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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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‏اللغة: English
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: 5

Albert Meslo, Anders Krengness and Thomas Berg. I have not the names of the others of the party.

These young men, altho afoot and with meager provisions, on their way toward a far-off destination and unknown conditions, yet trudged along day after day with jokes and laughter. At noon or night, wherever they happened to be on the broad plains, the same cooking routine was performed, each taking his turn. Get out the long handled frying pan, the fire having been built, fry pancakes or flap-jacks, and perhaps a little pork, and boil some coffee. Then if it was the evening meal they would sit around the fire a while to stretch their weary legs, smoke a pipe, talk over and speculate on the prospects ahead and then roll up in their blankets for the night.

One day, as they were nearing Fort Thompson, having followed the course of the river so far, they met a man driving a mule team. Surmising from their appearance that these men were in a situation to accept work of most any kind or on any condition, he stopped to parley with them. He had a government contract to cut 900 cords of wood on an island below Ft. Thompson. So he offered these men $2 per cord to cut this wood. They were only too eager to grasp this first opportunity, especially as he was to furnish them board. But what should they do with their joint property—oxen and wagon? The man, realizing he had made a "find" in these eager strong handed men, didn't let this stand in the way but bought the outfit for $185.00. They thus made $5.00 on the deal, and in regular democratic style it was voted in assembly to send back the $180.00 due the former owner of the oxen; sell the remainder of the oats and with the total proceeds have a little "refreshment" before they began their summer's work. This they did in reaching the fort, and the only refreshments to be had in those places being in liquid form, there was just enough money in the treasury to buy them "one each."

Now, let it be remembered by this and all coming generations that this was the first commercial co-operative enterprise, as far as we know, in this part of the country, and that it yielded a profit—it "liquidated."

They now immediately began cutting wood on this island below Fort Thompson, and it was well that they had had some "refreshment," for what they now received in the way of board was fearfully and wonderfully made. It consisted of spoiled pork and wormy flour, rejected by the soldier commissary at the fort and bought for little or nothing by this shameless contractor to feed these unsuspecting men. Out of this material, a not over clean negro cook made two standard dishes—soda biscuits and fried pork. Often the remnants of the worms, embalmed and baked into the biscuits could be plainly seen.

The men bore as patiently as they could with this sickening food, for there was little else to do now under their circumstances. But their stomachs rebelled, however, and the men became so weakened thru continued diarrhea that they could scarcely lift the ax at times. Yet with characteristic Viking spirit they "stuck it out" until the 900 cords were hewn. The men now separated, some going back to Yankton or vicinity. Ole Lee and his brother Halvor, however, pushed on up to Fort Sully, or Cheyenne Agency, where the former remained for five years without seeing civilization again in the meantime. By this time Mr. Lee, as well as others of the above named company, had been able to save up a little money and homesteaded in Yankton county, where some of them and many of their descendants live to this day, not a few of them being worth $100,000 each. You recall we began our narrative of one of them with a capital of 35 cents. The explanation of this, of 35 cents to $100,000; of the borrowed ox team and rickety wagon to the finest automobiles in the market; of the sod shanty or dugout to the big modern houses with all the latest conveniences which some of these men have today, lies in two or three words—America and the Norse immigrants' great characteristics, industrially speaking—industry and thrift.

We have suggested the striking change which fifty years have wrought in the outward circumstances of these men. Would that the intervening years could have been equally kind to the men themselves as to their earthly tabernacles! But such could not be the case, altho several of them are still living and a number spending their declining years as neighbors in the vicinity of Volin. The heat and toil of many summers have wrinkled their brows; the snows of many winters and some sorrows and cares have whitened the hair and given a stoop to the shoulders. The step is a little less firm now than when they together marched over the prairie to the west; their laughter has lost some of its ring, and yet it is there. With their children and grandchildren they are enjoying a little deserved rest before the final journey to the last sunset of life's trail.

There is Ole Lee, Ole Solem, Halvor Hinseth and the Hoxengs, still active and living in good, comfortable homes and in the same neighborhood. There is Ole Bjerke, once tall and straight as a young pine of the forest, now a little bent over and gray. There, too, is his wife, remarkably well preserved in both body and mental faculties. How many generations of "newcomers" have received a hearty welcome and hospitality in these homes and have been by them helped to get a start in the new land! Long will they live enshrined in the hearts and memories of the many who have enjoyed the hospitality of their firesides.

Yes, most of these pioneers of forty to sixty years ago have already struck the long trail and gone to that "West" which is the farthest and the final. Of the few who remain, the earthly tabernacles are leaning more and more toward the earth from which they came, and in a very short time not one will be left standing. Yet because man's immortal hope burns strongly in many of them, the building of flesh, tho feebler than of yore, is glorious with that light which the years and the eternities cannot dim nor extinguish, for it is eternal in the Heavens.


The Settlements on Turkey Creek, and Clay Creek, '70-71

The settlement in Turkey Creek was made in 1870. A man by the name of John Hovde, who had homesteaded in Union county some years previously, made a trip back to Norway and on his return the following people came over with him: Anfin Utheim and wife; Olaf Stolen; Haakon Hoxeng with his two sons, already referred to, and one daughter; Stingrim Hinseth with wife and one baby daughter, Mary; Halvor Hinseth; Ingebright Fagerhaug; and Marit Nysether, who later became his wife, and a number of other men and women who went to other parts of the country.

These people reached Sioux City May 18, 1870. There some of the men of the company found work on the railroad. The others, including S. and H. Hinseth and Miss Nysether, journeyed on by ox team toward their friends already described as settled on the South Prairie, i.e., north of the present Volin. Their baggage went by steam boat to Yankton. Mr. and Mrs. S. Hinseth, who had a little six-year-old baby daughter, went by stage as far as Vermilion and there transferred to the ox team, the stage going on to Yankton.

We will here quote from a brief narrative which Mr. S. Hinseth, at our request, prepared for this record just before his death (1918). As Mr. Hinseth was one of the outstanding leaders in this immigration movement and in the building up of the new country, both materially and spiritually, we are very