Monday, November 14, 2011

Amanuensis Monday: Centennial History of the Town of Springdale, Dane County, Wisconsin, 1848-1948; History of James McPherson Family

The following was written by Margaret Burns Mc Pherson Burmeister in 1946, for inclusion of the Centennial History, Township of Springdale, Dane County, Wisconsin, 1848 -1948. Maggie, as she was known in the family, was the youngest child of James P. and Mary Burns McPherson, who came to Springdale in 1850.

 From pp. 101-102,, Centennial History of Springdale:

James P. McPherson left Dundee, Scotland, in 1842, for (“from” per J.P.s diary) the City of new York, April 30, 1850. Came by the way of canal. Arrived at Buffalo, May 11th. Came by way of Girand (“Grand” per J.P.s diary) River, Cleveland and Detroit to Milwaukee. Left Milwaukee for Madison the 17th by wagon, the fare costing 10.80. At that time they had four small children aged, 6,4,2, and 3 months. On May21 they moved into a log house, which belonged to John Stewart and stood beside a farm store just east of where the Stewart's stone house now stands. He worked at the tailor trade, making pants and vests for the Stewarts', McDonalds', David and John Beat, Pattons' and many others. On June 23rd the family went to see the land on which they were to live and began cutting logs for their new home. They lived their log house the first winter with a thatched roof and no floor. Their heat was logs burning in the middle of their large room with a hole in the roof for the smoke to go out. Their bread was baked and other food cooked in a large iron pot, hung in the fire place over burning coals. They had no money the first year they were here. Mr. McPherson helped with butchering and got meals for his work. His wife helped neighbors sew and helped with other work and got milk, buttermilk and a chunk of fresh butter direct from the churn. Mr. McPherson was elected town clerk and assessor in 1851. He held the office of town clerk for about 40 years, not steady, but off and on at different times. He was clerk of the first Dane County Board held in Dane County. He was Justice of the Peace and postmaster of Springdale post office for more than 40 years. He was school clerk for many years and was commissary at Camp Randal during the Civil War. His oldest son, William, was in the 8th (Eagle) regiment during the war, going on 18 years of age. Mr. McPherson was also one of the trustees who bought the land for the Dane County poor farm with Wm. R. Taylor and others. There were eleven children in the McPherson family. Two passed away in early life, but the rest of them lived to past 80 years. A Mrs. Blair (Mary Jane) who passed away last January , was 91 (the underlined phrase was an error as it was attributed to Mr. McPherson ), Mr. (James P.) McPherson was 84, Mrs. (Mary Burns) McPherson was 89 years of age at death. I (Margaret Burns McPherson Burmeister) am the last of the family and will be 80 years old September 5th (1946). I have had one granddaughter in service as a nurse overseas in World War II, and four grandsons, and one son-in-law. One is still in Manila Is. And one in the4 Pacific somewhere. My father had a farm of 160 acres. I think he bought it as government land as I cannot find anything to the contrary. John Stevenson, Wm. Thompson (Uncle Willis as we called him) were other old settlers. I am enclosing a paper I found in my father's diary which gives you some of the very old settlers of Mt. Vernon with their own signatures, which you might like to have. Also a very old building was the first log schoolhouse, which was in the northwest corner of the Oak Hill or Springdale cemetery, built in '51 or '52. I believe Sandford Shummwan was the first teacher. I have a family of seven. One son has served 22 years as policeman and one 23 years as a city fireman.

B y Mrs. Margaret Burmeister

* * * * *
I added comments in italics when I thought it would be helpful for the reader and underlined corrected passages.

List of the J.P. McPherson family:
James Peter McPherson, Nov 14, 1816 – Aug.11, 1900
Mary Burns McPherson, Jan. 30, 1821 – Sep. 1, 1910
William Burns McPherson, Apr. 23. 1843 – Mar. 15, 1926
James Burns McPherson, Mar. 17, 1845 – Mar. 6, 1932
Jabez Burns McPherson, Aug. 12, 1847 – Apr. 7, 1924
Ann Adamson McPherson (Foye), Jan. 31, 1850 – May 17, 1922
Elizabeth Spink McPherson, Dec. 4, 1952 – Nov. 30, 1873
Mary Jane McPherson (Blair), Jan 27, 1855 – Jan 17, 1946
Jessie Stewart McPherson (Watts), Jun. 9, 1857 – Mar. 17, 1929
Emma Ellen McPherson (Ireland), July 17, 1859 – Dec. 12, 1921
Harriet Burns McPherson, May 3, 18672 – Nov. 16, 1865
Peter Burns McPherson, Jun 1, 1864 – Mar. 15, 1946
Margaret Burns McPherson (Burmeister), Sep. 5, 1866 – Aug. 5, 1959

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Synopsis: 2011 November 13th: Holidays are a comin'

Tis November, and my thoughts turn to decorating my deck, putting up my Christmas village, and chasing the peacocks off of the deck railings! I spend about 1 to 2 weeks on the decorations, depending upon the weather. This year the weather has cooperated, so I am ahead of schedule.

O by the way, I did get a blog or two entered, and revising last weeks workshop piece, so all in all it has been a good week.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Surname Saturday: John Gow, Perhaps a Brother or Cousin of Catherine Gow Stewart, Springdale, Wisconsin, 1850

James Peter McPherson arrived in Springdale, Wisconsin, on May 21, 1850, and moved into John Stewart's log house. Within two weeks, J.P. put his tailoring skills to use by making pants and vest for John Stewart, and pants for  John Gow.  (John Stewart's wife was Catherine Gow, so perhaps John Gow was Catherine' brother or a cousin.) John Gow lived in the Springdale-Verona area from at least 1850 until his death, August 17, 1881. 

One of the reasons that I am interested in John Gow and his Stewart connections concerns the possibility that John Gow may be related to James Gow, a well known Dundee Chartist writer and poet (and hand loom weaver).  J.P. McPherson had strong ties to the Chartist movement; he was in the Dundee flax mills at the time that the textile mill workers, whether they be hecklers, flax dressers, power or hand loom weavers, were at the forefront of the Chartist movement; also, his father-in-law William Gibson Burns was a lifelong, ardent champion of the Chartist movement and universal suffrage.

So, if there are any Gow or Stewart researchers that can shed any light on the political connections between these families and the Chartist movement, I would like to hear from you.  My email address is at the upper left corner of this blog.

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© Joan Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Monday, November 7, 2011

Amanuensis Monday: Centennial History of the Town of Springdale, Dane County, Wisconsin, 1848-1948; Pioneer Norwegian Settlement of Springdale

 From TheCentennial History of the Town of Springdale, ... 1848-1948, p.110

Although my Scots ancestors lived in what was called Scotch Lane and Scotch Hamlet, Springdale and the surrounding area also had many Norwegian settlers.  An unnamed author provided the following article of interest for inclusion in the  Centennial History of the Town of Springdale, Dane County, Wisconsin, 1848-1948, pp. 109-111.


 A celebrated writer has said that "The men who make history haven't time to write it." and a complete story of the sturdy pioneers of Springdale will probably never be known.  Many of the struggles, hardships and vicissitudes of the earliest settlers were not recorded, and the available history concerning them has  been assembled from other sources.

Tthe first Norwegian settlement of Springdale was established almost concurrently with its earliest history.  The first white resident in the township was John Harlow, an American , who settled on part of Section 1 in 1845, on the farm now known as the Ruben Paulson farm, and who subsequently married a daughter of Jorgen Lee.  Iin the spring of 1846 the following permanent Norwegian settlers arrived from earlier settlements at Shelby, Illinois, in the Fox River Valley, and from Muskego, Wisconsin, namely Thore Thoreson Spaaanum, Tosten adn John Rue0Thompson, John I Berge, Ole and Knud (Kvistrud) Sorenson and Nils and Halvor (Grasdalen) Nelson, together with their families.  All were origianally from the Tinndal district in Telemark, Norway, and more or less interrelated.

These pioneers settled on lands in Sections 5, 6, 8, 9, and 17, purchased from the government at $1.25 per acre.  This was prior to the Homestead act, and immigrants desiring to buy land invariably walked to Mineral Point where the United States land office was located to file their claims and to make payments.  however, settlers often selected their land and lived on it a year or more before filing their claims.

Perhaps from their love and yearning for the mountains and valleys of their native Norway, but more likely because of the accessibility to woodlands, springs and streams, the early Norwegian settlers generally chose the hills and vales of Springdale for their abode in preference to the prairie lands then available throughout various sections of the township.

In most instances the first settler habitations were rude dugouts in the hillsides to protect them from the elements of the weather until they could erect log cabins similar in size to a present day family garage, consisting of one or two small rooms heated with a fireplace and chimney of stone, and often with no floors other than virgin soil packed hard by the footsteps of the occupants.  With the aid of an axe these hardy pioneers were capable woodsmen and cut, transported and fitted logs into substantial structures without the use of nails, spikes or bolts which were not then readily procurable.

People in those days did not have much to do with.  The building of a house was accomplished with nothing in the way of tools except an axe, a saw, a hammer and a draw-shave, and no material but the native forest, for there were no saw mills at that time in this section of the country.  The roof was made with hakes and in fastened to the house with a binder pole.  Furniture was home made.

The prairied wolves howled about these humble homes at night and the d3er were often seen in the day time, while poisonous snakes gave their mothers anxiety for their children.  Houses in those days were so small and the familiies usually so large that the children spent most of their time out of doors in the summer, and the great fireplaces made excellent ventilation in the winter.  Freindly Indisns roamed through the settlement, but other than being curious and geeged for things, they did not greatly molest the settlers.  An occasional bear wandered into the settlement and caused excitement and pigeons, prairie chickens and quail abounded in the early days.

The year 1848 was memorable as the one in which the town organization took place at the home of Morgan I Curtis, and among the town officers elected on the second Tuesday of the year was John I. Berge as constable.

From 1848 the influx of Norwegian emigrants increased , and among these settlers were Ole Lee, Aslack Lee, Gulbran Throndrud, Arne Hoff, Erick Skinrud, John Lund,  Levor Lien, Ole Stensbolet, Hans Gute, John Sylland, Knud Steenerson, Knud Skredden, Kitil Luraas, Jorgen Lee, Thore Lee, Knudt Herbranson Nees, Ole Anderson, Iver Thorson Aase, Henry Kogen, Engebret Tortun, Erick  Solve and Harold Hoff.

The first Norwegian Lutheran religious service in Springdale and largely attended by Norwegians in the surrounding settlements was held at the home of Thore Spaanum in an outdoor meeting on or about April 1, 1850, with the Rev. J.W.C. Dietrickson from Koshkoonong conducting the service to an audience that had gathered from great distances.  At this meeting eighteen children were baptized, among whom were:  Andrew Grinde, Betsy Grassdalen, Halvor Sorenson and Soren Soreson.  Older children were also catechised at this service.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Synopis: 2011 November 6

Rather an odd week.

Regarding writing, I had back-to-back writing groups last Tuesday, and to an extent, I am still reeling.  For one group, I edited what is most likely, the opening of the memoir for the Ranch Years, "The Burning Haystack."   I think it is close to the mark as the initiating moment of the backstory.  May need to review in terms of fleshing out the characters.

For the second group; Although, I wasn't on tap for presentation that night,  we had four presentations to critique as learning exercises.  For this coming week, I wrote a rough draft for another chapter (not necessarily in order); this one has the working title of  "Bitsy, Mud Pies and Hacksaw Blades."  A more difficult piece --  I cannot afford to gloss over the learning moments presented here, the editing, rewrite, and all around futzing is time consuming and fretful.

Regarding my latest object of interest surrounding James P. McPherson, I have thoroughly devoured (crumpled  and krimped pages, underlined and highlighted passages  makes the book look as though a dragon was using it as nesting material)  Dorothy Thompson's The Chartists.  Now I have so many more unanswered, and most likely unanswerable, questions in regards to J.P., his father-in-law, and friends and their relationship to the Chartist movement.  With the reading and research behind me, I can no get back to being more investigative and analytical in regards to J.P.s life and times.

As far as blogging, this was a light weight week, with only the transcription of the 1841 letter to J.P. submitted as an Amanuensis Monday post.  Interesting, but short on content.  I wasn't ready to do my Thursday Thoughts on the Chartist, so perhaps that will show up this coming week,  Also had other commitments on Saturday and not organized enough to have a prescheduled Surnname Satureday  offering.

As I said, an odd week.