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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: 8

by it but also many more who were left behind at this time.

It was a foregone conclusion that these lay preachers, especially the above mentioned leaders, would soon find themselves marked for persecution by the representatives of the established church and also by petty government officials who of course stood back of that church organization. Then, too, while looking upon the State Church not only as dead religiously but also as a positive menace to true religion, in that it led people astray, and persecuted those who were trying to lead the way back to the teachings of the lowly Nazarene, yet they were compelled to give a tithe of their principal farm produce toward the upkeep of this institution.

There was much discussion and many clashes between the adherents of the old and the new. But as the chasm seemed to widen, and the hope of vitalizing the State Church from within to lessen, being backed as it was financially and otherwise by the whole machinery of the government, this religious situation and persecution became a strong motive for seeking a freer atmosphere.

Then strongly re-enforcing the religious motive were both the general as also some special economic conditions at this time, which pressed upon these people. As aforesaid, the leaders of this movement had been owners of small and medium sized farms, but with debts on them. Yet under ordinary conditions they could have managed to take care of these obligations, as they were long-time loans and at low rates of interest. But worse than these larger obligations was the fact that some of them had somehow fallen into the hands of the professional loan sharks and usurers of the place. The method of procedure of these parasites was to make short time loans, generally becoming due in the fall of the year, and taking security in the milch cows or grain crop of the small farmers. On the very day of maturity they would demand immediate payment or threaten foreclosure with its attendant expense and annoyance to the borrower. Having bullied and scared their victims into the suitable state of mind they would, with hypocritical pretense of graciousness, offer to compromise by buying the mortgaged property, usually milch cows and seed grain, themselves, thus saving the expense and disgrace of going to law. This was generally accepted and the sale made, but of course at the lender's price. Then in the spring the farmers had to have cows and seed grain to do any business and usually had to buy both back again from these sharks, thus getting into their hands again, and thus the vicious circle continued until the poor borrower was finally worn out and had to give up the struggle.

However, the final blow, economically, which brought the leaders of our party to the great decision of emigrating, was a certain cooperative mercantile enterprise which they had helped to form supposedly for the economic benefit of the community. This was in the early dawn of the cooperative movement in Norway, and these people were quick to see its economic possibilities, but had not yet learned to know and to guard against the many pitfalls which such enterprises have to face and avoid if they are to succeed. And dearly did they pay for their first lesson.

The shares of the company were assessable with unlimited liabilities on the part of the share holder. Thus, of course the business had almost unlimited credit with wholesalers. For a time the organization seemed to prosper. After a while, however, suspicion began to form in the minds of some that things were not just right. An investigation was eventually made. The manager immediately disappeared. The government now stepped in and declared a bankruptcy. The manager, having gotten away beyond recall, the wholesale houses presented bills of all kinds and large amounts for goods which the directors felt certain had never been received. But with the manager absconded the company could not disprove these claims, and the court, belonging socially and politically to the big business class, naturally held the scales of justice, socalled, in favor of the wholesale creditors. The result was that these poor pioneers in the field of economic cooperation found themselves liable and their property attached for as much as 6000% of the face value of their shares. It goes without saying that the government officials saw to it that they themselves got their utmost limit out of the general slaughter. Berhaug Rise and a couple of other victims appealed to the courts against the high handed work of the big business concerns, and the petty government officials involved, but lost the case, and all that they had was attached and ordered sold.

Finding revealed thru all this procedure the persecution both of the civil and the ecclesiastical authorities, and seeing no chance at that point of either religious or economic betterment for themselves and their children, they came to the great decision to try their fortunes in the far-away land of which they had heard many and strange tales. For them, as for so many others of every race and tongue, this far-away land was the land of their dreams; the land of the true where they could live anew; where the song birds dwell; the land of promise, and also of fulfillment, of hitherto crushed hopes and thwarted aspirations.

Returning now to follow our party from Trondhjem, where we left them, to Yankton, South Dakota, we find that the journey was mostly the uneventful, uncomfortable one which was the lot of immigrants of forty years ago, or early '80's. There was much sea sickness and much loathing and disgust with the food and accommodations, both of such a quality as they had never experienced before. Fortunately most of them had food of their own.

The nearest to any mishap to any of the party fell to the lot of the writer of this chronicle, who was a boy of six years. It happened in the awful throng and confusion of Castle Garden, the old landing place of immigrants at New York City. I was committed to the care of a certain servant girl of the family, there being four other children to be kept track of by father and mother. But in the noise and confusion of embarking on certain transports taking us to the railway on the main land, she seems to have lost her head as well as her charge, and I recall that I found myself wandering alone among the vast spaces of Castle Garden and the docks. I was crying because of the loss of father, mother, and all my friends, and searching for them in vain. At length some sort of official discovered me and after some questioning he joined me in the search. We went out on some boats, I recall, where people were embarking, and he inquired everywhere if anyone had lost a boy. I recall very vividly how a woman at one place claimed me as her very own and how I protested with more vehemence than politeness. The official took my view of the case. We continued our search and at last we met Father, who by this time had discovered my absence and started out to search. Needless to say, there was more joy over my return than over the four other children who had not strayed away.

Thus the transportation company at length was enabled to carry out its contract of delivering the same number of heads at Yankton as it took on at Trondhjem. And they did it much in the same matter-of-fact and impersonal way as a railroad company undertakes to deliver so many head of cattle at the stockyards of Chicago.—All the honor to them that they deserved!







CHAPTER VIIToC

Landing At Yankton And

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