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 July 16, 1921



 We now got under way for what we hoped would be another trip to St. Louis.  The river had raised  little, which was a help as to sand bars and islands, but the weather was against us; the days were short and getting shorter; fogs were heavy and frequent and we made slow progress.  We tied up at Sand Prairie the night of the 12th of November.  The next morning and the outlook was not encouraging but we started out and that night one raft reached Albany but the other, of which I was now in charge, was put in the mouth of Cat Tail slough as I knew it would be perfectly sage there.  The other was tied in the eddy at Albany that night and the next morning it was very cold and the ice was running.  We took half of this raft and tried to put it into the “Dosia” slough, but the current was too strong and carried us to the other side into Comanche slough and there it remained for the winter.  We hoped the weather would moderate, but the hope was vain for the river froze over on the 16th of November.

  There were now some thirty raftmen added to the population of Albany.  They had no money, but they had it coming.  Alfred Slocomb, with whom I had lived so long, still ran a hotel and they all boarded with him.  At this time my sister Mrs. Colvert, was living in Albany and I made my home with her.  As soon as we could get worked of our where abouts to the Company, a man of the name of Waters was sent from St. Louis to see about settling with the men, and on his arrival we commenced getting lumber out of the raft to get money to pay them.  A crib would be chopped loose, drawn, out on shore with a crab, the lumber stripped off, sorted and sold and in time the men we all settled with. 

  I remained in Albany until the holidays and there were only a couple of incidents during that time that are worth relating.

 One day I went out east of town on a little hunt and bagged a couple of coons; took them to the hotel and asked the cooks to prepare them as baked pig, which they did with perfect success and we had a fine dinner for the raftsmen.  After dinner I asked the boys how they liked baked pig and they all praised it and some remarked they would like such a dish everyday.  I finally told them what they had eaten and they all appreciated the joke except one man who declared that he had lived too long to be fooled that way and guessed he knew coon when he ate it.

  P. B. Van Nest, one of our towns people, was married to a daughter of Cheney Olds.  The raftsmen organized a serenading committee and gave the young people a lively tie for several nights, how long I do not know as I left before it was over.

  Mr. Hungerford and Capt Holcomb arrived in Albany about his time, having driven from St. Croix Falls to Galena in a sleigh, with a pair of mile I had taken up two years before, and taken stage from Galena.  They went on to St. Louis after arranging with me to go to Galena and take the team and sleigh back to the mill.  I left Albany between Christmas and New year’s and went to Galena by stage.  Here I remained a couple of weeks assisting a mill wright, who was to go north with me, in making some patterns for a spiral water wheel that was to be used at the mill.  We also made a sleigh that we took with us.  While here we made a trip to White Oak Springs where I had a chance to add to my practical knowledge by exploring a large led mine and seeing the mining and smelting operations.

  It was now January 1844 and very cold, so when we started we make every possible preparation for a long and cold ride.  The first night out we spent at White Oak Springs and the second one at Cassville.  Here we took to the river and drove on the ice and reached Prairie du Chien where we spent the third night.  We traveled all the nest day without seeing the track of any living thing, not even a rabbit, and that night we spent at a trading post at Capoli.  The fifth night we were at Prairie La Crosse.  The sixth night we spent at a trading post at what is now Fountain City.  Some sixteen miles below Read’s Landing we had to take to the land as the river does not freeze much for that distance below Lake Pepin.  Here we did not get much sleep for they had a dance.  It was a rare sight and I would like to be able to describe it.  The guests were largely half breeds and the dancing was a mixture of French and Indian.  We went on the ice again here and found it covered with snow in great billows, like the waves of the sea, and our progress was like the pitching of a vessel in the waves, the snow being hard enough to enable us to travel on top of it.

  Part way up the lake we came to open water, caused by a crevice in the ice, some three or four feet across.  We unhitched and induced the mules to jump over and slid the sled across by hand.  We put in that night, the eighth, at the mission station and Indian Agency at red Wing.  The ninth night we were at Point Douglass, at the foot of Lake St. Croix; the tenth at Mrs. Carley’s Stillwater, and we reached the mill on the eleventh day, nearly all the way on the ice.

  In a day or two I was sent with the miles and a load of suppl8es to Page’s camp, located where we had been two years before, the camp, however, having been rebuilt and much enlarged.  Soon after I arrived the boss sent a couple of half breeds with the miles I had brought, to Lake Superior for fresh fish as the men were tiring of the salt meat which was the principal article of diet.  The mules were hitched tandem with rope tugs and other frontier outfit.  The sled was some sixteen feet long and only a little over a foot wide for the whole way was through the woods.  They came back with about a tone of lake trout.   Frozen solid of course, which was distributed among the camps and made an acceptable change.  The mules, by the way, were nearly hairless from going through the heavy brush.

  It was now getting near spring and part of the men were sent away.  Those remaining were getting tools and boom sticks ready for the drive.  There was prospect for the lots of work, as the winter had been cold and there was at least three feet of solid snow on the ground.  There were at least three million or more feet of logs to be driven down as the previous year’s cut was still there in addition to the logs left in Cross Lake from two years before, there having been no rise to take them out.  The ice was very thick and it was fifteenth of May before there was any movement of the ice in Lake Pokegema and, meantime, we were getting short of grub having gotten from the mission and Indian farm all they could spare.  Finally we got to work; boomed the logs through Pokegema; turned them loose and rushed the booms down to Cross Lake to catch them again for the trip across that lake into lower Snake river.  Then word came from the Falls to hold the logs in Cross Lake if possible as the St. Croix was on a rampage with oceans of water everywhere, it being evident that the delayed freshet had arrived.  There had been build the season before across the head of lower Snake




Collected and Transcribed by

Georgeann McClure


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