Clark County Wisconsin
Abbotsford History

Transcribed by Marla Zwakman unless otherwise noted


History of Abbotsford - Compiled & Written by F. H. Wing
Source: Abbotsford Tribune (Abbotsford, Clark County, Wis.) Thursday, 17 July 1952

* The railroad was put through town in 1873, and a few settlers came. Most of the homes at that time were constructed of logs, and were known as log houses. As the town progressed, the log houses were replaced by frame buildings or additions were made to the log part. It seemed to be the custom for families to live in the log houses until new, frame houses were built.

Some of the houses, still being occupied, are partly constructed of logs.

A current list of early residents of the locality is impossible to obtain. Some of the early ones were Bakers, Perkins, McKennas, Dillons, Shillings, Vincents, Corliss, Rev. Dix, Owen Hughes, Swansons and McCabes.

L. R. Roter was one of the first merchants. Under date of March 3, 1887, the Colby Phonograph gives the following: Gerald Kaudy, the sign artist, completed and delivered two neat signs last week, one for L. R. Roter, leading merchant, and postmaster of Abbotsford; the other for George N. Ellofson, a merchant of the same place.

Feb. 17, 1887, from the Colby Phonograph: The engine house and locomotive, belonging to the Central Wisconsin, were destroyed by fire at Abbotsford, Wednesday morning. The cause of the fire was not determined.

Abbotsford has an elevation of about 1, 400 feet, and has been described by some, in the early days, as the high swamp. Before the timber was removed, puddles of water seemed to be everywhere. Girls of those days tell how they would wear rubber boots or high tops, walk through the woods to the railroad track, remove the boots, take a hand car and visit their neighbors or the next town. Older men tell how they, as boys, skated and coasted with their sleds where a creek was located at the present site of the Abbotsford Hardware store, and on down over Division Street, where Danielson’s dry cleaning establishment now stands.

Loads of hay and wood being hauled in by farmers often tipped over right in front of the Hardware store. Later this was remedied by hauling in loads of rock and stones. The business men would often work a half day filling in soft spots in the road, west of town and in the hollow, so the farmers could get to town, as they wanted them to come to Abbotsford instead of going elsewhere.

People used to travel to Colby and Dorchester on the road one mile west, as Highway 13 was not always in traveling condition. Settlers tell how they carried their wife and children over Krause creek north of town. No doubt, the fording of streams prompted those who named the town, Abbotsford.

The Krause creek, Porky creek, and the Eau Pleine river seemed to fascinate the youth of that day, as that is where they learned to swim, fish and go boating. Somehow nature and human life seem to vibrate about the rivers – fishermen, bird lovers, vacationists, and others who love rivers, were drawn to them. They seem to have a pulse beat, movement, always movement, and they seem to go on forever, like the rhythm of the heart beat, finally reaching the sun.

The Eau Pleine river, all that time or earlier, had an abundance of water, compared to its present flow, but the water disappeared along with the forest. The Eau Pleine was a river all the year around. The railroad had dams and a water pumping plant on the Frank Chris farm, which furnished water for the railroad engines.

The Eau Pleine had sufficient water and flow to permit extensive boating. There was a boating and recreation society at Riverside.

To show the contrast in mode of transportation, then and now, it was about 39 years ago that Rev. Calvert rode on horseback to preach at the Riverside church on Sunday, when weather and roads made other travel impossible. Carl W. Anderson writes from Sacramento, California, that he can remember that there was a brook of running water in the swale between his father’s farm and the Lindberg farm. There was water in the creek all summer long and fish, nearly a foot in length, came up this brook from the Porky and Eau Pleine rivers.

Source: Abbotsford Tribune (Abbotsford, Clark County, Wis.) Thursday, 4 Sept. 1952

Across the street from the Tony Schmirler barber shop, formerly Frank Wilms’ about where Harry Treat’s building now stands, was a nice, flat space, cleared off, which was a well used croquet grounds. Joe Redner, Bobby Herbert, Bob Cochrane, railroad employee, conductors, round house foremen, and engineers could be found playing the game.

William Baehr is now librarian at Kansas State College, Manhatten, Kansas. His father was Otto Baehr, who lived on the original farm, bought from the railroad company, four miles northwest of Abbotsford. Otto Baehr was a brother of Arthur Baehr, who was the father of Walter Baehr, who lived on the farm left by his father, until recently when he sold the farm and moved to Milwaukee. Arthur Baehr is a brother of William Baehr, and lives on the farm on which they grew up. Mrs. Arthur Baehr is the daughter of Rev. F. H. Moecker, who was pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran church, Dorchester, from 1900 to 1922. Mrs. William Baehr is a sister of Fred Moecker who was book keeper at the Abbotsford bank for a number of years. Fred married Lucille Lupient, and have one son now living in Milwaukee, employed by the state.

William Baehr writes that he often walked barefooted to Abbotsford and more than once stopped for refreshments at Wing’s Drug store, which is remembered as one of the permanent things about Abbotsford. He says he did not see the light of day in those Wisconsin woods until the fall of 1899.

Recalling an event of many summers ago, probably in the early 20’s, when the linen duster and gauntlet glove were the styles and the three pedal car job – better known as the Model T Ford – was rolling along the Yellowstone trail; then known as Highway 16, now 29, one of the main highways crossing the state:

One day a car parked at the head of Main street, a man got out and made his way across the street to the corner drug store. It was the noon hour and he sat down beside the druggist in front of the store. During the conversation, he asked if the store sold Edison records. Soon it was learned that *** Note: The rest of the article was cut off and was not available at the time of transcription.

Source: Abbotsford Tribune (Abbotsford, Clark County, Wis.) Thursday, 26 Feb. 1953

Claude E. Crockett, a retired train dispatcher, now retired and living at Stevens Point, recalls his arrival at Abbotsford from the Wisconsin Central general office at Milwaukee where he had been working a relief job. This was in December, 1898. When he arrived at Abbotsford on Train No. 3, about 3:00 o’clock in the morning, he was met by a fellow who inquired if he was to be the new operator. It happened to be Jack Penny, who was running a rooming and boarding house called the Tennant Hotel, who said he would furnish board and room for $15 per month. Mr. Crockett agreed to stay with him, but on arising that morning, he saw the town and decided to go back to Milwaukee. However, Will Hamblin, the operator to be relieved, prevailed upon him to stay awhile.

William Hamblin later was married to Pearl Meyers. He recalls that Frank Hunt was depot agent and Myron W. De Lap was night agent. He also recalls the Margraff boarding house, the Meyers store, and Young’s grocery at that time.

The division moved to Abbotsford on Feb. 1, 1900, while he was still the day operator at a salary of $50 per month. Things around the depot and yard were a mess for quite some time after the division came, as there was no round house or coal shed large enough to take care of the engine and the yards were too small to allow many trains to come in at one time.

A. R. Horn came as the superintendent at the same time the division was being moved from Waukesha to Fond du Lac. He also recalls the winter of 1899, before the division came, as one of the coldest on record. The thermometer stood around 20 and 40 below zero for one solid week. The division officers did not come to Abbotsford until September, 1900. There was no provision made for homes and housing and it was some time before the office force could locate and build their homes and move their families to Abbotsford.

He recalls that in 1900, the salaries for the employees was small. On the *** Note: The rest of the article was cut off and was not available at the time of transcription.


White’s Mill (History of Abbotsford - Compiled & Written by F. H. Wing
Source: Abbotsford Tribune (Abbotsford, Clark County, Wis.) Thursday, 22 Jan. 1953

* White’s Mill must have been of much importance to the early pioneers, as mention of it appears in the Feb. 25, 1886 issue of the Colby Phonograph:
The locators of the railroad land had reached White’s Mill last Saturday. 3They say the railroad will be built surely from Merrill to Abbotsford.

May 13, 1886 issue: The slasher saw at White’s Mill burst, last Monday and the fragments flew around promiscuously like one piece that took effect on the person of John E. Smart, striking him in the forearm, making an ugly looking though not dangerous wound. Under June 5, 1886 date, mention is made of a picnic on the raging Eau Pleine, near White’s Mill. According to Charles Brown, White’s Mill was located three and one-half miles east and a half mile north of the Eau Pleine river. The mill used only logs of clear pine, for the reason they used only that part up to the first knot. They left the top part of the tree. Later a shingle mill was established, which used the upper part of the trees. They also used the shaky butts from the larger trees. *** Note: The rest of the article was cut off and was not available at the time of transcription.


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