Jim Kershner’s this day in history

FRIDAY, MARCH 14, 2014

From our archives, 100 years ago

F.S. Gilbert, of Malvern Wells, Worcestershire, England, arrived at Milan, Wash., just north of Chattaroy, to embark on his new life as a stock-raising “colonist.”

He was “the advance guard of a small army of English and German immigrants who are coming to settle at Milan.”

His journey by train from Philadelphia made him a little apprehensive about the entire idea, especially when he saw mile after mile of brown, dry prairie.

“I thought it a desolate waste for 3,500 miles,” said Gilbert. “It seems to me we went through about 3,000 miles of poor country. But then it may be all right. Everything here is very strange, new entirely to us, but we will get accustomed to it.”

He said “the grass is absolutely brown and I can’t see how the animals live.” But he did admit that “as soon as you get to the firs, it is very beautiful.”

He said he and his fellow colonists were lured to the Milan Farms Development Co. because stock-raising in England had been very poor for the last three years, due to bad weather.

He said that the reports about farming conditions in America had been “conflicting” because the papers give both sides of it.

“But we, as a rule, and I speak for the farming class, pay very little attention to the newspaper statements, but depend more on the personal reports of friends who write about the country,” he said.

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