Early History & Description of Some Farms
Submitted by Joan Benner
From the Jackson County Banner,
Published at Black River Falls, Wisconsin
July 20, 1867, Page 3
For two years we have been promising ourselves the pleasure of a trip through the County, but not until the present summer has it been so that we could leave the office. We are no longer tied down, and have commenced the tour in earnest. This week we report progress on the town of Hixton, in which locality we commenced exploring Monday last.
Thirteen years ago last March, Mr. J. L. HICKS, Milton BUELL, Adolphus DART and Wheeler ROBBINS arrived at what is now the village of Hixton, having come direct from Galesville, Trempealeau Co., and made their road as they journeyed. Mr. ROBBINS continued on to Minnesota, and Mr. HICKS, after camping out with his family one night, erected a board shanty 12 by 16, in which he lived for some months, that being the first building erected in the town of Hixton. These gentlemen were followed the same year and the next, by Mr. Abner HOLMES, P. R. HOFFMAN, J. R. SECHLER, I. B. ALLEN, J. H. BERTO and a number of others whose names we cannot call to mind. These early settlers found that they had located in one of the most beautiful and productive valleys in Wisconsin, and went to work in earnest to make improvements. Their descriptions of the Trempealeau Valley to friends in other parts of the State and in other States, attracted emigration, and in a short time it was demonstrated that the entire valley would be converted into farms. Let us look at the Town of Hixton as it is now, a little over thirteen years since the first breaking was done there. Look in whatever direction you choose, and the eye cannot miss well cultivated farms and commodious farmhouses, the latter surrounded with shrubbery, fruit and shade trees. In no part of Wisconsin can better farms and farm buildings be seen than one observes in the rich Valley of the Trempealeau. It is a feast to look upon them this season of the year, when the thousands of acres of growing crops are moved like the sea by the gentle breeze. From what we have said, the reader can picture the town as it is in 1867. We cannot proceed with a description of the village before advising all of the Black River Falls people who have not been out among the farmers of the County, to at once make arrangements to make such a tour of Hixton, Alma, Melrose or Springfield. You will be welcomed, and it will do you good. In the army, it was pleasant for the soldier to know he was well backed. It does us good to know that our village is so substantially backed by an excellent farming district and farmers who cannot be beaten in their profession. There are some who say there is not agricultural district enough in the County to back the town. We say there is, and again ask you to go and convince yourselves. Now to the village:
There is quite a space between Hixton and what is known as Sechlerville, but both properly go under the name of Hixton. The Trempealeau River divides the village. The place contains somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 buildings, including dwellings, stores, shops and schoolhouses, a church and barns. We estimated the population at three or four hundred last fall, but that was too high. There are probably 250 inhabitants. The business places we enumerate as follows: The Travelers' Home, kept by our good friend Jacob HOFFMAN, who is in full possession of the secret of hotel keeping. The Home was built in 1861 and is large and commodiously furnished. The barn is among the best in the County--it is 56 by 70, and was erected in 1865. We care not to sit down to a better supper than that gotten by Mrs. HOFFMAN who, like her husband, has the complaint of knowing how to keep a hotel--or to do her part of the work. (We like all such complaints. See advertisement in another column.) MERRILL & LOOMIS are the conductors of a good store, in which may be found all kinds of farmers and lumbermen's supplies. But we will not enumerate, for it will be seen that they have wisely tended to that in our advertising columns. Both are enterprising citizens, and are doing their uttermost to please their customers and lay up a "little something" for a rainy day. Don't forget to read their announcement in today's issue. Mr. F. DOWNER has an assortment of dry goods and groceries, boots & shoes, etc. at the old Fremont House, and is disposing of them at reasonable prices for cash or produce. Mr. DOWNER gave us an advertisement, which can be found in this issue. Mr. J. R. SECHLER, who has as much life in him as a human being well could have and survive, is farming and milling, and the coming fall will go into trading. He owns two mills, both of which are in the village. What is known as the "lower mill" is said to do as good work as has been done in the County. It is substantially built, well arranged and is supplied with excellent machinery throughout. It was built in 1861--is 34 by 48 feet--three stories high and contains two run of stone--one for flour and one for feed. James MASON, one of the best young men in the whole county, is miller and understands his business thoroughly. We had a pleasant visit with Bro. Mason. Mr. S has a farm of 300 acres, 100 of which is under a high state of cultivation--a handsome residence and good buildings for stock. He is now engaged in erecting a building that is to be 36 by 50 feet, 3 stories high. The lower story will be divided into rooms for two stores, while a portion of the upper story will be finished off for a public hall and the rest converted into shops. It will be a fine structure, and is to be completed the coming fall. See his advertisement. P. R. HOFFMAN, Esq., has recently started a brickyard. The clay found on his farm is pronounced, by those experienced in brick making, to be equal to the best found in Wisconsin, Minnesota or Iowa. Mr. HOFFMAN is going into the manufacture of brick quite extensively, and is prepared to supply the people of the Valley with all they wish for building purposes. He is making a good style of brick for bricking wells, which is said to be the best material for that purpose. They are burned harder than other brick, so there is no danger of them causing a bad taste in the water. He has a farm of 240 acres, 169 of which are under plow, well supplied with water and barn room. He intends to put up a brick residence the present season. See his announcement of brick for sale. Mr. J. L. TRYON, a former resident of Black River Falls, has a blacksmith shop in which he is doing a vast amount of work, and so far as we can learn, is pleasing his patrons. He is a hard working man, and deserves a liberal patronage. Like a wise man, he advertises in the Banner. Messrs. Chauncey MERRILL, Edmund MORTIBOY and TAFT have a good Blacksmith shop, where they are doing a fair business with a prospect of a large increase. These gentlemen, all of whom are good citizens of our County, have completed arrangements for starting a wagon shop in connection with their current business. It will be finished and ready for business about the middle of next November. They are experienced workmen--see their advertisement. Mr. MORTIBOY is erecting a residence in the lower part of town. Mr. George HUNTER has a tin shop and is doing work that for durability, price and finish, compare with that done in town. He only commenced business last spring, but has succeeded in building up quite a trade. He is a returned soldier, and we are glad to see him prosper. He is now busy putting up a shop and dwelling. Read his advertisement and remember to give him a share of your patronage. Dr. L. B/ W. JOHNSON is the resident physician. We won't pretend to say what sort of medical man he is, but we should call him a good farmer. Is that true, Dr.?
As will be seen by the mention of building going on, Hixton is growing. We predict that in ten years, Hixton will be one of the prettiest little villages in this section, and that village lots there will command a higher price than they do in Black River Falls at the present time. The elements for such a place are there. The people are wide-awake, and such it takes to make anything of a stir in this world.
Mr. J. H. BERTO has 160 acres, 120 cultivated. His farm is well fenced, supplied with water, a fine farm house and large barn with the necessary sheds for cattle and sheep. We have not seen a more thorough farmer in the County than Mr. B. He has a fine, promising young orchard of 300 trees, 122 sheep, 11 horses and colts, and 22 head of cattle. By these figures it will be seen he is trying to turn his attention to stock raising, a thing we believe many of our farmers will do at an early day. In his garden we noticed a variety of currants, gooseberries, pie plant, and strawberries, as well as a large quantity of shrubbery. In these particulars, Mr. BERTO has taken the lead of other farmers we have visited. He is an industrious man and good citizen, and allowing us to judge has been well paid for his 12 years of hard work in the Trempealeau Valley. With him and family we had a pleasant visit--one that does a printer good to experience. Mr. I. B. ALLEN, who resides on the line of the Chippewa road, has a good farm, dwelling and barn. The farm contains 280 acres--100 of that are cultivated. Eighty-five of the 100 are sown to grain, and the remainder is meadow. On the farm is a promising young orchard from which fruit will come in abundance in the course of a few years. Some of the trees are ten feet high. Like most of the farmers, Mr. ALLEN has a flock of sheep. He is what we call a well-to-do farmer, and is an energetic, industrious man and valued citizen. We shall remember his kindness to us during the spell we are permitted to keep this body above ground. J. E. STEADMAN, Geo. M. ADAMS, Jacob HOFFMAN, John DUXBURY, A. F. SANDS, Geo. STOLTZ, Mr. GROUT, Chauncey MERRILL, Abner HOLMES, J. L. HICKS, Dr. JOHNSON, and scores of others have excellent farms, but it is not necessary to describe all of them. Any of them will compare with farms in almost any of the older States.
It will be remembered that we announced, last spring, that Messrs. J. R. MOSHER & J. H. BERTO had started a nursery. Through the kindness of Mr. BERTO, we have had the pleasure of visiting it. The main portions of the trees are on the farm of Mr. BERTO, and are prospering extremely well. All of them are of the hardiest kinds yet tried in the County, and have been cut from trees that have produced fruit. They have about 30,000 trees growing, 10,000 of which will be large enough to take up next spring. Next year it is their intention to have 60,000 more growing. The following are some of the varieties in the Nursery: Talman Sweeting, Perry Russet, English Golden Russet, Early Harvest, North West, Golden Drop, Early Falls, Winter, Red Cheek, Pie Apple, Duchess of Oldenburg, and Fall Stripe. They have the Seckel Pear, a hardy fruit that can be raised here. Among the small fruits, we noticed a large supply of currants, strawberries and gooseberries. The gooseberries are called the Excelsiors, and are many degrees ahead of the Houghton gooseberry. They are larger, the brush is thornless and you can depend upon a full crop each year. They are ahead of any we have ever seen. Every garden should be graced with a row of these bushes. The Nursery, as we have frequently stated, will be of great worth to the farmers of Jackson County. We hope that none of them will contract for trees grown out of the County. Messrs. M & B will announce particulars through the Banner.
Mr. Mosher's Orchard
Tuesday afternoon we accompanied friend BERTO to Mr. J. R. MOSHER's orchard, in the town of Springfield. Upon nearing the orchard, we imagined ourselves in an old fruit-growing state. Inasmuch as Mr. MOSHER gave a full description of it in a communication last winter, we will only say that it contains about six hundred trees, and that nearly half of them have fruit on this season--that it is proof positive that apples, in abundance, can be raised here. We saw some trees that will yield several bushels of apples this year. We ask all in the County who have persisted in saying that fruit cannot be raised so far north, to go and see Mr. MOSHER's orchard--it will pay.
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