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Flash From The Past - 1971

Oconto County Reporter
Nov. 11, 1971

Contributed by Dave Cisler

Abrams history goes back to 1857
By Debbie Bonk and Karen Pecho

Richard Yeaton

If Abrams, like Gillett and Suring, had been named for it's first settler, our town would be called "Yeaton". The first settler to come to this region - then a five-mile strip of the finest pine in the world - was Richard B. Yeaton, who arrived in 1857. He held title too much of the land on which the village now stands and operated the first blacksmith shop in the area.

From Yeaton's smithy came many of the tools that later settlers used to clear and develop their lands. He also made knives and traded with the Indians. The well-known Indian "Patchnose" or "No nose" (so-called because his proboscis was bitten off in a fight with a squaw), often slept on the floor in the Yeaton cabin.

Abrams Saloon and Real Estate Company 
of Joseph Liegeois
In time Yeaton was joined by other settlers arriving from New England - Yankees with names like Barker, Dutton, Powell, Minick, Birmingham, Bent, Trask, Knowles, Sargent, Parkinson, Rowell, Busch, Lowell, Tuttle, DeLano, Rifenberg, Brooks, Wilson, Bellingham, Rice, Orr, Whitcomb, Ames, Bovee, McKinley, Bell, Whitney, Lince, Leonard, Winans, Peters, Fitzpatrick, Bauder, Farley and Dunton.

Several mills flourished along the river, among them the F. B. Gardner, and Busch and Hubbell. In 1887, F. Whitney, Bovee and Robinson owned mills in the vicinity.

The first post office was in the home of a man named W. Hale, later the Winans home. Mail was carried by horse back and by stagecoach between Stiles and Green Bay. A school was located on this road, as was a Methodist church. The road itself was an Indian trail and movement of Indians along it was a common sight.

Picturesque Scene of Olden Days 
at Abrams Highway Bridge
The Levi Sargent property joined that of Yeaton's on the west, and was then the only house on the present site of the village.

Displaced from the homes they had known in the thickly populated east, the settlers of Abrams were closely drawn to each other. Their social life consisted of visiting neighbors, and having home parties where singing was often the main entertainment.

When the war between the states broke out, almost the entire male population enlisted some of them returning to Massachusetts to enter service. After the fighting was over, they formed one of the largest and most active GAR posts in the country.

With the coming of the railroad in 1881, several boarding houses sprang up along the railroad right-of-way. Among them was Farley boarding house, which still stands and is used as a home. A fine big hotel was also built by John Chatell. Old records tell us that in 1887 there were 25 to 30 dwellings, two hotels, three stores, a drug store, depot and three sawmills.

Abrams Blacksmith Shop
As New Englanders, the settlers would have liked to name their village "Lowell" or "Portsmouth" after their former homes in Massachusetts. However, a man named Winford Abrams owned land through which the railroad ran and the company named the station "Abrams" after him.

Dr. Violet was the first doctor in Abrams. Later came Dr. R. C. Faulds who served there for 50 years and brought about 3,000 babies into the world.

The bank was established in 1911 by dell Barker, Dr. Faulds and James Chantell. Dr. Faulds was also instrumental in establishing the first telephone service, starting a line from Abrams to Sampson.

The first church in the area, of Methodist denomination, was followed by a Lutheran church. Christian Science services were being held in the village in 1900, and later, as more settlers came, a Catholic church was built.

Early Store Building 
Still Part of Abrams' Main Street
Now the Machurick Bar
The Peshtigo Fire of 1871 crippled Abrams, but a second fire, occurring July 4, 1923, after the town was well built up, proved an even greater catastrophe. The blaze took with it the Abrams hotel, which stood on the present site of Mrs. Ray Gasell's home; a hardware store where the James Machurick tavern now stands; a grocery and dry goods store owned by D. J. Baudhuin, now the property of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Galuska, and the pickle station. The feed mill started to burn and caught the grain elevator on fire. The depot almost went too, but the fire was extinguished before it completely destroyed.

At the time of the 1923 fire, George Lince lived in the house where Alvin Rowells now have a home; Richard Yeaton lived in the house now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Jenrusiak; Dr. Hansen lived in the home occupied by Mrs. Amy Leonard, and Dr. Campbell lived above the Raudhuim store.

Parade In Abrams - 1910
In the yard of the present Ed Janssen home is a part of a foundation that was Knapp's grocery, built after the fire.

When the automobile arrived in the early 1900's, the first two residents of Abrams to own the new carriages were Gene Fitzpatrick and Mr. Border


Abrams Main Street Today (1971) 

The town of Abrams set in a thriving business center today. Among the business places are the hardware store of Mr. and Mrs. Lamont Griebeler, a feed mill owned by Earl Van, the grocery stores of Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Bostedt and Mr. and Mrs. George Puckett, a meat market which survived the fire is owned by Mrs. Henry Laudenclaus, a post office, the Abrams branch of the Gillett state bank, and several taverns, the two on Main street operated by LeRoy Erdman and the other James Machuricks. There is also a popular and well-kept nine-hole golf course in Abrams called Pine Acres, and owned by Robert Beckers.

Each summer the town falls out for a gala celebration called "Abrams Day". A highlight of this year's event was the erection of a flag pole in the town square, adjacent to a plaque which carries the names of the young men from Abrams who served their country in uniform.

The spirit of comradeship, which marked the early pioneers, has become a tradition among their descendents and is apart in the growth and hospitality of the community.

(We would like to thank the fine people who gave us the information and pictures about Abrams, including Mr. and Mrs. Ed Janssen, William Sargent, Raymond Angrabright, Mrs. Henry Laudenclaus, and Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Rowell.)