County, Wisconsin History
COUNTY - DURAND
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,
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
LAKE PEPIN PICTURESQUE BODY OF WATER DWELLERS DOT
BOTH SHORES OF LAKE
PEPIN, 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
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
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
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
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.
ST. CROIX FALLS
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
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
Bowman & McMahon
Pepin Pickle Company
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