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قراءة كتاب Some Pioneers and Pilgrims on the Prairies of Dakota Or, From the Ox Team to the Aeroplane

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Some Pioneers and Pilgrims on the Prairies of Dakota
Or, From the Ox Team to the Aeroplane

Some Pioneers and Pilgrims on the Prairies of Dakota Or, From the Ox Team to the Aeroplane

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 4

There were fires, droughts and blizzards. Then grasshoppers in '63, '64, '74, '76. And all the time the lack of even what are now the common necessities, not to speak of the comforts and conveniences of life. The table had to be provided largely from what the settlers themselves could produce from the untamed soil and the clothes from the coarse cheap cloth available at the few towns, such as blue denim for men and calico for women.

The settlers in this region had one advantage in their start on a bare soil. Wood for fuel and timber was available. While this timber was largely cottonwood and willow, yet out of the cottonwood, and occasionally oak, they were able to construct log houses. This was quite an advantage here, as dugouts on this level and low lying land would not have been even as satisfactory as on the prairie.

These men and women who led in subduing the raw, untamed soil may be likened to soldiers in the first line trenches as also to shock troops. In order that others might reap the fruits of victory some had to be sacrificed. Many of these front liners perished early in the struggle. Others have come down even to the present. But within and outside they bear the marks, D.S.C's, may I say, of the great days of battle.







CHAPTER IIIToC

The First Settlement of the Prairie From the Missouri Bottom North as Far as the Turkey Creek Valley


Among the first to homestead and build on this tract, in early days called the South Prairie, were, as far as we can learn, Christian Marendahl; Nils Brekke, '67; John Sleeper, '68; Gunder Olsen, '68; Peder Engen, Sivert Nysether, Esten Nyhus, Ole Liabo, Iver Furuness, and Miss Marie Hoxeng came during '68-'69. Ole Bjerke and H. Sether came in '69. About this time came also Lars Aaen. The Hoxengs came the next year, or 1870, and Hans Dahl and Lars Eide a little later.

It may be of interest as illustrating how these people got on their chosen locations, to describe in brief the experiences of some of them.

Ole Bjerke came to Sioux City in the spring of '69. This little village was then the "farthest west" as far as the railroad was concerned. Thru an acquaintance of his, Joe Sleeper, I believe, he had become interested in the far away prairie north of Yankton, which was open for settlement. Accordingly he bought, thru Mr. Halseth of Sioux City, a yoke of oxen and a wagon, the standard equipment of the pioneer settler of those days. These oxen, like most of their tribe, were wild and unruly; ran away, broke the wagon to pieces and were lost for some weeks. Finally the trip was made over the winding prairie trail westward thru Brule and Vermilion, thence along the bluffs to their destination. It was a long, weary trip thru the tall grass, and the accommodations in the way of food and sleep at the few human habitations along the way were not of the kind to cheer the weary pilgrims. For in most cases a rude shelter was all they could obtain, having to provide food and bedding for themselves, the owners often being bachelors, sometimes "at home" and often not at home for months.

On arriving at their destination, Mr. and Mrs. Bjerke were able to share shelter with a kind neighbor already on the ground until they could construct one of their own. Here, soon after their arrival, Iver Bjerke was born and was the first child to receive baptism in this settlement. In this hospitable home of Mr. and Mrs. Bjerke were also held the first religious services in this vicinity, in 1869. These services were conducted by Rev. Nesse from Brule, who became the first pastor of these people. There was at this time, '69, no neighbor to the north nearer than Swan Lake, eighteen miles away.







CHAPTER IVToC

First Settlement and Settlers of the "South Prairie," 1861-71, Memorable Trip in Search of Work


However, in '69 and '70 there came to be a considerable settlement on the South Prairie of the people already named and others who came in the latter '60's and early 70's.

When we say that people "settled" here at this time it must not be interpreted to mean that they began to put up good buildings, break the sod and raise grain and cattle. These activities were for many as yet years away. As a general thing a rude dwelling of logs, sod, or a dugout was made to shelter the family and to fulfil the law in regard to getting deed to the land. Also a few acres were broken, perhaps five or ten, to comply with these homestead requirements. Then about the next thing was for the men folks to strike out for the forts on the upper Missouri in order to earn a little money, by cutting wood or working on other government jobs, to support themselves and their families. This work and the wretched food and "accommodations" given them would have broken these men in body and spirit had they not been young and vigorous in body as well as unconquerable in spirit.

Perhaps we can reproduce the experiences of many of the above named homesteaders of the '60's and early '70's by giving the actual story of one group who went up the river to find work, as related to us by one of the parties, Ole Lee, now living near Volin.

Mr. Lee came to America in 1870, May 18th, and landed, like most of the above named, in Sioux City, where his brother Halvor Aune had already preceded him. With only 35 cents with which to start in the new country, Mr. Lee counted himself fortunate in finding a job at $1.75 per day, even tho board had to be paid out of this. But even this fortune did not last long, for Sioux City was a small place and had little development at that time. Yet, however short Ole was in cash, he did have some capital which could be invested in the new country and would in time compel success. He had a good, sound body, great courage, a cheerful disposition and a good talking apparatus, altho as yet operating mostly in the Norwegian language. So having learned that there was work and better pay than he had been getting, in connection with the steamboat traffic and the government forts on the upper Missouri, he in company with a number of others started west to seek fortune as also adventure. As most of these men were young and unmarried, the Viking spirit of adventure and daring was not absent.

It was in the spring of 1871 that these young men, gathered at Yankton, decided to trek over the country to Fort Sully, 300 miles away, in search of work.

They had among them scarcely any money and some even owed their winter's board. So at first they thought of starting out afoot. But thru an acquaintance of one of the party they were able to buy an ox team on time, agreeing to pay $180.00 for the same, including an old wagon. They were able to buy a few provisions, such as flour and salt pork, for their own use on the way, and some sacks of oats for the oxen as hay or grass could not be depended on, the vast prairie often being burned off.

There were eighteen of these young explorers in all and while one drove the oxen by turns the other seventeen walked behind the wagon. Besides the two brothers already mentioned, there were in this company Emret and Sivert Mjoen; also Sivert and Christopher Haakker, Ingibricht Satrum, Iver Furuness, Ole Solem, Ole Yelle,

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