The Wisconsin Cartters - Chapter Sixteen
Time moves on and children grow up. Julia finished part of her high school course at Black River Falls before transferring to an academy, or advanced school, which was started in Sechlerville by Mr. Wells, a Presbyterian minister who also built the church there and preached for twenty years.
Louise (Adams) Curran, referred to earlier, writes as follows. “Mother (Julia) and Dad (Parker Adams) both went to school here. Subjects taught included Algebra, Geometry, Physics, Latin, Greek etc. School was held upstairs in Sechler’s first store, a two story building.”
After finishing the Academy Julia taught school at Irving, at the Curran school and at Disco. On Nov. 7, 1877 she married Parker Chapman Adams and they took over the operation of the Adams farm at Sechlerville about ten miles distant from the Cartter farm.
Parker was the son of George Monteith and Henrietta (Chapman) Adams. They had come with their family from Ellsworth, Ohio to Jackson County in 1855 the same year the Cartters had arrived. George Adams was for several years Jackson County’s surveyor. He lived fro some time at Black River Falls and later developed a farm on the Trempeleau river near Sechlerville.
THE ADAMS FAMILY
The Adams family record may be found in The Adams History a book written by Andrew N. Adams in 1898. Following is the direct male line of descent in America as found in this reference.
1. HENRY b. uncertain – d. 10-6-1646
Henry was believed to have arrived in America in 1632 or 1633 and settled in Braintree, Mass. He brought with him his wife, eight sons and one daughter. His son Joseph, brother of Peter below was the direct ancestor of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams.
2. PETER b. 1622 d. 1690
3. JOHN b. 1651 d. ____
4. CAPT. JOHN b. 12-14-1695 d. 1-16-1762
5. CAPT. JOHN (2) b. 12-15-1744 or ’45 d. 12-10-1818
6. MOSES b. 9-28-1786 d. 4-10-1828
7. GEORGE MONTEITH b. 8-15-1826 d. ____
8. PARKER CHAPMAN b. 3-27-1855 d. _ _ 1916
9. HAWLEY CARTTER b. 5-18-1882 d. 12-13-1969
Parker and Julia Adams raised three children; Ruth Gertrude born 1878, Chloe Louise in 1880, and Hawley Cartter in 1882. Needless to say the visits back and forth between the Adams and Cartter farms were frequent, for James Bruce and Isadora thought the world of their grandchildren. Chloe Louise (referred to as Louise) now 92 yrs. young, remembers her grandparents very well, and relations with them are vivid in her memory. She tells of a wind, rain, and hail storm which struck Sechlerville when the three children were small. It was reported to have produced the largest hailstones ever seen in the Northwest. Stones came in every shape and form from a triangle to a four-cornered piece as large as nine to twelve inches in circumference. The Adams farm was one of those hardest hit. She writes:
“At the time of the storm mother, dad and we three children, little then, were living in a house near Sechlerville about three-fourths mile from home because the house on our farm was so cold and impossible. The day of the storm Grandpa and Grandma Cartter came up to spend the 4th of July. Dad had gone to Merrillan for a load of lumber. He was planning on building a new house on the farm.
The grain, corn, and fruit trees were ruined and not a green thing was left on the ground. Grandpa took mother and us kids home to live until next spring. He said he didn’t know what he’d find but at least there’d be enough to live on. Dad worked where he could, mostly on a threshing rig that fall. In the winter he stayed at Cartter’s and in the spring put in his crops and built a new house.”
Louise, now Mrs. John Curran, relates the following bits of family interest as she is the only living descendant at this time who knew both James Bruce and Isadora. She says, “Grandpa was afraid of fires and every evening before going to bed he would go outdoors to see if the chimneys were O.K.. - - - In the summer they milked the cows outdoors, loose in the barnyard. Christmas day we always spent at their house. There was a tree, lots of presents and food and just a happy time. One year Grandmother and Uncle David gave Grandpa a rocking chair. Grandma also had bought him a big safety pin but he didn’t even notice the new chair.”
How the author wishes Grandfather might have lived longer in order that he could have known both grandparents better. Sister Irene who was eight years old when Grandfather died had that opportunity. Even at her age she sensed the deep and abiding love that united James and Isadora and which they held toward each other throughout life. Irene told her daughter, Ruth Forssen how fond Grandfather was of teasing. He really had a strong sense of humor.
Irene told of remembering her own delight in seeing him chase Isadora who would, on such an occasion, pick up her long skirts and fly, leaving him far behind and chuckling. He liked to bait Irene too. One time when she was small she remembers he goaded her to the point where she picked up her sewing scissors and threw them at him. Immediately she was crushed with remorse thinking what she might have done to him. He gathered her up on his lap in the rocking chair and sang the song he always sang to her at night before bedtime. “Rock the cradle Lucy; rock the cradle slow.”
Says Louise: “I remember one instance that happened which grandmother never let grandpa forget. Whenever he seemed to be getting out of hand she would remind him of the day when he spilled a whole pan of milk over her. It happened this way: The time was before cream separators were used. To separate the cream the milk was set in shallow pans holding about 6 quarts of milk. These pans were set in a cool place, which on the Cartter farm was the cellar under the house. Milk was left to sit for 1-1/2 to 2 days before skimming.
Well, this was a team endeavor. Grandpa would fill the pans with milk and then hand them down to grandma in the cellar who would place them on shelves. This particular day either grandpa slipped, or the pan slipped out of his hands. At any rate grandma got the full six quarts of milk drenching her from head to toes.”
Later of course an outside stairway was built to the basement; then came improved cans fro drawing off skim milk and finally the cream separator which made larger herds of cattle practical in areas away from cheese factories.
By 1889 changes had been made in the Cartter farm. David was taking over more and more of the decision-making, still with the guiding counsel of his father. The Agricultural Census of that year, 1880, shows changes in emphasis. Total acreage reduced – more cultivated acres – more diversification.
Tilled land, including fallow and grass in rotation, had increased from 100 a. to 150 a.
Woodland and forest 250 a.
Farm value – Land – Building fences $4000.00
Machinery value 220.00
Livestock value 500.00
Estimated value of all produce sold – consumed or on hand 1879 900.00
Cultivated acreage mown 1879 7 a.
Produce harvested from grass land (Hay 7 ton
(Clover 13 ton
Horses all ages 4
Milk cows 11
Butter made 600#
Cheese made on farm 50#
Sheep on hand 6-1-1880 25
Clip – or to be shorn 12
Poultry (Barnyard) 50
Eggs produced 125 doz.
Barley - 500 bu.
Wheat - 35 a., 200 bu.
Corn - 12 acres, 100 bu.
Hops - 1400#
Oats - 20 acres, 500 bu.
Potatoes – 100 bu.
During these years the land in T 20 N was well used as a source of wood fuel for heating purposes. Louise recalls “My father (Parker Adams) always got his year’s wood supply from the Cartter woodlot south of Disco. He hired the trees cut, sawed and split into chunks. Dad would start out before daylight and go to the woods (about twelve miles). He would load up and get back to grandpa’s for dinner, then home about dark.” What a hard way to get heat! The Curran Valley where the Adams lived, didn’t offer such a ready wood supply.
These long all-day hauls were not unusual in the Disco area. The author can personally remember driving team and sleigh, some years later, 8-10 miles to a millpond in mid-winter for loads of ice cakes to be stored in an ice house on the Cartter farm for use during the summer. The ice-box made an early appearance in our home. Stretches of our road to Black River Falls were quite sandy, making the hauling of heavy loads in the summer a real test for a good team.
By 1880 the spirit of migration must have been rekindled in Oliver Swift’s nature as it had been with James Bruce in 1854. By 1881 he had sold the Swift farm, where he seemed to have done so well, to William Caves a neighbor. The call of the Dakota Territory had been too great to resist with its promise for large acreages of wheat, a crop which was fast giving way to a dairy economy in Wisconsin. Just what influence Oliver’s move had on David is hard to assess, but it must have stirred some sparks of adventure in his blood.
David was now twenty-three and as a result of Oliver’s move he would lose his closest chum, Arthur Swift. Arthur was just his age. The two had grown up and gone to school together. They had shared many experiences. Now Arthur was going west with his father and was taking up a homestead for himself near Watertown, where Oliver also settled. The responsibility felt by David for his parents, and the investment he had put into the Cartter farm in terms of sheer hard work and management planning, was to keep his feet firmly planted on Wisconsin soil until his death in 1941, sixty years later.
It is certain however that letters such as the one written by E. K. Trudell, a friend, on Dec. 20, 1881, must have stirred within him a call to adventure. Trudell was in Ouray, Colorado when he wrote the following:
“This is a new country as well as a peculiar people and the chances are you would not desire to make this your home. - - -The country here is well adapted to mining and is good for that only. - - - There is no society, no women, no culture, no anything pertaining to civilization out here. Most of these miners are good-hearted decent and well behaved people but occasionally you meet with one who has none of these qualities. - - -“
If David had any desires to look elsewhere for a home, he never revealed it to his family. It is likely that his challenges to adventure took the form of community participation, for he early took active part in school, town and organization affairs. He was looked to with respect for his counsel on such matters.
Chloe Swift was successful in selling her home at Black River Falls by 1882 and although it was a sever wrench at her age to leave old friends and part of her remaining family, she followed Oliver and his family to the Dakota Territory. Here she lived part time with Oliver, and part with Arthur who was by now married. Charles later joined them, settling at Aberdeen. This was wide-open country, very sparsely settled, but promising for wheat farming. Some of Chloe’s letters to Isadora paint a picture of another pioneering experience, and the final one for a woman who had spanned the distance from Mass. To Dakota in her life time with many new starts in between. The following are short extracts from her letters written after she went to Dakota, most of them addressed to Isadora.
“I have been waiting to get a letter from you, it has just come. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry I was so glad to hear from you. - - -Our meals have no change from one month to the other. Our fare is fried pork, black strap (molasses) cookies and dried apple pie.” She speaks of “Our new town Castlewood. - - -We eat so much fried pickerel it makes me dull. - - - There is a river 4 miles from here - - - One hundred and twenty-five dollars worth of grub, a barrel of sugar, dried fruit of every kind a plenty for one year.” - - - “I must write Lizzie (a cousin in Mass.) she thinks I have gone up in one of these blizzards.”
She continues, “Jeanette (Charles’ daughter) is teaching school. Her school will be four months. It is 2-1/2 miles from home and she rode horseback until this morning. She gets twenty-two dollars a month and has 13 scholars. - - - we are all hard at work. We have had thrashers all the week, I wish you could see the stacks of wheat, barley oat and straw they have. - - - - - - Arthur has bought a stove for the sitting room. I never saw one like it, there are glass doors all around it, lights up the room, it’s hansome.”
A letter dated February 24 th has this statement, “I haven’t been out this winter – we have had what I call very cold weather – we had one blizzard that lasted 204 hours. It is the worst we’ve seen, couldn’t see the barn.”
Chloe died at Castlewood, April 27, 1884 at age 81. In reviewing her life the author can’t help but think of a tribute written by Mrs. Emma Robinson Bush to her mother and other early pioneer women. Mrs. Bush had lived near Black River Falls and had herself been one of the first teachers in the Disco Valley school. Julia and Dave had gone to school with her. The tribute is found in a paper prepared by Mrs. Edith (Davis) Cartter, 3rd wife of David and seems to fit Chloe Swift in many ways.
“A frail woman from a refined Quaker family, she left her brothers and sisters and relatives to some unto the wilderness to toil unceasingly for others, but she had a brave heart and was equal to the emergency. What heroes they were who laid the foundation for posterity. People who talk of hard times now don’t know all that the words have meant to others. Still those were days of adventure and interest and excitement and thrills. I always feel that I had an interesting childhood.”
How impossible it would be to attempt numbering the individuals and families that Chloe Swift’s presence, her friendly words, and humble understanding had reached, comforted, and otherwise influenced.