Recent research at the Sherburne History Center disclosed a copy of memoirs, describing the work of early settlement on farmland in the county. Written by Vernon Bailey, it provides interesting insight in the multitude of tasks needed to ready a farmstead for occupation.
Between other work during the winter, Father and Charles cut and hewed the logs and timber for the new house, hauled them together in the snow. When spring came, the foundations of the house were laid, the walls were rapidly built up of great logs, fitted tight together and hewed smooth on the inner surface. The roof was framed of dry tamarack rafters, wide roof boards, and good pine shingles. A cellar for vegetables was dug under the house after the roof was on but later an outside bank cellar was constructed in the side hill at one corner of the house where milk and meat and vegetables and fruit could be kept cool in the summer and from freezing in winter.
When the house neared completion,
a clearing was made on the warm slope nearby and garden vegetables, potatoes, turnips, corn, peas, and beans were planted in the rich mellow wood soil and before summer was over an abundant supply of fresh vegetables yielded luxurious fare for the rest of the season and a substantial store to carry the family through the winter. Our two cows supplied milk and butter and a small flock of hens not only supplied our eggs but increased so that henceforth we had eggs to use and some to sell.
In all likelihood, the memories of Vernon Bailey described the typical task of settlement in Sherburne County. The process of building the cabin, building the barn, and establishing a vegetable garden remained the priorities for most settlement farmers. Only after ensuring the survival of the family, the cash crops and building of the successful farmstead became a major concern.
|Vernon Bailey in his early years of
his career as a naturalist for the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service.
The construction skills of Hiram Bailey, Vernon’s Father, appeared as a unique feature of the Bailey settlement memoir. In his youth Hiram Bailey developed master skills as a bricklayer, stonemason, and carpenter. These skills allowed him to command triple wages for construction work around Sherburne County. Hiram Bailey’s skills allowed him to earn cash money, a guarantee the family never lacked for necessities.
Although there remained unique features to the Bailey family settlement in Sherburne County, the actual construction of the farmstead illustrates typical behavior of early settlers of the county.