Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
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Oconto County
Wisconsin

MOUNTAIN 

Named for the many large, granite, outcroppings in the area which are part of the Laurentian Plateau, the town was originally a stopping-off place for the teams who supplied the northern logging camps. Information provided by Deana Hipke

One of several stopping off places used to feed teams and hungry loggers in early Oconto County history was Mountain. Fifty miles north of Jab Switch (now the city of Oconto), and on the banks of the north branch of the Oconto River, Thomas Mc Allen, his wife and six children built the first permanent home in 1877. 

The first log schoolhouse was built in 1884 and boasted a new metal bell in the tower cupola. Civil War veteran James Himes settled nearby in 1884 along with the Fred Bartz family in 1886, which opened the first general store in the settlement. The Bartz family also charged $4 a month to board as many as 40 men in their home at one time.

Hearing about the logging potential of the area, Harry Baldwin sold his holdings in Maple Valley and opened a store in Mountain in 1889, which profitted greatly from selling supplies to the major lumber companies in the area. The store became the social center, where folks met and exchanged news near the central cast iron woodstove. Many of the lumberjacks decided to stay and marry, some also came back later with families to settle.  As families moved to the area, the store began stocking and selling what they needed as well, including bolts of material and kitchen utensils.  There being no formal accommodations in the town, loggers frequently used the floor of the store for their overnight lodging. Store hours were from 7am to 9 pm, seven days a week. The store was also the new post office.

New enterprises took it's place among the steadily growing permanent population. The abandoned logging camp was then used for school. By 1890 there was the first church, A.C. Frost's two wing log hotel,  along with Harry Baldwin's supply store and the barber shop of Tom Rasmussen, where shaves were 10 cents and haircuts were all of 25 cents. While they waited, the lumberjacks could purchase life insurance from Mr Rasmussen. 

There was a healthy profit to be made quenching the thursts of the lumberjacks just down the street at the new saloon. Since the behavior of the saloon patrons was often unpredictable and inevitably tended to gravitate toward distruction of surrounding property, one saloon owner, Sven Olson, would move his bar outside to save on overhead and repair costs during particularly vigorous evenings of pursuing relaxation and entertainment. Irishmen, Germans and Poles tended to patronize one bar and Scandinavians at another. The "Mat Savage Pioneer Saloon" was one of the first.

When the railroad came near Mountain in 1897, the swampy ground made building the station a short distance away a neccessity, and the town business section gradually "slid" downhill in that direction. The lumber companies had also pressured the railroad not to build the station at the hilltop, where the original business section had been established, since it would require hauling the lumber and logs up there,  adding time, manpower and expense to the business and cutting into their profits. 

The mail was hauled from Gillett and Mr. A.C. Frost was the first postmaster, he also served as an original organizer and chairman for the town of Armstrong (now named town{ship} of Mountain).

Early settlers in Mountain were primarily Scandinavians with the surnames of Stomberg, Olson, Anderson, Jamison, Sandberg, Nelson, and Jensen. Soon followed a new brick schoolhouse. Cultural interests increased as the economic shift was made from the logging of the late 1800's to dairying and crop farming in the early 1900's. There were dances, fairs, fireworks, community dinners, and eventually movies, which were outdoor events shown on the whitewashed wall of a large building. Families brought blankets and baskets of food to enjoy while they talked away the evening until it was dark enough for the show to start.

When the dairy industry took hold in the area, dairymen were paid by the amount of butterfat present in the milk. This raw milk (unpasturized) separated quickly, with the butterfat cream going to the top. When the milk was tested, a long glass staw was used to take a sample from the BOTTOM of the cans. If the milk had separated, there was little butterfat in the sample and the dairy received less money for the milk. At first the dairymen brought in their own milk in large metal milk cans by team and wagon. In more recent years, the milk trucks went out to the dairies to pick up the milk.

Al Bartz and his brother drove milk trucks around 
Mountain.  By the end of the day they drove the trucks up and down the sand dunes alongside the road to mix up the milk and creme, which would result in a higher milk fat content and make the checks bigger for the farmers!  Information provided by Kathy Barlament

The village of Mountain had a population of only 200 during World War II, yet lost Lynn Elliot Dunlap, George B Jameson, Albert Zitske, Lyle B Frost, Delbert L Bartz, George Klover, Richard Sandberg, and Kenneth Nelson to military action.

 Information sources in part;  E.S. Dunlap, Suring School System, and George Hall. 


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