Bio: Wage, Tom (Grant Pioneer - 1931)

Contact: Ken Wood

Surnames: Wage, Williams, Winn, Marsh, Howard, Garbish, Riedel, Rhead, Foster, Palmer, Dahl, Holmes, Bartz, Pierce

----Source: Marshfield News Herald (Marshfield, Wood Co., Wis.) 6 June 1931, P. 1

Pioneer Recalls Arrival In Town of Grant in 1856

Granton--Seventy-five years ago today Tom Wage, one of the best known residents of this community and former owner of the land on which the village of Granton was built, arrived as a boy of 4 years with his parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. John Wage, his sisters and a brother, and the George Williams family, the first settlers in the town of Grant.

Mr. Wage who has lived in the town of Grant ever since, now makes his home with his daughter, Mrs. F. E. Winn, and the farm he bought in 1890 after disposing of his first farm to Sylvester (Vet) Marsh, who in turn had in platted Nov. 22, 1890, for the new village which followed the arrival of the C.M. St. P & O, Ry., connecting Marshfield and Neillsville.

Came From Pennsylvania

The Wage family originally lived in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, when Tom was born April 26, 1852. In the fall of 1855 the father sold his farm and shoe shop to set out for Wisconsin with his family. The older son, Fernando, drove the team of horses to Buffalo, N. Y., from where they were shipped via the Great Lakes to Chicago.

The rest of the family traveled on a train whose engine was of the wood-burning type, considered a wonderful convenience in those days. The train terminal was Chicago, where a team was hired to take them to Green county, Wisconsin, where they met Fernando. Traveling northward, they overtook George Williams and his family, from Ohio, whose wagon was mired in the swampy roads, and the two groups joined forces and traveled together to Sparta, where they remained for the winter.

Arrive in Spring

In the spring of 1856 both families started for Clark County, Mr. Wage having sold his team and bought a yoke of oxen and some cows. Reaching Neillsville, they found it necessary to cut a road to the 160-acre tract of land they had secured in the town of Grant.

Reaching the place, they hurriedly built a log cabin on the Wage land to shelter the two families, and after its completion built another on the Williams tract, which land is now owned by Henry Williams.

Tom Wage vividly recalls those early days, and especially the fact that his brother, who was 15 years older, enlisted for service in the Union army when President Lincoln called for volunteers, and that he (Tom) hid in the barn to prevent seeing his brother go to war.

Built First School

When Tom was 7 years old, a school house was built on the Wage farm, and the children of Nelson Marsh, Robert Howard, Gottlieb Garbish, and John Riedel attended classes there during the next few years. Nelson Marsh was the father of the late J. C. Marsh of Marshfield.

In 1866, when Tom was 14, his father, then 85 years old, was injured while clearing land, and a messenger was sent horseback to the nearest doctor, located in Black River Falls. He died, however, before aid arrived.

At the age of 17, Tom began working for Tom Rhead along the Black river. Seven years later he was married to Henrietta Foster in Neillsville, the ceremony being performed by the Rev. Mr. Palmer, great grandfather of the late Ernest Palmer of Granton. Miss Foster's home was in the town of York, where John Dahl now lives.

For four years Mr. and Mrs. Wage lived in a house now occupied by Hal Holmes, while Mr. Wage was engaged in teaming. In 1880 he purchased the farm which he later sold to Mr. Marsh.

A Lover of Horses

He has always been a lover of horses, and used them in his work whenever and wherever possible. He was also an enthusiastic berry-picker and enjoys telling of the long drives with horses when several families would follow his leadership to the choicest berry fields and sometimes spend a week picking the wild fruit. He also established a reputation for making maple syrup and still finds opportunity to utilize his skill when the season arrives.

Mrs. Wage died in 1918, five years after they had retired from farming and lived in a house now owned by William Bartz. Their children are Mrs. Norman Pierce (Jenny) of New Orleans; Miss Gladys Wage, Instructor in Langlade county normal school in Antigo, and Mrs. F. E. Winn (Dora). There are also five grandchildren.



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