Florence County, Wisconsin

Florence County, Wisconsin

Fence Town and Township

Fence in the News

A History of Fence, 75th Year, Town Jubilee



"We were a part of the Town of Commonwealth to begin with. The idea to be set up as an independent town from Commonwealth was also instigated by Samuel K. Harrison. All attempts failed until the State Legistlature set us off as a town. The town was named after the first Post Office without any questions. This was about 1920."

--Harvey Harrison, History of Fence, 75th Town Jubilee, 1996


The assembly state affairs committee approved Assemblyman Grandine's bill to detach a portion of the town of Commonwealth, in Florence county, to create the town of Fence.

--Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, February 3, 1921




Town of Fence History

When Florence County was formed in 1882, it consisted of only the Towns of Commonwealth and Florence. In 1921, the Town of Fence was organized from Commonwealth. Originally, the area was named the Big Popple Settlement after the area's river. In 1908, the name was changed to Fence when the first post office was established. Three names were proposed: Fence, Podunk (after the dam), and the Big Popple Settlement. In the end, Fence was chosen. It commemorates a five-mile long natural barrier fence designed by Indian tribes to aide them in hunting deer.

The first known pioneer in the area was Halver Anunson. Originally from Winchester, WI., he headed for the region in 1879, with a crew of nine, to pursue a career as a lumberjack . Their destination and where they set up camp was, Little Bull Falls. Here they proceeded to cut roads, and clear the river of rocks to help fulfill a contract of three million board feet of pine. To help fulfill this order, Mr. Anunsun felt like a dam was needed to help float the logs down the rivers and eventually to Marinette, WI., and Menominee, MI. The dam was built from local timber and the first drive on the Popple River was accomlished in the spring of 1880. The last logs floated out of the region in the spring of 1907 or 1908

Much logging was still done after this, when the last logs were floated, emphasis changed to farming as the main occupation for the area. Some of the first pioneers of the Fence area were the Anunsons, Harrisons, Kelms, Morrisons, Newmans, Nichols, Finches, Robinsons, Holups, Steels, as well as Wm. Berklund, Nels Wickstrom, and Frank Biller.

Over the years, many schools were located in the community of Fence, but in 1968 the last school was closed and all children were transported to Florence. The Post Office is still located in Fence, and logging and farming are still embedded as part of the community. In addition, the area is known for its hunting and fishing recreational opportunites. The many traditions and opportunities that gave Fence its character atttracts not only year round residents but also summer residents to the area.

--Heritage of Iron & Timber, 1880-1980, Published for Florence County, Wisconsin, under the direction of The Florence County Centennial Committee, 1980.


Above Photograph:  Washburn Falls, Fence, WI




Carved from the Town of Commonwealth in 1921 is the place once known as Big Popple Settlement because of its proximity to the Popple River.

In 1908, however, a post office was established, and the Postal Service recommended three names for it: Podunk (after the dam of the same name), Fence and the Big Popple Settlement. The townspeople selected Fence because it was short and easy to remember. But the origins of the name really go back much further.

The name stams from a five-mile long barrier that Native American designed to help them harvest deer for the long winter ahead. Every fall, they'd build a huge fence made of brush, and directly behind it was a row of pickets. Members of the tribe would form groups and drive the deer toward the fence. Twhen the deer jumped over it, they'd impale themselves on the pickets. The fence stretched from the Murphy Rapids area south to Lake Oneonta, which lies on the Florence-Marinette County line.

The first known pioneer to the Fence are was Halver Anunson, who once farmed in Winchester, Wis. Anunson was the driving force in developing the timber industry and is credited with building one of the area's first dams, which allowed logs to be floated on the Popple to the Pine and on to the wide and deep Menominee.

The first drive on the Popple, which was cleared of boulders and fallen trees, began in the spring of 1880, and the last logs were floated in 1907 or 1908.

Anunson eventually was joined by hearty pioneers such as the Billers, Harrisons, Smiths, Shelleys, Kelms, Campbells, and Wickstroms. During the early years, farming also took hold in Fence, and a few of those original farms remain today.

Today, Fence offers food, fuel and supplies at the Fence Post, just across the road from the Town Hall and the Fence Bible Church at County C and Morgan Lake Road. Like most of Florence County, Fence, with a population of 192, boasts many beautiful spots, including two of the county's state-designated Rustic Roads that wind through beautiful red pine and hardwood forests.

--Florence County Chamber of Commerce, 2013 Visitor Guide







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