Dewhurst Township History

Clark County, Wisconsin



Bruce Mound Winter Sports Area


Historical Accounts


From Forest to Farm (Dewhurst, Levis, Sherwood & Washburn Townships); provided by "The Jailhouse Museum".




125 Years of History




The History of Trow; by Bob Gile


Trow was named for Alvin S. Trow, a lumberman who lived in Merrillan in the 1880's and 90's. He owned Wakefield, Trow & Co., who operated a sawmill on Lower Lake southeast of Merrillan and had extensive camps in the area of Dewhurst that was known as Trow. His company operated a steam driven "tram" up into their pinery and also had a line into Merrillan that intersected with the Green Bay & Minnesota. Although references to it in the newspaper were of a "tram" a section of rail that was found in that area indicates it may have been a regular logging railroad with iron rails, and if so, would have been the first such operation in Wisconsin (but a friend and I were never able to prove it to the satisfaction of the "authorities"). I would presume there might have been some farms in the area and a map of Clark County from around the turn of the century does show a siding and some type of structure, probably a passenger shelter at the Trow location, which is where the road running north from the Arnold Creek bridge on Hwy. 95 hits the old Omaha Marshfield Branch roadbed. Mr. Trow was also one of the first cranberry growers in the Millston area and owned lands there. He had a large dairy farm north of Merrillan. He was elected to the Wisconsin Assembly from Jackson County for several terms. Prior to living in Merrillan, he was from Oshkosh and operated a flour mill and a steamboat line on the Fox River.  His was the distinction of running the last log drive on the Black River as he had a mill in La Crosse also. I don't believe there ever was a post office at Trow though.


Clark County, Wisconsin History


There are also a number of community center and railroad sidings which bear local names. Some of them were formerly post offices. West Bridge Junction is in Thorp Township, at the point where the Otter Creek Stub branches from the Stanley, Merrill and Phillips Railroad. Omaha Junction is in Fremont Township, where the Omaha crosses the St. Paul Railroad. Sydney, Tay and Trow are stopping places on the Omaha, between Neillsville and Merrillan. Gorman's and Owego are shipping points on the Fairchild & Northeastern in Hendren Township. Mentor is a shipping point on the same road in Mentor Township. Coxie is a shipping point on the same line, in Section 6, Beaver. Irene, Nevens and Dewhurst are inland centers in Dewhurst Township. Pleasant Ridge is an inland center in Grant, Snow, between Lynn and Fremont, Carlisle, between Levis and Washburn, and Ralph in Hoard. Cedarhurst in Fremont, and Kurth in Grant are shipping points on the Omaha. Boynton and Sawyers Siding in Lynn are shipping points on the St. Paul. Weston's Rapids and Staffordsville are early abandoned villages north of Neillsville.




When Mrs. Bella French, editor of the American Sketch Book, came to Neillsville in 1875 to give it a write-up she had an opportunity to meet and talk with a few of the men who built themselves into the early history of Clark County. Of course, she met the senior James O’Neill, the founder, who was then 65 years of age. She met B. F. (Doc) French, who seems to have been a close second to the founder in prominence. She met Richard Dewhurst, for whom the town of Dewhurst was named; James Hewett who lives in the name of the main business Street of Neillsville; Robert Ross, whose name lives in Ross Eddy down the Black River; F. G. Cawley, for whom Cawley Creek was named.  Clark Co. Press, Feb 1946




Clark County lies practically half way between the equator and the North Pole. The north line of the county reaches almost to the forty-fifth parallel of latitude. It consists of 34 congressional townships, being seven townships wide, with the southwestern township set out into Jackson County. Clark County contains 1,224 square miles. With the new Town of Dewhurst which will be duly organized in the spring, there will be thirty towns in the county. The incorporated cities are Neillsville, Greenwood and Colby. Half of Colby however lies in Marathon County. The incorporated villages are Abbotsford, Loyal, Thorp, Withee and Dorchester.  Clark Co. Press, Feb. 1902




There will be several acres of strawberries set out in the Bruce Mound area this spring. Strawberries are at home in that part of the country and the Town of Dewhurst got credit for the best berries shipped from Merrillan last year.  Clark Co. Press, Mar 1906




May, 1938--The five veterans of the War of 1812, buried in Clark County are, Capt. John French, buried in the Neillsville cemetery; Capt. Joseph Finley, in the Town of Dewhurst but which cemetery is not certain; Jacob Chesley, in Colby cemetery; Samuel Hartford, in Pine Grove cemetery, Loyal and Bartemus Brooks, Lynn cemetery.


Bright Feather, an Indian buried in the Town of Dewhurst, was listed as an “Omaha scout” during the Civil War.


January, 1948--The group, with whoever else wishes to help, plans to establish a real slide on Bruce Mound, in the Town of Dewhurst, for next year. The area contemplated for the Bruce Mound slide is said by these people to be one of the finest in this section of the state. Clark Co., Press

January, 1948--The first wolf bounty of this year has been claimed by Frank Lipkie of Augusta.  He brought five mature timber wolves into the office of County Clerk Mike Krultz, Jr., to make the bounty claim.  He shot them in the Town of Dewhurst on December 30. This is the largest group of wolves brought in by a single man in one day in the memory of old courthouse hands.  The bounty is $20 per wolf, paid by the state. So Mr. Lipkie stands to get $100 for the five.









The East Fork arm of Lake Arbutus, whose bosom is seldom at rest beneath the fleeting spirit of winds that play across its black depths, gathered in the lives of three young Neillsville men Sunday morning when their frail boat was washed under by the cold waves that rolled in from the west.  A fourth passenger, Donald Dixon, 16-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Dixon, reached shore and safety after a spectacular swim of a quarter mile.


The dead:

Harold Norman Lipkie, 19-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Lipkie, football star and high school senior.
Harry Claude Westphal, 19-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Claude Westphal.
Harold Wilson Frantz, 19-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Frantz, and 1933 graduate of the Neillsville High School.

The bodies were recovered Monday after two days of intensive effort in which dozens of volunteers manned boats and assisted in dragging the area where the tragedy occurred.

Funeral arrangements for the victims are as follows:


Harry Westphal, services from the home at 1:30 p.m. and at 2 p.m. Wednesday from St. John’s Lutheran Church.

Harold Frantz, services from the Lowe Funeral Home at 1:30 p.m. and from the Zion Reformed Church at 2 p.m. Thursday.

Harold Lipkie, services at 2 p.m. Friday from the Opera House.


The deaths of the boys, which were a terrific shock to the entire community, occurred as they were returning from the island in the mouth of the East Fork where they had spent several hours hunting ducks.  The young men had gone to the lake Saturday evening, staying overnight at the Boy Scout camp.  About 3:30 a.m. they arose and crossed to the island in an old boat which they found a year or two ago and had made use of at frequent intervals since.


At 8 a.m., having killed eight ducks, the boys decided to return to the mainland, setting out from the  northeast corner of the island.  A brisk wind had sprung up from the west and was chopping the surface of the lake, the waves running two feet high.  As the craft reached open water the waves began pounding the side.  Before the boys could get the boat headed with the wind a wave swept over the side and flooded the bottom.  In attempting to shift their weight to get the boat on an even keel the boat rolled over, hurling the four youths into the icy water.


Being good swimmers the boys remained calm, holding their guns in one hand and clinging to the boat with the other.  For a few seconds they talked over their plight.  Donald Dixon who had often swum the distance between the island and mainland while with the Boy Scouts, volunteered to swim for shore and get help, telling his companions to drop their guns and hang to the boat.


Making use of his Boy Scout training, in which boys are taught to undress themselves in the water, Donald removed his heavy hunting coat.  Fearing that his water soaked sweater might prove hard to get off over his head and perhaps smother him, Donald left that on and permitted himself to sink beneath the surface while he struggled to get his heavy hunting boots off.  The strings, however, were knotted and after a vain effort to get them untied, he rose to the surface and started on the long swim to shore.


“When we fell in the boys acted calm and we talked for several seconds,” said Donald when interviewed Tuesday afternoon at his home where he was ordered to remain in bed by his doctor until danger of contracting pneumonia had passed.  “Somebody said, ‘What are we going to do?’ and we said, ‘we’ll hang onto the boat.’ I said I would swim for shore and get help.  After telling the boys to drop their guns I started out.  As I left I heard Harry say, ‘there goes my gun.’


“I didn’t mind the cold water, but I was swimming hard and when about 100 feet from shore, I began to get tired and my head kept going under.  I turned over on my back and floated, letting the waves carry me in toward shore.  About fifteen or twenty feet from shore I began swimming again.  That distance was the longest part of my swim.  It seemed like an eternity and I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it.  Finally I touched bottom and crawled onto shore.  As I looked back toward the boat I could see that two of the boys were missing, Harry yelled to me and said, ‘So long, Don – get help quick.’  Then he went down.


“I ran down to the William Campman cottage and gave the alarm.  Mr. Campman got out  his boat and we started back to where the boys sank.  After searching for some time Mr. Campman insisted that I go back to shore and get warm.  I got into my car and drove to the H.L. Brown cottage up the river a short distance where the Browns provided me with warm clothing and gave me first aid.  Mr. Brown jumped in his car and drove to the W.L. Smith cottage, where Mr. Smith called the telephone operator at Neillsville.”


The fire siren was sounded and a large crowd gathered at the city hall where the news of the drownings was learned.  Volunteer and L. Morris, in charge of Red Cross work here, loaded all available life saving equipment into cars and started for the lake.  Within a few minutes men in boats with drag lines were combing the lake.


A great quantity of heavy rope was gathered from farmers, Stelloh Bros. and at Hatfield, which was tied together and stretched from the mainland to the island.  Boats were spaced along the rope at short intervals and after dragging an area the rope was moved a few feet and the dragging resumed.  The men in the boats suffered much from the raw wind and wet hands, but continued without interruption until darkness Sunday night.  Numerous sunken logs and debris were hooked and brought to the surface, but it was not until 11:40 a.m. Monday that the first body was recovered, which was that of Claude Westphal.  In the boat which recovered the Westphal body were Melchoir Hoesly, Jr., Walter Brown and Harland Kintzele.   Harold Frantz’ body was recovered at 2:30 by Melchoir Hoesly, Jr., Emil Matson and an Indian whose name was not learned.  Harold Lipkie’s body was recovered at 3:45 by H.L. Brown and Emil Matson.  The three bodies lay within 15 feet of each other and at the point where the boat capsized.


The Press had difficulty in learning the names of all those who took part in the recovery work, but among them were Robert Rush, Lewis Bradbury, Harry Wasserberger, Marvin Eide, Harry Donahue, Walter Brown, H.L. Brown, P. M. Warlum, Leslie Yorkston, Harland Kintzele, William Campman, Dr. M. C. Rosekrans, L. Morris, W. B. Tufts, Herbert Smith, Ralph True of Minneapolis, Robert Wagner, Everett Wildish, Clifford Elliott, Irve Henry of Wis. Rapids, William Schiller, G. H. Lowe, Johnny Matson, Bert Pollnow, Curtiss Zschernitz, Herbert Arndt, and Roy Schmedel.  There were many others and the Press regrets that it is unable to supply all of the names.  The men who braved the cold weather deserved the highest praise for their ceaseless work, which continued from shortly after the accident until darkness Sunday and from 5:30 a.m. on Monday until the last body was found at 3:45 p.m. Monday.


The Boy Scouts, under their new leader Jake Hoesly, supplied hot coffee and sandwiches to the men Sunday.  The Scouts on duty were Arnie Schwellenbach, Robert Unger, Jack Zimmerman, Lloyd Brunzel, Dwayne Nehs, James Hell, Dale Elliott, Martin Zilisch Jr., and James Elliott.  Mr. W. L. Smith Sr., and Mrs. Geo. Zimmerman assisted the boys.


Monday hot coffee and food was served at the William Campman cottage by Mrs. William Campman, Mrs. L. H. Howard, Mrs. A. L. Devos, Mrs. W. B. Tufts and Mrs. George Zimmerman.  The food was supplied by the Red Cross.


L. Morris as chairman of the Red Cross expressed his gratitude to the people who assisted and praised the work of the Northern States Power Co., which at the direction of Clifford Elliott, manager, placed its life saving equipment and men at the service of the men directing the recovery work.  In this connection it is pointed out that at any time a disaster or accident occurs the Northern States Power Co. stands ready to lend its men and life saving….(last bit was on a page I did not have).


Source: Neillsville Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., Wis.); 10/26/1933


Harry Westphal obit

Harold Lipkie obit

Harold Frantz obit

Bio: Fryslie, Ole (Oct 1852 - 1914)





A 1938 Visit to the Hatfield Dam


The Schwarze sisters, Dorothy (left) and Lorraine (right).


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