The History of Thorp, Clark Co., WI
Transcribed by Stan Schwarze
The editor of the Rep and Press had the pleasure of spending Sunday and Monday with friends at Thorp. There is no more interesting territory in the state than that contiguous to the Wisconsin Central Line in Clark County. It is there that we first saw the wilderness, almost primeval and unbroken. There we watched the first onslaught upon the forest by legions of lumbermen, and the struggles of the settlers to make swamp and slashing and fallow into the fertile field. We will confess that twenty years ago that looked like a fruitless task, and even years later anything like comfortable and successful farming seemed problematical and far away. But our judgment in that line has proven fallible. Instead of the country’s relapsing into a tangled waste and the villages into rows of deserted shacks, the clearings have widened rapidly, the stations become thriving and substantial towns. The gaudy jackets of the camp boys are not as conspicuous as in the days of yore, but the rows of farmers’ teams that line the streets give the places a thrifty, though perhaps a less conspicuous air. Even yet (and for some years to come this will continue) great rollways of hardwood logs are gathered into the mills along the line. Cord wood and stove wood contribute also to the farmers’ income and pay the clearing of his land. Thus the coming resources of hay, grain, cattle, sheep and hogs join with the diminishing timber products to make for prosperity.
The village of Thorp lies well-nigh in the center of the four northwestern townships of Clark County, constituting the towns of Withee, Thorp, Worden and Reseberg. No more fertile nor better lying country can be found in the world than that surrounding the village, and while its territory is divided on the west by the city of Stanley and on the east by the growing village of Withee, ten miles distant, it has undisputed territory for many miles north and south, sufficient all together to make Thorp forever a solid business center. Every year sees new and better buildings erected and old ones remodeled and improved. Every business is well represented by good stocks of goods, an excellent water works system is in operation and a new electric light plant owned by the village has just been completed.
Even in pioneer days, schools were not neglected and many of the best teachers of the country are the products of Thorp schools. The village has a well stocked free library, which we are informed is liberally patronized. On Sunday we could not but think back to the days when the settler came in through the mud with his oxen and "jumper" as we saw the many fine teams with cutters or elegant sleighs which the country people drive on their way to church.
In every direction for miles around there is farm after farm with good houses and barns, stocked with well-bred animals and worked with modern machinery. Of course there are many places with but small clearing where the owner has but lately begun work; then again, as in all communities, there are the thriftless, intemperate and ne’er-do-well, and as may be found everywhere those with the restless spirit of the pioneer, who long to sell out and move further on, but on the whole, we have never seen a region that has improved so rapidly and has withal the elements of permanency as the village of Thorp, and especially its surroundings. It was incorporated as a village nine years ago and its municipal affairs have been economically managed. A number of business men are quite extensive landowners, and some of them are doing a considerable amount of farming.
Jos. Sterling, formerly largely interested in lumbering has a fine farm of eighty acres in the village limits and is making a specialty of Shropshire Sheep. L. O. Garrison, merchant and banker, also has a fine farm within the limits, on which he resides. B.F. Rusch has a model place just south of the village and is raising some good stock.
We had the pleasure of a visit to Melvin Nye’s farm a mile north of town. If this is not already the best farm in Clark County, it bids fair to stand at the head. It consists of 600 acres of the best land, three hundred of which are free from stumps and a large amount more ready to stump. Mr. Nye is going ahead in a conservative manner and is working into some very fine cattle. His big basement barn is filled with good grade Durhams. He has just sold 21 corn fed steers and will feed an increasing number each year hereafter. He has some of the best grade Durham calves we have ever seen. Mr. Nye is enthusiastic on fatting steers and aims to raise about one hundred acres of corn yearly when he gets his land in shape. He has also some good horses and colts, including, as we believe, two of the finest farm teams in this county. He gives his farm a great deal of personal attention and has even the smallest details of its management well in hand. Such farms as his and the many smaller ones wrought out of a wilderness that has already yielded its first great crop of timber, and the vision of this myriad more yet in the embryo, is what fills us with enthusiasm for Clark County as it is and still more for what it is to be.
Source: Neillsville Republican & Press (Clark County, Wis.) Spring of 1902
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