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Celebrated Founding of The County of Bayfield
About 2,000 People Gathered at Memorial Park at Washburn Last Sunday to Honor Old Citizens and Celebrate County's 75th Anniversary.
Iron River Pioneer - June 26, 1941
Contributed by Zoe Lappin




Bayfield County was created by an act of the Legislature of the State of Wisconsin in the spring of 1866, and a copy of that act, bearing the approval of Governor Lucius Fairchild, the one-armed veteran of the Civil War who served this state for three terms, was one of the interesting exhibits on display at the County-wide celebration of the county's founding held at the Municipal Park at Washburn last Sunday.

The County Board of Bayfield County, taking cognizance of that historical event, appointed a committee consisting of I.L. Alcott, of the town of Bayfield; Herman Hanson, of the town of Mason; A.G. Johnson, of the Town of Iron River; Miss Elizabeth Hawkes, district attorney; Daniel L. Brace, county superintendent of schools, and S.E. Squires, chairman of the Bayfield County Board, as a committee to arrange a celebration.

Hundreds of folks from all corners of the county were there early and partook of lunch on the grounds. A cool breeze fresh off the waters of the bay found many folks seeking the sunny spots rather than the shade to find personal comfort, but it was not too cold, and the bracing air was such as has made Memorial Park famous for those who sought relief from excessive heat.

County Superintendent Daniel L. Brace was master of ceremonies, and he opened the formal program, announcing numbers by the Cable and newly-organized Bayfield School bands.

He then called upon Charles Sheridan, Washburn journalist, who gave a quite detailed history of the Upper Wisconsin country and the various shifting of the territory which is now Bayfield County from one county to another until its final permanent creation as it now exists by the Wisconsin legislature in the spring of 1866 when the name was changed from from LaPointe to Bayfield and some changes took place in the area. Mr. Sheridan closed his story with an account of the historic fight which resulted in the removal of the county seat from Bayfield to Washburn in the year 1903. He quoted that part of the story from an account written by the late John A. Jacobs, who was in the thick of that fight, and it revealed that there was a lot of of pretty sharp practice and tricks pulled by the forces behind the county removal scheme to accomplish their purpose. Iron River then was quite a sizeable "boom" town with a great many votes, legal and otherwise, and it appears that a great deal of money was spent here to influence that election. The Town of Iron River was carried for the removal, but the managers of the removal group admitted afterwards that every vote they got in Iron River cost them $15.00. It must be a source of some pride to present residents of Iron River to know that their early fathers did not sell out to cheaply when politicians attempted to corrupt the electorate here.

Former District Attorney Charles F. Morris was next called upon and he added to the historical lore given out by Mr. Sheridan by relating the rise and fall of the saw milling indistry thoughout Bayfield county, during which he spoke regretfully that in those early days our government did not see to it that practical methods of timber conservation was adopted and enforced, which would have insured a permanent lumber industry such as they have in Sweden and many of the other European countries.

P.J. Savage, of Iron River, the next speaker, pointed out that Bayfield county's forests are coming back, owing to the same reforestry programs now being put into practice, and he predicted that many people now living in Bayfield county will live to see the day when logging will be resumed on quite a grand scale, but under such practices as will insure a steady growth and continued supply of timber for all time. Nature made this area particularily suitable for the growth of forests and if man will but let nature alone, and not destroy the trees through carlessness with fire, the forests of Bayfield county in the future will be a sight to behold.

Edwin Bryan, who, despite his 82 years of age, still has a vigorous mind, spoke at length on the labor conditions of the earlier days in this region as compared to the present, and of the heroism of the mothers who had to plan their household economy in the panicy days of from 1893 to 1897 to make as little six dollars often times stretch over an entire month of living expenses. While some of the new er generation may have thought that the WPA wages were low, and doubtless it is, yet if the laborer furing that earlier period of hard times could only get his hands on $40.00 a month he would have thought himself a millionare.

Next followed the interesting ceremony of burning the last of the bonds which Bayfield county issued to refund their debts, and which were paid recently. This ceremony was carried out by Chairman S.E. Squires of the Bayfield County Board, and County Clerk Ludwig Traumal, and numerous cameras clicked to make a permanent record of the ceremony. They reminded the audience that Bayfield County is still confronted with serious financial problems with a greatly decreased assessed valuation and greatly expanded costs of government, which included nearly $400,000 a year for charity and correction charges.

The next feature of the program was the presentation of the older residents of the county to the audience.

Mrs. Grace O'Malley, of Bayfield, 91 years of age, was the oldest county resident present and probably the oldest resident of the county alive today. She has lived in the county for 72 years.

Her daughter, Elizabeth, also present, was the next in point of residence, for she was born in Bayfield 69 years ago.

The older residents of the county presented are given below and following the their place of present residence is given the number of years they have resided in the county:

Harvey Irish, Washburn, 57; Arthur Anderson, Washburn, 56; John O'Sullivan, Washburn, 59; John Wilder, Town of Kelly, 58; Ed Bryan, Washburn, 56; Nels Myhre, Washburn, 56 (Mr. Myhre is the oldest county officer in the state of Wisconisn today in point of service); Mrs. C.H. Mattson, Town of Lincoln, 56; Mike Kromberger, Town of Lincoln, 57; John Rogers, Washburn, 56; Mr. and Mrs. J.P. Jacobson, Washburn, 57; Peter Olson, Town of Mason, 55; H.J. Axness, Mason, 57; Mrs. Anne Swanby, Washburn, 56; Mrs. E. Korberger, Town of Lincoln, 57; Gus Levin, Town of Lincoln, 59; Amanda Levin, Town of Lincoln, 61; I. Crystal, Cable, 56; C.A. Wallin, Town of Pratt, 54.

John C. Chapple, editor of the Ashland Daily Press, led the singing of patriotic songs which opened and closed this interesting program.



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