Chapter 7
The Coming of Modern Inventions

When the first automobile came into the Valton country it was a real sensation. When Noah Mortimer bought his car they could hear it coming a mile away. Of course the roads were not yet smooth enough for comfortable motoring and they were not hardly wide enough for two rigs to pass. The troubles of the motorist in those early days were many. In the summer the dust and rain were a usual thing and hill climbing was a dread, also mud and mud holes. The lights were not bright enough to see distinctly at night. The first horns were operated by squeezing a rudder ball at the end of the horn.

The first autos were cranked on the side and the motor was in the back where the trunk is now located. The wheels, I believe, were driven by a chain drive from the motor. The one or two cylinders sounded like an old fashion gas engine that went so slow that one could count the explosions made by the motor. When I was a boy I recall seeing one of these cars that was cranked on the side, stored in the shed back of Tom Cannon's house. Does anyone remember about the first owner of this car?

I've been told that Noah Mortimer's first wife, Winnie, bought the first car but she could not crank it so Noah had to drive it.

Billie Mitchell had a car with a chin drive. John Mortimer owned one of the first cars in Valton. Oscar Shore had the first Ford. They lived then where August Landsinger lives now. They were expecting Oscar to come down the Lime Kiln Hill because they thought the road wasn't wide enough.

In 1910, Rhiney Hendericks and a friend went to Milwaukee to bring a Reo automobile to Wonewoc. They had to hire and expert driver for the trip. The group started from Milwaukee at 9 o'clock in the morning, at noon they stopped for lunch at Watertown. The trip from there to Madison was uneventful except for four miles of corduroy road which proved to be a great trial to both car and passengers. It was very difficult to stay with the car at times. They arrived in Madison in the middle of the afternoon. There they were forced to get enough gasoline and oil to make the rest of the trip to Wonewoc because there were no service stations along the road. They filled the tank with gas and had two spare five gallons filled, also a can of oil. They were in Baraboo about 6'clock and Reedsburg by dark. After leaving Reedsburg, they failed to make the right turn and became lost in the hills somewhere around Ironton. They eventually found their way through the town of Woodland and at 12:30 just after midnight they were a half mile from Wonewoc. The two back tires wore out from the long, rough trip. The rest of the trip was finished on foot.

Since writing the above lines, I have found more facts in my notes. The first car that was driven to Valton was a Jackson the one Noah Mortimer bought. The first cars had no top or doors.

In point of time, the first reaper should have been mentioned before automobiles. The first reaper came to the farming area around 1875. It is thought that John Mortimer and Jim Cannon bought the first reaper for harvesting grain. Before that time their grain was cut with a cradle--A scythe with slats to hold the grain that was cut. Small bundles were dropped behind the cradle. Then a man would come along to tie the bundles. Instead of twine they made a string with a few straws of grain. My father would often demonstrate how it was done, but his fingers moved so fast that we could not catch how it was done. Some of the first reapers looked more like mowers than modern grain binders.

Telephone service was installed in the Louis Lee store in 1900. People who wished to talk to Wonewoc or points beyond could use this phone. Several telephones were installed in Mortimer Valley in 1906. This may have been the first rural line out of Valton. Some claim the telephone connected with Wonewco was installed in the building now owned by Rev. Elmer, it was owned by Moses Hutchins.

Radio's were rather crude when the first ones came to our town. Rhiney Hendericks may have been the first one to own a radio at Valton. I can remember it was quite a curiosity to us boys. The only way we could listen to it was to put on earphones and there was only one pair of them. It was better at whistling than it was in giving any good service. It seemed to whistle at every station. One day it developed a loud squeal. One young person was told it was the noon whistle at Madison. He was sure it was when he tried of the ear phones.

Electric lights were known a long time before Valton ever had such a convenience. During the years between 1910 and 1920 some battery plants were bought. Oscar Shore had one and one was installed for the Wesleyan Church. Bert Mortimer had one in his store. These power plants were operated by a gasoline motor that generated electricity and stored it in a set of glass jar batteries. These power plants were in common use before the high-line was brought to Valton. Valton was hooked up to the high-line in 19??.

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