Settlers Established Homes
The establishment of a home by pioneers in this country
is an entirely different affair compared with the pioneer settlement of
Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. Here the immigrant ships his stock and
household goods to the nearest railway station, where he desires to locate. If
the land is not surveyed he becomes a "squatter" and files when the land comes
in market. If already surveyed he makes his filing or settles and then files.
Settlers generally build according to their means. Houses built of sod are
comfortable and cheaply built, but require so much labor that but few are built
except great distances from the railroad.= Many settlers' homes are cheap but
comfortable frame houses, sometimes sodded up on the outside; others have large
and expensive dwellings that would do credit to any eastern old settled country.
Usually the settler puts up a cheap building which answers all purposes until he
can build a better one, which is now being done by most of our settlers.
Many claims were taken by single men and young women
who put up a cheap shack, broke a few acres, and at the expiration of six months
made final proof, borrowed all the money they could on their claims and then
bade adieu to Dakota, while others secured homesteads, preemptions and
treeclaims. We are, however, pleased to state that all of our actual settlers
are improving their farms and making comfortable homes. It is a common sight to
see oxen and horses hitched to a breaking plow turning over the sod, while
harvesting, mowing, and eyen threshing has been clone with oxen. In the fall the
sod is again turned over and called backsetting; the next spring this is sown to
wheat, oats, etc. The settler can raise a paying crop of flax on the sod the
fast year, which frequently yields fifteen bushels per acre. Thus in two years
the Dakota settler can make a better farm than a life time will make in the
timbered regions of the eastern states. In less than two years all the choice
claims in Marshall county were taken, and since then the hills have gradually
been settled, until now there is not a vacant piece of government land fit for
agriculture in the county.
In the fall of 1882 the writer traveled from Mr.
Hammond's, just over the line in Day county, to Ft. Sisseton, without seeing a
single shack or human being, the entire distance of twenty miles, and predicted
that the hills would not be settled in twenty years and afford fine range for
stock. Today it is all settled to the reservation, and many are anxiously
looking for the opening of the military reservation.
Farm hands generally receive $20 per month, while
laborers during harvesting and threshing receive $2 per day. Servant girls
command from $3 to 8 per week and are scarce. The cutting of grain is all done
with twine binders, requiring nearly two pounds per acre, and twine worth from
12c to 15c. per pound. Threshing is done with steam threshers, using straw
burners, and thresh from 1,000 to 1,500 bushels per clay. Many threshers furnish
their own crew and board them, carrying a tent with them, and thresh for 8c per
bushel; the above way looks like a circus.
Stock-raising is already receiving considerable
attention throughout the county. S. A. King, of Lowell Township, is one of the
largest, and is satisfied that our grass and water produces the choicest of
butter and unsurpassed beef, and that cattle can be as cheaply raised here as in
Iowa; in fact cheaper, because the value of land is less. Mr. Linse, of White
township, has, on a small scale, manufactured some excellent cheese, and finds a
ready and good market. Thomas Appleby, in Pleasant Valley,' has a herd of two
hundred head, the most of which belong to settlers, and are brought there to
herd; they are in splendid condition. Cattle are taken in the herd May 15, and
the herd breaks up October 15. Many settlers have pastures, and stock-raising
will eventually take the lead. More horses are raised each year, and it is well
worth a day's journey to see Greenhalgh & Brunskill's horse ranch; for
description see Waverly. Hogs fatted on ground barley and oats make the finest
pork in the world, and farmers are generally raising their own pork.
Stock appears to stand the dry cold winter weather all
right and keep in good condition.
Curiosities of Dakota. How The Pioneers Adapt Themselves to Changes in
[Blunt, D. T., Correspondence to Chicago Inter-Ocean.]
The District Attorney of Potter County
runs a milk wagon during vacation.
A physician formerly of Union City, Ky., spent his
first few months here as a day laborer while he had two diplomas hanging up in
A man who had a jewelry store in Leadville, Col., came
to Blunt, and finding two jewelers here bought out a meat market and ran it for
nearly a year successfully.
A graduate of a Pennsylvania college who had read law
two years got his first start in Wessington sawing wood at a hotel. He is now a
grain and coal dealer.
A young man who spent four years at West Point Military
Academy was a runner and night clerk at a hotel here during the summer.
Two of the lawyers here spent their first summer in
Dakota working as carpenter. One of the keenest, but not the best lawyer in
Huron, came here as a stage driver, and drove the stage from Mitchel to Huron
till the land office was moved to the last-named town.
The District Attorney of Sully County spent his first
three months in Dakota working at printing.
The fiercest prohibitionist in this town ran a saloon
here during his first eighteen months.
A family whose members spent their summers on their
claim about ten miles from here, and do good farming, traveling during most of
the winter, giving dramatic and elocutionary entertainments.
Four drummers who are on the road almost constantly
have their families on homestead claims in this vicinity. During seeding and
harvesting time some of them spend a vacation here, and in the tan-colored
blouse and overalls look the genuine farmer. When those seasons are over they
shave, put on appropriate garb and are hardly recognizable.
The District attorney for this county painted his way
out here in the employ of the Chicago and Northwestern Railway.
A preacher of the M. E. Church, recently licensed,
built the skating rink in Canning, this county, sold patent rights, ran a
barber's shop here and in Canning, and a meat market here, and then a dray line.
Now he has a circuit in Sully County.
A man who kept a restaurant and boarding house in St.
Lawrence proved to be a preacher of the "Christian" denomination, and is now
president of a college of that sect in Clifton, Sully County.
A Presbyterian missionary, who was sent out from
Pennsylvania opened a harness shop in St. Lawrence and worked at the bench for a
The junior partner of a recently dissolved dry goods
firm, though not bankrupt, stepped upon a dray within a month after going out,
and is now a drayman. He has been a farmer, merchant, and druggist.
A man who spent two years in attending medical lectures
"at Galesburg, Ill., runs a dairy near here.
A Potter county man, for a couple of years united
the offices of Presbyterian preacher and hotel-keeper.
In the last Sully County Watchman there appeared side
by side the lawcard of "A McFall, late of the New York bar," and a paragraph
that of A. McFall has taken a sub-contract for carrying the mail between two
The Little Sod Shanty On The Claim or " Old Log Cabin in the
I am looking rather seedy now while holding down my claim,
And my victuals are not always served the best,
And the mice play slyly 'round me, as I lay me down to sleep,
In my little old sod "shanty "on the claim;
Yet I rather like the novelty of living in this way,
Though my bill of fare is always rather tame,
But I'm happy as a clam, on this land of Uncle Sam,
In my little old sod "shanty" on the claim.
The hinges are of leather and the windows have no glass,
While the roof lets the howling blizzard in,
And I hear the hungry coyote, as he sneaks up thro' the grass,
'Round my little old sod "shanty" on the claim.
But when I left my eastern home, so happy and so gay,
to try to win my way to
wealth and fame,
I little thought that I'd come down to burning twisted hay
in my little old sod
`Shanty" on the claim.
My clothes are plastered o'er with dough,
and I'm looking like a fright, and
everything is scattered 'round the room,
And I fear if P. T. Barnum's man should get his eyes on me,
He would take from
my little cabin home.
I wish some kind hearted Miss would pity on me take,
and extricate me from the
mess I'm in,
The angel-how I'd bless, if thus her home she'd make,
In my little old sod "shanty" on the claim;
And when we'd make our fortunes on these prairies of the west,
just as happy as
two bed bugs we'd remain,
And we'd forget our triles and our troubles as we rest,
in our little old sod
"shanty" on the plain.
And if heaven should smile upon us, with now and then an heir,
To cheer our hearts with honest pride to flame,
0, then we'd be content for the years that we have spent
In our little old sod "shanty" on the claim,
When time enough had 'lapsed and all those little brats
To man and modest womanhood, have grown,
It won't seem half so lonely when around us we shall look
And see other old sod shanties on the claim.
The Indians haul considerable wood from their reservations and sell it in
Britton, where settlers can purchase it from $5 to $7 per cord; soft coal cost
at Andover from $7 to $9 per. ton owing to the quality, and hard coal about
$12.00. We are in hopes to be able to get coal cheaper. These prices appear
high, yet compared with wood in other states, and the labor required to cut and
split it we prefer coal, and so do our wives, because they don't have to cut it
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