Bio: Baker, Karl (Clark Co. Resident for 5 years – 1905)
----Source: Minneapolis Journal 17 Oct 1905
Karl Baker On Clark County
Former Ohio Man Writes Letter on Five Years' Experience in Wisconsin.
THE ADVANTAGES ARE MANIFOLD
From Standpoint of Farming, Educational Advantages, Etc., State Is a Success.
Greenwood, Clark County, Wis., Oct. 11--The October days are here, but as I look out over the green hills of Clark county and take long draughts of the clear, pure air, it is a pleasure "to be alive" and thoughts go out to green fields of old England and the bluegrass hills of old Kentucky, famed song and story. One may be pardoned the gift of prophecy who sees in the near future, a farming region in Clark county and central northern Wisconsin that will rival'' the green hills'' of any other land under the sun. But the man behind the plow wants the practical well as the poetic side of the story, and for him we can do no better than copy the letter of one who kotows the practical side to an old friend in Ohio.
Greenwood, Wis., Sept. 26.-- John Barclay, Ottawa, Ohio-- Friend Barclay: have been thinking for some time that I would write to some one of my old friends back in Ohio and tell them of the benefits and advantages that have come to me and my family thru the change of location and climate that have made, but have delayed as the seasons have passed, so that I might write intelligently regarding all the changes of climate and conditions that one meets with in a change to a new I have now been here in Clark county over five years, and think that can speak intelligently of the advantages and disadvantages of the location in which I have cast my lot.
First -- Clark county is near the center of the state of Wisconsin, and is part of what is known as the hardwood belt of the state, where originally grew the fittest oak, both white and red, basswood, elm and maple in the United States, with occasionally groves of butternut or white walnut. The pine that grew here was large and scattering, growing principally along the streams.
Second -- The soil is clay loam with slight admixture of sand in* places, making an ideal soil, easily worked and very productive. My observation the soil of the county generally has convinced me that it is comparatively free from stone and that wherever stone found, principally along the rivers and creek bottoms, it is the result of glacial drift and is almost wholly on the surface, and when once removed does not afterwards trouble the farmer.
Third -- The county is extremely well watered by a network of rivers and streams. The Black, the Eau Claire and the Yellow are the main rivers, with tributaries of spring-fed creeks running thru every valley. The surface is gently rolling, with natural drainage, and do not think that the use of tiles drainage will be necessary in any, part of this county. There is an abundant supply of purest water in wells, found from twelve to fifty feet below the surface.
Fourth – The vicinity is well supplied with schoolhouses, good teachers hired and common-school advantages are the best. We have a high school in the city of Greenwood and there is a state normal school at Stevens Point, only fifty miles distant. The churches and places of worship are found in every little community of farmers as well as in the towns.
Fifth -- The roads and highways here were a surprise to me I did not expect to find very good roads in a new country, but the settlers here seem to have seen the necessity for such, and started out on the right plan, and today all sections of the county are connected by good, substantially built turnpike roads, passable at all times and seasons.
Sixth -- The county has three main lines of railway within its border: the Wisconsin Central, the North-Western and the Green Bay & Western, with the Foster & Northeastern, a branch line running from the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha railway, thru the center of the county, and Uncle Sam has arranged a system of rural free delivery in the county by which nearly every farmer in the county is on a line of daily mail delivery.
Seventh -- Creameries and cheese factories are in easy reach of nearly all the farmers, and this is essentially a dairy county, with its abundant growth of grass and clover, and farmers who have gone into stock and sheep are making money.
Eighth -- We can raise anything here in the way of farm products, except corn, in greater yields and abundance than can be raised in Ohio. Being an Ohio man, perhaps I should not say this, but I know it to be true. I cannot recommend this country as a corn country at present. As the, country is opened up and developed it may in time produce good corn, but for feed and fodder we do not need the corn here. There are other crops that we raise in abundance, that we could not raise in Ohio, that take and supply the place of corn.
Ninth -- The climate here is fine and invigorating. We have no malaria or malarial fevers. Our winters are but a trifle longer than the winter in Ohio, but are not near as disagreeable. When the cold weather comes on, it is steady until spring days come, and the air, being dry, we do not feel a temperature of 10 to 20 degrees below zero here as we did a temperature of 20 degrees above zero in the moist climate of Ohio. I and my family have enjoyed the best of health here.
Tenth -- You know generally about the average*yield per acre in crops here, so I will mention the average or a few only on mv own farm and the farms of my neighbors: Oats, per acre, 50 bushels hay, per acre, 3 tons potatoes, per acre, 200 bushels wheat, per acre, 30 bushels.
There has been a rapid development and settlement of this country since I came here five years ago and a corresponding advance in the price of land. I could sell for nearly 100 per cent advance on the price I paid, but know that my farm will be worth much more in a few years. The majority of the farms in this county are held by thrifty intelligent Germans, and you know that where they are settled in numbers the land is good and values never recede. Occasionally an opportunity offers itself here for an improved farm or partly improved farm at from $30 to $50 an acre. Wild unimproved lands can be bought for from $10 to $20 an acre, that when cleared up and improved are worth more than the farm lands near Ottawa that sell from $90 to $125 an acre. Such land can be bought for one-fourth to one-half of the purchase price down and the balance in deferred payments of from one to five years. It does not take the labor or expense to clear land here that it did in Ohio, as none of the tree growth here sends down a taproot very far into the ground.
I understand that some of my old neighbors are talking of going to some of the southwestern states, Missouri. Arkansas or Texas. They surely will make a mistake if they do so instead of coming to Wisconsin. The advantages of a change are all in favor of Wisconsin and the disadvantages none. If any of my old neighbors contemplate a change, send them here to Clark county. Let- them come to Greenwood and I think that I can convince them that here is the place to locate to live and make money in farming. If there is anything in regard to this locality that 1 have not mentioned that you or any of my old neighbors would like to know about, drop a line to Baker Land company of Greenwood, Wis., and they will be pleased to furnish the information.
With kind regards to all old friends and with the hope that such as would like to make a change to better their condition will come and look this county over, I remain, truly your friend,
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