Communities draw names from men, places, events

Abbotsford
Named after Edwin H. Abbot, financial aide to railroad builder Gardner Colby.
Albertville
Chippewa County community named after Eau Claire barber Albert Halvorsen who started a general store there.
Allen
Named after an early settler, Charles Allen, owner of land on which the town was constructed about 1870.
A quiet day on Main Street in Alma
Alma
Named by W. H. Gates after Russian stream made famous throughout the world at the time of the Crimean War. The name was appealing to him because of its brevity. The community was known as Twelve Mile Bluff in earlier days.
Alma Center Main Street, 1907
(Courtesy John Anderson)
Alma Center
The town is located in the center of the township of Alma in Jackson County, according to old timers.
Coal-unloading rig at Altoona
Altoona
At first the community was called East Eau Claire, but when it was incorporated in 1887 it was called Altoona by a Mr. Beal, a railroader who came from Altoona, Pennsylvania.
Arcadia
Named by Noah D. Comstock after Arcadia, California. Comstock called it Arcadia because the fertile farm lands were like the gold lands of California. Another source said the city was named after the State of Arcadia in ancient Greece.
Arkansaw
W. F. Holbrook who started a mill here, saw the creek which flowed through the area and said it reminded him of Arkansas. The Indians did not fish in the stream, according to legend, because they felt the water was pure because of the trout.
Wagons line Main Street Augusta
Augusta
The village was once known as Bridge Creek, but the name was later changed by Charles Buckman who came from Augusta, Maine. One other story early settlers told is they wanted to name the village after the prettiest girl in town. It so happened that Augusta Rickard, a girl visiting from Oak Creek, was the winner.
Baldwin
Named for D. A. Baldwin, president of the West Wisconsin railroad. At one time it was called Clarksville which grew to meet Baldwin and the latter name was adopted when the villages were incorporated in 1874.
1906 Barron Main Street looking north
(Courtesy Rice Lake Chronotype)
Barron
The community was first called Dallas. There are two stories about the name Barron. One that it is named after Henry D. Barron of the St. Croix Falls, one-time judge in the eighth district. The other, that it was named for a logger in the area, John Barron, who was an earlier settler. After a fight with Rice Lake, the city became the Barron County seat in 1874.
Bateman
Named for M.P. Bateman, an Irish settler in 1854. He operated a dam and sawmill on Paint Creek and was known for his defense of the dam with an old shotgun against men trying to drive logs through without paying tolls.
Bellinger
Named after on of the early pioneers, John Bellinger.
Birchwood
Named by George M. Huss, president of Soo Line Railroad, because of the vast amounts of white birch along the lake shores.
Black River Falls
Indians noted the black appearance of water on the Black River. The city is named for the falls. Early loggers were in the area in the first 20 years of the 19th century.
Blair
Named for railroader John Insley Blair of Blairstown, N. Y. It was first platted as Porterville after the Porter family.
Load of eggs at Bloomer in 1898
Bloomer
A man named Bloomer from Galena, Illinois, purchased land in the area and built a dam near Chippewa Falls. His men obtained hay from an area where Bloomer now stands. It was called Bloomer Prairie. Later Sylvester Van Loon came and the area was called Vanville. However, the name Bloomer Prairie stuck and Vanville became known as Bloomer when the railroad came.
Boyceville
Pettis Tiffany started a logging business here in 1840. Twenty years later the first settler came and at first the area was known as Barker. However, the post office was called Boyceville after the Boyce family which operated a mill on the western edge of town.
Boyd
One report says an early settler named John W. Cirkel started a mill here in 1881, noting "we can hardly call our town Cirkel, can we." He then named it Boyd. Cirkel and his sons were among the first coppersmiths in the area.
Brackett
Reported settled in 1854 and named for an Eau Claire postmaster.
Brill
Named after Judge Brill, St. Paul attorney for an early railroad company.
Bruce
Named after Bruce Weyerhaeuser, son of the lumber family founder, Frederick Weyerhaeuser.
Bird's eye view of Cadott
Cadott
Named for Jean Baptiste Cadotte, son of French Canadian fur trader in the Madeline Island area. Cadotte established a trading post on the Yellow River north of Cadott. The village was known as some time as Cadotte Falls.
Caledonia
Named after the Latin name for Scotland. Among early settlers giving it the name were Alexander and Donald McGilvray.
Cameron
Named for State Senator Cameron of La Crosse by surveyor L. C. Stanley. Settlers moved their buildings close to where the Omaha and Soo Line crossed.
Candy Corners
A small community no longer present in the Town of Brunswick, Eau Claire County. The storekeeper gave candy to children when their parents paid their debts.
Caryville
It was settled as early as 1855 and was named the Village of Pierce in 1883 when George and Martha Pierce had the area surveyed. In 1892 another survey was taken by Milwaukee Land Co. and the town was renamed after president of the firm, John W. Carey.
Centerville
Named from geographical location of Trempealeau Prairie. It was first called Martin's Center.
Looking south at Chetek in 1911
(Courtesy Dave Jankowski)
Chetek
Named after the Indian word for pelican. Records show that as early as 1836, Joe Trepannier operated a trading post there. Chetek was incorporated as a city in 1891, reportedly the smallest settlement to go from a township to a city. It had 531 residents. Stout, Knapp, & Co. Company was in the area as early as 1860.
Chili
An oldtimer says some men came through the area on the railroad on a cold day in 1881 and remarked how chilly it was.
Chimney Rock
Named after the large ragged rock which is the highest point in the vicinity. Once called Devil's Chimney, it was long a landmark to travelers.
Chippewa City
Named for its location and the hope it would one day be a large city. First sawmill constructed in 1851. Faded in financial crash of 1875. Many of its residents went to Durand.
Chippewa Falls
Named after the falls on the Chippewa River in 1831 by Jean Brunet who built a mill at the site. The word Chippewa means "to roast until puckered up." May refer to puckered seams on moccasins or may have come from the practice of torture by fire.
Clear Lake
Named for the clear water in the lake. At one time named Clark's Lake after an early settler. However, there already was a Clark Lake in the state.
Cleghorn
It was a station on the Foster railroad, but was named for Lewis Cleghorn, one of the first men to live there.
Cobban
Named after Joseph Cobban, a farmer who settled here in 1867.
Cochrane
Reportedly named after one of the officers of the railroad company that built the first rail line along the river.
Colby
Received name from Gardner Colby, a railroad builder from Massachusetts who was employed by the Wisconsin Central Company.
Colfax
It was called Begga Town because of the outstanding rutabaga crops. Later it was named in honor of Sen. Schuyler Colfax, a vice-president under U. S. Grant.
Comstock
Received name in honor of H. S. Comstock from Cumberland who later became a county judge. He was a lawyer and community leader.
Connorsville
It was named after one of the town's earliest settlers, David Connors.
Conrath
Named for Frank and Charles Conrath, early loggers who eventually settled there.
Cornell
First founded by Jean Brunet and called Brunet Falls, it later was named after Ezra Cornell, president of Cornell University. Lands in the area were once owned by the school.
Couderay
Corruption of Lac Courte Oreilles, meaning short ears. One tale is that the Indians kept the ears of their battle victims.
Cumberland
At first it was called Lakeland because of islands on which it is built. However, about 1879, John A. Humbird, president of Chicago Northwest Railroad, asked that it be changed in honor of his home town of Cumberland, Md.
Curtiss
Named after a civil engineer, Charles Curtiss who purchased land and cut off the best timber. Although he left after two years, the village was named for him. For one year previous it was called Quar.
Dallas
Named after George Dallas, vice-president of the U. S. from 1845 to 1849.
Deer Park
Named by Otto Neige who built a fence and attracted deer to the area. Later a railroad went through the park area and it had to be abandoned.
Downing
First named Tiffany after Pettis Tiffany, early logger, later renamed Downing after James Downing who came to the site in 1869. He was a logger for Knapp, Stout & Co. Company.
Drywood
Timber was strewn over the high ground between Big and Little Drywood Creeks, probably from a storm. It was shown on an early settler's map.
Dunnville
Started in 1840 by men named Lambs. However, the community was later named after State Senator Charles Dunn. It was at one time county seat for what is now Eau Claire, Chippewa, Pepin and Dunn counties. It faded away after the county seat was moved to Menomonie in 1858.
Durand
Miles Durand Prindle gained government land in 1856 and platted the city which took his middle name.
Eagleton
This Chippewa County community took its name from the Town of Eagle Point which was on the railroad and because there were many eagles in the area.
Elk Mound
Named because of the large mound near the community. History has it that both the Sioux and Chippewa used the mound for a lookout. The reported different times of seeing elk on the mound.
Ellsworth
It was named after Col. Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth, a friend of Abraham Lincoln. The community was known as Perry in 1861 when it became county seat of Pierce County when backers of River Falls and Prescott as county seat couldn't settle their difference. According to reports, the town was selected because lines through the county marked it as centermost.
Eau Claire
Named from the French word meaning clear water. Name was credited to Jonathan Carver who explored the valley. It was known as Clearwater for a number of years before becoming Eau Claire.
Eau Galle
This is the French word for gravel banks, a characteristic of the area.
Edson
Named after Edson Chub, its first settler in 1857. Chub maintained one of the best roads in the area.
Eleva
One story is that R. P. Goddard of Mondovi named the town after a French village. However, local stories note that when a grain elevator was built, workers started to paint the sign E-L-E-V-A-T-O-R on it, however, when bad weather came, all they had finished was E-L-E-V-A, and it stayed that way with persons moving into the area assuming that was the town's name.
Ella
Was known as Maxville and Shoo Fly before Ed Roundy named it Ella after one of his children.
Elmwood
Named because of the elm trees that grew in the valley.
Ettrick
Named after Ettrick Forest in Scotland as described in Sir Walter Scott's "Marmion". An early settler, John Cance, first called it "Ettrick's Paths" because of the number passing through the area.
Fairchild
The community is named after Lucius Fairchild by Gary Graves in honor of the 10th governor of Wisconsin.
Fall Creek
Named after the fall in the creek near the village. It was later covered by a dam. It was first called Cousins after Henry Cousins of Eau Claire.
Foster
Village named after George E. Foster who built a railroad through the community. At first it was called Emmett by settlers in the 1850s.
Fountain City
So named because of water in the bluffs which created springs in the community. It was founded by Thomas Holmes in the middle of the 19th century.
Galesville
Community named after Judge George Gale of La Crosse who also named a school there Gale College.
Gilman
This Taylor County community is reportedly named after Gilman Moore, a son of Mr. Moore of Stanley who held railroad interests.
Gilmanton
Named after Samuel Gilman who with four sons came to the area bout 1855. One story has it that a relative was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Town had been called Mann's Mills after Joel Mann, a relative of Horace Mann, and later called Loomis after another early settler.
Glen Flora
Area was known as Miller's Spur when Soo Line came through, but when the town needed a post office, Miller submitted the names of his children, Gen and Flora, circa 1887.
Glenwood City
Community is named after the Glenwood Manufacturing Company which moved into the area about 1885.
Greenwood
The community was said to have been named by Miss Mary Honeywell to note the great pineries of the area. The trees were cut and moved to market on the Black River.
Granton
Probably adapted for the Town of Grant named after President U. S. Grant.
Hallie
Named after Hallie Sherman, daughter of Capt. Sherman, a veteran of the Civil War who operated a sawmill known as Blue Mills.
Hammond
Established for R. B. Hammond of Waukesha. He and his partner, a Mr. Ismond, were real estate dealers buying school lands in the area. They built a sawmill and brought six families of 23 persons from Racine as first settlers.
Haugen
This Barron County community is named after Sen. Haugen.
Hawkins
First known as Main Creek. However, it was named Hawkins after one of the first lumbermen in the area. Another report says he was a Soo Line Railway official.
Hayward
Named after Anthony Judson Hayward, a lumberman on the Namekagon River. The town started to grow around his mill.
Hillsdale
Reportedly came from postmistress Miss Jeannette Smith who observed after the lumber had been cleared, all that was left was a hill and a dale.
Hixton
Jackson County historian's report it was named after a man named John L. Hicks who settled in the area. It was easier, they say, to call it Hixton than Hicks's Town.
Holcombe
At first it was called Little Falls by loggers and earlier settlers, but it was named Holcombe after the surveyor of the time of the land grants.
Hudson
At first was called Willow River and later named Buena Vista by Judge Joel Foster, founder of River Falls, after he had returned from the Mexican War. Alfred Day helped solve the name problem by petitioning for the name Hudson after his impression with the similarity between bluffs along the river and Hudson in his native New York.
Independence
Named because it was platted during 1876, the year of the nation's centennial. Name suggested by Giles Cripps.
Jim Falls
Named after James Ermatinger who came here from Canada about 1850 as a trader and logger. The area was first called Vermillion because of the color of the city. Name went from Ermatinger Falls to Jim Falls.
Jump River
Named for the rapids in the rivers. One story said the Indians used the rivers, Big and Little, for test of athletic strength.
Knapp
Named after John H. Knapp of the Knapp, Stout & Co. Company who started a lumbering operation there. When the railway went through in 1871 it took the name Knapp Station
Busy market day at Ladysmith
Ladysmith
There are several stories about the name. One is that it was once called Warners Corners, but the post office was getting deliveries confused with other towns and the rail line had problems with town of similar names. A man by the name of Smith was about to be married and at a party, it was suggested the town be named after his bride and he called Ladysmith. Another story says it was changed to Ladysmith in honor of the bride of a company's manager in an effort to lure his factory to the community. At one time it had been called Flambeau Mills.
Loyal
One story has it that at the time of the Civil War, every eligible man in the town enlisted and the name Loyal was adopted in honor of those men. It is also claimed that Oliver Hill named Loyal. A cavalryman in the Civil War, he was discharged on account of disability. He later re-enlisted in the infantry and was again discharged because of disability. It was said the name came to his mind because of his experience in fighting for the Union.
Lublin
Taylor County Community named by Marvin Durski, a Chicago land agent in the area. He had come from Lublin, Poland.
Maiden Rock
Named for the Indian maiden Winona who was said to have jumped to her death rather than marry someone other than her true love.
Martell
Named after Joseph Martell, a Frenchman who settled here.
Melrose
Named after Melrose Abbey in Scotland. Earlier had been called Bristol, but there were other communities of that name in the state.
Menomonie
This is another spelling of the Indian word for wild rice.
Merrillan
Named after Benjamin and Leander Merrill who were involved in many enterprises with other men and the slogan became "Merrill and". The name of Merrillan finally emerged.
Millston
Town obtained name from the Hugh B. Mills lumbering family. The Mills home was quite large and accommodated loggers and travelers.
Mondovi flood scene in 1907
(Courtesy John Anderson)
Mondovi
Area historians say Mondovi was named by Elihu B. Gifford, the only man in the town to receive a newspaper. He apparently read about a great victory Napoleon won against the Sardinians in 1796 at a place called Mondovi. At first the area was named Pan Cake Valley and later Farringtons after Harvey Farrington, the first settler.
Main street in Neillsville around 1912
Neillsville
Lumberman James O'Neill started the first mill there around the 1840s. In 1854 it was selected county seat and was connected by stage coach with Black River Falls.
Nelson
Community named after James Nelson, an Englishman who settled at the mouth of the Chippewa River in 1843. He operated a boat landing there, but most of the steamers landed at Read's Landing across the Mississippi in later years.
New Auburn
At first it was named Cartwright's Mill. The name New Auburn apparently came from the Township of Auburn when voting locations changed.
New Richmond
The community was first known as Foster's Crossings and then Crossings after early settlers Mr. and Mrs. B. C. Foster. It was surveyed by Richmond Day and the town was named for him. New was added later because there was another town by the same name in the state.
1908 viw of Main Street Osseo
(Courtesy Tri-County News)
Osseo
There are at least three stories about the name. One is that Robert C. Field named it after the Spanish word Oso, meaning bear; others note the Indian word Ossi, meaning stone or stony place or having relation to river and stone, and also the name Osseo was used by Longfellow in "Hiawatha".
Owen
This Clark County community was named after J. S. Owen Lumber Co. of Eau Claire in 1892.
Pepin
Local historians feel the lake, county and town received the name by early French explorers well before 1700. One story is that it was named after a member of the DuLuth group around 1679. Another is that it was named after a French King, Pepin le Bref. It was also known as the Lake of Tears because of the Sioux' sadness at coming of the white man.
Pigeon Falls
Name derived from the days when Peter Ekern, an early settler was building his mill and store and there were numerous wild passenger pigeons in the area.
Plum City
Named from Plum Creek which had many wild plum trees along its banks. Reported as named by Frank Moser an early settler.
Prairie Farm
Named by employees of the Knapp, Stout & Co. Company where the firm established a farm on the prairie. They were going to the "Prairie Farm."
Prescott
Named after Philander Prescott who came here as a government interpreter and started to trade with the Indians. He married an Indian woman and held the town position as assessor. He was later killed by the Sioux Indians.
Poskin
Known as Lake Poskin at one time, it was named for the Indian maiden Mary Poskin, first wife of Andrew Tainter of Menomonie.
1914 when Rice Lake was a mill town
(Courtesy Rice Lake Chronotype)
Rice Lake
Wild rice grew in pools and swamps along the Red Cedar. It became Rice Lake after Knapp, Stout & Co. Company built a dam here about 1868. The Sioux and Chippewa were said to have fought battles over the wild rice crop.
Ridgeland
The name Ridgeland was given to the former community of Annesburg because of wooded ridges which surround it. It was first a model community built to accommodate rail workers.
River Falls
It was first known as Kinnickinnic from the river which flows through the town. It later was known as Greenwood in the state. When its post office petition was rejected because of the same name, residents adopted the name River Falls after the falls on the river.
Roberts
It was named after a civil engineer by the name of Roberts working with the West Wisconsin Railroad.
Rock Falls
Named by William Plaisted, an early settler who called the section of the stream near there "rock run." From a drop in the creek at Rock Falls, the village got its name.
Rodell
Eau Claire County historians said it was first called Rosedale because of the wild roses in the area. After the railroad passed through it was called Rodell because of another station named Rosedale in the state.
Sand Creek
Early settlers followed trails along the Red Cedar and decided to settle here. The town got its name from the firm, sand bottoms of the creek which accompanied by gravel made it an ideal place to ford the stream.
Shell Lake
It was probably named because of the way the lake is shaped. At one time it was called Frog Lake and later Summit.
Somerset
The town was named by Samuel Harriman after his ancestral home, Somerset, England. Harriman served in the Civil War and returned home with the rank of general.
Spooner
Earlier names were Chandler and Mud Lake. But after railroads came through, it took the name Spooner after John C. Spooner a Civil War officer and later a U. S. Senator.
Spring Valley
The town is named after the springs that help form the Eau Galle River. Two of them still remain active.
Stanley
This Chippewa County city is named after L. C. Stanley of New York. Stanley was schoolmaster, businessman and later mayor of Chippewa Falls.
Stockholm
Community named by Swedish immigrants with the same name as Stockholm, Sweden.
Taylor
This Jackson County community is named after one of the Green Bay and Western Railroad officials.
Thorp
There are several stories about how Thorp received its name. It was originally called Wineka, then North Fork because it was close to the North Fork of the Eau Claire River. Later it was named Thorp, apparently after Eau Claire lumber baron Joseph Thorp who owned a mill east of the city. Another story is that it was named after a railroad man named Thorpe. For years the post office and the railroad differed over the spelling, one with an "e" on the end and the mail service without it. In the 1950s the railroad agreed to drop the "e".
Tony
Community once called Deer Trails after the creek which flows through it. Later changed to Tony in honor of Anthony Hein of the Hein Lumber Co.
Trempealeau
This name is a corruption of the French phrase, LaMontagne Quie Trempe Dans L'Eau, meaning mountain that is steeped in water. It was originally known as Reed's Landing after early settler and trader.
Weyerhaeuser
One of the area offices of Frederick Weyerhaueser Lumber Company was located here in 1870s and the town took his name. The spelling of the community varies today.
Wheeler
At first called Welton after Maria L. Welton, it was later called Lochiel when the railway came. The postmaster, H. D. Wheeler, insisted it be named after him when the post office was granted. About 1892 the residents tired of the confusion, named it Wheeler.
Winter
It was named after a rail official with the Omaha railroad, John Winter.
Whitehall
Named by Benjamin F. Wing who platted Old Whitehall the first settlement. Name could have come from Whitehall, N.Y., or from Whitehall in England. Some of the first settlers were originally from England.
Withee
This Clark County community was named after Hiram Withee, the first postmaster in 1880.
Woodville
This St. Croix County community was named after the Woodville Lumber Company. At one time it was called Kelly's Switch after rail siding was built by A. A. Kelly in 1872.

Extracted from the Eau Claire Leader Telegram
Special Publication, Our Story 'The Chippewa Valley and Beyond', published 1976
Used with permission.

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