Pepin County, Wisconsin History

1881 History of Northern Wisconsin; submitted by Diana Heser Morse

Durand, the county seat of Pepin County, is a village of about 900 inhabitants. It is built on the eastern bank of the Chippewa River, about twenty-five miles from its mouth. It includes within its corporate limits all of the south half of Section 21, the northwest quarter of Section 28, the southwest quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 22, and the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 21, all of Township 25, Range 13.

Miles Durand Prindle was the first American to settle in what is now Durand. The village is named after that gentleman's middle name. He arrived in the Summer of 1856, and found a German family by the name of Babberts living there. The first house was built on the bank of the river by Charles Billings. This was merely a board shanty, where Mr. Billings used to put up on his way up and down the river. The first nail was driven for the town of Durand on the 4th of July, 1856, and a board hung out with the name of "Durand" upon it. Peter Carver built the first dwelling house in the village, in 1856. Mrs. Babberts was the first white woman in the village, and the first white child born in Durand was that of Mrs. Babberts. The first death in the village was Charles, a son of W. F. Prindle. This occurred in 1857. The first marriage was celebrated in August, 1856. We failed to learn the names of the happy couple.

The first hotel and boarding house was kept by Peter Carver in 1856. A. W. Grippen built the first hotel proper and ran it, in 1857.

The first store was opened by M. D. Prindle and Charles Weatherbee, in 1856. The first blacksmithing was done by Alonzo Allen, who built a shop and commenced work in 1856.

In 1856, a keel boat was built by M. D. Prindle, called the "Dutch Lady." This was run for a number of years between Read's Landing, Durand and Eau Claire, carrying the freight between those places.

The first religious services were held in a house owned by William Seely, by a Rev. Mr. Webster, a Methodist, in 1856. The first school was taught in a building owned by Caspar Hugg, by Emma Ide, now Mrs. H. R. Smith, during the Summer of 1857.

The first saw-mill was built in 1857 by W. F. Prindle, George Ellsworth and W. E. Hays, with a capacity of 15,000 feet of lumber per day. A ferry across the Chippewa River was also started during that year, by Jacob Kuhn and John Schell. This was a pole ferry, and was run as such until i860, when it was changed to a horse ferry, and subsequently to a steam ferry, now owned and operated by H. R. Smith.

The Post-office was first established in the Spring of 1858, with D. C. Topping as Postmaster. He was succeeded by W. F. Prindle in 1861, and he in turn by P. J. Smith; he by Myron Shaw, and then the present Postmaster, H. D. Dyer.

The village was laid out and platted by M. D. Prindle and Charles Billings in the Summer of 1856. L. G. Wood did the surveying. As the agricultural resources of the county became developed, Durand was found to be the nearest market to a large wheat-growing country and quite a flourishing business was soon established in whipping that cereal to Eastern markets. It was not a place that held out great inducements for the investment of capital, but by industry and economy the people of Durand have achieved reasonable success and surrounded themselves with a fair amount of the comforts and elegancies of life. In 1860 Durand laid claim to the county seat by virtue of a majority of the voters of the county, since which time an elegant court-house has been built at a cost of $7,000 and the bitterness caused by the removal is fast disappearing.

By a special act of the Legislature, approved in March, 1871, Durand was incorporated as a village, since which time it has maintained a separate municipal existence. The following is a list of those persons who have been honored with the presidency of the village since its organization: 1871-2, D. C. Topping; 1873, Alfred Calvert; 1874-5, George Tarrant; 1876, H. W. Carlisle; 1877, E. B. Parkhurst; 1878-9, A. W. Hammond ; 1880, A. R. Dorwin. The present officers are: D. W. Phelps, President; Martin Maxwell, George Hutchinson, Trustees; J. D. Eldridge, Clerk; Richard B. Goss, Treasurer; A. W. Hammond and W. H. Huntington, Justices of the Peace; Miles D. Prindle, member of the County Board.

A high school was established under the Free High School law of the State, and in 1876 a commodious school house was built at a cost of $4,000, and which the village has just cause to be proud of.

Churches.—The Methodist Church Society was organized at the house of John Stafford in 1856, by Rev. Monroe Webster. In 1866 they began the erection of a church which was completed and dedicated in 1870. The church building is 40x60, of frame, and cost $6,000. It now numbers about seventy members, and has in connection a flourishing Sabbath school. The pulpit is occupied by Rev. William C. Ross.

The German Catholic, or St. Mary's Church was organized about twenty years ago. It now numbers about one hundred families. The church building, built in 1875, is of frame, 22x50, and cost about $2,000. The pastor is Rev. Joseph M. Bauer.

The Congregational Church Society was organized in September, 1874, by Rev. A. Kidder. They worshiped in the court-house building for six years. In 1879 they began the erection of a church building which was finished and dedicated in 1880. It now numbers about forty members. The building is 33x66 and cost about $5,000. A. Kidder is the pastor.

About four miles east of the village of Durand, is a grist mill, a carding mill and a cheese factory, the property of Vivus W. Dorwin. He built his grist mill in 1857, with two run of stone, and it now has three. He manufactures an excellent quality of flour, which is mostly retailed to merchants. He built his carding mill in 1865, and that is now doing a thriving business. In 1872, he built a cheese factory, which consumes the milk of about 100 cows, from which an excellent quality of cheese is made.

In 1857, a saw-mill was erected by W. F. Prindle, George Ellsworth and W. E. Hays, with a capacity of 15,000 feet of lumber per day. This, subsequently, passed into the hands of William Dorckendorff, who operated it for a few years, doing a thriving business. It has since been owned and operated by William Kinney and the Eau Claire Lumber Company, from whom it was purchased by its present proprietor, Frank Griffin. It now has facilities for sawing both soft and hard wood lumber, which is mostly used in the manufacture of wagons, carriages, etc., in Durand. Besides these manufactories, are a number of repairing blacksmith and wagon shops, all of which do a thriving and prosperous business.

Societies.—Durand Lodge, I. O. O. F. No. 157, was instituted November 10, 1869, with five chartered members. The first officers were: Walter Greenwood, N. G.; George Hutchinson, V. G.; L. G. Wood, treasurer; H. E. Houghton, secretary; Seth Scott, P. G. They have fitted up a hall, at an expense of about $500. The order now numbers sixty-one members. The present officers are: W. H. Huntington, N. G.; H. C. Page, V. G.; R. Morsbach, recording secretary; W. L. Bachelder, Per. Sec; Jacob Fritz, treasurer; R. R. Root, warden; N. M. Brown, Condr.

Durand Lodge, A., F & A. M., No. 149, was granted a dispensation May 7, 1864, and their charter is dated June 15, 1864. The first officers were: A. Vantrot, W. M.; C. J. Smith, S. W.; Miles D. Prindle, J. W.; John Lane, S. D.; E. C. Hopkins, J. D.; P. Vantrot, Treas.; D. C. Topping, Sec; Stephen Davenport, tiler. The present officers are: A. J. Wallace, W. M.; A. W. Miller, S. W.; L. Schell, J. W.; A. W. Hammond, S. D.; A. R. Dorwin, J. D.; George Tarrant, Treas.; C. Bruerin, Sec; George Gerber, tiler.

Durand Lodge, I. O. G. T., No. 284, was instituted in February, and their charter is dated February 3, 1877. It numbered fourteen chartered members. The first officers were: William Boyd, W. C. T.; Mrs. B. M. Scott, W. V. T.; Seth Scott, Chap.; C. D. Bon, Sec; Maggie Dyer, A. S.; Jennie Henry, F. S.; Mrs. Hutchinson, Treas.; Charles Noyes, M.; Mattie Lewton, D. M.; Field Fraser, I. G.; W. E. Atkins, O. G.; Lucy Hammond, L. H. S.; Henry Doughty, P. W. C. T. The present officers are: Miletus Knight, C. T.; May Babcock, V. T.; W. Galloway, R. S.; Mrs. George Dunlap, F. S.; Mrs. C. B. Ford, T.; Bert Scott, M.; Anna Gazeley, D. M.; Henry Doughty, C; George Tarrant, Jr., G.; C. M. Storey, S.; Lizzie Hillie, R. H. S.; May Goss, L. H. S.; Clara Smith, O.

Temple of Honor, No. 182, was organized in February, and their charter is dated February 22, 1878. It numbered twenty-eight chartered members. The first officers were: V. W. Dorwin, W. C. T.; George Hutchinson, W. V. T.; Alex. G. Coffin, W. R.; William Boyd, Jr., W. F. R.; R. B. Goss, W. T.; W. H. H. Matteson, W. U.; C. M. Storey, W. S.; C. C. Livarz, W. C; William Bachelder, W. G.; Harvey Houghton, P. W. C. T. The present officers are: D. W. Phelps, W. C. T.; Henry Doughty, W. V. T.; Alex. G. Coffin, W. R.; R. B. Wood, W. A. R.; M. Knight, W. F. R.; C. M. Storey, W. T.; James Rhodes, W. U.; George Moore, W. A. U.; M. Moore, W. S.; Allen Goben, W. G.

Durand Lodge, A. O. U. W., No. 59, was organized by A. H.Taisey, March 10, 1879, with thirty chartered members. The first officers were W. H. Huntington, P. M. W.; A. W. Hammond, M. W.; M. D. Prindle, G. F.; George Tarrant, financier; Philo Goodrich, guide; William Boyd, recorder; D. C. Topping, receiver; S. M. Scott, Overseer; Hadley Thomas, I. W.; L. L. Briggs, O. W. It now numbers thirty-nine members. The present officers are
Miletus Knight, P. M. W.; Andrew J. Wallace, M. W.; A. W. Hammond, G. F.; George Tarrant, financier; John Foster, guide ; W. H. Huntington, recorder; D. C. Topping, receiver; Hadley Thomas, overseer; Truman Smith, I. W.; Seth Scoti, O. W.

The rise of Durand has been steady and permanent, taking into consideration that there has been no railroad communication. All merchandise has to be brought up the Chippewa River by steamboat in the Summer, or by teams from Menomonee and Read's Landing in the Winter. The enterprise of the citizens of Durand is noted, and when they are in possession of railroads, we anticipate finding a village abounding with manufactories of all descriptions.

In about 1863, Harstoff & Stending erected a brewery. This was purchased, in 1866, by its present proprietor, P. Lorenz. It burned down in 1874, but was shortly afterward rebuilt. It is 26x52, two stories high. Mr. Lorenz manufactures between 500 and 600 barrels per year, which is mostly sold in the immediate vicinity.

A terrible tragedy was enacted in the village of Durand, on Sunday, July 10, 1881, by which two brave and good men lost their lives. Ex-Sheriff Charles G. Coleman, of Durand, and Milton Coleman, Deputy Sheriff of Dunn County, were shot and instantly killed by Edward and Alonzo Maxwell, alias "Ed." and "Lon." Williams, two desperadoes who had been prowling about this part of the State. The Williams brothers had recently stolen a couple of horses from Illinois, one of which had been captured by Deputy Sheriff Miletus Knight, of Durand, and from inquiries it was supposed they had come to town with a view of obtaining the horse. A reward of $200 was offered for their capture by the authorities of Henderson Co., Ill., and Milton and Charles Coleman, knowing they were the parties from descriptions given of them by persons who saw them, started in their pursuit. They overtook and went ahead of the desperadoes in the upper part of the village, and turning back, met them face to face, when Milton called upon them to halt, but before he could get the words out of his mouth or raise his gun, the Williams's fired, Milton falling dead from the spot, and Charles staggering a few feet, when he also fell and soon expired. Both of the Colemans were dead before any one could reach them. During the excitemerit that immediately followed the shooting, the Williams brothers escaped to the woods back of the cemetery, where they are supposed to have remained several hours, and evidently crossed the Chippewa River before daylight. Sheriff Peterson immediately headed a party of men and crossed the river in pursuit. A detachment of the Ludington Guards went from Menominee on Monday, and was engaged in the search about a week. Fresh bodies of men constantly arrived, and it was estimated that at one time fully four hundred persons were engaged in the search, which was kept up for about a month. The Williams brothers were seen a number of times on the west side of the river in the Eau Galle woods, which are so thickly studded with timber, and the underbrush so thick and heavy that they escaped capture. Up to the present writing their arrest has not been effected.


This county lies between St. Croix, on the south, and Burnett, on the north, with Barron for its eastern neighbor, and the St. Croix River for its western limit. The land is generally high and rolling in the western portion, near the river, but in the center and eastern parts is level. Numerous large meadows abound, furnishing large crops of wild grass. Some fine prairie land is found in the western portion. Pine, oak, birch and maple timber is found in large quantities. The land is fertile and susceptible of agricultural development. The underlying rock is sandstone, and large deposits are found in different parts of the county. Indications of iron, copper and lead exist in the eastern and southwestern portions of the county, and there is a very extensive deposit of lime rock on the St. Croix River, one and one-half miles south of Osceola mills, from which large quantities are taken yearly.

The improved land is in a good state of cultivation, the staple crops being wheat, oats, barley, rye, Indian corn and potatoes. Stock raising is becoming of considerable importance. Small fruits are grown in considerable quantities. The seasons are more favorable to the raising of corn, and other small crops, than they were at the first settlement of the county. The first agricultural society was formed in 1860. Its fairs were successful, and did much to awaken an interest among the farmers. The principal exports are wood, lumber, wheat, lime, furs and mineral water. All the small grains raised find a ready market at home among the lumbermen, either in their natural or manufactured state. The manufacturing interests are principally of lumber, and water-power is used extensively. The products find a ready market in towns along the Mississippi River.

The region is amply drained by the Clam, Wood, Trade, Wolf, Apple and Willow rivers, while the St. Croix is one of the principal streams of the State.

St. Croix River rises from St. Croix Lake about one hundred miles above St. Croix Falls, in Douglas County, and forms the boundary line between Minnesota and Wisconsin, from Burnett to Pierce counties. The scenery of the river is a panorama of beauty that varies constantly as we pass slowly along. Now the banks are formed by perpendicular cliffs, worn and scarred by the waters of centuries ago; again, by fields of golden grain, or by a few tall pines, which have escaped the general destiny. Here and there may be seen white cottages and thriving villages; numerous islands, covered with willows, and a never-ending succession of logs, either afloat or stranded along the shores, are passed on the journey, and, at one place, perched on the pinnacle of a rocky height, two hundred feet above the river, is an old church, calling to mind the legends of Jesuit missionaries, who came into the country when it was but a wilderness for savages.

It is not far from this church where the pilot will show you the hoof-prints of his satanic majesty's horse, left there ever so long ago, and believed to be imperishable. One of the notable points is that called the lime-kilns, which have been in operation to some extent for the last thirty years. The lime is made from a natural deposit of almost pure silicate, which has formed of the drippings of water from the banks above. The deposit makes a valuable lime for blast furnaces. A short distance above the lime-kilns is the St. Croix mineral spring, which bursts out at the foot of a precipice in a deep gorge, a few rods from the river, and yields water enough to cure the nation of all the ills that flesh is heir to, but most especially diseases of the kidneys and blood. A handsome hotel stands on the bluff, some 200 feet above the water. A stairway leads from the ravine to the top, and the view up the valley is well worth the climb to see. A little further on is Osceola, where the boat may stop long enough to allow you to walk up a beautiful glen, to see its cascade—Osceola cascade—as fine as Minnehaha. The village of Osceola, the county seat of Polk County, has attractions of its own; in its wild beauty it stands peerless among the sister villages that skirt the banks of the St. Croix, which should make it one of the most popular of Summer resorts. Picturesque surroundings, healthful locality, with trout streams and ponds, the mineral springs near by, and a class of people who are generous and hospitable; what more need one desire?
Nothing but good hotels.

A few miles above Osceola we enter the Dalles. Its strangely wild and inimitable scenery must be seen to be fully realized. For a distance of some three or four miles, the locality is peculiarly remarkable for its rugged character; huge piles of rock rising on each side to a height of nearly or quite two hundred feet—in some places, three hundred—whose jagged fronts frown upon you, inspiring the beholder with awe for the grand conceptions of the Great Architect. The foundation is mostly trap rock, thrown up by some mighty effort of nature in apparently confused masses. Yet in this seeming disorder the geologist detects the most perfect order, as it emanates from the unvarying hand of nature. He will also tell yon that the strata is almost as perfect as when it occupied its normal position; that it has merely been heaved to the surface, a little displaced and filled with fissures, on an angle of some twenty or thirty degrees. To the casual observer, it looks as though it had required several earthquakes, with a sprinkling of two or three volcanoes, and centuries of glacial action, followed by an innumerable number of years of wear of water, to create the landscape. It is chaotic to an eminent degree, except where worn into perpendicular walls or deep wells by the water. These are wonderful curiosities, that are worth months of examination and careful study, each examination developing some new and profound effort of nature. The walls of the wells are circular, with sides worn as smooth as a revolving stone can polish them—in places, like burnished glass—and vary in depth and diameter from a few inches to forty or fifty feet. The people have named many of the wells, and true to old traditions in such cases, have made the devil a very prominent feature in the christening; the "Devil's kitchen" is frequently filled by guests, who take advantage of his Satanic majesty's absence to cook their dinner and eat their lunch on the substantial and rocky table he has provided, and many a shout of laughter and of song rises from his dominion, which indicate little fear of the alleged owner.

The "Devil's Chair" is also a great curiosity, and is frequently visited by ambitious and adventurous youngsters, who do not seem to have much fear of its proprietor's return. There is considerable copper in the rock in this region, and whoever takes any interest in it can find the copper mines, which are now being worked to some extent. The rocky formation that begins at the foot of the Dalles, and forms the falls above, is the beginning of the copper-bearing formation that extends to Lake Superior, and there is little doubt
that it will be found in the coming years a profitable mining district. St. Croix Falls has pleasant surroundings, and the attractions of the falls and rapids, and of the brooks, which are filled with trout, and the good hotels, make it a favorite point for passing the Summer months. A great many invalids visit it for the benefit of the pines, which grow abundantly along the shores and rocky cliffs. The Dalles House, on the Taylor's Falls side, kept by H. Netterfield, has long been a popular resort, and there is a probability that a fine new hotel will be built soon, with him for proprietor, who is very successful as a landlord.


The country now called St. Croix County, was originally occupied by the Chippewa Indians. Two hundred years ago, in 1681, Daniel Greysolon Dulhut, or Duluth, and five French Canadians, visited the territory, trading with the Indians. Father Louis Hennepin also visited the St. Croix during 1681, and for a long period, the region was famous as a fur-producing locality. Jonathan Carver, not only visited the valley in 1766, but he made a map thereof.

What must be called actual settlement, dates from July 30, 1837, at which time Franklin Steele, George W. Fitch, Col. Stambault, Emerson Maginnis, and three others, made claim to and squatted on land where St. Croix Falls now is. The claim antedated Government survey some eight years.

The treaty at Fort Snelling, between the United States and the Chippewas, was made July 20, 1837, whereby the latter ceded to the United States the upper valley of the St. Croix. In 1842, the Indians ceded their right to all lands, in this region, since which time no organized bands have had permanent foothold in the valley.

In 1838, a company known as the "St. Louis Company" composed of W. S. Hungerford, James Livingstone, Franklin Steele, Dr. George W. Fitch, James Libbey, B. F. Titcomb, and W. S. Holcomhe, living at St Louis, Missouri, and near Alton, Illinois, was formed to carry on a general lumber, manufacturing and trading business. This company built a dam, large saw-mill, several stores and shops, about twenty dwellings, did a flourishing business for a few years, and then failed. The property soon came into the possession of James Pennington, an experienced lumberman from Maine. Returning from a journey East in 1847, he met Caleb Cushing on a steamer on Lake Superior. Mr. Cushing visited the Falls, was delighted with the location, invested largely, and formed a new company with a cash capital of $60,000. Many improvements were made, and business was prosperous for several years.

Prominent among the traders who were here about 1845, were M. M. Samuel, at Balsam Lake and St. Croix Falls; J. D. Ludden, at Butternut Lake; Sylvester Partridge, at Round Lake; and Anson Northrup, at St. Croix Falls, one-fourth of a mile east of the present village, on the northeast quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 30, Township 34, of Range 18.

From 1844 to 1848, William Kent, H. N. Setzer, Smith Ellison, J. L. Taylor, Daniel Mears, John Mower, William Nobles, Martin Mower, William J. Vincent, Harvey Walker, William Mahoney, Perkins, William R. Marshall, Philip Jewel, William S. Hungerford, John Weymouth, Harrison Schultz, Joseph Bowron, Robert Kent and Anson Northrup were among the principal leading men who settled here.


The county was named in honor of James K. Polk. Although the first election was held in this county in 1844, it was as a voting precinct. The county was not organized by act of Legislature until 1853. The county seat was located at St. Croix Falls. The first general election was held in November, 1853. There were then two voting precincts in the county—Leroy and St. Croix Falls. Sixty-four votes were cast. George DeAtley was one of the judges of election. The first county officers elected were Isaac Freeland, Clerk of the Court; E. C. Treadwell, Sheriff; O. A. Clark, Surveyor; Isaac Freeland, Register of Deeds; William Kent, Treasurer; Harman Crandall, Coroner; Nelson McCarty, District Attorney; Isaac Freeland, Clerk Board of Supervisors. The first meeting of the County Supervisors was held in Osceola, in a house built by R. Webb, in which building the county offices were located for many years. At the first general election, in the Fall of 1853, after the county was organized, there was a contest over the location of the county seat. A vote was taken to remove it to Osceola. The record shows forty-two votes in favor of the proposition and none against it. The county records were then moved to Osceola. One year after, at the general election, in 1854, another vote was taken to move it back to St. Croix Falls. The vote was forty-six in favor of returning it to St. Croix Falls and fifty-eight in favor of having it remain at Osceola, where it has since been located without contest. The first court was held at Osceola, Judge Wyram Knowlton presiding. There were grand and petit jurors in attendance. The sessions were held in the school-house, Isaac Freeland was the first attorney admitted to practice by the Court. Isaac W. Hale was
the County Judge.

The first grist-mill was built at Osceola by the Kent Brothers, in 1848, and the first public hotel building, a large three-story structure, by Caleb Cushing's Company, at St. Croix Falls, the same year. The first bridge was built across the St. Croix River, between St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, and Taylor's Falls, Minnesota, in 1856. The first mail route was up the St. Croix River, from Stillwater to St. Croix Falls, carried in a bateau in the Summer and on the ice in the Winter, by Dr. Aldrich. It was a weekly mail, and the
route was established in 1840. The first overland mail route was from Willow River, now Hudson, to St. Croix Falls, a weekly, established in 1847, carried by Dr. Aldrich through the woods. The first stage line was from Hudson to St. Croix Falls, commencing in 1855.

The first lawyer was Isaac Freeland; first physician, Dr. Carli, of St. Croix Falls.

The first newspaper in the county was the St. Croixian started at St. Croix Falls, by Reymert and Bartlett, December 1, 1860. One year afterward it was changed to the Polk County Press and moved to Osceola by Sam S. Fifield, who had the previous year bargained for the material of the office. Fifield was succeeded by Charles E. Mears, the present proprietor. The North Wisconsin News is published at Clear Lake, by E. O. Johnson.

There was considerable strife in 1854, when railroads began to be talked about, between speculators and actual settlers, in the entry of the public lands. One notable instance was in the town of Farmington. Several settlers had pre-empted some valuable land, but failing to make their final entry at the proper time, a wealthy speculator, named Ovid Pinney, entered their lauds from them. This so enraged the settlers that they collected a band, seized the old gentleman, and, after carrying him several miles, held a council, and decided to drown him in the St. Croix River. Finally better judgment prevailed, and he was released. The first pre-emption and entry of land was made in what is now the town of Farmington, in 1848, by Harmon Crandall. The land at St. Croix Falls was claimed as mineral land for some years, and was held by the "squatter's right". The swamp, pine and mineral lands embraced an area of some 12,946 acres, and was disposed of to the State by grant of the General Government, and to lumbermen and settlers.

During the Sioux massacre in 1862 this county and the upper St. Croix Valley were threatened with an Indian raid. The settlers armed and prepared to defend themselves, but were not molested.

The first railroad in the county, the Northern Wisconsin, was built in June, 1874. It extends across the southeast corner of the county, in the town of Black Brook, for a distance of twelve miles.

Apple River was thus denominated because of the great quantity of wild ground nuts, or roots, called by the Indians apples, that grew on its banks. Willow River received its name from the immense willow marshes near the stream. Clam River was thus called on account of the large quantity of fresh water clams found in its bed. Namekoggan is the Indian for swampy river.

La Crosse Tribune (18 September 1927) submitted by Diana Heser Morse

Wis. — (Special.) — Lake Pepin, a beautiful body of water about thirty miles long and three to four miles wide, lies along the main channel of the Mississippi. The blue hills of Minnesota loom in the vista across it, or are reflected in its depths on a clear day. Many small towns dot the lake shore, both in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and dwellers in the villages have learned to love the lake. A natural barrier, it is crossed by two ferries. One plies between Nelson and Wabasha, and another between Stockholm and Lake City. The busy little boats make regular trips across, with cargoes of every sort.

Maiden Rock Picturesque

One of the picturesque spots along the lake is Maiden Rock, where a jutting point of land extends toward the water. A legend tells of a young Indian woman who leaped to her death from this rocky promontory to escape the fate of marriage with an unloved suitor. The village of Maiden Rock is now built near this historic spot.

Another Interesting feature found along the lake on the Wisconsin side is the site of the old French fort, built by Nicholas Perrot in 1686. Scarcely a trace of the old fort has remained, but its former location has been carefully marked. It lies between Stockholm and Pepin. In May of this year, on the anniversary of the day when Perrot officially claimed "all the land drained by the Mississippi" for the king of France, a great pageant was staged at the fort site. As closely as possible the old scene was re-enacted. Personifications of Perrot, a Jesuit priest, French soldiers and a group of Indians, all appropriately costumed, gave a realistic air to the occasion. A cedar post with the words "Fort St. Antoine" burned upon its length, now marks the spot where the fort once stood, midway between the bluffs and the lake. That the spot is now in a fork formed by the highway and the railroad tracks, but brings out the thought of the progress made in the interim of more than two and a quarter centuries.

Love Lake Pepin

People in the lake villages love Lake Pepin with a great loyalty. It forms a large part of their lives, water and ice sports predominating among the young people. Ice roads cross the lake in winter, forming a convenient mode of travel. Subject to intensely rough water and quick squalls, Lake Pepin yet has been the cause of but few deaths. The Sea Wing disaster of a generation ago was the one big sensational accident in the history of the lake, when about one hundred persons lost their lives during a storm.

Brought up from childhood in and on the water, the villagers love and respect the lake and therefore ably protect themselves. Many people gain a livelihood from the water's depths by clamming and fishing, particularly in the vicinity of Pepin. Both are interesting and profitable occupations. The clamming is done, in summer and the fishing in winter.

The clam beds are protected by law, certain parts of the lake being "closed beds" each year to secure the propagation of the clams. It is not uncommon to see as many as seventy-five boats at work among the "open" beds, on a clear, calm morning in summer, though not as many are engaged in clamming now as at one time, due to having overworked the beds a few years back.

Tons of Shells Sold

Tons upon tons of shells are sold to button factories each year, the great piles dotting the shores of the lake. Buyers bid for the product, and the shells are loaded on barges for transportation. Several varieties of clams are found in the waters of Lake Pepin. They are locally known as mucket, three-ridge, pocket-book, nigger-head, wash-board, pig-toe and warty-back, the choice of names being obvious. Many blue-points and razor-backs are found, but are practically worthless. The buck-horn and butterfly clams are very rare, though of a higher value. With these exceptions, the mucket is of the highest quality found.

In addition to the sale of the shells, clammers find an occasional pearl for the market. Professional buyers make the rounds, bidding on "chicken feed" inferior bits of pearl, sold by the ounce, and others of greater value. These range in price from pretty but inferior irregular pieces selling from two and three dollars to finer beautifully colored pearls worth two to three hundred dollars. Occasionally a very wonderful pearl has been discovered, one a few years back netting its finder nine hundred dollars. At Stockholm this year a man refused an offer of twenty-five hundred for a marvelous pearl he had found. A small boy one year picked up a clam while wading and found it to contain a gem worth one hundred and twenty-five dollars. These instances are of course the exception to the general rule.

Not Light Task

This may rather suggest the idea that gathering clams for the sale of shells and pearls is but a light and enviable task. Interviews with clammers, however, preclude this idea. They state that the wily clam "bites" best at dawn. Thus picture his would-be captor setting forth at three o'clock on a summer morning, with his motor launch tugging his clam barge toward the open beds. The workman occupies the barge, and raises one of his three sets of bars, each equipped with wire hooks. As he releases his catch the second and third bars are groping in the depths for more clams, while the clammer gives attention to his launch, guiding it from the barge by a clever device of steering apparatus. For hours the patient clammer works under the broiling sun, putting in long toilsome days. When back at shore, the tedious process of "boiling out" begins, in which the bivalves are steamed in a cooker until life is extinct. Then the "meats" are removed from the shells, each searched for a possible pearl or bit of "chicken food," the shells are sorted into stacks, and usually darkness tells the weary clammer that his tasks are over for the day. Some men prefer working in the cool of the evening, and on summer nights the put-put of their motor boats may bo heard far into the night. In his spare (?) time, the clammer overhauls his boats and repairs his hooks and bars or other equipment.

During the winter months, when clamming is impossible, many draw their living from the lake in quite another way. Fishermen are divided into two classes—"gill-netters" or "hoop-netters." The gill-net fishing is on a smaller scale, though both are done extensively. Hoop-nets are indeed interesting, with the great round hoops, "leads" and miles of twine. The nets are sunk under the ice and drawn up in an ingenious manner
when the fish are removed. The law allows buffalo, carp, sheep-head, catfish, mullet and spoon-bill sturgeon (the last very rare) to be sold for commercial uses. The twenty to thirty men engaged in commercial fishing at Stockholm, Maiden Rock and Pepin pack their product in boxes for shipment to eastern markets. They are packed in ice just as drawn from the water, except the catfish, which are sold dressed.

An interesting sight is the "tarfield" where the nets are spread on the grass and given a tar coating to prevent deterioration in the water. The yards of netting resemble great cobwebs on a giant lawn.

Sportsmen, too, find Lake Pepin a wonderful rendezvous. Probably their favorite stamping ground is the bottom-land where the Chippewa river empties into Lake Pepin near its foot. Here the angler, often driving great distances for the privilege, patiently tries his skill with pike, black or silver bass, pickerel and perch. In season, too, the wild ducks draw their share of huntsmen.

At probably no other point in the great Minn-Wis-Sippi region is there a finer or more natural game-and-fish habitat to be found than in the swamps, rivers and lake in the Pepin country, and nowhere is there a lovelier spot than the miles of beach, bluffs and shining water of this charming lake.

1881 History of Northern Wisconsin; submitted by Diana Heser Morse

This village derives its name from the falls in the river opposite it. The village was platted in 1845; Flint's Addition to the same, August 28, 1857 — the original survey being made by Maine T. M. Chandler. Osceola was platted April 26, 1855, by F. G. Murray; Clam Falls, July 17, 1873, by John Ekwurtzell.

In 1857, R. C. Murphy and Col. Bodfish, of Maine, endeavored to build up St. Croix Falls, but after one year's work failed. In 1870, the European and American Emigration Society was formed, Count Taub, of Sweden, representing the European interests, and Caleb Cushing the American. The design of this company was to build a city at St. Croix Falls. They brought out many settlers, but after one year's work abandoned the enterprise.

St. Croix Falls is located on what was the Indian's and trappers trail, from St. Paul and Fort Snelling, on the Mississippi, to La Pointe, on Lake Superior.

The first birth was that of Charles Northrup, in 1842, at St. Croix Falls; first marriage, Louis Barlow, by Rev. Mr. Boutwell. The first school was established at St. Croix Falls in 1848, and was taught by Mrs. Tainter.

The scarcity of provisions in the Spring of 1844, created what has been since known as the " starving time," when the trials of the Jamestown colonists, in Virginia, in 1609-10, came near being re-enacted at St. Croix Falls. None died, but those who were able, cut a road through the wilderness, fifty miles, to Fort Snelling, where they took shingles and traded them for condemned army pork. They also picked meat from the refuse and garbage that had been cast aside through the Winter. George W. Brownell, a geological surveyor, of the Government, passing through this vicinity at the time, gave the settlement all the provisions he had. Thus the starving pioneers lived for two months, when a steamer came from St. Louis, loaded with supplies.

The first religious services among the whites was held at St. Croix Falls in 1852, by Rev. Boutwell, from Pogema Lake, a Congregational missionary among the Indians.

Settlers came in slowly until 1866 and 1867. The first store was built at St. Croix Falls, also the first blacksmith shop, first frame house, first hotel or boarding-house for mill hands — known as the "Planters' House," and "Soap Grease Exchange"—by the St. Louis Lumber company.

Business History
Bowman & McMahon
Pepin Pickle Company


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