Monday, January 30, 2012

Amanuensis Monday, 2012 January 30th: Centennial History of the Town of Springdale, Dane County, Wisconsin -1848-1948: Pioneer Norwegian Settlement of Springdale.

The following excerpt (pages 108-111) is from the Centennial History of the Township of Springdale, Dane County, Wisconsin, 1848-1948 and by an unknown author.  This section  tells about Springdale's early Norwegian settlers. Many of the families listed below are also mentioned in J.P. McPherson's diary as his neighbors and friends.   From the diary, platt maps, and census reports, it appears that most of the early pioneers of  Springdale were Scots and Norwegian families.  Although this article focuses on the  Norwegian settlement,  the arduous times were common to settlers no matter where they called home and old country.
Page 108, Centennial History of the Township of Springdale

Pioneer Norwegian Settlement of Springdale

A celebrated writer has said that the “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.

The first Norwegian settlement of Springdale was established almost concurrently with its earliest history. The first white resident in the town ship 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. In 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) Spaanum, Tosten and John Rue-Thompson, John I Berge, Ole and Knud (Kvistrud) Sorenson and Nils and Halvor (Grasdalen) Nelson, together with their families. All were originally 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 woodland, 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 by with a fireplace and a chimney of stone, and often with no floors other than the 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 tolls except an axe, as saw, a hammer and a draw-shave, and no materiel but the native forest, for there were no saw mills at that time in this section of the country. The roof was made with shakes and fastened to the house with a binder pole. Furniture was home made.

The prairie wolves howled about these humble homes at night and the deer were often seen in the day time, while poisonous snakes gave mothers anxiety for their children. Housed in those days were so small and their families usually so large that the children spent most of the time out of doors in the summer , and the great fireplaces made excellent ventilation in the winter. Friendly Indians roamed through the settlement, but other than being curious and begged 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, Aslak Lee, Gulbran Throndrud, Arne Hoff, Erik Skinrud, John Lund, Levor Lien, Ole Stesbolet, Hans Gute, John Sylland, Knud Steenerson, Knud Skredden, Kitil Luraas, Jorgen Lee, Thore Lee, Knudt Herbranson Nees, Ole Anderson, Iver Thorson Aase, Henry Skogen, 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 Koskonong 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 Sorenson. Older children were also catechized at this service.

Page 110, Centennial History of the Township of Springdale
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© Joan Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Synopsis: 2012 January 29th:End of a Busy Week

This past week has been a FAMILY week.  Granddaughter is home from Korea for a few weeks before returning for another year of teaching English in a Korean middle school for boys.  Family came from Portland, Eugene, and Walla Walla to see her while she is here.  Sadly, I will bid her adieu when she leaves on Tuesday.

Even with all the family activities,  I did post a Monday transcription from the Centennial of History of the Township of Springdale.  On Tuesday, my writing critique group meets at my house and I am hoping to have at least a ruff draft of a new article.  On Saturday, Willamette Writers' February meeting is scheduled, along with an afternoon workshop.

So not a lot of genealogy, or writing, but an interesting week none the less.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Amanuensis Monday, 2012 January 23rd: Centennial History of the Town of Springdale, Dane County, Wisconsin, 1848-1948; History of James McPherson Family as told by A.O.Barton, Part 2

The following is the second part of A.O. Barton's remembrances of Jame P. McPherson.  Even though J.P. was an old man by the time Barton was born,  J.P's role in the history of  early Dane County coincided with Barton's job as a journalist and his long standing interest in the history of Dane County.

The following is from pp.105-107 of the Centennial History of the Town of Springdale, Dane County, 1848-1948, as told by A.O. Barton:

He [James P. McPherson] was a typical Scotchman, frugal and thrifty in his home life but when he was out with his cronies he would show them a good time and spend his money like a prince. This made him many friends among the voters in those days and he seemed to be able to be elected to any local office which he aspired to, which was justice of the peace, town clerk, or something of that sort. When his boys became old enough to hold office he usually saw to it that they too had some township office to fill.

I recall at one time that the family was holding so many offices in Springdale township that the next spring at election time some wag had a democratic township ticket printed and put in circulation at the polls, carrying the names of the male members of the McPherson family and ending with 'For Constable, any other McPherson.' This caused much hilarity among the voters, but did not seem to disturb 'Old Mac” as he was familiarly known. He went on holding office in that township as long as he resided there, and perhaps he continued to do so after he removed to the adjacent township of Verona.

One of the interesting figures in Dane county politics a half century ago was James P. McPherson of the town of Springdale.

For a half century the McPherson family, living on the old Verona-Mt. Vernon road, was well known in western Dane county, and the father, James P. McPherson, being prominent in public life.

James P. McPherson, a native of Scotland, settled in the town of Springdale in 1850, and soon was active in politics. From 1853 until 1859 he was chairman of the town, and also served as county superintendent of poor in 1854-55, and again in 1857-58.

In 1858 he was elected county clerk, serving until a861. In 1861 he was elected chairman of the county board. During the war the county was under the commission form of government, but when it returned to the supervisor system in 1870, he was again elected chairman of the county board. He was also among the organizers of the Dane County Agricultural society, and served as a trustee of the the society.

Being a Democrat, he was never able to win election to the legislature, though aspiring to that honor.

In his home locality he was for years postmaster of the Springdale postoffice, which was kept at his house. He also served for years as school board officer, and in his honor the school of the district was early given the name of the “McPherson School.”

It was as justice of the peace in his later years, however, that he won a wide local renown. Petty litigation from many neighboring towns as well as his own came to his “court” for adjudication as he was well read in law and just in its application. It is said that even John C. Spooner, later Untied States Senator, once trued a case before him. Mr. McPherson also wrote an excellent short history of the town of Springdale.

Mr. McPherson was a pioneer in the movement for the ad valorem taxation of railroads. While a member of the county board in 1858 he introduced the following resolution:

Resolved that a committee of three b e appointed to drat a petition or memorial to the legislature for the repeal of Chapter 74, session laws of a1854, and for the taxation of railroad and plankroad property equally with other property in the state.”

The resolution was adopted and the chair appointed as such committee, Mr. McPherson, W. R. Taylor of Cottage Grove, later governor, and O.B. Hazeltine of the town of Ray (later the towns of Mazomanie and Black Earth.)

This committee drew up the following memorial to the legislature, which was presented by Mr. Taylor and adopted by the board:

The memorial of the board of supervisors of the county of Dane, state of Wisconsin, respectfully sheweth:

That your memoralist believe that Section 183, Chap.18, R.S., which enact that Railroad and Plankroad companies shall pay a tax of one per cent, on their gross receipts to the state, in lieu of all other taxes whatsoever, is a direct violation of article 8, of the constitution of this state, which said article provides that taxation shall be uniform.

That while your memorialist concede the utility and benefits of railroads to the community at large, we also believer that they ought be equally assessed with other property, for the state and county purposes.

Your memorialists herefore respectfully request your honorable bodies to repeal Sect 183, Chapter 18, Revised Statues, and allow and require all property to be taxed in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.

Resolved, that the chairman and clerk iof the board of supervisons of the county of Dane, be and they are hereby authorized and required to sign the foregoing memorial in our behalf, as expression the sense of this board, and forward a copy to each of out representatives in the legislature.

JGH Note: This section of the Centennial History of Springdale has the "feel" of being written by two separate writers, even though it appears under the heading of "As told by A.O.Barton."
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© Joan Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Surname Saturday, 2012 January 21st: Ralph Anthony Hill honored at Henley High's Hall of Fame

Guest Post from Sharon K. Hill to commemorate her grandfather Ralph A. Hill who won a Silver Medal in the 5,000 meter run at the 1932 Olympics.  Today,  January 21, 2012, Henley High School will induct it's first slate for their Hall of Fame, which include,  Ralph A. Hill, 1932 Silver Olympic medalist; Dan O'Brien, 1996 Olympic Medalist; Fred Hess; Robin Parker; Coaches Carrol Howe and Dick Reiling;1946 B State Champions; 1980 AA Girls Basketball State Champions;and Special Contributors, (early) Athletic Field Volunteers and Geneva & Willard Duncan.

Henley has 31 Oregon State Championships; 15 head coaches that have won titles (5 are still active, eight retired, two have passed away).  Many Henley High School Athletes have won district, state,and even national and Olympic awards.

Ralph Anthony Hill
December 26,1907 - October 17, 1994

For Ralph Anthony Hill, Olympian and My Grandfather
Sharon K. Hill

Our family, my father Richard Allen Hill, my uncle Robert Dixon Hill, and aunt Jeanie Elizabeth Hill Arant, and their families, appreciate the honor bestowed upon their father, grandfather, great and great-great grandfather Ralph Anthony Hill, the hometown Henley hero as the first inductee into the Henley High School Hall of Fame for his collegiate and Olympic track and field successes. He set the American record for the mile in 1930 (4:12.4) and the American record of (14:30) in the 5000 meters at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles securing the Olympic Silver Medal in the ’32 Games most controversial finish.
College and Records
  • With his brother Clarence, Grandad ran at the University of Oregon coached by legendary “Colonel Bill” Hayward.
  • His collegiate career included a rivalry with University of Washington Husky Rufus Kiser. He had not beat Rufus over a two year period until the 1930 race where Ralph held off Rufus for the American mile record 4:12.4.
  • Ralph placed three consecutive years in the national collegiate championships in the mile, finishing second in 1931.
  • The next year, he moved up to 5,000 meters and won the AAU title.
  • Three weeks later, he challenged the Finns, the recognized masters of distance running, in the Los Angeles Olympics. The Flying Finns led by Paavo Nurmi had dominated the distances in the 1924 and 1928 Olympics. Nurmi was prohibited from competing in 1932 as he was deemed professional. No matter – Finland’s Lauri Lehtinen had broken Paavo Nurmi’s world record in June at the Finnish Olympic Trials.

The Olympic Final Race (12.5 laps)
  • In the 5000 meter final Lehtinen and Virtanen opened up quickly and pushed the pace from the beginning.
  • By 4,000 meters (10 laps) they led with only America’s Ralph Hill in contact, having tenaciously battled the Finns for 10 laps.
  • By the lap 11 Virtanen had fallen off the pace.
  • Ralph went with Lehtinen. Battling, jockey through 11 laps, it was now a two man race.
  • On the bell lap. Ralph ran on Lehtinen’s hip, stride for stride.
  • Coming off the final turn Ralph moved to the 2nd lane to pass.
  • Lehtinen swung wide and moved out to block.
  • Ralph recovered and moved toward the vacant inside slot.
  • Lehtinen again moved to block Ralph’s inside move.
  • They raced to the tape in the same time 14:30. Lehtinen’s chest broke the tape first. Less than a foot (30cm) difference at the tape between Gold and Silver.
  • Ralph declined to protest. It was race strategy, accidental, unintentional. Hill later graciously commented that although he had been blocked, he felt Lehtinen had enough reserve to win the race in any case.
  • Hill was proclaimed the Hero of the Games for his sportsmanship and respectable reaction to the circumstances.

Lessons and His Legacy
Ralph’s tenacity and focus on a singular purpose were life lessons he lived.
  • His local training included running around the local canals. Family lore has it that Grandad ran the canals to catch a glimpse of his future wife Lois Dixon and she vice versa
  • After earning a degree in business administration, Hill returned to Henley and spent his life farming. Polio took his wife Lois. He too contracted polio. He lost use of his right arm, but he continued working. More than that, he relearned water-skiing and snow skiing. From athletic pinnacle to debilitating polio, he remained tenacious, and did not relent.
  • I was fascinated as a child to see the “door knobs” on the truck and tractor steering wheels –  knobs that his weakened hands could grasp so that he could turn the wheels and continue working.
  • Who I am is to persevere and try other ways to press on. – a lesson from my father and from his father. I am blessed with those lessons.

Olympic sportsmanship, graciousness
  • Ralph had done his best against the best, and in that he had triumphed.
  • We grew up with a stop watch in hand for science projects and racing alike but Ralph’s legacy is more than racing and the silver medal –
         His legacy is also his sportsmanship, and to do your best.    
         And to take your lessons from sports to who you are and how you live.

"Victory is in having done your best. If you've done your best, you've won."
                                                                                                                 Bill Bowerman
American Track & Field Coach and Co-Founder of Nike,Inc.

Before Bowerman said it,  Ralph lived it.


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Monday, January 16, 2012

Amanuensis Monday: Centennial History of the Town of Springdale, Dane County, Wisconsin, 1848-1948; History of James McPherson Family as told by A.O.Barton, Part 1.

 Albert O. Barton, who related the following bit of history about the James P. McPherson family,wrote several books and numerous articles about the history of southern Dane County.  According to the Centennial History of Springdale, he was born n 1870 in the town of Primrose, which was about 15 miles south of the village of Springdale, so it was doubtful that he personally  knew J. P. McPherson.  However, he was certainly aware of J.P.s impact on the political history of Dane County, as well as the village of Springdale.  

It is interesting to note, the A.O. Barton also carries forth the story of William Burns McPherson, the eldest son on J.P and Mary McPherson, being a Major in the Civil War (see  blogpost of December 12, 2011).

The following is from the Centennial History of the Town of Springdale, Dane County, 1848-1948, p.105-107,  and told by A.O. Barton:

Wisconsin and Madison lost a pioneer and Civil war officer when Major W. B. McPherson died in St. Cloud, Fla. He was buried beside his parents in the Verona cemetery.

Major McPherson was born in New york , April 23, 1843. He came to Wisconsin with his parents in 1850 and soon after settled on a farm in the town of Springdale. In 1862 he enlisted in the Civil War Co. E, 8th regiment of Wisconsin Infantry, with which he served until the end of the war.

Soon after his return he was married to Miss Razetta Miles, and moved to Clark County, where eight children were born. His wife died in 1890, and he returned to Madison, where he was appointed assistant attorney general under Gov. G. W. Peck.

Major McPherson is survived by six children, Mrs. Clara Manly, Minneapolis; Charles C. McPherson, Wagner, Okla.; James P., Seattle, Wash.; Jabez B., Bently, Alberta; Allen V., San Francisco; and Mrs. R. L. Holmes, Hawthorn, Calif.; a number of grandchildren; two b brothers, James B., Mura, Minn., and Peter B., Madison; three sisters, Mrs. Mary Blair, Winter Haven, Fla.; Mrs. Jessie Walts (Watts), Fargo, N.D., and Mrs. Margaret Burmeister, Madison.
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© Joan Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Synopsis: 2012 January 15th: After A Two-Month "Holiday"

The first Sunday Synopsis for 2012 -- a couple of weeks late.  Writing and blogging took a back seat to the holiday prep, parties, company, and a wonderful post Christmas week at Sun River.  My sis, Doc and I met our son and his family at a beautiful house in Sun River. Although there was no snow, our family had a great time;  Doc's brotherited us at the vacation house.  Also Doc's long-time hunting buddy and his wife joined us for dinner and an evening of telling tall tales.  Granddaughter and her BF went on a dog-sled ride.  To top off the week, we had gorgeous snow the last day.

Since returning home, I have been "digging out" and now only my chaotic desk is left as a "no-man's land."  I do have an empty waste paper container, actually two, ready for excavation, but I got side-tracked with this Sunday Synopsis  --- Tis the way of my life, sidetracked.

Goals for this week, in addition to desk excavation, include:
   *  Write a story for the  Ranch Years to read at my Tuesday Critique group;
   *  Organize my Uncle Ralph's Letters project for the final push for a final draft;
   *  Transcribe, make notations, and submit an Amanuensis Monday blog post.

I started to make a longer list of weekly goals, but this is enough --- if more writing and blog post flow -- so be it.

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© Joan Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications