Portage County Time Line 1875 thru 1899

Quick Jumps: 1827, 1850, 1875, 1900, 1925, 1950, 1975

1875 After the murder of Sheriff Joseph Baker, Amos and Isaiah Courtwright are taken from the county jail, beaten and lynched from a pine tree on Water Street in Stevens Point.

The state legislature passes the Free High School Law, creating three-year high schools and pledging to provide $500 in aid annually.

The Methodist Episcopal Church is established at Keene.

1876 The county’s first high school is built at Stevens Point.

The Blaine post office, named in honor of the Democratic candidate for President, is established in Belmont.

After his defeat at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, General George A. Custer is memorialized by Stockton residents who change the name of the village of Dawson to Custer.

At one of the first baseball games on record in the county Stevens Point defeats Almond, 25-9.

1877 A new iron highway bridge is built at Stevens Point.

The Wisconsin Central Line from Portage reaches Stevens Point via Bancroft and Plover.

The county board creates the Town of Alban, named after Civil War hero James Alban, and Stevens Point receives a new charter creating its own school board and city school system.

1878 The town of Carson is organized and named after settler Sam Carson.

Edward Glennon founds the Stevens Point Gazette newspaper.

1879 The Almond village district opens the county’s second high school.

The county’s first telephone line is strung from Cadman’s drug store on Main Street to the Wisconsin Central freight depot, Stevens Point.

1880 County population: 17,731; Stevens Point, 4,445.

The highest floodwaters measured on the Wisconsin break the log boom at Stevens Point and flood the city.

Fires destroys the Week Brothers sawmill on the Big Eau Pleine and the operation is moved to Stevens Point as the John Week Company.

1881 The Green Bay and Western builds a spur line from Plover to Stevens Point.

Tle Plover Times, second oldest newspaper in the county, ceases publication.

Stevens Point posts its first street signs and house numbering system.

Nine in number, the first four-year class graduates from Stevens Point high school.

An electric generator is installed to supply light to the Wisconsin Central shops, Stevens Point.

1882 A post office opens at Crocker’s Landing, Eau Pleine and at Peru in New Hope.

Public telephone service begins in Stevens Point.

With help from local landowners and businessmen, the Green Bay and Western Railroad builds a depot at Arnott.

1883 Law enforcement in Stevens Point changes when the city abandons the old marshal system and hires a chief of police and a police force.
1884 The Stevens Point Eintrachts Verein German singing society is organized. 

Henry Nelson, starts Amherst’s first newspaper, the short-lived Pioneer.

Henry and Thomas Higgins start the Stevens Point gas plant to light the streets of Stevens Point

1885 At Stevens Point: the First National Bank is organized; the Central Roller Rink opens; the first Great District Fair is held, with horse racing the featured event; S. A. Sherman demonstrates electric lighting by installing bulbs in the dome of the county court house and atop the Liberty Pole in the Public Square.
1886 The Wisconsin Central moves most of its shops and roundhouse out of Stevens Point.

Three sawyers at the Bosworth and Reilly shingle mill in Stevens Point go on strike for a pay raise from $1.75 to $2.00 a day; they are fired.

1887 The New Hope Norwegian Mutual Insurance Company is organized to sell insurance only to Norwegians.

The Stevens Point School Board assumes control of the local library and moves its 200 books to the high school.

1888 The county board passes a resolution asking the state to appropriate $1,000 to remove the “logs, brush, trees and other obstructions” out of Buena Vista Creek so “10,000 acres” of unclaimed hay marsh might be opened to cultivation.

The state offers funds to rural school districts to establish libraries in country schools.

Stevens Point native Walt Wilmot begins his ten-year major league baseball career with the Washington Senators.

The New Hope Norwegian Mutual Insurance Company changes its by-laws to enable it to sell insurance to Americans and Germans too.

1889 Stevens Point has running water for drinking and fire fighting furnished by John Gray, with a pump to take water out of the river and standpipe to equalize pressure located on the river at Waterworks Park.

Three lives are lost in the fire that destroys the St. James Hotel, Stevens Point.

With the supply of trees dwindling, the last drive of pine logs to the McDill dam takes place on the Plover River.

The Wisconsin legislature passes the Bennett Law requiring that English reading and writing by taught daily in all public and parochial schools and stiffening the mandatory attendance provisions of the law.

1890 County population: 24,798; Stevens Point, 7,896.

County voters help defeat the Bennett school law and elect George Peck as the first Democrat Governor since the 1850s.

The county has 2,626 farms and over 140,000 “improved” acres.

1891 The Amherst village school district builds a new two-story brick school and starts the county’s third high school: the district is also awarded the county Arbor Day prize of $14.28 from the state.

John Harkness opens one of the first creameries in the county at Amherst.

Streets in downtown Stevens Point are paved with cedar blocks.

1892 At Stevens Point, Carl Rebenstein establishes the Post, a German language weekly newspaper and Steven Hutter starts the Polish language Rolnik

After running sawmills since 1874, F. M. Copps, gives up the lumber business and opens a wholesale flour, feed, hay, grain and coal business at Stevens Point.

Fire all but destroys the Stevens Point high school.

286 workers at three Stevens Point sawmills go on strike to reduce the work day from eleven to ten hours and get a pay raise; after a five day strike, the work day is reduced to ten hours and unskilled laborers receive a pay hike of 12.5 cents.

1893 The International Bank of Amherst is organized and the Amherst Advocate, edited by Harriet Moberg and teacher Spencer Haven, begins weekly publication.

At Stevens Point, Vetter Manufacturing begins operations, and the Wisconsin Pinery, the county’s oldest newspaper, publishes its last issue.

In Plover, George Whiting organizes the Plover Paper Company and builds a mill; in Stevens Point the Wisconsin River Paper and Pulp Company begins operations.

Farmer James Isherwood, Plover, is the first county farmer on record to use a cream separator to make butter for the Stevens Point market.

The county board appropriates $30,000 to the state of Wisconsin on condition that a Normal School be located in the county.

1894 Wisconsin opens its sixth Normal School for teacher training at Stevens Point.

The Green Bay and Western runs four passenger trains at Stevens Point.

2,717 county voters help elect Republican candidate and Marshfield businessman William H. Upham as governor; 2,703 vote for incumbent Democrat William H. Peck.

Henry Reading makes the last drive of logs on the Plover to Jordan.

1895 Portage is the only county in Wisconsin to raise over one million bushels of potatoes; the 1.08 million bushels are valued at $426,146.

Nelsonville area farmers organize the Farmers’ Cooperative Dairy Association, and build the first co-op creamery in the county, followed shortly after by New Hope farmers who organize the Peru Creamery.

At Stevens Point, the Women’s Club is organized and the weekly Stevens Point Journal becomes the Stevens Point Daily Journal.

The county board votes to print its proceedings in German, Polish and English.

1896 The Portage County Graphite and Mineral Paint Manufacturing Co. is organized to utilize graphite discovered in Eau Pleine.

At Stevens Point, Jack and daughter Carrie Frost begin the Frost Fishing Tackle Co.

In its first year of operation, the Nelsonville co-op creamery produces 21,000 pounds of butter.

In the Town of Almond, the Hetzel post office and the Almond Creamery open.

1897 Stacia Livingston defeats Andrew Een in the election for County School Superintendent to become the first female to hold elective office in the county.

John J. Bukolt designs the “original self-swinging crib” and founds what becomes the Lullabye Cradle Co.

The Stevens Point public library opens with 1,550 registered borrowers and a first-year circulation of 29,084.

With Amos Ricker as president, Buena Vista farmers organize the Lone Star Creamery.

200 bicyclists take part in a ride from the Public Square in Stevens Point to the Hotel Warner in Plover.

1898 The Spanish-American war begins and ends; county men serve with the 4th Wisconsin Volunteers.

The Stevens Point Eintrachts Verein, or Good Fellowship Association, hosts the Saengerfest German musical fest.

Carrie Frost opens a new factory to produce fly-fishing tackle.

Amherst residents vote to incorporate a village.

The Portage County Drainage District is incorporated to drain land along Buena Vista and Ten Mile Creek in Grant, Buena Vista and Plover.

1899 Robbers blow the safe with nitroglycerin and make off with $5,000 from the International Bank of Amherst.

The town of Dewey is organized and named after the Spanish War naval hero.

With D. W. Sawyer as president, Belmont farmers organize the Blame Creamery and, with M. R. Hetzel, as president, Almond farmers organize the Hetzel Creamery.

The county board resolves to create a poor farm and examines twelve offers of land and buildings ranging in price from $3,900 for 300 acres plus buildings and equipment in Linwood to $13,000 for 302 acres plus buildings and equipment just outside Stevens Point.

Quick Jumps: 1827, 1850, 1875, 1900, 1925, 1950, 1975


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