How the Village of Arnott got its name

The Stevens Point Daily Journal (Sept.23, 1882) tells the story of the beginnings:

Arnott is the name of the new station in the town of Stockton on the Green Bay & Western Railway. It is located on William Plummer’s land, near Calvin Richmond’s, and will be a great convenience to farmers living in that vicinity. The new depot is already completed and trains now stop there. Cargill & Bro. of LaCrosse have built a large warehouse 30x60 and buy all kinds of farm produce. The farmers in that neighborhood, who will be mostly beneficed by this new market can thank Messrs. Arnott, Richmond and Bremmer, as it was through their energy that the depot was established. They canvassed the country and raised the required sum $500 for the company, together with one and one-half acres of land. The company has named the station ‘Arnott’ after the Hon. William L. Arnott, one of the prominent farmers of that town.”

William L. Arnott, was prominent in political activities in Portage County, the station named for him because of his service as chairman of the Stockton town board and for one year, chairman of the county board of supervisors; Joseph A. Bremmer served as the first postmaster of the Arnott Post Office, established on November 2, 1882.

Arnott would be hopping on dance nights

From the Stevens Point Journal May 19, 1992

Arnott seems like a quiet community nestled on Highway J in the town of Stockton, but Charley Makuski remembers when things used to get a little lively. “This was a rough town on dance nights,” Makuski said of the unincorporated hamlet about nine miles east of Stevens Point in the town of Stockton. At seventy-something (he won’t reveal his real age because he says he wants to keep his friends and customers guessing), he’s not the oldest resident of Arnott, but he is the oldest native.

“People used to go outside the dance hall and fight with cranks and 2-by-4s. There was a lot of excitement back then.”

But Makuski didn’t spend much time in the local dance hall growing up as a kid, he says. Most of his time was spent in his dad’s service station, where Makuski worked on his first car when he was about 13 years old - a Model T Ford.

In 1906, Makuski’s father bought a blacksmith shop and turned it into an automobile shop in the 1920s when automobiles became more prevalent in Portage County. After surviving two fires, the Arnott Service Station, now owned by Charley Makuski, still remains at the same site today.

“I think it’s one of the only businesses left that was handed down from father to son,” he says. “Everybody else seems to want to get the heck out. Most guys go a hundred miles away, but not me. My roots are here.”

In fact, Makuski and his wife, Marion, live in the same house that his parents and seven sisters lived in as children. The house also served as the community’s post office before the Makuski family moved in.

“When I was a little kid, this was really a booming town,” Makuski says. About 60 or more years ago, the town featured three taverns, two stores, a bank, a barbershop, a hardware store and implement dealership, several potato warehouses, two garages, a town garage and beer distributorship, a Green Bay and Western Railroad passenger depot and a dance hall, he says.

The depot was an important place for the residents of the hamlet because it was the starting point for journeys to Stevens Point, Amherst Junction or Green Bay, Makuski says. It also provided opportunities for the residents to transport and sell their farm products around the state.

It must have been this farming culture and Arnott’s image of a typical Midwestern community that prompted then presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey to visit Arnott in 1972. Humphrey spoke on top of a hay wagon in front of a feed store and the event gained national attention on network television.

The community was formed in 1882 and named after William Arnott, a farmer who served as chairman of the town of Stockton and the Portage County Board, as well as being elected to the Wisconsin Legislature in 1876.

In 1872, the Green Bay and Western Railroad laid tracks through a portion of what is now Arnott. During 1881 and 1882, Arnott, Joseph Bremmer and Calvin Richmond canvassed the countryside raising money to build a railroad depot in Arnott, according to a Sept. 14, 1972, article in the Stevens Point Journal. The article was written by Sharon Zimmerman, an Arnott resident.

In 1882, having raised the required $500 and obtaining 1 1/2 acres of land from William Plummer, the depot finally was built. The railroad company named the station Arnott in honor of William Arnott’s efforts, Zimmerman wrote. He died in 1907.


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