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Historic Diaries: Marsh, 1834

Mineral Point in 1834

Editor's Note:

For more about Mineral Point during the lead mining heyday, see the lead mining section of Turning Points in Wisconsin History.

Thurs [Sept] 11th

Spent the day in making preparation for leaving to go to Frt. Winnebago...

Description of the place. The buildings at this place are all situated near the S.E. end of a ridge, are few in number, not exceeding 8 or 10 in all, including two stores and a public house kept by a Mr. Nichols. There is also a school house in which a school is kept, and a post office, Mr. John D. Ansley, P.M., and a Mr. Black, clerk of Mr. A. Mr. A., a very sociable, agreeable man, treated me with great kindness and, seeing my destitute situation, gave me a pair of shoes.

At Mr [Nís?] also I was treated with great kindness and no charge was made for board whilst there. All appeared very friendly and kind: the greater part of the people are English, and some very good, but others dissipated and spend much time gambling.

As the people here are mostly miners, there is collected a promiscuous company from various parts of the U.S. and from other countries also, some of whom are moral and religious but most are far from either. Playing cards, drinking and swearing I witnessed to my grief all the while I was there. Little or no account is made of the Sab[bath] as a day of holy rest, but seems rather a day of business or recreation.

The township contains about 4 hund[red] voters, it is much broken although it is said that the soil is productive. It is principally valuable however for the vast quantities of lead ore which it contains. In one of the diggings I was informed that several millions of lbs of ore had been raised.

Method of obtaining the mineral.

A hole is sunk in the ground perhaps 6 ft. by 4, sufficiently large to admit of easy ascent and descent, sometimes to a depth of 40 ft and the earth and mineral is raised by means of a windlass which one man tends whilst the other descends and digs and fills the tub which is let down by the man at the top.

The wages of a miner are from 10 to 50 dollars per month, although 18 dollars is the average price for a laborer. Mineral at the diggings varies as to prices; at present (1834) it sells for 12 dolls per thousd lb, which is a medium price. The quantity of mineral raised by two men in a day varies, sometimes several thousands lb. have been raised in a day.

As a farming country, this is highly commended; corn may be raised 40 or 50 bushels per acre, and oats, 75 or even more bushels by the acre. The water is of the purest kind and there is a plenty of it

The only objection which I can perceive is the want of wood which in many places is very scarce. Otherwise the country would be one of the finest in the world, as a farmer when his crops might fail, could turn his attention to mining and whatever he raises always finds a ready market.

But a moral change is greatly needed, and pious people are few and in consequence of their being far removed from religious privileges, are generally cold and stupid.

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