History: Holeton (Pioneer Days - 1896)
Surnames: Parkhill, Holeton, Ferguson, Tennant, Barker, Fitzgerald, Shannon, Sawyer, Moss, Lyon, Demarest, Homestead, Vangorder, Kayhart, Williams, Empey, Peckham, Grant, Ouimette, Denney, Gotchey, Crawford, Carpenter, Barr, Dix, Pitcher, Stoughton, Ghoca
----Source: Tribune Phonograph (Abbotsford, Clark County, Wis.) 22 Jan. 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
Abbotsford, Wis. - Feb. 7, 1896
It was the first week in November, 1871, that H. A. Ferguson (then a settler in what is now the town of Weston, in Clark county) and myself started north to look over land along the Wisconsin Central Railroad as then surveyed. We began at section 40, which is about where Spencer now stands, and about the 14th of the month came upon a camp of land-lookers camped near where the coal kilns at Colby are now located. They had found the land they wanted to enter but were not able to take the descriptions, so they got Mr. Ferguson to do that for them. The party was composed of Richard, Joel and William Tennant and Rufus Barker. We looked over the land and made our selections and all took out our papers at the same time. There was then a squad of men cutting out a supply road thru the west side of this town and a camp of railroad engineers on the quarter of section 19, below where the city of Colby now stands. My homestead papers were issued at Stevens Point land office about the 19th of November, 1871, and there were no settlers in what is now the town of Holeton to my knowledge, and I do not believe there were any in what is now the town of Hull on that date.
My first load of goods and material for building was unloaded in what is now the town of Holeton on March 6th, 1872. Fitzgerald, a R.R. contractor, had built a camp below Colby and was then getting in his supplies so as to begin clearing the right-of-way. The snow was then over three feet deep and of course there was no settlement at Colby, and very little work could be done on account of the deep snow. William Shannon, a single man, together with his brother John and a brother-in-law named Sawyer, had built a shanty in town 29, range 2, and moved into same, the latter part of February 1872. Hubbard Moss, Richard and William Tennant, Rufus and Henry Barker were also building log shanties in March, 1872, and were followed soon after by Judah Lyon and Henry Demarest.
On March 25th, 1872, I met my wife and two children, and my wife’s sister (now Mrs. Gus Homestead of Dorchester) at Stevens Point, and piloted them to our home in the primeval forest, arriving at our destination on "All-fool’s-day." Samuel Vangorder came a few days later; Hiram Kayhart in June and Rolof Ammundson in July. Samuel Williams, Nels Empey and Thos. Peckham came in the fall of the same year. While lowering Mr. Peckham into a well being dug on Mr. Williams’ place, the chains became unhooked and Mr. Peckham fell about thirty feet, breaking one leg in three places and dislocating the bones of the heel of the other. This was about the 5th of November, 1872 and as there was no physician nearer than Stevens Point, he was carried by five men fourteen miles thru the woods on a stretcher. He suffered terribly from the pain and jolting.
I proved up on my homestead in December ’73 and received my patent, signed by President U.S. Grant, in August, 1874, and was the first owner of land in the township. I believe James Denney’s letter will give the town officers as they were copied from our records by C. S. Ouimette, town clerk. April 15th, 1875 a school district was formed and was known as district number 7 of the town of Hull, the order being signed by I. C. Gotchey, G. W. Holeton and Wm. Crawford, supervisors of the town of Hull. This district is now known as district number one of the town of Holeton. At the first meeting held May 4th following at which T. B. Carpenter was chairman and James F. Barr, clerk, pro tem, William Tennant was elected director, Rufus Baker treasurer and myself district clerk. Our first school house was 16x28x7 feet, built of logs with a double scoop roof. Occasionally religious services were held in it conducted by Elder Dix or Rev. Mrs. Pitcher.
We were part of the town of Wien up to spring of ’75 when we were attached to the town of Hull. In the fall of 1875, the town of Holeton was organized and our first town meeting was held in the spring of 1876 at R. C. Tennant’s log cabin. A. G. Stoughton was our first chairman. During the summer of 1882 an old settlers’ party was given by Mr. and Mrs. Geo. W. Ghoca. In the list of guests published in The Phonograph, the names of Mrs. Gus Homestead and Mrs. Holeton were omitted. They were both present, however, at this re-union. Thus is all at present and if it is worth printing, you are welcome.
Very truly yours,
Geo. W. Holeton
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