A History of STRUM
by Roy Matson

This map is from the Historical Atlas of Wisconsin in 1878.

1735, establishing high water marks remembered by them for over a century. It may have
been at that time that the Chippewa overflowed and established its present channel.

One hundred years ago the old channel of the Chippewa was used to float saw logs cut on
its upper branches down the river into Beef Sloughs where they were gathered and
prepared into large rafts for floating to lower Mississippi River saw mills. Over a period of
25 years, millions of feet of logs were handled in this manner.

The Norwegian Influx

Rumors of free land traveled through northern European countrysides during the
mid-nineteenth century. It served as a main conversation topic among all classes of people,
especially the poor, hardworking peasants who owned no land and whose livelyhood
depended on a landlord’s crop. The landlord class, too, had an attentive ear because years
of inherited holdings had greatly diminished individual holdings until it behooved many to
look westward where they might have a new start. Norway was greatly affected by this
rumor because the economic condition of its rural inhabitants was desparate and only a
small percentage of the countryside permitted enough agriculture to produce a stable
living. Yet, government and the state church criticized anyone wishing to emigrate and
several of the newspapers refused to print anything about “free” land, feeling such rumors
were pure humbug.

In spite of this emigration continued. The 1850’s show an annual move of 2,000 to 8,000
per year. After the American Civil War it rose to 10-15,000 annually. It dropped during
the 1870’s but rose to nearly 30,000 in 1882. The great majority came to the midwest, the
post civil war period flooding Trempealeau County coulees and finally reached the Beef
River Valley portion of range 8 in 1868.