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Oconto County


The second community in Oconto County to be settled, at one time Stiles rivaled the city of Oconto in size and importance. It was named after Howard STILES ELDRED, the son of the lumber baron and town founder, Anson ELDRED. As the lumbering boom faded in the early 1900's, so did the village of Stiles. Information provided by Gary Truckey.

The settlement of Stiles was surveyed in 1839. It was organized in 1852. The village was originally a settlement built by Anson Eldred in 1853. Eldred was an early lumber baron originally from Michigan, then Chicago, and Oconto County. He was in partnership with other big names in various lumbering operations such as Thomas Lindsay who settled early Oconto and drowned in 1852, Uri Balcom of later city of Oconto fortune, his own brother, Elisha Eldred, and Merrick Murphy husband of Jerusha, who had first dammed the river for milling in Stiles. 

To take the milled wood to market, there was a fleet of ships including a schooner, six brigs and a bark. The Stiles mills were staffed primarily by Menominee Indians led for years by Chief Machickanee. It was a nightly ritual for those white settlers in the area to sit on their wooden porches or along the bank each evening and watch the red flames and amber glow coming from the huge fireplace (waste burner for the mills) which was built on an island in the river. 

Spring brought the uproar of lumberjacks in from the winter woodcuts and ready to celebrate. Woodcutting and milling stopped with the last log sawed in 1910, and the families soon moved away, many taking their houses with them. The pulp mill burned in 1924 and was the last industry in the village. Many of the Malone and Murray families continued to settle in the area. Information provided by the Farnsworth Library, Oconto WI. 

Oconto County Reporter
January 23 1886

-Stiles Junction! shouts a brakeman on the Lake Shore road, and, with the air of somebody of importance in the political and social World, this humble scribe of this enterprising circular, gathered himself together and as the train slowed up, decended to the depot platform. Here, he was met by a stiff nor'easter, in lieu of a delegation that had not been sent to meet him from Stiles, his present destination. The trains, on the roads crossing each other here, are very careful not toconnect within a half a day or so of each other, consequently one knowing the circumstances, trots off down to Stiles, asking no questions, just as if there was no train expected for a week on the Wisconsin & Michigan. It is only a matter of a mile and a half, which, before you have accomplished it, you will wager your mother-in-law's hopes of a just retribution, that it is four miles and a half. 

The village of Stiles, is a compact little burg, lying on both sides of the Oconto river which is spanned by two wagon bridges and a rail road bridge, 10 miles above Oconto on the Wisconsin & Michigan railroad, and the Lake Shore and Western.

The business interests of the place center round the manufacturing establishments of A. Eldred & Son, whose saw mill, planing mill and box factory, are located here. The former is shut down for the season, but the planing mill and box factory are in full blast, as they run the year around. They are both new, and are fitted with the best and most improved machinery, affording the best facilities for doing first-class work, A large dry kiln near by, is nearing completion. 

During the sawing season, this company employs about 200 men, mostly married, who are furnished for the most part, with comfortable, and neatly painted houses, built in regular streets on both sides of the river. Among the improvements in the saw mill, the last season, a new band-saw was put in, which gives excellent satisfaction. Among other equipments of this company is a blacksmith shop, feed mill, and one of the largest lumber shells, for storing dressed lumber, In the state, being 480 feet long; also commodious store, offices, ware rooms, etc. The whole, is under the immediate supervision of Mr. Macy who needs no  further compliment than that everything moves smoothly and successfully. The books of the firm, are in the hands of Mr. W. C. Jenkins, whom it is a pleasure to meet, and the store, in charge of Mr. Jerry Strong, head clerk. 

This firm cut nearly 113,000,000 ft.. of lumber last season, and is the only firm on the Oconto river which had any logs left over. They have three camps in this winter and will probably put in about 10,000,000 ft.
Stiles has improved greatly the past season, and bids fair to continue improving. A school house and church show that the education and morals of the people are not neglected and several saloons and an artisian well supply the thirsty with the wherewithal to quench a natural or acquired thirst. John Mclver, mine host of the Forest House, entertains the traveler, and furnishes everything needed at a public house as does also Fobert Mclver, at the Junction.

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