History: Unity (Pioneer Days - 1896)
Surnames: Parkhill, Creed, Fitzgerald, Booth, Salter, Graves, White, Lamont, Spaulding, Sterling, Cook, Whipple
----Source: Colby Phonograph (Colby, Clark Co., Wis.) 5 Feb. 1914
Echoes of Pioneer Days
[Forward] The letters and articles published under this head were collected by Geo. H. Parkhill, of Thorp, Wisconsin, some years ago and we are indebted to him for their revision for publication together with other historical matter prepared by him. Editor
Unity, Feb. 4, 1896
Dear Sir: - Will try and give you what information I can in my homely way about the early history of this vicinity. I moved here in the winter of 1871 from Amherst, Wisconsin. There were no houses along the line south of Spencer then to my knowledge. The railroad was only completed as far as Waupaca, but the Phillipps & Colby Construction Company had cut a "tote" road along the line to about where Lamont’s mill now is. A subcontractor named Fitzgerald had taken a job to grade ten miles from Spencer, then called section 40, to Colby, called section 50, and began work in the spring. I boarded a crew of his men and also kept travelers over night, sometimes as many as three in the bed and one at the foot. Some had money and some had not. Provisions became scarce toward summer. It being next to impossible to get anything here on account of the wet spring which had made the mud in the "tote" road over knee-deep to a horse.
Fitzgerald’s headquarters was then four miles north of here about where Booth & Salter’s mill stands now and it took me all day to go there and back and bring four or five hundred pounds of supplies. People who complain of the roads now ought to have seen what we called roads in those days. Just before the beginning of the winter of the winter of 1872-3 Fitzgerald gave up his job and the Phillipps & Colby Con. Co., had to finish it themselves. About the same time Ira Graves and N. J. White built a saw mill on Dill creek a little south of where Booth & Salter’s mill now stands. There were four or five settlers west of here who had located a year or two before, coming here from near Neillsville. In the fall of 1873 D. J. Spaulding built a sawmill here and that winter put in a stock of logs. This station on the railroad was then called Brighton and Spencer was called Waltham.
When a post office was asked for at this place the name of Brighton was sent in to the post office department, as the name selected for the new office but as there was already an office of that name in the state we tried again and sent in the name Maple Grove only to be informed that there was also an office of that name already in the state. Some now wanted one name and some another, and before we could come to an agreement the department took the matter in their own hands and gave the new office the name of "Unity," the officials at Washington evidently were a "unit" on that name if the citizens of this place were not, and Ed. Creed was named as the first postmaster. There was some kicking because he was a Democrat and in order to bring about the peace in our little family of pioneers, I refused to accept the office and John Sterling was appointed. He had just started a general store in a little log building that stood about where the Odd Fellow Hall now stands and ran it about a year when he sold out to S. A. Cook.
Our town was organized in 1875, and "thereby hangs a tale" also. In the fall of 1872 the county board was petitioned to create two new towns, the towns of "Hull" and "Brighton." "Hull’s" petition was granted but for some reason ours was pigeon-holed and not acted upon and we were left a part of the town of Mosinee which was then six miles wide and forty miles long; a nice small town. At that time there was a nice bunch of money coming from the "drainage fund" to the several towns and I think in 1873 the town of Hull received $2,000 from this fund with which to build roads. The next year our Wausau friends (?) got their heads together and in the fall of 1874 attached townships 26, 27 and 29 of range two east to the town of Hull, as there were getting to be too many towns in the western part of the county and it was dividing the drainage fund too much and Wausau must have the "lion’s share." In 1875 our second petition was granted and townships 26 and 27 range 2 east were set off as the town of Brighton. We elected J. H. Cook first chairman, Frank Whipple, clerk; S. A. Cook, treasurer, and myself as assessor. Two years later the town was divided and the town of Spencer formed of township 26 ranges one and two. We had great expectations then but many of us have been sorely disappointed.
Speaking of hard times now, I want to say that I do not consider we are "in it" with the winter of 1877-8 when I hauled pine logs that would go four to the thousand, three and a half miles to the Eau Pleine river and banked them and sold them to McMillan Brothers for three dollars and fifty cents per M. We got ten and twelve pounds of sugar for a dollar and other supplies in proportion. Mr. A. Lamont bought 100 tons of timothy hay that winter for $5 per ton, good old Rep - "hold on or I’ll run this into politics, quaker," so I guess I’ll stop. You can arrange this lingo to suit and polish what you think is worth while of it.
Very Resp. Yours,
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