Clipped From Kossuth County Advance

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 - 40 Oxen Used to Drain Big Swamps By Esther...
40 Oxen Used to Drain Big Swamps By Esther Charlotte Smith. • Swea City — Not many living today can remember seeing an ox-team, other than in parades. Fewer still ever saw a string of 40 oxen. Locally, however, some whose memory goes back to 1890 of before have recollections of the 40 huge oxen, hitched in a double string, that furnished power for draining the big sloughs for which northern Iowa was then notorious. ! Walter G. Smith, Swea City. then a small boy living east of Algona, remembers the evening in 1890 when a ditching crew. two long strings of unusually large oxen, and the ox-drawn cbokshack and bunkhouse of the crewmen, were seen nearing their farm on'the McGregor St. road. Thirty to forty oxen were in the string and the crew was ehroute to Section 4, Irvington township, to begin draining unimproved land then managed by the late A. D. Clarke, one-lime Kossuth county capitalist. MN THOSE days practically every farm had one or more sloughs which had existed for y^ars. The bottoms of these sloughs had several feet of mud ajid decayed vegetation. No earth-moving machinery of that period could cope with such terrain, so the process of 'bull- ditching' was contrived. 'A heavy metal wedge atlach- er] to a coble was pulled through niud and rushes to open a ditch 4;or 5 feet wide and perhaps 3 feet deep. Horses or mules were not suited to the task, but oxen. specially selected for size and strength, could wallow through the.mud and water towing the big metal plow on its cable behind them. Usually all 40 ol the oxen were required for the task. FREQUENTLY, however, big sloughs would be found too deep for the oxen. In such cases, one ox team would be sent across, with a driver riding their backs and the cable attached. When the ox-team reached the opposite bank, the cable would be attached to a capstan powered by two or three teams of horses. The big metal plow was literally wound across the slough by the turning of the capstan. The ditching followed the natural fall of the land, most of these sloughs having a channel which connected them with some other swamp. In Irvington township, the 'bulldilch' went under the Milwaukee railroad tracks, across the old Deibler iarm, and inlo Purcell creek, which in turn drained into the Des Moines river. Water was induced thus to flow from slough to slough until it gradually .Irained a w a y. Today these farms arc entirely in crop and there is no evidence that the .sloughs ever existed there. THE OX-TEAMS may have been the inspiration for a project later curried out by Warren and Harry Deibler, and Warren now lives in Swea City. The two boys broke a team of youny st.uc.-rs and drove them to a light wagon, to the envy of the~olher youths of the neighborhood. In /act, when the first automobiles aegan to traverse what later became Highway 18, the Deibler Doys and their team of steers more than once aided some unhappy motorist whose machine had become mired in the mud 8—ALGONA OOWA) ADVANCE THURSDAY, JULY 31, 1958 of that unsurfaced thoroughfare. The bullditchers were also responsible for draining morasses like Mud Lake, near Klemme. where a circus traveling overland was once stuck for an entire day. Motorists bowling over the paved highways of today find it hard to visualize a time when it took 40 oxen to clear a path through what was then an impassable swamp. Maybe the good old days weren't so good! _-.-_..._._ Q Shower At Ledyard for Bride to Be Ledyard—Saturday a miscel- aneous shower was held at the Methodist church for Leita Roberts, Cedar Rapids, iiancee of Gerald Manthei, son of the John Alantheis. Mrs. E. Jorgenson was in charge of the program; trio, Linda Pingel, Roberta Went- .vortli and Ann Carpenter; reading, Mrs. Marvin Lloyd; reading, vir.-i. E.. G. Jorgenson. Contests .vere hold and gifts were opened^ SACK TO HOSPITAL Pat Krcbsbach, in the Estherville hospital a month following severe burns, was able to be home part of last week and returned Saturday evening. It will be necessary to have skin graft- ng done on his legs. REMODELS CHURCH Fred Munyer recently purchased the old E. and R. church rid last week began remodel it for a. new home. He sold his >rosent home to Mrs. Ed Donljc and she will lake possession Mrs. Mrs. spending and left to He

Clipped from
  1. Kossuth County Advance,
  2. 31 Jul 1958, Thu,
  3. Page 36

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