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Mac answered slowly and thoughtfully: "I think I should compromise." This was in the days of the "Great Compromiser," Henry Clay, and not long after an ineffectual effort to compromise with "Old Hickory" on the United States Bank question. Just before starting on this trip I had seen ex-President Jackson on the portico of the home of Surveyor General Robert T. Lytle, where that graceful and eloquent orator introduced the venerable, white-haired statesman to the assemblage in front of the house, as being “like his great predecessor, Washington, ‘first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.'' He was on his way home after the inauguration of his successor, Martin Van Buren.
At St. Louis we promptly boarded another steamer for Dubuque. There I met a boy of about my own age-I was nearing fifteen-and we at once became intimate. He, like myself, was on his first voyage and full of curiosity. We were out early and late, to see all that was to be seen, aboard and ashore. The mornings and evenings had grown chilly. On the evening of March 31 we were approaching "Marion City," one of the famous paper towns of 1836, and he and I planned some pranks to “April Fool" the passengers the next morning. But, when morning came I was suffering from a severe attack of chills and fever and was confined to my berth; so the sport did not come off. The next night I was tortured by gamblers, who smoked and played cards in front of my berth, and close to it, nearly or quite all night. I was too diffident to ask them to go elsewhere.
At Rock Island Rapids our steamer ran upon the rocks in mid-stream, so that she could not be extricated. In consequence we had to be transferred to another steamer, also in the stream, but some two hundred yards away. The air was now cold; there was snow on Rock Island said to be six inches deep. Much anxiety was expressed as to the effect of the transfer on me; but I was taken from my berth and, wrapped in my father's "lion skin" overcoat (a heavy, very long napped wool coating of the time), made the trip in a yawl boat very comfortably. The air was refreshing and I improved steadily from that time, so that when we arrived at Dubuque the disease had left me; but I was
too much weakened to take part in the work for which I had accompanied my father.
But, at the then last session of Congress a bill had been passed placing the survey of the remaining towns under the control of a local board of commissioners, instead of the surveyor general. It soon transpired that this board had different plans from those embraced in the special instructions of the surveyor general to my father. This placed him in a dilemma; he could not serve two masters giving conflicting orders. The board solved the matter by employing another surveyor, to whom he yielded the work. Some years later Congress passed an act indemnifying my father for his outlay.
I returned home by the route on which we had come. My father went across the country to Milwaukee; and, when navigation on the lakes was well opened, proceeded by steamer to Cleveland, Ohio, thence on an Ohio canal packet boat to Portsmouth on the Ohio River, and thence by steamer to Cincinnati. This trip was made in order to test the feasibility of that route for the removal of his family and effects to Milwaukee. His choice lay between this and some one of the other three routes mentioned in this narrative: overland, from Cincinnati, by team, or by steamer to the head of navigation on the Wabash or Illinois rivers, respectively, and thence by team. All these he had tried.
The lake route was chosen for comfort in traveling and for being probably the most economical and expeditious; for superior facilities for taking in supplies-nearly all of these had then to be imported into Wisconsin; and especially on account of my mother, who was then and had been for several years an invalid, and was unequal to the fatigue of so long a journey by wagon or carriage, as would be necessary on either of the other routes.
So, on August 23, 1837, father left Cincinnati with his family and effects-including a generous amount of supplies, among which were ten barrels of pork, to which twenty barrels of flour were added at Akron, Ohio-and going by the reverse of the route last traveled by him, arrived in Milwaukee Bay, on the steamer
'Rebecca Vliet, née Frazey, born at Cincinnati, Ohio, August 23, 1805; died at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, January 6, 1890.
James Madison, Captain McFadyen, on the evening of September 5, 1837, and went ashore the next morning.
This article is not intended to heroize its subject. He was not an aspirant for distinction, but took pride in being one of those who pushed out into the wilderness to reclaim it and to lay there the foundations for a future state, to be admitted in due time into an indissoluble union of states and thus to add another star to the flag of the nation. Of course, and very properly, his prime object was to better his own condition and to provide for the current and subsequent welfare of his family. But the pioneers of Wisconsin did not go into the wilderness to settle down as recluses and adapt themselves to the conditions that nature provided. They went with an expectancy of the future and with a reasonable foresight of coming events as they actually occurred-though he would have been considered, and would have been, a wild dreamer, who should have predicted the extent of the change that has been made and the rapidity with which it has been effected. It has been beyond all reasonable expectation, because of new elements introduced into the problem which were then not conceived of, or, if conceived of, the energy of which was little understood by any
The experiences related are to no great extent exceptional; for while Garret Vliet was pursuing his way, other pioneers were manifesting similar activity along the lines they had chosen, or into which they had fallen.
JOHN WILSON, A SAUK COUNTY PIONEER
MRS. MARY J. ATWOOD
John Wilson' was born at Glasgow, Scotland, in 1794. After he had completed his common school education at the age of fourteen, he was sent to the grammar school. His father, who died when John was a small lad, had held some city office and this gave his mother the right to send him, free of expense, to this school.
One night, when seventeen or eighteen years old, he was on the street with some kindred spirits and saw men out impressing seamen. The boys followed and went on board the ship which, much to their consternation, immediately set sail. John went to the captain, but he could not stop to let them off. He promised him, however, to send word back to his mother, by the first chance, to let her know where he was. While they were at sea they heard that Great Britain and the United States were at war, but they never met the enemy. On the ship, he spent his spare time in drawing with charcoal everything he saw, as he had been in the habit of doing at home. One of the sailors, who was an artist, pleased with his drawings, showed him how to use paint and brush. This was the beginning of his painting pictures. When he returned home, he found that his mother had died during his absence and that now he had to earn his own living. An old neighbor offered him the chance to learn the cooper trade, which he was glad to accept.
In 1832 he came to America with some companions, to join a Scotch settlement at Black Rock Dam, a suburb of Buffalo, New York. Here he met Janet Watt, whose husband died in 1833. Janet was left with three little girls, but no money, so she opened a boarding-house to earn a living for her family. John was one of the boarders and soon fell in love with his landlady. They were married in 1834 and joined the tide of immigration to Wisconsin by way of the Great Lakes. John wished the children
This article supplements the notices of John Wilson in Wis. Hist. Colls., xiii, 207, 345-347, 356, 361.
to take his name when they came West, so they were always known as the Wilson girls. They landed at Green Bay and came by way of the Fox River to Fort Winnebago at Portage. He was put in charge of some men digging a canal to connect the Fox and Wisconsin rivers and stayed here through the winter. In the spring of 1835 he was engaged to come to Helena and make kegs for the shot at the Shot Tower, but did not remain any length of time as his wife was the only white woman and there was no school for the girls.
Robert McPherson, a Scotchman living at St. Louis, had to go East with his wife, who was sick, and he offered his home rent free and furnished to John, if he would come down there and look after his property during his absence. John accepted this offer and soon got work and the children went to school. He was here two years, until the return of Mr. McPherson. In the meantime C. C. Washburn had been writing to Wilson, offering a special inducement for his return to Helena. His wife said she would go back with him, if he would take up some land to make a home for her and the children. Her father had been a gardener and she enjoyed out-door life. He consented on condition that she should take charge and cultivate the land, as he knew nothing about farming.
They returned to Helena after the treaty of 1837 with the Winnebago Indians had been ratified and it was safe for settlers. He began at once to look for land, to please his wife. In the early fall of 1838 they found what they desired-high land well drained, woods, a creek, and meadow land. This place was near the mouth of the creek about three-fourths of a mile from the Wisconsin River and directly across from Helena, so he could easily come and go. He bought a government barge and hired men to clear some land for cultivation and get logs ready to build a house. In the spring of 1839 the house was built and Mrs. Wilson and family moved over into Sauk County in time to start a garden and get in a crop for the summer. John hired the help for her and spent his week-ends at home to see how things were prospering. He never took to farming and never could tell wheat from oats until the heads formed. His wife's word was the law on the farm, and any man who did not render prompt obedience to her command