Stories from the early days

C.G. Maybury Newspaper Account of William Haddock:

 "In 1901 he wrote for a New York paper an account of 1852 members of the locating committee for the Minnesota City Western Farm and Village site. “They (William Haddock and Arthur Murphy) came up the Mississippi river from La Crosse, Wisconsin on skates, a distance of thirty miles, with packs on their backs. Each carried a buffalo skin and some camp supplies.” Haddock records “After leaving LaCrosse we pursued our journey slowly up the river on the ice, hugging as closely as possible the Minnesota side of the river for the purpose of making observations. After traveling until about noon we stopped for dinner at a young trader’s, who happened to have a smoking dinner just ready for consumption. Having no time to lose, we resumed our tramp without perceiving any cabin or other dwelling. We proceeded on our journey until the shades of evening began to gather round. Having brought up at the lower extremity of a sandy island, we doffed our buffalo skins, selected a spot of a camp, collected wood, lit up a fire, spread out our skins and entered upon the full enjoyment of camping out. To camp out however, is not a very agreeable thing to a person not accustomed to it, especially in a cold February night” (Winona Daily Republican, January 15, 1901). MCHA newsletter October 2018.

Settlers Arrive 1852:

History of Winona County, 1857 "With the crowd of passengers brought up the river by the ‘Nominee’ on May 19 (1852) and landed on Wabasha prairie was quite a number of immigrants for the colony. For convenience in discharging freight and livestock, Captain Smith landed them at the lower landing, his favorite claim and special preference for a town site. Among the members of the association who were thus landed were Hiram Campbell, wife and three children; Mrs. Robert Thorp and three sons; H.B. Waterman, wife and son, Asa Waterman, Rufus Waterman; Andrew Petee, D. Q. Burley, H. Shipley and son; Mr. Hunt and others. This party has quite a large herd of cattle—oxen, cows and young stock. The greater part of them belonged to Hiram Campbell. Mrs. Waterman had two yoke of oxen and two cows, and Mr. Hunt two yoke of oxen. All of the arrivals had the greatest difficulty in reaching Minnesota City and still greater difficulty in taking their goods there. Often the passengers landed from boats had to camp on Wabasha Prairie for days before they could get to their destination and goods were sometimes left on the riverbank for a week or longer. The difficulty of transporting livestock from the landings at Winona to the landing at Minnesota City was especially great. The sloughs had to be forded, the usual method being for the men to divest themselves of their clothing and swim or wade alongside of the cattle. A wood-boat, the Macedonian was secured by the members of the colony and put in charge of D. Jackson, and this was used in transporting some passengers and a few goods.” (p. 158) MCHA newsletter October 2008

First Winter 1852:

"The first winter of Western Farm and Village Association settlers is described in the History of Winona County 1913 Volume I: “The settlers who remained in the colony and made their homes in Minnesota City during the winter of 1852-1853 had comfortable cabins, in which they passed the winter. Some of these cabins were of logs, others were of boards. No cases of suffering from insufficient food or clothing were known in the settlement. Their principle employment was providing firewood for present use and laying in a supply for the ensuing year. After the sloughs were frozen over they engaged in chopping on the islands, cutting and banking steamboat-wood, getting out logs, timber, posts and rails for use in claim improvements. Their social enjoyments were quiet visits exchanged with each other and occasional meetings of the Association”. (p 173). MCHA newsletter January 2009 

The Wabasha’s Prairie to Winona Manuscript: The Territorial Era 1849-1858 presents this information: “By this time the member's hopes, plans, and even some of their lives had been destroyed. What had seemed to be an ideal setting for a new town site soon turned into a disaster. Travel to the frontier was difficult, especially for those with families, furnishings, and supplies. The conditions in the new town site, of course, were crude and the weather in early spring in Minnesota can be harsh. Few of these new settlers had any experience in frontier living. They were not used to camping out. They hastily constructed "Gopher huts" which were nothing more than dugouts covered by a roof of logs covered by branches and dirt fashioned in such a way to drain off the rain to protect themselves and their families. Many people fell ill because they were exposed to the elements and were unable to ward off diseases like cholera and typhus. The materials for a town hall for Minnesota City were purchased and delivered to Minnesota City but due to sickness the hall was never built. Minnesota's bitter winters claimed their share of victims. One poor young boy lost his way tending his father's cattle and froze to death.” Accounting for the differences in the narrations will continue to challenge efforts of historical accuracy related to location and individual experiences.  MCHA newsletter January 2009