Reprinted from "A Standard History of Portage County, Wisconsin" Volume II, pages 377-376.
BYRON B. PARK
Sixty years ago the little group of lawyers who comprised the bar of Portage County welcomed an important addition to their number in the person of the late Judge Gilbert L. Park. His distinguished record as a member of the bar for the next thirty years has been recited on other pages. Practically continuous since 1852 the name Park has been identified with the local bar, the entry of Byron B. Park into the profession being about the time his father was called to the Great Tribunal by the summons of death.In respect of official positions the career of Byron B. Park is a modern duplicate of that of his father. Byron B. Park was born in Stevens Point October 6, 1858. He was educated in the famous "Old White School" and in the fall of 1876 entered the University of Wisconsin, where he continued his studies until graduating from the law department in 1881. He did not begin his practice immediately at Stevens Point, and in fact was formally enrolled as a lawyer of that bar only after his father's death in 1885. He soon had a successful practice, and from time to time his fellow citizens called upon him to serve in public offices. He was city attorney of Stevens Point, mayor of the city, district attorney of Portage County, and August 23, 1911, was called from the ranks of lawyers to the bench of the Seventh Judicial Circuit by appointment. Since then he has been elected twice, and appointed to finish the term of Judge Webb, deceased. He is rendering a splendid service in his judicial office. For several years Judge Park served as a member of the Board of Regents of Normal Schools. Since 1897 he has been president of the Stevens Point Library Board.
Judge Park resides at 904 Clark Street. The old homestead, where for so many years his honored father lived, is at 830 Clark Street, and is now occupied by Gilbert L. Park, Jr. Judge Park married September 29, 1886, Bertha N. Wyatt, of Stevens Point. They have four children. Gladys, the oldest, is the wife of Ross E. Joy. Lawrence W., formerly a practicing dentist at Stevens Point, has recently been appointed first lieutenant in the Dental Reserve Corps and assigned to the Three Hundred Twenty-Fifth Machine Gun Battalion; Lyman B., who also inherits the martial enthusiasm of his grandfather, is serving with the rank of second lieutenant in Battery E of the One Hundred Twentieth Field Artillery, National Army. Both are now in active service in France. The youngest child, Allan, L., is a senior in the Stevens Point High School.
Reprinted from "A Standard History of Portage County, Wisconsin" Volume II, pages 373-375.
HON. GILBERT L. PARK
Portage County probably never had a citizen once better loved and more highly esteemed for his varied accomplishments and services than the late Gilbert L. Park, pioneer member of the bar, gallant soldier, and officer in a Wisconsin regiment during the war, and at one time judge of the Circuit Court, including Portage County.
Judge Park was born August 31, 1825, at Scipio, Cayuga County, New York, and died June 5, 1884, before he was sixty years of age. His life was comparatively brief, but was crowded with experience and achievement. He was of English ancestry, his grandfather, Joel Park, having served as a soldier in the war of the Revolution and being present at the surrender of General Burgoyne's army. Judge Park was a son of Elisha and Sarah (McDowell) Park. His father was a New York State farmer. The son had rather liberal educational advantages for the time in which his boyhood was spent. He had an ardent temperament, was fond of adventure and experience, and at the age of fifteen he ran away from home to enlist in a service which at that time promised probably a greater range of adventure and thrilling experience than was possible in any other direction. He joined a party of employes of the Hudson's Bay Company and with them went up the Ottawa River in Canada toward Hudson Bay. He went as far north in the wilderness as Port Churchill on the River Severn and became thoroughly acquainted with that motley army of Indians, half breeds, French Canadians and recruits from all the nations who found a source of livelihood and satisfaction of their venturesome spirit in the task of gathering furs and carrying on the other complicated business of the Hudson's Bay Company. At the end of a year he returned south by way of Georgian Bay, where he left the company's employ and was carried on a steamboat to Detroit and thence to Port Dover in County of Norfolk, Upper Canada, now Ontario, where his father's family had in the meantime settled. Content to remain at home far a time, he spent three years in an academy at Millville, Orleans County, New York. Returning to Canada, he found employment as a lumberman and for two years kept up the business with a promising degree of success. In 1848 he had the misfortune to lose a large raft of logs, representing practically all his capital and the savings of previous years. This raft was broken up on Lake Erie, and nearly every stick of timber floated down over the falls of Niagara. While he was not the type of man to became discouraged, this disaster made it disadvantageous for him to continue in the lumber business for a time, and he then applied himself in another direction. Taking up the study of law at Kalamazoo, Michigan, he was in the office of Hon. N. A. Balch of that place, and in September, 1851, was admitted to the Michigan bar in Kalamazoo County.
Judge Park came to Wisconsin in .November, 1851. Having no money, so that he was unable to wait for practice to accumulate, he earned his living by a trade with which he was thoroughly familiar, cutting saw logs. By the summer of 1852 he was able to take up law practice and formed a partnership with James S. Albin at Plover, which was then the county seat of Portage County. This partnership continued until 1855. As one of the pioneer lawyers of Northern Wisconsin, he rapidly accumulated a large business and was in line for public honors. In 1854 he was elected district attorney of Portage County, and filled that office four years. In 1855 he had removed to Stevens Paint and established an office in that city. After leaving the office of district attorney he was elected mayor of Stevens Point, and at the outbreak of the war, being a "war democrat," he resigned this civil office to take up the sword in defense of the integrity of the Union. He went out as adjutant af the Eighteenth Wisconsin Infantry and subsequently became captain of Company G in that regiment. He was with the regiment in all its various marches, campaigns and battles through a period of nearly 3½ years, and the record of the regiment is largely that of his own participation in the war. He was in the siege af Vicksburg, the battle of Corinth, at Lookout Mountain, the Atlanta campaign, and while never wounded experienced many narrow escapes. At ane time his horse was shot from under him. At another time a bullet struck his scabbard and brake a portion of the sword blade.
In the spring af 1865 Judge Park returned to Stevens Point and resumed his interrupted practice of law. Though so thoroughly a practical man, fond of out of doors and the play of physical forces, he was at the same time a close and diligent student, and perfected himself in a knowledge of law such as few of his contemporaries possess. He was successful both as an advocate and as counsel, though probably excelling somewhat as a counsellor.
On March I, 1875, Governor Taylor appointed him judge af the Seventh Judicial Circuit of Wisconsin to fill a two year vacancy, and in the following April he was elected by the people, and in 1878 was re-elected for the full term. Owing to ill health he was obliged to resign the office in 1883. He had been in ill health for same time, sought restoration by travel in California, but in January, 1884, still suffering from an acute stage of Bright's disease, he became a patient in the sanitarium at Waukesha, where he passed away in the following June. But he had already distinguished himself in the legal profession in Northern Wisconsin, and his record can never be lightly esteemed in the annals of the Portage County bar. He was a man of fine mind, of unusual resources of speech and pen, and had that personal integrity which caused people to trust him and confide in him any position of responsibility and trust. As a judge he has been described as "cool, clear headed, candid and logical; he presided with ease and dignity, and with the utmost fairness and impartiality. As an evidence of his popularity it may be mentioned that while serving in the army he was nominated, without his knowledge or consent, and run by his party for state senator on two or three occasions. He was also urged to bring himself forward as candidate for the lieutenant governorship of Wisconsin and also for member of Congress." Judge Park was an active member of the Masonic order, both a Knight Templar and thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason.
Judge Park married February 26, 1856, Miss Mary D. Beach, daughter of John and Anna (Waterhouse) Beach. Three children were born to them: Byron B., present judge of the same circuit over which his father presided; Gilbert L., a Stevens Point lawyer; and Anna, of Stevens Point. The mother of these children died November 9, 1893, and she and her husband rest side by side. Mrs. Park was a Methodist.
From a previously published appreciation the following is quoted: "He was an ardent student and lover of nature and nature's God, and, as described by one who knew him well, was a man who saw something beautiful in every phase and form of life; one who was the delight of every social group—young or old; one whose smile would lighten a household, one whose frown would cause a pang; the quiet ease, the social converse, the varied learning—all were his, and no one ever sat in his company without feeling disquieted at his departure; he was never boisterous, never rude, and always mindful of the feeling of others. In domestic life he was a lovable character, a kind husband and loving father, and true friend to his children."
Reprinted from "A Standard History of Portage County, Wisconsin" Volume II, pages 479-480.
VICTOR S. PRAIS The active career of Victor S. Prais has connected him closely with the business interests of Portage County. He has had a very active career and has followed different lines, always with such energy as to maintain him in the rank of successful men. He is now proprietor of one of the best equipped paint, wall paper, tent and awning stores in Portage County.
Mr. Prais was born in Poland December 26, 1879, a son of Joseph and Marie (Yunke) Prais. When he was not yet five years old the family started for America, and on November 3, 1884, arrived at Stevens Point. The father was both a shoemaker and a mason by trade, and followed those occupations in Stevens Point until his death in 1906, at the age of fifty-nine. His widow is still living, aged sixty-nine. The father was a democrat and the family communicants of St. Peter's Catholic Church. There were six children in the family: Klinens F.; Frances; Victor S.; Agnes, who died at the age of thirteen; Martha, wife of Roman Suplecki; and Johanna, wife of John Urbanowski, of Stevens Point. The oldest, Klinens F., born in 1873, was educated both in Poland and in Stevens Point parochial schools, and is a carpenter and paper hanger by trade. For the past eleven years he has assisted his brother Victor in the store. November 3, 1897, he married Marie Olbranz, who died in 1912, the mother of six children, Agnes, Joseph, Regena, Peter, Heronem and Margaret. Frances Prais, the older sister of Victor, was educated at Stevens Point, and by her marriage to Paul Archerlick has five children, Carl, Paul, Martha, Roman and Cecelia.
Victor S. Prais during his boyhood at Stevens Point attended both the parochial and public schools. He early learned the trade of painter, but afterwards took up another totally different line of employment, as cook and manager of boarding cars for the Wisconsin Central Railway. For four years he worked in a lunch room of the Wisconsin Central and he was the first man to run a boarding train at North Fond du Lac and also had charge of the erection of the railway lunch room at Fond du Lac. In the course of his experience in this business he was stationed with a supply train at New Richmond, Wisconsin, at the time of the historic cyclone which did so much damage in that locality.
During his work as a painter Mr. Prais built up an extensive contracting business, and often had as many as twenty-two men working for him. On June 25, 1906, he bought the wall paper and paint store of Ira Eldridge, and on the following day opened up business under his name at 509 Main Street. About six years later he moved his store next door to where the electric light office was, and then moved over still another number. These moves were made consequent upon the growth and development of his business, and he now has a large and well equipped storeroom, stocked with an ample supply of paint, wall paper, tents and awnings, and other kindred merchandise.
Mr. Prais for seven years owned a home on Phillips Street but on March 13, 1917, sold it to Mr. Black. In June of that year he started the building of his new home at No. 307 Tremont Street, and he moved into the completed and comfortable residence on the 14th of December. In politics Mr. Prais is an active democrat and is affiliated with St. Peter's Catholic Church. He married Miss Mary Wodarski, of Stevens Point. They have two children, Austin, born February 13, 1911, and Bernadine, born in June, 1914.
Reprinted from "A Standard History of Portage County, Wisconsin" Volume II, pages 384-385.
JOHN G. ROSHOLT
Located in the extreme eastern part of Portage County, practically on the Waupaca County line, is the thriving little community which bears the name of Rosholt, and which is now about fourteen years old. This village is the product of the brain and labor of the man whose name it bears, John G. Rosholt, who came to this locality thirty-two years ago, and who did not rest until he had achieved his goal, that of securing a railroad for this section and the establishment of a point of communication and a center of population. He has made a success of his operations and is now accounted one of the substantial men of the county, being connected with a number of important interests.
John G. Rosholt was born June 6, 1850, at Pine Lake, Wisconsin, and is a son of Jacob and Johanna Rosholt. He was but one year old when he accompanied his parents to Waupaca County, where they resided during the remainder of their lives, and the youth's education was secured in the public schools there. While being reared to manhood on the home farm he received his training in the arts of agriculture, but desired to see something more of the world than that part included in the home acres and accordingly left home and took up lumbering. Gradually he drifted into the real estate business, and for some years resided at Scandinavia and in the northern part of lola Township. In 1885 Mr. Rosholt moved over into Portage County and located in the community which now bears his name. There was plenty of timber in this region then and he began buying this up and converting it into lumber in a small sawmill which he had erected; but it was not long ere he had realized the opportunities and advantages of the region and set about formulating his plans for the establishment of a community. He early realized that a railroad was an absolutely necessary asset, and began to importune the roads to continue their tracks so as to include this point, but it was a number of years, in 1903, before he was able to accomplish his object. Thus his hard work and sacrifices brought about results, and what he had dreamed about became a reality. He sold all his timber with the conditions that the railroad would be put in at once, and in the year 1903 the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad built its line to this point, and Rosholt station was named in honor of the founder of the village in the year following.
In 1904 Mr. Rosholt, with his sons, was the organizer of the Rosholt State Bank, a sound financial institution, of which he has been president ever since its inception, and he is also president of the Wittenberg Citizens State Bank. Naturally he is proud of the village which bears his name, and is constantly working for anything that will result in its advantage or promote the welfare of its citizens.
Reprinted from "A Standard History of Portage County, Wisconsin" Volume II, pages 379-380.
VINCENT J. SHIPPY, M. D.
One of the able professianal men and patriotic citizens af Stevens Paint is Dr. Vincent J. Shippy, a general medical practitioner, and also a commissioned lieutenant in the Medical Reserve Corps of the United States Army.
Of the great body of young men who find themselves faced at the end af their public school course with the desirability or the necessity of chosing [sic] a life career, comparatively few turn to the profession of medicine and surgery. Its adaption would mean continued years of study and the hardest kind of work afterward, with indefinite financial recompense, and with but little certain chance for fame, even though heroic deeds might be demanded any day. To the average young man, therefore, this profession does not look inviting. To the minority, however, no other career seems possible or worth while, and with high heart and noble impulse the would-be healer of his fellow men starts on a path wherein, if his spirit does not quail, his own strength or resources do not give way and his enthusiasm lasts, he finally gains his right to safeguard with his knowledge and skill those who call upon him, even though some may forget that there must, of necessity, be also a material and practical business basis to assure his continued usefulness. As a profession that of medicine is one of arduous labor and of amazing self-sacrifice, of humanitarian intent and kindly purpose, and the stupendous work it does, both in peace and war, must arouse a feeling of admiration in everyone. The physicians in a community will ever be found in the vanguard of progress.
Vincent J. Shippy was born in Hull Township, Portage County, Wisconsin, January 30, 1889. His parents were John and Josephine (Krygrier) Shippy, both of whom were born in Poland. The mother of Doctor Shippy accompanied her parents to the United States in 1855. They settled first at Dunkirk, New York, from which place they came to Portage County, Wisconsin, where they spent the rest of their lives, the maternal grandmother of Doctor Shippy surviving until 1914 and passing away when aged ninety-one years. The paternal grandparents were very early settlers also in Portage County and died here. The parents of Doctor Shippy were married in Hull Township and the father was engaged for a number of years in farm pursuits and then became somewhat prominent in politics, served efficiently in numerous local offices and then was elected county register of deeds, after which he resided at Stevens Point, where he was interested in a grocery business. His death occurred here in 1904, at the age of fifty-two years. The mother of Doctor Shippy resides with her son Casimir, who is a Catholic priest at Flintville, Wisconsin. There were eleven children in the family and the following survive: Vincent J., Casimir, Mary, Frank and Catherine. All were reared in the Polish Catholic Church.
Vincent J. Shippy attended both the parochial and public schools at Stevens Point and in 1908 was graduated from the city high school and then entered Marquette Medical College, Milwaukee, from which institution he was graduated in 1912. He spent the next two years gaining valuable experience as an interne in St. Mary's Hospital at Green Bay, Wisconsin, and thus prepared returned to Stevens Point and in 1914 opened his office at No. 117½ North Second Street. Aside from a substantial private practice which he has already built up Doctor Shippy is engaged as examining physician for the Catholic Order of Foresters, and is one of the active and earnest members of the county and state medical societies. He belongs to St. Peter's Church Society and to the Polish Alliance. He was one of the first to respond to the call for physicians in the World War, has a commission as a first lieutenant in the Medical Reserve Corps, and skillfully and willingly did his part both in the United States and beyond the sea.
Reprinted from "A Standard History of Portage County, Wisconsin" Volume II, pages 383-384.
JOHN D. SWAN
Some of the oldest families af Portage County were members of the sturdy Scotch colony that went into what is now Lanark Township in pioneer times and made for themselves homes, developed the wilderness, and practiced the institutions and customs and religion of their forefathers.
A representative of this family is John D. Swan, now a retired resident of Stevens Point. He was born in Lanark Township October 8, 1858, a son of Thomas and Martha (McJennet) Swan. Thomas Swan was barn at Lanark, Scotland, in 1811 and his wife in February, 1824. Thomas was a son of James and Janet Swan. The latter brought their family to America and settled at Lanark in Lower Canada in 1821. Thomas Swan grew up there, was married, and in 1847 came to Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and after a short time moved to what is now Lanark Township of Portage County, being one of the Scotch colonists who gave the name of their ancestral home to that locality. James Swan and wife also came to Portage County, and died in Lanark Township, the former at the age of ninety-one and the latter at ninety-three. Thomas Swan acquired 200 acres of Government land in the township, and his years were prospered and he always bore a fine name in the community. He died here in 1895 and his wife passed away December 25, 1888. He was a republican in politics, and like the other early Scotch colonists was an active member of the Presbyterian Church. In the family of Thomas and Martha Swan were the following children: James, deceased; Jane; Jennie; Robert; Thomas, deceased; Thomas; Martha; Elizabeth, deceased; William; and John D.
John D. Swan grew up on the old homestead farm and had the advantages of the local schools during his youth. On reaching manhood he turned to farming as a vocation, and finally bought the old homestead from the other heirs and gained from its acres the prosperity which enabled him to retire in 1907 and move to Stevens Point. He finally sold the old homestead in 1913. At Stevens Point he owns a comfortable and roomy residence and also a good barn at 350 Water Street. He is a republican in politics and a Presbyterian.
April 17, 1884, John D. Swan married Miss Marian Ovens. She was born in Lanark Township, Portage County, in 1863, daughter of James and Helen (Swan) Ovens. Her parents came to Lanark Township from Lower Canada in 1856 and were substantial farmers in that locality the rest of their days. Her father died in 1907 and her mother in October, 1909. Mrs. Swan's father was a republican in politics, but finally gave his active allegiance to the prohibition cause. He was a Presbyterian. In the, Ovens family were four children, all living, named David, Marian, Thomas and Jennie.
Mr. and Mrs. John D. Swan have had two children: Dr. William Ray and Helen Elizabeth. The daughter was born October 22, 1890, was educated in the public schools of Lanark Township, attended the State Normal School at Stevens Point and also the Stevens Point Business College. Her death occurred on the 7th of May, 1918.
Dr. William Ray Swan was born on his father's farm in Lanark Township April 14, 1885. He had a farm training and in early life showed unusual disposition for the care and management of domestic animals. He had a public school education, graduating from Waupaca High School, and then entering the Chicago Veterinary College, from which he was graduated with the degree M. D. C. in 1908. He at once returned to Stevens Point and has made his services valuable to all the farmers and stock raisers in the surrounding territory and has a very successful practice. He married Miss Fannie Blaisdel. They have ane daughter, Janet Dana, born September 22, 1915.
Reprinted from "A Standard History of Portage County, Wisconsin" Volume II, pages 386-388.
For at least sixty years the fortunes of a number of the Taylor family have been identified with Portage County, and the name is not only one of the oldest but commands universal respect because of the honest work and splendid influence which have always been associated with the people of this name.
While not a native of the county Warren S. Taylor has lived here since early infancy and his affairs as a farmer has been prospered to a high degree. His home is in Belmont Township, where the Taylors located in pioneer times.
He was born at Omro in Winnebago County, Wisconsin, February 4, 1856, and a few weeks later his parents, Albert and Maria (Day) Taylor, came to Belmont Township, Portage County, and erected their humble home of logs. This log house with some additional comforts was the family residence until the death of Mr. Taylor's mother in 1867. The old farm where the family settled is now owned by Walter Watson. Albert Taylor was born in Allegany County, New York, December 18, 1832, and his wife was born in the same state in 1831. They married there and in 1855 settled in Winnebago County, Wisconsin. Albert Taylor was a son of Riley and Rachel (Witherow) Taylor, who came to Belmont Township of Portage County about the same time as their son and spent the rest of their days here. Albert Taylor had brothers Charles, Luman, Truman and Ezra, and sisters Jane, Adeline and Helen, all of whom are residents of Belmont Township.
Albert Taylor rendered his country patriotic service as a Union soldier. In 1861 he enlisted in the Eighteenth Wisconsin Infantry. At the battle of Shiloh he was wounded and granted an honorable discharge. Later on recovering he re-enlisted in the Fourteenth Wisconsin Infantry and was with that command in its various engagements until the close of the war. He was an honored member of the Grand Army Post, and was one of the early members of a lodge of Odd Fellows at Waupaca and later helped organize the lodge at Almond in this county. He was a loyal republican and for some years filled the office of township treasurer. He died October 21, 1891. By his first wife he had three children: Warren S.; Melvin, who died in 1883, at the age of twenty-four; and Myron, who died in 1862, aged one year one month and six days. For his second wife Albert Taylor married Hannah Sutherland, daughter of James Sutherland, and a pioneer of Portage County. By the second marriage there were six children: Rhoda, Myra and Myrtie twins, Ralph, Martha and Rachel.
Warren S. Taylor grew up on the old home farm and had a public school education. Farming has been his regular business in life for forty years. He acquired his first land, forty acres, in 1878. As his means and abilities increased he bought another eighty acres and now has a very complete and model farm, with a full equipment of buildings and good livestock, including some high grade Holstein cattle. He has been too busy with other matters to become a candidate for office, though he is a regular voter of the republican party. He is affiliated with Almond Lodge of Masons.
February 26, 1880, he married Miss Anna Eliza Hawes. She was born in Belmont Township December 29, 1860, a daughter of Lester L. and Mary (Robertson) Hawes. Her father was born in Vermont January 10, 1828. Her mother was born at Dunbartonshire, Scotland, November 13, 1835. They married in 1856 and on May 6, 1860, arrived as early settlers in Belmont Township. Her father not long afterward enlisted in the Civil war, in Company D of the Fifth Wisconsin Infantry. He went into the army in 1864 and was stricken with smallpox and died at St. Louis May 19, 1865. Mrs. Taylor's mother died December 8, 1906. She had three children, George, Anna Eliza and Alma, the latter the wife of John Casey of Belmont.
Mr. and Mrs. Taylor became the parents of four children, and they lived to see them grow up and three of them are still living, both sons being very able and prosperous farmers. Blanche, the oldest, was born June 21, 1881, was married in 1904 to Earl Curtis, and she died without children January 7, 1906. The second child, Lottie, born June 19, 1883, is still at home with her parents. Martin, born April 2, 1886, is one of the young American farmers who have succeeded well in Western Canada. He now has 480 acres of farm land at Cereal in the Province of Alberta. Robert, the youngest child, born October 10, 1888, has a good farm in this county of ninety acres, and married Alice Smith of Belmont Township.
Reprinted from "A Standard History of Portage County, Wisconsin" Volume II, pages 394-395.
The manufacture and handling of footwear has become one of the leading lines of business in the United States, largely so because of the enterprise of the keen-visioned men who have been able to see in this common necessity the continuous and growing demand that insures a market. Since early days many changes have came about in the manufacture of this indispensable article of civilized life. Although varied in form and in material according to the conditions of climate, the human foot has often, for the sake of fashion, been forced to accommodate itself to coverings of straw, paper, fur, silk, satin and velvet, there has never yet been found a satisfactory substitute for dressed leather, from which the old-fashioned shoemaker, master of his craft, so deftly fashioned the comfortable footwear, according to exact measurement, in past days. Time came, however, when his trade was no longer profitable because of the introduction of machinery and the invention of trade tools, and it is doubtful whether any general dealers in modern days have any fine hand-work to offer. Otherwise their stocks may be complete in every particular as is that of Alexander Ringness, an experienced shoe and leather man, who has conducted his large shoe store at No. 112 South Third Street, Stevens Point, for the past sixteen years.
Alexander Ringness was born in Norway, January 23, 1867, and was brought to the United States in his second year. His parents were Herman and Pauline (Hoved) Ringness. In 1868 they came to the United States and to Wisconsin, stopping first at Amherst in Portage County, then coming to Stevens Point. The father was an expert shoemaker and found ready employment here and conducted his own business along this line until his death, which occurred July 11, 1886. The mother survived him for a number of years, her death taking place on May 8, 1899. They were most worthy people, quiet, industrious and moral and were faithful members of the Episcopal Church. They had a family of five children, namely: Emma, Alexander, Ole, Henry and John. The father became a citizen of the United States and took some interest in public affairs and identified himself politically with the democratic party.
Alexander Ringness secured his education in the public schools at Stevens
Point, attending regularly until he was fourteen years old when he became a
workman in his father's shop and under his instruction learned the practical
part of the shoe business. He continued in the manufacturing line until 1902
when he established his shoe store, which he has conducted ever since. With
his practical knowledge of the business Mr. Ringness knows how to buy as well
as sell, knows the factories which have special and made to order shops and those that have but one standard of goods—the very best, and his customers profit accordingly. Mr. Ringness not only is one of the representative business men of Stevens Point, but enjoys the reputation of being a thoroughly reliable one, honest and upright in all his transactions.
Mr. Ringness was married at Stevens Point, in 1913, to Mrs. Clora Means, of this city, and they have two sons, Thomas and William. Mr. and Mrs. Ringness are members of the Presbyterian Church. In his political views he is a democrat and is a loyal supporter of the administration, and in every way is a patriotic citizen. He has never accepted any political office but frequently has served on local committees when benevolent movements were under contemplation, and has never united with any fraternal organization with the exception of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, of which he is a very active and valued member.
Reprinted from "A Standard History of Portage County, Wisconsin" Volume II, pages 400-402.
Within the past thirty-three years, a period covered since Guthorm J. Olstad, one of Alban Township's representative men, first came here, wonderful changes have come about in the development of Portage County, not only in agricultural but along other lines, indicating an intelligent and substantial citizenship. Great tracts of land then covered with forest trees are now productive farms to which the eyes of the nations of the earth are hopefully looking for sustenance in time of dire need; the few specimens of common, almost wild, cattle have given way to costly herds of high grade Holsteins or Guernseys; churches in every hamlet open their doors offering religious help and teaching; schoolhouses on the cross roads are well equipped and as well built as the comfortable farmhouses from which come hundreds of happy pupils, and substantial business enterprises offer here safe investments and profitable returns. Undoubtedly Portage County is the home of a peaceful, industrious, contented people, and many of them are of Norwegian birth or ancestry, both of these distinctions belonging to Guthorm J. Olstad.
Mr. Olstad was born February 28, 1865, in Norway. His parents were John and Ingeborg (Gaphol) Olstad, who were born, reared and married in Norway. They were farming people there. They had eleven children, and the parents spent their last years with those settled in Alban Township, Portage County. Of the above family, Guthorm J. was the youngest, the names of the others being as follows: Ole, Martha, Peter, Sophia, Martin, John, Gustav, Ida, Lewis and Guthorm (1), the last named with Martin and Gustav, being deceased.
Guthorm J. Olstad was nineteen years old and his school days were over when he came to the United States and to Alban Township, Portage County, Wisconsin. For a number of years afterward he was a lumber man, working in the woods and grading lumber in the saw mills, at different points, in fact continuing lumbering to a great extent until his marriage in 1905. In the meanwhile, however, as early as 1894 he had purchased his present farm, on which he has resided for the last fourteen years and has successfully carried on farm and stock industries. Mr. Olstad has seventy-eight acres, well situated as to markets as it lies only one mile east of Rosholt, and one of the profitable features of his farm is the breeding of Holstein cattle, having a large herd at the present time of these fine animals. Mr. Olstad has improved his property, building additions to his barn as they have become necessary, and building one of the finest residences in the township and equipping it with many comforts and conveniences.
In 1905 Mr. Olstad was married to Miss Helen Oas, who was born in Alban Township, Portage County, and is a daughter of Ole J. and Turina (Hansen) Oas, both of whom were born in Norway. All of the grandparents of Mrs. Olstad died in Norway except her paternal grandmother, who accompanied Mr. and Mrs. Oas when they came to the United States in 1865. Some years later she died at the home of a daughter in Iola Township, Waupaca County, Wisconsin. During the first year after Mr. and Mrs. Oas came to Wisconsin the father of Mrs. Olstad worked on a farm in Scandanavia Township, Waupaca County, and then came to Portage County and bought a farm of eighty acres in Alban Township, adjoining that of Mr. Olstad, and later bought forty additional acres. He not only cleared the land but erected the first buildings on it. Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Oas, namely: Emma, John, Dena, Henry, deceased, Hans, deceased, Helen, now Mrs. Olstad, and Olivia. The mother of this family died on the old farm in 1882, and the father died at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Olstad in 1914. He was a man of large importance in Alban Township and prominent in politics, serving many years as township chairman and as township treasurer, and at the time of his death was filling the office of township assessor. He was one of the organizers of the Alban Norwegian Lutheran Church, the first church in the entire township.
Mr. Olstad, like his late father-in-law, is one of the township's leading men and at times has served in responsible offices, such as on the school board and as township treasurer. He has shown his public spirit and enterprise in giving encouragement to home enterprises that can not fail of benefitting the farming community, and was one of the organizers of the Rosholt creamery, which has proved a profitable venture and one in which the father of Mrs. Olstad was also interested.
Reprinted from "A Standard History of Portage County, Wisconsin" Volume II, pages 593-594.
When Charles Rath first came to Portage County in 1882 he was a young man of twenty-two years with little to assist him in the way of gaining a foothold save a small amount of capital and a large stock of self-confidence, determination and ability of an untrained order. To many this might not seem much upon which to build, but Mr. Rath went to work cheerfully and with supreme faith and within the period of a few years he had himself substantially settled as an agriculturist who was making a success of his operations. Today he is accounted a well-to-do and capable farmer, and his position is one that gives him the respect and esteem of all who admire the accomplishments of self-made manhood.
Charles Rath was born in Germany, September 15, 1859, a son of George and Katrina Rath. His parents were honest and reliable people of their community, where the father was a tailor, but were in modest circumstances, and never left their home community, passing away in their native land. They were the parents of seven children: George, Jake, John and Mike, all deceased, the last of whom fought as a soldier during the Franco-Prussian war; David, who is now retired after a long period spent in farming in Portage County; Andrew, who is also a resident of the Village of Almond; and Charles, of this notice.
Charles Rath received only an ordinary education in the schools of his native land and much of his youth and young manhood were spent in various occupations which did not advance him materially, either in the way of position or financially. However, he managed to save enough from his earnings to equip himself sufficiently for a trip to the United States, the opportunities of which country he had heard spoken of so highly, and when but little past his majority he arrived at his destination, the agricultural community of Portage Co, Wis. Here he purchased land on June 15, 1882, in section 21, Almond Township. This farm had been improved in a small way, and an old barn still stood as evidence of its former occupancy, but it was practically a new contract to make it a paying property. Mr. Rath had had very little experience as a farmer, practically none according to American methods, and during his early years there were times when it seemed as though his many discouragements would dishearten him completely. Perseverance and continuous labor, however, finally won out in the end, and today he is the owner of a splendid eighty-acre farm, upon which stand substantial buildings of his erection, with up-to-date improvements to be found on every side. Mr. Rath is practical in his views, although progressive in his ideas. He has engaged for the most part in raising potatoes and grain, but has also followed general farming, and has had some success as a stock breeder. As a citizen he assists all good movements in his community, and among his neighbors he is known as a man of marked integrity whose standing in commercial circles is of the best.
In 1888 Mr. Rath was united in marriage with Miss Amelia Young, who was born in Almond Township and was reared on a farm, and to this union there have been born four children: William, who is married and engaged in teaching school; and Ella, Ezra D. and Mena, who reside with their parents. The members of this family belong to the German Church at Almond.
Reprinted from "A Standard History of Portage County, Wisconsin" Volume II, pages 414-415.
It has taken many years of hard work and careful management to bring about the fine agricultural condition found all over Portage County, and no one knows this better than Ole J. Olstad, one of Alban Township's pioneer settlers and substantial farmers. When he came to Portage County heavy timber covered acres and acres of land that is now richly cultivated and only here and there had enterprising settlers yet made much headway in clearing and breaking up their land, the latter work being mainly done with oxen. Mr. Olstad was born in Norway, July 5, 1848, and came to America in 1881. He was the oldest of eleven children born to his parents, who were John and Ingeborg (Gaphol) Olstad, who came to Portage County, Wisconsin, in 1886 and died in Alban Township.
In his native land Ole J. Olstad went to school and helped his father on the home farm, but the family was large and his services were not really necessary and as he grew older and from time to time heard much of the wider opportunities to be secured in the United States he determined to leave Norway and seek a home across the ocean in the section where many of his countrymen had already become well established. Therefore in 1881 he made the journey and located first in Minnesota, but the farming prospects there did not entirely satisfy him and he came to Wisconsin and soon afterward bought a tract of eighty acres of wild land situated in Alban Township, which acreage he has since doubled and now has a fine property of 120 acres.
Methods of farming have changed somewhat since those early days, but even now only a specially designed tractor would probably surpass the working strength of the great oxen with which Mr. Olstad cleared his first land purchase and put his acres under cultivation. For about eight years he depended largely on his ox-teams for farm work, but then supplanted them with horses, and with the help of farm machinery that was not invented when he was a boy now operates his land without undue labor. He devotes his cleared land to general farming and is interested to some extent in dairying. He has greatly improved his property, gradually putting up all the substantial buildings and has everything very comfortable around him.
Mr. Olstad was married in 1884 to Miss Carrie Lee, who was born in Norway and died in Wisconsin. She is survived by the following children: John, who resides at home; Ida, whose married name is Kjer; Olga, who is Mrs. Rusta; Augusta, who married a Mr. Dalan; and Ingomand, who lives with his father. Mr. Olstad and his family belong to the Alban Norwegian Lutheran Church, the oldest in the township, which was established when but few Norwegian settlers had located here and has always been well supported. Mr. Olstad is one of the stockholders of the Farmers Produce Company at Rosholt, Wisconsin, and also of the Rosholt Creamery. He has never taken a very active part in politics but is capable of doing a: large amount of intelligent thinking and casts his citizen vote accordingly.
Reprinted from "A Standard History of Portage County, Wisconsin" Volume II, pages 739-740.
Michael Ostrowski has lived in Portage County from early infancy, came to manhood here with the average experiences of a country youth and in a period still suggesting pioneer things, and in his mature manhood has so ordered his affairs as a farmer and citizen that he thoroughly enjoys the respect and esteem of an entire community.
Mr. Ostrowski was born in Poland in September 1871. A few weeks after his birth his parents, Thomas and Mary Ostrowski, set out for the New World, and after about six weeks in New York came to Portage County in 1872. They settled in that portion of Hull Township that is now Dewey Township, and there acquired land which is now in the farm of Michael Ostrowski. That land was then in a state of nature and Thomas Ostrowski cleared much of it, planted and cultivated his crops and lived here a useful and industrious citizen until his death in March, 1892 at the age of sixty. His widow survived him until 1908, and was then sixty-three years of age. Their children were: Michael; Annie, deceased; Frances; Edward; John, deceased; Frank; and Anton. Both parents were devout members of the Polish Catholic Church.
Michael Ostrowski was reared on the old farm in Dewey Township and acquired his early education in the district schools. He has always lived on the farm where he was reared and now in addition to the old homestead of 120 acres in section 26 he owns forty acres in section 22. He has done some pioneer work, has cleared up much land, and has erected some of the substantial buildings which now adorn the farm. He is looked upon as one of the enterprising farmers of the township. In early days Mr. Ostrowski lived in Wisconsin when deer were much more plentiful that at present, and he acquired much skill as a hunter and is still an enthusiast in that sport and whenever possible seeks out the haunts of wild game.
He and his family are members of Polish Catholic Church. He has done much to uphold the fortunes of the democratic party in the county and is now a director of the local school board. In 1897 Mr. Ostrowski married Miss Paulina Yack daughter of John Yack, of Sharon Township. Mr. and Mrs. Ostrowski became the parents of fourteen children, seven of whom died in infancy. The others are all living, named Felix, Alexander, Joseph, Philip, Jacob, John, and Clara.
Reprinted from "A Standard History of Portage County, Wisconsin" Volume II, pages 529-530.
Portage County has profited by the stable citizenship and faithful industry of the Rath family since the beginning of the '70s. Practically all bearing the name here have been interested in agriculture, but their services have been extended also to politics, religion, education and society. Prominent among those who have had a part in the development and advancement of the southern part of the county is found David Rath, who after many years passed in successful agricultural operations in Almond Township is now living in comfortable retirement in the village of that name. He has had a long and useful career and his life work has been crowned with the kind of success that can only be won through industry and integrity.
David Rath was born May 29, 1852, in Germany, and is a son of George and Katrina Rath, natives of that country. The father was a tailor by trade and an honorable tradesman of his home community, but was in modest circumstances. However, he was content to pass his life among the surroundings in the midst of which he had been born and neither he nor his good wife never left their native soil. They were the parents of seven children, as follows: George, Jacob, John and Michael, the last named of whom fought as a soldier during the Franco-Prussian war, and all now deceased; Charles, who is engaged in farming in Almond Township; Andrew, who is a resident of Almond; and David, of this notice.
David Rath received the advantages of a public school, education in his native country, and the occupations of his youth were varied in character. He had learned to be thrifty and careful with his earnings, and when he was but nineteen years of age bid farewell to the country of his birth and in due time arrived at New York City, from whence he made his way across the country to Portage Co, Wisconsin, where he secured eighty acres of land. For this first purchase he paid $500, and on this Almond Township land the young immigrant began operations. It was some time before he had fully learned how to make his labors count for the most, but he was filled with youthful spirit, strength and determination to win, and finally he had his land cleared and under cultivation, a task in which he was assisted by his brother. When he was financially able he added to his holdings from time to time and eventually accumulated 200 acres, all located on section 21, Almond Township. He became an excellent farmer and his industrious labors finally placed him in a position of independence so that it was unnecessary for him to continue active work, and he sold his farm to his son Edward, who now operates it. At that time he purchased a house and lot for his own use at Almond, as well as twelve additional residential plots, and since then has been a resident of this village, where he is known as a good and public-spirited citizen. During his residence on the farm he contributed to the up-building of the community by the erection of good structures and the installing of modern improvements.
Mr. Rath was married in 1878 to Miss Christiana Mehne, who was born in Germany and came to the United States as a child of five years, and to this union there have been born seven children: Mrs. Lizzie Whitman; Edward, who is engaged in farming the property formerly owned by his father; John, who operates a draying business at Almond; Mrs. Clara Winfield; Mrs. Loretta Minart; Charlotta, a resident of Madison; and Cora, who resides at home with her parents. Mr. Rath is a citizen who supports all beneficial movements, and has done much in the way of road building at Almond.