Town of Sharon

The Town of Sharon is crossed by a continental divide: On the West it is drained by the Plover River which flows into the Wisconsin River, a tributary of the Mississippi River which empties its waters in the Gulf of Mexico; on the East side runs the Tomorrow River which farther down is called the Waupaca River, a name which is Indian meaning tomorrow. This stream is a tributary of the Wolf River and their waters flow through Lake Michigan and the St. Lawrence River eventually flow into the North Atlantic Ocean. The escarpment which represents a terminal moraine, the furthest advance of the last Wisconsin glaciations, in the southern part of the town is the continental divide; farther North the moraine has been eroded to let the Plover River make its way through it. There the continental divide is not clearly marked; it is an area with swamps and lakes.

The region was first wooded and attracted lumbermen. When it was cleared of trees it became farmland. Among the pioneer settlers were Irishmen and Germans. As they were Catholic, a parish was organized and a primitive church, St. Martin, was built near a crossroad, a place that eventually was named Ellis after a prominent man who had held the charge of Surveyor General for the region (from which he had kept the title of General) was head of the U.S. Land Office in Stevens Point and was also Mayor of the City.

A Polish immigrant who had known a German who lived there came to visit him and pleased with the site bought land and with his family started farming. He was soon joined by other Polish families. All attended Mass at St. Martin but as they were not on good terms with the Irish and Germans, they were authorized to form a parish of their own served by a Polish priest. In 1857, St. Joseph Church was built at the intersection which became known as Poland Corners. Ellis grew to a village with one or two stores, a blacksmith store, a post office, a creamery, a hotel, two churches (the old St. Martin Church was replaced by a new building in 1866). The saloons had many customers, lumberjacks and other who drank, gambled, quarreled and made much noise. The services at St. Joseph were disturbed. In 1875 a new priest who had just come from Poland tried to obtain that the taverns close during religious services but he had no success. With the support of most of his parishioners he decided to move the church away and obtained some land on top of the moraine, about one mile and half from Ellis. The parishioners demolished St. Joseph and the material was used for a new building at a place that the priest called Polonia. Many Polish immigrants came to farm in the region.

In Ellis some families had not followed the congregation to Polonia. They erected a new church looking like a cathedral, St. Maria and, as first pastor, they had an excommunicated priest who died shortly after he came; the pastors who succeeded him were also priests who had some differences with Rome. None stayed long and after a few years the church was definitely closed. Known as the “Condemned Church” it stood empty until 1918 when it was demolished. Ellis did not prosper; stores, shops, the post office, the hotel, all closed. St. Martin Church declined, the parish was abolished and its territory divided between Sacred Heart and St. Mary parishes. The white church built in 1866 still stands but it is only used for funerals. The hotel, a fine two story building, in local sandstone standing at the intersection and having lilac trees next to it was last used for storage of hay. In 1985 the trees were cut and the building razed, the lot where it stood is now at the corner of a large field. Not far from Ellis, on the side of County Trunk K North is an abandoned sandstone quarry, one may walk into it; the ground surface shows layers of stone with ripple marks. They were formed about five million years ago at the Cambrian period when a shallow sea with a sand bottom covered the region. Waves shaped the ripple marks. Some blocks of sandstone with ripple marks can also be seen in the walls of the small building at the entrance to the quarry.

     

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