Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
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City of Oconto
Oconto County
Wisconsin

Please click on the photo for a larger view.

OLD OCONTO POLICE
and FIREMEN

photo contributed by:
Lee Rockwell


Gold scrollwork,  shinning crome bumpers and serious faces!

Pictured are:
Frank Klozotsky,  Schumacher, Ruth Meyers, John Reed, Art O'Neil, Kenn Sullivan, Walter Marks, Henry Toole

Please click on the photo for a larger view.

Oconto Memorial Hospital 

Before Oconto Falls Hospital was built, most people used the Oconto Memorial Hospital.  I was born there.  It was located across the street from the old jail.
 Attached is a photo. Contributed by:
Bill Fonferek

MENOMINEE VILLAGE HOME

The first settlers to what is now the city of Oconto found a long established Menominee Indian Village with an extensive network of trade for the many goods and services that they skillfully provided to other tribes. The Menominee people were highly respected among their peers as eminently accomplished in business and travel.. 

THE ORIGINAL OCONTO COUNTY COURT HOUSE 

Note the slender clock tower and the statue of "Progress" facing west on the unadorned roof line. The building was completed in 1891.


MAIN STREET OCONTO -
looking West
1907

Fancy architecture, like the dome of this building and the adornments of the building fronts attested to the Victorian ideal of a successful community. City of Oconto was considered quite attractive among towns her size. and immigrant county families proudly sent postcards "home" to show off their County  Seat.


RAILROAD STATION OCONTO
C:1900

Note the stagecoach awaiting the train's arrival. Passengers who were not met by someone with transportation could purchase rides to nearby towns. Dray services were available for hauling orders of goods to shops and homes. These could be as small as a set of earrings, or as large as a two story, 4 bedroom Sears Home Building Kit, complete with foundation blocks, instructions and all building materials, inside and out.

MAIN STREET - OCONTO
1915

Colorful, busy and bustling, the city of Oconto had all that a successful county seat could offer. Shops, business of all kinds, services and especially to those from "the sticks" , a tremendous eyeful of fun and excitement. The economy was now diversified to include not only lumbering, but all forms of agriculture and manufacturing.


SUPERIOR BRIDGE - OCONTO
Spring log runs were man made floods. The river, here, is cresting during the spring log run. Water from dammed tributaries upstream was released to carry cut pine to the mills . This was a touchy situation for anyone living near the river, as rains and human miscalculations made for sudden and unexpected calamities. If a community bridge got in the way, it was torn down by the deluge of floating logs, and that was just too bad for the local folks, who had to rebuild on their own. Logging was KING!

1907 OCONTO COUNTY
COURT HOUSE FIRE

The fire started in the clock tower and rapidly spread along the roof destroying all but the ground floor and outer walls. Since the fire was of a long duration, there was plenty of time for residents to gather and photographers to take pictures used on postcards. Note the ladders and fire hose.

GYMNASIUM, OCONTO
Early German city immigrants were often involved in strenuous physical gymnastics,, culminating in exhibitions and competitions.


FARNSWORTH 
LIBRARY BUILDING
Donated to the city by George Farnsworth, it now houses the historical and genealogical special collections of the county public library.

The Armory, build with great pride shortly after the Civil War ended (1865) was used to train and as a meeting and social hall for members of the Oconto Army Reserve. It was destroyed by city fire that also leveled other commercial and private buildings.

THE NEW ARMORY and 
CITY HALL ANNEX

City of Oconto

PARLOR - BEYER HOME

George Beyer made his fortune in lumbering. He immigrated from German as a young man , with little but his strength, intelligence and ambition.. Working his way "up the ladder" he eventually owned several sizable business ventures. His home is now the Beyer Museum, base of the Oconto County Historical Society.

MAIN STREET ELMS
c:1940
Like so many Wisconsin cities, Oconto had it's own beautiful and majestic Elm tree "tunnels"  arching over it's streets. These provided cooling shade in Summer, gave privacy to home along the street, reduced road noise and helped clean the air.
These trees disappeared over the years, victims of Elm Blight Disease and road improvements.

OCONTO COUNTY COURT HOUSE
Restored and with a more impressive clock tower and roof line. "Progress" regained her perch on top. 


FIRST MILL AND DAM
These are the remnants of the first successful water sawmill built, in 1844, on the Oconto River at the base of "Susie's Hill" by the Jones family. The first attempt to build the dam by George Lurwick, at the same spot in 1842, ended in failure.

HOLT LUMBER COMPANY SAWDUST BURNERS (LEFT)

 The river was dredged and Great Lakes Windjammers and steamboats could travel directly to the Port of Oconto, two miles "upstream". Sawdust was used to "pave" muddy city streets to prevent wagon wheels from digging deep into ruts. Once the dry summer came, much of the sawdust blew up against the foundations of building causing tremendous fire hazards. Eventually lumber mill waste was  burned continually day and night on the island in the river. Residents sat on their front porches at night watching the glowing ski around the burners.

 


GREAT LAKES SAILING VESSELS

Copious amounts of waste sawdust from the early mills were dumped into the river to wash into the lake. Soon the river was so thickly clogged that navigation up river was impossible by lake boats. By 1846 when Mrs. Lindsey arrived to settle, all people, freight, and animals had to be off loaded into Bateau canoes for the journey up stream to the city of Oconto. She recalled that the wet sawdust masses were so thick in spots that a person could walk on them. Like this "Windjammer", the sailing ships, which carried the milled lumber to Milwaukee and Chicago, had to anchor 2 miles downstream at the mouth of the Oconto River and wait for barges to bring the cargo to them, a time consuming and costly waste.

OCONTO HARBOR

The "Northwest" a sidewheel steamer out of Oconto Harbor and Green Bay, passes the steamship "Queen". She was owned by Captain Edwin Hart and was one of the first steamboats on the Great Lakes, carrying both passengers and freight. The harbor at Oconto is actually two miles up river from where the mouth empties into the Green Bay of Lake Michigan. Traveling outside the county took the form of lakeboat passage and people often went many miles across and up and down the Great Lakes doing business and visiting families in other states. It was affordable, even to those of modest income, safe, reliable and comfortable. Delicacies such as fresh live oysters, fish and flowers came from the eastern cities to Oconto every day.

Plat drawing 
City of Oconto 1871
 
 


AERIAL VIEW OF OCONTO 
c: 1960




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