272] On February 19, 1854, Dunn County was created out of Chippewa County
with the county seat at Dunnville. The county was named for
Charles Dunn, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin Territory.
Dunn had been appointed by Pres. Andrew Jackson in 1835.
parties, presuming on the growth of a shire town in a new county, at
once invested in Dunnville property. But its rival up the river, nearer
the center of the county, had other views, and under legal provisions
for a vote of the people, a large majority, in 1859, designated
Menomonie, which had just been laid out, as the future headquarters for
county has Barron on the north, Chippewa and Eau Claire on the east,
Pepin on the south and Pierce and St. Croix on the west.
is six tiers of government townships in length, from north to south, and
four wide, from east to west. The Chippewa River meanders across the
southeast corner, forming the northern boundary of the towns of Peru and
Rock Creek. The county is remarkably well watered, the Red Cedar
coming into the county by two branches from the north, the west branch
being the Hay River, and uniting in the town of Tainter, near the center
of the county, finds its way in a southerly direction to the Chippewa.
The Eau Galle runs across the southwestern corner of the county, through
the towns of West and Eau Galle. The Chippewa is navigable for small
steamers, the Red Cedar and Eau Galle for rafts only,. These streams,
with their numerous tributaries, furnish log-driving facilities and a
large number of water-powers, many of which are still unimproved.
Saw-mills, flouring mills and other manufacturing establishments are,
however, springing up all over the county, opening new fields for labor
and capital, and furnishing a permanent home market for the productions
of forest, farm and garden.
is yet, and must be for years, the leading manufacturing interest. Every
man able to work can find steady employment in the pineries, on the
river, or at the mills. The immigrant who has at first to depend upon
his hands, will find this a favorable place to locate, for his services
will be in instant demand; and the skilled mechanic and manufacturer
will here have an opportunity to turn their attention to other
industries, the development of which will prove remunerative.
wealth stored up in the hardwood forests of the western half of the
county is almost untouched, and awaits energy and enterprise. In
addition to the pine, there is oak, maple, ash, elm, basswood and
butternut, of the best quality, and in great profusions, inviting the
industrious mechanic with certain promise of rich rewards.
mills, hub and spoke factories, manufacturers of furniture, agricultural
implements, wagons, sleighs, etc., will find here material and
never-failing waterpower. Woolen mills would find a home market for
streak of limestone runs through a part of the county. Clay banks, with
brick-making qualities, are numerous, but little developed. Sandstone
quarries abound, and, with the lumber, constitute building material at
once cheap and accessible.
Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway runs through the
middle of the county, from east to west, with a branch down to
Menomonie, so that a dozen hours ride takes one to Chicago, or a few
hours to St. Paul. Other roads are projected.
more healthful climate can be found. The atmosphere is clear and dry,
and the general healthfulness most remarkable.
and game abound in great variety. Pike, pickerel, bass and speckled
trout are the most common fish. Bear, deer, squirrel, pheasant, prairie
chicken, grouse, wild geese, ducks, and other desirable game, are here
to tempt the hunter and sportsman. And the trapper can secure the
beaver, otter, mink, muskrat, and other fur-bearing animals.
all the points, there is no place in the Northwest with more varied
inducements to the home-seeker than Dunn County. The county has 24
government townships, with a total area of 552,960 acres. The eastern
portion is mostly prairie and light openings and some marsh land, which
makes fine meadows. It is, as a rule, quite level, and has an easily
worked and productive soil. The western portion is more rolling and
covered almost entirely with extensive forests, with excellent soil,
producing splendid crops. Winter wheat is a profitable cereal, producing
from 20 to 40 bushes to the acre. Oats, rye, corn and potatoes
particularly are fine.
(1881) there is probably not 100,000 acres under cultivation in the
whole county. About 200,000 acres are owned by actual settlers, and the
price of land in these farms is about $8 an acre.
are still some sections in the northern part of the county subject to
homestead entry. Considerable timber land, where it has been denuded of
pine, has been suffered to lapse into the possession of the State, to
prevent taxation. Thousands of acres are owned by the mammoth lumber
firms, and what will be the final disposition of these lands will depend
upon the character of the future owners of the property.
county, like some of its neighbors, is not a very fruitful field for the
student of geology. This is especially so in the department of paleontology,
as the number of different fossils is very limited. This region lies
near the southern border of the first continent which was lifted from
the ocean's bed. It extended from Labrador southwest along the margin of
the St. Lawrence and the great lakes, and crossed into [p. 273] Michigan
and Wisconsin, and thence northwest to McKenzie's River. As this land
gradually neared the surface with an ever-advancing shore, it was
subject to the action of the waves, the heat and cold, and all the vicissitudes
of that tempestuous period, and the disintegration of the rock-bound
coast followed, pulverizing the formation and forming numerous beds and
drifts. In the process of time, these became cemented and
indurated, and the rock produced we call Potsdam sandstone, because it
was first studied at the village of that name. That this rock was formed
by the disintegration of an older rock, by aqueous action, is shown by
the ripple marks everywhere seen on this formation, and that it was
comparatively early in the history of the rocks, is gathered from the
fact that so few animal remains exist in it, and those of a simple form.
The trilobites are quite numerous, and two varieties of lingula--only
three fossils in the rocks found here. While the water over this section
was comparatively shallow, innumerable icebergs, crowded into the ocean
by glacial action, and holding in their frigid embrace the boulders and
other material, called the drift, accumulated in a more northern region,
deposited their debris, as they malted, which accounts for this
formation that is found so generally distributed here.
county now is at an altitude of 1,000 feet above the level of the sea,
in its highest part. All the indications show that, while what are
called the coal measures were forming, all this region was above the
sea, but long years afterwards it sunk to receive other deposits. Above
the drift alluded to, the sandstone crops out wherever they have been
denuded by water. At the various falls, so numerous in the county, the
sandstone rock is visible, and the wearing action of the river is
plainly seen. Ledges, thus exposed, are visible along the
Chippewa, Red Cedar, Wilson's and Gilbert's creeks, as well as on other
branches. The Niagara limestone, so extensive lower down in the State,
runs through the southern part of the county only, in a narrow strip,
appearing above the glacial drift in the towns of Sherman, Eau Galle and
Lucas. No veins of copper or iron, or other metals are found in the
county, and prospecting for valuable metals or for coal will be a
hopeless task; for the conditions which must exist for a successful
deposition of metallic treasure, were wanting here, and if stray
fragments of copper, or gold, or silver are found, they come from a
distance, the result of glacial action, and no time or money should be
expanded in a local search for the mine. The most valuable treasures
locked up in the soil of the county will be discovered by the
agriculturist in the vegetable, and not in the mineral kingdom.
the Summer of 1875, Mr. A. MacKnight, at his place near Hay River
bridge, while digging a well, found twenty feet below the surface, a
white oak floor, 5 inches thick, and 2 feet lower down another similar
floor, and under this was found, quite well preserved, four human
skulls, four stone axes, a like number of spear heads, stone pipes and
earthen kettles. No solution as to the problem of how these relics were
deposited has been found, and what else might have been unearthed by
further explorations, is unknown. Sometime in 1877, a small slab of
sandstone was found near the village, inscribed as follows: "J.S.W.,
April 15, 1771." Of course, there is no way of determining
whether this was a Pickwickian relic or otherwise. Occasional
metallic or other stray fragments of natural or artificial construction
are found. But as a rule, Dunn County is not a fruitful field for
will ever be some uncertainty as to when the magnificent pineries of the
Red Cedar River were first visited by white people. It is highly
probable that the lumber used for building the shanties occupied by the
old French settlers in Prairie du Chien, called Fort Crawford
afterwards, was obtained here a century or more ago, for there were
found several saw pits by the early settlers, where considerable lumber
had evidently been sawed by hand.
is certain that the American Fur Company, in 1820, sent sawyers into
this part of the country to procure lumber for the use of their trading
posts down the Mississippi. In 1822, Hardin Perkins, from Kentucky,
began the construction of a mill on the Red Cedar, and when it was about
completed, a freshet carried it down the river. The Indians made
demonstrative threats concerning a renewal of the attempt, and so the
undertaking was abandoned. Some time in 1827, James H. Lockwood, an
Indian fur trader, visited the site of the mill in company with an
expedition from Fort Crawford, and seeing the value of the timber and
the natural facilities for its manufacture and conveyance to market, he
returned and obtained the cooperation of Gen. Street of the United
States Army. They obtained a permit from the great Sioux Chief,
Wabashaw, and also from the chiefs of the Chippewas, who claimed the
lands up the Red Cedar, to build a saw mill, cut pine timber and occupy
a certain amount of land, in consideration of so much merchandise,
blankets, beads, whiskey and other specified articles, to be
delivered--a part of what is no Winona for Wabashaw, and the rest at the
mills for the Chippewas.
sanction to this arrangement was also obtained. This was in 1828, and an
expedition was soon fitted out and propelled up the river from Prairie
du Chien. A mill was erected on Wilson's Creek, a short distance from
the Red Cedar which was too large a stream, and required too much
capital to be handled by the limited means of that firm. This was the
first mill put in operation in the valley of the Chippewa, and it has
practically been running ever since. We can only realize how far these
men were in the wilderness when we are reminded that at that time all
the territory now comprising the States of Iowa, Minnesota, nearly all
of Wisconsin and Michigan, the northern half of Illinois and parts of
Indiana and Ohio, were claimed and held by various Indian tribes.
that time there were military posts at Green Bay, Rock Island, Prairie
du Chien and Chicago. As to the men who were employed in the
construction of the mills, to boat the supplies, serve as operatives,
and raft the lumber, they were composed of discharged soldiers to a
great extent, with a certain number of French Canadians, who were river
men, and were called voyageurs. They were a hardy race and making
a virtue of necessity, in the absence of more congenial companions --
and sometimes following the [p. 274] example of their employers -- took
to themselves the unwashed and uncombed daughters of the forest, not
unfrequently, however, setting them adrift when their pale-faced sisters
dawned upon the scene. As these squaws would, of necessity, be compelled
to some habits of cleanliness, and to learn housekeeping methods unknown
in the miserable wigwams of the unkempt native, they became in instant
demand by the chiefs and braves, and the schooling thus received was
most valuable to them, as well as to the families they subsequently
superintendent of the business of Street & Lockwood was George
Wales, an ex-lieutenant of the regular army. As the business prospered.
Mr. Wales built for the firm another mill on Gilbert's Creek, a mile or
so further up the stream. After these mills were in operation, the
American Government, having resolved to rebuild Fort Crawford, which had
been occupied by the British during the war of 1812, sent a Lieut.
Davis, with others, up the Red Cedar for lumber. The story, as told by
the old settlers is that this was the redoubtable Jeff. Davis, which is
probably true, as Davis was located at the Fort.
lumber for Fort Crawford was cut at the mill and sent down to the
Chippewa in cribs, where it was united into a raft, with an experienced
voyageur as pilot, who safely guided it past the quicksands and bars of
the upper stream. When near the head of Beef Slough, the old Frenchman
gave the order, "to se right hard!" "Here, you
scoundrel," said the dapper little West Pointer; "you'll run
this raft right to Hell. I tell you, to the left, where the main channel
is!" The men obeyed the last order, and the channel being
completely blocked there, the whole raft was lost in Beef Slough, and we
can easily imagine that Davis, when he got back to the fort, wrote a
book to attach the blame to somebody else.
mills kept on running during the season, and a supply of logs would be
put in during the Winter. They were, however, so convenient that logging
operations did not require the expense of camping equipage and long
hauls, that each succeeding year made more imperative. The operations
were unmolested by the Indians, who could dispose of their furs and
berries for luxuries to them previously unknown. There were occasional
scares, caused by some savage demonstrations or personal encounter; but
misunderstandings were generally amicably arranged.
the year 1832, Mr. H.S. Allen, who had come West from his native State
of Vermont, to Galena, the largest city in the then Northwest, turned
his attention to the Chippewa lumber region, going up the river as far
as the Falls of the Chippewa, but located finally at Menomonie, where he
engaged in getting out square timber and logs, soon, however,
discovering that without booms to secure the logs, they must be sawed
into lumber here. In 1835, Mr. Allen bought an interest in the Street
& Lockwood mills, and in 1837, the company built another mill. Mr.
Allen put his good business qualities, his energy and perseverance, all
imbued with a public spirit, into the business, and in 1839, he bought
the whole interest of Street & Lockwood, and associated with him G.S.
Branham. In 1844, Mr. Green purchased the upper mill. The middle mill
was sold to Samuel Gilbert & Son in 1846.
Capt. George Wales built a mill on the Eau Galle, taking Capt. Dix, a
millwright, into company, with Thomas Savage. This was in 1828-9. As
this mill went into operation, two enterprising young men, one from
Canada and the other from New England, William Carson and Henry Eaton,
put in an appearance on the lower Eau Galle, and began, in a small way,
to shave shingles and get out square timber. By hard knocks and a rigid
economy, the business was remunerative. This firm, by using the finest
timber and somewhat interfering with getting down lumber from the upper
mills, seriously annoyed the Eau Galle Lumber Company, although that
firm had no exclusive right to any thing, except their own mill property
and improvements, and notwithstanding the pressure to induce them to
leave, they kept on for several years. The company finally sold an
interest in the mill to Carson & Eaton. The withdrawal of Savage and
Dix soon afterward, left a strong firm in the name of Carson, Eaton
& Wales. Capt. Wales had his wife here, although he spent most of
his time below, selling lumber, and is said to have involved the firm in
financial embarrassment. At all events, there was considerable gossip
connected with the affair, and he retired from the concern, while
diverse opinions prevailed as to the merits of the case. About 1840, a
Mr. Lamb, an old soldier who freely patronized his canteen, came to
Dunnville, which was considered a valuable location, and built the first
house there. It soon became a noted tavern. He married Margaret De
Marie, at the Falls. His lack of business habits made a failure of his
attempt to supply the wants of the public, and he sold his place to
Arthur McCann, who had just married Rosalie De Marie. The three McCanns,
Stephen, Arthur and Daniel, came upon the Chippewa in 1840. In 1843,
Arthur, in company with J.D. Thomas, built the Blue Mill below the
Falls. He was killed by a man named Sawyer, and his tavern was occupied
by Philo Stone, while Rosalie went home and subsequently married George
P. Warren, the first Chairman of the Board of Supervisors at the Falls,
and a Chippewa interpreter.
Stone had a full-blooded Chippewa squaw for a wife, who got along quite
well as a hotel housekeeper.
mill was built, in 1839, by Mr. Allen on the west side of the Red Cedar,
some two miles below Gilbert's Creek, making three mills run by him at
that time. This mill was rebuilt in 1841, and about that time the lower,
or Spring Creek mill was sold to Stephen McCann. Simon and George
Randall, who figure largely in the early settlement of Eau Claire, first
worked in this mill. In 1843, this mill was burned, and the loss
fell upon Mr. Allen.
1841, the mill on Wilson's Creek was sold to Mr. Green, and soon turned
over to Mr. Pearson, who began the erection of a dam across the
Menomonie, but his means were inadequate, and he finally sold out to an
old gentleman named David Black.
was the condition of affairs when Capt. William Wilson, of Fort Madison,
Iowa, made an exploring [p. 275] tour through the county to find a
location. He came up the Mississippi in a steamboat to Nelson's Landing,
and meeting Mr. Branham, he learned that openings were plenty on the Red
Cedar, and came up with him on foot. Capt. Wilson was rich in ambition,
energy and hope, supplemented by health and vigor, but had little money.
Learning that an interest in Black's mill was for sale, he made an
exploration up the river in a canoe, with a single Indian as a guide,
going fifty miles to learn how the pine would hold out, and of course he
was more than satisfied on the supply question. He determined, if
possible, to obtain an interest in that mill. He at once returned to
Fort Madison, and induced John H. Knapp, a young man just from an
eastern college, who had some money, to look into the project, which was
so enthusiastically described by the Captain, that Mr. Knapp returned
with him, and finding the prospect satisfactory, they returned down the
river. They bought a half interest in the property. Mr. Black soon after
died, and the property was in the possession of Knapp & Wilson.
soon as arrangements could be made, Capt. Wilson, his wife and four
children, with Jason Ball and wife, made the trip to their new home,
going up the Chippewa and Red Cedar in a keel-boat. Three weeks after
this, Mr. Knapp came up in like manner, working at the poles or
tiler the whole distance. Mr. and Mrs. Lorenzo Bullard also came up on
this boat with their son Eugene. They had been employed to keep the
boarding-house. Mrs. Clair and son, who had been engaged as help, came
also at that time.
firm name was at first Knapp & Black, but after a settlement with
the administrator of Mr. Black's estate, Mr. J.S. Lockwood, of Prairie
du Chien, the firm name was Knapp & Wilson. In September 1850, Capt.
Andrew Tainter became a partner. The firm was then known as Knapp,
Tainter & Co. Soon after the admission of Capt. Tainter, a new mill
was erected, comprising two gang saws and two rotaries.
1853, H. L. Stout, a man of some means, bought an interest in the
property, and the firm then took the name of Knapp, Stout & Co.
Previous to this time, however, Capt. Downs, their millwright, held an
interest in the mills for one and one half years, but it was afterwards
sold back. J.B. Wilson, of Read's Landing, also had an interest in the
firm. It is understood that the whole amount paid Mr. Black and his
heirs was $4,000.
was the success of this firm in the lumbering business, that ten years afterwards
the property was worth $500,000, and in March, 1878, the company was
incorporated with a paid up capital of $2,000,000.
1850, as already stated, Capt. Andrew Tainter, who had been with the
company since its early struggles, as foreman, in charge of the boating,
rafting lumber in the Summer, and organizing and superintending logging
camps in the Winter, and log-driving in the Spring; and whose energy,
decision, industry and fidelity had contributed largely to the success
of the firm, was offered a one-fourth interest in the rapidly
accumulating property. on very favorable terms, which were of course
accepted, and he has since been an honored member of the firm.
present condition and late operations of the company will be described
under the head of manufacturing interests of the county.
return to the earlier period in the history of the Red Cedar Settlement.
Soon after Wilson and Knapp came up, Blois Hurd, a millwright, brought
his wife to reside at Gilbert's Mill, three miles below; and for some
time she was the only white woman there. The lady is described as being
refined, beautiful and intelligent.
families gradually came in, and social affairs began to assume form.
Mrs. Clair, the charming widow, who came up as housekeeper with Mr.
Knapp, was married by Esquire Bass, who came down from the Falls for the
express purpose, to William Whitcomb.
next marriage was that of Thomas Piercewell and Margaret Scott. The want
of a civil magistrate to sanction the union was provided for by a mutual
contract duly signed and witnessed. Even as late as 1855, when S.B.
French was married to Virginia Bullard, Capt. Wilson, in the kindness of
his heart, went to Hudson and brought the Rev. Mr. Thayer to perform the
were indeed primitive times; a single piece of calico would make the
best dress for every woman in the place; the mournful tale of
"nothing to wear" was never heard by the husbands and fathers
of that period. The dry goods side of the store could be carried off in
a wheelbarrow, and the grocery department was exceedingly limited in
variety. The staple articles were whiskey, pork, flour and beans. If
with a dozen barrels of whiskey there came two or three barrels of
flour, the question was, "what in the dickens is to be done with so
some time the nearest post-office was Prairie du Chien, which was the
capital of Crawford County, which embraced the whole northwestern part
of the State.
was at this time usually plenty of game and fish, and , in their season,
wild fruits; but the hardships of pioneer life, while not perhaps
involving actual suffering for food, and the accustomed comforts of
life, were nevertheless serious, and the monotony of existence, sent
many early adventurers back to the purlieus of civilization under more
favorable surroundings. It was not until the land was opened up for
homestead entry or purchase that immigration became active, the country
began to fill up, and the necessity of a village became obvious.
thing was subordinate to the company, until, in 1859, the village of
Menomonie was platted, and the actual sale of lots began soon after. As
to the Indians, little trouble was experienced with them. There were
personal troubles which sometimes threatened the peace of the whole
settlement, but the Indians at such times were placated in some way by
the superior tact and talent of the whites. As dams were thrown across
various streams, the natives were sometimes restless, and complained
that their wild rice would be destroyed, but no demonstrations beyond
words were made.
one time, a rather good looking young squaw, named by the boys
"Mary Dirty Face," was purchased by a mill hand, as a wife.
Mary utterly repudiated the pale face, and refused to share his bed and
board, so [p. 276] he seized the goods he had given for her and burned
them, and to have ample revenge out of his wife's relations, he procured
a gallon of whiskey, put some ipecac in it, and invited the Indians to
have a big drunk with him. Every available red skin put in an
appearance, the whiskey was soon disposed of, and such a woebegone lot
of Chippewas never struggled together to invert their stomachs. As soon
as they were sufficiently recovered for concerted action, they sounded
the terrible war cry, and started to hunt him down, but George,
realizing what he might expect, and not being willing to become their
victim, escaped. While their war paint was on, vengeance against the
whole white race was threatened, but the affair was soon quieted.
were several noted Indians who were more or less troublesome; among them
Big Rascal, who was one day prowling around the mill-men's sleeping
quarters. Mr. Harris ordered him away, and, on his refusal, Harris used
his fists and boots in such a lively way that the Indian made no
unnecessary delay in placing himself beyond the jurisdiction of that
kind of law.
Rascal induced a chief by the name of Ma-sou-a-quet to take up his
cause, and, followed by a war party, they came down upon the settlement.
The sight would have been comical to a disinterested spectator. There
were the Indians in their fantastic paint and feathers, gesticulating
with their tomahawks and scalping knives, and their squaws trailing
along behind, dismally wailing, and begging them to desist from their
Bullard went out boldly to meet the advancing horde. The chief halted in
amazement at such daring, giving Bullard time to explain. The chief was
compelled to acknowledge that Big Rascal was served just right.
the greatest trouble with the Indians was on account of their thieving
propensities. After one of the sugar seasons was over, the Indians came
down and sold their camp-kettles. The next season they wanted to borrow
them, on the promise of their prompt return, with a certain amount of
sugar for their use. This was agreed to; but when the season was over
the band undertook to leave, carrying off the kettles. They were pursued
and a gun seized from a straggler as a reprisal. The kettles promptly
came back, with a demand for the gun.
Sioux and Chippewas had an occasional skirmish, but the old settlers
here never suffered as did the pioneers in other parts of the Union from
1856 the Sioux and Chippewas near Gilbert's Creek indulged in their
periodical amusement of holding a treaty of peace. The usual forms and
feasting having been indulged in, they agreed, in order to decide their
prowess and show which was superior, to select a brave from each side
who should go out on a hunt, and the one bringing the first game, his
tribe should be declared the victor, and it should settle the question
Sioux succeeded in shooting an elk, and his rival, who was skulking
near, then shot the Sioux and immediately fled northward. The Chippewas,
on learning what had happened, hastily left. A single old man and two
women remained behind, who were at once pounced upon and murdered by the
Sioux, who made no unnecessary delay in getting back to their own
making improvements at the point where these parties were buried, a few
years ago, their bones were disinterred.
time in 1848, Capt. Wilson, seeing the trouble caused by whiskey,
suggested to Mr. Knapp that the next time he brought up supplies he
should forget the whiskey; which he did, much to the disgust of the
crowd who were waiting to see the stuff unloaded. They never dealt in
the article again.
is supposed that the first steamboat up the Chippewa was the "Dr.
Franklin," of Galena. This was in the early Spring of 1848, and the
boat was bound for the upper Mississippi, which, above the mount of the
Chippewa, was blocked with ice. Mr. Knapp was on board with a crew
of workmen, and considerable freight. He chartered the boat to take him
up the Chippewa, acting as pilot himself. He brought the boat safely to
the mouth of the Red Cedar. This settled the question of navigating the
river, to this point, at least. H.S. Allen, from the Falls, soon
followed with his boat, and navigation on the river, as far as Eau
Claire, has been continued with more or less regularity ever since.
brief mention can here be made of those who came previous to 1862. Some
of them will be more fully alluded to in the personal sketches. Joseph
Benson was one of the earliest comers, and claimed to have been with
Jeff. Davis in his ill-starred expedition.
Curtis opened the first farm in the county in 1846. It was near Eau
Galle. Frank Ames and sons followed in 1847. In 1852, B. Fowler settled
in Mud Creek Valley. H.M. Stenes began the Massey Settlement in 1856.
Capt. Moore laid out a farm of 2,200 acres about twelve miles up the Red
Rogler began work for the company, before the war, as a tinner;
enlisted, served his time, and returned to work.
Morugg, the general outside foreman for Knapp, Stout, & C. came in
1854. He was the first man to enlist in the valley. Was wounded at
Gettysburg. Was elected Sheriff in 1864. The mill-wright A.J.
Depew, arrived in 1855.
McCann's store was the first on the east side of the river, and the
second one in town. Dr. W.A. Burry located in Cedar Falls in 1855-56.
the settlers in 1858, was Mr. G.M. Fowler, a mill-wright and surveyor.
Both himself and his accomplished wife have been closely identified with
the prosperity of the place.
Miller, an artist, came in 1856. Dr. E.G. Benjamin was also one of
the early comers, and the first resident physician. He was editor of the
Lumberman, which he transformed into the News. Was also
County Judge. S.B. French located here in 1853, and was for fourteen
years bookkeeper for the company. Theodore Nye, mill-wright and
machinist, came about 1857.
Dunn, the filer, came to Menomonie in 1854. B.S. Thorn claims 1857 as
the date of his first appearance [p. 277]. J. B. Sprague, the stage man,
first drove up in 1856. John Noulan was here in 1854. William Schults
and Albert Quilling were among the 1855 boys.
Galloway located here in 1854, and began farming two years later.
S. Heller looked in on the place in 1857; permanently located here in
1860. A. J. Brunelle, the millwright, engaged with the company in 1865.
Carroll Lucas located on Mud Creek in August, 1854. John Kelly, Jr. came
to the county in 1859. Mr. William McKahn, with his family, were among
the arrivals of 1857.
secure instruction for their own and other children in the settlement, a
school house was built in 1854, and Rev. Joshua Pitman was
employed in the double capacity of teacher and preacher, which continued
several years. In 1856, there was a regularly organized district school.
first meeting for religious services was in the Summer of 1855, by the
Rev. Mr. Wayne.
land having been surveyed by the Government, most of the pine lands on
the Red Cedar were brought into market, and large lots sold to
non-residents. Among others, Hon. C. C. Washburn was a heavy buyer, and
took 12,000 acres on other branches of the Chippewa. The next year,
large entries were sold to Morrison & Woodman, and transferred to
Messrs. D. Shaw & Clark.
cut up his lumber, Mr. Washburn erected a steam mill at the foot of Nine
Mile Slough, on the Chippewa. Mr. Downs about the same time placed a dam
across the Red Cedar, at Downsville, and built a mill. This was in
that terrible panic stricken year, 1857. these mills never recovered for
their owners the broken promises of their creation, and in a few years
they, and all the pine lands connected therewith, were swallowed by by
the big company at Menomonie.
1857 to 1861 there is little to be recorded. The country was quietly
being filled up, the mills on the Red Cedar were rapidly turnout out
lumber to build up the Western cities which were springing up. Knapp,
Stout & Co. were every year getting more and more solid, increasing
their possessions and manufacturing capacity. And when the clarion
notes of war rang out in a call for troops, patriotic hearts were not
wanting to respond to the summons, and the usual scenes so well
remembered by those who joined the ranks of the army, or those whose
hearts only were enlisted in the cause, were enacted here on the
frontier, away from the sound of the locomotive or steamboat whistle, or
even stage coach rattle. It would be a pleasure to record the name of
every man who went from Dunn County, when the country was in danger; but
the list is too long, and a less extended account must be given. The
county more than filled its quota. Many who survive will be mentioned in
the account of the several re-unions which are presented.
first election for county officers, in November 1854, resulted as
follows: Supervisors, William Wilson, J. McCain, William Carson; County
Judge, William Cady; Treasurer, Henry Eaton; Register of Deeds, J.M.
Green; Clerk of Circuit Court, J. R. Green; Sheriff, Amos Colburn;
Surveyor, D. Beeman.
county has no debt, which is a valuable consideration for new settlers.
The valuation, as fixed by the State authorities in 1880, was
$3,870,757, and the State tax was $9,085.21. The valuation of the
county in 1877 was $2,927,448, which shows the extent of improvements
within the past few years.
present county officers are: Sever Severson, Sheriff; Ch. Swan, Deputy
Sheriff; W.H. Landon, Clerk; Carroll Lucas, Treasurer; Clerk Circuit
Court, W.J. Cowan.
Coleman, the Under Sheriff, was killed by the Williams brothers.]
Judge of the Circuit Court is E.B. Bundy; W.J. Cowan, Clerk; County
Judge, Robert McCauley. John Kelly, Jr. is County Judge elect.
present Senatorial District is composed of Dunn and Eau Claire counties,
M.Griffin, of Eau Claire, being the present Senator.
court-house is a building of brick and stone, in the center of a park
embracing a whole square, in the village of Menomonie; was built in 1871
and 1872. It cost about $36,000, although the contract price was
$32,359. When the court-house was built, the Supervisors were T.W.
Macauley, J.W. Granger and A. Sherburn. A.J. Kenney was the architect;
C. Thompson, builder; J. Cavanaugh, stone cutter.
jail, which embraces a residence and jail, was constructed in 1875, at a
cost of $7,500, and additions and improvements since that time have cost
about $1,000 more. Besides the six iron cells, it has rooms for
female prisoners, and a dwelling suite.
correction line of the Government survey is on the lower line of the
upper tier of towns, making an offset of nearly one mile to the west.
are a few lakes in the county. elk Lake, in Spring Brook, and another in
Red Cedar, are about three-fourths of a mile long. The pond of Knapp,
Stout & Co at Menomonie, for storing logs, is the largest in the
county was at first associated with several others, to form an Assembly
District. As the population increased, these have, from time to time,
been dropped, until it is now an Assembly District of itself.
following gentlemen have represented the county in the legislature: Wm.
Wilson was State Senator in 1857 and 1858. In the Assembly, 1863,
William H. Smith, Eau Galle; 1865, Francis R. Church, Menomonie; 1868,
John W. Hunt, Menomonie; 1870, Jed. W. Granger, Menomonie; 1872,
Rockwell J. Flint, he was also in the Senate in 1870 and 1871; 1876, M.R.
Bump, Rock Falls; 1877, Samuel Black, Menomonie; 1878, Fred C. Barlow,
Rock Falls; 1879, Henry Ausman, Elk Mound; 1880, John McGilton, Cedar
Falls; 1881, G. H. Chamberlain, Rock Falls.
the county is divided into twenty-one towns; of these, fourteen are
equal to a township of Government survey in form and size. Peru and Rock
Creek are smaller, while the remainder are larger.
names of the towns are as follows: Colfax, Dunn, Eau Galle, Elk Mound,
Grant, Hay River, Lucas, Menomonie, New Haven, Otter Creek, Sheridan, Sherman,
Spring Brook, Stanton, Tainter, Tiffany and Weston.
are several county societies, among them the Bible Society. The present
officers are R.C. Bierce, [p. 278] president; Dr. J. R. Branch,
secretary; Mrs. S.M. Mott, treasurer; J. Gates, Robert Macauley and A.
Quilling, executive committee.
most important and highly prosperous association is the Farmers' Mutual
Fire Insurance Co., which has been in operation five years, and now has
insured property to the amount of $328,485. It has paid for losses
$1,176, being at the rate of $8.50 on the cost of $1,000 insurance for
five years. The officers of the company are: Thomas Dixon, president;
Theodore Lewis, Ole Larson, J.J. Merrick, W.H. Landon; Wm. Witcher,
County Agricultural Society was started in 1872, and a single fair held
but on account of the difficulties of transportation only a single fair
only railroad line is under the control of the Chicago, St. Paul,
Minneapolis & Omaha Company, and was formerly the West Wisconsin;
the main line passes a few miles north of Menomonie and has a branch to
the town. Two passenger trains daily each way accommodate the people.
are several mail routes carried by stage.
Durant daily stage runs in connection with a line to Prairie Farm, via
Lochard, Tiffany Creek and Granger, alternating through these places.
Louis Beresenn, manager.
City and Menomonie, twice a week; contractor, E.W. Parker; driver, Mr.
to Dunnville, twice a week; E.W. Parker, contractor; P.F. Orr, carrier.
and Lucas, once a week; Z. Bliss, proprietor.
Sand Creek and Rice Lake, three times a week; F.E. Smith, contractor;
E.L. Doolittle, carrier.
total county treasury disbursements for 1880 was about $30,000.
of the oldest men who ever lived in the county was Ambrose Edwards, who
claims to have voted in 1779. He lived in the town of Weston.
July 1, 1860, a new stage line was put on between Eau Claire and Hudson.
it was run by Burbank & Company. A previous service over this route
had been run by Woodbridge & Price.
late as July 1860, a large delegation of Chippewas, about fifty in
number, made a formal call upon Captain Wilson and engaged in a
vigorous dance for bread and meat. The captain's larder was equal to the
occasion, and every girdle was let out several notches, when they
last Sunday in August, 1862, was a memorable one in the history of the
whole Chippewa Valley. The massacre of New Ulm in Minnesota, had
occurred a few weeks before, and the rumor started that the whole Indian
population, incited and supplied by the rebel authorities, was on the
war-path to obliterate every vestige of civilization. As the rumor flew,
congregations were dismissed; men flew to arms; country people, where
possible, packed their valuables and hurried with them to town. Reason
seemed dethroned; the wildest confusion prevailed. But the scare was
soon over, and the people returned to their usual vocations.
the Summer of 1864, there was a severe drought through all this region.
was a great freshet on the Chippewa, on the 27th of August, 1870. The
water rose from eighteen to twenty feet above low water mark. Little
damage was done in Dunn County.
July, 1873, a new mail route was put on between Menomonie and Vanceburg,
valuation of Dunn County in 1873 was, personal, $528,731; Real estate,
4, 1875, the school house at Rock Falls was burned, a total loss.
the night of Aug. 21, 1875, there was a most destructive frost in the
whole region. The newspapers of the time stated that "everything
the Fall of 1875, bears were reported as being quite numerous.
1879, May 12th, there was a frightful hail storm across the county, five
miles wide. It was estimated that 2,000 panes of glass were broken in
Menomonie. An immense amount of damage was done.
12, 1880, was the time of the great flood on the Chippewa. Meridean and
Spring Brook were under water.
new bridge at Cedar Falls was blown down on the evening of Aug. 5, 1881.
most profound excitement was caused in Menomonie, Durand and the whole
vicinity by the murder of Milton Coleman, Under Sheriff of Dunn County,
and his brother Charles Coleman, Deputy Sheriff of Pepin County, by
Alonzo and Edward Williams, in the village of Durand, on Sunday, the
10th of July, 1881. The Williams brothers were desperadoes, and it is
supposed had committed a burglary in Menomonie, and the Colemans were on
their trail, and having overtaken them, and being on the point of making
the arrest, the men turned and fired with fatal effect. The officers
succeeded in firing one or two shots and it is thought wounded one of
the men. They, however, escaped into the Eau Galle woods, and a large
forced was at once organized and a pursuit instituted, which received
recruits from time to time, being joined by some of the militia of the
State, and was kept up for a month without success. The rewards offered
by the several localities, desiring their apprehension, aggregated,
population of the county as determined by the State and United States
census, makes the following exhibit: 1855, 1,796; 1860, 2,704; 1865,
5,170; 1870, 9,488; 1875, 13,427; 1880, 16,859.
village of 3,500 people is in the town of the same name and has no
separate village or city organization. It is on the Red Cedar River, and
not far from the center of the county. The village proper is laid out in
squares, and is on the bluff on the east side of the river. The squares
are rather small and without alleys. The ground is mostly level, and the
soil sandy. A single square, in addition to the Courthouse square, is
set apart as a park. The residences of the proprietors of the mill are
magnificent in their construction, appointments and surroundings. The
business houses are rapidly improving in their buildings and [p. 279]
stocks. The dwellings forming the greater part of the town, are of good
size and tastefully built and surrounded. The account which follows of
the schools, churches, and other institutions, will furnish a good idea
of the place, which is so closely identified with the great lumbering
firm of the Red Cedar.
names of the town is spelled with "ie" instead of "ee"
for the terminal letters, as with the other places of like name in this
State and Michigan.
-- The schools are in a highly prosperous condition, having a regular
graded system and ample school room, in four school houses, as follows:
be continued ...
Other early settlers in Dunn County included Jean Baptiste Perrault
(1788), Hardin Perkins (1822), John Fonda (1829), James Lockwood (1822),
George Wales (1830), Henry Schoolcraft (1831), H.S. Allen (1835),
Stephen C. McCann (1839), Mr. Pearson (1841), James Green (1841),
William & David Black (1844), William Wilson (1846), John Holly
Knapp (1846), Mr. & Mrs. Lorenzo Bullard (1846), Mr. and Mrs. John
Vale (1846), Mr. and Mrs. Jason Ball (1846), Samuel Gilbert (1849),
Andrew Tainter (1850), Henry Stout (1853)