An ancient Menominee Indian camp used for spring and fall fish gathering, the name comes from the word suamakosa meaning "sand bar" or "yellow sand." Although Edward, John and Elisha Beeson first owned land here, the area was first developed by a white lumber mill builder and operator named Wyman W Mathews in 1837. Gustavus Grosse, his wife and four sons came in 1851, from Alsace-Lorraine (1849) by way of Green Bay. The Grosse Family Cemetery now stands on the little river island where they first camped in Oconto County.
Fur trading had led to logging. The settlement, made up of millworkers and their families, had only an Indian trail running north and south until they joined forces and built a winter road in 1852. In 1851 the settlement was enlarged with the addition of several full time deep water fisherman and their families. The first farmer came in 1857 and was not joined by others until 1862, when two principal roads had been established. By 1875 there was sufficient farming to support three schools in the area. Early family names included Frank, Grosse, Wedgewood, Allen, Conn, Cavanaugh, Koehnes, Beach, and Bergh.