Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Object

Wisconsin Thematic Panel 793-799

Wisconsin Thematic Panel 793-799 | Historical Object | Wisconsin Historical Society
Either way, the sides are bridged,<br>from wine to water, cutting back to wine<br><br>Paradoxical appointments, anticipated hour —<br><br>No one event can liquidate, no two extremes combine<br><br>A crowd of applicants for homestead land gathered outside the Marathon County Court House in Wausau, Wis., December 20-21, 1890. Some 200,000 acres of "water reserve land" in Lincoln, Vilas and Oneida Counties, newly opened under the Homestead Act, were to be distributed. This drawing had been very widely advertised and people came to Wausau from all over the country in the hope, but not the certainty, of taking up some of this land. Hundreds of men, beginning on the afternoon of December 8, stood in a long line from a window in the southwest corner of the Court House where applications would be received by the United States Land Office, starting at 9 a.m. on December 20, and hundreds more crowded the square. It was bitter cold and those in line kept their places for several days and nights without shelter, for it took three days and part of a fourth to receive these applications one by one. A quarter section (160 acres) was to be had for $14. The hotels and boarding houses were full, but the saloons were kept open and men slept wherever they could, on benches or on the  floor. Excitement ran high and it was feared that there might be violence between those in line and others who wanted their places. Then rival lines were formed. There were only a few uniformed police officers and a score or so specially appointed deputies. The mayor, at the request of alarmed citizens, thought it prudent to call in the Light Guard of the militia, who responded just in time to maintain order, patrolling the ground with fixed bayonets or watching from the windows of the Court House. Our picture shows the square just after it was cleared by the guardsmen. But there were no riots nor even arrests, and most of the applicants, disappointed after learning more about the character of the land, went home within a few days.</p><p>Meanwhile "another group of men working on a different procedure" hastened to the available lands immediately after midnight of December 19" to take possession by actual settlement and attend to the paperwork afterward." A bitter legal dispute followed." Those who went directly to the land and settled made hundreds of contests" claiming precedence over those who filed and paid in advance at the Land Office." The Register of the Land Office ruled in favor of the settlers and the Receiver, who had taken the money from the filers who stood freezing in line" resigned his office rather than comply.<br><br>The term "water reserve lands" refers to the reservation by the Government of certain lands to be used to create reservoirs to control seasonal water flowage on the upper Mississippi River. "These lands" while the law was in effect" could not be sold."" But this control system was eventually deemed impractical" and the log drivers along the Wisconsin River who might have benefited were better served by the newly built railroads." Then Congressman Myron McCord moved to get these lands returned to market, but subject to Homestead entry only and still subject to the Government's right of flowage." For a while, the opposition supposed these lands to be valuable timberlands" about to be taken up as outrageous bargains by the greedy lumber interests." Furthermore, unscrupulous sharks were selling" to waiting potential homesteaders" numbers for the same land over and over" and numbers for land that had never been in the water reserve.<br><br>From all the excitement which a local newspaper account called "good as a world's fair," a very few obtained some good land; but most of this offering had little timber, was not necessarily on any waterway and was quite unsuited to agriculture.<br><br>Our picture was probably (but not verifiably) made by the then well-known photographer Isaiah Lacerte of Wausau.
DESCRIPTION
Either way, the sides are bridged,
from wine to water, cutting back to wine

Paradoxical appointments, anticipated hour —

No one event can liquidate, no two extremes combine

A crowd of applicants for homestead land gathered outside the Marathon County Court House in Wausau, Wis., December 20-21, 1890. Some 200,000 acres of "water reserve land" in Lincoln, Vilas and Oneida Counties, newly opened under the Homestead Act, were to be distributed. This drawing had been very widely advertised and people came to Wausau from all over the country in the hope, but not the certainty, of taking up some of this land. Hundreds of men, beginning on the afternoon of December 8, stood in a long line from a window in the southwest corner of the Court House where applications would be received by the United States Land Office, starting at 9 a.m. on December 20, and hundreds more crowded the square. It was bitter cold and those in line kept their places for several days and nights without shelter, for it took three days and part of a fourth to receive these applications one by one. A quarter section (160 acres) was to be had for $14. The hotels and boarding houses were full, but the saloons were kept open and men slept wherever they could, on benches or on the floor. Excitement ran high and it was feared that there might be violence between those in line and others who wanted their places. Then rival lines were formed. There were only a few uniformed police officers and a score or so specially appointed deputies. The mayor, at the request of alarmed citizens, thought it prudent to call in the Light Guard of the militia, who responded just in time to maintain order, patrolling the ground with fixed bayonets or watching from the windows of the Court House. Our picture shows the square just after it was cleared by the guardsmen. But there were no riots nor even arrests, and most of the applicants, disappointed after learning more about the character of the land, went home within a few days.

Meanwhile "another group of men working on a different procedure" hastened to the available lands immediately after midnight of December 19" to take possession by actual settlement and attend to the paperwork afterward." A bitter legal dispute followed." Those who went directly to the land and settled made hundreds of contests" claiming precedence over those who filed and paid in advance at the Land Office." The Register of the Land Office ruled in favor of the settlers and the Receiver, who had taken the money from the filers who stood freezing in line" resigned his office rather than comply.

The term "water reserve lands" refers to the reservation by the Government of certain lands to be used to create reservoirs to control seasonal water flowage on the upper Mississippi River. "These lands" while the law was in effect" could not be sold."" But this control system was eventually deemed impractical" and the log drivers along the Wisconsin River who might have benefited were better served by the newly built railroads." Then Congressman Myron McCord moved to get these lands returned to market, but subject to Homestead entry only and still subject to the Government's right of flowage." For a while, the opposition supposed these lands to be valuable timberlands" about to be taken up as outrageous bargains by the greedy lumber interests." Furthermore, unscrupulous sharks were selling" to waiting potential homesteaders" numbers for the same land over and over" and numbers for land that had never been in the water reserve.

From all the excitement which a local newspaper account called "good as a world's fair," a very few obtained some good land; but most of this offering had little timber, was not necessarily on any waterway and was quite unsuited to agriculture.

Our picture was probably (but not verifiably) made by the then well-known photographer Isaiah Lacerte of Wausau.

RECORD DETAILS
Image ID:102614
Creation Date:
Creator Name:Vanderbilt, Paul
City:
County:
State:
Collection Name:Vanderbilt, Paul : Wisconsin Thematic Panels Project, 1965-1967 and 1982-1984
Genre:Historical Object
Original Format Type:photographic print, b&w
Original Format Number:PH 5000.793-799
Original Dimensions:60 x 18 inches
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Panel consists of:

Image ID: 34691 PH 5000.793-799.0793 Image ID: 103104 PH 5000.793-799.0794 Image ID: 103101 PH 5000.793-799.0795 Image ID: 103098 PH 5000.793-799.0796 Image ID: 103096 PH 5000.793-799.0797 Image ID: 103093 PH 5000.793-799.0798 Image ID: 103092 PH 5000.793-799.0799

SUBJECTS
Horses
Flower arrangement
Clothing and dress
Cities and towns
Children
Crowds
Indoor photography
Outdoor photography
Portrait photography
Electric power
Horse-drawn vehicles
Wagons
Rivers

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Reference Details
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