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Full text of "History of Portage county, Wisconsin ... read at the centennial celebration, held at the city of Stevens Point, July 4th, 1876"

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PRESENTED BY 

UNITED STATES OE AMEEIOA. 



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History of Portage County, Wisconsin, written by A. G. 
v 
Ellis, and read at the Centennial celebration, held at the 

city of Stevens Point, Jul)- 4th, 1S76. 




STEVENS POINT. WIS. 
STEVENS POINT JOURNAL JOB PK1NT. 

1876. 






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Mr. President, Fellow Citizens, Ladies 
and Gentlemen:— The government of the 
United States having existed for a century, on 
the 4th of July, this year of our Lord, 187(1, 
by common consent a celebration suitable to 
the Centennial is being made throughout the 
length and breadth of the land. Congress, on 
the 13th of March last, passed a joint resolu- 
tion of the two houses, recommending the 
people of the State to assemble in their sever- 
al counties or towns, on this Centennial an- 
niversary of our national independence, and 
cause to have delivered an historical sketch of 
said county or town from its foundation ; and 
that a copy of said sketch be tiled in the 
Clerk's office of said county, and an addition 
al copy, in print or manuscript, be tiled in the 
office oi the Librarian of Congress: and the 
same having been further recommended by 
the President of the United States in his pro- 
clamation of the 25th of May last, this paper 
is respectfully submitted responsive to such 
resolution and proclamation, as for Portage 
county and the city of Stevens Point, State oi 
Wisconsin, to-wit : 

Portage County is nearly central of the 
Stale, having Adams and Waushara on the 
south, Marathon on the north, Waupaca on 
the cast and Wood on the west. It was set 
ofl from Brown county in 1836, comprising 
what is now Columbia county; Wisconsin 
Portage (from which the name is derived) be- 
ing the center. In is i 1 the boundaries were 
much enlarged by the addition of all the ter- 
ritory north of Sauk and Portage, being ranges 
•1, 3, t, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, east of the meridian, 
to the north line of the State; it was attached 
to Dane county for judicial purposes. In Jan- 
uary, L844, by act of the legislature, Portage 



county was fully organized and the inhabi- 
taats at the same time authorized to make 
choice by a vote of the people of a seat of jus- 
tice. This vote was had on the 18th of April 
of that year. Fort Winnebago, at the Wis 
cousin Portage, and Plover, were the contest- 
ing points The vote of Bull Falls was un- 
derstood to have turned the scale, and decid- 
ed" the question in favor of Plover, which 
thenceforward became the county seat. 

The first house built here was by 
Houghton and Batten. The County Commis- 
sioners on the day of 1ST granted a 
tavern license to Luther Houghton at Rusfi- 
ri'Ie. The house stood a little southwesl of 
the present village of Plover, then called 
Rushville. 

The election of officers succeeded in the 
fall, when the following named persons were 
chosen, to-wit : County Commissioners, Math- 
ias Mitchell, Benjamin F. Berry and Luther 
Houghton ; Sheriff, Nelson Strong, who ap- 
pointed Geo. W. Mitchell his deputy ; George 
Wyatt, Clerk of Court, Clerk of County 
hoard and Register of Deeds; John Batten, 
'1 rcasurer. The first Court was held at Plov- 
er, (in a house or store belonging to Keith & 
Miles) on the 1st Monday of April, 1845, lion. 
David Irwin, Jr., presiding. The first case en 
the docket was that of Abraham Brawlcy Vo. 
A idrew Dunn and Henry Carpenter. 

In ls-fii Columbia county was set oil' with 
limits almcst identical with those of Portage, 
a- taken from Brown county in 1836. Adams 
county was set oil' in 1848, Marathon in 1.850, 
and Wood in 1856, leaving Portage with its 
present constitutional limits. It is about 30 
miles square, W>uld be exactly so, but that 
three townships were nicked oil on the south- 



HISTORY OF PORTAGE COUNTY. 



west, to be put into Wood county. It now 
contains, according to public survey, towns24 
and 25, north, in range (> east, and towns 31, 
22, 23, 24 and 35, north, in ranges 7, 8, !t and 
10 east; twenty-two townships in all, having an 
area of 506,880 acres. The Wisconsin River 
enters it in town 25 north, range 9 east, and 
leaves it in town 23 north, range <i east. The 
MHitheasterly partis openings, with scatter- 
ing bur oak timber; the northeasterly part 
(but thinly settled as yet) is closely timbered, 
white pine prevailing. The face of th« coun- 
try is slightly undulating; it is beautifully 
watered. The streams, besides the Wis-con- 
siu, are the Big and Little Plover, Mill Cieek, 
Bau Pleine and Buena Vista Creek. The soil 
in the openings is sandy alluvion, favorable 
to agriculture; that in the timbered part is 
generally heavier, inclining to gravel and clay. 
Portage county, :ts indeed Wood and Mara- 
thon, was first sought out for its pine lini- 
ber, and lumbering has been the lending busi- 
ness from the first, though the openings are 
now well >L-t t k*il and covered with £ood farms, 
that branch of industry being found quite re- 
munerative 

Forty years ago this county, with the whole 
Upper Wisconsin, was an unbroken wilder- 
ness ; possessed by tie' Indian tribes, who 
held the right of soil, Dubay's trailing post 
having the only home in the whole regions 
As early as 1831 Daniel Whitney of Green 
lay, having obtained a permit for that pur- 
pose from tie- War Department, commenced 
the building of a saw null at Whitney Kapids, 
below Point Ba*. Other parties, Messnfj 
Grignon A: Merrill, soon followed, going fur- 
ther up; and soon land lookers, searchers tor 
pine, were tilling the' country. This alarmed 
the Indians, who began to complain to the 
government agents. In ls:;i;, Gov. Dodge$ 
supt. of Indian Affairs, negotiated a treaty 
at Cedar Point, on Fox River, with the Me- 
nomonees lor a cession of a strip ot land three 
mill's in width on each side of (lie Wisconsin? 
from Point Bas, 40 miles up the River to Big 
Bull Falls. This was specially to cover the 
operations of the lumbermen. In ls:_!.i this 
cession was ordered surveyed by the .Survey- 
or General at Dubuque, which was donf 
forthwith, Joshua Hatheway, Esq., of Mil 
wauky being the Deputy [Surveyor. This 
tract was tiered at public sale at Mineral 
Point in 1840, which fairly opened tie- coun- 
try to the extent of this Strip, at least, to oc- 
cupation and settlement Sealers in the pio- 
per sense of the term, were at this time (I h 
but few. The following named persons are 
recollected as being in the county at that 
date: Abraham Brawley, Horace Judd, John 
<-. Mebard, Thomas McDill, Richard V< 
V.. 11. Mctcalf, Solomon Leach, John Bomb- 
er, Antoine Pricourt, Gilbert Conant, Valen- 
tine Brown, Charles Maddy, Peter Cane, Jobs 
Raish, John Eckels, Thomas Harper, James 
Harper, James Sitherwood, A. M. MeCaulev, 
H. W. Kintrsbury, Conrad Rotherman, Orrif 
May ice, Hugh McGr< e.-, Daniel Campbell, So* 
mou Story, Peter Barnard. 

There is no data whereby to fix the number 



3 

of inhabitants at that time in what is now 
Portage county. It is believed it could not 
have been more than one hundred. But the 
opening of the land — the six mile strip — to 
market, was heralded far and near, and peo- 
ple began to pour in from the southern part 
oi Wisconsin and northern Illinois; and in a 
tew years thereafter the population of the 
Pinery, including Portage county, might have 
been numbered by thousands. The water 
powers, eligible sites lor mills, Mere rapidly 
taken up; (Jonant Rapids and Mill Creek were 
among the first in this county. The first 
house was that at Dubay's trading post, on 
the east branch of the Wisconsin River, town 
25; but the first saw mill built in the county 
was that upon Mill Creek, by Abraham Braw- 
ley, in L839. Perry & Veeder occupied a site 
on this stream about the same time. Camp- 
bell & Conant built one on the Conant Kapids 
of the Wisconsin, the same year. Bloomer & 
Harper built the following year at McGrecr's 
Rapids, (now Jordoli) on B*ig Plover. In fact 
the lumbering business took Ion-strides in 
1S40, 1841 and 1S42, mills going up at all ad- 
vantageous points on the Wisconsin and its 
tributaries. The commencement oi this busi- 
ness of reducing the huge pines to boards and 
shingles and de.ivering them at Galena, Du- 
buque or .St. Louis, was a serious undcrtak- 
ing,involving great outlay ofcapitaland labor 
as well as risk ot money, life and limb, Not- 
wi hstanding all, it was'embarked in by thou- 
sands of men, with their teams and outfits, so 
that in three or four years the woods were 
alive with choppers, loggers and teams, and 
the rivers with rafts of logs and lumber, As 
the business increased, men began to cast 
about lor means of obtaining supplies at less 
cost than wagoniug them all the way from 
southern Wisconsin or northern lllinoi , which 
brought about a trial oj'tfu soil. Some of the 
lumbermen even, began raising farm pro- 
ducts, and not a tew private adventurers risked 
breaking on the openiugs and planting both 
roots and small grain, such experiments prov.- 
Lng successful: many of those who had cone' 
up into the Pinery with their team- to ad- 
vance their fortui.es in the logging business, 
changed off their bobsleds lor wagons ami 
ploughs and settled, down quietly to farming, 
selling their potatoes, com, oats, wheat, ece., 
to the lumtnbermen. Notwithstanding all, 
thelumbering business took the lead, engross- 
ing the chief outlays of capital and employ- 
ment of laber. It is somewhat difficult to 
furnish an estimate of it as lor Portage coun- 
ty at this time, as it was running in con- 
stant connection with the whole Wisconsin 
Pin erv from Point Bas to Eagle River. In 
L8o~ the business of the river was estimated 
i.. give constant employment to nearlj 
men, and tie- yearly product to be not less 
than one hundred and twenty million feet, 
valued herein tin- Pinery at the sum of on, 
/nil/;,,,,., four hundrcdaud twenty-tight tho 
dollars. What proportion ot the h lioli 
would be n»lit to put dow i to Portage coun- 
ty at that linn-, is somewhat uncertain: sure- 
ly not less than one sixth, which would-:." 
30,000,000 feet, at a valuation ol two bat 



HISTORY OF PORTAGE COUNTY. 



and thirty-six thousand dollars per annum! i 
This in 1857 

The market for this lumber at that day was 
all along down the waters from Portage City 
to St. Louis, and the only mode of egress was 
by the rivers. All that is changed now ; that 
is, we are no longer confined to the rivers for 
means of' getting lumber to market. The 
cars have reached us; we have 3 railroads 
passing through the county, all of which are 
used more or less in sending off the lumber, 
though not all of it toes by ears ; a large por- 
tion is still committed to the water. 

Phescnding it by ears, however, is working 
;i great change in the business. Formerly 
.there was much uncertainty as to time when 
returns could be had. It was, is still, but sel- 
dom that a Beet leaving here could be ^ot out 
on the same rise of water. Frequently it re- 
quired two and sometimes even three Hoods j 
to carry a fleet to St. Louis; indeed maiiv 
years the drouth and low waters prevailed to 
'that degree that scarce a fleet of lumber could 
he got out in course of the season. Rafts 
lay in the water, tilling with sand, the grubs 
decaying, so that it became necessary to haul 
and re raft it, all which caused serious delay 
an I treat da mage. This is avoided by send. 
|ng by ears. Now an operator going into the 
woods can calculate with reasonable certain- 
ty (by shipping by rail) how Ion-' he will have 
to hold his investment, that is, provided he , 
(Mil make sales — a ri-k he has to encounter in 
either ease, whether shipping by cars or tiood. 

In 1848, at the treaty of Lake Poygan, the 
Menominees ceded all tlu'ir land on the Wis- 
consin, tastwardly to the Fox River. The 
surveys followed soon alter. The Stevens 
Point land ollie • was opened in 1853 ; land 
sales were rapid ; speculation overrun the 
country ; immense tracts of pine and other 
lands were < ntered, all which quickened the 
lumber trade, as also, in a good degree, the 
farming in Portage county. 

In the year 1855-6 certain parties represent 
ing the Milwaukie A: Horieon Railroad Com- 
pany, (which road was built and in operation 
from Horieon northwesterly as lar as Berlin) 
appeared in this county, at Plover and Stev- 
ens Point, soliciting aid for the purpose <>! 
extending said railroad from Berlin to Plover 
ami Stevens Point. Their negotiations and 
solicitations were continued here for more 
than a year, res ulting in their obtaining bonus, 
mortgages and deeds ol land in exchange for 
their stock, as is believed to be an amount 
little short of 600,000 dollars. All this time 
nothing had been done hut on paper; not a 
shovel full of earth had been moved, do sur- 
vey and location of the road, no right of way 
obtained, not hint, whatever towards con 
structiou. The money crisis of 1857 came on, 
when, presto, the whole thing colapsed, van- 
ished into thin air. But the operators had 
seemed tie- bonds and mortgages and the. 
deeds of land, and some years afterwards it 
was found these securities had gone into cir- 
culation, as commercial paper! Some of our 
citizens have since been sued on them and 
judgments obtained against them. Such was 
our first experience in getting the blessings of 
railroads. 



The Congress of the United States in lSlU 
passed an act making a liberal grant of land 
to aid in building a railroad from Portage 
City, or from Fond du Lac, Berlin oi Men. 
. sha. Ha Steven* Point to Lake Superior. Af- 
ter some most unaccountable delav, the ! _cg- 
islature accepted the grant and passed an 
act chartering two companies, one to build 
from Portage City and the other from Meu- 
asha or Berlin or Fond du Lac, via Stevens 
Point to Lake Superior, and turning over the 
bonds to iheni on condition of full 1 ment of 
terms of the charters. Hon. Geo. Reed, of 
Manitowoc, after many difficulties succeeded 
in getting the companies organized— the two 
<■ nsolidated into one and moved towards eon- 
s ruction oi a railroad, On his first appear- 
ance here in IMi ), he could get no audience of 
l lie peopl ■, the "rate head and bloody bonesf ol 
the old Horizon fraud met him at every turn. 
With the exercise, however, of a comiuenda 
hie patience and perseverance, he was able, 
li iiliy to be neard ; which being done, the 
proposition met with favor. It was at once 
found that Judge Reed, unlike the Hqrrieon 
gentlemen, meant business: people of the 
county, especially at Stevens Point , g've mos' 
assured countenance and support tot he meas- 
ure: snvey and location of the road from 
Venaslia .o Stevens Point was made forth- 
with, and very soon a preliminary survey 
quite through to Lake Superior. Capitalists 
to take; hold id' the enlcipri-e were found in 
Boston: a construction .ompany with Mr. 
Colby ot Boston and a gentleman from Chi 
e.it'o, E. B Phillips, Esq., was organized, eon- 
tracts for building the road from Mcnasha to 
Stev.'iis Point soon followed, the road was 
built and equipped, and the first train of cars 
arrived in Stevens Point on the 20th day of 
November, 1872. This was a new era for For- 
t tc county; a treat impetus to business im- 
mediately followed, the city of Stevens Point 
being chiefly affected by it. That winter and 
t he following summer the work was prosecut - 
cd northwesterly, not only through the coun- 
ty, but PH) miles towards Lake Superior. This 
railroad en crs Portage county in town 2 ',, 
north, range 10 east, and passing through the 
south part leaves it in town 25 north, range 
(j east. 

A \ ear after this the Green Bay A: Minneso- 
ta railroad was built from Winona, on the 
Mississippi. This road enters the county in 
town 2 ; north, rant'' 10 east, forms a junction 
with the Wisconsin Central about a mile west 
of Amherst, and passing through Plover, 
leaves the county in town 23 north, range i 
east. 

Besides its main line from Milwaukee to 
Lake Superior, the Wisconsin Central has a 
branch railroad known as the "Portage 
Branch," frcm Stevens Point in a direct line 
to Portage City. It is now nearly completed. 

The Wisconsin Valley railroad, IromTomah 
to Wausau, going north, enters Portage coun- 
ty in town 24 north, range (j east, forms a 
junction with the Wisconsin Central nearly 
on the line, between towns 24 and 25 north, 
and leaves the county in town 25 north, range 
7 east. 

These four railroads, all now built, equipped 



HISTORY OF PORTAGE COUNTY 



5 



with train* running daily, have greatly in- 
creased the population and quickened tini 
business of Portage county.* Tin- amount "f 
indebtedness incurred i>\ the county in rail' 
road behalf, is 100,000 dollars in bonds, voft 
cil, issued and delivered to the Central in aii| 
of their direot line. A like amount was voted 
in aid cf tin 1 Ptfrtage Branch ; the company, 
however, through delays, failing to construct 
the road in stipulated time, the County Board 
repudiated the bonds; the matter is in lit- 
igation. These two parcels ol bonds for 100,- 
0H0 dollars each, constitute the entire indebt- 
edness ol Portage county. 

For several years previous, uneasiness had 
existed in regard to the location of the seat 
of justice at Plover, the pica being that it 
should be at the business center of the coun- 
ty, which was Stevens Point. Frequent dis- 
cussions and agitations of the matter ensued; 
finally it was referred to the Legislature, 
which in 1867 passed an act requiring a vote 
of the people to settle the question. The 
vote was had, and carried in favor of Stevens 
Point, and the county scat was removed in 
1869. The county buildings, a court house 
and jail of beautiful stone, were erected in 
1868-9, at a cost ot 32,000 dollars. 

To return once more to the lumber trade : 
We have before estimated the product for 
Portage county in"1857 at -20,000,000 feet pet- 
annum, with a valuation of $-336,000. That 
was nearly 20 yeais ago ; the business has in- 
creased vastly since that day ; nearly ten 
times the capital is now invested in the trade; 
the logging part of it has been comparative- 
ly increased, and the number and especially 
the capacity of the mills greatly enlarged. At 
that day only the old style of up and down 
saws was used; these are all now laid aside — 
made to give place to the rotary. T. e best 
of sash saws would cut from 10 to 15 thou 
sa:.d per day; the rotarys now cut from 20 to 
30 thousand, and many of them more than 
that. Besides which very great improvements 
have been made in the streams for handling 
togs, such as booms, roll-ways and slides. 
There arc now in actual operation within the 
bounds of Portage county 25 saw mills, and 
16 shingle mills. An experienced, practical 
lumberman, estimates the quantity manufac- 
tured within the county for the year past, 
from 25 saw mills, at seventy-nine million, 
nine hundred thousand, and of shingles, from 
16 mills, at thirty-two millions. The quanti- 
ties will be somewhat increased the current 
year, say not less than 80 million feet of lum- 
ber and 40 million of shingles. And all this 
from pine alone, the immense forests ol hard- 
wood being comparatively untouched. This 
much for the lumber. 

*.— Old Portage county, before Colum- 
bia was set off, had a railroad defacto in early 
times. It was in what is now Wood county. 
In 1830, Gideon Truesdale, operating Kings- 
ton's, Fay's and Draper's mills, at what was 
then known as Draper's, now Biron's Rapids. 
built a wooden railroad a mile and a half east 
to a small grove of pine, and on which he got 
out his logs, hauling the car with oxen, yoked 
tandem. 



Besides the uU-y of Stevens Point, there are 
several villages in the county : as Plover, Bue- 
na v*ista,Amberst .Jordan, Eau Pleine, Almond, 
McDillville and Springville. 

Plover, six miles south of Stevens Point, has 
a population of some live hundred; the tun 
railroads, the Stevens Point and Portage, and 
the Green Bay & Minnesota, form a junction 
here, having on each, both freight and pas- 
senger trains running daily ; it is quite a mart 
of trade for farmers; ha.-, several good puhlie 
buildings — as a large public school bouse*, two 
nice churches, a hue grist and flouring. mill, 
and several hotels, smith's shops. and stores, 
with a live newspaper — the Plover Times; it is 
one of the most pleasant places in the county 
for private residences, with good society. 

Amherst. 14 miles east of Plover and some 
15 from Stevens Point, is perhaps the most 
flourishing village in the county; it is directly 
on the Wisconsin Central Railroad, the Green 
Bay & Minnesota forming a junction with the 
Central about a mile west of it ; here dwell 
some of the most enterprising men of the 
county ; there is a population of about six 
hundred; one church, an excellent public 
school house, several taverns and stores, and 
two first class flouring mills. Surrounded by 
the best farming lands, in the; hands of well- 
to-do, astute pushing operators, Amherst un- 
doubtedly has a most encouraging and hope- 
ful future. 

A glance at the farm products for 1875, 
shows under cultivation : 

In wheat 12,128 acres 

" oats 5,066% " 

" corn 8,827% " 

" barley 305% " 

"hops 370 " 

"rye 4,143 " 

" all other crops, including grass, 15,445 " 

Total acres under cultivation, . .46,295, 
at an estimated value of 51(5,655 dollars. 

The assessed value of personal property in 
the county, consisting of horses, cattle, sheep, 
swine, farming utensils, manufacturer stock, 
and other personal property is, $577,510.0."), 
divided as follow*: 

Horses $ 93,003 

Cattle 109,022 

Mules 4,407 

Sheep 9,93o 

Swme 7,958 

Wagon* 35,275 

Watches 4,335 

Pianos and organs 12, ( 1:;.-, 

Shares bank stock 5,590 

Merchants and manufacturers stock.. 104,320 

All other personal property 130,915 

Total assessed valuation for 1876 of 
all property, both personal and real. 

is set down at '.$2,491,003 

% should be added for current value 830,331 

Making a total valuation of both 
personal and real property of.. .$3,321,334 

A majority of the population of the county 
engage in agriculture: they have organized a 
spirited Agricultural Society, which has existed 



HISTORY OF PORTAGE COUNTY. 



ten years; has a large li-t of members; Wm. 
V. Flemming Esq. is President, H. S. Rood 
Viee President, Wm. Loing Treasurer, and A. 
J. Smith Secretary. Fairs are held annually, 
always well attended, and the exhibitions 
highly credible; the fair grounds are at Am- 
herst. 

OF MANUFACTURES, 

There are but few aside from the lumber 
trade: chiefly confined to grinding of wheat 
and other grains ; there has been put up, as 
they were required from time to time 8 toed 
and flouring mills; the data is not quite per- 
fect, but it is estimated that thev have ground, 
hitherto one year with another, 30,000 barrels 
of flour and 1,500,000 pounds of course grain 
—all the product of the county. 

The manufacture of flour will doubtless b i 
considerably increased this year, a new mill 
of lars^e capacity, 5 runs of stone, having just 
been completed in Stevens Point. 

At Stockton there is a very credible estab- 
lishment for the manufacture of cheese. 

Population of the county for 1876 is 14,870. 

Portage county as at present organized is 
divided into 16 towns, besides the city of 
Stevens Point, 17 in all, to-wit : 

Plover, Sharon, Stockton, Stevens Point, 
Linvvood, Pine Grove, New Hope. Lanark, 
Hull, Grant, Ean Pleine, Buena Vista, Bel- 
mont, Amherst, Almond, city of Stevens 
Point, 

The county officers are, John Stumpf, Coun- 
ty Judiie. J. B. Carpenter, Countv Clerk, John 
Eckels, Sheriff, Wm. Albcrtie, County Treas- 
urer, Ole O. Wogsland, Register of Deeds, 
Wm, H. Packard, Dist. Attorney, Jas. E. 
Rogers, Clerk Circuit Court. N. G. Hinman, 
County Surveyor, J. O. Morrison, Superinten- 
dent Schools. 

The Count)/ Hoard consists of C. E. Webstei, 
of Almond, chairman; A. H. Bancraft, < > I 
Amherst; S. F. Devoin, Belmont; Geo, P. Nu- 
gent, Buena Vista; R. B. Whitehouse, Fan 
Pleine; Adolph Panter, Grant; Robert Maine, 
Hull; Ira Whipple, Lanark; Gunder O. Wem 
me, New Hope; Geo. W. Franklin, Plover; A. 
M, Harris, Pine Grove; Jas. Meehan, Linwood, 
John Landers, Stevens Point; Henry Cate, 
Stockton; Jos. Oesterle, Sharon; Stevens 
Point city: Mathew Wadleigh, 1st Ward; N. 
H. Emmons, 2d Ward; E. D. Brown, 3d Ward. 

There are 80 public and several private 
schools organized in the county, all in a sound 
flourishing condition; these schools employed 
in 1874, according to County Superintendent's 
report, from time to time during the year, no 
less than 144 teachers; and it required that 
year, to keep the schools properly goin^, 01 
teachers continually; the number of scholars 
in attendance was 3,221; whole number of 



children in the county of suitable age to at- 
tend school, 4,930. 

Amount of money appropriated for all 
school purposes during the year, . . .$30,560.25 
Amount disbursed " "... 24,508 15 

" paid to male teachers 5,789.35 

female " 12.291.62 

There are 82 school houses, built in the 
county, all in good order — some of them quite 
expensive; these houses are generally fur- 
nished in the most approved, modern style, 
and are calculated to accommodate comforta- 
bly at all seasons no less than 4,300 pupils; the 
150 teachers are not only duly qualified ac- 
cording to requirements of the statute, but 
they are understood to be an emulative corps 
of educators, equal to any other in the state, 
and under the direction of our excellent Coun- 
ty Superintendent, J. 0. MorrUon, Esq., are 
establishing for themselves most enviable rep- 
utations, and laying the youth as well as the 
older oi.es, under lasting obligations. 

There are three live newspapers, the Times 
published at Plover, and the Pinery and the 
Journal at Stevens Point. 

There are 14 practicing attorneys, It physi- 
cians and surgeons settled and in business in 
the county. 

Portage county is an inclined plane, flipping 
slightly to the south, with neither mountain 
range nor deep valley — not an acre of waste 
land ; and though 200 feet above the level of 
Lake Michigan, we are nevertheless, geologi- 
cally speaking, low down — on the old sand 
-tone ; but little clay, and scarce a particle of 
lime stone is to be found either in Portage 
county, or all the. "Upper Wisconsin:"— there 
is a moderate quantity of marsh, but it is by 
no means waste land — much of it yields ex- 
cellent grass, both for pasturage and hay; and 
better than that, cranberry marghm&rQ found 
here, and with slight improvement, become 
the best paying lands of all. 

Building stone of a superior quality and in 
great abundance is found along the Wiscon- 
sin river ; and an excellent quality of brick is 
made from a mixture of clay and sand, 2)4 
miles north of Stevens Point. 

The future of Portage county can scarcely 
be doubtful ; with her climate unexcelled 
in salubrity, excellent soil, pure water, her 
unsurpassed facilities for safe and speedy com- 
munication, her great natural resources, her 
rapidly developiuir improvements, both phys- 
ical, moral and social, her excellent schools, 
her energetic population, with all the ele- 
ments of moral excellence, her course, under 
the blessings of a Benign Providence, must be 
onward and upward, till she shall stand sec- 
ond to none other in Wisconsin ; who ever 
shall take note of her at another centennial .' 
will find her densely populated with an intel- 
ligent, virtuous, patriotic people. 



I0m§ fp« 



Is near the center of Portage county, in Sec. 
32, Town 24 north. Range 8 cast, on the <nst 
bank of the Wisconsin River ; it is the lanreft 
town on the "Upper Wisconsin ;" and some 
people have wondered how it come so '! In 
early times — 1839 and 1840— head quarters of 
the -'Wisconsin Pinery" were lower down the 
river— tirst at Grand Rapids and then at Plov- 
er ; the latter having been laid out on speed- 
lation by Francis Dunn and Moses M. Strong 
in 1841, and the scat of justice for Portage 
county soon after located there ; large hotels 
were built h >th at Plover and at Grand Rap 
ids, and other appointments made with a view 
to business centers of the Pinery ; no one 
thought of Stevens Point in any such connec- 
tion; accidentally or otherwise, people were 
found stopping here: the occupants them- 
selves had not the remotest idea of founding 
a town ; they were merely pursuing their 
business; which was forwarding supplies from 
the lower country to Big Bull Falls, which 
was being done by wagons thus far, where 
the teamsters came to the end of the road; 
but they found a good river, and a smooth 
slack water navigation, for 30 miles up: — to 
extract a few words from the Stevens Point 
Hand Book published in 1857 : "No one at the 
beginning had a suspicion that there was to 
be a town here; it has come to its present size 
in the "natural way," without force or arti- 
fice of any kind. It is made by its location 
at the foot of a long slack-water in the Wis- 
consin from Little Bull, and at the head of 
the great chain of the Conant Rapids. Some 
12 years ago, a lumberman — George Stevens, 
urging his way up the river with a load of 
goods for Big Bull Falls, stopped his ox wag- 
on and load near the slough, at the foot of 
(what is now) Main street, put his goods un- 
der a few boards, and went back to Portage 
City for another load. A day or two after his 
return, he put his goods into a dug out, 
and went up the river. This point thus be- 
came a landing and place for trans-shipment 
from wagons to boats, and was soon known 
as Stevens' Point. A ware-house was then found 
necessary, and the increased resort soon called 
for a tavern. The raftsmen in their downward 



course found it a proper place to make com- 
plete outfits for entering the great chain of 
rapids. Provisions, cable, and other articles 
were required, which soon produced stores of 
different kinds at the place. Thus matters 
went on for a year or two, when the owners 
of the ground were forced to lay off a few 
lots for building purposes. This decided its 
tate, and made it a village before either the 
lot owners or the settlers were aware of the 
fact." 

The lumbermen had occupied G'onant Rap- 
ids and Mill Greek, as early as 1840 ; very lit- 
tle had been done at Stevens Point, as far as 
can be learned, sooner than ls44: — accounts 
differ very much as to the tirst building put 
up in the place; some say it was a ware limine 
at the foot of Main street, and built by Ghas. 
Maddy and Henry Mularky; others affirm that 
in the fall of 1844, Abraham Brawley built a 
log house on the fiat, just above the Shaurette 
Rapids, which he moved into in December of 
that year; while still others say that Matthias 
Mitchell built a tavern house on what is since 
known as the old Phelps stand; and not to 
admit the claims of any of these to priority, 
it is maintained by one wb.3 came here as ear- 
ly as 1842, that early in the fall of 1844 Math- 
iiis Mitchell built a shanty near the foot of 
Main street, positively the very first thing in 
shape of a house, pus up in Stevens Point ; 
after all, the preponderance of testimony 
seems to be in favor of the house of A. Braw- 
ley on the flat, as the first one built within 
the city limits; the ware house followed, and 
then Mitchell's' t» vera. The next building put 
up was a house by Richard Gardner, just west 
of the store of N. F. Bliss. 

The first rapid piece of lumber over Shau- 
rette rapids, was run from Wausau, by Hiram 
Stowe, in 1842. 

In 1845, Richard Johuson built a log house 
just aboye Shaurette Rapids on the east side, 
and commenced darning the Wisconsin River 
on the rapids, preparatory to building a saw 
mill; the dam was not completed till 1840-7, 

Kingsbury built a tavern house on the south 
side of Main street in the winter of 1845-6; it 
was burnt soon after. 



HISTORY OF PORTAGE COUNTY 



The place now became a general resort; two 
or three tavern houses were up and occupied 

one on the smith side of Ma n street, near 

where the old Doet. .Morrison store now 
Btands; the granting ol a license to Mr. Kings- 
bury by the County Board, is the first not ice 
ot Stevens Point iu the records of that body. 

Places to sell goods followed; the first stock 
that we hear of was by Robert Bloomer; an- 
other by the two Mr, Campbells; and being 
the resort of the river men, saloons became .1 
matter of first necessity; two were soon ran- 
ning— the Star and the Ocean Wave. By this 
time — 1846-7 — there were some '20 buildings of 
all sorts, and Stevens Point was a village. 
Frontiers men with their wives and children 
had braved the forest, the climate, and driven 
their stakes here. Now caii.e the appoint- 
ments of society and civilization; Miss Ainan- 
dina Hale, now Mrs. N. F Bliss, kept a pri 
vate school— the first in Stevens Point, in a 
board shanty on the ground now occupied by 
the. Mansion House. A preacher ap- 
peared about this time— one of the Methodist 
persuasion— a Mr. Hurlburt. 

A highly respectable physician and surgeon, 
Doctor Bristol, arrived; he rode from Point 
Bas to Bull Falls; he died in 1848; and was 
buried in the cemetery out of town ; that is to 
say, on a swell of ground since graded down, 
just in front of Claflin'S jewelry store; a wor- 
thy man passed away in Dr. Bristol; a "tear to 
hi* memory;" would that we could say "peace 
to his ashes;" but alas! the "the march ot im- 
provement"— inexorable necessities ot a city, 
removed them from their resting place in the 
cemetery, and where they now are, who can 
tell? that grave yard has disappeared; in its 
place ;.re a graded street, side walks, houses, 
stores, and' other improvement s too numer- 
ous to mention. 

With the doctors and the preachers, came 
also the lawyers; the people had been peace- 
able enough so far, but who could think of a 
town without something to get tolks by the 
ears? Thomas Mormon, John Delaney and 
Wm. L De Witt were the. first disciples of 
Coke and Littlejohn. Mr. Mormon represent 
this district in the Legislature in 1840-7. * 

Growing apace, as all great towns always 
do, it became one of commerce, and must 
have its money lender ; it had one, John Wet- 
land was its first banker and broker ; he lived 
where Mr. John Walker's stone block now 
stands. E. G. Bean assumed to act, (by what 
authority is not apparent) as a magistrate; 
his first official act was to unite in the bands 
of matrimony Mr. J. K. Mitchell with Miss 
Fannie Luther— these parties of Plover ; Mr. 

*This Mr. De Witt, a son of the venerable 
Surveyor General De Witt of the State of New 
York, was an accomplished Civil Engineer, as 
well as an Attorney, and by direction of the 
state authorities, in 1850 made a careful sur- 
vey and reconnoisance of the Wisconsin Riv- 
er, from Point Bas to Big Bull Falls: His re- 
port, accompanied with the necessary profiles, 
and plattings, was published in pamphlet in 
1851. 



Abraham Brawlev, also assuming Che magis- 
terial robes, celebrated his first official act in 
our city by marrying Mr. Henry Blanchere to 
Mrs. Powe, a widow lady. 

■Jut this Esquire Brawlev had other matters 
in hand, than tying knots hymenial or dis- 
pensing justice; he was indeed our first repre- 
sentative ;o the Legislature, as well as im- 
mersed head and heels in the lumber trade; 
but in the midst of all, he found lime, as he 
had occasion, to attend to agriculture; true, 
he lived on the bottoms that overflowed twice 
at least a year — a poor place we would say 
tor farming; but stepping back a few paces to 
higher groin d, he fenced, ploughed aud plant 
ed a fine field where now stands our stone 
courthouse; his labors were well repaid ; no 
better corn or potatoes and garden stuff gen 
erally ever burtheued the earth than Mr, 
Brawley raised there in 1S45 and 0. 

Stevens Point was thought by some at this 
day as rather a rough place; the people at 
Plover were aecunstomed to stigmatize it as 
"up in the Pinery;" out of the pale of civiliz- 
ation, while they were among people of cul- 
ture and taste, ai the county seat. Well, the 
denizens of the Point accepted the situation 
without demur ; they were in the Pinery, and 
must submit to their fortunes. 

As soon as the ice left in the spring, or even 
before, the "suckers" began to run] up ; I 
need UJt stop here to tell who or what the 
suckers were: they were bipeds; and though 
able to swim on occasion (as when they got 
knocked off a raft) yet their scales and tinny 
adornments were more imaginary than real; 
they ran up however every spring in immense 
shoals, filling all space, and making no little 
noise, and sometimes creating excitement; 
they were on the whole a rather harmless, and 
eminently useful race; their number was any- 
thing, from hundreds to legions, according to 
times and circumstances; while the rafts were 
running, they were running also, and gener- 
ally on the water. But let the river go down 
and the rafts stop, which they did of course 
every summer; when instantly the suckers, 
from above, from below, from all quarters, 
made a "straight shoot" for Stevens Point; 
there they were counted (no they could not 
be counted) but they appeared in huge shoals, 
overwhelming all places and persons; the on- 
ly wonder is that they were not the fearful 
roughs the people of refined Plover would 
have the world believe; they were in tact, gen- 
erally, under the circumstances, a merry- 
hearted, generous and well behaved set of 
Boy-, as ever ran a river, or pulled an oar; all 
honor to the suckers; their day is nearly past; 
the locomotive has come and their occupation 
is about gone. 

While on the matter of the rivermen, there 
are two characters, pre-eminently such of 
Stevens Point, which we shall be pardoned 
for noting: the one is the ifr(/7s//«m— the oth-» 
er the Pilot: mention is made ot the first in 
the 18th number of the 1st volume of the Pin- 
ery news paper, published here in April, 1858; 
speaking of the river and the rivermen that 
paper had the following: 

'•Old Wisconsk.— For the last 8 months this old 



HISTORY OF PORTAGK COUNTY. 



"follow has been so quirt a> scarcely 
'•to remind us of hi* existence;— even the lit 
-tic children mounted his back and played 

"with his mane with impunity;— he seemed a 
^'fallen hero, and so destitute "I life thai some 
"even doubt his ability to riseagain. B,H the 
"I ng sunny days of March and April have 
"thawed him out, quickened hi- sluggish 
"nerves and restored hi- wasted strength. 
"Like a Li in n t refreshed with a long s'eep, he 
"has awaked and shaken bimself, and as if 
"conscious of i long delinquency in businc-Sj 
"Ue seem- in haste, to be oil towards the Fatbv 
"6rof Waters. He trembles in every limb, and 
"his \ oice like the linn's roar, is heard among 
"the rocks: to the uninitiated he seems a i<t- 
"rOr, but not so to t lie Raftsman; -accustomed 
"to his modes, he treat- bis marine.- and foain- 
"ing as so much swagger, and mounts his hack 
"with as little concern as a jockey would an 
"old hack. Nor is it for mere sport aloi e i hat 
"the man of Fines essays such a noble steed; 
"he harnesses him to his chain of a dozen or 
"twenty rafts, and compels him to drag fori 
"ward in his course to the Mississippi a train 
"that would put to shame thai ot any rarlf 
"road in Christendom. Well, the thing is 
"going on here now; and all you down yonder 
"that are fond of "grand sport," should come 
"and see our Raftsmen drive old II isciwwse." 

Mich was the view taken by the newspaper 
man of the Raftsman in 1853. All those eaj 
gaged in running out the lumber were Rafts- 
men; hut the other c assspoken of— the Pilots 
—were few; oiilv those oi lone,' experience — 
skill in managing the whole operation of tak- 
ing lumber from the niiils and delivering it 
safely at the point of destination — it might lie 
Dubuque or St. Louis— and only those who 
had character and reputation, were entitled to 
the more honorable distinction of Pilots: they 
were hut few at the day we speak ot — twenty 
at most. The Stevens Point Hand Book speaks 
of tin/ Pilots : s follows: — 

"The piloting of raits over these interinina- 
ble falls, from Jenny Bull, to and below the 
Dells, requires great skill, practice, courage, 
and extreme peril and hard labor. — This 
branch of the business has produced a class ot 
men known ae Pilots, wh > have become 
masters, both of the rapids, and the capitalists 
in the lumber trade; as nothing can he done 
without them; at least in getting the, product 
to market after it is cut out at 'he mills. 
When engaging by the day, they make their 
own terms at from five to fifteen dollars. 
Those of the better character, with a little 
mean:', ahead, are accustomed to job the Inisi- 
ness, entering into contract with the producer 
to take the boards in pile at the mill-, and 
furnishing all necessary men and outlays at 
their own cost and charges, to deliver the lum- 
ber at Dubuque or St. Louis, at a stipulated 
price per thousand feet. Partaking somewhat 
of the rigorous, wild character of the liver 
and its whirlpools, they are nevertheless for 
the most part, men of generous impulses, en- 
ergetic, honest and trustworthy; I icing fre- 
quently entrusted not only with' the custody 
ot a year's earnings of a large establishment, 
in its transit to market, but with the sale of 



the rafts, the disbursement of large amount- 
oft he proceed- to hand-, and the rendition of 
final accounts to the o\> ners." 

As with Hie Raftsmen so with the pilots; 
their occupation too i~ being abridged in a 
good degree by t lie locomotive: many of them 
hav ■ not braved the perils of the dee], fir 
nought; they have made their business n suc- 
cess, and arc quietly enjoying the fruit ot their 

toil. 

The old Count v Board (records p. 89) on the 
t'.th of .1 muar\, 1847, '•re. -ted f 22 N., P. (1 
F.. into a school district, to he numbered oru 
and to in- known a- the Grand Rapids District. 

On the nth April, 1847, they erected T. :l-\ 
N., R. i'. lv, (which i- on:- eitv of Steven- 
Point) into a - hool district, to he known as 
the Stevens Poit t Distric; and numbered /"•<>. 

The first election was directed to he held at 
the house ot A. It Baneraft. We. are unable 
to tind any organization of this Stevens Point 
D'i-trict ai that time, byelectio.i of District 
Officers. 

Under date oi May 24, 1847, the Hoard 
creeled T. 23 N., R. 8 E., into a school dis 
trict to he numbered three, and known a- the 
Plover District. 

All this time, the County of Portage had 
never been divided into towns, and was prac- 
tically under the government of the three 
County Commissioners. 

)\\ the '.nh of January, 1849, the Commis- 
sioners being B. W, Finch, S. R. Merrill and 
Win. V. ETeuiming, tin- county was divided 
into towns as follows: — 

"All that part of Portage county south of a 
line running east and west, one mile south of 
the north line of Town 23 N., Range 8 E.. 
shall be named the town ol Plover; the first 
election of town officers to he at the house of 
Geo. Neeves, Grand Rapid-. 

All that part ot the county lying north ol 
the north line oi Plover, and south of the 
north line of Town 27, shall he called and 
known by the name of Middletown; and the 
first election shall he at the house of Freeman 
Keeler, Duhay's trading post: — 

All that part of Portage county north of 
Town :l'i shall constitute one town and be 
known by the name of bull Falls; the first 
election to be at the bouse of Thomas Uin- 
ton. We have no data to describe the elec- 
tion and organization ot this town of Middle- 
town, which included Stevens Point; tho' it 
is said A. Brawley was a Justice ol Peace, and 
Samuel W. Rollins, Constable. 

On the 1st ot March, 1850, we tind the Coun- 
ty Board further dealing with the matter of 
the boundaries of township-;; the only impor- 
tant change made in our affairs, was to re- 
move the seat of government from Middle- 
town to Stevens Point, and ordering elections 
to be held at the house ot Hinton A: Phelps. 

The town of Stevens Point now fairly set 
up for itself with regular township govern 
ment, N. F. Bliss was elected Justice ol the 
Peace, Abraham Brawley, Orrin Mayhee, and 
Supervisors, Brawley chair- 
man; -las, S.Young Town Clerk, Ira Yaughan 
Assessor and Collector, and a Mr. llolden 
Superintendent of Schools. A, H. Baneraft 



IO 



HISTORY OF PORTAGE COUNTY 



was Sheriff of the county, Win Griffin was 
thc first Post Master; had to go to Plover for 
the mails, there being no post route to Stev- 
ens Point. 

About this time School District No. 1, Stev- 
ens Point, was organized; Di 
rector. Treasurer, and N. K. 
Bliss District Clerk; according to the Clerk's 
report tor September, 1K50, the school had 
been taught seven months, by Miss B. Ale 
LnugMin, who was paid ?2.» per month; the 
number of children in attendance was (id: — 30 
girls and 36 hoys. A new school house had 
been erected the year before, valued at $600. 

The population' at that date (sept., 1850,) 
was estimated at some 200. Our town was 
now some live years old: — it was acknow- 
ledged tlw place of transhipment from wagons 
to boats, (canoes); no practical wagon road 
bavintr yet been made Irom this to Big Bull ; 
tho' that place was growing apae •; mills hav- 
ing been built there, and a other points above, 
all which required lanre amounts of supplies, 
which found their way from Stevens Point by 
river in boats. As a central point of business 
for the pinery, on- town had (in 1850) three 
hotels, four stores, two rousing saloons, black- 
smith shops, carpenters, mill- wrights, wagon 
ers, traders — especially dealers in lumber and 
shingles; one of the residents of that day 
hands in the following tnemorandu u: lie .-ays 
"we had two hotels; Joseph Phelps kept the 
Mitchell House; Bro rn it Grover kept the 
City Hotel; the Star saloon was kept by Wal 
ton & Walsworth: the Ocean Wave b\ Sailor 
Jack and a Mr. Watts:— Matt Campbell and 
John Campbell, successors to Robert Bloom- 
er, kept store, where Krembs' hardware store 
now is; — John Strong had a store near Sloth- 
ewer's old store; — the principal traders and 
business men were, Matthias .Mitchell, lumber 
dealer and owner of the town site; Young A: 
Maybee, lumber dealers; Thos. Hinton, lum- 
ber dealer; A. Bra i ley, mill owner and lum 
her dealer; Campbell & Brothers, merchants 
ami lumber dealers ; B. Finch, lumber deal 
ci" Valentine Brown, Horace Judd, Azro Minn 
and Annus .McCauley, river pilots; Jas. Cran- 
dall, boarding house keeper; Seneca Harris, 
boot and shoe maker and dealer; Anson Rood, 
builder and merchant; Francis Lam ere, board- 
ing house; (), Wiswald and J Young, hotel 
keepers; John Welland, money lender and 
banker " 

Some enterprising parties, J. L. Prentice 
surveyor, had explored easterly as far as the 
branches of Wolf river for a road, hence 
called the Green Bay road:— it served the pur- 
poses of selecting and lo ating farms, and ex- 
tending settlements in that direction as far as 
To-morrow river, and a little beyond. To this 
lime. Gills Landing on the wolf river, wasjust 
being heard of; but scarcely a wagon track 
from there here was known: — there was a road 
traveled somewhat, from Strong's landing on 
t he Fox i iver, (near Berlin) through to Plover: 
— but practically nearly all the supplies came 
up the great wagon road from Galena. 

\ strip ci land t luce miles in width on each 
side of the Wisconsin had been brought into 



market as early as 1840: — the land office then 
being at Mineral Point:- the Indian title to 
the Upper Wisconsin country generally, was 
extinguished in 1S4S, and the lands were sur- 
veyed and in market soon after. In August, 
1852, < iongress passed an act creating two new 
land districts — one at La Crosse, and one at 
Stevens Point: the latter was opened the sum- 
mer of L853; — Abraham Brawley having been 
appointed Register, and Albert G. Ellis Re- 
ceiver It was thought sales would hardly pay 
expense?! 

How different the result V The rush was 
unprecedented; the offices were thronged 
night and day; the Register and Receiver were 
soon compelled to double their clerical force, 
lo keep up current hu.-iness; the thorough- 
fares were crowded— new stage lines had to be 
established for the r->ad, and new hotels lor 
the travelers:— the money was coin— all gold 
in those days: manv thousand dollars went 
into the Receiver's office daily: two, three and 
even four clerks were kept on the road carry- 
ing oil' the funds to dep isitaries, at Dubuque 
and Chicago. 

Stevens Point felt the impulse; population 
began to increase — new buildings went up in 
every direction: the Pointers thought the 
Millenium had come sure. 

Our citizens began to think they could no 
longer exist without a railroad; and specula- 
tors in that line at .Milwaukee were of the 
same opinion; — in L85T, agents of the Milwau- 
kee & ilorieou railroad appeared here solicit 
ing bonds and mortgages, and deeds of con- 
veyance in exchange for their stock, promis- 
ing to have the cars here from Berlin within 
a twelve month: — our people responded — 
bled freely:- -not less than 400,000 dollars 
worth of securities were handed over to these 
agents; we are charitable enough to believe 
that they intended to build a road! Alas for 
human hopes! A money crisis, succeeded the 
good tinns, anil the Horieon railroad scheme 
\ ani.-hed. 

Next came the hard times — credit was at an 
end; everybody suspended, and our flourishing 
little city eolapsed with all the rest of the 
world. Prices ol lots went down: — buildings 
'ii tint outskirts were without occupants: we 
had a great fire in 1858, which swept half the 
business part of the town; these vacant 
buildings in the outskirts were found of use; 
i hey were moved in to replace those destroyed 
by the fire: this process has been repeated — 
lor we have endured two destructive confla- 
grations within the last decade. 

In the midst of all this, some ambitious 
minds could no longer endure township gov- 
ernment: — application was made to the Leg- 
islature; and in IS5S, that body granted us a 
city charter. The city of Stevens Point by 
that charier, was nearly -?J/, miles square, 
embracing within it about 4,200 acres. 

The charter was accepted by the people; 
tin- first election held on the26th davof June, 
1858. 

Win. Scholfield was chosen Mayor. 

A, J. Aldrich, Marshal. 

c. B. Jackson, Police Justice. 



HISTORY OF POSTAGE COUNTY 



II 



H. B. Martin, rreasurer. 

■T, j. Cone, Assessor. 

C. B. Curtis City Clerk. 

W. B. Agnew, Surveyor. 

The Aldermen wew : A. 6. llamackcr and 
Valentine Brown, 1st Ward. II. Fuiyason 
and Martin Perkins. '3d Ward. Anson Rood 
and S. W. Homsted, 3d Ward. 

For the next ten years, matters progressed 
with lew changes: the shock occasioned by 
the late money cr eis gradually wore off: the 
energy of our people restored business ; es- 
pccially that of the lumber trade; it was con- 
tinually on the increase;— in 1865, the product 
of our Stevens Point operators in the trade, 
either as producers or jobbers, could not have 
h en less than 50 million feet of boards; ' e- j 
sides lath, pickets and shingles. Al i this time j 
our communication with the world below was 
by wagons; no ears nearer than 00 or 70 
miles. * 

Iu 1869, we had a new excitement about 
railroads; Hon. George Reed of Menasha, (or 
Manitowoc,) suddenly dropped down upon us, , 
proposing to talk railroad to our people; no | 
one would listen; the blessings of the old Hori- | 
eon fraud had not yet healed, it was lony; be 
lore he could be heard: — at last an audience 
was given, and it was perceived that he was 
in earnest, and had the wherewith; — that isto 
say, charters from the Legislature controlling 
the application of the large land grant made 
by Congress in 1864, to aid in building railroads 
from Berlin, Fond du Lac or Mcna-ha, and 
Portage City, to Lake Superior; and Congress 
havi ig made our City a point in the proposed 
railroad, we could not well be given thego-bv, 
provided one should ever be built at all, on 
the grant. 

After numerous consultations our people 
looked with favor i-m the undertaking, in the 
hands of Judge Reed; they nominated a di- 
rector as lor this city, and pledged the corpora 
ation for certain amounts of local aid — to pro- 

* The Wisconsin is not a navigable river up 
stream: — it was attempted in 1850: — the En- 
terprise, (apt. Harris, a boat of 100 tons bur- 
then, ascended as far a Point Bas, laden with 
Mill iron and lumberman's supplies for Clin- 
ton A; Rablin; the water tailing, she encount- 
ered untold difficulties in getting down again: 
tlie navigation ot the Wisconsin, above" the 
Dells, was considered impracticable. About 
the year 1853, an enterprize was set on toot, 
by Anson Rood, and others to navigate the 
river from Stevens Point, upwards, to Little 
Bull Falls, and thciue to Wausau:— a small 
boat, the Northerner, was put on, under steam: 
a year or two after a larger boat — the City of 
Seevens Point, was built, and the next year' the 
Wausau, for the short route between Little 
Bull and Wausau; — these boats run lor some 
three years; before any good wagon road had 
been made from Stevens Point to Rig Bull:— 
as soon as that was well accomplished, the 
transportation business, and most of the trav- 
el, went to the road by wagons and stages:— 
the boats, no longer paying well, were run 
out and sold on the lower river. 



(Hire the right of way and make a survey and 
location from Menasha to Stevens Point. It 
took two years to mature all plans, find cap- 
italists to advance moneys, to make contracts 
and construct the road; but it succeeded at 
last; and on the 20th of November, L872, our 
people had a celebration over the arrival of 
the first train of cars from Menasha! It de- 
cided the late of Stevens Point:— our popula- 
tion iu 1869 was about 1200:— business was 
with a slow coach; many were disheartened, 
and we were accustomed to hear every day, 
people talking of leaving. Our population 
now is over 4OJ0: — nobody is going away, but 
everybody seems coming Property — town 
lots,— have doubled, trebled in value; — all 
kinds ol business has revived:— the town has 
spread out in all directions, and no longer any 
doubt about our success. 

The Wisconsin Central Railroad, (with the 
Milwaukee Northern and its connection di- 
rectly to Green Bay, Milwaukee and Chicago) 
is oi.e of the institutions of the state; it has 
built, equipped and is operating 180 miles of 
new road; besides the Portage Branch, 78 
miles, now nearly complete. She is finishing 
her mam line through to Vshland — equal to 
about 340 miles in all of her own railroad pro 
per, besides her connections south of Men- 
asha. Stevens Point is her headquarters, hav- 
ing her extensive freight and passenger de- 
pots, her turn table, round house and new, ex- 
tensive machine shops, all here. 

Within the last lew days, anew railroad move 
is on fort — to-wit, an extension of the Green 
Bay & Minnesota railroad from Plover to Stev- 
ens Point: — a survey of the route has actually 
been made, and as we understand, estimates 
are being prepared to enable the company to 
determine thequestion of extending or not. 

As a tew of the improvements worthy of 
note in our city, we may mention, first, our 
extensive water power, central of the city, on 
the Shaurette rapids of the Wisconsin River: 
— this dam is considered permanent — furnish- 
ing a vast power, but a small poition of which 
is thus far utilized; — there are on it, two grist 
and flouring mills — one quite new and tirst 
class, built of stone in most substantial man- 
ner, of a capacity of 5 or 6 hundred barrels of 
flour a week: built and owned by Messrs, Lam- 
pert, Wagner <fe Co. 

The water power is chiefly owned by ex- 
Mayor Clark, who has an extensive lumber- 
ing establishment upon it: all the improve- 
ments being a;, yet on the ea-t side. Mr. Clark 
has just completed the rebuilding of his saw 
mills, at a cost of 6 or 9,000 dollars! In all he 
runs 22 saws: two double rotarys— with gantc 
edgers and trimmers for each: — all the ma 
chineryis new and of the most approved kind: 
— the mill is calculated to cut 100 thousand 
per tlay when in full operation, and is doubt- 
less one of the most complete in the Pinery. 

There are a number of other mills of various 
description running by steam: — four saw mills 
and six shingle mills. But a most important 
improvement touching the lumbering interest 
is the Stevens Point Boom; ii is supposed 
to be permanently built, at a cost of about 



12 



HISTORY OF PORTAGE COUNTY. 



40,000 dollars; having a capacity of 100,000,0 10 
feet <>l loirs. 

The railroad company has extended .side 
l racks to all t he mills on hot li sides of t he riv- 
er, which facilitates the shipment of lumber 
and shingles by rail: nineteen million feci of 
lumber and thirty-six millh ns of shingles are 
said to have goneout by rail the current year. 

Our institutions of literary and moral char 
aeter, are not excelled by any town ol its size 
in the siate. We have a Catholic. Church with 
a very large congregation, and Sunday school: 
there is an excellent private school by the 
Catholic Sisters ol Noire Dame, attached; a 
second Catholic Church n. in progress of erec- 
tion, in the northern part of the 1st Ward. 

We have five Protestant Churches well at- 
tended, with .Sunday schools in all. Our pub- 
lie schools are worthy special mention: they 
are under supervision of a Board of Education, 
created by special enactment, consisting of. six 
members — two from each ward: — the schools 
arc graded into five departments, occupying 
four buildings with nine different schools; 
nine teachers, besides a Principal: — the num- 
ber of cnildren in the city attending both pri- 
vate and public schools the past year, is some- 
thing over 1200. 

On the 5th of March, 1875, the Legislature 
passed an act providing for the establishment 
ol "free High Schools," whereby towns, vil- 
lages and cities, in addition to their common 
schools, might, on a vote of the inhabitants, 
organize free schools, of a higher grade, than 
under the common law, and provide for tin' 
teaching ol such branches as should tit the 
pupils for entrance into the State University, 
on certificates of the local School Board: the 
l>eneiits to the towns, villages and cities, of 
this law, will he very great: — it. is understood 
our city Board of Education have taken meas- 
ures for securing the advantages ol this act, 
by the immediate establishment of a Free 
High School in the city of Stevens Point. 

The amount of moneys received Irom all 
sources into the School District Treasury for 
the year past is 4, IMS dollars. The amount 
disbursed : — 

To teachers i< $3,862 

For other purposes 1,086 



Total • S4,94> 

Of fire proof buildings, of .-tone, brick, and 
two brick vaneered dwellings, there are a 
dozen and a hall — all lair structures: — the 
ot . er one thousand buildings, are wood— dry 
pine, inviting the element, which has tor the 
thin! time swept the business part of our lit- 
tle city: — these conflagrations have incited 
our people— business men and property hold- 
ers, to find protection — prevention Ifpoesib'e 

Of these destructive tires: the outcome of 

which has been the organization of a most 
vigorous, efficient Fire Oompang, and the fur- 
nishing of the city with lire engines — of which 
there are two — a hand engine and a steamer: 

the latter a splendid affair, at a cost, as is 
said, of lorty-seven hundred dollars: it has 
paid for itself and more already; we have 
scarcely had wfn-e since its appearance. 

There are several other institutions in the 



ci y for moral, religious and intellectual im- 
provements, anions - which is a library <iss<)rin- 
tum and reading circle, comprizing the intelli- 
gent portion ol the population:— it hasexisted 
five, years and is steadily advancing; exercis- 
ing a marked influence Vim- e,nod: it has regu- 
lar meetings for reading, lor discussions, and 
social intercourse; a handsome library of some 
volumns, and promises welt lor the fu- 
ture. 

The population of t' e city, as per census 
taken one year since, was :\:UY.',; — 

Assessed valuation of property §669,819 

To which ai least one third should lie 

added tor current value 228,273 

True value $893*092 

We have said ih •■ city is on the east side ol 
Hie Wisconsin river:- this must have a slight 
amendment.— there are some three mill.-, and 
i hiily houses on the west ide, and beyond 
doubt the town will extend on that .-id'' rap- 
idly. \ substantial bridue, on live stone and 
timber piers, spans the river at. loot ol (lark, 
street— a quarter of a mile above tl e Shau- 
re'lte dam: the railroad bridge of the Wiscon- 
sin Central, — a. structureo! iron, on four stone 
piers, spans the river a quarter of a mile he- 
low the mill dam. 

Stevens Point is not without a fair supply 
of the learned profession.-: — of 

Attorney at law, we have 10 

Physicians and Surgeons 7 

( le. gymen 8 

Civil Engineers :; 

Professors and Tea< hers of Music 15 

Qualified Teachers of schools 2U 

Editors and Authors <> 

Daguerrian Artists and Portrait Painters... 3 

Resident Officials. 
Hon. c. W. fate, Me triber of Congress for 

8th Congressional District. 

Hon. G. L Park, Judge of Circuit Court. 

Horace Grant, Esq., U. S. Post Master. 

.III-. P. Dor.-ey, Ksq., Ganger, 

.lames E. Rogers, Clerk Dist. Court. 

John Eckles, Sherill' 

Prank Whedock, Under Sheriff. 

John Stumpf, County Judge. 

J. B. Carpenter, County Clerk. 

Wm. Albert ie, County Treasurer. 

Ole O. Wogsland, Register of Deeds. 

Win. H, Packard, Dist. Attorney. 

W. G. Hinman, County Surveyor. 

J. 0. Morrison, Co. Supt. of Schools. 

John K. McGregor, Principal ol Schools, 

Of the City GouncM. 
lion. J. D. McLean, Mayor. 
Frank Wheelock, Marshal. 
N. F. Bliss, Police Justice. 
Alexander Krembs, I Aldermen lst Ward . 
John O. Johnsen, ) 
Owen Clark, ' AUl . . 2ml NV . ml . 
E. R. Herren, \ 

John Slothower, I AW 3rd w . ml 
John Ball, ) 

John Stumpf, City Clerk. 
| James Bellinger, I P()li( , ( . ln . m . 
Edward Dunegan, \ 



HISTORY OF PORTAGE COUNTY. 



Almansoii I ftton, City Attorney. 
K. ll. Estabrook, city Physician. 
.1 I.. Prentice, City Engineer. 
Tin Board of Education 

llun. G. L. Park, President. 
Win VVeston, Owen Clark, Geo. W-M-t, E. 
I). Brown. 
A G. rlamacker, Clerk. 

Of the Fire ( 'ompany. 
Henry Curran, ( !taief. 
Charles Krembs, Foreman. 

Of the Various Hocieties. 
MASONIC. 
Forest hapten' of B. A.. Masons, No. 34. 
Charles Chai'ee, K. P. 
11. 1). McCulloch, K. 
J. K. MeG tgor, Sec. 
John ('adman, Treas, 

F.rt rgreen Lodge, No. 93. 
C has. Chafec, W. M. 
A. F. Wyatt, F. W. 
John C.-dman, J. W. 
Emmon6 Burr, Sec. 
A. G. Ilainacker, Treas, 
Monadnmk Encampment No. .VJ, 1. 0. 0. F. 
L. D. Conery, C. P. 
M. W. Blan hard, G. P. 
J. H. Smith, S. W. 
W. P. Goodhue. S. C. 
John Stnmpf, Treas. 
J. B. Marshall, J. W. 

Sltnurette Lodge, I. O. 0. F., No. 'M. 
M. W. Blanchard, N. G. 
J. H. Whiting, V. G. 

A. M. Pratt, Sec. 

L. D. Conery, Treas. 

Stnmpf Lodge, I. 0. 0. F., No. 22o. 
John Stnmpf. N. G. 
David Lutz, V. G. 
Win. B. Koppe, See. 
Jacob Lutz, Treas. 

I. 0. of G. T. 
J. D. Wyatt, W. C. T. 
Olive. Aldrich, W. V. T. 
J. T. Kean, W. R. S. 
J. D. Whitney, W. F, S. 
Martha Grant, X . T. 
Alex Empey, W. M. 
Mrs. Gottery, W. A. M. 
Clara Wert, I. G. 
Fred Richardson, O. G. 
E. C. Sennett, L. D. 
Rev. D. W, Smith, W. C. 
J. H. Carlisle, P. W. C. T. 

I. 0. ofG. T. No. -I. 
W. C. T — S. L. Bean. 
L. II. S.— Emma Redfield. 

B. 11. S.— Lizzie Clark. 
W. 8.— F. L. Jackson. 
W. F. 8.— F. Redtield. 
W. T.— Mary Albertie. 
W. M.— Sam. Davis. 

A. M. — Virginia Brawley. 
A, S.— Acidic Packard. 
P. W. C— C. H. Lincoln. 



I. G. — lennic Bccillc. 

o. <;.— I'oin Boyd. 

W. ('.—Mrs. Watts 

W. V. T.— Rhoana Pane. 

Stevens f'oint Library Association. 
President— E. R. Herren. 
Vice President— D. L. Jones. 
See, — Webster Brown. 
Tnas.- II D. McCulloch » 

Librarian— Mrs. L. S. McCulloch. 
Executive Committee — W. K. Barnes, Mrs. 
D. R. Clements, Miss Julia Oman. 

Stevens Point Ladies' Benevolent Society, 

President — Mrs. 8. Hungerford. 

See.— Mrs. Dr. Phillips, 

Treas.— Mrs. Dr. McCulloch. 
Wisconsin Cent rid Railroad. 

President— Gardner ( lolby. 

Vice President — Charles Colby. 

Genl. Manager— E. B. Phillips. 
Germania Maennerchor. 

President — Jacob Lutz. 

Vice President — John Stenger. 

Secretary — Anton Ortmaier. 

r l reasurer — John Weutrieh. 
Temple of Honor 

W. T. C— D. L. Jones. 

W. V. T.— L. R. Lamb. 

P. W. T.— E. R. Herren. 

W. R.— W. E. Brown. 

W. A. R.— G. W. Hnngerford. 

W, F. R.— W. A. Osborn. 

W. T.— P. C. Claflin. 

W. C— A. A. Joss. 

W. M.-W. R. Barnes, 

W. A. M.— J. E. Smith. 

W. G.— A. J. Thomas. 

W. S. — K. Johnson. 

L. D.— II McDonald. 

Juvenile I. 0. G. T. 

Superintendent— Mrs L M Smith. 

Executive Committee— Mrs Elizabeth Gottery, 
Mrs Emma Carlisle, Herman George, Mrs Licta 
Knox. 

C T-Wm Gottery. 

V T— Emma Kingless . 

Chaplain— Edward Gottery. 

R S — Henry Ilainacker. 

A R S— Elizabeth Gottery. 

F S— Harry Raymond. 

Treas— Nellie Hungerford. 

P C T— Lucy Hungerford. 

Marshal— Walter Wert. * 

Ass't Marshal— Jennie Empey. 

Inside Guard — Clara Allen. 

Outside Guard— Robby Rood. 

Right. Supporter— Hatty Davis. 

Left Supporter — Anna Slothower. 

Tims have we set forth something— not by any 
means all that ought to be said of Stevens Point- 
As a point for business, where the enterprising 
man may find his exertions rewarded with abun- 
dant success:— as a pleasant, agreeable, healthy 
location for family resilience, and one of good 
social and moral influences— for all these it may 
be most truly commended to the searcher for a 
western home. A line salubrious elimaae, a beau- 
tiful location on a large river, with two new rail 
roads connecting us directly with the world, north, 
south, east anil west: -the plat nearly level, just 
undulating enongh fur good drainage ; pine water, 
both of the Wisconsin river, and only 12 feet he- 
low the surface, uniformly pure and sweet: -the 



HISTORY OF PORTAGE COUNTY. 1 4 

cily has 4iiik) inhabitants, with ixoml improve- will greallv incense, fill her marts of trade wUI 

ments; a hundred houses being in process of be crowded, her streets bordered wit h fine build- 

ereciion to-day. Some of our neighbors have ings. her institutions of education, religion and 

kindly suggested our being already overgrown- morals multiplied;— refinement and intelligence 

that another year will witness our decline -our mark the character ol her people— all this and 

population seceding! This has been said by much more it is but reasonable tolookfor; -and 

them of us for the last ten years, .-ill the while. ii we who now inhabit here, be true to our trusl 

however, our population steadily increasing, im- —handing down to our children the blessings of 

provements extending in ;ill directions, till now it our free government, with our institutions, young 

is fairly conceded that such an amount of capital though they yet are, of edm ation. moral and civ- 

i s^n vested here, in real estate, mills and machin- il. unimpaired, may we not hope to bequeath to 

ery, in stores, hotels, churches, school houses. our state a commnnity of virtuous, patriotic peo- 

&c., <fcc, as sets that question at rest. Seventy pie, an honor to our name., emulating in their 

years hence, when Stevens Point shall celebrate turn our example of handing down to their cnil- 

its Centennial, what may we not expect her to dren those priceless gifts of liberty and freedom 

ndesenl '■ but t hat she will continue her upward to the latest posterities. 
par onward course: -that wealth and population 



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