The Press Editor of 1872 tells of a
Prairie Trip to Beloit
It was a late September day in the year 1872 that the editor of the Doon Press made an over the prairie visit to the village of Beloit. These were the earliest years of Lyon County history. The county had only been established four years earlier. Population was sparce. The village of Doon had only two dwellings and one home. Pioneer farmers were few and far between.
Editor H.R. Coleman gives this account of his visit and the experience of crossing the trackless prairie. It is taken from the second issue of the Press, dated September 27, 1872.
Last week we paid a short visit to this prosperous and interesting little burg, now the largest and best town in Lyon County.
Beloit is situated on a fine, level tract of land in the Southwest corner of the county. The Big Sioux river here, winds away to the west from the bluffs that extend across the west end of the County and forms as a beautiful valley, containing about 1,800 acres, as one will see anywhere in the Northwest. The town is laid out on the banks of the river and runs back about half way across the valley and is near the center north and south. The bluffs, to the east, rises rather precipitately to the height of about 100 feet but not so abruptly that a team might be driven up them most anywhere.
In the direction of Canton the surface of the country rises to high, rolling prairie, that is, it does not seem at all bluffy as it does to the south and east.
We regard the location of Beloit as among the finest situation for a town that we ever saw.
At present, there is one flouring mill, a sawmill, one blacksmith shop, an agricultural implement warehouse, one good business block, one hardware store, and several residences at Beloit.
The mill is a fine frame structure two stories and a half high, and is 34x44 on the ground; it is new and has only been in operation about eight months. It has three run of stone, and all the requisite machinery and fixtures of a complete and first class mill, and its capacity for grinding is over 300 bushels of grain per day. The mill is managed by a competent miller and turns out flour that gives a good satisfaction as any mill in the State. The sawmill is a rough frame structure on the north side of the flouring mill and is now kept in operation but little of the time. The motive power of two mills is derived from five turbine water wheels. The milldam is constructed of logs and brush and high enough to give eleven feet of "head." This mill property is owned by Mr. J.A. Carpenter, and is valued at $16,000.
The principal store in the place is the "Pioneer Store," which was established by Messrs, Goetz and Thorson in April 1871. These gentlemen have gradually worked up a good trade and are now doing a good business. They keep an excellent stock of dry goods, groceries and provisions, constantly on hand, which they are selling at very low prices. These gentlemen have their respective offices of County Auditor and County Recorder in the back part of the store room, where they keep the various book of the County belonging to their offices, and which require their attention a considerable portion of the time. They also transact a general real estate business, and are agents for the Cunard and Inman lines of ocean streamers.
Mr. H.T. Helgerson has just completed two new buildings, one which he uses for his agricultural implement warehouse, and the other is for a dwelling house. During the past season Mr. Helgerson done an excellent business, far beyond his expectations, and is confident that he can increase it the coming season. He is agent for two of the best reapers made, The Buckeye and Kirby, besides various other farm implements.
Mr. Bradley has been keeping a general dry good and grocery store in the same building with Goetz and Thorson, but is now closing out his business at Beloit with the intention of moving to Rock Rapids. This will leave a clear field to Goetz and Thorson unless other parties see fit to start up a business in Mr. Bradley's place.
The hardware store is kept by Mr. Michael Nelson, who has a fair stock of goods and keeps a good tin shop in connection and makes the tinware that he sells.
On our return from Beloit we were so fortunate as to secure a seat with Mr. Gilbert who is doing business for Boge & Co., of Sioux City, in the light open rig that he drives through the country. Leaving Beloit about 10 o'clock we drove out past the farm and homestead of Mr. H.T. Helgerson, which is situated partly in the valley and partly among the bluffs, and but for the commandment "that we shall not covet," or to that effect, we should wish belonged to us instead of him. Passing up one of the deep gullies in which the road lies, for some distance we finally came out on a beautiful tract of high rolling prairie, which continues the whole distance from the time we leave the Big Sioux Bluffs till the time we strike Rock River valley a distance of about sixteen miles.
Roads are an intricate puzzle to us, and we made sorry work of piloting Gilbert over to Doon, for we managed to lose the road, by taking a wrong one and traveled a considerable distance out of our way. After making numerous inquiries, we finally got on the County line road one mile west of Mr. A.J. Warren's Sioux and Lyon County farms; which are the best farms that we saw on the route, simply because he has the "stamps" to put improvements through as fast needed.
Leaving the County line road at Warren's we struck across the prairie to the North until we came to the direct road that leads to the forks of the Rock, which we followed up directly east for about six miles, when we came to the top of a high ridge that gave us a fine view of Rock River valley; which as a prairie scene, we are stout to "maintain" beats anything in the Great Northwest.
Far ahead to the north, the valley lay stretched out before us; the hills on either side gently slope toward the river, which winds through the valley, its banks skirted with timber which looked fresh and green and made a pleasing contrast with the adjacent hills that had already been touched by the mellow hues and tints of early autumn.
Here we stopped for a moment, Gilbert took a good look at the beautiful valley, and ejaculated, "it's nice it beats all I ever saw!" then whipped up the horses, and in fifteen minutes we alighted at H.D. Rice's-at home.
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