« PreviousContinue »
etation nearly equal to surface soil, to a depth of twenty-five to thirty feet. The roots of the shoe string (a low shrub resembling tea plant) penetrate to a depth of twelve feet, and the yellow mold thrown out of a well will grow thrifty squashes and fully matured corn and wheat. The distinguishing characteristics of this gray-yellow subsoil, is its porosity — that is, it is threaded, as it were, with minute seams and cells, herein differing from the soapy clay and the blue hard pans of the east. The good offices subserved by this peculiar subsoil are, the letting down of a superabundance of surface water in wet seasons, and a drawing or suck. ing up of the subterraneous moisture when the earth is parched by an August sun. So that it may be written down as a simple fact that as regards capacity to stand both flood and drouth, Nebraska has few equals and no superiors.
All species of grain and vegetables that are raised in the richer portions of Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Canada, can be grown here, with many others which require a longer interval between spring and autumn.
Corn ranks as the first staple; then wheat, oats, potatoes, barley, flax, broom-corn, sorghum, etc. The cultivation of onions, flax, hops, castor beans, tobacco, and other specialties, has given ample returns for the capital and labor invested.
From her first crop, Nebraska has always stood second in the list of states for average number of bushels of wheat per acre; California being first. The average rarely falls below twenty bushels, and sometimes exceeds that figure. And it has become a settled question in Chicago that the wheat sent thither from this state is one of the best and highest grades received in that market. Timothy and clover grow rank and with unvarying certainty, but are little patronized, as wild grass is universal and of excellent quality.
Millions of tons of the latter are annually burnt by the fierce prairie fires of November and the milder ones of April.
*" A farmer who finds his meadow ready made, and which may be fenced with a dozen furrows any pleasant day in June, has gained quarter of a life time, from an Ohio or Pennsylvania point of view ; leaving him ample time to mildly fret about the ab
* From a sketch by Hon. G. L. Brown.
sence of the decaying stumps and weed hidden rail fence of his boy hood, or at the well nigh perpetual breeze, which effectually sweeps away every vestige of miasma and malaria."
" With the exception of the peach, fruit trees do not winter kill — if properly treated — and come into bearing as soon as in Illinois. Even peaches are successfully reared in sheltered locations. Apples, pears, plums, cherries, grapes, currants, berries, etc., thrive most luxuriantly, when cared for. The ravines and sheltered nooks near the streams are literally full of plums, grapes and other wild fruits, and scarcely a season passes but the homesteader's pantry is stored in autumn with prescrves and jellies, little inferior to those of Indiana or New Jersey, without cost and without price.
"Probably there is not a farmer in the entire state who has not some forest trees growing. To these a few are added each succeeding year, and in many cases quite extensive tracts have been planted. Trees invariably thrive and grow with a rapidity that is marvellous. The traveller has observed the thristy groves of cottonwood along the line of the Union Pacific railroad. Similar ones exist along all the old emigrant and government roads or trails. A patch of "slips," carelessly “stuck out," near the rude buts of the inevitable rancher, and forgotten, has, in nearly every case survived the “ ranch," and stands erect in the proud dignity of perfect life, high above the mouldering ruins of the old cabin, or oftener the weed-covered cellar where once it stood. Myraids of beautiful groves will throw their cooling shades over the coming generation, where once lay the boundless, treeless, almost shrubless prairie.
“ That this is essentially a stock raising region cannot be gainsayed. Corn and grass, the two great indigenous growths, render it indisputably superior to eastern and northern parts in this respect; and that herein lies the broad avenue of our escape from abject slavery to over production, the caprice of grain gamblers, and high railroad tariffs, all of which do pertain to the purely grainraising districts, is equally undeniable.”
EXPLORATION AND SETTLEMENT.*
First Exploration of the Northwest — Expeditions of Marquette aud La Salle
— The Company of the West - John Law - Early Outposts of Civilization - The Missionaries.
HAVING DEVOTED considerable space to the soil, climate and productions of the Great Northwest, we may now come at once to the historical department, but, let it be understood in the outstart that the limits of our space compel us to condense largely. The first exploration and settlement of the northwest, with the exception of a slight portion of Ohio, is a subject of French colonial history. It is true however, that the Mississippi valley was first entered by Spanish explorers. Following in the train of French exploration and settlement we find that in 1535, James Cartier entered and explored the St. Lawrence to the Isle of Orleans; and, six years later in conjunction with Roberval, he explored the same region and called it New France. Again in 1608, through the effort of Samuel Champlain, the town of Quebec was estab. lished. Five years after Montreal was founded. From these points the French pushed their way towards the great lakes, fight. ing their way through hordes of savages. Contemporaneous with these explorations, the French missionaries carried on a zealous missionary work among the Indians, enduring many hardships and privations. The enthusiastic missionaries were soon in advance of the military expeditions, penetrating the whole lake region, and acquainting themselves with the natives, and the resources of the country. Meanwhile the government of New France was improving, and the French colony took on civil and military attire.
In 1665 Claude Allouez was sent to the far west under some
* Before taking up the history of the northwest by states, we present a gen. eral history of the exploration and early settlement of the wholc section.
kind of government auspices. "Reaching the Sault Ste. Ma- . rie, he passed around the south shore of lake Superior, and landed at the bay of Chegoimegon. There, at the chief village of the Chippewas, he established a mission, and made, on behaif of the colony, an alliance with them, the Pottawattomies, Sacs and Foxes, and the Illinois, against the Iroquois. In the nexi year, he passed with the Ottawas to the north shore, and at the western extremity of the lake met the Sioux, and from them learned of a great river flowing to the south, which they called Messipi.' Thence he returned to Quebec to seek more laborers. In 1668, Claude Dablon and Jaques Marquette repaired to the Sault, and established the mission of Ste. Marie; and during the the next five years Allouez, Dablon and Marquette explored the regions south of Superior, and west of Michigan, and established the missions of Chegoimegon, St. Marie, Mackinaw, and Green Bay. The purpose of exploring the Mississippi sprang from Marquette himself; but it was furthered by the plans of the intendent Talon, to extend the power of France to the west. In 1670, Nicholas Perot was sent to the west to propose a congress of the tribes of the lakes. In May, 1671, the great council was held at Sault Ste. Marie; the cross was set up, by its side a column inscribed with the lilies of the Bourbons, the Vexilla Regis was chanted, and the nations of the north west, with all the pomp of the feudal age, were taken into the alliance and under the protection of France. Talon was not satisfied with mere display. There were three opinions in regard to the course of the great river, of which Allouez had heard – that it ran to the southeast into the Atlantic, below Virginia — that it ilowed into the Guf of Mexico — and that it emptied into the Gulf of California, and opened a highway to China and the east. To determine this problem, to secure the lands through which it flowed to France, and thus to signalize the close of his administration, Talon approved the purpose of Marquette, and directed him, with M. Joliet, of Quebec, to explore the Mississippi.”
At Mackinaw, on the 13th of May, 1673, Marquette, Joliet, and five attendants embarked on this great expedition in two birch canoes. They visited Green Bay, where the Indians, who received them kindly, warned them against pursuing their intended journey, tell
ing them that hostile nations would impede their progress. They however progressed westward, and, on June 17th, they entered the broad Mississippi at the mouth of the Wisconsin. Quietly floating down the great river, they noticed the deer, the buffalo, the swans — "wingless, for they lose their feathers in that country” — the great fish, one of which had nearly knocked their canoe into atoms, and other creatures of air, earth and water, but
At last, however, upon the 21st of June, they discovered, upon the western bank of the river, the footprints of some fellow mortals, and a little path leading into a pleasant meadow, Leaving the canoes in charge of their followers, Joliet and Father Marquette boldly advanced upon this path towards, as they supposed, an Indian village. After walking for two leagues, they came to a cluster of Indian villages along the banks of a river, then called the Moingona, now probably the Des Moines. Making their presence known by a loud cry, they were met by four old men, who presented to them the calumet, and escorted them to their chief. Here they made known the purpose of their voyage, and here again they were begged to desist. The natives told them that their bodies would be tortured by the merciless savages which they were sure to encounter. They were hospitably entertained by these savages. The explorers passed on down the great river to the mouth of the Missouri. They of course, next came to the mouth of the Ohio. In the neighbor hood of the Arkansas they were attacked by savages, but the venerable old missionary presented the peace pipe, which he did with so much readiness and good grace that the head men were softened and persuaded the others to forbear. Having decided as to the outlet of the Mississippi, they returned north by way of the Illinois river.
The Mississippi valley was now fairly opened up to French enterprise. Almost immediately following this great event, Robert de La Salle, whose mind had already been occupied with projects for discovery, visited the king of France by whom he was highly honored and from whom his wonderful schemes received approval and support. Returning to New France, he at once set out upon an expedition of discovery, with Tonti and others. Louis Hen. nepin also accompanied the expedition.
"La Salle's first step,