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Sixty-five Years Ago

Sixty-five Years Ago image
Parent Issue
Day
9
Month
December
Year
1898
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

"A Winter in the West," writtcu by an army officer, is oue of the most interestiug books for those iuterested iu old time pictures of what our great country looked like 65 years ago. The gentleman travelled f rom New York across New Jersey via Wheeliug and Pittsbnrg to Cleveland. There he took a steamboat for Detroit from where he rode ou horseback to Chicago. He stopped iu Mouroe and Tccnmseh. He first struck Washteuaw county at Saliuc. In his letter dated, Dec. 7, 183:3, he writes: "I have jnst speut au hqnr with Mr. Risden, the surveyor of a great part of Michigan, iu talking abont the district with which he is familiar. Tho eouversatiou turning upon the healthfulness of Michigan, there was not oue out of several resideuts present, who did uot admit the existeuce of bilious fevers, aud fever and ague iu every part of the couuty ; but they spoke of passiug through these diseases as merely a slight process of acclimatiug, which iu the general healtli of the country, was hardly to be considered. They asserted, too, what I have before heard stated by more than oue physi-. cian iu the territory, that Micliigan is exempt from mauy of the diseases most fatal to human life at the east. Consumption,for instance, which a reference to the bilis of mortality will show destroys almost as mauy in New York, take aud year together for several iu succession, as does the yellow fever in New Orleans, is here unknown. Not ouly I am told, do uo cases originate here, but mauy persous from New York, it is asserted, have been cured of the complaiut by coming to reside iu Michigan. The most unhealthy points are in the viciuity of mili dams and of marshes, near both of which the settlers are apt to flx theniselves; near the flrst for the convenience of grindiug and sawiug, aud near the last, for the rich grass they afford with only the trouble of niowiug. Health, indeed, is the last thing a settler seems to thiuk of , by the way iu which he chooses a site for his house. The country abouuds with lakes aud streanis of the purest water filled with flsh, but you seldom fiud a house on their bauks ; the purchaser of a new possessiou neglects alike the temptiug looking oak opening, and erects his dwelliug iu the thick forest, provided only a road or trail passes within three feet of his door. A trail, by the way, I must teil you, is an Indiau footpath, that has been travelled perhaps for centuries, aud bears here the same relation to an ordinary road that a turnpike does to a railroad in your state. He chooses, iu short, the most fertile spet on his acres, iu order to have. a garden immediately round his house, which he places plump upon the road, in order to have it 'more sociable like, and to see folks passing. ' His garden grows from almost nothing. The first year the hog peu and cow yard occupy the place designed for its commencmeut. They are moved farther from the house the secoud year and a few cabbages occupy the soil which they have enriched. They move agaiu ou the third year; and the garden, which eau uow boast of a few current btishes aud a peach tree, expauds over the place they have ceased to occupy. And uow our settler, having built a fiue barn, aud 'got thiugs snng abont Mm,' begius to like the looks of the woods again, which he has so industriously swept from every spot that eau be seeu from his door. He shoulders his pickaxe, goes out iuto the forest, and selecting two of the straightest maple saplings he can find, they are at ouce disiuterred, thoir heads chopped off, and a pair of poles, thrust iuto the ground withiu two feet of his door, are whitewashed and called trees." In the uext letter, which will appear in a later issue, he speaks of the pretty little village of Anne Arbour.