The Sun, Spring Valley, Wisconsin
28 Feb 1896, page 1, col. 3 & 4
[Includes a portrait in the original newspaper edition.]
Old Times in Spring Valley
According to your request that the old settlers of Spring Lake, and especially of the village of Spring Valley, give a little history of their lives, I thought I would devote a few moments to letting it at least be known where I was born and when it was I was born.
…So I rise to inform you that my birthplace was Flemingsburg, Fleming County, Kentucky; and it was on the 15th, day of September, in the year of our Lord 1820, that my eyes first beheld the light of day…
In 1832, I landed at Lebanon, Ill., where I had some joyful good times (one way and another) like most smart Alicks (sic) of my age at that day. I went from Lebanon to Jacksonville, Morgan County, Ill. Where I bought me a farm and was doing well. But like most young men I wanted to see more of the world, and in 1845, I landed in the lead mines in this State. I remained there sixteen years and came out the little end of the horn.
I went from the mines to Minnesota and opened a farm in Cherry Grove, Goodhue County, where I came near freezing to death. After seven years shivering there I broke for tall timber, and I landed in Gilman township in the year 1863.
I built a house near a big spring a little west of where Charlie Petan’s house now stands. I was the fifth settler in the town of Spring Lake, the others being the two Wilcox families, John Francisco and Ole P. Gardiner [Gaarden]. The three townships, Spring Lake, Gilman and Martell, were then all known as Martell.
I finally built again on the farm now owned by Joseph Kellar. The voters of Spring Lake used to go to Martell to do their voting—and the only way to get there was to go via Brookville, and New Centerville, thence to Martell.
We had good times in those days—times of great enjoyment. We all worked hard and grew fat on bear and deer meat; deer were quite plenty in those days and so were bear.
Just below where Mr. John Rasmusson’s house now stands was a large old elm tree, they called it “the elk tree” because there had been an elk killed there. Just about twenty feet south of where the oak tree stands on the south end of McKay Avenue, which at that time was surrounded with hazel brush, I shot a large buck deer. He had just come out of the brush, and was standing in the cowpath (sic) when I fired on him. He turned and jumped the branch and dropped dead just where the old post-office building now stands.
When I first came here there were the poles standing where the Indians used to camp, just a little way above where Knud Oleson used to live. I think that Mr. McKay owns the land now.
A great many of the settlers who used to live here have “crossed the dark river” and are trying the realities of the new country beyond. Some have moved away, but most of them have passed in their checks, and the rest of us will assuredly follow soon.
There are a few things that have occurred during my pilgrimage that I might have mentioned, but I have written more than you may print, for I am very slow and imperfect on the trigger. I ought to have stopped before commencing.
I will further remark that I held the office of Postmaster here for some twenty-three years. I was taken with this disease that I now have, and I resigned. I may soon pass out from the mortal, and have to “call for a few drops of water to quench my raging thirst.” If I do have thus to call for water I am assured that the good sisters who have so kindly furnished me with good buttermilk will hear my cry and come to my relief. This buttermilk, I believe, has saved my life thus far—for I could partake of nothing else; and I heartily recommend it to all suffers(sic) from stomach troubles.
Wm. D. Akers
Edward S. Austin Eulogy
The Sun, Spring Valley, Wisconsin
7 Feb 1896, page 1, col. 3 & 4
[Includes a photo in the original newspaper edition]
Capt. Austin was born in Troy, New York, in October, 1836. His parents were Americans. Owing to their death while he was very young, he was raised by an uncle, the only relative he had; and it may be supposed that he did not get a parents care from his guardian, as he ran away at the age of nine and went to sea.
His life on the sea lasted until two or three years after the war, and took him into every part of the globe. Beginning as a cabin boy, he became navigator on board the great merchantmen. As a sailor before the mast he has harpooned whales around both Poles, often saying that the best sailing in the world is north of Behring Strait.
Several times he has left the sea for awhile to embark in other enterprises, but has soon returned to the deck. Once he caught the Australian gold-fever, and mined the yellow metal for six months or so. Then he went to freighting—hauling goods into “the bush.” But this was not sufficiently exciting for him.
Another adventure which he was fond of relating occurred in Japan. In the days before the ports of this nation were opened to civilization his ship, while cruising in those seas, was dismasted by a typhoon, and put into port to refit. While lying there Commodore Perry arrived with his fleet [1852–1854], and Mr. Austin, then a boy, was enabled to see the whole of that exciting event, which ripened into the present Japan. It seems strange to us of the younger generation that one man should see the whole progress of Japan from a hermit nation to its present state.
When the civil war (sic) broke out Capt. Austin was in Liverpool. As soon as the news of the firing on Ft. Sumter was received he rushed aboard of the first homeward bound steamer, and hastened to enlist as a private in the marine service. But he soon rose, by regular degrees to be a Captain; and by this title he is known to everybody in the Northwest.
His service in the war was a very active and continuous one, and he saw most of the great naval engagements which took place on the Atlantic coast. His station for two years was in Albemarle Sound [Currituck County, North Carolina], and he saw the ill-fated Cumberland when the rebel ram sank her.
“Firing her guns, while the waters rose, Above her gunners where they stood.”
From the deck of the flagship Minnesota he saw, at no more than 30 rods distance, the battle which decided the war.
After the war closed Mr. Austin was kept on detailed service for a couple of years. It was about this time that he married Miss Abbie V. Clark, of Bangor, Me., with whom he had become acquainted previously. Miss Clark selected the best man, an old school-mate of hers, Judge T.E. Phillips, now Police Judge of Spring Valley. The happy groom’s honeymoon was a short one, for next day orders came to join his company.
How Mr. Austin got out into the West we do not know, but suppose that, restrained by home ties from going back to sea, he naturally turned to the adventurous life of this newer country, as an alternative. At any rate, soon after his discharge we find him as a Knight of the Grip, travelling west from Minneapolis into the then unsettled Dakotas in the employ of Anthony Kelly. He travelled by stage and on the Missouri River. He was well acquainted with Custer, so well that just before Custer started out on his fatal raid he sent Mr. Austin by freight the mounted buffalo head which is now in the store.
While travelling for Kelly, Mr. Austin came near losing his life in the great blizzard which occurred in 72 or 73. He actually walked a mile and a half in that blizzard (perhaps crawled would be a better word) and got into Benson, Minn., alive. Here he was snowbound while recovering from his freezing, and when he returned to civilization had the pleasure of reading his obituary in all the papers.
“Austin & Fairchild, Grocers,” built the second store on Washington Avenue, Minneapolis.
Captain Austin came down to Baldwin seventeen years ago , and started a mercantile business there. He prospered, but in two years a business deal took him to Hersey, where he succeeded Spooner in the lumber business. Here also he did very well.
Seeing the fine timber north of here he quietly bought up all the land then moved his mill into the wilderness where Wildwood now is. He personally built Wildwood, also the railroad from that point to Woodville. Here he lived eight years, and was very instrumental in developing the iron and other resources of this neighborhood.
But his wife’s health being poor, and his ventures having been partly unsuccessful through the mismanagement of a partner, he left Wildwood in 1890 for the Pacific coast. From here he and his wife went to Mexico, and passed, as they often said, the pleasantest year of their lives. Mrs. Austin was much benefitted by this trip so they came up into Washington, and here the Captain embarked in several mining enterprises, mostly while at Seattle and on the Snake River in Idaho.
But he was not very successful in these, so last fall he returned to the neighborhood where he was so well known and liked, and in company with C.F. Dutcher, established a mercantile business here in Spring Valley.
His death occurred at his home in Spring Valley, Thursday, Jan. 30  and was caused by heart failure.
Mr. Austin was a man of marked executive ability, great knowledge of men and thoroughly upright. Although his schooling was almost nothing he was well educated; keen observation, a retentive memory and an exceptional thirst for knowledge more than making up for early deficiencies.
He was equally at home in the logging camp, in the rough society of the frontier town, and in the elegant homes in the Twin Cities, and everywhere he was thoroughly respected. He was a Mason of high degree, having the highest rank in that order to be obtained in America.
In his death Spring Valley loses one of her best citizens.
Publisher The Sun
Biography of Wm C. Condit
An Interview with A Representative of Rock Elm Business Man
The Sun, Spring Valley, Wisconsin
20 Mar 1896, page 1, col. 4 & 5
[Includes a portrait in the original newspaper edition.]
Mr. Condit, the readers of The Sun are interested in the business men of the county. Many of them are personal friends of yours, and most of them have heard of you and wish to hear more. Will you kindly answer a few questions concerning yourself for publication?
“Why, although I feel that there are older men living in Rock Elm who could give a better history of pioneer life than I shall be able to do—“
The pioneer life is not all we want to hear; we want to know how you have prospered in other years, what you are doing, in short, of your life, as one friend might tell another.
“All right. Go on with your questions.”
First, are you a Badger?
“Yes. I was born in the town of Rubicon, Dodge County, Feb. 11th, 1862; but when I was about two years old my father moved onto a farm in the town of Ashipon, same county.”
But you have been in Rock Elm a long time.
“I have seen Rock Elm from a wilderness to its present state of cultivation, although but very little of my muscle helped to develope (sic) it.”
When and how did you come to Pierce County?
“In the spring of 1867, my father sold his farm, and hearing of the great fortunes to be made by going west proceeded to fit out an expedition consisting of two covered wagons drawn by oxen and horses. He loaded in his worldly effects—a few household goods, a wife and five small children—and set sail for what was then known as Northern Wisconsin, landing where he now lives in June of the same year. I well remember the journey, as it was marked by many incidents of importance. Much of the way the road was a mere path winding here and there, which made our progress very slow.”
You were about of school age then. Was there any school near enough for you to attend?
“The first school held in Rock Elm was in a log shanty, just south of our village, built by John Picket in the summer of 1867. This was on what was afterwards known as the D.L. White farm. The school was taught by Mary Hacket, who is now the wife of Monroe Condit, residence Lake City, Minn.
The next year the town built a log school house 16 by 24 feet just west of where my father resides, which was used for meetings, etc., for many years. Here is where I received my early education.”
Has there been any change in schools since then?
“It is quite amusing to me to look back at the schools of those days, the school houses, modes of teaching, etc., and compare them with the present. I sometimes wonder at the young pioneers of Rock Elm knowing as much as they do. It surely comes from a gift of nature and not from school training.”
Didn’t your father start a store soon after coming here?
“Yes, he started a small store in the fall of 1867 on his farm, and continued the same till 1877, and as I was not a very robust boy my mother and I attended to business during my father’s absence from home. In 1877, my father moved his stock of goods to the village of Rock Elm, which is one mile from his farm. From that time on I have spent most of my time in the mercantile business.”
You are the manager of the business, I believe.
“I formed a partnership with my father Jan. 1st, 1886, assuming entire charge of the business, which continues at the present time in a prosperous condition.”
Tell us about your family.
“I was married in the spring of 1888 to Miss Mary Fox, daughter of S.J. Fox. To us has been born one child, Ralph, who certainly is the pet of our family.”
Have you had time to indulge in politics to any extent?
“As to political honors my story is short, having held the office of Postmaster, and a few minor town offices.”
What else have you to tell us?
“I fear Mr. Editor, that I have already taken too much of your valuable space, so will close by saying that I am not sorry that I live in Rock Elm, as it numbers today many good people, and I feel that I have a warm spot in the hearts of many.”
You might say ”most” and be more correct, if your feelings did not lead you to underestimate the number. No man can live an honest, open-hearted life from boyhood up among the same scenes without having hosts of warm friends. And whenever you have time to spare to tell us more about Rock Elm’s early days, remember the columns of The Sun are open to you.
Biography of Ninette Maine Lowater
The Sun, Spring Valley, Wisconsin
27 March 1896, page 1, col. 5
Mrs. N.M. Lowater
Wisconsin is proverbial for poets; many writers whose names are known the world over hail from the Badger State, and although not so famous as some, the subject of this sketch is known far beyond the state boundary as a poet and essayist; her poems have appeared in the leading magazines and papers all over the United States, and are widely copied.
She was born in Bolton, Conn., in 1844, and came west with her parents in 1859, settling in Minnesota. She began writing so early that she does not remember when, but her first poem was published when she was twelve years old.
Ninette Maine was a school teacher before her marriage, teaching in the schools of Red Wing at one time. But whatever her occupation, her literary production was continuous; some selections from her writings are given in “Poets and Poetry of Minnesota,” published many years ago. The Civil War and its incidents has always been a favorite theme with her.
In 1865 she became the wife of Harrison Lowater. After this her family claimed her attention, and she wrote very little until seven or eight years ago, when the children being grown, she found herself with more time to devote to poetry.
Mrs. Lowater is a strong Republican, and her political articles are often found in the influential journals of that party.
She is a home loving woman, seldom going out, and spending her spare time with her books and her pen.
Poems of hers may be found, besides the current literature, in several collections, although she has as yet not published a book of her verse. This is for the future. And although selections seldom do any writer justice, we append a few, taken at random from the much that we would like to present.
The Sun Publisher
NOTE: See Ninette Lowater’s poem, Pierce County, on the home page.