and I and George went to work at one dollar per day.
October 26, 1872
Saturday about dusk the old man shot a doe with both shot and rifle and went up and put his foot on her while he reloaded his gun but he had not got it loaded before she began to crall off so he just drawed his old Navy and shot her through the head, but this dident seem to stop her much. Well, he said if you can go with that go and he commenced calling the dog, but he was so far from the house that the dog couldent hear him, so he come up to the house fretting and foaming Well sez he boys I have shot a deer down in the brush and she has got away from me and I want you to go down with me and help find her she cant be a great ways off for I shot her twice with both shot and rifle and then I see she was bound to run I pulled my old navy and shot her through the head but still she run and I run after her but she out run me. Well after hearing the old man's pitifull story we went down with him expecting to find her soon, we tramped around considerable through the hazel brush and grass but no signs of the deer, so we give up the chase until morning.
We wasent long at the house before the dog come up all wet and we supposed that he had chased her to the river. But the worst of all is the old man said well boys I will tell you the truth about it. When the deer began to get up I pulled out my old Navy and shot at her head and missed it not holding the muzzel more than six inches from her, after gabbering away for some time we dropped the thing until morning. In the morning we took the team and went down to the river for we was pretty sure of finding her on one of the islands. George thought that we could make a boat out of the wagon box but we failed in that for it leeked so bad that we couldent do nothing. So George got on the pony and forded the river expecting to find her on the island, but while he was looking around I espied her on another island a few rods from him so I called him and he forded across and hitched the line to her and toed her over. We pulled her out on shore and examined whether the old man had missed her or not, but we found by examination that he had shot her through the head right below the ear.
Sure enough there was the bullet hole that you could run your finger in easily enough and she had run a mile with all them shots two shots through the thighs and one through the head and we bore the old man until this day about missing that deer. Well to finish my story. we loaded her in the wagon and went up to the house and skined out the fore shoulders and took the saddles to Little Falls and sold them to N. Lafond for 8 cts per lb., weighed 72 lbs. We sold the shoulders to the old man Hall and his brother. That week the old man had caught 13 rats and 2 mink. The next week ending Nov. 3 the old man shot one deer and caught 3 mink and 7 rats. (on the night of November 1 we had our first snow storm it snowed about an inch deep and went off the next day.)
The next week we thought we would try our luck out on Fish Lake so on Tuesday we went cut there, and built us a brush shanty on the bank of the Lake and it was a most awful disagreeable place for the wind blew a perfect gale all the time and we burnt out [or come pretty near it) two or three times and we camped there until Sunday and caught 3 mink. On Monday we concluded to go back up on Hay Creek. So we got Halls team mooved our things back up to cur old burnt out place. We carved some shakes and put on a new roof and fixed it up pretty comfortable. On Tuesday November 12 it commenced snowing and on Wednesday the snow had fallen 2 foot deep on the level. Wednesday George come back from taking the team home and I tell you he was a goner pretty near for he had trudged 12 miles through that deep snow without a soul but Frank Hall to cheer him on his way. The very next day he went out and shot a deer the first one that had been shot since we went back. On the following Monday I shot a deer and on Tuesday I and Frank went back to the prairie and on Wednesday November 20 1 went with Frank to Little Falls and we crossed the Mississippi river on the ice .......
But I have left out some which I will now relate. While we were down on the prairie we got acquainted with a man by the name of Sanford Sperry from Michigan he was an old buck about 40 some odd number of years old with a fair complexion and a rather mild disposition and an Atheist in sentiment. He come out in this western wilderness (for such I call it) for the purpose of hunting and sporting a little and we surmised from his conversation that he was midling wealthy. And we also got acquainted with another stalwart Gentleman (as we supposed him then to be but found out since different.) by the name of Andy Hart. He was a rather a tall man for common six foot and two inches in his stocking feet with very long hair and a sandy complexion with very heavy mustache, but light whiskers. You could see at a glance that he was very quick tempered, and he was called by some Kit Karson junior for he was here in Minnesota through the Indian massacree.
And we also come across another young looking chap about 26 I guess, with midling dark complexion blew eyes and dark hair and smiles like moon light, his clothes looked rather worse for ware. He had been up on the North branch of the little Elk river setting pole traps for the purpose of catching mink he pretended to know all about trapping especially setting pole traps and snares and at this time that I speak of he had just come from Little Falls. He had an old sack with 3 or 4 pounds of crackers in and a couple of pounds of pork. He stopped with us over night at the Lake and told us some of his love stories and his plan of building snares and trappers huts and the next day he went on up to his old camp.
And as I have said before we went up on hay creek and these two former Gentlemen that I have spoke about accompanied us up there. but the long lean gaunt looking ran did not stop long with us at this time. He went back and stopped with some more gentlemen that he was acquainted with. But Mr. Sperry stopped with us for a few days and told some pretty good stories. But he soon got sick of the cold weather (for it was then very cold) and concluded to go back to Michigan where he could be more comfortable, he sold us his traps and powder and blanket, and at this time that I spoke of going to Little Falls he accompanied us and took his leave for a warmer clime. Well we hadent been camped long in the old shanty before this young chap that I have discribed before (Joseph Edge by name) come back and wanted to stop with us.
Well we took him in for friendship sake for the poor fellow was nearly starved he had been nearly a week without any thing to eat except a few crackers. And the way he eat was a caution you would think that the poor fellow hadent had any thing to stay his stomach for a whole year. Well days passed on and we became like friends of olden time but Joe thought he would run the shanty by having something to say about every thing . So one morning George thought he would stop him by swearing a few mild oaths and so he did. Joe was a well read man but rather quick temper an Englishman by birth. But the most fault I found with him he had most to say about other folks bussiness. Well the winter passed off very quietly and we had considerable fun hunting except the coldest weather which was very cold. The thermometer was the day before Christmas 55 deg. below zero at Little Falls.
One day we thought we would try an experiment so we got an icicle and placed on the wood in the fire. The icicle was not more than 18 inches from the fire at the farthest, and in less than 20 minutes it was froze fast to the wood so that you could pick the stick up by it. Well the winter passed off very quietly as I have said before until the last of Dec. when we began to get tired of hunting and made up our minds to strike for Nebraska and see if we could not get into a warmer climate. But this stalwart man Hart that I have spoke about before by considerable soft sodering managed to pursuade us to go up to his place which was 55 miles west of St. Paul and go a trapping with him out on the Pomme de Terrre river out in the western part of Minnesota in the spring.
So on the morning of Dec. 28 we packed up our duds for the journey. We got Freeman Halls team this time to moove us. We went down on the prairie and stopped with the old man Hall again expecting to go to Minneapolis on the next Thursday with Freeman Hall. On Monday Hart come over to Halls and said he could not stay any longer and he wanted one of us to go home with him a foot so the old man and him started on Monday and I and George stayed to go around with our trunks and venson. We had six deer which we thought of taking to Minneapolis as the season was nearly out for selling venson and we also had 8 doz. partridges to sell. Well Thursday come and we were dissapointed. Freeman Hall could not go to Minneapolis But he was going to Little Falls and we were tired staying around so we just packed up and started, but sure enough dident get any farther than Little Falls.
But as I have left out a little I will put it in now. When we started away from the Old man Halls he was very anxious for to have us come back to take our claim on the prairie we had already codeded (?) him up that we wanted to take a claim there and went so far as to survey it out. But I had no intentions of taking a claim any of the time, and I dont think the Old man or George had. Well we stopped at Little Falls as I have said before and staid over night. Mose Lafond was going to have a team go to St. Cloud the next day and he said that we could go with him by paying him .25 cts per hundred for our luggage. We told him all right. That we would go. Well we put our Partridges with his'n and took them to St. Cloud. He said he would send us the money for our share when he got the returns from them (but we have never seen any thing of the money). In the morning we started, got as far as Swan river,there loaded up 26 fore shoulders of venison for Lafond besides all our venison trunks and boxes which made a load of about two ton.
We got all loaded up and started down the hill on the river when the load tipped off and throwed the driver off (who was a cripple) and the horses began to run but it was lucky for no they turned around and tried to run up hill and got stuck in the snow. We reloaded but dident go far before we onloaded Mr. Lafonds venison beside the road and went on but on account of bothering so much did not get any farther than McNeals on North prairie that day. Next day we went on to St. Cloud, got there about 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Onloaded our venison in the depot and went up town and stopped at the tavern Peter Cramers Hotel venison was only 5 cts per lb. we concluded to ship it to Minneapolis. So getting a receipt for it we went up town and got our supper and as the cars would not run until Monday. We had to stop there over Sunday and it seemed an awful long day; two for it was very cold, and we did not go out doors much.
Layed around until Monday morning, settled up our board which was very reasonable $4.00. Got on the cars again and started for Minneapolis. Mostly prairie all the way, arrived there about one o’clock in the afternoon stopped at the Reverie Hotel got our dinner. And there went around the city a little and inquired what mink was worth. Found out and then went down to the depot to get our furs but found that they was not there went up the American Express House but found them not there, went back to the depot and got the agent to telegraph to St. Paul to see if they were there found that they were. He said that they would be there at six o’clock in the afternoon. So we went back up town and waited until six o’clock.
Went down to the Depot and got our furs by paying the agent 25 cts. We took them up in the famous city and sold them. Brought $42.00 took a check on the bank. The next day we went and shaved and then went and drawed the money on our check. And then we went to the Photograph Gallery and got a doz photographs taken $3.00 per doz. About noon it snowed a little, we went down to the depot in the afternoon to see if our venson had come but it hadent and wouldent until the next Thursday morning.
Wednesday Jan 8, 1873
It commenced snowing and blowing a perfect gale there was not much stir around town except the hack drivers. We did not go up town but once and then my hat blew off and did not stop until it went two or three blocks, It continued to snow and blow all the next day. The thermometer was down to 25 deg. below zero, the snow drifted so the cars could not run from Minneapolis to St. Paul only 9 miles, the next day the wind went down and it stopped snowing the thermometer was only 15 deg below zero. And now as the storm is over I will attempt to discribe the city of Minneapolis. Although I did not have a very good chance to go around much as it was so stormy.
Minneapolis is situated on the west side of the Mississippi River nine miles above St. Paul. St. Anthony is on the opossite side of the river from Minneapolis. There is about 22 thousand inhabitance in the two places. Minneapolis has several large saw mills besides a number of very large Grist mills. It is one of the most important lumbering places there is in the state. There is also a nice suspension bridge between Minneapolis and St. Anthony made of wire. And now as I have get through with my discription of this famous city, and our venison has not come yet so we can get rid of it at a good fair price 12 cts per lb which we was offered when we first went there. We will go and settle up with the land lord and take our leave for Smith Lake. The proprietor of the Reverie House only charged us the small sum of $10.00 dollars for 8 days board which we though was very reasonable ( if you dident care what you said.)
We went dawn to the Depot and made arrangements with the Agent to ship our venison to Smith Lake when it come. And then got our ticket and took the cars again for Smith Lake, fare $2.25 apiece. The land along this road is somewhat richer than common a black loam about 2 and 3 foot deep with a hard pan beneath We arrived at Smith Lake about eleven o’clock, come out on the platform and looked all around for the town but could not see nothing except a few buildings on the north side of the track and a depot on the south side next to the Lake. Went into the depot and inquired for Harts, found the way and started, got there a little after noon.
The old man was out to the stable feeding the cattle he seen us a coming and he started to meet us at the house and I tell you he was very glad to see us for we had been apart the longest time since we started on our journey. He took us in the house and introduced us to Mrs. Hart and the hired girl whose name was Miss Cacy. The first thing we had to have was a tune on the fiddle for we had not heard him play for so long.
In the afternoon we went down to Crow river about 2 1/2 miles to help Hart draw some hay. And the next day we help him draw hay also. A few days passed off kindly lively. We choped what wood they wanted to turn and drawed up some wood to last while we was gone a trapping. One day Mr. Trumlie come over to get us to chop wood for him, but Hart told us that we might have all the wood we could chop on his place if we could get it drawed. Mr. Trumlie said he would draw for us for half. So we went to work. Hart said we could board with him if we would furnish what few groceries they wanted we told him all right and went to work as I have said.
January 15, 1873
Chopped a few days and Mr. Trumlie come and drawed. The weather was very cold. We hadent chopped but a few days before the old man got the epizootic (?) and Hart cut his foot and I and George had to chop alone for a few days. Our venison and boxes come, the charges on them being $8.25. We got Mr. Trumlie to fetch them over, skinned them and used the fore shoulders up while we were chopping. Mr. Trumlies horses got sick and he quit drawing but we kept on chopping expecting to get it drawed.
One night went to Smith Lake to a dance and oyster supper had a pretty good time. We kept on chopping until we got his road through which made about 60 cords of wood He wanted us to keep on chopping but we told him not much we wanted to get that drawed that we had chopped before we chopped any more. So one day the old man started to look for another job of chopping. Got a job of E. Studebaker, he come back and told I and George that he had found some work to do. But he wanted to set some otter traps and I and George might go and work a while. He promised to go the next day but we had to get our boots fixed and couldent go until the next day. We tried very hard for a week to get some teams to draw our wood, but could not find any. So the next day Feb. 12 we went and commenced chopping for Enos Studebaker. The following week was very cold the thermometer stood at 25 deg below zero.
Wednesday Feb. 26 1873
The old man got a letter from B.J. Bryum stating that his woman was married to another man. The old man burned the letter up and appeared to rejoice in the news but along the next week he was very near wild, he was running all over the country to see what he was a going to do. And on the following Sunday Hart turned the hired girl off which the old man had been paying considerable attention to. The old man went with her over to her mothers. He promised to meet us at the Lake Wednesday night but on Monday as we was chopping wood we got word that he wouldent meet us at the Lake. Time passes on until Saturday, we went up to the shoemakers to get our boots which we had left there the week before.
We was anxious to know what had become of the old man. So we just called at the window. And behold there. the old man was in all his glory, for he was married he said on the 5 of March, this being the last Wednesday.
March 5 1873
And there his woman lay rolled up in a blanket (for such was the bed) on the floor. The old lady sat on a chair smoking her pipe and talking of the past while on the opposite side of the stove in the other corner of the house on the floor lay the other three children, one girl and two boys. To make a short story long I would say by adding that In one end of the house was a fireplace (or used to be) in which lay all the dirt which had been gathered during the winter. The floor was about half torn up and an old rickety bedstead stood in one corner which looked as though it could hardly stand, and on the opposite side of the house stood a bench and also some shelves on which were some dishes which looked rather worse for ware. No clock, no melodeon, no beauro, no nothing except an old dirty shanty with only one window and one door. And here the old man was in all his glory as I have said before.
Married to a young damsel of sweet nineteen. Black hair, black eyes, red rosy cheeks and smiles like morning light. He strutted a bit and then said well boys, I have used you darned mean in not letting you know that I was going to get married. Well we told him it was all right the thing was did. And we wished him much joy and good luck hopeing that he would live in peace through the rest of his days. We give him all the dishes and blankets we had and told him to depart in peace. We went in after our boots and then went back to Studebakers chopping wood. Time passed on until monday morning March 17 the old man and Maggie Freeman (for such was her name now. which used to be Maggie Cacy, started for Green Prairie, Morrison County, Minnesota
March 17, 1873
They took their leave on the noon train we shook hands wished them good luck and parted with a regret not because we were relatives but because we were friends and had been together so long we knew we would miss the old fiddle. We knew he would miss the jigs we used to dance and the pleasant times we used to have hunting, trapping and working together. He promised to write to us as soon as he got settled down. He wanted us to go with him but we told him, no sir we had got enough of Minn, we was going to a warmer clime. But wouldent start yet awhile as we hadent money enough to go with.Time passed on slowly, we managed to get $12.00 for the wood we cut on Harts place which was no less than 75 cords. Chopped wood for Studebaker and Wells until Tuesday March 25.
March 25 1873
When we commenced building a store for E. W. Brooks & Close at Smith Lake for $1.50 per day. Got acquainted with Mess Studebakers sister in the mean time, Miss Griswold and also a young widow by the name of Mis Martin. Both very good looking and very mild dispositions with a pleasing eye and a fascinating way of gaining the love of others. We worked on the store until April 19 when we settled up with Brooks and Close, they paying us the sum of $77.43 for our work and some venison which we sold them
April 21, 1873
Monday morning April 21, packed up our trunks, shook hands with our old friends Studebaker and wife and started for Nebraska. Arrived at St, Paul at 6 o’clock evening. Stopped at the Minnesota Hotel, got up next morning found it snowing and blowing and freezing and teasing to snow more. Took the 6 o’clock train for Sioux City. R.R. fare $12.50 the main towns we passed through were St. Peter, Mankato, St. James where we stopped for dinner 20 minutes and LeMars where we stopped for supper. Mostly prairie all the way from Mankato to Sioux City, is very beautiful. Arrived at Sioux City about 8 o’clock in the evening stoped at the Northwestern Hotel still snowing a very little.
Contributed by Robert Fish