HISTORY OF MARATHON COUNTY WISCONSIN 

CASSEL


THE TOWN OF CASSEL (1913)
Source: History of Marathon County Wisconsin and Representative Citizens (1913) written by Louis Marchetti, pages 575-576 ---Transcribed by Marla Zwakman

The town of Cassel was created November 12, 1891, and in the ensuing election John Werner was elected the first chairman and representative of the town in the county board. This town was settled by the Pittsburg settlers' club as much as the town of Marathon. The village of Marathon City was laid out on the east boundary line of this town, and when the settlers came, they located south and west of the proposed village. Fully as many of the first settlers located in the present town of Cassel, if not more, than in the town of Marathon. One look at the plat of this town shows the names of Schilling, Lemmer, Heil, Osterbrink, Bluhm, Lang, Burger, Langenhahn, and others, who all belong to the pioneer class. When set off it was a part of the town of Marathon, and numerically as strong as the old town. The tide of emigration turned strong to Cassel after 1877. The newcomers were mostly of Polish nationality, and they constitute now at least half, if not more, of the population. Some of the first comers of this later group were the Kordus family, Michlig, Fons, and Pospychalla and others, and they settled on land which had been brought in market through the advertisement given to the lands by J. M. Smith and the Wisconsin Valley Railroad. This town is now one of the most populous in the county, and the farms are in a high state of cultivation.

There is one saw mill in the town doing custom sawing only, which is for the farmers' interest; until lately it was owned by A. Bumann, but report has it that it was lately sold, but the new owner will operate the mill as before on the old place.

The town lies between Marathon City on the east, and Edgar on the west, and Fenwood on the southwest, each village with a cheese factory or creamery, still there are three cheese factories in this town, running the whole of the season,, which shows that there is good stock and plenty of feed for the same in the town, and that farming is profitable.

Seven schoolhouses in as many districts are conclusive evidence that a new generation is growing up, and there is a parochial school besides.

A Polish Catholic congregation has a fine solid brick church edifice built twenty years ago at the cost of $20,000; also a parsonage, and later a parochial schoolhouse with two departments, in charge of two school sisters, built of the same material, well finished inside and outside. Rev. John Miller is the resident priest.


THE TOWN OF CASSEL
Source: Cassel Centennial Booklet (1891 1991) p. 6-13

The town of Cassel was created November 12, 1891 and in the ensuing election John Werner was elected the first chairman and representative of the town on the county board.

This town was settled by the Pittsburg Settlers' Club as was the town of Marathon and the Village of Marathon City. The Village of Marathon City was laid out on the east boundary line of this town, and when the settlers came, they located south and west of the proposed village. Many of the first settlers located in the present town of Cassel, if not more, than in the town of Marathon. One look at the plat of this town shows the names of Schilling, Lemmer, Heil, Osterbrink, Blume, Lang, Burger, Langenhahn, and others, who all belong to the pioneer class. When set off it was a part of the town of Marathon and numerically as strong as the old town.

The town lies between Marathon City on the east, and Edgar on the west, and Fenwood on the southwest, each village with a cheese factory or creamery, still there are three cheese factories in this town, running the whole of the season, which shows that there is good stock and plenty of feed for the same in the town, and that farming is profitable.

The tide of immigration turned strong to Cassel after 1877. The newcomers were at least half, if not more, of the population. Seven school houses, in as many districts, are conclusive evidence that a new generation was growing up and there was a parochial school and polish Catholic church also in the township.

There was one sawmill in the town doing custom sawing only, which was for the farmers' interest; it was owned by A. Bauman, but was later sold, the new owner operated the mill as before on the old place.

A tavern and dance hall were built by Theodore Lepak, a store by Martin Kalamajka and one later by Stanley Greta. A blacksmith shop was also operated on Lepak's corner First owners of cars were Fred Pietrowsky and Balthasar Furger.

Florian Lemmer owned the first steam threshing engine but it was not a self-propelled unit, like the one operated by Henry Heil and John Werner in 1889. Prior to the steam units, horsepower threshing units were operated by Peter Heil and one by John Kordus. These settlers raised rye and wheat for flour and oats for feed. The grains were taken to Rib Falls where a Baesman operated a waterpowered grist mill, or they would be ground by hand by means of a small hand mill.

Rural delivery in Cassel was innaugurated in 1901, with Joe Muschinski as the first rural mail carrier. He first delivered the mail by means of bicycle, later a motorcycle, then by horse and buggy or cutter. "St. Paul Dispatch" was the first daily paper in the area giving a year's subscription and a free mail box for $3.00. The county news was disseminated by two weekly papers from Wausau, the "Pilot" and "Herald".

Between 1900 and 1906 the Marathon Telephone Company was allowed to set poles and lines for Cassel.

Most of this history was taken from the "History of Marathon County", by Louis Marchetti, Wausau, WI. The book was published in 1913.

WISCONSIN IN THE BEGINNING [as it pertains to Cassel]

By 1870, many of the Polish people in Poland who had worked under serfdom all their lives heard of opportunities in America to become property and landowners. Polish emigrants began to arrive in the United States, many of them settling in Milwaukee working in factories and docks, but the 1870's were lean years in this country and work was not plentiful, so shortly thereafter, some of these Polish Emigrants settled in what is now the Town of Cassel.

EARLY SETTLERS WAY OF SURVIVAL (p. 7-8)
by Eleanore Lepak

Early settlers in these areas, survived despite many inconveniences and lots of hardships and trials. They slept on mattresses that were stuffed with straw. Bark was placed on roof tops instead of shingles.

Timbers were all hewn with broad axes, and joined together with wooden pegs, some can still be found in the barns that are still being utilized.

Horses were the only means of power Roads were not always constructed to the homesteads, so the early settlers had to walk from the horse trails home. Grub hoes and stone boats made out of timbers, pulled by horses, were used to haul stones and wood to build homesteads. Manure was also disposed of with a stoneboat, before manure spreaders existed.

Hay was cut with a scythe, grain cradles were used for cutting grain, which was laid on barn floors and pounded or crushed to seperate grain from straw and chafe. Later years threshmachines were invented for this job, the first ones were made of wood. Plows were also made of wood. Much field work was done by hand as loading hay and grain, or stacking clover and corn stalks in shocks.

Carpenter tools were also constructed of wood. Some beautiful furniture was put together and is still in use at present with these tools. Homemade glues and stains were also used.

Quilts and all clothing was sewn by hand. Embroidery, crocheting, needlepoint, tating were done by the ladies and girls. Many of these linens are still around and very precious.

Everything was utilized, nothing was wasted. Sour dough was made and used to bake bread and kuchens and sweet rolls. All baking and cooking was done in an open fire place or hearth. Water had to be drawn out of deep wells, later wooden pumps were gotten.

Many stories were told of bears coming to the farms with the cows from the forest and pastures. Also bears would unlatch the barn doors and snatch the little pigs out of the barns. Foxes would kill the chickens and drag them to their nests.

WAYS OF KEEPING WELL FED AND HEALTHY IN 1900's
by Eleanore Lepak

Early settlers gathered many wild plants, herbs, and greens for food and medicinal values and cures from woods and fields such as; cress, sorrel, pepper grass, wild dandelions for salad greens.

For medicine use; Cow slips and mustard green leaves for tea, Wild geranium for diarrhea, Mullen for earache, Yarrow for cuts, Skunk and goose fat, rendered and used for cold massage. Hogs were slaughtered in winter. Hams and bacon were cured in salt brine, smoked and stored in barrels of salt for summer. Some of the meat was fried and packed in crocks and hot lard poured over to seal and keep air out to be enjoyed in summer, as freezers were not available yet. Beef was hung, wrapped in cloth, on the barn eaves, near the roof, to keep rodents and insects away in winter. Pieces of this meat was cut off as needed for a meal.

Much canning was done for preserving of different vegetables and fruit in season, for the winter months as very few trips were made to the grocery store.

Partridge, rabbits, squirrels were plentiful in fall, and these were hunted down and used as meat. Very many delicious meals were enjoyed. Every food was either wild or organically grown, as no insecticides, pesticides or fertilizers were available yet.

LIFE IN THE EARLY SETTLEMENT OF CASSEL

An interview with Mr. John Koppa, then 86 years old for the "Marathon City Centennial Booklet" gives us a look at what kind of hardships the early settlers had to endure.

John was four years old when his father, Stanley Koppa arrived in the settlement of Cassel. Stanley Koppa arrived in Milwaukee in 1873 from Poland. He got a job unloading sand at one of the docks. There were times when ships did not come into port so there was no work. In 1875 Stanley Koppa decided to move into the Camping Country as the northern area was generally known at that time. After he bought tickets (train fare) for a family of seven he had $25.00 in cash and a few personal belongings with which he arrived in Wausau, in November of 1875. There they hired a team of horses and a wagon which brought them near to their new home, but they had to walk about a mile further to a shanty about 12 by 16 feet on the back forty acres of the present homestead, which was built probably by the Rietbrock Logging Company from whom the 80 acres was purchased.

They had no food whatsoever so Stanley Koppa walked to Marathon City to get some provision. He got some peas from the Urban Family. During the winter of 1875-76 peas were eaten three times a day, the family consuming a total of nine bushels which kept them alive through the winter. Game was plentiful, but they had no gun, nor any money to purchase one.

In the summer of 1876, some crops and vegetables were grown. Mr. Koppa scythed hay for a farmer north of Marathon City that summer in payment for which he received a cow.
 

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