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Oconto County

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Ehlinger Threshing Machine and Crew.
 This steam threshing rig owned by Michael Ehlinger was the first to be used in How township and had been put to hard work for many years by the time this photo was taken. The first threshing machine with separator was brought to Oconto County in 1859.

Commemorating the 
first metal bridge over the Oconto River at that spot.
Most of the people on the photograph are the construction crew (left side) and Town Board of the Town of How. Herman Yakel, Robert Grignon and Robert Johnson (later to become Wisconsin State Treasurer) are among the people on the picture. The bridge was just west of Suring, c:1910 and replaced a series wooden ones.

Oconto River Flood of 1912
Although there were several major Oconto River floods in the last 150 years, the worst for local residents was in 1912. In this photo, taken from a boat the day after torrential rains ended, show a faint original shoreline just in front of the center clump of trees. The waters go back as far as the eye can see, causing tremendous damage to buildings, equipment and livestock.

Oconto River in Town of How
This very early photograph of the river shows the original natural state, with mashes, cedar swamps and low wetlands. Fish and game were abundant to the Native Americans living along it's banks, probably for several thousand years. Canadian fur traders were the first settlers, brought by the European market for fine pelts. In the background stands the dense pine forests that brought the timber men from the east, starting in 1823. Once logged, the land was soon occupied by farm families and town of How became a successful part of dairy farming in Wisconsin.

Making Hay in Town of How
Farmers worked together to bring in the produce. Here it is hay for winter. All the men and boys in neighboring families would work each other's fields together, moving from one farm to another, dawn to dusk, with a milking break.. Women and girls often joined in, but more often were busy preparing the noon and dinner meals which were served outside on long tables made of wood planks on saw horses. Each family was expected to serve large meals when the crews came. Women often helped each other in the tremendous effort it took to make and serve hams, piles of potatoes, home baked breads, butter, baked beans, salads and other filling foods..

Oconto River in Town of How
Trout Fishing
Fishing in the Oconto River was well known long before any settlers arrived as the Native Americans built rock fish traps along the shoreline for hundreds of years.. In town of How it was a favorite pastime. There was no status to fishing the river, anyone with even the most basic of equipment and a little free time could participate. Here is a fly caster from years back. Even owners of major railroads would stop along their journeys to wet a line. One wealthy railroad baron would have his private steam engine train halt to drop him off the moment he saw a likely fishing spot and wait until he was done. But most just hiked in through the woods.

Otradovec Farm in Town of How

Anton Jr and his wife Maggie Müller Otradovec are among the family members on the porch of their recently built wood frame home c:1900. Note the log barn to the left rear, canary cage hanging on the porch, pet pug dog and "coon" hound hunting dog, and the garden that comes right up to the porch. The Otradovecs were reprsentative of the Bohemian families to settle in town of How. Maggie Müller was from among the many Rheinlanders to immigrate in the 1880s.

Barn Raising in Town of How
This c:1898 photo is taken from an interesting and unusual angle behind the large pile of fieldstone hauled in for use with concrete in building the barn foundation. This happy extended family gathers just before a Barn Raising. The wooden framing has been completed. Now family, friends and neighbors will come to finish the outer sheathing all in one day. There will be a pot luck dinner for all with dishes brought to pass once the work is done. Then the completion of the project is celebrated with an evening barn dance for all ages. Music was supplied by local people and a "caller" would oversee the square dances. This barn still stands in town of How.

Philippi Homestead
in Town of How

This c:1894 photograph of the Matthias and Catherine Brust Philippi family is set in front of their tidy log cabin home. Note the log barn (left rear), recently planted trees and the tiny bouquet of flowers held by their youngest daughter. The family dog sleeps at their feet. Shortly after this photo, work began on a large victorian home for the family. The land and buildings originally belonged to the Grignon family..                                

Henry Johnson Farm.
 Steam rises from this threshing rig owned by Michael Ehlinger was the first to be used in the township. Standing on the separator from left to right: John Hoeffs, Ernest Schuettpelz, George Smith, Max Schuettpelz, unidentified man, and Paul Schuettpelz. Seated are Michael Ehlinger and Fred Luebuck. Standing in front: Betha Dieck, unidentified man, Mrs. Henry Johnson (Augusta Dierck), holding baby Gladys (born May 1896), L.C. Harvey (in suit), Harvey Armstrong behind the twins Lillian and Leonard Johnson, John Overlough, Michael Ehlinger Sr., seated on the steam engine, and Ed Finley holding the team. Henry Johnson is holding his son Millard's hand.

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