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Forests-Wild Life-Food and Water Supply
Besides the vast pine forests there was an abundance of hardwood, such as the sugar maple, ash, basswood, elm, butternut, birch, red and white oak. Balsam, fir, spruce and hemlock were found scatteringly.
The pioneer's "water system" were the numerous springs; but as the land was cleared, many of these disappeared, although we still have a few within our present city limits.
Next came the dug well, which was stoned up to prevent caving. A platform was made, and sides were built about waist high, resembling a box, some were left that way others built up higher with an added roof, this being called the well house. The well house, had a wheel about fourteen or sixteen inches in diameter fastened in the ceiling. A rope with a bucket fastened to each end was placed into the groove of the wheel; when the bucket of water was pulled up, the empty bucket went down.
The other type of well had only a cover for the, windlass on which the rope was fastened, with the bucket fastened to the other end. The bucket was lowered into the well and filled, and then was pulled up by the aid of the windlass. There were two such wells on Main Street: one in front of the Farmers & Merchants Bank, the other in front of Charles Pickruhn's home. At this place a trough was made; this was used as a public watering trough for the many team passing through, to and from the woods. The open well was soon replaced by the drilled well and pump.
In the fall of 1892 the city well was dug; water main was laid from the pump house west to Howard's corner then south to Bishop's corner. The pump house was built, and a steam engine installed.
This was the only means for fire protection. In the meantime the water main had been extended to Depot Street. This means of a water supply for fire protection also proved inadequate.
In the summer of 1911 the present tank was erected, and an automatic electric pump installed at the pump house, which keeps the tank filled with water. Steps were now taken to lay more water main, so that homes could be supplied with running water. In October 1913, 832 ½ feet of water main was laid at a total cost of $239.04, laborers receiving $2.50 per day of ten hours each, completing the work in ten days. In the next two years many more feet of main were laid, which provides running water in then majority of homes. Among other modern conveniences a sewerage system was added in 1929.
The food supply of the pioneers consisted mainly of what Mother Nature had provided. Wild berries were abundant, such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, cherries, i. e. the pin and choke cherries, which were used in jellies, high bush cranberries, and the marsh cranberries from the distant marshes, and the large blackberries which were very plentiful.
Berries were dried by the bushel, later as the pioneer housewife learned the art of canning, the fruit was put into earthen jugs and sealed by covering the cork with a piece of cloth, and pouring on pitch, which had been gathered from the fallen pine trees. Plums were pickled in large quantities and in later years canned the same as the berries.
Sugar and syrup was made from the sap of the maple tree, and was used for cake or cookies, and for sweetening anything they wished; but today we use them very sparingly, they being considered a delicacy, for maple trees are fast Disappearing.
Wild game and fowl were their meat supply, deer was plentiful, and no limit to the number you were allowed to kill, so venison was their chief meat. If too much was on hand to be kept fresh, it was cured by jerking. This was done by cutting the meat into thin strips, seasoning with salt and pepper, and placing on a rack made of small poles, smoking it over a slow fire, turning the pieces so all was evenly cured, very much like the dried beef of today. The art of canning meats had not yet been learned. The partridge and a few wild pigeons were about the only fowl of the forest although in the spring a few wild ducks could be found along the rivers.
Deer tallow was made into candles for light, hides for clothing, such as- mittens and moccasins, some made buckskin jackets and pants which were usually trimmed with the buckskin fringe.
Other supplies needed by these pioneers were purchased at Black River Falls, later at Neillsville, and carried many times on the settler's backs; otherwise a team. of oxen was used for hauling, when large and bulky supplies were needed, such as pork or flour. Pork sold for $26.00 to $40.00 per barrel, and was sold to the lumberman by the barrel. Flour sold for $16.00 per barrel, these supplies had been brought by boat from St. Louis and La Crosse. The first stock of goods carried in Greenwood was by S. Case Honeywell in the Steve Andrews house, then was moved across the street into a building erected for a store, (present site of St. Mary's Catholic Parsonage) and operated by S. Case Honeywell and son John.
Many of the settlers kept a cow and a few chickens for family use, there being no market for milk, butter or eggs.
As the village grew, the pioneer housewife was able to exchange a few pounds of butter or a few eggs for groceries or other articles. As late as the early nineties, eggs sold for eight and ten cents per dozen, while butter was two pounds for twenty-five cents. Nearly everyone raised their vegetables; apple trees were planted and soon they had an abundance of the various kinds of apples, which were dried for winter use.
Many hunters and trappers roamed the woods in those early days, staying with the loggers in their camps. It has been learned that in two months over $1,000,000 worth of furs had been caught as fur bearing animals, such as beaver, fox, skunk, weasel, raccoon, mink, muskrat, otter, martin, (the fur of the martin often being called sable,) wild cat, bears, and other fur-bearing animals abounded. In 1866, a man named David Smith, caught $600,000 worth of furs in six weeks.
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