Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
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HISTORY OF NORTHERN WISCONSIN
1881
OCONTO COUNTY
PAGE 654

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GENERAL HISTORY

Originally, Oconto County was the largest one in the State, but by the formation of Marinette in 1879, its territory was reduced nearly one-half. It is situated between Marinette and Langlade and Shawano counties an the east and west, stretching to the boundary line of Wisconsin and Michigan on the north, and Shawano and Brown counties on the south.  It is watered by the Peshtigo, Oconto, Little Suamico and Wolf rivers. The entire northern parts of the county and Marinette adjoining are richly wooded, and form g the harvest fields of the rich lumber companies whose mills are in the south. This wild, rugged and almost unsettled section of Oconto County is organized, politically, into what is known as the town of Darling. A second portion of' the county, which maybe cut away as unhistoric ground, is the Indian Reservation, a fraction of which sets into its natural bounds on the southwest. The larger part crowds into Shawano County on the northeast. Two townships were taken from what is now Oconto County, and ten from Shawano, in 1848, and granted to the Menominee Iiidians, the original tribe in this region. It is said that Nicollet, the Indian Agent, and the Jesuit Fathers, visited them in their free hunting grounds upon the Menominee, Peshtigo and Oconto rivers, in 1689 and 1670, respectively. Be that as it may, the Reservation, as relates to present civilization, is unproductive, unhistoric ground.

Notwithstanding that so large a region of Oconto County is timbered land, when cleared and cultivated, oats, potatoes, wheat and corn do well, and the different varieties of grasses flourish. Considerable attention is being turned to the dairy products, as in all of the northern counties in localities where timber land is no longer productive. In 1880, 126,919 pounds of butter were made. The quantity of cheese made is not large, but of excellent quality. The number of cows in the county is reported at 1,533 ; estimated value $24,872. As reported by the local assessors of 1880, the entire value of real and personal property in Oconto County was $1,792,921.64, of which sum the city of Oconto possessed $752,789, and the town of Darling, the wild land unorganized region noticed above, $336,096.30. Pensawkee's valuation was placed at $212,580.34, and Little Snamico's at $141,460. To offset these statistics of wealth is a county indebtedness of $52,066.45. 

The schools of Oconto County number thirty-three.   According to the last  report  of the Superintendant,  there  were 1,989  children  of  school  age  within  it's  bounds,  the  attendance   being  1,239.  


The   cash   value of all the school-houses was $18,565; of sites,$1301; of apparatus, $2,200, making a total of $22,066.

Its transportation facilities comprise the conceniences afforded by the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Company and the Goodrich Transportation Company. The Wisconsin & Michigan road, noticed particularly in the Brown County history, will pass through its western part, and the St. Paul Eastern Grand Trunk has its eastern terminus in the city of Oconto, passing southwest of Shawano.

St. Paul Eastern Grand Trunk - This company was organized in September, 1879, at Chippewa Falls. Its general officers are: President, Thad. C. Pound, of Chippewa Falls; Vice President, Capt. William Wilson, of Menominee, Wis.; Secretary and General Agent, Lana C. Lamb, of Fond du Lac. The line of the road is to extend from Oconto to Shawano, and Wausau, 90 miles in length, and the object of its construction is to furnish an outlet to the lumber of this section of the State and an inlet to the wheat of Minnesota and the great Northwest. It connects with the newly formed Wisconsin & Michigan line in Leighton, Oconto County, and with the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul road at Wausau. It is expected that the preliminary line of the survey, will have been made this Fall, and the permanent line located as far west as Leighton. The surveying party is in charge of F. Kirchman, who is an old and experienced engineer, having seen many years of service with the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul and the Wisconsin Central companies. Great advantages are expected to be derived from the construction of the road through Oconto, Shawano and eastern Marathon counties.

EARLY HISTORY

The earliest settlements of what is now Oconto County, since the setting off of Marinette, were made in the vacinity of Pensaukee. In 1829, Daniel Hubbard erected the first saw-mill in the county, on the Pensaukee River. It was situated two miles from its mouth, and was built for John P. Arndt, of Green Bay.

It was not until 1835 - 36, that th first permanent settlements were made, and the first mills built in Oconto. George Lewick, George Langdon, and George 
Ehrie, entered claims during the former year, for land upon the present site of the city. They built a dam, which was soon carried away, and held their claim for "a rise" ten years. It then came into possession of Col. David Jones, who had built the first saw-mill in Peshtigo, in 1836, and was one of the fathers of the

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