This paper was published in the Proceedings
of the State
Historical Society of Wisconsin
at Its Fifty-Seventh Annual
Meeting, Held October 21, 1909,
Anson Dart, 1797-1879, from
Richard Dart's "Settlement"
Richard Dart, from Dart's "Settlement"
SETTLEMENT OF GREEN LAKE COUNTY
By Richard Dart (1)
About the last of April, 1840, my father, Anson Dart, started
southward from Green Bay with Samuel W. Beall (2) to explore
the Green Lake country, which having been purchased from the Winnebago Indians, (3)
had been surveyed in 1839 and opened to the market in 1840. Beall having been in the land
office at Green Bay was interested in this Green Lake country, rumors of whose fertility
and attractiveness had reached his ears. Half-breeds and others were telling what a
beautiful region it was. So Beall and Dart started on horseback up the great double Buttes
de Morts trail. (4)
From Knaggsville (now the Algoma district of Oshkosh) they followed the trail southwest
until they reached the place where it ran a mile or two south of Green Lake. There they
remained some weeks exploring. Both picked out land that they approved.
Father chose an eighty-acre tract half a mile south from Green
Lake Sandstone Bluff, on a little stream that ran in from Twin Lakes, just south of Spring
Lake. The stream was much larger then than now. The lakes have receded, and the outlet is
now nearly dry. Father and Beall went entirely around the lake, exploring with a view to
settlements. There were no settlers there as yet, only wigwams of the Winnebago grouped or
scattered round the lake. There was no timber there then, but oak and clay openings, with
Green Lake prairie to the south. (5)
On returning to Green Bay, my father and brothers bought a
large, wide skiff, something like a Durham boat, big enough to hold a ton of merchandise.
This we loaded with provisions and supplies, and my father, my two brothers, Putnam and
Charles, and myself, then a boy of twelve, started up Fox River. We worked out way slowly,
rowing, poling, or towing by line. It was hard work because of the rapids. At the little
and great Kakalin or Chutes, (6) the
government had military stations, equipped with wide-wheeled, low carts, supplied with
tackle; and, for a consideration, they hauled up boat, load and all, around the rapids.
Fox River was then a rushing, broad stream, a third larger than
it is now. Besides the hard work it was a lonely trip, for we could not talk
Menominee--that was the tribe then most prevalent on the lower Fox--nor could the Indians
talk English. We saw their large bark-covered houses make of peeled oak bark hung over
poles, placed between crotched posts. Many of them had seen but few Americans before.
We had neither map nor guide, and the river was so winding that
it was all guess-work as to when we should meet the Green Lake outlet, now called the
Puckayan. We supposed it would be the first stream met after passing lake Winnebago. So up
that stream we started. The water began to grow bad-colored, but we kept on. The stream
grew smaller and smaller and clogged with reeds. Logs fallen across it had to be sawed
off. Progress was painfully slow. The third day from its mouth, we came out into Rush
Lake, shallow and muddy, lined with broad marshes. We were forty rods from dry ground,
with mud all around. We had to get out into the mud, unload what camp outfit we needed for
the night, and wade through the mud and marsh to a place dry enough for a camp. Swarms of
mosquitoes and deerflies were eating out life out. We saw flocks of ducks and prairie
chickens. The Indians were at that time nearly all away from their popular resort. We were
very tired, but there was nothing to do in the morning but take our stuff back to the
boat, turn round as best we could, and pole our way back to the Fox.
We had no further mishaps, and when we actually saw the Green
Lake outlet there was no doubt of it. Its stream of pure, bright spring water shot clear
across the river. We knew then that we were all right.
It took us two days to wind up through the marshes to Green Lake.
The last night we camped opposite the present Dartford boat-landing, where the road-bridge
crosses toward Sherwood Forest resort. It was then surrounded with alders and marshes, and
we did not know, that beautiful June night (June 11, 1840), that we were so near the lake.
When we passed out from the thickets into Green Lake, (7) the next
morning, we shouted with joy.
There was at this time no heavy timber around the lake, except at
the foot, in the marshes--only what were called "clay openings," burned over
each autumn by the prairie fires. Coming up the crooked outlet, we had in one place gone
around over a mile, by measure, to reach a place only a few rods from our former position,
whereas we could have pulled our boat across the marsh and saved time. Rattlesnakes were
plentiful; marshes were on both sides, most of the way up; deer-flies and mosquitoes made
us perfectly wretched.
We soon crossed the lake and reached our land, of which my father
recognized the quarter-section corner. We lugged our stuff up by hand from the lake,
erected a shanty for shelter, and at once went to work to build a plank house. We split
and hewed white oak planks, about two inches thick by six feet long, and set them upright,
two lengths end-to-end twelve feet high, held together by grooved girts or stringers. We
used poles for rafters and "shakes" for shingles, the latter shaved out of green
oak. We built a large fire-place, and a stick-chimney plastered with yellow clay. The roof
was fastened on with tacked cross-pieces.
The house, of two rooms and a little attic, stood half a mile
south of Sand Bluff. We kept our boat secure from the wash of the waves, either in the bay
west of Sand Bluff or at the Cove where the Spring Grove resort now is, three miles below.
The building was not all finished at once, but by slow degrees. We had in stock two
barrels of flour, one barrel of pork, four barrels of potatoes, a few groceries, and $4 in
money. We also had salt, pepper, Indian (or maple) sugar, but no butter or delicacies. We
soon got out of salt and other things, and to restock meant a journey to Green Bay. We
were thirty miles from any other Americans, the nearest settler of our nationality being
at Fond du Lac.
Winnebago Indians, who were then being collected at Portage for
transportation, were plentiful, but our only civilized neighbor was Pete Le Roy. (8) We got him and his ox-team to come over that month and
break up for us a half acre that had been cleared by the boys, and in which we planted
There being no mill, we made a huge mortar by boring out a hard,
white oak log, and, with a heavy hickory pestle, we ground our corn. As the mortar held
but two quarts, it was only by rising at four o'clock that we could get enough meal
pounded for a breakfast Johnnie-cake. The coarser part we boiled as samp, for dinner, and
had cornmeal fried for supper, with neither milk nor butter.
We had to pay $100 apiece for our first yoke of oxen, and $100
for our first cow; that is, in work, for we had no money. The cow we bought from Fox Lake,
the oxen of our neighbor, Pete Le Roy, who was a kind-hearted man and allowed us to split
rails for him, in payment. That was all the stock we had the first year.
In the autumn, father and I started with two yoke of oxen,
along the military road east of Lake Winnebago, to go to Green Bay for mother and my
They had come to Buffalo by the Erie canal, thence to Mackinac in the steamer
"Consolation," and from there in a schooner to the Bay. The vessel was becalmed
among the Manitou Islands, and was a fortnight lake in reaching its destination.
While father and I were gone, the other boys stayed alone. Only
two sides of the house were finished, and a few roughly-hewn boards constituted the floor.
Soon Le Roy came over, considerably excited, and said, "You must come over and stay
with me; a big panther has been seen--two of them, in fact, near the lake. They'll come
and kill you, if you stay here." These beasts had already been heard snarling at
night--great fellows, nearly as big as a yearling calf. The boys to him that, having drawn
up their bunk, with ropes, to the foot of the rafters, they thought they would be safe. He
urged strongly, but they didn't go with him, for it was the time when yellow corn was
ready for roasting.
One evening, when the boys sat about, toasting corn, they heard
the bushes crack.
"Can't think, unless one of Le Roy's cattle has strayed
But that could scarcely be, for his place was four miles off.
Then they heard a strange whine--almost a scream. The animal was walking around them. Then
came a tremendous screech. It was the panther. They were scared enough, for they had no
guns. The beast soon started off on the trail toward Le Roy's. Each boy grabbed a blazing
brand from the corn fire and started for the shanty, whirling the brands round his head.
Father was gone two weeks, and the boys were well-scared during that time and didn't sleep
very well. The panthers came round, off and on, for a month and a half, but never molested
us. Finally the Indians came over and shot them both. They were the only pair that had
visited that neighborhood for years.
When mother came, only two sides of the house were up. One
side was partly open the first winter, except for a carpet hung up. Wolves and other wild
animals would come and peer through the cracks at the firelight. Sometimes the stick
chimney caught fire, and to prevent this occurring too frequently we had to keep it well
plastered over with clay.
Even after the house was finished it was very cold, for the
joints were not tight. We tried to plaster up the cracks with white marl, but when dry
this came crumbling off. Sometimes we used old newspapers, as far as we had any, to paste
over the cracks. While we had no thermometer to measure the cold, I am sure that the
winter of 1843-44 was the worst we ever experienced.
Very early that season, two and a half feet of snow fell. Then
came a January thaw, followed by fine weather, like Indian summer. Then more snow came,
and clear cold weather with sharp, cutting winds. Many wild animals were starved and
frozen, and it was known in pioneer annals as the "great bitter winter." To add
to the strangeness of it all, there was seen in the west a great comet, whose tail seemed
to touch the ground. We nearly froze in our rudely-built house, for we had no stove--only
a big fireplace, where in twenty-four hours we would sometimes burn two cords of four-foot
wood. It took hard work for the boys just to keep the fires going. Nor did we always have
enough food; again and again I have seen my mother sit down at the table and eat nothing,
since there was not enough to go around.
Our house was built without a stick of anything but green oak,
but we needed some sawed pine lumber for finishing. In the second year, we got enough
money together to buy a little lumber. Then we borrowed an old wagon and a yoke of oxen
from Pete Le Roy, and George, my oldest brother, started with the outfit for Green Bay. He
arrived safely, got a jag of lumber and a few groceries, and started home by the military
road, east of Lake Winnebago. On the return, the oxen gave out from exhaustion, somewhere
between Taycheedah and Fond du Lac. George camped on the spot, among the prairie-wolves,
until morning, but rest had not relieved the beasts. (10) So,
reluctantly, he left the wagon and the load by the lake-shore, and got the animals home as
best he could.
After almost a week at home, they revived, and then George went
back after the load. But when he reached the place where it had been abandoned, there was
nothing left but the wagon-irons. The prairie fires had run through and burned out the
country for twenty miles each way. (11) What
could be done? We had lost the lumber, and the wagon was borrowed. As customary in those
days, my brother brought an ax with him; so he cut a timber crotch, bound stakes across,
with withes tied on the burned wagon irons, and set out for home. It took a day and a half
to drag the crotch and the load to our home. Father being a mechanical genius and a
mill-wright, (12) went resolutely to work, and hewed out a rough wagon of
green oak, seasoned in hot ashes. It took a month or two to finish this rude cart, but at
last it was done, and dear old Le Roy was satisfied.
All the while, we were clearing and breaking land. It was thin
and poor in the clay openings, and as yet we did not know how to farm to advantage. Father
used to repair grist-mills and sawmills as far off as Watertown, leaving us boys to run
the farm. Finally we got enough money together to go up on the prairie and buy a
"forty" of better land, with richer soil.
Father build a grist-mill for Samuel Beall in 1843-44. It stood
where there is still to be seen a remnant of the old dam on the south side of Green Lake,
three-fourths of a mile south from Sand Bluff. Father ran this mill for two years; then
the little lakes (13) began to dry up, the water gave out, the
mill-site was abandoned, and the mill pulled down and carried off. My uncle, Mr. Catlin, (14)
came from Delta, Oneida County, New York, in 1843 and was father's miller while he ran the
In the early years of our coming to Green Lake, there was
plenty of small game--ducks, pigeons, and prairie-chickens. Deer were plentiful, except
when they went south in winter to escape the cold. There were likewise wild turkeys and
plenty of geese. Elk and moose were found upon Willow River, and occasionally around Green
Lake. Shed elk and moose horns were then often found here; some weighed from sixty to
seventy pounds. We saw no buffalo, but their wallows and chips and horns were visible, and
seemed recent. Le Roy said that he had seen these prairies black with buffalo. The elk and
moose soon went north, or disappeared. In cold, dreary winters, game was scanty.
Green Lake was much resorted to by Indians, but Lakes Rush and
Puckaway more so, because of the abundance of wild rice, ducks, and fish. In winter, when
these lakes had frozen over, and Green was still open, the latter would be visited by
immense flocks of big mallards.
In tracking game, the Indians relied on stealth and skill, rather
than marksmanship. They were generally indifferent shots, and had very poor
"agency" guns. But they stole noiselessly upon their game, made no noise when
they walked, and displayed remarkable sagacity in getting close to their prey unawares.
They took no chances with dangerous game; many of them would shoot at the same animal
simultaneously, to make sure.
One afternoon, late in the season, we saw a lonely deer stalk
past our camp, and down the lake valley, where we lost sight of him. That evening, an
Indian came along. We told him of the deer.
He said, "I get him."
"Oh," we said, "you can't. He's far away by this
"Yes," he replied, "I get him tomorrow," and
he lay down near our camp to sleep.
We laughed at him, but he was as good as his word. Rising early,
he did not follow the track of the deer, but started across-lots, down the valley, and got
around the animal, which, as he anticipated, had, after a long journey, laid down tired,
for a night's rest. The Indian shot him, almost before he waked. We boys followed the
trail closely, next day, and proved that it was the same animal we had seen.
I wish I could adequately describe the prairie flowers. Every
month during spring and summer they grew in endless variety--such fields of changing
beauty, I never saw before. It was a flower-garden everywhere. You could gather a bouquet
any time, that couldn't be equalled [sic] in any greenhouse of New York or Chicago. There
were double lady-slippers, shooting-stars, field-lilies, etc., etc. Some of them still
linger beside the railway tracks. We tried over and over to transplant them, but only the
shooting-stars would stand the change. There was also the tea-plant, whose leaves we dried
for tea. When in blossom, the oak and clay openings, for miles around, were white with it,
like buckwheat. We also had splendid wild honey from the bee-trees.
Gov. John S. Horner (15) had
entered land where Ripon now stands, along Silver Creek and Gothic mill-pond. He wrote to
father to take the earliest chance to go down and look over his valuable water-power. So
four of us went in June, 1843, to the place where the old stone mill in Ripon afterwards
stood, and viewed the land and stream. It was just at the crossing of the Big Buttes des
Morts trail--but we looked at the water-power and laughed.
Coming back, we were skirting along the big marsh by the Dakin
place, in Green Lake township, when a deer jumped out. We let him have two barrels of
buck-shot, but he gave no sign of being wounded--simply stopped and looked back. My
brother then shot him through the heart with a rifle, and taking his hams over our
shoulders, we went on.
We were coming up near where you go down Scott Hill, by a thicket
on the prairie, about the site of the old Bailey farm, when we snuffed a delightful
odor--the smell of ripe strawberries. We followed it up and found a place as big as an
eighty-acre lot, that had been burned over, all covered with ripe wild strawberries as big
as any tame ones you ever saw, and so thick that you could not lay your hand down without
crushing berries. The ground was red with them, bushels and bushels for the picking. We
carried home our handkerchiefs full, also everything else we had to hold them.
The next day we took the ox-team, laden with pails, pans,
wash-tubs, etc.--everything that we had, to carry things--and the whole family went over.
Whenever we had picked a lot, we went over to the shade of some plum-trees and hulled the
berries, so as to take home the more. We filled all our dishes, but exactly what to do
with them we scarcely knew. We had no sugar, save maple made by the Indians, and this was
very dirty. The natives used to pack this sugar in large baskets of birch-bark, and sell
How to dispose of the berries was a practical question; but when
we reached home we were glad to find guests--David Jones and Richard Arndt from Green Bay,
who had come down to prospect. We therefore hung the berries up in a large linen bag, half
a bushel at a time, and squeezing out the juice, treated our friends to a strawberry
nectar, which was certainly a drink fit for gentlemen. We improved this strawberry patch
for one or two years, but at last the wild grass ran them out.
During out first years on Green Lake our most frequent
visitors were Indians, usually of the Winnebago tribe. They would stalk up to the window
and peer in, or open the door without knocking. One midsummer day in 1842, while we were
eating dinner, there was a rap at the door, which we opened. There stood a stalwart,
richly-dressed Indian whom we did not know. He had no gun, his only weapon being a long
lance whose shaft was decorated with three white eagle feathers, tied on with deer sinew.
It was the symbol of his rank, but we did not know this. We shook hands, and he asked
whether we could give him some dinner. We welcomed him to our modest feast, as we usually
did such callers, and found that he talked English quite as well as we did.
Captain Marston's Story
After eating, he said: "I'm astonished to find you here. No
white man was ever seen here before. I wonder that you are alone. I shouldn't have found
you now; only, as I passed up the trail (from Green Bay to Portage) I saw a wagon-track
crossing it and coming this way. This excited my curiosity. I followed it, and found your
He asked many intelligent questions, and we also questioned him.
He said that he would like to have a long talk with us, but must go, for he had to reach
Portage that night. We thought it useless for him to try to do so, and vainly urged him to
stay. While we saw him to be very intelligent and bright, he had not told us who he was.
"How much shall I pay for my dinner?" he asked.
"Nothing. You are welcome."
"But," he replied, "I always pay for my
We still declined anything, whereupon he took out a fine buckskin
pouch, well-filled with shining half-dollars--thirty or so, I should think. Taking one out
and playing with it for a few minutes, he then tossed it to my little sister.
"I don't want to be bragging of who I am," he said on
leaving; but you have treated me kindly, and it is fair for you to know that I am Dandy,
chief of the Winnebago. (16) I thank you!"
It was the first and last time that we ever saw him. He started
back toward the trail, and soon passed out of sight. He was a splendid fellow, and it
seems had, at the risk of his life, come back on a secret visit from the reservation at
Turkey River, Iowa, to transact business for his tribe at Green Bay.
Captain Marston, army officer at Portage, in the 40's, told us
the following story of Dandy, whom he greatly admired, and vouched for accuracy.
Dandy had been back from Turkey River, Iowa, several times
without leave. He was forbidden by the federal government to visit Wisconsin, but insisted
on coming when he chose.
Marston said to Dandy, one day, "Dandy, you are back here
again against orders. I threatened you before with punishment, and here you are
Dandy answered, "Captain Marston, it was necessary for me to
come for my tribe's sake. I told you what to expect. I could not do anything different. I
shall certainly come again if business for my tribe makes it necessary."
Marston replied, "Very well. I will tell you what to expect,
and I shall do as I say. Mark my words. If I catch you back again in Wisconsin without my
permission, I will hang you up at the flag-staff yard in Fort Winnebago."
Dandy said: "You can't scare me a bit, Captain Marston. My
business here concerns the interests of my tribe. I shall do what I think is
Captain Marston was angry, but they parted without further words.
Some two months passed, when one day a runner came up the Wisconsin river from below, in a
dugout, and reported to the captain, "Dandy is down the river, about six miles."
"What! Dandy, the Winnebago Chief?"
"I can hardly believe it," said Marston, "he
wouldn't dare come. He isn't the man to do that, after what I told him when he was here
"Well," said the runner, "come with me and I'll
show him to you, or show you where I saw him--beside a big thicket, sitting on a log,
smoking his pipe."
Marston hastily mustered a well-armed squad of about twelve
soldiers, and went down the river with the spy until they came to the thicket. At first,
Dandy was not to be seen; but hardly had they fastened their horses for further search,
for the thicket was dense and several acres in width, when Dandy appeared, calmly sat down
on a log and began to smoke.
"Dandy, I'm surprised. Why are you hear again?" said
Marston. "You know what I said I would do, if you returned. I shall keep my
At the same time he signalled [sic] to his armed men to advance
around him, which they did. Dandy sat complacently on the log and quietly knocked the
ashes out of his pipe. He only said, "Captain Marston, I told you I should come and
why I should come. You hurt my feelings and do me wrong by treating me so. I am here
because it is necessary, and I do no one harm."
Marston answered, "Well, you know what to expect. I shall
have to do as I said, and make you an example."
"Very well," said Dandy, "you see I am here, and
in your power."
Marston then replied, "If you've got a pony here, get him
and come with us. Our guns cover you, and you are in our power. It is useless for you to
try to get away. If you try, you will be shot. You must go back to the fort with us."
Dandy said, "Follow me where my pony is;" and he pushed
calmly back into the thicket, the soldiers following closely, with guns ready to fire. In
this manner they penetrated the thicket for some thirty or forty rods. Marston, growing a
bit suspicious, stopped them and asked, "Dandy, where is your horse?"
"Right here. I didn't bring him outside, for fear he would
"Well, be quick, for I'm going to take you back to the fort
and hang you. You are my prisoner."
"Do you realize what you will come to, if you insist on
"You see my twelve me surrounding you. They mean business,
and will shoot if you don't hurry. You can't get away."
Just then, Dandy jumped up on a log, pulled out an Indian
whistle, and blew a shrill call. In an instant, fifty Indian warriors jumped into view
from a thick brush, each buck with a rifle aimed at Marston's little body of men. There
was a moment of silence.
"Now," said Dandy, with a faint smile upon his lips,
"if I blow this whistle again, every man you've got is a dead man. Will you take
Dandy back to the fort, before he is ready to go, or not?"
Whereupon, Marston, seeing his plight, answered, "Well, I
see you have caught me in a clever ambush."
The chief replied, "I won't injure a hair of your head, or
any of your men, Captain Marston, unless you oblige me to." Upon his signal, every
Indian rifle dropped. "Now, Marston, take your choice. I was your friend. I never
wronged you. You distrusted me, hurt my feelings, and forbade me to do my duty to my
people. I have showed you what I can do."
In silence, Marston and his men turned from the thicket and
retreated up the river to their fort.
Big Soldier, who in 1840 was fifty years old, was a
subordinate chief, or captain, of the Winnebago. He was the first Indian we saw at our
house, and one of our best friends. Strictly honest, and always ready to do anything for
us, he slept in our house at times and we in his wigwam. He became very important to our
success in getting along. He told us ours was the first white man's boat he ever saw cross
He got the name of "Big Soldier" in the summer of 1840,
when Col. William J. Worth was rounding up the Winnebago and bringing them into Portage.
He was there with his band, good-natured, talkative, and a great favorite with the
soldiers. Naturally a clean and dressy Indian, he was fond of finery and of white men's
ways, and greatly admired Col. Worth's regimentals. One day he asked Worth if he couldn't
put them on and wear them awhile, around the fort. For fun, Worth consented.
"Yes," he said, "where 'em every day if you want
So the Indian fixed himself up, oiled his hair, put on Worth's
uniform, and very proudly strutted about in Uncle Sam's regimentals, drawing himself up to
full height and grunting out, "Heap big soldier!" He did it so grandly that it
brought down the garrison, and they always, afterward, called him "Big Soldier."
Big soldier hated the Iowa reservation and wouldn't draw his pay
out there. He preferred to get his living as he could pick it up, back here in Wisconsin,
where he was born. When he went away he had to hide his ponies to save them. We used to
keep them for him in our pasture.
We learned to talk the Winnebago dialect, and used to ask Big
Soldier what the Indian mounds were, and what they were for. He had but one answer,
"What do you mean?"
"Why, places rounded up high to camp on in winter, where the
water will easily run off."
There were trees on some of these mounds, a foot and a half in
diameter, yet he always said "winter wigwams." We plowed in our fields white
flint arrowheads and pieces of pottery, which were just as great a curiosity to him as to
us. His tribe had no such white flints or pottery. He explained the irregular, effigy
mounds, as having been built so as to run their wigwams off on arms, and not have them on
one line, but in various groups. There is no doubt that the modern Indians so used these
mounds, and they seemed to know of no other use or origin. Still, some of them did contain
The Winnebago used to make small mounds to preserve their
provisions. When plentiful, they dried fish in the sun till they were dry as powder, then
put them in big puckawa sacks. The squaws also picked up bushels of acorns. In deep holes,
below frost line, they would bury their fish and acorns together, twenty bushels or so in
a place, and cover them over with a mound of earth. When the deer had gone south, and game
was scarce--they dared not cross the river into the timber, for fear of trouble with the
Menominee--they would come and camp on these mounds (17) and dig
up fish and acorns for their winter food, and live on this provender until spring opened
or game appeared. It was hard work making such caches, with the tools they had.
My father's brother, Oliver Dart, came to Green Lake two years
after we did (1842). One day he took several of us with him and walked over to Portage to
see the Winnebago being gathered in to be sent off to Turkey River, Iowa. This was their
second removal. Colonel Worth's regiment, that had cut the military road from Calumet to
Fond du Lac, was entrusted with the work of rounding the Indians up at Fort Winnebago.
They were greatly distressed to know that they were to be deported. Some would lie down
and cry like children, and would beg the soldiers to bayonet them rather than drive them
from their homes. Bad whiskey had been their curse. We traded more or less with them and
sometimes one would say he had nothing to sell, but finally would bring out from
concealment a fine, big buckskin of three pounds' weight, worth $3, and offer it for
whiskey. We never let them have it, but they could always get it at the Portage.
Besides Le Roy there had been a half-breed in our vicinity,
undoubtedly the first civilized settler of the present town of Green Lake. This was James
Powell, who had 160 acres under cultivation as early as 1835 or 1836, near the present
Mitchell's Glen. Part of his land was afterwards occupied by A. Long. There was a fine
spring on the place, since known as Powell's Spring. This great spring and the
green-turfed clearing where his plantation stood, are still visible; he had a rail fence
around his place, which was near the Grand Buttes des Morts trail. He was a powerful man,
and besides a double log-house had a blacksmith shop, and was one of Pierre Paquette's
traders, as was Gleason at Puckaway Lake. He was drunken, ugly, and quarrelsome, and
greatly disliked by the Indians, who drove him off about a year or two before we came. (18)
About twenty rods down a ravine that runs from the north side
of Little Green Lake, there was a cave, or excavation. Cut into its side was a
crudely-made door, well hidden. This door was down when we come, [sic] and within the hole
we found a complete counterfeiter's outfit, forge and all. It was for the manufacture of
spurious half-dollars, and may have been worked ten years or more. Le Roy told us that
there were six or eight of the fellows, and they brought in their supplies and did their
work by night. The forgers were not readily caught, because they never spent their bad
money where it was made. The smoke of their fire came up as much as four rods from their
cavern or shanty, in the middle of a very large old stump, around which sprouts had grown
up, so that it was perfectly concealed.
These half-dollars would get out at Green Bay, and the Indians
would receive them in their trading change. The authorities did not know where to look for
their source. They had first-class Indian hunters and hounds on their tracks long before
they were caught, which was about two years before we came. We never knew who they were,
nor what became of them.
When we came from Green Bay in 1840, the trader James Knaggs
was at Oshkosh, and there were a few settlers at Fond du Lac, and scattered about on
isolated farmsteads. (19) Waupun and Watertown were but just begun.
I have heard my father tell of his first trip to Milwaukee,
through the woods. He borrowed an Indian trail past Beaver Dam and through the Watertown
woods. He had nearly reached the latter settlement on Rock River, when about sundown he
came to a little shanty and clearing, and found there a sawmill and a perpendicular saw.
The proprietor was Pete Rogan, who offered him the mill-plant at a nominal sum, saying
that he was land poor and wanted to get away. Father did not accept this offer, but he was
afterwards sorry that he did not.
The first election in Marquette County was held in the autumn of
1842 at our plank house, south of Green Lake. There were present Anson Dart, his sons
George and Putnam, Pete Le Roy and his son, and William Bazeley, tenant on Beall's place.
These constituted the entire polling-list. (20)
After the failure of Beall's mill on Twin Lake Creek, father
built in 1846 on his own account another sawmill, where Dartford now stands. Smith Fowler,
a half-breed from Stockbridge, and I helped build the dam for this mill, going back and
forth daily across the lake in a scow. We built the crib for the dam, and carried boulders
in the scow, with which to sink it. Some relics of this mill still remain at Dartford.
The same year, my father sold his farm, increased by that time to
200 acres, to a man coming in from the South, Lowther Taylor by name. He received $12 an
acre, a price that could not have been obtained again for thirty years.
After the sale of the farm, our family went over to Dartford to
live. We were thus among the pioneers of the place that was named for my father. In
addition to the sawmill, he built a grist-mill in 1850, and took in John Sherwood as
Father was a Whig in politics, and was defeated in an election
for state senator by Mason C. Darling of Fond du Lac, who was of Democratic proclivities.
Sometime about 1846 or 1847, ex-Governor Horner sent word up the trail to father, that Dr.
Darling was getting a bill through the legislature setting over a tier of three towns--the
best in Marquette--into Fond du Lac County. Horner desired father to go down to Madison
and defeat the scheme if possible. Father was interested at once, as he was then locating
a county seat for Marquette. He started for Madison and walked nearly all the way. Upon
reaching the capital he found Horner's rumor a fact, and in the legislature four Democrats
to every Whig. He knew but few of the legislators and everything seemed against him. He
went to work, however, interviewing and persuading, and succeeded in defeating Darling's
scheme in the house; but it was carried in the senate. The next year the bill came up
again and was carried, taking off what are now Ripon, Metomen, and Alto townships from
In 1848 father threw himself with ardor into the presidential
campaign, and upon the success of the Whigs received in 1851 the appointment of
superintendent of Indian affairs in Oregon, with a salary of $8 per day. Just about this
time Just about this time the village of Dartford was formed and named for him. A lawyer
named Hamilton was so angry upon learning of the new enterprise, that he went down to
Madison and got the name changed to Arcade; but the townspeople hearing of it in time,
sent a delegation to preserve the name Dartford.
Father took my second brother, Putnam, (22) with him to Oregon as his private secretary,
and another brother to help him. They each had to pay $700 for fare from New York to San
Francisco, by way of the Isthmus of Panama. Mother, my two sisters, one brother and I
lived on at Dartford, but father never came back there to live. He had various political
appointments, and after coming back from Oregon was in Europe for two years. He died
August 12, 1879, at Washington, D. C.
Mother and I were finally the only ones of the family left at
Dartford, and she later went back to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where she died at the age
of sixty-eight. Of the fifteen or twenty early pioneers of Dartford, all of whom were our
friends, not one is now living at that place.