We crossed Lake Huron during the night, and through its outlet, so shallow that the wheels stirred up the mud from the bottom; then through Lake St. Clair and landed safety at Detroit next day. Here we took the cars on the Michigan Central Railroad, and on our way westward stopped at the very place where we had worked, helping to build the road, a year or more before. After getting off the train a walk of two and one half miles brought me to my father’s house, where I had a right royal welcome, and the questions they asked me about the wild country I had traveled over, how it looked, and how I got along—were numbered by the thousand.
I remained at home until fall, getting some work to do by which I saved some money, but in August was attacked with bilious fever, which held me down for several weeks, but nursed by a tender and loving mother with untiring care, I recovered, quite slowly, but surely. I felt that I had been close to death, and that this country was not to be compared to Wisconsin with its clear and bubbling springs of health-giving water. Feeling thus, I determined to go back there again.
With the idea of returning to Wisconsin I made plans for my movements. I purchased a good outfit of steel traps of several kinds and sizes, thirty or forty in all, made me a pine chest, with a false bottom to separate the traps from my clothing when it was packed in traveling order, the clothes at the top. My former experience had taught me not to expect to get work there during winter, but I was pretty sure something could be earned by trapping and hunting at this season, and in summer I was pretty sure of something to do. I had about forty dollars to travel on this time, and quite a stock of experience. The second parting from home was not so hard as the first one. I went to Huron, took the steamer to Chicago, then a small, cheaply built town, with rough sidewalks and terribly muddy streets, and the people seemed pretty rough, for sailors and lake captains were numerous, and knock downs quite frequent. The country for a long way west of town seemed a low, wet marsh or prairie.
Finding a man going west with a wagon and two horses without a load, I hired him to take me and my baggage to my friend Nelson Cornish, at Round Prairie. They were glad to see me, and as I had not yet got strong from my fever, they persuaded me to stay a while with them and take some medicine, for he was a sort of a doctor. I think he must have given me a dose of calomel, for I had a terribly sore mouth and could not eat any for two or three weeks. As soon as I was able to travel I had myself and chest taken to the stage station on the line for the lake to Mineral Point. I think this place was called Geneva. On the stage I got along pretty fast, and part of the time on a new road. The first place of note was Madison the capital of the territory, situated on a block of land nearly surrounded by four lakes, all plainly seen from the big house. Further on at the Blue Mounds I left the stage, putting my chest in the landlord’s keeping till I should come or send for it.