Having come to the locality in which he now lives in the early days before there were any internal improvements
in it and while it was yet largely in its primeval state of wildness, Edward La Barge, who is now one of the enterprising
and prosperous farmers of Sullivan township, this county, was called upon to experience many of the hardsbips of
frontier life, as was also his wife, but they endured them with patience and an unyielding determination to overcome
all difficulties and make their way to independence.
Mr. La Barge was born at Hudson, St. Croix county, Wisconsin, January 10, 1861, and is a son of David La Barge,
who located on a farm near Fond du Lae, Wisconsin, in 1849. The father converted his wild land near Fond du Lac
into a good farm and some years later moved to St. Croix county in the same state. His son, Edward, remained with
his parents until 1880, working on the home farm in summer and driving teams in the lumber woods and logs on the
St. Croix river in winter. In 1880 he came to Polk county to get land for himself with only about $50 in money,
but he bought the Southwest quarter of Section 9, Sullivan township, of the railroad company for $750, and on it
he has since made his home.
He broke up his land as rapidly as he could, boarding at a neighbor’s while doing it, and hiring some help in the
operation. In the spring of 1881 he bought four horses, intending to push the improvement of his farm rapidly.
But the land was low and wet, hail storms caine and other disasters to his crops followed in almost continuous
succession, so that some years elapsed before he raised any crops worth speaking of. During all this time the Grand
Marais was often full of water and totally unbridged, and all who crossed it with teams were obliged to swim their
horses, as the water was often twelve feet deep. Once, when Mr. La Barge was taking a seeder across it got tangled
up in the heavy tall grass which grew in the Marais and the horses could not pull it out. He was forced to unhook
his team and abandon the seeder, and it was not found until more than a month later when the water subsided.
Owing to his inability to raise crops for seven or eight years Mr. La Barge spent the winters in the Wisconsin
lumber woods and used his teams there.
He afterward worked about the same period in the lumber woods of Minnesota. In the winter of 1896 he took a contract
for lumbering near Black Duck and had a camp of his own. He employed ten men in carrying out his contract and got
ont about one million feet of lumber. That winter Mrs. La Barge passed the winter in the camp and acted as cook.
Her husband had a timber claim near the place, but this he has since sold.
The first house Mr. La Barge built on his land was a tar paper shanty. In that he lived as a bachelor three summers
while working his farm, and iu it afterward his wife kept house three years. Part of their present dwelling was
built in 1889 and the rest in 1903. The fine barn now on the place was erected in 1915. Mrs. La Barge's maiden
name was Jessie Johnson and she was born in Pierce county, Wisconsin, but her marriage to Mr. La Barge took place
in St. Croix county of that state. They have no children.
The principal industry of the farm has been raising grain, full-blooded Shorthorn cattle and graded hogs. Twelve
to fourteen milk cows supply large quantities of butter for customers in the city. Horses are also raised to some
extent. Mr. La Barge has served on the school board but has sought no other office. For twenty years he operated
a threshing outfit, wearing out three engines and several separators. His present engine is a tractor. He is one
of the best known threshermen in the Red river valley.
In 1903 Mr. La Barge took a contract to dig eleven miles of ditch for the county, extending from the Marais into
Keystone township, the amount of money to be paid for his work being $7,200. He let the greater part of the work
to sub-contractors, but dug about two miles of the ditch himself. His record in this county shows impressively
that persistency and pluck are winning factors in the battle of life. In spite of all his difficulties and setbacks
he now has a fine farm which is well improved and highly productive.
Compendium of History and Biography
of Polk County, Minnesota
Maj. R. I. Holcombe, Historical Editor
William H. Bingham, Feneral Editor
W. H. Bingham & Co.
Also see [ Railway Officials in America 1906