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near the Mission this morning on foot to bring back our horses. He had waded deeply thro mud and was much fatigued. C. was not in sight when we made a fresh start—we left for him a note and a cup of wine. G. mounted the Major and both the Mission horses were put in the carriage. G and I trotted on at great rate. We passed the Mission Church and house 22 miles from Wrights and hoped to reach Calumet villages by night-but we were convinced the carriage could not get there-5 miles further therefore we stopt at Fowlers"9 a Stockbridge's—having travelled 39 miles today. By sunset the carriage came on with C. in it, wrapt in his cloak and the frenchman on his horse. C is completely fagged out. It is so cool that a fire is very comfortable. The young woman of the house is modest intelligent and talks well She has books, ink, a work-stand &c. We had good beds and a good supper, which closed with a fine slice of pompcin pie. The irish came in and had beds in the loft.
14. Tuesday. Early breakfast-fine, cool morning. G. and I started at 6 and found our horses had all the mud of yesterday on. 16 miles to Fond du Lac but we made it 20 by leaving the Military road. We came up pretty soon. Here we paid the frenchman 5.50 and he took back the 3 Mission horses. As usual a neat but very poor expensive meal. We started in the carriage about one-the road was yet bad-the horses soon began to flag-and presently night overtook us. We walked ahead and pushed on the horses-and finally to the great mortification of Mr G. stopt us suddenly to camp where there was no water, no wood and plenty of mosquitoes. The horses were unharnessed and fed with oats and then turned on the prairie. We drank port wine and ate bread and smoked beef. Then C and I in carriage with my bar over the front. I buttoned on my surtout, put on my veil and leather gloves and after some fidgetting, slept well, sitting up. M. rolled in his cloak lay under the carriage. G placed the baggage on the ground-his bar on bushes and lay under it. Mosquitoes tormented us all-the chewing of the horses in the silence of the night kept us awake-once or twice they came too close to G. Before
58 For this location, see Wis. Mag. of Hist., vii, 445-458.
59 William Fowler, a Brothertown Indian, kept a tavern on the military road northeast of Fond du Lac. He was later a member of the territorial legislature.
day break G was driven into the carriage by rain and on the front seat fo[u]nd a more comfortable place than he had met with on the ground, and where he could sleep.
25 August Wednesday. We made an early start and after travelling 8 miles the rain pouring down all the time, arrived at the Indians who is married to a mulatto-We had to knock them up Yesterday we travelled 20 miles from Fond du Lac making for the days journey [diary ends here]
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES M. BAKER1
I was born on the 18th of October 1804 in the city of New York. When I was about a year old my parents removed to Addison County, Vermont. I lived with them on a farm till I was sixteen. I then commenced studies preparatory to entering college, teaching school winters, and entering Middlebury college in my twentieth year. My health failing, I left college before the expiration of the first year. The same season I went to Montreal and spent the summer, tending bar for a livelihood. This was before the era of temperance organizations. In the fall I visited Quebec and then returned home and taught school during the winter. The next spring, being in my twenty first year, I went to New York in search of employment. Not succeeding as soon as I wished, I came very near going to sea, but instead, started on foot for Philadelphia and arrived there destitute of money. I hired to a farmer in the vicinity two weeks for three dollars and my board. At the end of that time, he offered to double my wages if I would stay, but I left and engaged as private tutor in the family of Capt. Johnson, commandant of Fort Mifflin, seven miles below the city. Here I remained during the summer, and had in the meantime a severe attack of fever, which confined me to my bed some weeks, and from which I did not fully recover under a year. In the fall I went to Philadelphia and engaged as assistant teacher in a school for young ladies, kept in Chestnut Street by the Rev. Mr. Ashton. Here I remained nearly two
1 This autobiography was written at the request of S. A. Dwinnell, who was preparing a history of Walworth County, the manuscript of which is in the library of our Society. Mr. Baker later returned to Walworth County and there died February 5, 1872. His papers were presented to the Society by his grandson. See an account in this magazine, September, 1920, 116-122.
years and then returned to Vermont. The fall following, being then nearly twenty-three years of age, I went to Troy, N. Y. and commenced the study of law with Judge Huntington, and continued it under Recorder Gardner for about three years, when I was admitted to practice in August 1830. I immediately formed a copartnership with Henry W. Strong Esq., elder brother of the late Marshall M. Strong of Racine, and was married in September following to Martha W. Larrabee, daughter of Judge Larrabee of Shoreham, Vermont.
My health being much impaired by close application and confinement in city practice, in the spring of 1831 I removed to Seneca Falls, N. Y. Here I worked hard and with fair success, both in my profession and as an active politician of the Democratic faith. But my health failed and I became so physically prostrated that in the summer of 1835 I abandoned my profession, sold off my library and returned to my relatives in Vermont, not expecting to live a year.
In the winter following, I purchased of a merchant his stock of goods, and commenced keeping store in Rutland county, Vermont. My capital was very small, and I struggled on with bad times and worse health through the crash of 1836, until I found unless I sold out I should also go by the board. So in the winter of 1837 and 38 I negotiated a sale of my entire stock of goods and applied the avails toward the payment of my debts having made up my mind to seek my fortune in the great West, for which I had been longing. I resolved on going so far West I never should wish to remove any further, and after much inquiry fixed upon Janesville, Wisconsin as my destination. I spent the following spring and summer in settling my affairs and preparing for the journey.
On the 10th of September 1838 with my family, consisting of wife, a daughter and two sons, comfortably nestled in a light covered wagon, with only such articles as were necessary in travelling, we bid adieu to friends and the Green mountains and started for the prairies of the West. My furniture and goods I had shipped by canal to go through by water, directed to Doct. Carey of Racine, but did not receive them till the following
year in June. I was still owing about seven hundred dollars to my creditors in New York and Troy, but wrote them where I was going and promised, if I lived, to pay them, which I had the pleasure of doing within three years after. I took with me only one hundred and sixty four dollars in money to pay expenses of the journey and purchase a farm for which I was longing. At Buffalo we took steam boat for Detroit, encountering the equinoctial gale which broke down our wagon top. From Detroit we passed through Ann Arbor, Marshall, Jackson, Kalamazoo and Constantine, and so on via South Bend to Michigan city, and thence over that dreary sandy, corduroy and almost uninhabited Lake Shore road to Chicago. It was here on a dark and stormy night, on a stretch of 22 miles between habitations we got benighted, and did not arrive at a house till towards midnight. Chicago was then a low muddy town of cheap wooden buildings, and about 4,000 inhabitants, suffering under the disasters of over speculation.2
From here we passed through Elgin, Belvidere, Roscoe and Beloit to Janesville, arriving there near the middle of October. Our journey had been on the whole, very pleasant, and one of much enjoyment, and of less fatigue than we had expected. All of the last named places were just starting and consisted of only a few log houses. At Janesville I became acquainted with Mr. Janes the first settler and from whom the place was named, the late E. V. Whiton and other well known citizens of that place. As all the desirable land in that vicinity was either bought or claimed and held at high prices, I concluded to look elsewhere for a farm. So I started on horseback a viewing, and went first to Jefferson county, as far as the county seat, but not liking it or the country, I returned through what is now Fort Atkinson, and from thence went through Whitewater into Walworth County. This latter place was then a beautiful burr oak opening, as it came from the hand of nature. I passed on through Heart and Sugar Creek prairies, and stopped for the night with an old gentleman by the name of Miller, living on the bank of Silver Lake, near the then residences of Col. Jeduthan Spooner and Asa
See diary of this journey in this magazine, June, 1922, 391-401.
Blood. I was charmed with the land and scenery and determined on settling in Walworth County, and made arrangements with Mr. Miller to bring my family to his house till I could get a home elsewhere. The next day I visited what is now the village of Elkhorn, then untouched by the hand of man. I found living near there Hollis Latham, Le Grand Rockwell, Sheldon Walling, Milo E. Bradley, and the Ogdens. From here I passed by trail to Delavan, inquiring the way at Mr. Hollingshead's on the North border of Delavan prairie. At the latter place I found a small log house and a log store owned by Mr. Henry Phoenix. Here I crossed the Turtle and obtained dinner at Mr. Salmon Thomas' on or near the prairie North of Delavan. I guessed my way, by keeping the wind on my left cheek, through the openings to Rock prairie, striking it at a Mr. Moore's and at the North line of township two. From here I struck for Janesville following the section stakes and mounds till I passed the Emarald [sic] Grove when night set in very dark, but I pressed on at a venture and came out onto the Beloit road about two miles below Janesville.
A few days after I took my family to Mr. Miller's in Sugar Creek, and remained there till late in December, when we removed to Geneva, into a log house which is still standing, the last of its kind in that region, and belongs to the estate of the late D. O. Marsh. This house had then been but recently built, was "pointed up" but half way and was without a single light of glass. One of the two outer doors was broken down, it had no chamber floor and the roof was covered with warped, rough edged boards, through which the sun and stars looked down, to say nothing of the rain. The only furniture it contained was an old chair, though it had a good, capacious fire place, and all the furniture, cooking utensils and crockery we had to commence housekeeping, I could have carried in my arms at one load. This, our to be, winter home we reached just at night of a cold December day and immediately took possession. No one welcomed us, or was present at our coming, and we were separated from the village settlement by woods. Of our labors and contrivances and expedients, of our privations and hardships, our hopes and fears that winter, destitute as we were of all our furniture, beds, bedding and winter