Remember this is my book and if you want to look at it, look, and if the reading don’t suit your taste, why put it away in the greatest of haste.
STEBBINSVILLE, OCEANA COUNTY, MICHIGAN Monday, September 16th, 1872 J.W. Freeman, G. W. Filkins and L. L. Fish started this morning, on a trapping expedition for the northwest expecting to stop in Minnesota. After a tiresome ride of seven hours we arrived at Montage, a nice little town on the east shore of Lake Michigan just opposite White Hall. We expected to get some money there but being disappointed we hired a livery rig there, paying $6.00 for it and J. W. Freeman and G. W. Filkins went back to Stebbins (for that was the man that we had been working for) and got the money on our order. And did not get back until after dark. In the mean time I was shipping some freight and preparing our trunks for the journey. We stopped over night at Madisons in White Hall.
September 17, 1872
Started at half past seven o'clock in the morning for Nunica, changed cars there for Grand Haven arrived at Grand Haven at half past eleven o'clock A.M. (railroad fare from White Hall to Grand Haven one dollar and fifty cts $1.50) Went up town and got a dish of oysters and then we went down on the bank of Lake Michigan saw twenty vessels on the Lake. At night we went and heard the Swiss Bell Ringers and after their melodius tones had past away we went and got on the Boat and waited until twelve o'clock before she started. She went very nice until about two o’clock it commenced raining and the wind blew dredful hard. The old ironside went heaving along through the water with now and then a squeak that made the passengers think that she was going down. Our bunk was in the low of the boat and the water would splash in the window once and a while that would make us think that our life was about over. It made me heave up for about two hours. And most all the passengers aboard likewise. Along about five o'clock the gale went down and we began to go pretty steady. When we got up about daylight, we saw some pretty pale faces you had better believe. The tables were turned upside down, the lamps and dishes broken and a general brake up. In.the mean time I was so near groggy that I left my fine shirt in the cabin.
(In the margin---- Railroad Steamboat fare across the Lake $3.00)
September 18, 1872
And we didn't get in Milwaukee until twelve o’clock (noon) We stopped at the Cream City Hotel for dinner but I couldn't eat much for every thing was on the whirl. After dinner we went up town for to purchase some guns. and other implements of war. After examining them to our satisfaction we concluded to take 8 double barrel Rifle and Shot Guns and three Revolvers paying for them. One hundred and forty dollars $140, besides other ammunition such as Powder and Lead cartridges etc.
To amount in all to about One hundred and sixty dollars $160.00. We started out of Milwaukee at nine o’clock evening for St. Paul. (Railroad fare $9.00) It being night we hadn't a very good view of the country through Wisconsin the main towns we passed through there Pauduka, Madison, and Prairie Duchien. We arrived at Prairie Duchien at Sunrise and stopped there for Breakfast and after breakfast we got aboard of a Boat and crossed the Mississippi River to North McGregor where we took the cars again for St. Paul.
September 19, 1872
After winding around rocks and hills for about two hours we finally come out on the prairie in Iowa and after passing over a beautiful prairie of about 100 miles we come into timber again (this being in Minnesota) the timber was very small with a good deal of underbrush. The main town along this line were Swana, Ridgeway, Austin, Farmington and Rosemount. We stopped at Austin for our dinner paying the round sum of 75 cts for a chickens leg and a piece of pie. We arrived at St. Paul at 6 o’clock in the afternoon after supper we went to P.T. Barnums Show seen a few animals. [the Giraffe and horned Horse for instance) and saw what they called the leap for life a man performing on the trapeze and turned a summersault in the air and caught. on another slack rope which he done with the greatest of ease. And saw a person mesmerized and suspended in the air without any support whatever.
After viewing the One Horse show until it was over we concluded to go for a resting place. But its being fare time it was hard to find, as the hotels were all full. We finally come across a man that had paid for a nights lodging and he said that we might take his place. And after conversing over the subject for some time the Old Man and George thought they would run the risk of getting another place and I might go with another fellow that we had fell in company with. So we went and paid a dollar and had a good lodging and breakfast. And the Old Man took the soft side of the Bar room floor, while George took the soft seat of a hickory bottom chair.
September 20, 1872
The next morning the Old Man got up early (and stretching himself considerable after a pleasant dose of about 4 hours) and sent down to the depot to see if he could find our trunks. After having considerable words with the baggage master they found them and the Old Man hired a boy to carry them over to the Northern Pacific Depot. In the mean time I and George was hunting for the Old Man but did not find him until about train time. We saw him going down the street towards the Depot with the trunks we made for him and just had time to buy our tickets for Brainard (railroad fare $10.75) And in about 20 minutes we was again on our road. The timber on this road was mostly Buroak & Redoak. The soil was a black sand with considerable gravel mixed with it. As we come nearer the Northern Pacific road, the timber became plentier and more varieties such as Maple, Basswood and Elm. But the land was very low with now and then a swamp.
We arrived at the junction at three o’clock in the afternoon and waited there for a freight train from Duluth until about sundown. The towns along the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad were Bear Lake, Forest City, Rush City, Hinckly and Kettle River then comes Tomson junction 20 miles from Duluth where we again took the cars for Brainard (not cars exactly but a caboose on a freight train) We did not have a very good chance to see the country along this road but nevertheless we seen all that we wanted to for the timber was all Tamrack and the land all swamp where school houses nor nothing else wont flourish except musquetoes and polawogs and hardly them especially in a drie season. There being so few stations I did not pay any attention to their names. We finally reached Brainard at ten o’clock in the evening got of from the cars looked around considerable for a stopping place and finally stoped at the Metropolitan Hotel.
September 21st, 1872
We got up early next morning went down on the Mississippi river to see what we could see but didn't find any thing very interesting so we concluded to go on west. So we took the cars in the afternoon and started for Wadena 47 miles from Brainard (Railroad fare $2.50) There wasn't much timber from Brainard to Wadena, now and then a grove and plenty of brushy land, some prairie the soil being mostly sand and gravel. We arrived at Wadena about an hour before sundown, come out on the platform looked all around for the towne but didn’t see anything but a few shanties and the frame of a depot so we got off from the platform and kindled up a fire to run some bullets and to get our guns in shooting order for they hadent been shot any yet. We intended to shoot about 3 or 4 dozen Prairie Chickens before dark but failing to get our guns in shooting order the chickens come up minus. The Old Man in trying to get his gun loaded got George’s bullet starter fast and had to go to the carpenter shop to get it out and finally succeeded after breaking it to pieces. The next thing to do was to find a lodging place so we went up to the Boarding House and obtained a nights lodging.
September 22, 1872
The next morning being Sunday morning we didn't get up very early and when we did get up there was such a heavy dew that we didn't go out until along towards noon. The old man was anxious so we started off north through the prairie to a grove of timber, the old man seen one deer but didn't shoot at it. I scared one but did not get to see any. The Prairie Chickens were very scarce. After tramping around through swamps and marshes until satisfied we concluded to go back to Brainard. So going back up to the station we got our dinner and at 4 o’clock in the afternoon the freight train come along. The agent wouldn't flag them for us so they went on past but the conductors seeing that we wanted to get on stopped the train [after running about a half mile) and backed up so we jumped aboard and was again on our road to Brainard. Again in Brainard we took our abode in the same hotel as before.
The following week was considerable rainy and we couldn't hunt much but hunting was of no use for there was no game there except a few crows and they wasn’t plenty only around the slaughter house. One day we had the fun of seeing two breakman fight a duel (or rather a rough and tumbel fist fight) they took off their shirts-and made up their minds to go in like two bull dogs. The one finally got the other by the ear and after gnawing away for some time hollowed about no biting and the party took them apart and let them go at it again. But they hadn't made but one or two blows before the ravenous man got the other by the shoulder and got a few mouthfuls of human flesh and they had to part them again this time making them shake hands and be friends this they done with a kind of human grudge which I doubt they will ever forget.
We went to church one evening the preacher give it to the people of Brainard for carrying on so Sundays in the saloons and on the sidewalk he said that they were very wicked and that they had better repent or they would not be saved.
September 24-25, 1872
We stayed around town paying $6.00 per week for board until the next Thursday and we come across a man by the name of John Anderson living on Green Prairie 50 miles south of Brainard. He told us that there was plenty of game up there and that he was an old trapper and hunter and that he had seven hundred traps and thirty men hired by the month to work for him. He said that he would show us the best trapping ground that we ever layed eyes on. So we concluded that the man was telling us the truth for he looked like an upright and honest man and we would go with him down to the Prairie.
September 26, 1872
But our Trunks had not come yet and we could not go that day so he said that he would be back the next Tuesday and we could go then. We stayed until the next Tuesday and he come but went off and left us so we made up our minds to take it a foot.
September 27, 1872
We started Thursday, for Green Prairie got as far as Crow wing and began to get hungry bought some crackers there. Went out under the shade of an oak brush and eat them but they went down rather drie for we had no Beer, Whisky or Sider to drink with them. The land along this part or the county is pretty much Prairie with considerable brush in places but not much standing timber. The soil is a black sand and gravel rather light for cultivation. We didn't get any farther then Fort Ripley that day on account of looking along the road shooting ducks. Fort Ripley is situated on the west side of the Mississippi river eight miles North of Green Prairie. There we crossed the river on a ferry boat paying the ferry-man 10 cts a piece for crossing. We went on about a quarter of a mile beyond the fort when we come to a rough looking shanty we concluded to stop and obtain a nights lodging if possible for it was dark already. So the old man went to the door and rapped, a sharp nosed woman of fifty or there about come to the door.
The old man bowed and inquired if a nights lodging could be obtained, well she didn't hardly know, her husband was gone away from home. But she finally concluded if we could take up with the fare we might stop. So we went in and laying our guns and revolvers before her for to take care of rather astonished her. She said that she didn't know that we was armed and she didn't know but she done wrong in taking us in but we told her that we had never hurt any boddy and didn't intend to as long as they would let us alone So she went to getting supper, it consisted of a pan of skim milk and a few crusts of bread, she said that she felt most to tired to cook anything. Oh, we told her never to mind we was very fond of milk for we had never been weaned yet. So we eat our grub and went to bed. Our bed consisted of a straw tick and a couple of soldier blankets. You could throw your hat through the side of the house almost anywhere. We dosed away several unpleasant hours (for it was very cold) and got up.
September 28, 1872
Our breakfast consisted of a cup of coffee a little pork and some warm biscuits that was about 2 thirds Saleratus and the rest flour. After paying our bill we started on for Green Prairie but hadn't gone only 2 or 3 miles before we met Mr. Hall and son from Green Prairie, they was going to Brainard with a load of potatoes. We thought we would send for our trunks so George went back with them to Brainard. And I and the Old Man went on to the prairie. We hadent gone far before we spied some Ducks on the river and we thought that we would go and shoot some of them so creeping along through the brush and grass we got down to the river. I told the old man that I would not shoot until he did so he commenced to crawl up closer and I had my gun on them all the time waiting for him to shoot but he made such a noise in the prickly Ash that the ducks all flew and neither of us got a shot.
In crossing a little brook right close by I saw a duck, shot and killed it. Then we started back to the road, heard a noise in the brush and thought it was a deer but on close examination found that it was some cows and two men driving them on horse back. The men were Freeman Hall and George Hall, sons of the old man Hall that we met going to Brainard. We fell in conversation with them and found that they lived close by John Andersons. The old man was considerable tired out (for his number eight boots had gohded his feet some) and Freeman Hall got off from his horse and let the old man get on. He rode up to the old man Halls and got off. Went on to John Andersons, got there about eleven o’clock, John was digging potatoes.
But I have left out some which I will now relate when we met the old man Hall he was very_________ in having us stop with him. He said that he had some corn to husk and he would like to give us a job but we was not in the working mood just then, we did not come out here for that purpose. We told him that we had promised John Anderson to stop with him and we must fulfill our promise. And as I have said before when we got to John’s he was digging potatoes. He invited us in the house and taking our guns, laid them aside.
Conversing on the subject of trapping and hunting for some time we perceived that his thirty men that he spoke about to Brainard were minus and his trapps were knocked down to eleven. This we could not account for unless he had taken one glass to much when at Brainard.
But we made up our minds if we were sold we would do the best we could. We could not be sold very hard for we had already seen some signs of deer and plenty of ducks and some chickens, and as for the Moose, Elk and Bear there wasint any there. After Dinner I and the aid man thought we would go out hunting Chickens. John would go but be wanted to finish digging his potatoes. So we went, tramped around considerable through the grass but didn't scare any up.
After taking a good nights lodging in a twenty pound feather bed, got up midling early next morning. Went out hunting deer down towards the river. The old man saw three, one awful big buck that give him the buck fever pretty bad for it was the first deer that he had seen in Minnesota. But he managed [after several trials to hold his arm steady] to shoot at him but missing him slick and clean the old fellow started off with his head up and tail a risin. The old man tried to make us believe that he had wounded him but we tracked him some ways and come to the conclusion that the Old Man had the buck fever so bad that he didn't know whether he was hunting deer or moose.
September 29, 1872
The next morning was Sunday morning and we thought we would explore the wilds of Minnesota so starting off towards the south west we made our way through hard brush and prickly ash and through marshes and over logs until I began to think that we were getting clear out of civilisation. We finally come to a lake by the name of Fish Lake. We tramped around the west end of the lake and began to get a little tired so we sat down on the ground and after filling ourselves up pretty well with wintergreen berries we started on. After wandering for some time over the hills and among the lofty Norway Pines we came to the little Elk river and as we neared its banks we perceived that it was a small stream and at a glance we could see that it was considerable crooked. While standing on its banks we saw the wake in the water of a Musk Rat and after examining the banks we concluded that there were considerable many rats and mink on the stream. From this we started of towards the Northwest through a quite a lengthy marsh.
Our object was to go to an old lumber camp called Browns lumber camp. After a tiresome walk of some hours through marshes and over the hills in the woods we reached the camp. Coming up to the desolate spot we stopped to examine the things around the stable, was built of logs mostly. The roof was made of logs hollowed out like troughs and turned one up and then down. The mens shanty was also built of logs but the roof had been torn off. Our object here was to see if we could find any deer sign. We did find some but not as much as our heroine leader had anticipated. While setting here resting our tiresome limbs we began to get a little hungry so we made up our minds to go back for the Prairie, making our way as best we could through this wild and lonely wilderness. On our road we had to cross another swamp and I began to think that our leader was trying our courage for every step that we took through that dismal swamp it seemed that we was going down the road to ___________ as fast as time would let us. But we finally succeeded in gaining ground and I tell you we were glad of it and after some more trying hours over logs and through the brush we reached the prairie where we again stopped for lodging. In the meantime George had got back from Brainard and was awaiting our arrival.
September 29, 1872
He brought our trunks which had our clothing in and traps likewise. We thought we would trie our luck in trapping. So setting out 8 traps we caught 5 rats the first night. We thought this was doing very well for a beginning. The next night was gained one rat.
September 30, 1872
The next morning I wounded the big buck (or old Golden as we called him) the one that the old man had shot at the day or two before. I could not track him very well on account of the ground being bare and so many brush. I found some blood but not enough to convince me that he was wounded very bad so I let him go and went to the house. That night we set out 25 traps and caught 12 rats this was a little discouraging but still it was not very bad...
October 1, 1872
The next day along toward evening we went out hunting again, the old man and the stalwart John went together and I and George went in opposite directions. The old man and John went down to the big marsh to watch on a runway. We hadent been gone long before I heard the report of the old man’s rifle. And one report followed another until twelve shots were fired. I began to think that the Indians had charged on the old man and John or else they were killing all the deer in the country. I made up my mind that if the Indian had charged on them I would go down and help them out of the rumpus. And if they had only killed ten or twelve deer I wauldent come _________ in helping them take care of their game. So I crept down the winding path through the brush until I come in sight of them. The old man had his coat off and was first in the act of stooping over.
When I hollowed at them and wanted know what they had been bombarding. By gimminetty I have got one of them says the old man and by the holy horned spoons I shot another one for I seen the fur fly off his back. And would have shot another one if John had let me pulled off my revolver when I wanted too. Well now what is all this rumpus about explain yourselves said I. Well you see says the old man we come down here and watched on this runway right out there in the brush. John told me to give the word when to shoot if the deer comes along. We hadent been here more than 5 minutes before I seen three coming. I told John to set down and not to move a bit. He didn't move except to brush the musquetoes from of his face. While I let them ____ away but wished the divil to blow the roof of their jackets. Well you see they come up within 8 or 10 rods and stopped. I told John that I would take the head one and he might take the next one.
So you see as I give the word shoot, I shot and the old doe fell. The other two jumped a couple of jumps and stopped John holding his gun on them all the time but never shooting once so I drawed up the shot gun and shot but shot too high. I seen the fur fly though and pulled my old Navy out to shoot but John stopped me he said he wanted to shoot that one. So I held on, he shot but missed him slick and clean and then I shot and he shot and I shot and he shot and I guess he is pretty sore if we dident kill him. But I know we killed him he couldn't have stood all them shots without getting killed. We have got one any way. We will let the other go until morning for it is to dark to hunt him tonight. But John tells quite another storri says I, he says that you dident give any word to shoot.
But I did says the old man and if he dident hear me it was because them confounded musquetoes made such a noise. Well I guess you were both so excited that you didn't know what you were about. But it is time we was going home with this deer. So after gathering up their rats and revolvers and guns we started for the house. I and John carried the deer and the old man carried the guns and revolver. We was about 2 miles from the house and we was glad when we got there for we hadent a very light load.
October 2, 1872
Days passed on and we kept a catching, some game rats and coon. One night I and John watched up in a tree for deer in a turnip patch. We hadent been there long before there were three or four came in under the tree where I was watching. I kept very still for some time but it was so dark that I could not see them and so I thought if I got a chance to shoot one of them I would have to make a noise so I first moved a little from my position in the tree. When one of them jumped I could not see nothing but its shadow. When I drawed up my ____________ sandlepipe and never taking no aim (except by guess) pulled the trigger when mr deer fell and he hadent any more than touched the ground before I jumped from my seat in the tree (which was no less than twelve feet from the ground] and grabbing my knife at the same time cut mr. deers throat. John hollowed out have you got one ? Yes sez I and got its throat cut. Well sez he it is going to get up, no it haint sez I and I grabbed it by the ears while he cut its throat again.
October 3,4,5 & 6 1872
This was the first deer that I had ever killed its being so small. [it was only a fawn] that I couldent boast much of it. Well the next thing to be done was to take it to the house so John shouldered the fawn and I carried his gun and away we went for the house but it was not a very long journey for the house was not over a half mile away.
October 7, 1872
The next day we went to Little Falls and bought 2 doz. traps and purchased some groceries and some nails to build a boat with.
October 8, 1872
The next day we went down to the mill to make the boat but when we got there we could not get any tools to work with so George went on to town and got some groceries while I and the old man stayed at the mill until he come back.
October 9, 1872
The next day was the 9th of October it was middling cold we thought we would try our luck up on the little Elk river, So we hired Frank Hall to take us up there paying him $5.00. We got as far as the forks at noon where we stopped and cooked our dinner. That consisted of Duck Prairie Chicken, Snipe, Potatoes etc, We found considerable signs of deer, otta and mink there but not enough to stop so after dinner we started on up the north fork and on our road we seen 8 deer. This kind of encouraged us if we dident get a shot at them. We finally got to Hay Creek about an hour before sundown. We thought we would stop here as there was some signs of rats and mink on the stream so we onloaded our traps and provisions close to an old hay shanty and prepared ourselves for the night. We set out 44 traps expecting to catch about 25 rats and 2 or three minks but the night was very cold. The creek froze about a half inch all over, and we come very near freezing ourselves although we had five big heavy soldier blankets and all our cloths on.
October 10, 1872
Got up next morning and instead of finding 25 rats and 2 or 3 mink we found 2 rats. This was encouraging but not half so much as the baking of the bread for breakfast. George was the cook so he got the pan and mixed up the bread but instead of putting it in the oven he had to put it on the frying pan and cook it over the coals but the worst of all was we had no pork, lard, butter or griddle greaser to grease the pan with but he slapped her in and the way she stuck to the pan was a caution. He kept a flipping her up side down until the outside was burnt as brown as the top of your old hat.
Contributed by Robert Fish