Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Settling, Part II

How did they get employed, find a home, etc?

This next part will take a little explaining...

Lots of people were moving out of the cities to the wilderness in the west where they could get free or cheap land and get away from all the rules and laws, people and crime and where they could grow and trap their own food, and where they could raise their kids in a more wholesome environment.  In a lot of ways, their motivations were probably the same motivations that parents have today.  When enough people moved to an area, they would need to get more organized about getting rid of garbage and protecting people from criminals and building schools and roads, and would form new states.  Wisconsin became a state in 1848.  So there was a lot of new construction going on and a lot of cheap land to encourage people to come out to the state.  In one part of the state two rivers, the Fox and the Wisconsin, almost meet.  I think they are about one mile apart.  The Fox River goes to Lake Michigan.  The Wisconsin River goes to the Mississippi River.  Back then, rivers were like our Interstate Highways today.  They were very important for selling and shipping goods into the interior of the country.  So factories or importers would ship things (books, clothing, rifles, axes, whale oil (?), etc.) to customers in the West (like Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, etc.) by putting them on a ship up rivers and down rivers and across Lake Michigan and up the Fox River in Wisconsin.  Then everything would have to be unloaded and carried a mile to the Wisconsin River (carrying things across land is called "portage"), where it would all be loaded on to a new ship that could take the goods to the Mississippi and to all the states through which that river flows.  And even though that was alot of work and took alot of time, it was the best and cheapest way to get things from the East to the "West" (at least as far as the Mississippi) and was extremely important for people that lived out there.  By the way, the traffic went both ways.  Lots of animal furs were sent from the wild frontier back East along this same route.  Wouldn't it be great if the two rivers were connected so one ship could make the entire trip?

Eventually, a canal was built to connect the two rivers.  Lots of workers were needed to work on the canal, and homes and farms and towns were needed for the workers and their families to live there for a long time.  So cheap land was offered to attract lots of people to this area.  The Cushings must have decided that this would be a much better place to live and raise a family than the town where they lived.  Also, I think that some of Catherine's family, the Caseys, were coming over from Ireland, and in Wisconsin they could all live near each other.  (I'm guessing this because there were two Casey brothers who came to Wisconsin with their families at about the same time as the Cushings and lived very near them.)   I think that that is why the Cushings moved to Wisconsin.  The town that was built near the canal was called Portage.  The Cushings and Caseys lived a few miles north in an area known as Fort Winnebago.  You can read about most of this on my website, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment