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 Contributed by descendant of the early Belongia-Belanger line and the McTavish-Nehrenhausen families:
Cathy McTavish
Richard House Center For
lumberjacks in early days
written c: 1929
Historic Hotel Has Had 13
Proprietors Since Its
Erection in 1873

    The Richard House, one of Oconto's oldest and most famous hotels, was first built in 1878, a mere shack, perhaps what is now the kitchen and part of the dining-room, but it watched the development of the settlement from a collection of huts to he city it is today. Its walls were reared within the shade of nightly forest monarchs which had not all been cut, and trails led to its doors that lost themselves in the gloom and quiet of acres of wilderness. 

    With the re-routing of U. S. 41 east of this building, Simon M McTavish put an  addition on the kitchen, remodeled the interior and switched his bar room, which has been cut in half, to make room for a lobby, on the south. The entire hotel has been covered with asphalt shingles a porch added on the east side and the interior and exterior painted and re-decorated.


     Mr. McTavish has retired from  active work and one of his.four sons, Oscar, is running his establishment.   Franklin is employed by the Wisconsin Public Service corporation of this city. Walter and Chester have a garage.   Mrs. McTavish is living.  

     Twelve proprietors had possession  of the hotel before Simon McTavish, now 65 years old, their thirteenth   person,   purchased it. He first came to the United States from Canada in 1883, when but 17 years of age, and  worked  that winter in Hermansville, Mich. for Ira Pendleton in his lumber camp.  Bill Harris was foreman at that .time.  The next spring Mr. McTavish made his way to Oconto with a crew of hearty lumberjacks, ate his first meal in the Richard House, and slept  in  the Megan House,  now  the Northwestern hotel, on April 18. 1884.  

  The first night he witnessed a scrap between a bunch of men from the woods, most of whom

were Canadians. The original owner and builder of the hotel was Albert Richard. The next man to run it was Pat Nelligan, of New Brunswick, Canada, brother of Jack, who is the author of a book on lumbering days. Then Jack Duncan, also of New Brunswick, took it, to be replaced by his brother, George. Hubbel Belongia, Louis Everts (Everaert - see note below) and Joe Noel took turns as boss; and Everts regained ownership before Mrs. Tillie Ran reigned over the bar. She added the big window on the south. Joe Liegoia, now at Abrams, and Caspar Leberger were the last two to direct its course before March  1,  1914,  to  remain  there continuously.

     McTavish has had a varied experience in the woods in Wisconsin and Michigan. Born in Gusbey county, Province of Quebec, in 1867, he was, from birth, surrounded by tall timber and the scenes of logging days were the first visual impressions he had.   He came by boat to Camilton and from there to Oconto by train. In   1884 he worked for Jim Shay who was running a camp for the Oconto company. Jim Hoar, now a resident of Oconto falls, was ''push" at that time. The next winter he was also a sawyer (in Ira Pendelton's location in Norway, Mich., where Jack Herald was foreman.

     He went back for the Oconto company the following season, who were located on the North Branch of the Oconto river, justly famous for its annual drives each spring. Jim Herald, Jack's brother, ran camp. The next four winters were also spent on the North Branch and Phil Ste. Mary was overseer. In 1900 he split his year for Homer DonLevy and Jim Farrell, both on the Waupee river, as the former ran out of logs before the winter was half over.  McTavish drove I team practically all of the months he spent in the woods. He also jobbed tracts.

      A year later he took charge of farm number five of Oconto company's and then for six years, up until the time he had the Richard House,  he managed the North Branch farm.

    His clientel, comprised  mostly of Canadians, was picturesque, for garbed   in  approved   woodsmen's clothes   which   accentuated   their  jaunty, insourciant air, they represented what the well-dressed man from the wilderness should wear. Many brawls occurred in his bar. The   Richard House was always considered the home of the lumberjack said McTavish, and many come yet for a lengthy stay.

One of the owners was Louis Everaert (not Everts).  I know this because he was my great-grandfather, who came from Belgium to Oconto around 1890. I have a picture of the Richard House, on which Louis' son, my grandfather Beno Everaert, had written, "Richard House, Oconto, Wisconsin.  Louis Everaert owned this hotel".  Louis and family moved  to the Chapman area near Scappoose, Oregon in 1909. He owned and operated a local store and gas station on Scappoose-Vernonia Highway until his death in May of 1938. I now live in the old store.  The property has been in my family for over 100 years.
contributed by descendant: Laura

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