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Oconto County


A Heritage News Article
Date and Publication Unknown
contributed by
Richard A. McLean


Spruce — The first settlers of this district were Mr. William Morrison and Mr. Tourtelott who came here from Oconto by way of the lodging road as far as Johnson's Corners. There they built raft and come down the Littte River and settled here on Homesteads in 1870. Mr. Morrison settled on the farm Mr. Kralovetz now lives on, and Mr. Tourtelott settled where Mr. Deresinski now lives.

The first thing they had to do was build houses which they made of logs which were abundant here. Then they took these logs and cut notches in them and laid them one on another until they had the walls up, They had no lumber and could get none sawed, so they had to use logs. They took these logs and hollowed them out and lait thcm side by side and then they took another hollowed log and laid it over the edge. They called these roofs scoops. The floors of their houses were also made of logs which were hewn square on one side so as to make their floots level As. there were many kinds of game, it was not hard for them to find food. Most of their home-steads were one hundred sixty acres acres. They had to live on then five years, and make improvements, before they could prove up. They had to clear land so as to raise crops.

Their nearest trading station was about fourteen miles where a man named Mr. Lee kept a store. Then the government surveyed a road from Oconto, and the job wan given to Mr. Morrison to clear so they could travel to Oconto to get lumber and supplies. After they built theroad from Oconto, this town was settled fast. The first school was keptin Mr. Morrison's home. Some of the first pupils were Claude McLcan, Agnes McLenn, Amelia Schweiberg, John Teresinski, Wallace Rifle, Lizzie Bode and May McLean. They had only a few books, not near as many as we have, and only had a few studies, such as Arithmetic, Spelling, Reading and Geography.

They had poor roads and no bridges across the river. They built booms in order to get across. Sometimes the river would rise and take these booms away and the people could not get across for many days. After they kept school in Mr. Morrison's house for awhile, they built a schoolhouse where the school now stands. They didn't have any seats like ours. The only had benches and a small black board.

Soon after the road was built a railroad was built into Lena which also helped to increase settlements. The roads were not very good, and in wet seasons they could not be traveled.

The next settlers after Mr. Mormon and Mr. Tourtilottwere Mr Babka. Mr. Rifle, Mr. Schweiberg and Mr. McLean.

After it got pretty well settled the town was set off.Maple Valley which consisted of five town ships. Three townships were set off in 1892, which were Brazeau, Spruce and Maple Valley. They divided because they had some trouble over roads and taxes. The town had no name when it was set off so the people met and  elected the name Spruce because there were a lot of Spruce trees here. They held their first election in the spring of 1853. The officers which were elected at the first election were: Chairman, Mr Schweiberg; supervisors, Mr. St Mary and Mr. McLean; Clerk, Mr. Tracey; Assessor, Mr. McDoug and; treasurer, Mr. Prausa; justice, Mr. Glynn, Mr. Millard; constable, Mr. Kadlec.

Soon after the town was set off, they organized the school district. It was organized by Mr. Tourtelott, Mr. Morrison, Mr. Millard, Mr. Rode, Mr. Steere, Mr McLean, and Mr. Schweiberg. The teachers' monthly salary was $25. The first church in this district was organized by Mr. Teresinski, Mr. Net, Mr. Pytleskl, Mr. Slupinski, and Mr. Kowalshi in 1892. It was built in 1803 about a mile and three quarters from Spruce. About a year later the first cheese factory was built in the Village of Spruce by Mr. Kumbra. The first cheese maker was Mr. Yance, he then received about one thousand pounds of milk.
Since the early settlers of 1870, the country was changed a greal deal. The early settlers used oxen and home made wagons. Now the farmers have good horses and factory made wagons. They have good machinary, such as *seeders binders, hay loaders, mowers, and many other kinds which have lately  come  into use.  At the time this district was organized, then about twenty families, Nw the population is about three hundred people.

The early settlcrs had log barns now they have large basemcnt barns and silos to keep their corn in. The same farmers that useed to have two and three cows, now have twenty and more. Their homes are made large and comfortable with bathrooms and water works. They have coal stoves and some have furnaces. The old houses they used to live in have been discarded long ago, and have been made into work shops or other things. They have good road, everywhere and a trading place in their own town with two or more within five miles. They can take their cream to a creamery or their milk to the factory. There is a good market for cvcrything they grow.

There was very much good timber here in 1870, but the early settlers cut what they needed, and burned, they could get good prices for it. Since the land is nearly all cleared the wild animals have gone. Some went to another country where it isn't so thickly settled, and some were destroyed. There are a few wild animals here, such as wolf, mink, coon, and some fish, but the deer and bear are all gone.

As the years passed on, improvements to the school were being constantly carried on, until at the present tune the school has hot and cold running water, a hot lunch program (Martha Pawlak is our cook), an automobile used for transportation (Mr. Adolph Durocher is the driver this year), and an automatic oil furnace. The basement is also equipped with a stage for programs. 

Much work has been done for the hot lunch project by the Home-makers organization.

The present school board consists of Mr. Art Luisler. Mr. Adolph Pelishek and Mr. Vincent Lemirande. The teachers are Miss Jeanne Moedo, lower room, and Mrs. Delores Skarban, principal.


Joseph Kadlec and his family led the way for fellow Bohemian immigrant settlers to this area. Farming was being developed by these pioneering families before the end of the logging days. The residents celebrate the popular annual "Bohemian Day" at Spruce which was inspired by Mr. Kadlec. The old Kadlec Family Cemetery is nearby. 

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