BUTTERNUT HISTORY
HISTORY OF NORTHERN WISCONSIN (1881)
Ashland County, Wisconsin

Transcribed by Marla Zwakman

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BUTTERNUT

History of Northern Wisconsin (Ashland County, 1881) page 74

July 8, 1878, the following townships were set off: Township 41, Range 1 east, and Township 41, Ranges 1,2,3, and the east half of Township 41, Range 4 west, from towns of La Pointe and Ashland, and a new town organized called Butternut. In 1879 it received additional territory by the vacation of town of Juniper, and some more detached from towns of La Pointe and Ashland; and June 17, 1879, the town received additional territory by the vacation of the town of La Pointe. The first election was held at the house of M. J. Hart, August 13, 1878, and the following town officers were elected: M. J. Hart, Chairman; Henry Spille and Robert Rom, Supervisors; S. P. Hogan, Clerk; H. Besse, Treasurer. In 1875 the village of Butternut was made the terminus of the Wisconsin Central Railroad. At this time there was a boarding house kept by Hart & Barridge and a store by Parker & Stubblefield. In the Fall of 1877 the spot was visited by Henry Spille and H. Besse from Cedarburg, Wis., looking for a place to locate. They were so pleased with the country that they induced by their representations quite a number of Germans from the vicinity of Milwaukee to settle in this neighborhood. These people formed what is known as the “Butternut Colony,” which now comprises about 120 families.

 It was platted in 1878. The first school was taught in 1878 by Miss Hannah Tomkins in a log cabin, formerly used as an ice-house. She had fourteen scholars. A school-house was built the following year. A Lutheran minister visits Butternut occasionally, which is all the religious services they have. A saw-mill was built in 1879 by Karpe, Russell & Aldrich, of Plymouth, Wis. Butternut is now a thriving place of 300 people, and is the center of the best agricultural district in the Superior region. The lumber interest is large, being at the head waters of the Chippewa, and near the Bad River. Butternut Lake, about a mile from the village, abounds with large-sized muskallonge and black bass.


An Ideal Resort at Butternut Lake
Source: Ashland Daily Press (1895) from the Wisconsin Historical Society website; transcribed by Sandra Wright

The New Summer Hotel Opened At Butternut Lake
The steamer on the Lake—Plenty of Fishing—Mr. Besse and manager Giles busy Entertaining guests.

There is no finer place in the world for an outing and good fishing than “Mash-Ka-No-She,” the fine little resort hotel on Butternut lake. It is easy to access and an ideal place for a fish. The hotel and property is owned by Hon. Henry L. Besse, and under the management of Mr. J.D. Giles formerly of Ashland and Philips and one of the best hotel men in the state. The service and cuisine in perfect, and every appointment is first class.

Leaving Ashland on the 1:15 p.m. train on the Wis. Cen. arriving at Butternut about 3 o’clock. Mr. Giles is there with his carriages and the drive of a mile and a half to the hotel is one of the most beautiful in the state. In fact all of the roads in this vicinity are turnpiked and the pride of all bicyclists. The hotel nestles at the head of Butternut lake by which is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful inland lakes in the state. A few minutes later the whistle of the gallant steamer Ida arouses you from the reveries of the romantic scene. The steamer is large and roomy and goes the eleven miles around the lake in forty minutes. Stops are made at the fishing grounds and think of catching twenty pike sitting in a steam boat in a few hours, and that is what the Daily Press party did this week. It is rare sport, and the lake fringed by heavy forests of hemlock are very much like famous Loch Katrine, in the Highlands of Scotland, which inspired some of Sir Walter Scott’s famous poems and is visited by thousands of tourists every year.

On an island in toe late George Washington Stubblefield reigns in all his glory and raises water melons. Dotted along the banks are beautiful farm homes.

The lake is always cool—and yet not too cool,--ideally correct. No squalls or accidents because the lake is so perfectly protected with timber.

The grounds about the hotel are fitted up for tennis, croquet and target shooting and a perfect gymnasium of indian clubs. Adjoining is one of the prettiest picnic parks and groves to be found anywhere, with dainty rustic log cabins scattered about. The spring water with which the hotel is supplied is certainly not excelled—always cool, sparkling and clear. A windmill and tank provides a perfect little system of waterworks, and the large verandas, quiet peaceful scene makes it an ideal place for an outing.

The hotel has already entertained a large number of prominent Milwaukee and Cincinnatti people and all who have been there once want to return again. It is so convienent and accessible to Ashland that it makes a good place to spend a Sunday or a day or two from business and get the real flavor of the wild and picturesque beauty of North Wisconsin, without suffering any of the usually consequent inconveniences. Mr. Besse and Mr. Giles always see to it that their guests enjoy themselves and the Daily Press representatives can never forget the pleasant and happy two days spent at Mash-Ka-No-She.

BUTTERNUT’S GOOD ROADS

In no other part of Ashland county are there such roads as in and around Butternut. This may perhaps be partially due to the nature of the soil which is not the red clay so abundant about Ashland. It is lighter and and more easily worked, a sort of sandy loam in places. It makes good roads.

The Press representatives rode out on the Glidden county road for a short distance and a good road it is. The road to Butternut Lake is better than paving, for it is as smooth, and more easily repaired. The line road between Ashland and Price counties is a beautiful drive, with tall pines on either hand, waving ferns by the roadside, and a well beaten road to drive over. The road west, leading out to the farming community is also as good a road as one might expect in any old community.

Not only have all these roads been well built, but they are kept in repair. Several times during the forenoon’s drive, we saw men and teams at work repairing the roads, working their poll tax. In one place, a man armed with a shovel was working alone, filling in every little rut and “pitch hole” with dirt. It is one thing to build good roads, and it is another to keep them in repair.

BUTTERNUT AND ITS FARMERS

There are 200 farmers in the Town of Butternut. Many of them are German’s, in fact, west of Butternut is a community of Bavarians, whose farms are well tilled and kept as neat as wax. Among the farms that were driven by that require special mention, are those owned by the following:

Wm. Erickson, Joe Heitriter, Joseph Schennebeck, Joseph Young, Joseph Leiterman, Joseph Kleinsteiber, John Ertel, John Fisher, Matt Bruch, George Parker; Mike Devoy, James Mooney, John Russell, Paul Kennsberg, G. Goellner, G. Schwecke; Ferdinand Bridenfelt; J. H. Smart, Wm. Tank, Fred Tank, August Wagner, Martin Drott, Fred Hoth, S. B. Hogan, August Froeming, Chas.Kohlman.

Butternut has the only threshingmachine in Ashland county. It has a grist mill that turns into flour the wheat and rye and creamery that dispenses of the products of the dairy farms. The farmers in clearing off their farms sell cord wood to the Butternut charcoal kilns, and find a ready market for their hemlock bark for ?annerries.

No town in Ashland county has brighter prospects.


AN OLD ASHLAND COUNTY NEWSPAPER FOUND
From the Butternut Bulletin
Source: The Ashland Press (31 March 1922) transcribed by Sandra Wright from the Wisconsin Historical Society website

It is always interesting to glance at an old newspaper of a community. One which can claim to be among the very first. Such an interest exists in a copy of the second edition of the old Butternut Times, which is in the possession of R. F. Goellner, and which is of unusual interest to Mr. and Mrs. Goellner because it contained the notice of their wedding.

The Times began its career in Oct., 1886, and the copy in Mr. Goellner’s possession was a copy of Vol. 1, No. 2. The Times although beginning its career, does not seem to have been the very first newspaper published in Butternut however, as reference in the local columns, to The Pioneer, was so worded that it would indicate that The Pioneer had begun publication prior to the Times getting out its first issue.

Among the advertisers found in the Times were Dr. J. R. Thompson, the Cream City House, Fred Luellwitz, Prop. Milwaukee House, Winsel Bahm. Propr. J. A. Vanderhoof, dealers in Groceries, Nels Saunderg, Mfg. of Boots and Shoes, while M. J. McDonald was advertising lots for sale in the Town of Peeksville.

The publishers of The Times were Gergahty and McDonald, and the subscription rates were $2 per year in advance, just what the Bulletin’s are now.

The paper was only four columns in width and fifteen inches long. Only two of the pages, the front and the back ones carried local news, the other six pages being devoted to plate matter or ready print.

At the time The Times began publication, Henry Besse, Sr., was Postmaster of the Village of Butternut, and Thomas Tedford was the Sheriff of Ashland County, while J.J. Miles, who was killed at a railway crossing in Ashland last fall, was at that time the District Attorney.

The democratic county ticket, which had evidently just been nominated, consisted of Sheriff, Chas. Breen; County Treasurer, John Erickson, County Clerk, Maurice Garrney; Register of Deeds, Ed Fenneily; Clerk of the Courts, Chas. Fisher; District Attorney, J. J. Miles; Surveyor, Geo. Parker; Supt. Of Schools, John S. Sands, and Coroner, N. C. Rooney.

The Times in its second number, carried a very good distribution of the Village of Butternut, which at that time contained about 1300 population.

As a memento of the old days, the copy of The Times is one that would be of interest to those who remember the Butternut of those days, as a competitor of the modern country weekly it would be considerably behind.
 


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