Portage County Time Line 1925 thru 1949

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

1925  County farmers produce a record of 3,159 pound of cheese.

The Amherst Telephone Co. expands by buying the Nelsonville and Rosholt exchanges and serving rural users in between.

To accommodate tourists in autos, Waterworks Park is improved to handle tent campers.

The first English language services are conducted at the St. John’s Lutheran, Kellner.

1926  A concrete bridge across the Wisconsin is completed at Stevens Point.

The Stevens Point High School basketball team wins its first state championship, by a score of 9 to 7.

William Schwartze begins publishing the Rosholt Community Press newspaper.

1927  At Rosholt, the Free Community Fair Association is organized and the first Labor Day fair is held.

The Stevens Point Country Club opens a nine-hole golf course at Plover Hills; the first in the county. ‘The Stevens Point Normal School is renamed the Central State Teachers College.

1928  After a campaign led by E.A. Oberweiser and Alex Wallace, Stevens Point adopts the city-manager form of government.

The local Izaak Walton Chapter begin rearing trout in the basement of the Sellars Hotel at Stevens Point.

The Stevens Point Airways Corporation purchases 67 acres on the northeastern edge of the city for an airport; the new field hosts the Second Wisconsin Commercial Airplane Tour, featuring a cargo of low-alcohol beverages from Milwaukee.

Although less than 10% of county roads are paved, over 90% of county farmers own autos and 20% own trucks.

A late February storm socks in the county; all attempts to open Highway 66 from Stevens Point to Rosholt are “abandoned for the season."

1929  Led by Marion Bannach, the Plover Harmonica Band performs on the radio from Chicago.

Fire destroys the John Week lumber mill at Stevens Point.

The Rosholt fair becomes the official Portage County Fair.

Hardware Mutual Insurance builds an impressive classical-style office building in Stevens Point.

The crash of the New York stock market signals the start of the Great Depression.

Since the county is “without adequate protection against crime and lawlessness” the county board allots $1,800 for the sheriff to buy firearms for thirty deputies or “vigilantes” to be on call when needed.

1930  County population: 33,827

County farmers set a record for butter production with over 4.7 million pounds made.

County resident George Nelson is named to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Stunt pilot Virginia Whittlesey, Wisconsin Rapids, is the featured attraction at the Legion Air Show in Stevens Point; the aviators are later featured guests at Amherst’s Dreamland Ballroom.

Highway 66 is paved from Stevens Point to Rosholt.

1931  The price of potatoes falls to 25 cents per bushel; about one-third of county farm income comes from potatoes.

The Wisconsin State Bank, Stevens Point, fails.

Due to the large number of people applying for relief, the county board issues $45,000 in bonds to erect a “County Almshouse” to house the poor.

The county board budgets $277,921 for 1932, then learns that income from taxes has fallen by $33,400.

1932  1,442 county residents are on “public relief.”

The county board passes resolutions requesting county officials to voluntarily accept a 15% pay cut; reduces the number of supervising teachers to one and asks the state to lower the minimum wage paid to rural school teachers from $75 to $50 per month.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected president with the help of 9,195 Portage County votes; Republican Herbert Hoover gets 3,334 votes.

1933  Prohibition ends; Stevens Point Beverage Co. opens in the plant of old Stevens Point Brewery.

New Deal economic relief programs begin nationwide; county people participate in the Civilian Conservation Corps, and numerous farm relief and public works projects.

In order to dramatize the need for dairy herd improvement, county agent Harry Noble puts a scrub bull on “trial” on the Public Square; the animal is found guilty and condemned to capital punishment.

The worst period of drought on record begins in the autumn and carries over the winter.

1934  3,322 county residents, nearly 10% of the total, receive public relief.

In May, high winds and dry weather cause the most severe dust storm on record in Wisconsin, ‘Portage County farmers take part in numerous depression and drought relief programs including the Central Wisconsin Shelterbelt Project, the first regional wind erosion control program in the United States.

The Krogwold Brothers, New Hope, and Andrew Stanislawski, Alban, become the first county farmers to raise potatoes on irrigated land.

1935  Jules Iverson donates land to Stevens Point for a park named in his honor.

The Consolidated Credit Union begins life as the first credit union in the county.

Congress passes the Wagner Act, establishing the National Labor Relations Board, and encouraging union activity nationwide; teamsters union organizes at Stevens Point.

Stevens Point receives a federal grant to build a hangar and make other improvements, in response to which the city purchases the Stevens Point Airways Corporation airport.

Work is underway to channel Moses Creek underground and fill the Slough in Stevens Point.

State revenue agents “bust” the Portage County Liquor Syndicate, smashing the illegal distillery in Carson, arresting and sending eleven men to prison.

1936  As a result of the new federal Social Security program, Portage County creates a county pension department and a department of public welfare.

The first meeting of the Central Labor Council is held at Stevens Point.

Stevens Point rededicates its Water-works Park in honor of inventor and industrialist John Bukolt.

After a boy is injured on July 4th, Stevens Point bans fireworks and advocates urge the county to adopt a similar ordinance; they fail and in less than one year, the city ordinance is rescinded.

1937  Henry Brooks organizes the Central State Telephone Co, which serves much of northwestern Portage County and portions of Wood County.

Portage County has 127 separate school districts, with most of them consisting of a single one-room school: municipal districts operate at Stevens Point, Bancroft, Almond, Amherst and Rosholt.

The county has 25,400 cows making milk for ten cheese factories producing 1.2 million pounds, nearly all of it “American” cheese plus nine creameries producing 3.4 million pounds of butter.

Workers organize a local of the paper workers union at Consolidated’s Wisconsin River Division.

1938  The P. J. Jacobs high school and the Division Street underpass beneath the Soo Line tracks are built at Stevens Point.

The village of Park Ridge is incorpo-rated.

Irene Skutley hires on as the first county home Extension agent.

Lucille and Felix Gauthier open the McDill Airport on 78 acres southeast of Stevens Point.

The Wisconsin River Hydro Authority is organized and proposes a vast reservoir, flowage and dam system to be constructed on the Wisconsin, Little Eau Pleine and Big Eau Pleine Rivers in northern Portage and southern Marathon County.

1939  With the German invasion of Poland, World War II begins in Europe.

The Central Labor Council, Stevens Point, passes a resolution against weakening the Neutrality act that bans the export of munitions to countries at war.

Portage County is the state’s leading producer of potatoes and annual rye.

Wood County dams Four Mile Creek to create Lake Wazeecha with water from southern Portage County.

Stevens Point passes an ordinance limiting the number of taverns in the city to 39, about one for every 900 residents.

1940  County population: 35,800. ‘The county has 2,869 farms, the smallest number since the 1890s; value of farms has declined 50% since 1920. 

Radio station WFHR begins broadcasting.

Work begins on the DuBay dam and power station.

1941 At Stevens Point, the landmark Bruce Hotel is razed and the city receives a federal grant to build a new airport northeast of the city.

Eighty-two teachers petition the Stevens Point school board to end the 10% pay cut they have been working under since 1932.

After the Japanese attack on American bases in the Pacific, the United States enters World War II.

1942  Portage County has the highest percentage of draft-age farm men in the military of any county in Wisconsin.

Year-round daylight saving time begins; county schools open on Saturday so children can work on farms in spring and fall; the manufacture of new civilian autos is banned; rationing begins, Portage County is allotted 17 auto tires, 44 heavy truck tires.

The state legislature enacts the “Callahan consolidation law,” to encourage the closing and merger of small rural school districts; school district reorganization begins.

The new Stevens Point Airport is dedicated, with Lucille Gauthier honored to make the first landing.

1943  The Four Wheel Drive truck company leases the new county highway garage to assemble heavy duty trucks for the United States Marines.

A naval and army pilot training school begins at Central State College, Stevens Point with flight school at the new city airport.

1944  Portage County raises over $8 million in war bond drives.

School district reorganization continues: the Towns of Dewey, Grant and Eau Pleine organize township districts and reduce the number of schools in their borders.

1945  World War II ends: over 3,500 county men and sixty-three women served; 120 men died in service.

The movie version of the novel, “Our Vines Have Tender Grapes,” is screened; it is based on reminiscenses of life in New Hope and stars Margaret O’Brien and Edward G. Robinson; screenplay by soon to be blacklisted author Dalton Trumbo.

1946  The Soo Line abandons the “P” line from Stevens Point to Portage.

A. E. Padags attempts to launch “North Central Airlines” at Stevens Point; dubbed “The Indian Trail Route,” the airline makes only one promotional flight to Milwaukee.

School district reorganization continues: the town of Plover organizes a township district and reduces the number of schools there.

1947  After choosing not to retain the name McDill, voters incorporate the village of Whiting.

Irwin Denkmann founds Junction City’s first and only newspaper, the Community Press.

The Green Bay and Western discontinues passenger service in the county, but landing lights are installed to facilitate night service at the Stevens Point airport.

Obeying a new state mandate, the county board creates a county school committee to supervise reorganization of school districts.

1948  Responding to the post-war shortage, Stevens Point builders complete $761,570 worth of new housing.

The county school committee’s first consolidated school system is established when 16 local districts are merged to form the Tomorrow River School District at Amherst; a few months later, six local districts merge to form the Rosholt School District.

Senator Joseph McCarthy visits the county for Armistice Day events.

Evans Radio Corp. launches radio station WSPT.

The Rosholt high school is destroyed by fire; loss estimated at $35,000.

1949  Wisconsin Central Airlines begins the first scheduled airline service to Stevens Point.

The county’s first parking meters are installed at Stevens Point.

The Stevens Point Common Council votes to begin fluoridation of the water system.

School reorganizations continue with 6 local districts merged into the Almond School District.

Four of five county farmers are exclusively dairy farmers while three of every one hundred are exclusively potato growers.

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


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