Search billions of records on

Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
Collected and posted by RITA
This site is exclusively for the free access of individual researchers.
* No profit may be made by any person, business or organization through publication, reproduction, presentation or links to this site

The Centennial
Oconto County

Published in 1876
Oconto County Reporter

September 23, 1876

HALL & JEROME had planned to build a new and extensive mill without delay. In the fall of 1844 they put in the dam now known as the lower dam. This was very strongly built and has never moved or been seriously injured. During that year and the next, they completed the new mill on the Michigan side of the Island known as the Partick Island. It contained four sash saws and three muleys, with lath mills. The lower and old mill was left to decay and was finely taken down. HALL & JEROME, at first and afterward HALL with other partners continued lumbering, making their head quarters at the old place until 1852, when through financial embarrassments the mill passed into other hands.

After the mills ceased to be controlled by Dr. HALL and when new men began to come in, and steam and other mills to be erected at different point along the the west shore, a very marked change in many respects was observable. Therefore before leaving this period, some account of the society, style of living, enterprises aside from lumbering, mails and travelling facilities would be in place.

It is hoped that the reader will not think that the point is too long kept before him-- The writer having lived at Menominee writes mostly of what he saw and knows to be true, and it is believed that a picture of the early lumberman at one point will in some sense serve for a picture of all the others. Of course the principal events on each river will be given as far as possible.

It will be thought perhaps that the lumberman of those days was an isolated being, shut out from the world and seeing few besides his employes and family. Not so, he kept open house and royally entertained his guests. Nearly every vessel from Chicago brought some invited guest, and often from the east. More then than now, this was a land of great expectations, and visitors came to verify the promise of the Land, and often to escape the mud and ill health of the Chicago summers (Chicago was then level with the prairie) try the cool and bracing air of the west shore. Fish and game in abundance filled the tables, nor were imported luxuries wanting.

There was no lack of enterprise, a flouring mill was started at Menominee, making excellent flour, and during one winter at least, the whole region, Green Bay included, brought wheat there to be ground. Of course no such flour was turned out any where else and the writer well remembers how proud Mr. Arthur REALEY, the miller (and also its builder) was of his mill.

Many exploring and geological parties under Government and private auspices passed along the shore and often up the Menominee River. Also U.S. Surveying parties among whom are remembered, Wm. A. BURT and some of his sons, Floyd, Mullett and others. These found a welcome and helping hands whenever needed and often made the "old house" (Dr. HALL¹s) their head quarters and rendezvous. They all brought back wonderful accounts of the mineral resources of the then far off up river country. Imagine if those who then owned and had no thought of losing the mouth of the Menominee were stinted or grudging in their hospitality. Proud of the place and triumphantly sure of its rich future, guests and friends were welcomed with open hands.

Late in the decade 1840 Dr. HALL with Abel TOURTILOTT and Charles MARCY. , both splendid canoe men, and I believe one other man, started with a log canoe to ascend and explored the Menominee and its tributaries. It will be remembered that there were then no roads; the pine woods had been pierced but a few miles, and all the wonderful upriver country was known only by report of the traders or the few who had been out on geological or mineral explorations. The canoe was heavy, but was forced up the stream and over all the portages and into Brule River, where they turned back. By this trip was first learned something of the immense quantities of pine on the river and its tributaries and also much of its mineral wealth.

It may not be amiss to mention the names of some of the men who were the pioneer lumbermen on that river as some of them are still living in the county.

Abel and Henry TOURTILLOTTE were there for several years. Abel especially was long a foreman and main stay. Charles McLEOD was vigerous and efficient; Levi HALE, Jacob JOHNSON, John P. SEYMOUR and Josh CREAMER, all now of Peshtigo were now much relied on. Jacob KERN and Daniel and John CORRY came later, but were leading men; so was John BREEN, Thomas J. STREETER will not be forgotten by any who knew him.

Prior to 1850 and even afterwards, one mail each month found its way along the shore, up the Menominee River and across to Lake Superior. The route by Escanada was not then traveled. Travel was on the ice in winter and by boat in summer. A few skillful and much admired woodsmen knew the way through the woods, and Wm. G. BOSWELL with his packmen or dog train long carried safely very important mails. For there was much wealth on Lake Superior and there was no other medium of communication in the winter.

None who were accustomed to the route along the west shore will forget the "stopping places" of those early days. Their proprietors numbered most of his guests among his old and personal friends. A hearty greeting glad welcome and warm fireside met the traveler. Without news papers, each new comer brought his buget of news and around the evening fire were eagerly interchanged accounts of men and things upon the different rivers. The places best known were WINDROSS¹ at Oak Orchard, HARDWICK¹s at Pensaukee, and LINDSEY¹s at Oconto.-- Habitual guests came to feel that these places in some way belinged to him and were another home. WINDROSS being upon the bay shore, cared for a large shore of the travel and the remembrance of the old house, the motherly care of Mrs. WINDROSS and Hannah¹(now Mrs.Levi HALE) is cherished by many.

Besides these places, each mill owner welcomed and freely entertained brother lumbermen and other guests, at places where public houses were not yet built. As at first there was but one mill on each river their owners were obliged to assume many obligations to those around them and to the traveling public, and being, so to speak, the main stay of his particular locality, were men of large authority.

For amusements, social dances where in the "French Four", "Virginia and Opera Reels." Money Musk and other contradances alternated with the quadrille always winding up with a rousing gig. Boat rides in the summer and sleigh rides in the winter, never lost their zest. Private Theatricals were eagerly engaged in some instances. Roderick DHU and Fitz JAMES fought their battle again with that stern joy which warriors feel to find a foeman worthy of their steel. Shakespeare received new renderings, but these triumphs and their bright days are past and we must leave them