Townships of Thorp and Withee
Transcribed by Robert Lipprandt
Of the territory embraced within the present borders of the above name towns, but little is known prior to the year 1870. At that time it was, and down to the year 1876, it continued to be part of the present town of Hixon.
In the summer of 1870, James Seneca Boardman removed from the blizzard-beaten plains of Minnesota, to the shelter of the cool and shady woods of Clark County, locating within the part of the town of Hixon now known as the town of Withee. Here, twenty miles from the nearest post - office (Greenwood), and ten miles to the nearest neighbor, Mr. Boardman moved his family and began to hew out a farm in the depths of the forest.
In 1871, Geo. W. Richards and David R. Goodwin moved into the Western part of the town of Hixon (now Withee), and Michael McCaffrey began the erection of the first log house within the present limits of the town of Thorp.
During the years 1872 - 3 - 4 - 5, several new settlers came, among whom we may mention
C. C. Clark, E. A. Boardman, B. J. Brown, R. Worden, J. McCann, C. D. Richards,
C. Nelson, J. W., Geo. and Nels Courter, J. A. Douglas, Wesley Futts, Willis
Boardman, Frank Futts, and S. S. Warner.
In the spring of 1873, Mabel Boardman was born to Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Boardman, being the first white child born within the territory now embraced within the towns above named.
During the summer of 1874, the first school house was built (on the site now occupied by the residence of John Maston, in the village of Thorp), and the following winter the first school was taught therein by Miss Almeda Edwards of Black River Falls, a sister of
Mrs. C. C. Clark.
Winneoka post - office was established in 1874, with Bernard J. Brown as postmaster.
Mr. Brown held the office at this farm in the town of Hixon (now Withee), and added a small stock of goods which he sold to the neighboring settlers. Previous to this the settlers had received their mail through the post - offices at Chippewa Falls and Greenwood, distant from 20 to 25 miles, and had packed on their backs or "toted" on "jumpers" (a long, rude
sleigh used in summer and winter), all the provisions for their families from the same points.
In 1875 Ephraim Boardman put in a small stock of goods in the log house on his farm, on the site of the present village of Thorp. Mr. B. hauled his goods from Colby, twenty - six miles distant, over rough roads and over bridgeless rivers and creeks on that very useful but not ornamental vehicle the "jumper". On January 21st, 1876, the county board, by an order to take effect April 3, 1876, organized the town of Thorp, detaching from the town of Hixon for that purpose, townships twenty - eight and twenty - nine, of range four West, and the Western tier of sections from townships twenty - eight and twenty - nine, range three West.
At the first town meeting of this new town, held at the school house above mentioned, April 4th 1876, twenty - nine votes were cast and the following officers elected to look after the interests of the new fledged town: A. E. Boardman, chairman; C. D. Richards, and
S. S. Warner, supervisors; J. S. Boardman, treasurer; Geo. W. Courter, clerk; Christ
Nelson, assessor. $1,000 was voted for road tax and $300 for incidental expenses.
But to be brief in our tale, the growth of this territory in population up to the year 1850 was necessarily slow. With no "turnpike" roads, but paths blazed through the forest, packing provisions on their backs from ten to twenty miles, the lot of the early settlers was not an enviable one. But pioneers have had been men of nerve and brawn with muscles of iron and those of Thorp and Withee proved no exception to the rule. Some idea of the growth of the town of Thorp during the ten years from 1870 to 1880 can be gained from the fact that at the spring election in the latter year but forty votes were polled, which by the use of the multiple five, the commonly accepted one in to such issues, would give us a population
of two hundred, or say two hundred fifty allowing for the possibility of a full vote not having been polled. With the year 1880 came brighter prospects for this newly settled district, for during this year the new line of the Wisconsin Central railroad from Abbottsford to St. Paul was begun, and on November 23rd, 1880, the first passenger and freight train ran over the new line from Abbottsford to Chippewa Falls. This new railroad ran across the towns of Thorp and Hixon near their geographical centers, and opened up to development the best timbered farming land on which the sunlight ever shown.
Along the line of this railroad, at distances of from eight to ten miles from each other, sprang up villages. within the present limits of these two towns are found the villages of Sterling, Thorp and Eidsvold. The village of Thorp is located on the Wisconsin and Minnesota railroad (now leased to Northern Pacific railroad company) on the town line between the towns of Thorp and Withee, and is today the second city in size and commercial importance in Clark county. It contains a population of 875 souls, as shown by the last census, is beautifully situated on a rolling rise of ground, and is surrounded by the finest farming and hardwood timber lands to be found in the Northwest.
April 1st, 1880, where now stand the lively, bustling village of Thorp, were two small "clearings" and log dwellings of E. A. and J. S. Boardman, and another log dwelling occupied by Geo. Leslie. In May, 1880, L. O. Garrison, of Centralia, Wisconsin, bought a small piece of land large enough for a village lot, of E. A. Boardman, and immediately cleared the same and began the erection of a small sore, hauling his lumber from Chippewa Falls, thirty miles distant. In June following Mr. Garrison received his first stock of goods, hauling them in on a "jumper" from Colby twenty - six miles distant.
Through the influence and efforts of Mr. Garrison, the county board in November, 1880, established the present town of Withee by detaching from the town of Hixon for that purpose, townships twenty - eight and twenty - nine of range three West, and at the spring elections in 1881 held at the store and dwelling of E. A. Boardman the following officers were elected: Wm. Reseburg, chairman; H. Thiel and Jno. Marshall, supervisors;
E. A. Boardman, treasurer; L. O. Garrison, clerk; David Carpenter, assessor.
In 1880 the post office of North Fork was established, with E. A. Boardman as post
master, the office being supplied for a time from the Colby office. During the winter and spring of ‘80 and ‘81 the present village of Thorp was platted and the name of the post
office changed from North Fork to Thorp. From this time onward the growth of these two towns and this village was steady and healthy, until now the towns included the villages of Thorp, Eidsvold and Sterling, contain a population of nearly 2,700, with good turnpike roads and good school houses and churches. Thorp village contains three saw mills, two hoop factories, one wagon factory, one immense barrel and excelsior factory, one grist mill one harness shop, two confectionery stores, two millinery stores, six saloons, two drug stores, one Roman Catholic, one Baptist and one Methodist church, each completed, paid for and dedicated, and in which services are regularly held. The village high school building contains four departments, presided over by a principal and three assistants, who stand high in their profession, and who are selected from their ability to teach regardless of the salary demanded by them. It was completed in 1885 at a cost of over $7,000, including fixtures and furnace for heating, and is fully paid for. An eighty gallon chemical engine, and hook and ladder truck, costing $1,500 is owned by the "Thorp Fireman’s Association", an
incorporation. The village contains three first class hotels besides several boarding houses. It has three physicians in regular practice, one attorney and two brass bands. The I.O.O.F.,
M.W. of A., I.O.G.T., G.A.R., W.R.C., S. of V. and K. are represented here by lodges that are prospering.
L.O. Garrison, is the present postmaster at Thorp. He is also the resident member of the firm of Garrison Bros., merchants and bankers of the same place. The present town officers are as follows: Thorp - Jno. Adams, chairman; Chr. Tiedemann, treasurer; #9;C. A. Krupp, clerk; Mike McCaffery, assessor. For Withee - Wm. Reseburg, chairman; E. R. Wiley, treasurer; Geo. Burke, clerk; Chas. Poppe, assessor.
The towns of Thorp and Withee are rolling uplands covered with forests of hardwood timber, the principal varieties being basswood, birch, maple, pine, rock elm and butternut.
The soil is black loam top soil with a clay and gravel subsoil, that drains easily and naturally, but never leeches. Timothy, oats, wheat, corn, potatoes, barley, rye and all kinds of garden vegetables, are raised in abundance and without the aid of any kind of fertilizer.
These two towns are well watered, the North and South Forks of the Eau Claire, the Wolf,
Goggle-eye and Black rivers, fed by large numbers of smaller streams and creeks, traversing them. The average rainfall is large, owing to the heavy timbered lands and the pasturage in the forests is the finest found anywhere, hence large numbers of cattle are raised and large quantities of butter and cheese are manufactured and sold at good prices. Every foot of timber cut from these lands can be sold for cash at the saw mills or stave factory, or at the York Iron company’s sixteen coal kilns at Thorp.
Here no blizzards blow and hoppers never hop, then
"Come ye to the shady woods, where cometh no annoy. All coolly wave the leafy trees, And the earth is full of joy."
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