remember when the first train came up into Black River Falls. A lot of us kids went down to the t rack a nd an empty detached caboos e came rolling d own the track. W ell we kids took to the woods half scared to death.” And W ill dodged up the counter to sell another bunch of ra ntan dress trimming. ******************** “Rufe” Sturdevant T alks About the Mormons W ith Other Things. If you turn back to your old American history you will find that the Mormon Sect were once the inhabitants of Illi nois, building there the “Holy City” of Nauvoo upon the banks of the Mississippi . This was during the presidenc y of V an Buren in the early forties. Mr . Sturdevant saw this city in its infancy and a few years later saw s lash ings fro m wh ich the pine had been removed to f loat down the Black an d the Missis sippi to be used in the building of this city of Nauvoo. The Mormons had several distinct settlements along this part of Black river such as “Mormon’ s Rif fle”, a second one near the Herrian farm on the west bank of the river , a third one at Black River Falls, one near W eston’ s Rapids and another just this side of Greenwood in the T own of Eaton where shallow excavations bring out remnants of the crockery that these people used. This was probably seventy years ago that the Mormons were Black river lumbermen. To be sure some remained until later years. Mr . Sturdevant relates as follows: “ The clearings were all grown up to trees again when I fi rst came, plum patches had come up big enough to bear fruit were gr owing all over the spots where they had settled. Parts of the cabins had been pa rtially burned and the w hole thing looked as if it had been deserted for many years. This was in 1854. These people seemed to cut the pine only , the reason being that this was the only timber growing that would float. The cabins were made of the unhewed logs and were chinked up with mud. We even saw indications of root cellars which they had dug. We saw no indications of their ever having brought live stock on the river with them. The river was not hardly as wide as it is no w and there w as more w ater in it so they could float the logs down the river . Packing was a common thing in those days . It was nothing to pack a sack of flour or a bundle of nails from Blac k River F alls . Saw-mills w ere es tablished here quite early . There was one old mill at Ross Eddy and the sight-seer may as yet see the remnant of th e o ld fou nd atio n projecting out of the north bank of the river . There was an old dam near it. There were many oxen here at that t ime and when the y we re out of the woods in the spring farmers could get the use of th em for “springing them out.” By this I mean for feeding them until the gra ss ca me. People were probably led into this c ountry by the pres ence of t he mag nif icent timber which grew along these creeks. The State of Mainers were led here on that account. They had been used to the timber in their own state and they were naturally attracted to it as it grew here. The first thing that they built was a saw mill. Here also were wild meadows with plenty of hay . W ild berries grew in abundance and there was plenty of maple to make sugar from. The woods was full of game and clothes were ready made out of the dressed d eer skins. Some places where there are fine farms today , there were once fields of cranberries.
Pioneer History , Clark County , W isconsin
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