6.27.2010

"I found the people apparently very poor."

But a more industrious crowd of men, women, and children I have never seen.  Many of them were felling trees and clearing land; others were busy shaving shingles by hand, while women were splitting the blocks, and the children were packing the shingles; old people were cooking meals; some men were hauling shingles to Green Bay in lumber wagons drawn by oxen; some men were harvesting, other threshing with flails, other burning logs and branches; many were making or brewing their own beer, and nearly all the men were smoking tobacco which they had raised on their own land.  Many of them had cattle, some of them had wagons and yokes of oxen, a few had teams of horses; many raised their own pork; those having maple trees on their land would make their own sugar from maple sap; and all or nearly all of them had patches of from five to twenty acres under cultivation.

Xavier Martin recalls the Belgian pioneers in northeastern Wisconsin in the late 1850s as they finally got back on their feet following three brutal years in the forests of the New World.