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Flash From The Past - 1923

Oconto County Reporter
January 11, 1923

Bounties for five red foxes and one wolf were issued Wednesday at the county clerks office.  George Huntley of Breed brought in one wolf; Edward Thomsen, Pulcifer, two red foxes; Berlin Kaufman, Spruce, one red fox; Robert Rodenhorst, Breed, one fox and Emil Firgens of Breed, one fox.

Oconto County Reporter
January 18, 1923

After April first, a regulation fire truck will be added to the equipment of the Oconto City Fire Department.

Just when the bass were biting best, according to the report in the Crandon newspaper, Henry Mineau, W.B. Classon and N.W. Johnson, while fishing through the ice, saw two huge gray timber wolves come out of the woods and head directly across the ice toward them.  None of the men in the party were armed and so they all made for the shore and climbed the highest trees to be found.

Oconto Falls Herald
 January 25, 1923
contributed by Richard La Brosse

Forty five men and fifteen teams are being employed in the work of harvesting ice for 1923.

Oconto Falls Herald
February 1, 1923 
contributed by Richard La Brosse

Mrs. Anna Pevonka, aged 86, suffered the fracture of her right hip and arm when she fell on some icy steps at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Edward Herald, Thursday morning.

Angus MacAllister, a resident of Oconto for more than half a century passed away at 2:45 last Saturday morning at Portland, Oregon.

Oconto County Reporter
February 8, 1923

Her nose broken in three places were the injuries that resulted to Mrs. Guy Couillard of Couillardville when the bob sleigh she was riding in tipped over in front of the Couillardville school Monday morning at ten.

Oconto County Reporter
February 15, 1923

Long, red tongues of flame licked up around the end of the roof, snapped and crackled and leaped into the night air as members of the congregation of St. Mark’s Episcopal church after struggling twenty years to get out of debt saw their church in which they have taken such a justified pride, rapidly melt away in the glaring flames Sunday night.

Ruth Skelly was elected queen of the high school carnival held at Gillett Feb. 9 by an overwhelming majority.

Harry Lord, former Oconto resident is secretary-treasurer of the Westminister Paper Mills Ltd. Of New Westminister, B.C., a new paper manufacturing concern that has just been put in operation.

Oconto County Reporter
March 8, 1923
contributed by Richard La Brosse

Suring-Little Gwendolyn Cyr is entertaining all of the children about her age at her home on March 6th, the occasion being her birthday anniversary.

Oconto Falls Herald
 May 3, 1923 
contributed by Richard La Brosse

John DeCleene, clerk of the town of Brazeau, is suffering from painful injuries sustained when Millard Ste. Marie accidentally ran a Ford truck loaded with potatoes over his toes. 

Green Bay Gazette
May 3, 1923 

contributed by:
Linda Sconzert Norton



(Special to press-Gazette.)

Mrs. Joseph Leigh, first white child born in Oconto.
OCONTO, Wis.—In the year 1634 the prow of a big war canoe parted the blue waters of Green Bay. Muscular brown skined Indians, naked except for a scant leather girdle, leaned on their canoe paddles and the light birch craft, propelled by sinewy arms, leaped like a frightened doe over the blue waters.

Behlnd the flrst canoe came scores or others, all of a similar capacity. All along the shores were  wooded and deep black forests, broken here and there by the broad mouth of a river. Flocks of wild ducks and geese, fed by the acres of wild rlce and ready to begin their  flight to the south, arose at the approach of the disturbers.  Low marshy flats indicated that tho canoeing party was approaching the mouth of a river.

Suddenly a tail brawny figure, clad In soft buckskin.   Jumped  from the leading canoe.   His  face  was tanned, but his features regular and seemed of a different race from his companions. He uttered a sharp command and the canoo headed to the mouth of the river now visible through the reeds and rushes.

About the edge of the woods on both fides of the mouth were clustered bands of Indians very similar to those in the canoes. At last the canoes one by one grounded on the sandy shore.

Nicolet Lands.

The white man. at the head of the leading canoe stepped out followed by the braves. The braves on the shore assumed a warlike attitude and presented a threatening resistance to the strangers, but after a few gutteral remarks, spoken in their own language by the white leader soon gave the visitors a friendly reception.

 The Indians on the shore were none other than the Menominees, a remnant of which still remain in the western section of Oconto county. The white man was no other than Jean Nicolet, the flrst white man to set foot on the land that later became the part of Oconto county, now the east  part of the city of Oconto.

He had landed at the mouth of the "River of Many Fish," or as the Indians then called it Oconto. Nicolet explored part of the Oconto and Fox rivers and carried an account of his discoveries back with him to his French companions at  Quebec.

Nicolet    was    followed  by Jesuits who preached Christianity.  These  in turn  were followed by fur traders who exchanged cheap trinkets for furs, which for several decades was the chief Industry and the attraction of the white men.

Fur Trade Displaced.

As  civilization spread  further and further the need of substantial arose and fur trading was in time replaced by the lumbering industry. Mounds, burial places and trenches along the Oconto and Menominee rivers indicated that the savage tribes bad offered some resistance to the march of civilization In Oconto county.

The Oconto river, well named by the Indians as a    "River of Fish." gave rise to the fishing industry, as the dams built on the river indicate.

These dams allowed the schools of fish to swim up stream, only to to caught on their return. The fish were then washed over one end of the dam, especially constructed, and landed on large flat stones.

Thousands of pounds of fish were caught annually in this way, and as a consequence led to many quarrels among those In the fishing industry.

First Sawmill In 1827.

The first sawmill erected in Oconto county was put up at Pensaukee several miles south of the city of Oconto In 1827-29. It was at this time that the  lumbering industry was begun, having had the sanction of both Indians and the government. The real estate records, dated April 19, 1827, show the contract signed by B. Brevoot, Indian agent, and the marks of several Indian chiefs, properly witnessed.

The building of this mill started the lumber industry in Oconto county.  The mill cut about 2000 feet of lumber per day. In 1849 H. R. Hinsdale put up another mill and in 1830 this was purchased by F. B. Gardner.

Soon settlers began pouring into Pensaukee,  which  had  prospects of becoming the metropolis   of Oconto county, when fate willed it otherwise. On the afternoon of July 7, 1877, In the twinkling of an   eye.   Pensaukee was visited by a cyclone, and the thriving city scattered over the surrounding   countryside and the city wrecked from end to end. Gardner,  the prime factor of the city, tried in vain to resurrect the place, but after several attempts, left for the east and never returned.

   Only a Village Today.

Pensaukee today is but a shadow of its former self.  This trick of Fate made Oconto the leading city in the county. With death and destruction all about her, and with men of ideals, ready to shoulder the responsibilities of a growing city, Oconto has gradually forged to the front. The first mill to be built in Oconto was erected in 1835-1836 by George Lerwick, George Landgen and George Ehrie.

This mill came into possession of Colonel Jones ln 1836. The first road was built from Oconto to Stiles in 1854.

The first bridge was thrown across the Oconto river on July 25, 1856.   

First White Child Born.

On July 25,  1851, Effle Couillard,  now Mrs. Joseph Leigh, was born, the first white child in Oconto county. In 1851 Lorenzo Colson, who is reckoned the oldest settler in Oconto county, landed in Oconto. At that time he and the family of Thomas Lindsay were the only white inhabitants of Oconto county.  The South Branch Indians were then occupying this dlstrict. Colson took up his residence with the Lindsay's (family are dead and. buried In the Lindsay field on the east end of Jefferson street) in a little log cabin at the mouth of the Oconto river and in J857 he married one of the Lindsay girls, Elisa. During these years, Colson ran a supply boat to sawmills up the Oconto river. The Holt and Oconto company sawmills had not been erected. A small sawmill run by a waterwheel about a mlle up the river from where the Holt Hardwood plant now stands and known as the "Old Watermill."

 Colson Died in March.

Colson died March 10, 1923, at the age of 92 years, leaving five sons, two daughters, 11 great great grandchildren, 39 great grandchildren and 32 grandchildren.

At the outbreak of the Cllvll war, Company F was organized in the city, marched away and returned with an enviable record.

On March 11, I860, Oconto was incorporated as a city and the following officer elected: Mayor George Smith (father of the local chief of police); clerk, Joseph W. Hall; treasurer, Henry M. Royce; marshal, William Adams; assessors. E. Hart, Paul McDonald, James A. Donlovy; aldermen, P. M. Kerry, A. U. Wheelock, S. Butler, N. Magray, Frank Kuelle, W. Shane; Justices, H. P. Palmer, C. J. Folsom, W. B. Mitchell; constables, P. Guck, W. Shurtloff and Charles Bentz.

In 1867 the Oconto company built  a sawmill and Holt & Balcom one in 1856. The "Old Spies mill" was erected in I860. Oconto has been on the road to wealth and prosperity ever since, and is fast taking her place as one of the leading metropoli of northeastern Wisconsin.

Oconto Falls Herald
 May 18, 1923 
contributed by Richard La Brosse

Oconto County - These people were among those applying for naturalization from Oconto County:

--Emil Schindel, Oconto Falls, Russia, Poland
--Ingvart Johnson, Oconto, Denmark
--Michael Makos, Oconto, Hungary
--Walter Borske, Lena, Germany
--Samuel Peterson, Oconto Falls, Norway
--Birdie Cheffings Stewart, Suring, England
--John Carl Rudolph, Oconto Falls, Russia.

Oconto County Reporter
May 24, 1923
Researched and contributed by Richard La Brosse

“Buddy,” the eight year old son of August Lade, sustained a fractured collar bone on Thursday of last week when he fell from a truck which he was trying to hitch onto.

While playing ball Monday evening, Jerome, son of Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell Parisey, fell in such a manner as to break a leg.

Blair MacQueen, who left recently for Chicago, went to New York City during the week where he is holding a responsible position for the firm he is employed by in Chicago, having been sent to the Eastern city as a representative of the firm.

Oconto County Reporter
June 21, 1923
Researched and contributed by Richard La Brosse

The following received the highest averages in the county spelling , arithmetic and writing contest held at Oconto Falls, Wednesday. June 6th.  Miss Ellen Race of Little Suamico received the highest average and will therefore represent Oconto county in the contest to be held at the State Fair in August:  Miss Pearl Shallow ranked second, Miss Eleanor Schlosser third, and Miss Viola Anderson, fourth.

Oconto County Reporter
August 16, 1923
Researched and contributed by Richard La Brosse

Misses Eva Watterich, Gwenn Perry, Frieda Klass, Elizabeth Follett, Mable Urquhart, Isabel Ghilain, Katherine Cook, Leila Flynn, Mable Watkins, Leona Bovee and Lenore Ramsay enjoyed a picnic at the city park Monday.

Ragen’s Crossing—A family reunion was held at the home of John Ragen Sunday.