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The world is better because Warren Downes Parker came into it and lived and worked eleven years beyond the allotted three score and ten of man. All over Wisconsin and throughout this country and the world men and women are living today who owe their inspiration for better and more useful lives to this good man. He taught boys and girls how to live intellectually and morally. He taught teachers how to teach boys and girls to live the ideal life, and so on and on down the generations his good deeds are multiplied and will continue to multiply for the good of all humanity.
Warren Downes Parker-the teacher, the leader, the
MAIL TRANSPORTATION IN THE EARLY DAYS: A TRIP OVERLAND FROM THE CLIFF
MINE TO APPLETON
MRS. T. O. BENNETT
At our previous meetings we have been told of "early days" in the copper country-of "first boat day," and how it was observed; also pleasant reminiscences of mining life at "Old Central" and other mines. No one has told us of winter transportation to connect with the outer world or of winter and summer mail service. From the days of the earliest settlement, mail in the winter was carried by Indians on toboggans drawn by dogs, and it was often weeks and even months after the boats stopped running before any mail reached us. In the summer our mail and all other transportation was by boats. At Eagle River there was a dock or pier extending out into the lake more than half a mile; the sand kept washing in around this pier until the water was not deep enough for the boats to land, so they had to stop farther out, when mail and freight were unloaded onto a scow or small boat and taken into Eagle River. On November 5, 1864, one of the steamers stopped on its way up the lake to leave the mail, and William Siebold, then postmaster at Eagle River, went out with a small boat to get it. The clerk on the steamer delivered the mail bag to Mr. Siebold, and the steamer went on its way up the lake. There was a strong off-land wind blowing, too strong in fact for Mr. Siebold to row against; he was blown out into the lake and never found. The largest and best tug on Portage Lake was sent out and searched the shores of Isle Royale and the North Shore, but found nothing of either man or boat.
In the winter of 1862-63 the first team road and mail route was opened via Rockland to Appleton. The stopping places at that time on the route, starting from the Cliff Mine, were Houghton, Rockland, Lake Vieux Desert, Pete Martin's, Wolf River, Indian Joe's, Hi Polar's, White Lake, Shawano, New London, and Appleton, which was the nearest railroad station. These stopping places were from forty-five to fifty or more miles apart.
My father, the late George S. Wilson, was the first man to make this trip, starting from the Cliff Mine in the winter of 1862-63. At this time Percival Updegraff was the agent of the mine, and his father, mother, and two sisters were spending the winter there with him. About the first of December his mother died, and as their home was in Mount Vernon, Ohio, they were anxious to take the body there. After consulting with my father, they decided they could make the trip overland to Appleton. It took several days to get ready, as the casket-a rough box covered with black velvet-had to be made in the carpenter-shop, since there was no undertaker at hand. Also a provision box had to be made to carry necessities for the trip.
In the party were Percival and Charles Updegraff, their father, and my father. The weather was very cold and wayside houses were far apart; the first one stood about two hundred feet west of the present John Phillips' saloon near Allouez, and was kept by Charles Mellon. The Calumet and Hecla Mine had not yet been discovered, and it was an almost unbroken forest to drive through from the Cliff to the Franklin Mine. When they reached Houghton, the senior Mr. Updegraff was sick, so they stayed at the Douglas House that night (which, by the way, was no part of the present structure, although located on the same site). In the morning the old gentleman was much worse and it was decided that Percival should remain in Houghton with his father, while Charles and my father would continue the
journey alone, arriving at Rockland that night and continuing the next day to Lake Vieux Desert. The latter station was kept by a white man named Fox, who a few years later was proprietor of the Butterfield House in Houghton; most of the other stations on the route were kept by Indians.
The second night was spent at Pete Martin's station. Continuing their journey, in the evening of the third day they reached the Wolf River station, which was kept by an old Indian subchief. They went into the house, where were several Indians, and two kettles boiling over the fire—one containing soup, the other potatoes. Meat was scarce on that road. When dinner was ready the old chief seated himself at the head of the table. The menu was soup and potatoes without salt. When the soup was served, my father, seeing particles of white meat floating in it, asked what it was made of. The chief, who could not talk much English, pointed to an old mother dog and some puppies on the floor by the fireplace and then to the soup, and said, “BowWOW." As the travelers had no relish for "bow-wow" soup, they ate only potatoes for their dinner. They stayed all night and were charged three dollars each for dinner, lodging, and a breakfast consisting of some more boiled potatoes.
The next day being rather stormy, it was impossible to make the next station that night. Toward evening they came to an old barn with some marsh hay in it, and decided to stay there overnight; they made a fire and got something to eat, retiring soon afterwards. After lying down they heard a noise around their provision box, and on looking out saw a large wolf in their sleigh. My father tried to make a noise to frighten it away, and found that he was speechless from fright; upon trial Charles found that he was in the same fix. After a while they succeeded in making a noise of some kind and the wolf went away. However, they were afraid to stay there the rest of the night, so they hitched up
their team again and went on their way, reaching the next station, kept by Indian Joe, sometime during the next day. There they decided to stay over night. The sleeping apartments at this place consisted of a shanty about twenty feet square made of poles, with a large hole in the roof, no floor, a small fire on the ground in the center. Everybody rolled up in his blanket or buffalo robe and lay on the ground with feet to the fire; this accommodation was worth one dollar each.
Continuing their journey they arrived at Hi Polar's station the next evening. When they went in to supper they noticed that the meat looked coarse and red; upon being told it was horse meat, they again ate potatoes for supper at one dollar per meal. After a breakfast of boiled potatoes the following morning, they continued on to White Lake station, which was kept by a young white man and his wife; here they fared a little better. On leaving this station the next morning they overtook a small party of Indians who insisted on riding with them until their team was pretty well tired out, and they had to give them all the tobacco they had to get rid of them. It was long after dark when they reached Keshena, the Indian reservation some twelve miles out from Shawano; and as the Indians were having a dance and "pow wow," they took the bells off the team in the hope of getting by without being held up again, as they had nothing left to give them. They succeeded in getting by noiselessly, and reached Shawano about midnight.
Leaving there the next morning, they arrived at Appleton in the evening, when Mr. Updegraff went East with the body and my father was left to make the return trip alone. This he did without mishap. When he reached Houghton, the senior Mr. Updegraff was still alive and lingered until the first of March. When he died, that long, hard journey must be made again by my father and Percival Updegraff, with about the same experiences as on the former trip.