Portage County Time Line 1900 thru 1924

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

1900 County population: 30,945; Stevens Point, 9,524; Sharon, 2,225; of eligible voters, all male, 3,661 are native-born, 3,551 foreign-born, with Poles the largest number of foreign born.

Robert M. La Follette whistle stops through the county on his successful campaign for governor; the county casts 3,271 votes for La Follette, 2,645 for Democrat Louis Bomrich.

Registered purebred dairy cattle come to the county when L. L. Loberg, Amherst, purchases two cows, two heifers and a bull, all pure Guernseys.

Smith Harroun gets the contract for the county’s first rural mail delivery route; it runs from Plover to Liberty Corners, St. Patrick’s Church, Carey Corners and back.

The county’s first auto is demonstrated at Stevens Point - an electric-powered, single seat Western.

Electric lights switch on in Amherst with power now furnished from a dynamo installed at the Red Mill.

The county poor farm opens as a working farm on 200 acres in the Town of Amherst with an average of twenty “inmates” in residence.

1901 The Chicago and North Western Railroad extends its line from Wild Rose to Wisconsin Rapids; Kellner is born, Bancroft blooms, and Almond booms, with a new weekly, the Portage County Press and the new Portage County Bank.

The county’s first rural free delivery mail route serves 1,125 people on a thirty mile route out from the Plover post office.

Stevens Point realtor John Heffron establishes a community in the Town of Belmont that he markets to Chicago Polish; a post office opens and St. John’s Catholic Church.

Robbers blast the safe and rob the new bank at Almond of $48 in nickels and $100 in silver.

Papermakers fail in their attempt to organize a union at George Whiting’s Wisconsin River Pulp and Paper Co.

The Stevens Point Brewing Co. is organized.

1902 The Glad Tidings Chapel Car of the Baptist church arrives at Bancroft and the missionaries found the First Baptist Church on land donated by Sarah Rich.

The Bancroft Creamery opens and, at Polonia, the Sharon Creamery makes its first butter.

The new Amherst Opera House opens its doors.

An automobile is the featured attraction at the Stevens Point Fair.

Sportsmen organize the county’s first conservation organization, the Portage County Fish and Game Protective Association.

1903 Socialist political leader Eugene V. Debs delivers an oration at Stevens Point.

The Chicago and North Western Railroad builds a spur from Elderon and the village of Rosholt booms.

In Amherst Junction, the Security State Bank opens for business and, at Amherst, the Telephone Company begins service to the village and nearby farms.

Equipped with a portable electric generator, Plover’s Walter Barnsdale brings moving picture shows to rural communities in central Wisconsin.

A “cyclone” roars through Buena Vista, Lanark, Almond and Pine Grove, prompting town boards to ask the county supervisors for $6,000 in aid for “the sufferers.”

1904  At Stevens Point, John Bukolt organizes the Automatic Cradle Manufacturing Co., the Beth Israel Jewish Congregation begins worship services and the city builds a library with help from the Carnegie Foundation.

Buena Vista farmers organize the Union Creamery in a building near St. Martin’s church.

Rosholt’s first newspaper, the Echo, begins publication; Rosholt will have a weekly on and off until 1930.

1905  County farmers raise 3.2 million bushels of potatoes.

The village of Almond incorporates. ‘The Portage County Drainage District begins operations in Buena Vista, Grant and Pine Grove; extensive acreage in the district is purchased by the Bradley Polytechnic Institute of Illinois.

The Stevens Point Lighting Company moves its main power plant to the Plover River at Jordan.

1906  The county has 3,117 farms and 184,350 acres “improved” for farming; plus 15,066 milk cows producing, 788,000 gallons of milk.

The River Pines Tuberculosis Sanitarium opens in Whiting.

George Allen opens the Ellis Creamery.

1907  The village of Rosholt is incorporated.

The state rejects the county’s application to build a county “insane asylum” on the grounds of the Poor Farm, since it requires a minimum of 400 acres and the county farm is only 200.

1908  The Stevens Point Eintrachts Verein, or Good Fellowship Association, hosts the Saengerfest German musical festival for the second time.

Steven and Joseph Worzalla publish the first issue of the Gwidza Polarna Polish language newspaper at Stevens Point.

1909  At Junction City, the State Bank is organized.

The Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad, the Soo Line, acquires the Wisconsin Central Railroad.

1910  County population: 29,483

Tax assessors report the county has 9, 225 horses and 54 automobiles.

The county has 26 rural mail routes, including seven from Stevens Point and one each from Bancroft, Custer, Dancy and Polonia.

The Soo Line relocates its division headquarters at Stevens Point and brings 250 jobs back to the city.

1911  Floodwaters submerge much of the west and north sides of Stevens Point. 

Andrew Een, county superintendent of schools for 23 years, retires and is succeeded by Francis Bannach.

The state highway commission appoints Thomas Cauley as the first county highway commissioner.

George Soik builds the Independent Creamery at Stevens Point.

The villages of Amherst and Junction City are incorporated.

Wallie Coddington plats the village of Pine Island on a high spot in the Buena Vista Marsh then renames the village “Coddington.”

The Stevens Point school system begins an “industrial education” program.

1912  With P.J. Jacobs as secretary, the Hardware Dealers Fire Insurance Company moves to Stevens Point.

At Stevens Point, French aviator Franco Castory, a touring exhibition pilot, flies a “radio” equipped Curtiss biplane, the first airplane to fly in Portage County.

The village of Amherst replaces its wooden sidewalks with concrete.

The Bancroft State Bank opens for business.

By order of the U. S. Post Office, the village of Pine Island is renamed Coddington.

1913  The village of Nelsonville is incorporated.

St. Michael’s Hospital opens at Stevens Point.

The county has 118 one-room rural schools, all but three of which qualify for state aid as “first-class” schools.

1914  World War I begins in Europe.

The Wisconsin Hardware Association organizes a limited liability insurance company, later known as Hardware Mutual Casualty, to provide coverage for workers in association with the Hardware Dealers Fire Insurance Company.

The first county commencement exercises are held for students earning their eighth-grade diplomas in the rural schools; ceremonies for the 114 graduates are held at the Normal School so the “boys and girls take more pride in completing the course in rural schools.”

The county board elects Thomas Cauley county highway commissioner for the first time.

1915  Headed by Edward McGlachlin, the Stevens Point Park Commission is organized.

Highway Commissioner Thomas Cauley presents his first report; due to a new state statute the county must maintain all state aided roads, paved or not; he then asks the county to double its appropriation for maintenance to $4,000.

1916  J.M. Coyner hires on as the county’s first Agricultural Agent.

Due to wartime demand, the price of potatoes hits a then record high of $2.25 a bushel.

The county has 778 autos registered within its borders.

At Stevens Point, John Clifford opens the 499-seat Lyric Theater, the county’s second movie theater.

The University of Wisconsin Hancock Experimental Station opens its marshland field station at Coddington.

The John Strange sulfite pulp mill begins operations at McDill and is soon well-known as the “Stink Mill.”

1917  The U. S. enters World War I.

At Stevens Point, an estimated 4,000 marchers take part in “the greatest parade in the history of Portage County,” to mark American entry into the war.

The first concrete road in Portage County runs between the paper mills in Plover.

The Pure Seed and Home Power Special train stops at Stockton, Plover and Stevens Point, so farmers can see exhibits and attend lectures on modern farming.

The state trunk highway system is laid out in the county; routes evolve into Highways 51, 10 and 54.

1918  World War I ends; 50 county men die in service, 32 of Spanish flu.

The Amherst Electric Service Company brings electric power to the village.

The Consolidated Water Power and Paper Company builds a new paper mill at Stevens Point.

As a wartime measure, the brewing of beer is banned and the Stevens Point Brewery closes.

For the second year in a row, a frost on September 9 seriously damages crops in the county.

1919  The Spanish influenza epidemic subsides after claiming 130 lives in Portage County.

The federal and state governments enact legislation prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages; the Prohibition era begins.

The state enacts legislation requiring that all rural schools have names.

‘Stevens Point purchases land for its first park and names it in honor of Edward McGlachlin.

Obsolete now, the old Jackson mill at Shaurette’s Rapids is destroyed by dynamite.

Papermakers organize a union local at Consolidated’s Stevens Point Division; one of the first papermaker locals in the Wisconsin River Valley.

The state highway commission counts 1,478 vehicles crossing the intersection of three state highways at Plover; only 82 are horse-drawn.

1920  County population: 33,649; only 16,364 live on farms; first census period in which less that 50% of county people live on farms.

In the September primary, Wisconsin women vote for the first time in federal, state and all local elections; in November county men and women vote two-to-one in favor of Warren.

The infamous “Stink Mill” at McDill, which introduced the odor of sulphite papermaking to the county.

Harding for president; the total number of votes is one-third larger than in 1916.

With Prohibition laws enacted, the Stevens Point Beverage Co. produces low-alcohol “near-beer” and malt tonic.

The Portage County Fish and Game Association buys a Model T Ford for game warden Frank Hornberg to use on patrol.

1921  The county has 3,362 registered autos; the total in 1910 was 54.

Stevens Point purchases its first truck, a Four Wheel Drive Model B with hard rubber tires.

County highway department will supply equipment and labor for any “local unit or individuals” wishing to pay for snow removal on the highways in the coming winter.

At Stevens Point, Oscar Weber starts the Weber Life-like Fly Co.

Post-war agricultural depression begins; price of milk falls to $1.64 cwt., down from $2.82 in 1919.

1922  Stevens Point purchases the privately-owned riverfront waterworks and furnishes water from its own wells in the Plover River valley. Harry Noble begins his long career as county ag agent.

The Washington Birthday ice storm downs power poles, phone lines and trees throughout central Wisconsin.

1923  The Stevens Point Women’s Club sponsors the creation of South Side Park as a memorial to veterans of World War I.

Led by Bill Cook and Oscar Weber, the Fish and Game Protective Association becomes a chapter of the Izaak Walton Society.

At Stevens Point, the “last” great spring drive on the Wisconsin bring logs to the John Week Co. mill; the Gazette newspaper publishes its last issue and fire destroys the Main Street bridge.

Concerned about violations of prohibition ordinances, traffic laws and other standards, the county board enacts an ordinance regulating conduct at “dance halls” in rural areas.

1924  The county has 3,216 farms; average size is 125 acres.

About 300 county farms have electric power; about one-half are on power lines, one-half have home electric power plants; over 1,200 farms have telephones and 1,600 have phono-graphs.

Urged by members of Sacred Heart parish, an electric power line is run from Jordan to Polonia; farms and businesses along the line sign up for service.

Radio station WLBL begins broadcasting.

Ludwig Korfman purchases the Stevens Point Beverage Company.

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


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