A Living Link With The Pioneers Of The County
Early pioneer days in Sheboygan county when ox teams labored along dimly defined Indian trails, land was tilled after being tediously cleared and wild wolf packs hovered howling about the cabin door at night, are recalled with vividness by Adam Gates of Cascade, 82 years of age and still as hale and hearty as a lad of eighteen.
Mr. Gates came to Sheboygan county when only six years old, with his parents from Ohio, and was reared in that sturdy environment so often referred to in glowing terms by American historians. From the wooded slopes the hardy pioneers hewed logs for their homes, from the soil their daily sustenance and from their hard won experience their education.
They conquered the wilderness and made it subject to their will and in turn were requitted by the molding of strength of character and nobility of spirit seldom seen in the pampered citizen of the civilization today.
All about the Gates family on their rock strewn farm in the town of Mitchell were the untrammeled paths of the wildwood, filled with roving bands of Indians ravenous animals and fleet footed herds of deer. When a trip to Cascade seven miles away, was contemplated, preparations were always made for a day's journey with an ox team. Provisions were brought home from the store that often lasted for weeks.
The neighbors were Indians, friendly and shiftless, but never engaged in harmful intent upon the isolated settlers. Many time they would come to the cabin door and beg for bread in trade for venison they had brought down in the day's hunting.
Mr. Gates tell of a cold(sic) that strayed from their farm and into a herd of Indian ponies near Dundee. They inquired of the Indians somewhat fearful of ever recovering the animal and asked that it brought back. The Indian they talked to said that the colt would be all right where it was. He told them it would be at their farm with the coming of winter.
Sure enough, the first frosty morning came the faithful Indian, true to his word, leading the missing colt by a halter made from bass wood bark. Ever afterward the Gates had little fear of treachery or bloodshed from the Indians.
The first year of the Gates' settlement in the tone of Mitchell on the farm now owned by Fred Schultz, they put in a crop of winter wheat. Like many other early farmers of the day they improvised their farm machinery. The threshing was done with the old fashioned flail on the hewn log threshing floor. After the grain was laboriously beaten from the chaff it was hauled long miles to the mill where it was given in trade for the finished product, flour.
The second year the family lived on the farm, they had the first threshing machine in the county. This was a tread power threshing machine, the horse walking on a tread mill that furnished the power.
The farm was 200 acres in the extent although that first year only two acres were cleared and planted to winter wheat. When the family came to the county they had brought three horses with them but horses were found impractical because the ground was filled with rocks and difficult to break. For the heavier work they were forced to secure oxen. In 1855 they were able to return to the use of horses.
The woods were full of game and it was a common chore to fare forth with a rifle to bag a steak of venison as a change of menu for the family table. Wolves, 20 and 30 in a pack would roam the country, making the night hideous with their noise. This made it necessary to keep small stock closely housed against depredations by the marauders.
Wild bears would approach close to the clearing and should any of the domestic pigs of the farm stray into the woods in quest of nuts, their fate was foredoomed. Many of the losses in this way were expected but kept the pioneers always on the lookout for danger and added to the privations of their life.
The family first came to Sheboygan when they left their state, Ohio, and stayed at Cook's tavern, located near the beach, while Mr. Gates looked around for a suitable farm. The family then went to Cascade and remained until Adam Gates father and the father of the Preston boys could build a shanty on the wheat field in Mitchell.
At Cascade they stopped at a house with the Kaiser family who lived where the Miller saloon is now. They packed their household goods in a log school house which stood on the site of the present Kilcoin hotel. At this time there were only three houses besides the log school in the village of Cascade.
Only two other families lived on this trail of seven miles between Cascade and Mitchell, Lawrence Reilly, who lived where Philip Reilly now lives and a Mr. Drake, living on the site of the Rice Cheese factory.
As soon as the shanty was completed the children were brought to their new home. At their first site of it across the new wheat field they exclaimed, "Oh, see the horse stable."
Mr. Gates and his wife are well known and highly respected citizens of the village of Cascade, noted for geniality of disposition and reliability of character. Mr. Gates has always been known for the honesty of his dealings with his fellow men, his staunch interest in industrious effort. The Gates household has always been a hospitable haven for their neighbors.
They have been active in the affairs of the Catholic church and are now members of St. Mary's church of Cascade.
Adam Gates is one of four surviving children, the others being sisters, Mrs. Glass of California, Mrs. Peters of St. Paul, Minnesota, and Sister Martha of Petersville, Illinois. Adam was born at Tiffin, Ohio, July 2, 1842, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Gates. His mother, Miss Margaret Huth, married his father in Bavaria in 1832.
His parents came to Sheboygan county in September, 1848, living here until 1871 when they moved to Minnesota. Mr. Gates was married to Miss Katie Alcox September 17, 1868. They only lived on the farm until 1874 when they moved to Waldo and Mr. Gates took up the butcher trade. After two years he began selling agricultural implements and later entered into the livery business. In 1892 he took over the WARD hotel and two years later moved to Cascade, living a retired life since that time.
Copyright 1997 - 2005 by Debie Blindauer
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