A History of STRUM
by Roy Matson
home to Hamlin area and must have influenced many former soldiers to view this area. A
fairly good number settled in future Albion township and became part of a veteran group
that had Hamlin as a focal point for their activities for many years. Memorial Day and July
4th observances here held in the Bowers grove and a note in school records acknowledged
a gift of a large flag from these men to be raised especially on those days. A strong
fraternal feeling naturally existed among these veterans. A dozen are buried at the Hamlin

With the end of the war came a renewed race for land settlement. The light, sandy soil of
this valley made little impression of prospective settlers at that time, who were aware that
Minnesota prairie lands were available. This valley provided a well used passageway to
that state. The white canvas covered wagons were many, all heading westward to cross
the Chippewa River near Durand, most heading north to Menomonie and then west for
fairly easy travel.

Here in future Unity, A. J. Lyon and Wingad brothers lived along the west line, Jack
Carter had located in Section 18, the Williams brothers in Section 10 and several English
speaking families lived in the coming Brick school district. But all undeveloped land, and
more, in this area, was about to undergo an influx of Norwegian immigration, these
coulees with their steep hillsides would appeal to these people whose homeland was only
3% agricultural.

The southeastern part of this county had already experienced a heavy Norwegian
settlement, their churches had been established, schools were being attended by youths in
their twenties eager to learn English. Norway’s transplants were enthusiastic about
possibilities in this new land, so different from the old.

Land Acquisition

The early pioneer had one goal in view, some land and a home. To most emigrants from
northern Europe that flooded the northwest, this objective and goal meant all the security
they would need in this life on earth. Some had undergone nothing but war, governmental
edicts and famines since birth. To attract new settlers into new, unbroken areas, Congress
passed two acts, the Railroad Act, 1856-1864, and the Homestead Act, which took effect
on January 1, 1863.

The first mentioned gave a qualifying railroad every other section of land for 20 miles on
each side of their track. This was soon increased to twenty miles on account of early
pre-emptions, and this land was to be sold to the first buyer at a price of not more than
$200 per quarter section of 160 acres, or $1.25 per acre. Railroads adhered to this figure,
the poorest sand acre in the Beef River Valley was purchased at the same price as the best
land of the Red River Valley in North Dakota. The Western Wisconsin Railroad (WRR)
had reached Tomah when outbreak of the Civil War halted expansion. At the end of the
war, construction again was begun toward Black River Falls with plans to cross the
Chippewa River at Eau Claire and reach Hudson, which was accomplished after two
years. The track skirted the pine forest edge, and Fairchild, Augusta and Fall Creek
became trade centers because of the track. The rails reached Eau Claire in 1870.

The 1877 Tucker map clearly illustrates railroad holdings as of that year, twenty miles
from the track includes land in sections 1, 9, and 3 of range 8, township 23, the whole of
section 35, range 8, township 24. A line drawn through section 31 in Albion to section 15
in Hale marks the twenty mile radius on the west side of the WRR track.

Railroads were not particularly concerned about their land disposal. Speculators roamed
the frontier of a development on horseback and made a quick dollar on a good location,
their price was usually $400 on a $200 purchase.

The Homestead act was very popular as a settler could obtain a home site with no money
at all except a $15 fee paid after 5 years. The applicant had only to file his intentions, live
thereon, cultivate and improve some land and