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Published December 29, 2009, 01:02 PM

PCHA seeks photos of area windmills

Which came first? Carrying water from a spring, digging a hole in the ground and lowering a bucket into the hole, or drilling a well?

Which came first? Carrying water from a spring, digging a hole in the ground and lowering a bucket into the hole, or drilling a well?

Pumping water with a pump came after hand dug wells were used, according to information from the Pierce County Historical Association (PCHA). Sometimes, a bucket was lowered into a shallow hole (lined to keep the walls from caving in) and cranked up on a rope or pulled up by a sweep—a long pole with a rope and bucket at the end.

These shallow wells were often a hazard. Diseases and accidents resulted from their being openly accessible to all sorts of things. Water could be and was easily polluted. Typhus and typhoid fever was not uncommon, in epidemic numbers in the early years of settlement.

During the 1880’s or thereabouts, steel, three- or four-legged structures began coming into use in rural areas. Wells were being drilled, cased and hand pumps drew the water from the fairly deep holes in the ground.

Windmills began to dot the landscape. They tapped the power of the wind and ranged in height from 30 to 70 feet, more or less. It freed up landowners’ time, as far as obtaining enough water for animals and humans alike. Sometimes, the wind died and people had to resort to pumping that handle for a lengthy period of time to fill tanks—for cattle, horses, pigs, chickens, as well as the humans.

Most of the mills around Pierce County were Aermotor—the name found on the tail. Other companies’ names were also to be seen.

Does anyone have an existing windmill with its head and tail still standing on their place or nearby?

If so, take some photographs. Identify where it is located: street, town, etc. Send to the PCHA, P.O. Box 148, Ellsworth, WI 54011.

If participating in the PCHA Barn Photo Contest, add this old-fashioned way of getting water to pictures. Please help record another relic from our Agrarian past before they, too, disappear.

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