Wednesday, December 12, 2012

History Update

I send my apologies to those of you who frequent this blog for not posting any thing for nearly six weeks.  I have been busy, but there is no excusing my absence.  I hope Santa will forgive me for my feeble effort and bring this Kickapoo boy some presents in a couple of weeks.
My little talk at the Wisconsin Book Festival in Madison on November 10 went unexpectedly well.  I was not anticipating much of a crowd, but there were probably more than 100 in attendance as I talked about the La Farge dam project.  Chuck Hatfield, my amazingly talented co-publisher on my book projects, served as the introducer and also handled a nice slide show that accompanied my talk.  Milton Bates, who wrote a book on canoeing and the history of the Bark River, also was part of the program and it was interesting to meet him and hear of his watershed.
There seemed to have been a number of students in attendance at my dam talk.  Some of them were taking notes, so I imagine some course at UW uses the La Farge dam project as a learning lesson for something.
I recently went to Arcadia, WI and picked up a new printing of my dam book from Supreme Graphics located there.  Carolyn and Chuck rode along and we enjoyed a nice tour of the facilities.  The new printing is very nice as the new cover rendition has a brighter color and the photographs in the book are much sharper than in the first printing.
I have just finished a two-part Local History Notebook for the Episcope newspaper on some history of gas stations in La Farge.  That research proved interesting and after the first part was published, I heard from many people about the topic.
I have been busy researching the clip files of the old Enterprise newspapers, which was La Farge's town newspaper until 1973.  Sarah Gudgeon had loaned me the files for the last twelve years that the paper was printed - 1960-1973.  Her father, Arnie Widstrand was the paper's editor and her mother, Doris, wrote a column in the paper for several years.  All of the files are still in the family, so they are a real treasure of historical information.  I'm finishing up the issues from 1970 right now, so I need to get two and a half more years of La Farge's history out of them as Sarah needs them back for a family history project of her own.

If you would like me to send you one or both of my books, please send a check and your address to me at P.O. Box 202, La Farge 54639.  Volume I of my history is $25, which includes mailing costs and That Dam History - The Story of The La Farge Dam Project is $20.  I can mail both books for $40.

Take care everyone, I'll see you soon (promise) on this history blog.

La Farge's Christmas Tree History


            As I was driving down La Farge’s Main Street the other night admiring the holiday lights in the neighborhoods, I noticed how nice the village Christmas tree looks.  The pine tree, located in the side yard of the old shoe shop on south State Street, has grown into a handsome representation of what a town’s “O Tannenbaum” should be.  As I was awed by the wonder of the beauty of the lighted tree, my mind began to wonder about other trees that served in that capacity for La Farge.
            The first village Christmas trees were indoor versions.  Around the time the village was being established at the end of the 19th century, La Farge had a Christmas tree in the Opera House.  The Opera House was a large public hall located above what now is Phil & Deb’s Town Tap.  That building was constructed by La Farge’s local chapter of the Modern Woodman of America, when that organization outgrew their previous building located a few doors to the east.  The Woodmen were a combination fraternal order/insurance company and the La Farge chapter numbered over one hundred members around 1900. 
When the Woodmen built their new structure, the idea was to rent out the first floor as a place of business (something in high demand in La Farge at the time) and use the huge second floor as a meeting room for Woodmen activities.  Unfortunately, the Woodmen soon found that they couldn’t make the payments on the money borrowed for the construction of the hall.  Some of the officers of the bank enlisted others in the area to form a stock company to take over the payments and the upstairs hall became a public Opera House.
            At Christmas time, the merchants and other leaders of the community would arrange for a large tree to be put in the hall and decorated for the season.  One Yuletide night each year, usually the Saturday before Christmas, the candles on the tree would be lit, a program of music and recitations would be given by the talented of the village and gifts would be distributed to the children in attendance by a surprise visit from a stranger from the North Pole.  The event would draw hundreds to the hall for the lighting of the village’s Christmas tree.
It came to pass that electricity came to town and the village’s tree could be moved outside for all to admire.  Since so much of the activity of the early village centered on the intersection of Main and State Streets, the village Christmas tree was placed right in the middle of the intersection.  Decorated with brightly colored lights and festoons of sparkly garland, La Farge’s Christmas tree, located in the middle of that busy intersection, became a focal point for Yuletide activities.  Christmas carolers and the La Farge Cornet Band would regale audiences with performances from the nearby bandstand on those busy nights of shopping in the village.
The placement of the village Christmas tree in that busy crossroads eventually was put to a stop by state highway department rules and regulations, so a new location was needed.  Fortunately, a nice pine tree was growing in the east yard of the Belcher building, located on the northeast corner of that same intersection.  (For you younger folks, that’s the big pine that was next to Eston Major’s barbershop.) So that tree was decorated with lights each Yuletide season and became the village’s Christmas tree.  It was still decorated during the time of World War II in the 1940s and La Farge lads serving in the armed forces and strewn across the world in Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific dreamed of seeing that home-town Christmas tree again.
As is want to happen in these parts of the Kickapoo Valley, that pine tree soon grew so large that it became dangerous to decorate, so for many years the village did not really have a tree decorated on Main Street.  When I was growing up in La Farge during the 1950s and ‘60s, I don’t seem to remember a village Christmas tree, official or unofficial, anywhere.  Perhaps looking for that special outdoor Christmas tree, I do remember a yearly Yuletide car trip up to Buckeye Ridge to see the brightly lit Christmas tree on top of the tallest silo at the Thelen farm, a Yuletide tradition started by Al Thelen back in the 1940s.
 However, at that same time, there was a scrawny little pine tree growing behind the old firehouse (I’m going back a ways here to the fire house that was located with access to the alley by the present motel.) in the vacant lot where Mac Marshall’s hotel had been (present site of the post office).  That little conifer faced Main Street and as is want to happen in these parts, the tree rapidly grew to be nice sized and took its place as the village’s Christmas tree, decorated with lights each Yuletide season.
Alas, that tree found itself in the way of progress and when the new post office was built in 1980, the tree had to come down as part of the construction.  Much chagrin was shown by many village residents and even a few letters-to-the-editor were written to show support for the tree, but soon, with a swipe or two with a chain saw, it was gone.  Quickly, the present tree, much shorter then, was offered as a replacement for its departed conifer brethren a block away.  La Farge grade school students made ornaments to decorate the rookie tree and make it more Christmassy, a tradition continued from earlier years.  And so our present village Christmas tree took its place in the history of La Farge.
Merry Christmas everyone!  May you all make it home for Christmas.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Lost & Found

Once again, I would like everyone to attend the Wisconsin Book Festival to be held in Madison from November 7-11.  I will be making a presentation on my book, "That Dam History - The Story of The La Farge Dam Project", on Saturday, November 10 at 4 PM in the Rotunda Studio at the Overture Center located on State Street.  The topic of the session is "Loss & Discovery on Wisconsin's Waterways" and I will share the event with Milton Bates, author of "The Bark River Chronicles - Stories From A Wisconsin Watershed".  Please join me on that Saturday afternoon if you are in the area.  I will also have my books for sale that weekend in Madison.  Check the book festival website at for more details.

For the past couple of days I have been working on what I will say for my presentation in Madison.  I will start with a brief history of the dam project and then give one point of discovery and one aspect of loss from the story.

 For the discovery portion I will be talking about the research that was conducted on the lands purchased for the dam project that were going to eventually be under the waters of Lake La Farge.  Starting in 1960 and continuing for almost forty years, various studies were conducted on the archeological significance, the cultural and historic importance, and the unique geology and land formations of this portion of the northern Kickapoo Valley.  Of particular interest to me was the fact that the extensive studies were able to continue because of the delays and controversy associated with the dam project.  Because of this prolonged battle over what would happen with those dam project lands, the  importance of the archeology, cultural history and geology of this part of the Driftless Area has been saved for us to savor and enjoy.

For the loss portion of my talk I will focus on the amount of money that was spent on this project and how much NOT finishing the project cost everyone in the Kickapoo Valley.  One of the biggest losses, almost mind-boggling to me when you look at how much money was spent, was that not one bit of flood-control was ever derived from the project.  As I have said before, an unfinished dam holds back no floodwaters.

In October, my Local History Notebook columns, published in the La Farge Episcope newspaper, have tried to tell the story of the 2000 girls volleyball season at La Farge High School.  That was the fall that the girls put it all together, won the conference championship, and proceeded to win their way to the WIAA state tournament!  I was athletic director at the school that fall, so was very involved in some of the details of that magical season.  It was really fun to remember that time.

I am getting ready to begin writing volume 2 of my history of La Farge.  I have been very busy with several other non-writing projects this year and have not had much time to think about starting that local history project.  In May, Carolyn and I were in Cable to hear Mary Mamminga talk about writing her book, "Return To Wake Robin".  She mentioned that she had "to find her voice" to tell the story and that struck me as a problem with writing volume 2 of the La Farge history.  Six months later, we were in Viroqua to listen to Michael Perry talk about his new book, "Visiting Tom".  (Perry will also be at the book festival talking about his book.)  At the end of his talk, he discussed the process that he uses to get his writing done.  That got me to thinking about the process I need to get back to so I can write this book.  On Thursday, November 1, I will start to put fingers to keyboard and begin that process in my found voice to finish the story of the little Kickapoo River town.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

LHS Homecoming Memories

This year, Homecoming Week at La Farge High School was celebrated during the third week of September.  During the week students at LHS decorated the walls of the hallways to show school spirit and had dress-up days.  There was a volleyball game on Tuesday night followed by a Homecoming Pep Rally & Bonfire.  On Friday afternoon students competed as classes in a variety of games and activities to be crowned the Homecoming Week champ.  That night the Kickapoo-La Farge football team trounced Wauzeka at Calhoon Park.  A dance followed the game, where the Homecoming court was introduced and a king and queen were crowned.  As I watched the football game on that cool Friday night, memories of past Homecomings at La Farge came back to me.
            My recollections of Homecomings at La Farge returned to me both from my time at LHS as a student and years later from when I was a teacher and coach there.  Those were different times and the activities of Homecoming Week were different than today.  Perhaps the biggest event of those Homecomings from the past was the Homecoming Parade, which was held on Friday afternoon. 
Each class and several school organizations and clubs had floats in the parade.  Various sites around the village were secured to build and store the floats.  Homecoming floats were built in the sheds at Nuzum’s and the Town of Stark as well as Muller’s, Clarks’ and the C&S Motors garages.  At the beginning of the big week, flatbed hay wagons were brought in from the country and pulled into the float preparation sheds and garages by tractors, often driven by students in the respective class or club.  After the wagons were deposited for float preparation, the tractors would be driven back to the farm for use during the week, only to return on Friday, all washed and shiny, to pull the completed float in the parade.  Work was done by students and faculty advisors on the parade floats each evening during the week.  The better-organized classes usually had their float near completion by the end of Wednesday evening because Thursday night was for the bonfire, pep rally and snake dance.
For students, working on floats each night of Homecoming Week was a grand time of socializing with friends and classmates.  Building the float often became secondary to the social aspects of the experience.  There was merriment to be had and sometimes mischief to be made.  For teachers, supervising and securing the float building sites and controlling the swirling mass of students intent on a certain amount of mayhem was less fun.
From my memories as a student, the class that had Mary Steinmetz as their teacher advisor usually won the Homecoming float-building competition.  Mary was a master at organizing, building and decorating floats.  Her classes, usually the 8th Graders when I was a student at LHS, always had the best floats by far and were awarded the first prize.  When I was in Mary’s 8th grade class, our float won the top spot.  The next year, reality set in for the Class of ’65 aspirations of float building success.
In our first year in high school, our Homecoming Game football opponent was Arena High School – yes, the Wildcats played football in that season of 1961 in the “Little 5 Conference”, which was comprised of La Farge, Viola, Gays Mills, Arena and Black Earth.  Our class came up with a great float theme – “Tonight Arena Collapses”, but the execution of that theme into the final product fell a little short.  We built our float in the C & S Motor’s garage (I may have helped secure the location since I was a part-time floor sweeper at the business and my Dad was involved in ownership). 
We built an arena or stadium out of shoeboxes wrapped in construction paper and colored to look like bricks.  I seem to remember that we may have used tobacco lathe to support the structure.  In the end we had constructed the oval shoebox stadium to a height of about four feet, covered the floor of the wagon with green crepe paper to look like a football field and put up banners along the side to announce our theme.  One member of the class was to dress up in a Wildcat football uniform and bash down the arena with a big stick as it progressed through the parade.  One problem we had with our grand theme was we had to construct the arena in a manner so that it could rather easily be destroyed during the parade.  We could not build it too soundly or it would be too hard to destroy.  Unfortunately, we erred on the side of flimsiness in our arena construction.
On Thursday evening when we finished the float, the Freshman Class entry didn’t look too bad.  It wasn’t up to the standards of our float from the year before, but then we didn’t have Mrs. Steinmetz as a class advisor either.  The real trouble began with getting the float out of the garage on Friday afternoon.  I was in the group of classmates given the responsibility of getting the float to the parade.  One of my classmates drove his family’s tractor in from the farm.  Another classmate, who would be on the float, dressed up in a football suit and found a big stick for arena bashing.  We were ready to release our wondrous float creation to the public when tragedy struck.  As we were pulling the wagon out of the garage, the driver hit the dip in the street in front of C & S and part of the arena came tumbling down.  We tried to stick it back together with no luck, but since we only had to drive it across the street to the feed mill where the parade started, we might still pull our grand theme off.  As the float went around the block, the wind blew down the rest of our shoebox arena.  Some of the lettering on the sides was also blown off.  By the time the assembled crowd along Main Street, including the float judges, saw our float a few blocks later, the destruction of our grand theme was complete. 
What the crowd saw was a rather pathetic sight.  There stood a small Wildcat football player with a stick pounding on a pile of shoeboxes that looked nothing like a stadium.  Looking at our float, the crowd wondered what this entry was all about.  No clue to our grand theme could be read from our side signs either, as the wind blown missing letters left our theme proclaiming:
“Ar  a Col  ses Toni  t”.
It was a disaster.  Ironically, the sign on the rear of the wagon announcing that this strange looking parade float was a creation of the Freshman Class stayed intact.
The football game that night was another disaster.  An Arena player returned the opening kickoff back for a touchdown and it was all down hill from there.  The final score was Arena 46, La Farge 7.  It also rained and the field became muddy.  I was a student manager for the team, so it was my job to carry all the wet and muddy equipment back into school after the game.  It seemed to take me an hour and my “goin’-to-the-dance” clothes were soiled and dirty from the job and I was soaked through from the rain.  Discouraged and down from the parade debacle and the football loss, I decided to skip the dance and walked glumly the four blocks home.
In skipping out on the dance I left a beautiful classmate alone on the dance floor.  She had hoped to dance with me (after all, I was voted the “Best Boy Dancer” in my class) and earlier I left her thinking she had a date for the Homecoming Dance.  I apparently wasn’t firm on the “date” part of our going to the dance, so instead trotted home to soak in a hot bathtub at my grandmother’s house.  Forty years later, the beautiful girl would finally but reluctantly forgive me for my Homecoming Dance indiscretion.  
And so it is that those LHS Homecoming Memories still linger for this aged alum.

Friday, September 28, 2012


I would like to invite everyone to Madison for the Wisconsin Book Festival on Saturday, November 10th when I will give a talk on my book, THAT DAM HISTORY - The Story of The La Farge Dam Project.  I will be speaking at 4 pm in the Rotunda Studio of the Overture Center located at 201 State Street.  I will be part of a program titled "Loss & Discovery on Wisconsin's Waterways", which will also feature Milton Bates, who will talk about his book, Bark River Chronicles.
The theme of this year's book festival is "Lost & Found" and I will be speaking on what was lost and found in the Kickapoo Valley because of the La Farge dam project.  I will talk about how people who were forced to sell their homes for the project lost faith in their government and of the amazing find of early history of the area uncovered by archeological research conducted as part of the dam project.
My dam book will be for sale at the festival as will my earlier book, La Farge - The Story of A Kickapoo River Town - Volume I.  I will also be selling copies of The People Remember, which features interviews conducted as part of an oral history project done in 2000-01.
For more information on the festival, go to

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Kickapoo Floodplain History

It seems so simple.  If you live in a house that occasionally has floodwaters running through it, you have two options.  You can move from that house with its flood prone location or you can move the house away from the floodwaters.  In either option, you are relocating away from the floodwaters.  It seems like a clear-cut solution to the problem, but here in the Kickapoo Valley it has not always been so simple to achieve.
            “The last rescue proved to be one of the most dangerous.  The family of Cora Henry was stranded in their home, the original Dempster Seely house, on the northern end of the village in Seelyburg.  The house stood several hundred feet out in the still raging floodwater.  Dave Elliot, who had been rescuing people for nearly twelve hours, decided to get to the Henry house.  Four times he flung his boat into the raging torrent, but was washed downstream before getting to the house.  Finally he launched his boat far up shore from the house and negotiated the torrents to land at the front porch of the Henry house.  Mrs. Henry and her four children were quickly loaded into the boat for the long haul back to shore.  A tired Elliot started to row through the swirling muddy waters.  It was a terrific pull and when he was still many yards from the shore, Elliot was unable to row farther and called for help.  Five youths on shore, Royal Donovan, Si Paul, Cedric Neefe, Francis Moon, and Furley Hodge, some of the same young lads who had begun the original rescue the night before, plunged into the water and pulled the loaded boat to safety.  Miraculously, none of La Farge’s residents were seriously injured or killed in the mammoth flood.”
            This harrowing account from the 1935 Kickapoo River flood, which I excerpted from Chapter 5 of Volume I of my history of La Farge book, describes the terror and danger inherent in the great floods of the Kickapoo.  Again, it seems so simple; move the people and the houses away from the path of the river’s floodwaters. Relocate out of the flood’s path.  Easier said than done in the Kickapoo Valley.
            To understand why “relocation” was such an unpopular concept for much of the history of flood control efforts in the Valley, perhaps we need to go back to the beginning as to why people settled so close to the Kickapoo River in the first place.  Why does someone build a house in a river’s floodway?
            Many of the first people to settle in the area around La Farge were drawn to the region because of the potential of waterpower provided by the Kickapoo River.  In the narratives of the original land surveys done in 1846 and conducted by the federal government surveying team, it was noted the potential for waterpower by damming up the Kickapoo River near La Farge.  In describing waterpower potential, the surveyor’s narrative mentions in particular a site in section 20 (what would become Seelyburg) and another in section 28 (in the area where Bear and Otter Creeks join the Kickapoo) that would be excellent places for dams and mills.
            Thomas and Anson DeJean and Dempster Seely would soon follow and construct the dams and mills at those places on the Kickapoo.  They also built houses right next to the river, close by their mill sites.  As the lumbering boom followed in the northern Kickapoo Valley, many of those who worked at the mills also built houses along the river.  Soon villages bloomed along the banks of the Kickapoo from Ontario to Steuben.  And those villages, being constructed in the later half of the 19th century, flourished during those early years of existence.  Were they hit with catastrophic floods in those early years, like they would be in the following 20th century? 
Evidence would suggest these early settlements were not in peril from the Kickapoo’s mighty floods, so common after 1900.  Those early settlers were not stupid people, who would establish their entire towns in harms way.  Prudent men would not build houses in areas where the safety of their family might be in jeopardy because of rushing floodwater, would they?  What happened to a river where it was once safe to build communities along its banks?
The very nature of the watershed that supported the river changed drastically in those early years of settlement along the Kickapoo.  The change in the watershed caused the river to undergo drastic changes as well.  It is not to say that the river did not flood during those early years of settlement, because all rivers have floods and the Kickapoo was not an exception.  But those early floods must have been tolerable for the people who lived near the Kickapoo River, because the riverside settlements continued to grow and prosper.  It was the river that changed; by the end of the nineteenth century, the Kickapoo River became a flooding machine.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Seelyburg Gals

(This blog entry is dedicated to the memory of Patsy Venner.  This story is about a girl, Alice Smith, who lived in Seelyburg over a century ago.  Patsy (Lawton) might have been the last of the Seelyburg gals and she loved stories of that place.  She was brought home to her final resting place on August 1.  She is buried in the Star Cemetery, looking down on old Seelyburg, a town originally platted by Chauncey Lawton in the 1860’s, a place where Patsy grew up and where her family continues to live to this day.)

            Alice Smith was working at a hotel in Fond du Lac.  The year was 1902, the same year that she had finished her schooling through the eighth grade.  Being one of nine children in her family, she was expected to help with the family’s expenses.  So she boarded the train in Campbellsport, where her family lived, and rode it to the city of Fond du Lac to seek employment. 
The hotel was located near the Northwestern Railroad roundhouse and many of the railroad yard workers stayed at the hotel.  Alice helped serve meals, cooked in the kitchen and washed dishes for the meals served at the hotel.  Her workdays began at 4:30 a.m. and weren’t over until the supper dishes were all cleaned, usually after eight in the evening.  Alice worked seven days a week and was paid $3.50 for her labors plus room and board at the hotel.  She was 14 years old.
Because she was such a hard worker, Alice was offered another $1.50 per week in wages to help with the laundry.  The five-dollar weekly wages seemed like a fortune to her, but also meant longer days of work to get the meals and laundry done.  Sometimes, her brother Claude, who worked in the railroad yards part time, would help her to finish up the long workdays.
In the winter months, when Alice’s father had no work as a stone mason and bricklayer, she would send half of her weekly wages home to him to help out there.  One day she received a letter from her father.  It read like this, “Alice, I want you to come home, and if you don’t, I’ll be coming after you.”  In her own words, Alice went on to say, “I didn’t know why he wanted me to come home but I knew I better go.  When I got home, I learned my sister, Marie, who was living in La Farge, was going to have a baby.  She wanted me to help her.  I went.”  The year was 1903.
So, Alice Smith made her way across the state (probably by train) to the little Kickapoo River town of La Farge, where she helped her sister when she had a baby.  We don’t really know much about that time when Alice helped out in her sister’s house, but we can assume that it went well.  La Farge was a bustling little town during that time with lots of comings & goings.  Alice walked the busy Main Street and soon caught the eye of an admirer. 
Or was it the other way around?  Perhaps Alice can tell it best, “ While I was in La Farge, I met the man who was to be my husband.  He was a handsome chap who caught my eye, and since I had to work, I thought I might as well be working for myself.  I found out this theory didn’t work out.  After little persuasion, we got aboard the little narrow gauge railroad passenger train that made its way across the hills and valleys to Wauzeka, across the Mississippi by ferry and on to McGregor, Iowa, where we were married.  I was now Mrs. Orson Dyer.  The year, 1905.”  Alice was 17 years old.
Alice’s husband worked for Charles Seely, who owned the Seely Lumber Mill at that time.  Despite losing a hand in a hunting accident several years before, Orson still helped out the Seely’s with farming and jobs at the mill.  The newlyweds settled into a house in Seelyburg, probably renting one of the homes owned by the Seely family. 
Soon after they were married, Alice’s husband put in a successful bid on a mail route between La Farge and Ontario.  Since the train brought the mail as far north as La Farge, Orson’s mail duties included taking the mail north to Ontario and delivering mail to people along the way.  The route was thirty miles long and the pay was $50 per month.  Orson kept three horses to pull his mail rig, “the closed-in box-like body mounted on a wooden-wheeled chassis”.  Alice described the mail route, “In those days, many of the patrons did a lot of buying from mail order houses.  Sears Roebuck & Company sold a nearly full line of groceries and a lot of people bought canned goods, as well as big boxes of canned fruits.  Many times Orson left the post office with a rig full of cases and mail.”
Eventually, Alice and Orson bought their little house in Seelyburg and started to raise a family.  Soon baby Thelma joined the family followed by another girl, Flora.  In July of 1907, their home was inundated with the floodwaters of the Kickapoo River.  That flood was the greatest that the people of the Valley had ever seen and the damage was so great in Seelyburg that the old lumber town never really recovered.  Alice tells about that flood this way, “One year a tremendous flood came roaring down the Kickapoo River, destroying everything in its path.  Water raised in our little home to the firebox in the kitchen range, doing so much damage we had to abandon the home.”
The 1907 flood was made even worse at Seelyburg because of a new dam on the river that had been constructed a few years before.  That larger dam structure, located further downriver from Seely’s original dam, had been built to provide more head for the waterpower used to run the electric plant.  Thus, the larger dam and a containment levee built on the southern bank of the river backed the floodwaters up even more causing record levels in the homes of Seelyburg.  The damage was so remarkable that the dray and livery services in La Farge ran excursions up to Seelyburg for several days, carrying wagonloads of people to see the catastrophe wrought on the old river town.
Alice and her family moved to La Farge after the great flood, as did many other former residents of Seelyburg.  Orson ran the mail route for four years, and then had to rebid the route with the postal service.  “When Orson put in his bid for the next four years, another fellow underbid him by a single penny.  Orson was out of a job.”
Hard times followed for Alice and her family, which by 1910 had grown again with the births of twins, Mildred and Flora.  (Alice had been a twin herself, but did not grow up with her twin sister, Olive.  Shortly after the births of Alice and her twin in 1888, Olive went to live with an older sister in Black River Falls.)  Orson eventually had to sell the house in La Farge and they moved the family into an old log cabin on land owned by his stepfather, located outside of the village.  Orson tried to get lumbering work again, “but the vast, timbered forests had disappeared.  The heyday of Vernon County logging camps was at end.”  Times were difficult for Alice and her family. 
“When things looked most bleak, it seemed the Lord stepped in to help change our lives and provide the necessities, for a time at least.  Two of Orson’s cousins had returned for a Vernon County visit from the Livingston mines located in southwestern Wisconsin.  Men were needed there and the pay was good.  When it came time for them to return to their mining jobs, Orson went with them to begin a new life for himself and the rest of us.”
Alice and her family soon followed to Grant County.  Alice’s time in Seelyburg and the Kickapoo Valley was over.
I want to thank Amos Mast for helping with providing information for this story.  A while back, Amos lent me his copy of the magazine, “Good Old Days” (January, 1981 issue), which contained an article written by Daniel M. Evans titled “Little Links Make Long Chains”.  Evans was the son-in-law of Alice Dyer, who was ninety years old when he interviewed for the article about her life.  The quotes by Alice Dyer used in this story of her time in Seelyburg are from that article by Evans.