Handbookof Stevens Point 1857
Ellis, Tracy & Swayze Publishers
1857
Part 3: Stevens Point, Plover and Surrounding Villages

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The foregoing, owing to want of room, is but a faint sketch of this River from its source to the Dells, and doubtless will be found faulty and inaccurate in some of the details, though generally correct in the greater outlines. We shall now close this little work with a description of a few of the more prominent villages.

Just below the Dells, we find NEWPORT, on the west side, and KILBOURN CITY on the east. We clip the following description from the Wisconsin MIRROR:

KILBOURN CITY is located on the east bank of the Wisconsin River, at a point where the La Crosse and Milwaukee Rail Road crosses the River -- in the Town of Newport, Columbia Co., Wis. It was laid out by the Wisconsin River hydraulic Company: platted last season; and the first sale of lots was made last August. A year ago last January, there was but one family on the plat. -- Now there are over 30, besides those of Railroad hands -- with every prospect of a rapid increase during the coming spring and summer. About 500 lots have been sold -- nearly half of them for improvement. There are about 80 dwellings, which are generally neatly finished, costing from $500 to $3,000 each. Arrangements are going on for putting up an extensive steam saw-mill, a furnace, sash, door and blind factory, shingle machine, &c.; with a prospect of various other machinery during the coming season. There are two stores, one good tavern, a fine school house, which cost $1,000, with various kinds of business; and other traders and mechanics will begin business as soon as suitable buildings can be prepared. The grading of the La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad is already going on rapidly here, and there is no doubt but the Cars will be running to this point by the 1st of September next. The Railroad bridge contract has been let at prices which will amount in the aggregate to above $70,000 to be completed the 1st of September next; and part of the timber is already on the spot for the structure. The Wisconsin River Hydraulic Company was chartered by the Legislature in 1835, with a joint stock capital of $400,000; and with powers to construct a dam, wharves, booms, &e.; to improve water-power and to buy, hold and sell real, personal and mixed estate. The Company have purchased $300,000 worth of lands on both sides of the river; and have platted Kilbourn City on a portion of such lands. They have expended several thousand dollars in surveying, clearing streets, building school houses, &c. and have expended five or six thousand directly on the dam and it is the intention of the company to complete the dam the coming season. The Town Site is one of the most beautiful in the State -- many visitors declaring that it equals, and some that it excels Madison in this respect. The Site is nearly level, but in the vicinity are bluffs, rocky banks, and a majestic river, clear brooks, rolling woodlands and prairies; combining the grand, the majestic and beautiful -- in fact all that variety of natural scenery that goes to make up the perfect landscape. Being on high ground, with no dead marshes or stagnant pools in its vicinity, with an atmosphere pure and exhilarating, no more healthful location can be found in the West.”

Ascending from the Dells, we find QUINCY, the seat of justice of Adams County, situated in Sec. 12, T. 16, N. R. 4 E., on the east bank of the River. It was formerly known as Kingsbury’s Ferry. It has a pleasant location; there are at least 200 inhabitants. Two miles above Quincy, on the west side, is GERMANTOWN just at the mouth of Yellow River. -- The population we are unable to give. Three miles west of the Pe-ton-won rock, on Yellow River, is a thrifty little village just springing up, called NECEDAH: it is the depot of the lumbering business on Yellow River, and the place of trade for a large area of surrounding country. The Plover HERALD says:

“The country around Necedah is generally openings, with here and there small prairies; the soil is as good as any north of Portage City. The principal business on this River is lumbering; there is pine timber enough on Yellow River to keep up lumbering there for the next fifty years. The waters of the Yellow River drain the heaviest pine districts in the valley of the Wisconsin, and this alone will bring onto the River an immense amount of business annually, independent of every other local advantage it may possess: but this is not all; there are immense bodies of bog iron ore in the neighborhood of the River, particularly around Necedah. Taken altogether, the lumbering, agricultural, commercial and mineral resources, Yellow River is one of the most important tributaries of the Wisconsin.

From this, ascending the River there is no village of note, till we come to FRENCHTOWN -- Grignon’s old Mills, on the west side, just below Grand Rapids. There is quite a little hamlet; mostly French Canadians, engaged in shingle making, comprising a population of some 300. The mills are owned by EDWARDS & CLINTON. The point is a good one for business, and will increase in population. Next comes:

GRAND RAPIDS

THE SEAT of Justice of Wood County, which is located on Secs. 8 & 17, T. 22, N. of R. 6 E. is the oldest town on this river, and has a population of about 1000. It contains, according to an accurate census just taken, 187 buildings of all kinds; of which 88 are dwellings, 46 outbuildings, and 27 shingle shanties. There are some 30 buildings observed in process of erection. There is a Church belonging to the Roman Catholics, and a Free Church is to be built the coming season. There are two schoolhouses with another in contemplation: a select school has been in operation during the past winter. The place contains 12 stores, viz: 1 drug store, 6 variety stores, and 5 grocery and provision stores: 5 taverns, 2 saloons, 2 law offices, 4 justices offices, 3 blacksmith shops, 2 carpenter shops, 2 shoe shops, I wagon-maker’s shop, 2 tailors; 1 cabinet-maker, 1 bakery, 2 lawyers and two physicians. There are three saw-mills, running 9 saws, and cutting an aggregate of four and a half millions of lumber per annum. Below this village, and above Point Bas, are four other mills, with seven saws, netting about seven and a half millions per annum. In addition to these; there are 6 steam mills in the neighborhood, depending on Grand Rapids for supplies, which produce nearly seven millions per annum. Three miles above Grand Rapids, is the extensive lumbering establishment of Francis Biron, which makes some three millions a year.

The amount of Lumber rafted into the river between Biron’s Mill and Point Bas, is variously estimated at from 21 to 25,000,000 feet. There are also immense quantities of shingles manufactured here every year, probably not less than 42,000,000, between Biron’s and Point Bas. Some of these are carried down the river on rafts, but the majority of them are placed upon boats built on purpose, and thus run to market. Some of these boats are 70 to 100 feet long. In addition to the immense lumbering interests which have been mainly instrumental in building up a town at this point, it may be added that a large district of farming lands exist, both east and west of it, which is rapidly being settled. The Milwaukee and Horicon Rail Road Company have it in contemplation to run a branch of their Road to Grand Rapids, and there connecting with the Manitowoc and Mississippi R. R. A large amount of stock has been subscribed by the citizens of Grand Rapids. The Madison, Portage City and Lake Superior Rail Road, will also make this a point in its route. There is a deposit of the best of Iron Ore, occupying some three sections of land, including the village Plat and adjacent lands. The above is communicated by an old resident of the village, and may be regarded as reliable.

PLOVER

The Seat of Justice for Portage County is among the first of the villages settled on the Upper Wisconsin. The Plat was laid off in 1846. It is on the East side of the Wisconsin, in Sec. 9 of Town 22 North, in Range 8 E. The Plat is level, beautiful, inviting to the eye, and tastefully laid out. Many natural advantages unite in making it a most desirable place for a residence. Besides its advantages for trade, and its having the County Seat, it is sustained by a most choice district of farming country immediately bordering the plat on the east and south, which is in a good state of cultivation and improvement. The village contains 112 buildings, 70 of which are used as dwellings; many families also live in the upper stories of stores work shops, &c, it being impossible to rent dwellings of any kind. There are 5 stores, 2 taverns, 1 printing office (the Plover - HERALD), 1 shoe shop. 1 wagon do, 2 blacksmith’s do, 1 gunsmith, 2 saloons, a post office, County Register’s Office, a Court House, a jail, a town Hall, and School House. It is in contemplation to build a church this present season. There are five Lawyers, 2 Physicians, and 2 Clergymen. The whole population is estimated at 800, not including the adjacent village of Springville, spoken of separately below. The Milwaukee and Horicon Rail Road will pass through Plover, and the Grand Rapids Branch will diverge from the main trunk at this place, which will of itself make it a place of business. Some 40 new buildings are already in progress this summer; town lots are rising in price, and the indications are in favor of its rapid, permanent growth and prosperity.

The following is communicated especially for this work, in regard to:

SPRINGVILLE

This place is situated on the lowest eastern bend of the Wisconsin River on Secs; 15 and 16 T. 21 R. 8 East. The Little Plover, which empties into the river at this place, passes through the village, affording two excellent water powers, both of which are occupied by mills. At this point the first grist mill north and west of the Fox River, was erected in the fall of 1850; although at that time there was but little grain raised within a circuit of 60 miles, but owing to the rapid development of the agricultural resources of the surrounding country, it has become necessary to rebuild, which the Messrs. Mitchell have done the past season, and they have now in complete condition an elegant and substantial mill of 2 run of Burr stones, Constructed in the most approved style with all the modern improvements, capable of grinding 1000 bushels of wheat in 24 hours. Situated as this place is, being the point at which the Milwaukee & Horicon R. R. strikes the Wisconsin river, surrounded by abundant water power, and being in the heart of a portion of the very best farming country in the State, it presents one of the most inviting localities for the mechanic and others who desire a healthy, pleasant and central location. The village, in addition to this grist and sawmills, contains 1 store, 1 tavern, 1 blacksmith shop, and some 12 dwellings. It is at this point that the Point Bas and Wausau Rail Road branches off from the Milwaukee and Horicon Rail Road. It is also the point at which the Sheboygan and Mississippi railroad will cross the Wisconsin River. There are other railroads now in process of construction, which from its location must pass though this place.

JORDAN

Is the name of a new village on the Plover River, which line sprung into existence within the past 18 or 20 months: It is located on section 12 town 24 range 8 east, and consists at present of some 40 buildings of which 28 are dwellings. The rest are outbuildings, is barns, mills, &c. Population 165. There is a grocery store, blacksmith shop and match-factory. Several buildings are now in process of erection. Here also is located the extensive saw mill of the Wisconsin Lumber Company, one of the largest if not the largest lumber manufacturing company in the pinery. Their water power is sufficient to drive all their machinery at once, which consists of 48 upright and 2 circular saws a lath null, and a grist-mill for grinding feed &c. It is proper to state that 40 of these saws are in gang and 2 in muley frames. The amount of lumber manufactured at this null per annum is 5,000,000 feet.

They also saw 45,000 bunches of lath per annum, or its equivalent pickets. The Company employs from 100 to 150 men the year round. The logs to supply the mill are cut from 9 to 15 miles above, and the supply of pine timber is said to be almost inexhaustible extending up the river for many miles, and for some distance on either side. There arc two good water powers within a distance of 1/4 a mile above the present mills, which are as yet unoccupied, and which render the facilities of the place for manufacturing equal to any in the county. There are three roads leading into the village, which is surrounded on all sides by good farming land. On the opposite side of the river from the Wisconsin Lumber Co., is the mill of Hugh McGreer, which, although an old mill, does good business, cutting from 1/2 to ¾ million feet per annum.

EAU PLAINE

Dubay’s old Trading Post. 15 miles above Stevens Point, is a town in prospect, rather than as yet existing. The Indian traders seldom erred in regard to important points in their location of posts in the wilderness. This place is not an exception to the general rule. It is about the only good crossing place on the Wisconsin for many miles. It has a firm ridge for a road leading out both to the East and West. A Plat has just been laid off here, including Wylie’s at the lower landing -- a principal street leads quite across a bend of the river from Dubay’s old buildings to Wylie’s below. The site is beautiful and attracting much attention. A Ferry has been established here, and the place is a candidate for Rail Road crossing. It will be a town soon.

KNOWLTON

Is situated on the N. W. half of Section 28, Town 26 of Range 7: containing 16 buildings, including the Knowlton House kept by J. X. Brands, and the steam mill of Messrs. Long & Whitney. The mill contains two upright and 1 circular saws and cuts 2,000,000 feet of lumber per annum. Half a million shingles are annually made in the vicinity.

WARRENSBURGH

This new place is situated on the Wisconsin River in T. 26 N. R. 7 E, sixteen miles north of Stevens Point. It was commenced in Oct. 1854 by A. Warren, Jr., whose name it bears. Mr. Warren purchased a large tract of land of Government in 1854, and during that and the following year, built the extensive steam saw mills situated here. The surrounding country is fertile and abundantly wooded and watered. A daily line of steamers plying between Stevens Point and Little Bull Falls, lands in passing.

Opposite, the Big Aux Plain empties its waters, a very considerable stream, upon which there are two mills and quite a numerous settlement. Warrensburg is their steamboat landing. The place will attract settlers.

MOSINEE

The steamboat landing on the west side of the Wisconsin at Little Bull Falls. It is on Sections 30 & 31, T. 27 N. R. 7 East. The heavy lumbering establishment of Messrs. CATE & DESSERT, making some five and a half or six millions feet per annum, are at this place. It is one of the very best waterpowers on the whole River: -- a town site has been laid off; the village contains about 40 buildings. A commodious Hall is nearly completed. This village, it is believed, will be the outlet for the trade of Rib River country, in which a heavy German settlement is forming around the new village of Marathon Ciy on that stream. The Little Bull Falls improvement and steam navigation Company, are improving what is known as “Bull Calf Slough,” to render the running of lumber less dangerous in high water. The Company caused the erection, last season, of a substadtial bridge over that portion of the main stream known as “the Jaws,” where the river is contracted within the limits of 60 feet, and constructed a road, bridges, &c., over the Island, and the sloughs to the western bank of the river. On the east side of the river, Messrs Blair, Walton & Phillips have laid off some village lots, built a Hotel, school house, &c, and named their plat Fall City. There is also a Store just opened here. Doubtless a town will eventually grow up.

Two miles above is the sawmill of T. Keeler, which cuts on an average one million two hundred thousand feet of lumber per annum. Surrounding his Mill are some 12 or 15 buildings, and some 8 or 10 families.

MARATHON CITY

Is a new German settlement and village on Rib River, some 10 or 12 miles west of Wausau, laid out at a fine water fall, and in the midst of one of the most inviting sections of timbered farming lands in all Wisconsin. Many families are already there, and others going in quite rapidly.

WAUSAU

Little need be added in regard to this village to what was given on pages 21 and 22 in the article on Marathon County, to which the reader is requested to refer. Since that was written, the place has had many accessions. Besides Lawyers, Physicians, Clergymen, &c, a live newspaper -- the Central Wisconsin, has been established there: an Episcopal and a Methodist Church are soon to be built. It was on the very verge of frontier settlement. It is no longer so -- emigration having long since passed far beyond it. It will shortly have such a population above and to the north-ward of it, as will give it indeed a central position. Considering its valuable waterpower, lumbering and agricultural resources, and its healthy location nearly in the State Center, Wausau may be regarded as one of the most important points in Central Wisconsin.

JENNY BULL FALLS

These Falls are situated on the Wisconsin, in Town 31 north, Range 6 east, twenty miles above Wausau. The first permanent settlement of this place was made in September 1847 by A. Warren, Jr., who began by throwing a very permanent dam across the river, from high hank to high bank, five hundred feet long and nine feet high. By this means the Rapids were backed out, and a very extensive waterpower created. Mr. Warren also erected one of the most extensive lumbering establishments, here in 1847 and ‘48, to be found on the river, and made other improvements, which were the beginnings of a place of considerable importance, even at that early day, and now enlarged by additional settlements as the tide of population sets north. This is a natural point on the river, and from its position, must continue to increase in interest as the country settles. The large tracts of pinelands skirting the streams about it, make the extensive mills here productive property, while the excellent farming lands on all sides invite agriculture. Jenny Bull will be the most important town immediately north of Wausau.

STEVENS POINT

This is five miles North of Plover, in Portage County, on the east bank of the Wisconsin. It is the largest town on the Upper Wisconsin, and the principal place Ok resort and trade. No one at the beginning had a suspicion that there was to he a town here; it has come to its present size in the “natural way,” without force or artifice of any kind. It is made by its location at the foot of a long slack-water in the Wisconsin, from Little Bull, and at the head of the great chain of the Conant Rapids. Some 12 years ago, a lumberman, George Stevens, urging his way up the river with a load of goods for Big Bull Falls, stopped his ox-wagon and load near the slough, at the foot of (what is now) Main street, put his goods under a few boards, and went back to Portage City for another wagon load. A day or two after his return, he put his goods into a dug out, and went up the river. This point thus became a landing and place for trans-shipment from wagons to boats, and was soon known as Steven’s Point. A warehouse was then found necessary, and the increased resort soon called for a tavern. The rafts in their downward course found it a proper place to make complete out fits for entering the great chain of rapids. Provisions, cable, and other articles were required, which soon produced stores of different kinds at the place. Thus matters went on for a year or two, when the owners of the ground were forced to lay off a few lots for building purposes. This decided its fate, and made it a village before either the lot owners or the settlers were aware of the fact. Its progress lies been steady, and its growth commensurate with the legitimate demands of business, and that only. From a census carefully taken a few days since, the population is now put down at a fraction short of two thousand, and rapidly increasing. There are 500 buildings of all kinds, and nearly 100 new buildings in process of erection: 270 are dwellings; - stores of various kinds, 23 as follows: 9 dry goods, 7 exclusively grocery and provision, 2 hardware and tin stores. 2 clothing stores, and Merchant Tailors, 3 variety and fancy goods. There are six regular hotels, and seven boarding houses, 10 saloons, 1 meat market, 1 bakery, 1 brewery, 1 steam and one water saw mill - 7 saws, 1 lath and picket mill, 1 grist mill, 1 planing mill, 7 carpenters shops and 2 dry kilns - l lath factory, 2 wagon shops, 4 blacksmiths-shops, 5 shoe shops, 3 cabinet and furniture shops, 2 paint shops, 1 harness maker’s shop, 2 watch maker’s, 2 millinery stores, 1 dress maker’s, 2 banks, 3 school houses, one high school, 2 churches completed, and 2 building, 1 newspaper and printing office, 2 law and land agency offices, 6 physicians, 5 lawyers, 1 surgeon dentist, 2 Daguerrean, 1 livery stable, 3 music teachers, 4 surveyors, 4 ministers, 2 stage offices, 1 Railroad office, 1 post office one U. S. Land Office. The Old School Presbyterian Church, Congregational, Methodist, Episcopal and Roman Catholic, Churches, all have organizations here: - the Episcopal and Congregational have edifices completed. These is an academy in progress; and beside the District school, there is a Parochial school attached to the Episcopal Church, and a Young lady’s Seminary the Northern Institute, in complete operation under competent instructors. The plat is commodiously laid out, on a level sandy plain, some 100 feet above the river, affording beautiful building sites, with dry cellars: good stone are found near at hand, suitable for building. Pure water abounds some 12 to 15 feet below the surface. The place is proverbial for health. Five stage routes terminate here: one from Weyauwega, one from Berlin, one from Portage City, one from Grand Rapids, and one from Wausau. The three first are daily lines carrying the U. S. mails, the two last, tri-weekly also carrying the mails. The wagon roads are excellent. The Steamer Northerner, at present runs daily from its dock at the foot of Main Street, to Mosinee; (Little Bull Falls) 30 miles above Stevens Point. Rail Roads are projected and building from the South and East - one from Green Bay -one from Menasha, one from Portage City: But that from Milwaukee, via Berlin, the – Milwaukee, Horicon, Stevens Point and Superior City Road, is the main one, on which we depend for the first connection with the southern and eastern world. The citizens of Stevens Point have evinced their confidence in it, by subscribing and paying some $500,000 to its stock. The cars are now running twice a day from Milwaukee to Ripon: - the track will be finished to Berlin in July next, and the contract for building the Road from that place to Stevens Point, is already let, by which it is confidently expected the cars will be into this village in the fall of 1858. This road will thereafter be continued north, and west, probably to Wausau, and thence to Outonagon and Superior City. The excellent water communication of the Wolf and Fox Rivers is only 40 miles from us, the boats daily touching at Gills Landing on the Wolf. By this route, as yet, a great share of our heavy merchandise is brought in, the wagon road being one of the best in the State. Intercommunication is quick and certain: Milwaukee and Chicago newspapers reach us in one day after publication, and letters from New York in four days. Goods are brought from the latter City without delay or damage for $1.25 per hundred pounds.

Such is an imperfect sketch of the “Upper Wisconsin” country, and some of its more prominent villages. Doubtless there will he found inaccuracies, and we have been much disappointed at not having been furnished with more detailed statistics from the towns. Enough is given, however, to show the reader that we have in this part of the State the elements of wealth and happiness equal to that of any part of the West: an immense area inviting enterprise and capital to occupy and improve it, remains unsettled. Portions of the public lands as high as Stevens Point, and some of the lots in the several villages are taken up. But millions of acres of farming and lands, and thousands of fine town lots are waiting for purchasers, at prices merely nominal, whether desired for investment, or the more important purposes of making homes - resting places for life.

Correction - On page 7, it is stated that a Mr. PERKINS built the first sawmill in Wisconsin, on the Menomonee River in 1822. This is erroneous - the first mill was built by JOHN SHAW, on Black River in1819. (This has already been corrected for the reader - PCHS)

The remaining pages of this work will be devoted to Cards and Advertisements of our business men, and we hope they will be READ by those into whose hands this little volume may fall, ns going to show in addition to the lumbering business, some of the several professions, arts, and pursuits of the inhabitants of the country. In doing so, we respectfully call attention to the Newspaper, book and Job Office of the Wisconsin Pinery, at which this work is published. The Newspaper is the oldest in this Upper Country, having been established in January 1853, and continued uninterruptedly through four volumes, and now on its fifth. It has been the aim of the publishers, primarily, to bring into merited notice the country, the inhabitants and their pursuits: in doing so, the village of Stevens Point has had a prominence while other localities have not been overlooked. The paper is permanently estab1islied; -- subscribers to it, whether at home or abroad, can rely on its regular issues, and on finding in it current details of all matters of local and general interest.

The Job Office is extensive in material; competent workmen are always on hand, and work will be done with neatness and dispatch, and at reasonable rates.

The subscription price of the “Pinery” is $2.00 per annum, always in advance. Orders addressed to the Publisher, ALBERT G. ELLIS, will receive immediate attention.

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