So last week, I told you about my family tree project. This week, I’m going to tell you a little story about my Great-Grandpa Julian Conard.
For those of you who could give a rat’s patootie about that, scroll down for some photos celebrating the color “orange” in response to this weeks WordPress Daily Post Photo Challenge. But they won’t be as fun if you don’t read the story, so….
I was telling my dad about the family tree project and making sure I was following the right family, seeing as basically half of Belgium immigrated to Wisconsin in the mid 1800’s.
I asked specifically if “Julian” was my dad’s grandpa, which he confirmed. He went on to tell me that Great Grandpa Julian absolutely hated being out doing chores in the winter – especially chopping wood – and he froze his feet so many times that he vowed he was going to move into town as soon as he was old enough. Which is exactly what he did, and started a clothing store business, but that’s not really part of this story.
Great Grandpa Julian’s farm was located not just too far from where I live now, and my dad told me they used to have to come to town every Saturday, with the wagon and horses, to get supplies. The trail ran along the escarpment that later became the main paved highway to Door County (part of which is now abandoned due to the new highway that went in several years ago) and what is now Bay Settlement Road.
But in the 1870’s and 80’s, it was just a dirt trail, with a tree canopy so thick the sun never made it to the forest floor. On the way into town, they always had to go with two guys – one to drive the team and one to hold the shotgun, in case of horse thieves.
Unfortunately, many times the horse thieves were local Indians and my dad did tell me that my Great Grandpa had to use his gun a time or two. Hopefully, just AT them to scare them off, and not IN them. But, they couldn’t risk losing their horses.
Horses were more important then than cars are to us now. Not just a mode of transportation – their lives depended on them for plowing, transportation, hauling, etc. Without their horses, their family stood a good chance of starving. So to them, it was about survival – you didn’t give up your horses.
Last weekend, I hiked thru the woods along part of the now abandoned old highway. It’s much more open now. and part of it is used as a snowmobile trail, but it was still kind of fun to let my mind wander back in time, and think that perhaps I was walking where my Great Grandpa walked.
Below are some photos taken during that walk, appropriate for this weeks “orange” theme for the Daily Post Photo Challenge
Until next time
– me and my hiking companions bid you farewell!