History: Chippewa County (1881)
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---Source: 1881 History of Chippewa County, Wisconsin, pg. 189-198.
1881 Chippewa County History.
Geographically the county is in latitude 45 to 46, and from Town 20 to 40 inclusive, and Range 1 east to 1.0 west, giving 78 miles extension north and south and 60 east and west. It has an area of 1,412,471 acres, and only 125,000 under cultivation. The State owns 30,000 acres of school lands, which are in the market at $1.25 per acre. The railroad companies, through the various land grants own 150,000, which they hold at from $3 to $5 per acre or more. The timber lands amount to 1,000,000 acres, including hard woods. Chippewa Falls is near the southwest corner of the county which is bisected by the river from northeast to southwest, and has a dozen or more branches of more or less importance on either side; on the east there is Paint, Yellow, Fisher, Swift, Flambeau, Thorn and Nail. On the west are the Duncan, O'Neill, Mud, Court Oreilles, West Fork and Little Chief.
Twenty-five miles north of the city is a group of numerous lakes, and several lakes in the northwest corner of the county quite large in size, and still others in the northeastern part.
No very extended examination of the formation of the county has ever been made. What an exploration with an artesian auger would develop can only be surmised by the imperfect surface indications. In general terms then, the upper part of the county is underlaid with the granitic, or azoic rocks, covered usually with drift from the Huronian system. In the southern part the soil is made up of alluvium with the disintegrated Potsdam sand-stone as a foundation.
Hon. Geo. P. Warren has in his yard a water-worn boulder, eighteen inches or more in diameter, of sandstone, which has one side enameled, half an inch or so in thickness, following the inequalities of the surface. This curious rock, which is clearly a sand-stone, with part of its substance transformed into quartz, seems to strengthen the growing theory of the aqueous rather than the igneous origin of even the azoic rocks. No lime-stone has been found in the county and consequently the water is soft.
As to the character of the soil, it is unquestionably rich in the mineral constituents necessary to the production of good crops, but it requires to have a part of its production, or its equivalent, returned to its bosom every year. The amount of vegetable mould is not so abundant that one can go on cropping, generation after generation, without exhausting its fertility.
Mr. Allen has a garden which he has treated generously for many years, and the luxuriance with which corn and other crops grow there is really surprising, considering the latitude. There is considerable hard wood lumber, which, of course, while the more easily cut pine remains, will be comparatively neglected; when, however, the scarcity of pine begins to be felt, the hard woods will gradually take its place. Chippewa County is a great success so far as lumber is concerned, and as a farming country well watered, and with a workable soil it is even more valuable; but when we come to mineral productions, no promises can be made in that direction. What may lie buried beneath our feet time only, in the restless hands of energy and enterprise, can tell. As to building material it is inexhaustible. When the billions of feet of lumber shall have been appropriated to man's use, the clay and the rocks will remain.
As to the practical geology of the county it need only be said, that whether its place in the order of creation shall be found nearer the igneous period, or the post pliocene, it is a goodly land, for the most part a virgin soil awaiting the coming of the husbandman, and with the ability to reward him for all his toil.
The Indians, having no literature, and of course no written history of their own, have a remembrance of events more clear and distinct than those who depend upon the written or printed page for their preservation. And any one who has never given the subject attention would be surprised to see how long a time can be covered by tradition, through a single intervening witness between the occurrence and the one relating the incident. To illustrate this point: the writer has seen a man who lost his arm at the storming of Quebec in 1759 and heard from his lips the story of that conflict in 1839, when ten years of age, the old soldier being ninety- nine years of age; and should the boy who heard the story live to be ninety and tell it to another of ten, he living eighty years afterwards and repeating the tale from one who got it from the man participating in the event, it would be 240 years after the battle, with a single intervening witness.
Now the Indians have a language quite complete in words representing natural objects and describing events and names of places, although deficient in terms to describe mechanical works, arts or science, or any of the concomitants of civilization; and their traditions must have a certain amount of value to the historian and a few of them will be here presented. The name " Ojibwa," which the English tongue has transformed into Chippewa, signifies, " the dwellers in a contracted place," evidently applied to these people during their long residence at the foot of Lake Superior, or " le Sault de Ste. Marie." It is supposed that this tribe, coming from the northern part of the New England States, struck the Great Lakes on the north of Lake Ontario, following along Lake Erie, without having touched Niagara Falls, as they make no mention of that, and via the coast of Lake St. Claire and Lake Huron to Mackinaw, or Mee-she-mee-ke-nak, the " Great Turtle," as they called the Island of Mackinaw. The Oh-dah-wa [Ottawa] branch of the Ojibwa tribe tnolc its course up Lake Michigan [Me-sliegane] the great lodge of the Great Turtle or " Manitou." The main body of the Ojibwas must have lingered a long time around the shores of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron, until finally reaching the Sault Ste. Marie, having been in a moie or less constant state of warfare on the journey, which must have been much slower than the children of Israel. The scene of their principal traditions is about this place and up to the head of Lake Superior, having gradually moved along the south shore, making frequent excursions down the Sauteur or Chippewa River. Another branch, the " Bois Forts," of the Algonquians, as they were called by the English, whose native name was Sah-guan-da-gawin- ena, or "men living in thick undergrowth of timber," proceeded on the north of Lake Superior. Their bands had few warlike experiences compared to those south of the lake, who encountered the Mis-qua-kee, or Sacs, and the Oda-gah-mee, or Foxes, and gradually crowded their way, finally reaching the Apostle Islands. On one of them, Madeline, they located, not daring to locate on the main land for fear of the Dakotas or Sioux. These people were at that time in what might be called a flourishing condition. It was many generations ago. From the colony at Madeline Island, bands proceeded to the mouth of the Brule River, thence down the St. Croix, and finally establishing themselves at various points, reached Sandy Lake, Leech Lake, and other places on the upper Mississippi. Their finally overcoming the Sacs and Foxes was evidently owing to their superior weapons, for, in addition to some guns in the later period, their arrows and spears were iron or steel pointed. The reasons for believing this general account of the voluntary or forced migration of this powerful tribe from the Atlantic coast, are that, among other things, many names of New England landmarks are found in the Chippewa language, and indeed the language itself is the Algonquin, with such contractions and modifications as time and changed surroundings and circumstances would create.
There is an Indian reservation, called the Courte de Oreilles, in the northwest corner of the county. The following is an enumeration of various bands of Indians: Red Cliffs, 726; Bad River, 7-34; Lac Courte de Oreilles, 1,709; Lac De Flambeau, 666; Fond du Lac, 404; Grand Portage, 267; Boise Forte, 769. Total, 4,630.
That our readers may see a specimen of the Chippewa tongue, the opening sentences from the record of a talk held some years after the treaty alluded to, will be here presented:
"Eji gikendaug isa aw Anichinabe iw o wawin damagowinan megwa bisan namao abipan anodj ejiwin- 8od Anicliinabe.
" Ningodingdach madwe gigido aw Ningitchi michomisinon madwe sagaswead dach iniw Onidjanissan imidi 'Gibi Saging.' Prairie du Chien."
Translation.—"This statement made by the Indians, according to the best of their knowledge, in regard to the promises made to them while living in peace among themselves.
" At a certain time there came to us the word of our Great Father, calling us to a council to be held at Prairie du Chien."
The Indian name for their own race is Ani-chi-nabe, and the name of the tribe is Od-jib-wa, which the English or French, or both, transformed into Chippewa. The original word certainly should not be lost. The accent is on the second syllable—Od-Jib-wa.
By an act of the Territorial Legislature, approved February 3, 184n, Crawford County was divided. The part set off took the name of Chippewa County. It embraced all of that district of country lying west of Portage County, as enlarged by the act of February 18, 1841; all east of St. Croix County, as prescribed by the Legislature of 1840; and all north of a line commencing at the mouth of Buffalo River on the Mississippi; " thence up the main branch of Buffalo to its source, thence along the dividing ridge between the waters of the Chippewa and Black rivers, until it reaches the head waters of Black River, thence in a direct line due east to the boundary line of Portage County," which line was made the northern boundary of Crawford and the southern boundary of Chippewa. The county was organized from and after the first general election, which occurred on the fourth Monday of September, 1845. At this election, the people were required to select the various county officers, and also commissioners to locate the county seat; the seat of government being fixed temporarily at the mouth of the Menomonie (Red Cedar) River, at or near the residence of Mr. Lamb. The county was attached to Crawford for judicial purposes. By an act approved March 29, 18.53, the county of Chippewa was organized for judicial and county purposes, from and after November, 1853, at which time there was but one town in the county. By this act the voters were required to elect three Supervisors and all the town officers at the election in November, and also such county officers as they were entitled to by their organization; the latter were required to hold two years, or until their successors were chosen. The county seat was, by the same act, located at Chippewa Falls, and the Supervisors were required to select the site for the buildings in such a part of the village as they should deem most; conducive to the interests of the county, and should also take immediate steps to secure their erection. The first Circuit Judge was N. S. Fuller; first Treasurer, H. S. Allen; first District Attorney, H. S. Humphrey; first Sheriff, Blois Hurd. Since the formation of the county, it has greatly decreased in size, having given territory to the counties of Buffalo, Pepin, Dunn, Clark, Eau Claire, Barron and Burnett, but still embraces a tract of country seventy-eight miles long and sixty miles wide—3,744 square miles, or about 2,396.160 acres which is divided into 104 townships. Of this area, four townships belong to the Chippewa Indians, in a reservation around Lac Courte Oreille in the northwest; corner. About two-thirds of the entire county is owned by private individuals; one-fifth by the United States; about 50,000 acres by the State of Wisconsin, and the balance by the West Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Central and the North Wisconsin railroads. There are, by estimate, over 1,500.000 acres of pine lauds in the county, which at the present rate of consumption will last for fifty years. Large portions of these pine lands are interspersed with groves of oak, maple, ash and other hard-wood varieties.
ORGANIZATION OF THE COUNTY.
The county was organized December 29, 1854. George P. Warren was Chairman of the Board of Supervisors; Stephen S. McCann was the other Supervisor; Samuel H. Allison, Clerk. The first business transacted was the appointment of E. A. Galloway, J. M. Baxter and John C. Flannegan to locate a road to the capital of Dunn County. Th. E Randall was appointed superintendent of its construction.
It was voted to lay out a road to the mouth of Clear Water River. William Wiley, Piere Riess and Jesse S. Gage were chosen as Commissioners, and J. E. Randall, Superintendent. A petition for a road via Duncan's Mill to Bloomer was deemed improper, and rejected. The road authorized to Eau Claire (Clear Water) via Frenchtown and the Blue Mill was, after mature deliberation, declared " highly injudicious and unnecessary."
James Ermatinger, Henry O'Neil and Daniel McCann were appointed to lay out a road to Vermillion Falls. Ermatinger was made superintendent. The next meeting was February 1, 1855. James Reed, who had been elected Supervisor, having refused to serve, Elias W. Galloway was appointed to fill the place. Moses Reevis, who, it seems, had been elected Constable, declined the honor, as also did William Riley, as Justice of the Peace. William J. Young was authorized to procure copies of the United States Survey field notes in relation to the county. The resolve in relation to the Duncan's Creek road was subsequently reconsidered. At a meeting on February IG, the Board provided a court-room in the second story of H. S. Allen's carpenter shop. On motion of S. S. McCann, James Reed was fined $10 for refusing to act as Supervisor.
The outline of every town is irregular, and some of them fifty miles in the longest extent. They contain much more territory than in a township of Government survey.
The names of the several towns are : Anson, Auburn, Bloomer, Big Bend, Flambeau, Eagle Point, Edson, Lafayette, Sigel and Wheaton. The county has for neighbors—on the north, Ashland; on the east. Price, Taylor and Clark; on the south, Eau Claire; on the west, Dunn, Barron and Burnett. The growth of the county has been as follows: 1850, population 615; 1855,838; 1860,1,895; 1865, 8,278; 1870, 8,311; 1875, 13,997.
The census of the county, as recorded in 1880, is as follows : Chippewa Falls, 4,003; Auburn, 1,230; Anson, 730; Bloomer, 1,886; Big Bend and Flambeau, 689; Eagle Point, 2,626; Edson, 884; La Fayette, 1,90S; Sigel, 849; Wheaton, 1,287. Total, 15,987. There are 1,794 more males than females in the county. Of the whole number, 10,048 are natives, and 196 are colored.
Present county officers: Sheriff, Frank Colburn; Under Sheriff, John O. Putnam; Treasurer, E. P. Hastings; Deputy, Angus McDonnell; County Clerk, James Comerford; Deputy, W. W. Crandall; Register of Deeds, Edward Emerson; Deputy, U.Dominique; Clerk of Court, John Weinberger; Deputy, J. V. Weinberger; District Attorney, William R. Hoyt; School Superintendent, C. D. Tillinghast; County Judge, R. D. Marshall; Municipal Judge, Henry Coleman; Surveyor, S. A. Carpenter; Coroner, A. E. Bentley; County Board: city—First Ward, G. D. Vollaincourt; Second Ward, L. F. Martin; Third Ward, W.L.Pierce; Fourth Ward, E. H. Everett; Anson, D. G. McKay; Auburn, Charles Spencer; Bloomer, Henry Lebeis; Big Bend, E.M. Miles; Eagle Point, Ludwig Meyer; Edson, N. Leith; Flambeau, Gilbert Swenson; Lafayette, W. R. Melville; Sigel, Alexander Sherman; Wheaton, Southmaid. County Lumber Inspector, Duncan L. McKay.
The following have served as members of the Assembly from Chippewa Falls: 1861, Rodman Palmer; 1864, Thad, C. Pound; 1866, 1867 and 1869, Thad. C. Pound; 1871, James A. Bate; 1872, John J. Jenkins; 1873, Albert E. Pound; 1874, James A. Bingham; 1875, Th. L. Halbert; 187G, C. J. Wilse; 1877, Louis Vincent; 1878, A. R. Barrows; 1879 and 1880, Hector McRae; 1881, J. A. Taylor. Thad. C. Pound was Lieutenant Governor in 1870 and 1871. J. M. Bingham was Lieutenant Governor 1878 to 1881, two terms.
The Court House is a substantial structure of brick and was built in 1872, at a contract price of $37,500. It is situated on Bridge street in the center of a park embracing a whole block. The style may be termed composite; it is of brick 60x80 feet. The basement can be used in part as a jail; is eight feet in the clear. The first story fifteen feet, the court room twenty-four feet. The hall is fourteen feet wide below, and fifteen above. The offices are large and convenient. J. A. Bates was the engineer.
Big Bend.— The town of Big Bend occupies the northwestern part of the county, it consists of at least twenty-nine townships. It has six school houses besides one on the reservation. The schools are taught by women, who receive $40 per month. On the chain of lakes near the big bend in the river, is a steamboat put there by Elisha Swift in 1880. Mr. Swift also owns a shingle mill there. One of the old settlers in that region is Joseph Bellsile who, by three aboriginal wives, has twenty-one children, and the number of his wives' relation he has to support is fabulous.
Among the characters in that neighborhood is an old Indian who was four years old at the time of the storming of Quebec during the old French war; was twenty-one years of age when the Declaration of Independence was signed, and is now 126. His hair is silver white, and he is so doubled up that he has little trouble to make both ends meet. He is still able to dispose of a full ration.
The State valuation of the county in 1880, was $5,514,248; State tax, $9,512,163; bonded debt for roads and bridges, $50,000; all other indebtedness $105,663.98.—Total $155,663.98.
This county is in the Eleventh Judicial District. Henry D. Barron is the present Judge. The court is held on the first Monday in June and the fourth Monday in December, at the Falls.
At the treaty with the Chippewas in 1854, they took three townslhps near Lac Couite de Oreilles as a reservation, and they were to receive a yearly stipend for a term of 3 years.
Water-Power.--The amount of water-power on the Chippewa and its tributaries can hardly be computed. At Eau Claire is the first fall, then at Chippewa Flails, at Paint Creek, Eagle Rapids, Jims Falls, Cotton Rapids, Little Falls, and at many other points. These falls vary from ten feet to twenty-four, and must be utilized in manufacturing hard wood very extensively at no distant day.
The voting of themselves out of the Union by the Southern States, the firing upon our flag while proudly floating over Fort Sumter, so promptly followed by a call from Washington for troops, was supplemented here by the usual scenes enacted all over the State and in every Northern State.
To put down the rebellion, Chippewa furnished its full quota, and most of them went before bounties were offered, and they went to recruit the army, and not to fill the quota. As an illustrious example, the little town of Lafayette, which had never been able to muster more than seventy-one voters, actually sent sixty-five men to the front. Large numbers went and enlisted in distant cities, which often received the credit.
In the very complete work of Rev. M. Love, on the " History of Wisconsin in the Rebellion," and other works, the valorous deeds of regiments, companies and individuals are recorded, and men from this county hold a conspicuous place on its pages; and it is a matter of regret that they can not all be mentioned here.
HISTORY OP THE SETTLEMENT.
This busy and thriving city is located on the right bank of the river and falls which furnish its name. The business part of the town is situated in the valley of Duncan's Creek, a stream which supplies valuable water-power and enters the Chippewa below the falls, at nearly right angles, coming from a northerly direction. On either side of this stream, there are bluffs rising to table-lands, upon which residences are found, and which must become more and more fashionable as the city fills with business and manufacturing establishments.
The soil is sandy, and facilities for draining could not be better. As there is none of the magnesian limestone so abundant in some other parts of the State, the water is soft.
There are many substantial buildings of brick and stone in the city, but on account of the cheapness of lumber, most of them are of wood. The city is most admirably laid out diagonally with the four cardinal points of the compass. There is no north side to the buildings. The sun shines on two sides in the forenoon, and the other two in the afternoon.
When we remember that less than thirty years ago the blood-curdling war-whoop of the terrible Sioux and the sagacious "Ojibwa" was heard at this place when these ever-hostile tribes were engaged on the banks of this turbulent river, in mortar combat, and remembering, also, the trials, troubles and tribulations, the discouragements, disasters and devastating destruction that by fire and flood so often assailed the heroic pioneers, we are indeed struck with astonishment at the results of the pluck, perseverance and power with which the obstacles have been overcome, and a city planted where the restless river had been rolling for ages and ages, and the trees growing for a thousand years, awaiting the westward march of the Caucasian star of empire.
The broad hunting grounds of the Indian have been narrowed into constricted reservations, but supplemented by the ration of food and the stipend of clothing, his wants are more fully met than when roaming to find his own subsistence.
The city has an extensive trade with the neighboring country, and is the base for supplies for the numerous logging camps sent into the woods every Fall, to remain until Spring. It is the headquarters for raftsmen, also a sturdy class of men who take the lumber rafts down the river, returning to Eau Claire by steamer, and thence by rail to the Falls. The prosperity of the city depends largely upon the "big mill," which certainly merits its cognomen. The size of the mill is 180x200 feet. On the first floor are the waterwheels and propelling works; on the second, the shafting, machinery and rafting sheds; on the third, the active work is done. Here you find the different kinds of saws in full operation, including two "line gangs," one " flat gang '' and one " Yankee gang; "' one " muly," three rotaries, six edgers, twelve butters, three lath saws, one picket saw and one shingle mill. In the different gangs, there are ninety saws in constant motion. A visit to this mill is worth a long journey. The number of inhabitants in the city, as determined b}^ the United States enumeration, was as follows
: First Ward, 1,209; second, 1,255; third, 784; fourth, 755; total, 4,003. Of these, 1,150 were French, 1,061 Irish, 821 Germans, and the rest Americans.
Growth of the county : Population, 1850, 615; 1855, 838; 1860, 1,895; 1865, 3,278; 1870, 8,311; 1875, 13,995; 1880, 15,987.
Settlement.—When the prairies of the West were being settled, and the cities of Burlington, Davenport, Rock Island and Galena were in process of construction, the difficulties of procuring lumber were very great. Most of it came from the Alleghany River by raft to Ohio, and thence by steamboat to its destination, there selling for from $75 to $100 a thousand. It even paid to haul lumber from the Wabash by oxen over the untrodden prairies, to supply the timberless Illinois region.
When Fort Crawford, at Prairie du Chien, required lumber, Jeff. Davis, who was then a young West Point Lieutenant, was dispatched up the Mississippi and Chippewa to procure it. And it is supposed that the expedition was accompanied by Jean Brunet, a native of France, who emigrated to St. Louis in 1818, where he was employed by the Chouteau Brothers, by whom he was sent to Prairie du Chien in 1820, which had just been fixed upon as the headquarters of the American Fur Company, and also selected as a military post by the Government, occupying the fort used by the British troops in 1813, '14 and '15.
The English troops then in possession of Green Bay, desired to occupy a station on the Mississippi^ It was said, and most generally believed at the time, that a French voyageur, named Rolette, served them as a pilot in conducting the expedition up the Fox and down the Wisconsin to Prairie du Chien, receiving therefore $20,000 in gold! Jean Brunet subsequently married this man's sister.
The Territory of Wisconsin had three counties in 1836, Brown, Crawford and Milwaukee. The next year, 1837, Jean Brunet was one of the Members from Crawford County, serving in place of J. H. Lockwood during session of 1M37-38, and extra session of 1838. In a treaty with the Indians, held at Prairie du Chien in 1825, it was stipulated among other things that a farm and blacksmith shop, with a competent workman, should be stationed on the Chippewa, near the falls.
Lyman Warren, formerly from Newburg, N. Y., was appointed farmer, blacksmith and sub-agent, and he was afterwards, by Gov. Dodge, commissioned as Justice of the Peace. His establishment was fitted out and embarked on a keel boat to its destination, which was at Chippewa City, five miles above the falls, and was the first permanent settlement in the county. The Gotha family and several other half-breeds located there, and it became at once a central point for an extensive trade in furs and goods in demand at that time; the business being under the management of the American Fur Company through its agents.
A treaty was held with the Indians at Fort Snelling on the 29th of July, 1837. Gov. Dodge represented the United States, while Hole-in-the-Day with forty-seven others, represented the Chippewas. A large tract of territory was then ceded to the United States, which included a part of the Chippewa valle3% and extended a half day's march below the falls.
Immediately after these lands had thus come in possession of the United States, a number of the Fur Company's agents, including H. L. Dousman, Gen. H. A. Sibley, Col. Aiken and Lyman Warren, fitted out an expedition at Prairie du Chien, to erect a saw-mill at the Falls of the Chippewa. This enterprise was placed in charge of Jean Brunet, who engaged as operatives, boatmen, axmen, loggers, and mechanics, for the most part, the French Canadian voyageurs and others, formerly in the employ of the Fur Companies, together witii a number of half-breeds who had of course been reared on the frontier. Among the number whose names are preserved as the first settlers, was Louis De Marie, a Canadian of French extraction, with some Indian blood, and his wife, who was born in Detroit of a French father and Chippewa mother, and who, with a number of other families, came from the Red River of the North, where they had settled, to Prairie du Chien.
They had five sons and three daughters, the elder of whom were blooming into maidenly womanhood before leaving Prairie du Chien and were regarded with great interest by all who then lived in that outlying suburb of civilization. It is well authenticated that Louis De Marie, with his family, came up the Chippewa River in 1832 and remained through the Winter at what is now West Eau Claire, as an Indian trader. Near the mouth of the river he was stopped by the terrible Sioux, who exacted f300 worth of goods to allow him to pass and refrain from molesting him after he was stationed. He built a log house there, and left it in the Spring, returning to Prairie du Chien. The next two Winters he spent higher up the river at the Blue Mills, returning loaded with furs each season. The Winter of 1836-7 found his trading-post at the Falls.
Angeline, the wife of Louis De Marie, was a very capable woman, and seemed to be an almost intuitive doctor, and her skill was often called into requisition in those rude times, and her remedies, though simple, were remarkably efficacious. Her work in this direction was always gratuitous, and she is entitled to great credit for bringing up her family in habits of industry, and for doing what she could in the interest of the community. She still lives at the ripe age of eighty-five, about two miles from town, with her daughter Rosalie,—Mrs. George P. Warren. She speaks French and " Ojibwa," as she calls the Chippewa, and is an interesting connecting link between the past and the present, as she has lived while civilization was marching from Lake Huron to the Pacific.
The daughters of De Marie, who still live, are positive as to the time of their first coming up the river, as being early in August, 1832, because they saw at the mouth of the Bad Axe, the bodies of the Indians who had been slain in that last battle of the Black Hawk War, still unburied.
This then makes De Marie the first white man with a family to spend a season in Eau Claire.
In this connection it may be well to state that Mary, who afterwards married H. S. Allen, was a daughter of Mrs. De Marie by a former husband, an Englishman, and therefore a half-sister to the other children. Their cabin at the Falls was on the south side of the river. H. S. Allen, who came to Menomonee in 1832, visited the Falls in 1834, coming up with others in a birch canoe.
The building of the mill under Brunet proved to be a more tedious process than was supposed, the difficulties of handling the rock to be excavated had been very much under-estimated, its hardness exceeded their expectations, and the contractors were unable to complete the race for the original stipulation.
The Spring of 1838, found the little colony short of provisions, and, the snow having disappeared, supplies could be obtained only by going to the nearest store, which was at Menomonie, about thirty miles away, and bringing a limited amount on horseback. On this errand Mary and Rosalie De Marie were sent. H. S. Allen kept the store, and it is not to be wondered at that tills enterprising young man from the Green Mountains, who was founding one city in the then far West, and who was about to be the practical founder of another, should have been deeply impressed b}- the charming Mary, whose coyness and maidenly modesty was such a contrast with the uncouth roughness so universal in that logging and lumber camp.
Mr. Allen, as a specimen of a man, was one to excite pride in the heart of any young woman in whom he might manifest an unusual interest, and that his suit should have been successful, was to be expected from the very nature of the human constitution.
In the course of several mouths Lyman Warren, the only available Magistrate, joined them together in a union which, after a lapse of forty-three years, has not yet been broken.
Among the employees who came with Brunet none are now known to remain, and but few names even can be rescued from impending forgetfulness.
Among them was a Mr. Stacy, Jim Taylor and Francis Gonthier, who remained in Mr. Brunet's employ for forty-one years, or until the latter's death. Cadott, who was a brother of Mrs. Warren, and who was seven-eighths Indian, was among the earliest comers. John Mede was another mill man. There are perhaps others, but as they have not been prominently identified with the interests of the settlement, they are disremembered. A brief digression will now be made to record another settlement ante-dating this by some years.
The very first settlement in the county was not on the river at the Falls where the lodgment, which has been so successfully extended, was subsequently made. In the year 1802, Alexis Corbine, a French Catholic and an educated man, settled at Lac Courte Oreilles, in the northern part of the county. He married a Chippewa woman and they had a large family of sons and daughters who spoke Chippewa, and were well educated in the French language.
For thirty years the nearest white neighbors were 100 miles away. The family subsisted mostly on fish, wild rice and maple sugar, which was made in large quantities. A few years ago the old man was still alive and in the possession of all his faculties. This account is well authenticated and makes Mons. Corbine among the earliest settlers on Wisconsin soil. The alleged reason why he thus left his country and excluded himself from civilization was the old story of disappointment in love.
The mill at the Falls was not in operation before the Spring of 18S9. Meantime the settlers had erected comfortable dwellings. Mr. Warren had a house of hewn logs two-stories high. His wife, who was only one-eighth white, was an excellent cook and housekeeper; and, moreover, he was the Chief Magistrate of the place and sub-agent or '• Father" to the Chippewas. Mr. Warren had quite a library. Expeditions were sometimes fitted out for distant points. A journey to La Pointe took ten days, and was accomplished by " trains " as they were called—a sled made from hard wood, fifteen inches wide and ten feet long, turned up at the front and with strips on the outer edge, with holes for stakes or to bind on the load. These were drawn by dogs or a single horse.
In June, 1842, the exiled people at the Falls were regaled with what created more excitement than a circus. It was nothing less than an overland expedition from Prairie du Chien to the newly purchased copper mines of Lake Superior, under the leadership of Alfred Brunson. The procession, as it entered town, consisted of three wagons, nine yoke of oxen, three horses and fourteen men. They were ferried over by lashing keel boats together, and covering them with plank. After recuperating, getting a new guide and a few additional men, the expedition moved on, arriving at Lake Chetek on the fourth of July, where an oration was pronounced by the Rev. Doctor in charge. During the Winter of 1833-4, Mr., Warren died, and as five years had passed away without any return to Mr. Dousman and others at Prairie du Chien for their investment, the necessity for a change in the management became imperative. Failing to secure a competent person to take charge, the whole property, including the mill, improvements, teams, tools, boats and fixtures, was sold outright to Jacob W. Bass and Benjamin W. Brunson, one the son and the other the son in-law of the Lake Superior adventurer just mentioned. The price to be paid was $20,000, in annual installments, with interest.
Mr. Bass and his wife were the leading spirits— most estimable couple, with mutual ambition and self-reliance and an endowment of hope, which bridged over many an unpromising ravine of privation and toil and continued exile which, faith in the future could only make endurable. Mr. Bass had been in several kinds of business already, which had shown his capacity. By untiring exertion the new management had succeeded in placing the property, which had been unprofitable on account of want of experience by the managers, and repeated disasters; by the want of proper booms, piers, or suitable devices to secure and hold logs for a season's supply, and with the mill and race out of repair; in an improved condition, so that in 1846, when H. S. Allen bought into the firm and added his experience and capital, the tide was turned into one of prosperity.
Mr. Allen had been several years at Menominee, having bought the mills of Street & Lockwood in 1835, which had been erected in 1828-9, on Wilson's Greek. He had associated with him G. S. Branham, and the firm had accumulated considerable capital, and began to look around with a view of larger undertakings. It was finally decided that the lower dells of the Chippewa was the proper place to handle logs on a large scale. A new firm was created. Simon and George Randall were taken in, and the name was Allen, Branham & Randall. It is most remarkable that the plan, although much beyond the financial ability of the firm, was that finally carried out by the Dells Improvement Company more than thirty years afterwards.
Contracts for lumber were made, shanties erected, the work actually began, and considerable sums expended. Meantime during a temporary suspension of the work, while the individual members of the firm were attending to personal business, Mr. Allen realizing the magnitude of the undertaking, and fearing that the firm would be swamped before its completion and an opportunity to realize on the investment; and having a most favorable offer from Mr. Dousman, who looked with suspicion upon the dells improvement, and who may be placed as the first active opponent of that enterprise, accepted the offer, and a dissolution of the old firm was the result, the Randalls remaining to start mills on the Eau Claire, while the strong and at once reputable firm of Allen & Bass were pitted against the apparently insurmountable natural obstacles at the Falls.
The water-power at the Falls is almost incalculable, there being a total fall of twenty-six feet, which originally extended over a distance nearly three-fourths of a mile. The difficulties, however, of securing and holding logs on the extensive scale demanded by the present proportions of the supply, in a stream where rafting logs, as on less turbulent waters, is utterly impossible, could not have have been appreciated or understood by lumberman inexperienced in such unusual conditions. But that these almost insuperable obstacles have been overcome by the construction of the Paint Creek system of piers, dams and booms, speaks in no uncertain way of the indomitable energy, perseverance, ability and confidence of the men to whom civilization itself is indebted for thus harnessing the wild and restless torrent, struggling within its rocky confines, and not infrequently bursting its barriers and carrying devastation and death in its course, and making its power available in contributing to the continual and ever-accumulating wants of the great human family.
When the new firm took the mill, it had two muley saws, one lath and one shingle mill, the capacity being almost 16,000 feet per day.
On the 6th of June, 1847, the decennial flood for which the valley is noted came upon this young and struggling firm. The usual Spring rise in the river did not occur that year and the supply of logs which had been hauled on the Yellow River were hung up there. On the 5th, the long-looked for rain came, and in such a generous and copious way that by noon the next da}' the river at the Falls was several feet higher than it has ever been since, even in the memorable freshet of 1880 which carried down two bridges here. All the season's supply of lumber was swept away, and as there was no boom at Beef Slough, with its capacious maw to take it in, it floated on and on, probably most of it passing through the delta of the Mississippi, to be borne on the bosom of the Gulf Stream, until finally, water-logged, it would sink off the banks of Newfoundland, there to be covered by the ever-depositing sediment, to form coal for man's use, some millions of years from now. This thought may be some compensation for those who witnessed the depressing sight of seeing their hard earnings carried from their grasp with no possible power to prevent it.
At this juncture in the affairs of the firm, Mr. Bass withdrew, and he and his wife went to St. Paul, an embryonic city at that time, and securing land on the site of the present city, the legitimate result followed. He became one of the heavy men of St. Paul. Mr. Allen used his credit to rebuild and to pay for gathering up what stray logs could be found along the river bottom. As to the loss at the Falls it is sufficient to say that all the expensive structures placed in the river the previous season, to stop and hold the logs, were washed away. Nothing was left but the bare mill; its race and guard-locks were demolished or filled with gravel. Ten thousand logs from the Yellowstone went down in that flood.
In 1846 the Sioux came up on invitation of the Chippewas and held a council. They went through the ceremony of burying the hatchet and smoking the pipe of peace. A dinner was served the next day. Both sides protested eternal peace and friendship, evidently with mental reservations. Wahagha, Big Thunder, Red Wing and others were there.
Some time in the Summer of 1848, a wealthy gentleman by the name of Bloomer, from Galena, which was then the largest city on the Mississippi, north of St. Louis, sent up a party of men to fix a site for a saw-mill and soon came on himself and began operations at the lower part of Eagle Rapids. He soon sickened of the undertaking and sold out to Mr. Allen at the Falls, returning to Galena. The teams and supplies were brought to the Falls, and as many of the men as chose remained. Among these men were the two " Tim's," Hurley and Inglar. Hurley was married, and he built a house and a saloon, said to be the first in the whole valley. On the 4th of July, 1849, a party from the saloon, who had been drinking freely, among them Martial Caznobia, went to the wigwam of an Indian, and attempting to take liberties with his squaw, was repelled by the husband's driving a knife to the hilt into his body. He was taken to the Hurley House and was supposed to be dying. As it was on Sunday morning, a large crowd congregated. Some one yelled, " Let us hang the dD Indian." A rush was made for his place, a rope was brought, he was taken out and hanged to the limb of a pine tree. Mr. Allen remonstrated with all his power against the outrage, well knowing that the very existence of the settlement was thus placed in jeopardy. The news spread instantly, and 1,500 enraged Indians came down upon the place, resolved to burn it, unless the murderers should be turned over to them. The exertions of George P. Warren, a Chippewa interpreter, and James Ermatinger, and their confidence in and respect for Mr. and Mrs. Allen alone prevented the execution of the threat, and after an explanation that no wrong was intended against the Chippewa nation, that it was the result of fire-water, the chiefs concluded that they would be satisfied if the ringleaders should be arrested and tried according to our laws. Tim Inglar and two others were accordingly placed on a boat to be sent to Prairie du Chien for trial. Eight braves volunteered as an escort. On reaching the vicinity of the Sioux, the fear of their hereditary enemies seized them, notwithstanding their late treaty of peace, and they returned. The prisoners kept on and never reported in person again on the river. Caznobia recovered and made no unnecessary delay in relieving the village of his presence.
Previous to 1847, not a man came except in the lumber interest; but that year a sturdy German —-George Meyer—seeing the cost of boating up flour and feed and other farm products, resolved to raise them right here. Allen and Bass assisted him to get up his implements, and in other ways. He opened a farm with prairie, wood and water, six miles northwest from the town, and demonstrated the value of the land for agricultural purposes. The farm was afterwards sold to William Henneman.
Some time in 1848, Capt. Stover Rives, of Maine, who had been living in Janesville, and his brother Moses, bought of Mr. Allen an interest in the mill, and came on with his family. He remained two years, when Mr. Allen purchased his interest. Moses still remained. The firm was then H. S. Allen & Co.
During this period, and, indeed, up to this time and years afterwards, Mr. Allen made vigorous efforts to secure some means of transportation up the river. Going down was comparatively easy, but returning was a serious affair, as the haggard and footsore raftsmen, on their return from below, plainly testified. And up to the present time the trouble has not been met in a satisfactory way. From the Mississippi the raftsmen come up to Eau Claire, arriving often just after train time, there to wait for the cars. The promised road, now under contract, will be a great benefit to Chippewa Falls, as well as to Eau Claire.
The Blue Mill, now operated by the Badger State Company, located down the river about six miles, was built in 1843, by Arthur McCann and J. C. Thomas, whose names appear in the history of other counties down the river. The three brothers—Stephen, Arthur and Daniel McCann—were from Marietta, Ohio. Arthur married Rosalie De Marie.
They had employed a man by the name of Sawyer, and one evening he went to McCann's house to settle. During the evening, while playing cards and drinking freely, they got into a scuffle. Sawyer went out into Philo Stone's cabin, procured his rifle, and called McCann to the door and shot him dead on the spot. Sawyer fled, and has never been found.
Thomas E. Randall brought his family to the Blue Mill in the summer of 1846, and, having been reared a Methodist, as was also his wife, he made arrangements to preach at the company's boarding-house at the Falls every second Sunday. This service began in September, 1846, and was the first in this region.
The mill on Yellow River, erected by Colton & Moser, was completed in 1850, and not long after this, Alexander and Henry O'Neil associated with Mr. Lockhart, from Prairie du Chien, erected the mill on O'Neil's Creek, afterwards owned by Stanley Brothers.
Allen & Co., at the Falls, had been constantly enlarging the mill and the capacity, in the Winter or Spring of 1855, was 100,000 feet a day.
On the 6th of July, 1855, a thunder storm could be plainly seen up the river, and it continued with great fury for thirty hours. Only the edge of the storm reached the Falls. A little hail fell here, but the storm persistently hung over the valley alone. Its effects were soon visible in an awfully destructive rise in the river. The rush of logs and driftwood was appalling
: nothing could withstand the force of that loaded current. More than 70,000 logs, representing 25,000,000 feet of lumber, with the piers and booms, were cleared away and scattered over the bottoms and sloughs of the lower Chippewa. The mill-race was badly damaged. No more lumber was cut that year, and the loss can be imagined when it is remembered that lumber then was worth $20 a thousand.
This was a serious blow, from which H. S. Allen & Co. never fully recovered, notwithstanding the herculean efforts that were made to recuperate from the shock.
From the time Mr. Bass removed, in 1847, until January, 1854, there had been no legal administration of justice in the whole valley. When Jackson County was formed, the river settlements were attached to that for judicial purposes. The expense of bringing offenders to justice was very great, and the delay and uncertainty very annoying, and the necessity of forming a new county became so apparent that, in 1853, the Legislature created a new county, embracing all the settlements in the valley above the Red Cedar. The organization was effected the following Spring, and a town and. county board organized.
The Eighth Judicial District was created the same year, with the new county as a part of it.
S. N. Fuller was elected the first Judge, and the first court was held at the Falls, in January, 1854. H. L. Humphrey was County Attorney.
The Judge had an infirmity; about 11 o'clock each day, he would begin to hitch in his seat, to hack and cough, and in about five minutes he would remark, " Oh! hem! the court will take a recess of five minutes." A bee line would be taken for the nearest bar, and the lawyer who paid for the drinks considered that his case was safe in that court.
During the month of June, 1855, several heavy frosts killed the grass and vegetation all through the northern part of the State.
A large amount of pine land was put in the market in the Fall of 1855. A public sale took place in Hudson. H. S. Allen & Co. took pains to explore the lands and select such as the company desired. Measures were taken to have the required funds on hand; a confidential clerk, a Mr. Murphy, who was highly esteemed, was sent down the river to collect of the debtors of the company, and to be on hand at Hudson on the day of sale. Other bidders allowed Mr. Allen to select what he wanted at the minimum price. Mr. Allen anxiously watched the boats coming up but no Murphy appeared; he had collected $6,000 and absconded, and no clue to him has ever been found. This loss in addition to that by the terrible freshet was a serious reverse.
The town and county board above alluded to, were one and the same.
The first officers elected were E. A. Galloway, Chairman; William Henneman and Henry O'Neil, Supervisors. H. S. Allen was Treasurer and B. F. Manahan, Clerk. The other officers were appointed by the board. Moses Ryan was Sheriff. The white and unmarried ladies here were three fine specimens of womanly grace, each remarkably beautiful ; the rivalry for their hands and hearts was brisk among the young gallants of Eau Claire and the Falls. Proximity won. in each case, and the place is noted even now for the beauty of its women as compared with some other lumbering towns.
The heavy losses sustained by H. S. Allen & Co. were keenly felt by the whole settlement, as the entire county at this time, 1855-6, was almost entirely dependent upon the mill.
During the Summer of 1856 a change came over the spirit of the town. The surrounding country was rapidly filling up with farmers, some of whom brought means of their own. Among the distinguished arrivals that year may lie recorded Elijah Pound, with his sons Thaddeus C." and Albert E., Dr. Alexander McBean, the first physician, H. L. Humphrey and P. McNally. Rev. W. W. McNair, the energetic Presbyterian. Joseph Waterman, I. P. Sheldon, A. Valker, Frederirk Russy, Rodman Palmer, Stephen Brown, W. J. Skinner, Mr. Fuller, S. VanLoon, Mr. Loveland, James Woodruff. Waterman, Woodruff and Skinner, with their families, came from Winnebago. They had some horses and eighteen yoke of oxen, and they had to camp two days on the other side of the river before they could cross. Mr. Allen loaned his boats but the cattle had to swim.
Frank Bonnville was here several years before, in 1850, and claims to have built the first frame building. J. A. Taylor arrived in 1854.
Up to this period the colony was without schools or churches, or even newspapers, except at long intervals. Social intercourse was reduced to a minimum for want of the elements of social life. There were Yankees, Frenchmen, Indians and squaws, a most unpromising social melange. Most of the white men took to themselves dusky maidens, who realized how much better they would fare than with their own swarthy companions, readily consented to the arrangement. As the white women appeared on the scene, many of these first loves were discarded, but to their credit it is stated that they were in every case provided for with the children, when they existed.
As to these half-breeds, many of them prove to be worthy members of society, industrious and capable in the ordinary walks of life, but many of them seem to inherit a spirit of unrest which often impels them on to the frontier in an effort to keep ahead of the advancing line of civilization.
It may safely be set down as established, that a cross of this kind is not an improvement upon the white race. The second and third generations, however, where the Ani-chin-a-be blood is attenuated in a geometrical ratio, rapidly improve in both physical and mental qualities.
Dan. McCann was a fiddler—that is, while he knew not a single musical note, he could play several cotillions and marches and a waltz " by ear." And about so many times each Winter a ball was held, the dining room of the boarding house being transformed into a ball room. On such occasions all the women in the country were brought. The gathering was purely democratic. The squaws and white women were at such a premium that they had to dance every time, while the men were considered fortunate if they could join in " address partners " once in the whole evening. The bar was very convenient on such occasions, and there was turbulence always, and often fighting and rioting.
In the Fall of 1856, although the village was rapidly filling up, Mr. Allen, the head of the lumbering firm upon which the prosperity of the place depended, was filled with apprehensions as to the future of his company. The notes of the company were falling due, and the low price of lumber had reduced the receipts so that there was not sufficient funds to meet them, and he foresaw disaster and loss of everything which the inevitable judgments would soon cover. The firm consisted at this time of H. S. Allen, E. A. Galloway, John Judge, Eugene Shine and Moses Rives. Steve, Rives had been bought out by Mr. Allen and Jacob Wills by John Judge. Moses Rives owned a quarter section where the city is built. He was not a paragon of sobriety or virtue, his beautiful wife had been obliged to get rid of him, and Mr. Allen resolved to do the same. He accordingly paid him 110,000 for his interest in the business and in the city lots.
Of all the methods to relieve the company, that of making a corporation was decided upon. The stock was fixed at f100,000. The name was The Chippewa Falls Lumber Company. H. S. Allen was president and John Judge secretary. A Mr. Jordan and Mr. Shine were engaged in selling the lumber for the firm. The old company went into liquidation and the liabilities were assumed by the new one. After running through the Summer of 1857, the panic in the Fall which involved the whole country, and was precipitated by the failure of the Ohio Loan & Trust Company in New York, was too much for Mr. Allen, who proved to be handicapped in a detestable way, for the men in the firm who had been selling the lumber, met at a distant point and declared a dividend among themselves; but the poor confiding stockholders —where were they? And Mr. Allen, of course, was the greatest sufferer, for while he had been manufacturing lumber and sending it down the river, the men at the other end who had sold it made no returns, showing a balance sheet with the expenses equaling the receipts. Mr. Allen estimated the robbery at $50,- 000.
After a long struggle to retrieve the wasted property, a mortgage, which had been made with a hope of finally redeeming it, was foreclosed, and at the sale which followed was bid in for the creditors at $95,000. It may not be improper to mention that Shine went to Ireland, and soon after died. Judge went to South Carolina, and Jordan roamed around " fighting the tiger."
Huson & Mahler ran the mill for a year or so. It then fell into the hands of Adin Randall, who managed it a single year. Pound, Halbert and C. B. Coleman leased it for two years. After running it one year, in 1864, Thaddeus C. Pound, Albert E. Pound and Thomas L. Halbert bought the property of the assignees for $115,000, and it was owned by that firm until 1868, when the Union Lumbering Company was incorporated, with Thaddeus C. Pound, president, and A. E. Pound, secretary and treasurer. The company, in 1875, had a capital stock of $1,500,000. There were 80,000 acres of good pine, estimated to be capable of yielding 700,000,000 feet of lumber; $300,000 had been expended in building booms, piers and dams. The mill could then cut in twenty-four hours 350,000 feet, and was considered the largest lumber mill in the world, under one roof.
This mill, having been the very commencement of the city, and which even now depends upon its continued operation for its growth and prosperity, is presented in this history in the body of the work, with the various vicissitudes it has encountered up to the present time, because the city and the mills are inseparable, the progress and prosperity of the one being the measure of the other.
To continue the story of the Union Lumber Company. Such was the strength and resources of the company that not until two years after the panic of 1873, was the concern obliged to make an assignment, which it did, for the benefit of its creditors. The liabilities were $680,000, and the assets $1,300,000.
Barnard and Halbert were the assignees, and the mill was leased to A. E. Pound and T. L. Halbert, who operated it two years, during a depressed business season, and failed. By the terms of the assignment, two-thirds of the creditors could force a sale of the property whenever a default of the interest should occur, which happened, as above intimated, in 1878. It was bought in by William A. Wallace, for 1150,000, and the debts assumed, amounting to $300,000. Wallace leased the mill to Peck & Barnard.
At a meeting at the Tremont House, in Chicago, on the 19th of December, 1879, Wallace and his associates were offered $1,000,000 for the property. The Chippewa Lumber and Boom Company was then organized. This company was represented by William A. Wallace, F. Coleman, D. M. Peck and Stanton Barnard. The interest of these parties was subsequently sold to the present proprietors for $1,275,000.
We have thus seen a mill, started by inexperienced energy, with a single saw, run by a flutter-wheel, expanding to huge proportions, with turbine wheels and improved machinery capable of turning out about a half million of lumber a day, and giving employment to a thousand or more hands.
To return to the period from whence this digression started. In the year 1856, an era of wild speculation, some of the enthusiastic proprietors of a rival village on the river, having confidence in a wild railroad scheme, which had received a land grant and were issuing stock by the million, and receiving what they considered reliable and certainly confidential information that the road would cross the Chippewa at the mouth of O'Neil's Creek, a few miles above the Falls, resolved to profit by their knowledge, and put $20,000 into lands at that point, calling it Chippewa City, and a city was laid out, with metropolitan-sounding names for avenues, squares and parks. The new city, on paper, rivaled Washington in the magnificence of its grandeur and distances. The railroad bubble burst, and Chippewa City was only built in the brain of its too confiding projectors.
The Falls of the Chippewa are at the commencement of a vast lumber region extending to Lake Superior. 160 miles north.
The first ripple of contention, or antagonism, between the Falls and Eau Claire was caused by the question of the location of the Land Office. Mr. Washburn had introduced a bill forming a new Land District, with Chippewa Falls as the place for its office; on its final passage, a motion was made substituting Eau Claire for the Falls. This started a rivalry which ended in the matter being left to President Buchanan, who decided on Eau Claire. It may be proper to state that an attempt to remove the Laud Office here, since that time, was unsuccessful. The depression in the lumber interest, already alluded to, diverted attention to farming, and, in 1868, about 17,000 bushels of wheat were shipped that year, and from that time the quantity of wheat shipped has constantly increased.
The first district school organized in the county was in the Fall of 1855, Miss Irene Drake being the first teacher. It was in the town of La Fayette. The first district school-house in the village was erected in 1857, and was the general meeting-house for some time. The Catholic Church was commenced the same year, and the Presbyterian Church was completed.
Among the earliest white women here were Mrs. Taylor, Mrs. Mannahan and Mrs. Hendrick. The Winter of 1857 was a very hard Winter. The snow lay many feet deep, and most of the cattle brought here the year before perished for want of fodder. Mr. Waterman and his family located on a farm a few miles from town, coming in some years afterwards and building a hotel, stables, etc.
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