Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
Collected and posted by  RITA
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OCONTO COUNTY PIONEERS

The series of biographic information found on this page was published
in the Oconto County Reporter starting in 1895.
It was then picked up and carried in the Milwaukee Journal later that year, and contain short sketches about successful citizens from all walks of life.
Researched and prepared for posting by - Cathe Ziereis


  "The Oconto County Reporter is printing short sketches of Pioneers of the county that will be valuable to future generations, as well as interesting to the present".......... Milwaukee Journal Sep/1895


L. K. Shores

When the gold fever, during the early days, was permeating the veins of thousands of men, and "Pike’s Peek or Bust!" the popular salutation, L. K. Shores left his home in Green county, New York, and joined the throng of gold-seekers in New El Dorado. He afterward abandoned mining, and going into Missouri, fell into a nest of ruffians, and being a free state man and his life in danger, he went back to his native state and enlisted in the 156th New York regiment and entered the service of his country. At the close of hostilities he came to Oconto county. He had intended returning to Missouri, but being far from robust, and the people he found here the picture of good health, he decided to remain and recuperate, and the spot he first chose for a habitation in the town of Stiles is the home he and his family now occupy. He has been supervisor one term and justice of the peace for many years. OCR 11/1895



Thomas Leigh

In 1857, Thomas Leigh came into Oconto county from Washington county, Maine, located at Stiles and engaged in the milling business with his brother John, and the greater portion of his time since has been devoted to the superintending of saw mill industries, yet he has a farm of 160 acres, and well cultivated. Last season he had charge of a mill for the Diamond Match Company at Ontonagon. He has been town treasurer twenty-three or twenty-four years in succession, has always voted the republican ticket and predicts an overwhelming victory for the republicans in ’96. OCR 11/1895



Herman Grotendorst

Desiring to seek a home in a new country and learning of the unequaled advantages afforded in the badger state, Herman Grotendorst, along in the fall of ’56 came to Oconto county, where he purchased land of Lorenz Colson and Holt Lumber Company and mage a farm. He has been constable, and last year was school director. He votes with the democrats and thinks it will become victorious in 1896. He favors a low tariff because he thinks it will more quickly regulate the finances of the country.



Neil McKillopp

New Brunswick was the former abiding place of Neil McKillopp, and in ’67 he settled in this county and entered the employment of Holt & Balcom as superintendent of logging and log-driving. Three years ago he sold a farm to Wall Phillips, but his present home he has occupied eight years, following log-jobbing a greater portion of the time since coming into the country. He says that he is a republican in state and national affairs but the most capable candidates in his town campaigns receive his vote. OCR 11/1895



C.D. Gidney

C.D. Gidney of Lena came from Holton, Maine, to Iowa, in the spring of ’65 and to Oconto that summer. Shortly afterward he bought the farm of Lorenz Colson near School Section, the town hall now resting upon a portion of the land. A year later he sold it to N. C. Gilkey, and went back to Maine, where he remained with his parents until their death, when he again turned westward ho! And came again to Oconto. He is now postmaster at Lena, having succeeded A. E. Pelky last July. OCR 11/1895



O. C. LeMay

O. C. LeMay, when but a lad, came from Canada with his parents and located upon a patch of land near where the Richard house now stands – then a wild – looking locality. A hut was erected of cedar logs, unhewn, and there for many years the family resided. With his brothers he cut wood, hauled it to the village and sold it, and a profitable trade was the result. When 2,000.00 in profits had accumulated a handsome residence took the place of the primitive abode.

Mr. LeMay, for the past twenty years, has resided upon a farm two miles east of Lena. OCR 11/1895



Joseph Dionne

Joseph Dionne, the popular landlord at Lena, entered the state the year the latter was admitted into the Union – 1848. A lady, a resident of Manitowoc county, going back to her home in Canada for a visit, and telling the wonderful possibilities of the new country, induced the Dionnes to immigrate to Wisconsin.

Joseph, the subject of this sketch, resides upon a farm eighteen years with in a mile or two of Lena, but for the past eight years he has conducted the hotel, which he now owns. OCR 11/1895



Louis Reed

‘Tis forty years since Louis Reed accompanied his parents from Illinois and settled in Oconto county – the journey from Chicago by boat – Dr. Paramore also a passenger, but the gentlemen were not acquainted at that time. It was in the spring of the year and the ice floating in the bay. Mr. Reed’s brothers George and John had preceded their parents, and it was through their solicitation that the home in Illinois was abandoned and the newer residence was adopted.

Louis was then 16 years of age. The first work he did after his arrival was sawing lathe in a mill on the present Oconto Company’s site. Later he worked at the carpenter trade and assisted in building the court house on the south side of the river, which afterward burned, and in the erection of the large, now standing, where Charles Pendleton kept tavern. William and Albert Arnold’s father had the contract for putting up the buildings.

He next engaged in the work of running lumber down the river for the mills to the bay, to be loaded upon vessels, and afterward with his brother Jerry, put in logs for Holt & Balcom and the Oconto Company. During their logging operations they also engaged in fishing, which occupation Louis has since followed, residing on his parents "domain", two miles from the city in the town of Oconto, thirty two years, and besides has held the office of school treasurer continually for over twenty years. OCR 12/1895



Herman Leer

When 17 years of age, Herman Leer left Manitowoc, where he was "born and raised," and entered a lumbering camp in Oconto county, run by Charles Ellner of West Pensaukee. Later he bought 80 acres of wild land from Mr. Ellner for four hundred dollars, and a forty – acre tract three weeks ago of Charles Nicholas, for three hundred dollars, and has a farm of 60 acres cleared. Herman says he has never held office – "too much trouble for empty honors." He believes that should be democrats by any manner of means come into power again that farmers might as well shut up shop. OCR 12/1895



Calvin Gale

Calvin Gale of Oshkosh has been a resident of Oconto county since 1854 arriving from Oshkosh with his parents the 15th day of July. His father at one time owned a strip of land skirting the bay shore a distance of a mile and a half, embracing property now belonging to Louis Reed, Wanner, and the Bostedts, where they followed the fishing business several years, having at times, twelve to fourteen men in their employ.

At the age of 27, Calvin went to Gillette and purchased a farm, put in logs winters for the Oconto Company and one season for Anson Eldred, but of late years he has followed cruising.

He says in ’62 and ’63 the running wages for common labor in the woods were 40.00 to 65.00; foremen 75.00 to 100.00.

Mr. Gale was assessor three years and a member of the side board of his town a like period. OCR 12/1895


J. A. Schwelberg

On March 4th, 1867, J. A. Schwelberg left his native land and sailed for America, and one month later arrived at Fort Howard, where an uncle resided – J. A. Salscheider. His first employment was a clerk in his uncle’s store at Flintville, Brown county. The store was sold in May, when Mr. Schwelberg returned to Fort Howard and engaged in house building, and in the erection of a school house in that city.

He afterwards engaged in inspecting ties at Little Suamico and Duck Creek, later held a position in his uncle’s saloon, and in the summer of 1871 he opened a small grocery store at Little Suamico, sold out the next spring to Louis Redeman and began farming in ’80, in the town of Maple Valley. He worked hard to have the town of Spruce set off, which was accomplished in ’92 – their first town meeting occurring in ’93 in Kadlic school house, Mr. Schwelberg being elected chairman, which position he has since held, and he has been district clerk since 1882. OCR 12/1895



Joseph Kadlic
..Joseph KadlicOconto County Reporter Photo

Joseph Kadlic came to Oconto from Bohemia, in 1871, arriving here shortly after the Peshtigo fire. He worked in the lumber yards of the Oconto company and Holt and Balcom six years and then went to Maple Valley – now town of Spruce – and purchased 80 acres of land of the Sturgeon Bay Canal Company, that corporation then having a grant of several thousand acres from the state. An 80 adjoining is now his, with 40 acres of the whole cleared. He built a sawmill in ’82, steam power and custom work. With his own stocks have been kept busy. Two weeks ago he shut down for the season having sawed 1,500,000 feet of lumber. He has held school offices for nine years and has been supervisor since the organization of the town. OCR 12/1895



John Howell

John Howell has been a resident of the town of Gillett 28 years, arriving here when he was 19 years of age, accompanied by his brother – the state of Maine their former home. Their parents came later in the year, overland, and ‘twas a tedious journey.

John’s first employment was driving logs on Christie brook for Rice & Fitzgerald. In 1872 he started in as a farmer on 80 acres of land and know has 160. It is what is known as the old Moody farm.

He was assessor four years, clerk eight years and for the past two years has been chairman of the town. His wife was Miss Ada Collins, a sister of Mrs. C. S. McKenzie, and they were married in Gillette. OCR 12/1895



Jesse Birmingham

Jesse Birmingham and his brother George came from Jefferson county, New York, in 1853 – from Buffalo to Green Bay by boat. Having a brother-in-law at Oak Orchard, they went thither and engaged in fishing. Mr. Birmingham afterward worked for Livermore & Weed, who were logging for F. B. Gardner of Pensaukee – one mile up river the country an unbroken forest. It was the first logging done in that vicinity.

There were no roads. If a party wished to go to Green Bay, there was a trail leading to the mouth of the Little Suamico river, and a lusty "Hello!" attracted the attention of Mr. Grosse, father of John Grosse of Little Suamico – who came over with his skiff and ferried the wayfarers across. Then they would again take up the trail and continue their journey.

For several years thereafter fishing was his occupation. Then he and a brother took a contract to put in logs on Sturgeon Bay for Lyman Bradley of Buffalo. Later he and Henry Haskins run a sailboat between Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay, and carried freight and passengers, and the mail for such as chose to accept the courtesy volunteered, the mail pouch being a cigar box, the lid fastened down with a string.

The next year another mill was built on Sturgeon Bay – by Robert Graham – and Mr. Birmingham put in logs for him by the thousands. A post office being established, he secured the contract for carrying the mail, which he did during the boating season.

The following year he bought an interest in a vessel, investing nearly every dollar he had, and laden with lumber and shingles for Chicago, it went to pieces in a storm, the crew escaping with their lives.

Mr. Birmingham’s next adventure was an overland trip to Pike’s Peak, accompanied by his former associate, Henry Haskins. Arriving there and prospecting for a time they ran low on provisions and went to Omaha for a supply. Returning to the diggings, they did not long remain, and sought civilization. At Omaha they separated and have never met since – although cognizant of each other’s where abouts – Mr. Haskins residing at Rochester Minn., and Mr. B. at Abrams. The latter returned to Sturgeon Bay, where he married a daughter of Joseph Harris before going to seek his fortune in the new eldorado.

Coming to the west side of the bay, he worked farms on shares and afterward bought land of F. B. Gardner, adding to his possessions until he now owns 280 acres, his farm buildings of the very best and his prosperity seemingly self-satisfactory. Besides, he owns another farm at Brookside, has been a member of the town board and identified actively with the educational interests of the district. OCR 12/1895



Joseph T. H. Churchill

Of bright eyes, ruddy countenance and elastic step is Joseph T. H. Churchill of Brookside, who first came to Oconto county in ’44 and who recently celebrated his 80th anniversary of his birthday. He came with John Volk to Oconto Falls and the two men built the first mill erected there. A few years later he engaged in lumbering on the Wisconsin river, and later went to St. Louis, and from thence returned to his former house, in St. Claire county, Mich. He came back to Wisconsin in ’50, locating in Green Bay. Soon afterward he contracted to carry the mail between Sturgeon Bay and Two Rivers and lived at Sturgeon Bay at that time. Upon expiration of his contract he settled in Fort Howard, buying a farm of 105 acres within the city limits. In ’72 he went to Iowa and remained a year, and in ’73 located at Stephenson, Mich. where he kept a hotel and engaged in merchandising, several years. He returned to Wisconsin in ’82 locating at Brookside, which has since that time has been his home. When he came to Wisconsin in ’44 the only house in Oconto was at the watermill. Huff Jones was the owner and occupant and maintained a fish track on the river. Friendship has remained between the two gentlemen ever since.

Mr. Churchill married Miss Harriet Hubbard, daughter of one of the first settlers on the Menominee, in 1845. Mrs. Churchill died in ’81, and in ’82 Mr. Churchill wedded Mrs. Sutton. Mr. Churchill has been prosperous in the world and enjoys life. He is now and has been for some time a justice of the peace. OCR 1/1896



C. L. Shores

C. L. Shores of Stiles, though a young man, is a pioneer in the full sense. Thirty years ago, when Charles was nine years old, his father located in Stiles, and the son has been an active factor of the development of the town. He has lived on the farm and has been farming for himself for several years. Miss Della Beleau united her fortunes with his in February of ’82, and a girl and a boy have been born to them. Mr. Shores has twice visited his boyhood home and other places in the Empire state, but likes Wisconsin and Oconto county so well he expects to spend all his days here.

Leaving his home, the other day, to pay his taxes, he decided if he had enough money left he would come to Oconto and subscribe for THE REPORTER and the Inter Ocean. Taxes in Stiles are uncommonly light this year, he found, and he had enough money left to pay several subscriptions and buy other useful things.


 

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