News: Hatfield (Blowout - 1975)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Surnames: Roger, Hatfield, Arnold, Kelly, Boynton, Holway, Hanus, Palm, Teeples
----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 3/06/1975
Hatfield (Blowout – Spring/Summer 1975)
The tiny resort community of Hatfield is planning a gigantic centennial this spring and summer.
Hatfield and roller skating are synonymous, and the centennial activities will begin with a roller skating party at 7:30 p.m., Friday, April 25, at Thunderbird rink.
The weekend of July 26/27 has been designated to highlight the festivities with a dance Saturday evening at the Inwood Ballroom. Music will be provided by the Dick Rogers Polka Band. A parade and flea market are planned for Sunday.
Souvenirs, including hats, pins, mugs, and steins will be on sale throughout the summer.
The event will be sponsored by the Hatfield Chamber of Commerce with all proceeds being used to erect a community building, housing the fire department and a community room.
In researching the history of Hatfield, it was found the name was first used here in July 1875, when the Green Bay and Minnesota railroad changed the name of the depot from Black River station to Hatfield, in honor of railroad official, E. F. Hatfield, Jr., then living in New York. He later became president of the railroad, serving in that capacity from 1878 to 1882.
Early history reveals the area was known as Mormon Riffles in the early 1840’s, when The Mormons were logging the white pine for their Temple at Nauvoo, Il. In 1858 a postoffice was established, with George M. Arnold as first postmaster, and was named Franksville. This postoffice was not changed to Hatfield until January 1879.
The area was platted into a town site in August 1878, by David M. Kelly, an official on the Green Bay and Minnesota railroad. He also named the new town site “Hatfield,” in honor of the railroad president.
Logging was the leading industry until the late 1890’s, when the land speculators sold the cutover land to Bohemian families from the Chicago area. They attempted to farm the land only to find it sandy and unproductive.
At least 35 families moved to the vicinity in this era, but a few years later many men were forced to return to Chicago to work during the winter months to earn enough “cash” to pay their taxes and supplement their family needs. They would return here during the summer to plant and harvest crops.
Hatfield became a popular resort area following the completion of the large dam built by the La Crosse Light and Power Company in 1908, creating a lake which covered 1,400 acres. The new lake was named “Arbutus” after the fragrant flower which blooms along the shores.
Erwin B. Boynton and Col. Orlando Holway, La Crosse capitalists who promoted the construction of the dam, were instrumental in developing Hatfield into a resort area. It has since been a favorite picnic, fishing, camping and swimming spot.
In the early years, the Green Bay and Western railroad ran excursion trains here on Sundays and holidays during the summer.
The local camping areas and the East Fork recreation area on the east side of the lake, are filled to capacity during holidays. Local residents estimate there are 75 permanent families here, but in summer the population swells to about 5,000 and on July 4 to 10,000.
There are several licensed cottage owners who rent about 30 cottages to vacationers, while there are over 500 privately-owned cottages which are in continuous use from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. A modern motel just opened, which provides year-round accommodations.
The roller rink more commonly called “The Pavilion,” was built by Joe Hanus in 1921. In the early years it was only open for skating during the summer months, but heating facilities have been added and it is open every Saturday evening during the winter.
The Thunderbird Museum and Gift Shop are located in the old Hatfield Hotel building. There are 16 rooms depicting many phases of history. It is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day and by appointment during the closed season.
The Hatfield store is thought to be the oldest business established in the village, being built by Hanus in 1910. The first store building burned in 1921 and was rebuilt by Hanus. This property has expended and now also includes a large dining room, night club and Inwood Ballroom.
Centennial committees will be named during a meeting to be held at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 19, at Palm’s Supper Club, according to Violet Teeples, publicity chairman. Anyone having pictures and information about early Hatfield history is asked to contact Violet Teeples.
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