Life's Gallery--Old Wisconsin Logging Camp

By Violet Mechelke for the Loyal, WI, TRG 26 Jun 1975.



Wilcox Logging Camp (circa 1873)

The Silas Wilcox logging camp was established by Silas Wilcox before 1871. It was located where the farm that is owned by Clarence and Sandy Hoesly is now located, six miles north of Granton and County Trunk K.

Before this area of Wisconsin was known as Dairy Country, it was a logging area. Logging Camps were scattered throughout Wisconsin where trees covered the land. The trees were cut by hand with big cross-cut saws, then skidded through the woods with horses. Creeks and rivers were used to float the logs down river to save energy. By these rivers is where the logging camps would be located.

Logs from this camp were logged for Bill Price (Price County, Wisconsin is named after him). The headquarters for the camp was at Black River Falls, and the men went there in the Spring to collect their wages.

At this time, the O'Neil Creek was as wide as the Black River is now. The logs were rafted down O'Neil Creek to the Black River and on down to LaCrosse where the main sawmills were located.

Logging in those days was about the only source of income in Clark County.

Silas Wilcox kept a good share of his help over summer when they cleared land and raised crops to eat in camp during winter. The land where the Hoesly's house now stands was cleared then.

About this time, a store had been built about a mile up the road by George and Ed Rowe. The store was across the road from what is now known as the Ed Voight farm.

Later a town, named Wilcox was built up with a Town Hall, a Woodman Lodge Hall, and a church across the road. Then the store was moved down, across from the church. The church which is still standing and in use is the Your Center United Methodist Church, built in 1880.

About 1873, Sanford Benedict started working at this logging camp. He was Rollie Benedict's father. Land with pine on it was selling 1872-73 for about $5 an acre. Sanford Benedict wanted to buy some land at this time but his Dad wouldn't let him because pine logs were practically worthless.

He borrowed $50 one winter to use for supplies so he could stay home and clear land instead of working at the camp. He used oxen for hauling.

When the big timber had been cleared from the land, a man would buy as much land as he could afford, clear it of brush and stumps, sink a plow into the fertile earth, and make a home for himself and his family.

Soon this area became farming land with dairy cattle. Dairying became and remains the main source of income for the families in Clark County.

The Silas Wilcox Logging Camp has been forgotten by most people. The only remaining proof are what pictures remain and remnants of the camp on the farm.

When Clarence Hoesly moved to the farm in October 1947, the foundations of the camp were quite plain. He also found oxen shoes, horse shoes, parts of saws, and parts of axes that had been used by the lumbermen.

The picture and information were contributed by Rollie Benedict.

Obituary of Silas Wilcox



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