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The Centennial
History
of
Oconto County

Written by RICHARD HALL
Published in 1876
Oconto County Reporter

November 26, 1876

Political Organization


Nov. 4, 1851 a General Election was held to determine the location of the County seat. The result fixed it upon Sec. 20 T. 28 R. 22.

June 10, 1852 the electors assembled at house of David Jones to organize and elect officers under an Act of Wis. Legislature passed! Apr. 7, 1852.
At Sundown the polls were closed and votes counted. 73 votes were to growing and prosperous. polled and Jonathan S. Hale, Chas. Windross & Philip Frank were! elected supervisors.

Clerk of the Board — Merrick Murphy. Register of Deeds — Wm. Brunquest. County Treasurer — Rufus Hubbard. County Surveyor — Wm. Delano.
Some of these officers did not qualify and on July 21, 1852 at house of Thomas Lindsey a new election was held and Edwin Hart was elected Town Clerk Wm. Brunquest, Town Treasurer Wm. Brunquest, Register of Deeds Wm. Brunquest, County Treasurer and Wm. Delano, Surveyor.

Dec. 24, 1852 the first taxes seem to have been levied and a County road was ordered to be laid out from the (lower) steam mill to Oconto Falls.
At the Annual Meeting in 1854 two towns were represented (all there were) Oconto and Howard.

In 1855 Marinette had been set off and and organized and was represented at the Annual Meeting by Jacob Johnson of Peshtigo River.

During the spring and early summer of 1855 the State Road from Fort Howard to Menominee had been laid out. Prior to that time there was no road and none but skilled woodsmen and Indians followed the trails which made the only route beside the Bay and Bay shore. Boats g in the summer and ice in the winters were our highway.

In 1856 Feb. 15, the Town of Pensaukee was set off and the name of Town of Howard changed to Stiles.

May 20,1856 the County Clerk of the Board was instructed to issue notices for reception of bids for "County Buildings" meaning the Court House and Jail. These were built in 1857.

A term of Court or two had been held in 1857 in "Hart's Hall". S. R. Collins, Judge, E. H. Mosher, Sheriff, and J. J. McClellan District Attorney.
Dec. 13, 1857 the Town of Little Suamico was set off.

Peshtigo also, had already organized and levied her own taxes.

Fuller and later I notes had not time to collect.

Some Account of Milling and Building Up of Oconto

The dates of some of the entries will give some hint of the early progress of the Town. The first entry as already stated was the site of the Water Mill Dec. 21, 1842. The lower steam mill site entered Nov. 3, 1846. The site of Court House and County Buildings by Joes. S. Fisk May 19, 1848.

Lot 7 Sec. 20 by Thos. Lindsey July 10, 1848.

Lot 4 embracing site from Steamboat landing to opposite M. E. Church and from Sec. St. East to a point below Mr. Wm. Luck's residence Aug. 23, 1848.

Lot 3 whereon stood the residence of Mr. R. A. Jones was entered July 10, 1849.

The site of Pecor's Addition and of Oconto Company's mill July 22, 1851. Of Brunquest's Addition Nov. 1, 1851. Of Millidges Addition May 3,1852. Lots 6, 7 & 8 all south side by A. McDonald May 1, 1852. Lot 5 [ by David Bowles Oct. 18, 1852.

f May 30,1853 Sam'l B. Gilkey purchased of Mr. Millidge the present site of Holt & Balcom's store and boarding house and built thereon a Tavern.
In May 1856 Reuben M. Norton purchased a part of the present , site of Holt & Balcom's Mill and at once erected a steam mill thereon. | In those times this was a first class mill.

Mr. Geo. Farnsworth now President of the Oconto Company was Superintendent and foreman for Mr. Norton. Messrs. Holt & Balcom succeeded Mr. Norton and entirely rebuilt the mill and brought the | property to its present state.

Sept. 16, 1856 Sam'l B. Gilkey sold out to Mr. Norton and on the same day took a deed of Lots 11 & 12 in Hart's Addition whereon he erected the Empire House. Here was the traveling public long entertained. Here was held the Swamp Land Sales of 1857. Here were balls, public dances and here were political gatherings and conventions. Here were welcomed the veterans when on their veteran furloughs. It long continued to be a favorite resort until its more pretentious neighbor the Richard House was built in 1868.

The Oconto Company's Mill

Nov. 8, 1855 Messrs Cyrus K. & Jno. H. Morrill & Lewis St. Ores purchased the site from Peter Pecor and built a steam mill. In 1858 May, Mr. Farnsworth became the principal owner and the mill was greatly enlarged and improved. Oct. 25, 1867 the whole property was deeded to the Oconto Company and the concern has rapidly grown to its present colossal proportions.

The Mill now owned by Mr. Eldred was at first built and owned by Mr. Geo. Smith, the first Mayor of this City. It was passed from one owner to another principally for want of timber, was once burned and rebuilt by Mix & Orr.

Dates of Some Important Events

The first church building was the St. Peter's (Catholic) time unknown was soon after 1856.
The Presbyterian church early in 1864.
The M.E. church in 1866 & 1867.
St. Joseph's in 1870 & 1871.
Episcopal church 1871 & 1872.

The Village was organized in 1859 and continued under that organization until 1869 when a City Charter was obtained. There was one public school at first and as late as 1858 on the site now occupied by the Davis Bros. Store. There was built the school house now known as the Washington and the Pecor School House. When the City was organized three other public school buildings were soon erected viz:
    Douglas upper South Ward
    Jefferson lower South Ward
    Lincoln East Ward.

Music Hall was built in 1867, burned in March 1872, soon rebuilt. The Empire House burned July 1871 and the Richards House Aug. 5, 1875.
The fire-proof building for County Offices was finished and occupied in 1872. Funke Block in 1872.

The City of Oconto in common with other places feels the general depression, but it is believed that as soon as business shall revive, so will business life and activity on our streets. That spirit which celebrates to-day should draw us closer together and make us feel that we will make our City one of which we may be proud.

This is and must continue to be the outlet of some of the largest farming districts in the County.When another hundred years shall have passed let us hope and trust that those who shall then fill the places which know us no more will find that Oconto has a history which ought to and will be perpetuated.

We that came here in an early day have many pleasant memories of this and adjacent places and as time steals away the active step and vigor which helped us in an early day we cannot but wish to see Oconto growing and prosperous.



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