Newspaper Notes:  1875-1902: Articles of Rib Lake and Vicinity from Taylor County Newspapers

© Robert P. Rusch, 2/12/2012

 Updated to February 17, 2018

This is a folder of the Rib Lake Historical Society, LLC, Robert P. Rusch, manager.  Its purpose is to collect data regarding Rib Lake and environs from Taylor County newspaper sources other than the Rib Lake Herald.  Currently, extant copes of The Rib Lake Herald begin in 1902. The initial sources will be on older newspapers, such as the Taylor County News, Taylor County Star & News, and Taylor County Star News.

This document will utilize a template having four columns.  Column 1 will identify the date of publication.  Column 2 will indicate the newspaper.  Column 3 will provide the text, i.e., a quote of the article.  Column 4 contains comments that RPR may wish to make, for example, cross references to other documents.

This document is begun on September 28, 2011, under the skilled scrutiny of Cindy A. Sommer, and will be on laptop computer 6.

ABBREVIATIONS:          Taylor County News = TCN

                        Star & News= S/N

Taylor County Star & News= TC STAR & NEWS

RPR = Robert P. Rusch

WC = Wisconsin Central Railroad or Railway

HEADINGS:  The capitalized headings at the start of the article were not in the original.  Such headings were created by RPR.

UNDERLINING:  Unless indicated by “emphasis in original,” all underlining was created by Robert P. Rusch.  








[Note by R.P. Rusch.  This is the first extant edition of the Taylor County News, a newspaper at Medford. Taylor County was created on 4/3/1875.]

The masthead says this is volume 1 number 2---what happened to number 1?    “Ogden Brothers publishers.”  The 11/29/1884 Taylor County News edition reported that Taylor County’s first newspaper was the “Taylor County News.”  Its first edition was dated 3/31/1875 “by J. A. Ogden.”



WESTBORO -- WESTBORO, APRIL 10, 1875 - EDITORS OF THE NEWS, GENTLEMEN:  We have received and read, with pleasure, the first and second numbers of your paper, and pronounce them complete in most respects: complete, as a neat and handsomely got up newspaper, and we feel highly complimented that we have such active young men at the head of a paper in our new County, but we would surely have appreciated the paper much more, had we found our little village of Westboro mentioned in its columns.

Were you aware that there was such a place as Westboro?  If not, I would   inform you that we claim to have the smartest little town on the Wisconsin Central Railroad, not excepting the County seat.  We are 13 miles north of Medford, in Taylor County, on Silver Creek. The place commenced its growth last fall, if I am not mistaken, in November.  We have a lumber company, Duncan, Richey [Ritchie] &Co.; that put up one of the best mills on the line all ready for business.  They have in about five million feet of logs.  We have one hotel, the Palmer House, kept by C. C. Palmer and his most agreeable wife. Travelers can not help but feel at home while stopping with them.  We claim it the largest and best hotel north of Milwaukee, at least.  We can feed and lodge more people than any other. Nothing uncommon for them to have eighty-five and one hundred quests over night.  We  have the large wholesale and retail grocery and provision house kept by E. P. Warren, a real stirring business man , just the man for the place, always ready to accommodate his customers by keeping what they want and selling cheap.

The P. O, Department has been kind to us and has established a post office at this place, Ed. Williams, Postmaster.

We have one wholesale liquor house kept by Peter Campbell, not what you would call a saloon, it being so well conducted.

Our restaurant, kept by N. Saloo (sic) a genuine, lively Frenchman, where you can get lobsters, sardines, oysters, and I don’t know but with bull-frogs now that the pond is open.

Rhinholdt was to open a millinery shop; had his building set up, but failed to get the milliners, and has sold out to a German, who will soon open up a beer garden.

We also have a first-class freight depot, managed by Mr. Cone and his worthy assistant, the Grand Duke, both very obliging gentlemen.

There are many other items I could speak of that, perhaps, would be interesting to the outside world, but for fear I am taxing you too much, will speak of them some future time.   Yours, Skiff

The Wisconsin Central Railroad (later a part of the “Soo Line,”) platted the Village of Westboro soon after it constructed the railroad there in 1873.   The Wisconsin Central Railroad sold a beautifully located sawmill site in Westboro to John Duncan, William S.Taylor and James Ritchie.  You may see both the plat and sawmill contract, for example, by consulting the photo and document collection at



GOVERNOR WILLIAM R. TAYLOR -- The Democratic party will undoubtedly re-nominate William R. Taylor for Governor…

Taylor County was named for him.  Governor William Robert Taylor is not to be confused with William S. Taylor, one of the owners of the Westboro sawmill.



TAYLOR COUNTYNEWS -- (Advertisement) Taylor County News, the only newspaper in Taylor County.

The currently  published Star News is the result of a merger of the  News and Star about the turn of the century




The time table reveals one train per day passed through Medford going north at 6:15 p.m.  This train was scheduled to reach Dedham (Ogema) at 8:30 and Worcester at 10:00 p.m. where the tracks ended.

The south bound train left Medford at 9:00 a.m. and arrived in  Milwaukee the next morning at 6:45 a.m.



POPULATION BOOM -- Taylor County is rapidly increasing in population; in the village of Westboro, now containing over one hundred inhabitants, there were seven births last week.  Where is there a place of that size that can do a better?



CHELSEA -- Mr. Colby of the Wisconsin Central Railroad has donated to the people of Chelsea two lots: one for school buildings and the other for a church. Mr. Colby is doing the faith thing with our County.

The railroad platted the village of Colby at the time it was constructed there, i.e., 1873.  Mr. Gardner Colby was then the president of the Wisconsin Central Railroad.  Chelsea is named for Chelsea, Massachusetts.



COUNTY BOARD – C.C. Palmer, resident of Westboro and proprietor of the Palmer House hotel there, is on the Taylor County Board of supervisors.  

This was the first Taylor county board formed after the creation of the county on March 4, 1875; Palmer was one of three members; the others were Isaac Biscornet, Medford businessman, and G.W. Adams, chairman, a Medford attorney.



PROCEEDINGS OF THE FIRST SCHOOL MEETING OF DISTRICT NO. 2 -- Chelsea, May 3, 1875   “Meeting called to order by S.  Barry. G. W.  Adams, of Medford, was introduced to the meeting. C. H.  Gearhart was appointed secretary of the meeting.  School law read by G. W. Adams.

Alfred Margatroy was chosen as district clerk and Daniel Shay as treasurer.  It was decided to have five months of school.

Two hundred dollars was the amount decided upon to be raised for teacher wages, and one hundred dollars to be raised for incidental expenses; four hundred dollar to be raised to build a school house.

The supervision of school house building is left to the school board. The generous offer of the railroad Company for school house lot accepted,   The  Board was instructed to purchase a lot adjacent to the one donated by the Company.

All who wish to attend school, residing inside or outside the district, are admitted free.

A vote of thanks was tendered Mr.  Adams for his kind attendance at our first meeting. /s/ Charles H.  Gearhart, Secretary

G. W. Adams was the chairman of the County Board and a Medford attorney practicing in the firm of “Ogden & Adams, attorneys & counselors at law.”  They ran a weekly ad in the News providing “Collections promptly attended to. Office in the NEWS building.”

Note that school was scheduled to run for five months and be free of charge.



LITTLE BLACK -- The frame for the new sawmill, owned by Watermelon & Co., situated on the Little Black River, and is ready for erection.



CHELSEA ITEMS -- The Indians are bringing in large quantities of fish from the lakes east of Chelsea; they are selling them for five cents per pound.

Mr. Gearhart’s new hotel is erected and enclosed.

Gearhart’s impressive 3 story  hotel on the west side of the railroad tracks served Chelsea for many years; you can see a photo of it in the photo & document collection at



CHELSEA -- [Letter to the Editor]   Chelsea, May 10, 1875  …In December last, with the exception of the railroad line depot and a couple of homestead residences, this place was a wilderness.  Since that date a site has been opened up for a town. A new mill of the capacity of 23,000 ft. of lumber and 40,000 shingles daily) erected by A. [Abrams] Taylor Esq., a large boarding house and several other buildings put up; a dam built, and C. H.  Gearhart’s new hotel is fast approaching completion.  Eight homesteaders are now residing in the vicinity busily engaged clearing for cultivation; and most every acre of land for miles around has been entered.  A school district organized, lots acquired, and in a few weeks we shall have the juveniles assembled under some efficient person in training for future usefulness.  Our scholars arrived ready for business, many of them grown up…

The site of our town will compare favorably with any along the railroad line: a level plateau with mills mill pond, dam and three million feet of first class logs to the south; on the east a tract extending over six miles to Rib Lake of excellent pine and farming lands, interceded by creeks, and dotted over with beautiful lakes abounding with fish of the choicest king, such as bass, pickerel, perch, sun fish and muscalange (sic).

Homesteads have been entered on several of those lakes, and within two miles of the railroad line, on Black Lake, Mr. John Worthington, the pioneer of civilization in that quarter, has a neat, comfortable house overlooking the lake [Wellington Lake, originally called Worthington] with a clearing extending to its banks, which he is now busy putting in readiness for cropping.  To the north and east there are many homesteads of excellent land, which are fast being settled.  

On the west, and within less than a quarter of a mile, lies the first of the beautiful Chelsea lakes, surrounded by high sloping banks, with the clearest of crystal waters (an unusual thing in this country as most of the waters are dark colored) well stocked with fish; between the lake and the railroad line runs the West Branch of the Black River, whereas the waters of the nearest lake run north towards Westboro and form what is generally termed Silver creek.  Within an area of one and a half miles we have seven lakes; in fact almost every homesteader is located on some one of them.

During the last few weeks several families from the south end of the state have moved up here and Mr. [Abram] Taylor is having houses up as fast as possible to accommodate several more coming in within a few days.  While speaking of buildings, we had almost the fact that four lots were sold her yesterday, and the parties intend building at once.  Our nearest farmer here is the veteran Charles H. McNaughton, the oldest settler who has two men hard at work on his land and plant several acres this spring.

Without much pretentions of notoriety, we still wish to keep up with our neighbors, and our mill under the superintendence of Mr. Lockleiter is in full blast, sawing the clearest of pine, is shipping daily several [railroad] cars of lumber and shingles.   Hotels and houses being built; families flocking in; homesteaders busy crossing; the country being cleared with the riches of pine, and the advantages of good farming land, combined with the natural attractions of our many and picturesque lakes, we hope through the every one of our people and their determination to progress, to do our share towards the advancement of their young and wealthy county of Taylor.    /s/  Chelsea

I believe the author’s reference to John Wellington’s home and farm on Black Lake is in error;   His place was located on the north shore of Wellington Lake—known originally as Worthington Lake.  

Note the author’s accurate observation that most Taylor County lake water is dark colored.




STOLEN LOGS -- NOTICE OF  SALE -- The pine saw logs herein described are to be sold having been wrongfully cut and taken from land the legal title of which is in the United States [a list of  over 1,000,000 feet of logs follows listing sections in Township 32 Range 1 East as the origin]  

100,000 se nw & ne sw        

section  4 T 31 1 E

250,000 s ½ se ¼                        

section 29 T 32 1 E

483,000 w ½ se ¼                          

section 4 T 32 1 E

100.000 w ½ se ¼                          

section  14 T 31 1 E

150,000 ne ¼ se ¼                          


100,000 nw ¼ se ¼                          


200,000 Lots 9,10,11, 12, 15, 16    

section 18  T 31 1E

60,000 nw ¼ sw ¼                          

section 22  ditto

60,000 s ½ ne ¼                              

section 34  ditto

100/000 e ½ se ¼                            

section 14   ditto

150,000 e ½ sw ¼                            

section 14   ditto

150,000 w ½  se ¼ &se ¼ se ¼      

section 22 T 32 1 E

70,000 Lots 13, 14, 23, 24              

section 18 T 31 1E


section 20  ditto

…all of which said logs are marked with the letters “R. W.” [Roberts & Whelen Lumber Co Medford] stamped in the end of said log and are now with other logs of a like mark  wrongfully intermixed and are in the Black River above and near  Roberts and Whelen’s saw mill which is  situated at the village of  Medford…

The article goes on to says that the stolen pine saw logs will be sold at public auction on June 10, 1875, at the booms of Roberts and Whelen in the Black River where the logs now are. Terms; Cash.  Signed “United States Land Office, Eau Claire, Wis.”  



FIRST MEDFORD STORE -- Mr. J. A. King, formerly of Fond du Lac, Wis., was the first man to start [a] business [in Medford], if such you could call it… coming on about the first of Nov. 1874.  He was located at Colby when the railroad reached Medford, and having an eye to business he  bought a few thousand feet of  lumber, loaded it on the [railroad] cars himself and started out, determined as he was to have a shanty up and open a small grocery store as soon as  possible.  The railroad company had freight and passenger depot and [water] tank up at this time, which comprised the entire town.  Mr. King stuck stakes just below the depot.  The village plot was then covered with standing timber and the first thing to be done was to clear grounds for the shanty….

Arthur J. Latton credits Mr. A.E. Harder for establishing the first home in Medford in 1872.



MEDFORD -- The mill firm of Roberts & Whelen underwent quite a change last week.  Jr. Roberts sold his interest to D [David] McCartney of Fort Howard.  Business under the new managers will run under the name of McCartney & Whelen.  Mr. Roberts left for his home in Oshkosh, soon after the consummation of the trade.

I suspect the US Government seizure and sale of the stolen pine logs on June 10, 1875, played into this.  RPR



WISCONSIN CENTRAL -- Tuesday morning, Gardner Colby, President of the Wisconsin Central Railroad, and Charles Colby, his son, Vice-President, Phillips, Bacon and Moses Taylor of New York, and other capitalists, went up the [railroad] line as far as Westboro for the purpose of looking over the road with the intention of extending the same if the capitalists would loan the necessary funds to carry the work along.  They returned the same morning.

For 19 months construction of the line was stopped for lack of funds. During those 18 months, tracks ended at Worcester, Price County and Glidden [then called Chippewa Crossing] in Ashland County.  

Passengers were taken by stage coach between those points.

This is the first mention of Westboro in the Taylor County News.



PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS OF A COUNTY BRIDGE TO BE BUILT OVER SILVER CREEK, ON SEC 7, T 33 R 2 E, 556 FT NORTH OF SOUTH LINE OF SEC. 7 -- Detailed specs given for a wooden bridge 82 feet long and 9 ½ feet above bed of Silver Creek topped with 3 inch pine or hemlock planking, “The said bridge is to be built and completed on or before Dec 1, 1875.  The bridge is to be paid for when accepted by the County Board of Supervisors.  Bids will be received on the grounds October 5, 1875.”

At the same time the County advertises for a bridge to be built across the Little Black River.  



COUNTY BOARD PROCEEDINGS 9/3/1875 -- The meeting was called order by G. W. Adams, chairman, and the following  towns were then set off from the town of Medford…  [The Towns of Little Black, Chelsea and Westboro were created.]

The first election of said Town of Westboro shall be held at C.C. Palmer’s hotel on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in April, 1876.

[The first election for the Town of Chelsea was schedule in an identical fashion to be held at Charles H. Gearhart’s hotel “in the village of Chelsea.”]

The Town of Rib Lake was, in 1885, set off from the Town of Westboro by act of the Wisconsin Legislature at the urging of John J. Kennedy.  The Village of Rib Lake was incorporated in May, 1902.



WESTBORO -- Duncan & Taylor of Westboro are building a store building besides making other improvements around their [saw] mill.

The same edition of the News reported that the company owning the Little Black saw mill was building a company store.



WISCONSIN CENTRAL RAILROAD -- One reads in the newspapers that the Wisconsin Central Company is pushing its [rail] road through the woods from Worchester (sic), 101 miles north of Stevens Point to Penoka, a distance of fifty-five miles; but how few realize the magnitude of this work…

For 18 months the northward construction of the railroad had stalled at Worcester in southern Price County; the end of the track there was referred to as mile post 101.



WESTBORO AREA PINE CUT -- It is reported that about 75,000,000 feet of logs will be cut at Westboro this winter.

I surmise that the majority of such a large cut were driven down Silver Creek to the Jump River, thence to the Chippewa River.  A host of large sawmills lined the Chippewa in cities like Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire.  The “Duncan” sawmill in Westboro was in operation but I estimate its annual capacity was about 2,000,000 board feet.  RPR



NEW STORE -- A new store has been started at  Westboro by Otto H Hogs & Co.



MILL MATTERS -- The firm of Duncan, Ritchie & Co., which owned the splendid new saw mill at Westboro, on the Wisconsin Central Railroad, has changed hands.

Mr. [James] Ritchie is retiring, and [the mill] will hereafter be known as Duncan and Taylor.  The mill, which has been shut down, will go into operation again about January 1st. It is one of the very best on the line of that [rail] road. ---Green Bay Advocate.

You can view many of the company records at the photo & document collection at; for example, that collection contains the November 11, 1874 contract by James Ritchie, John Duncan and William S. Taylor with the Wisconsin Central Railroad; those three partners bought extensive white pine in Town 33 Ranges 1 & 2 East and contracted to build a sawmill in Westboro.   The 12/23/1875 News also reported that  the Duncan and Taylor Foundry at  Fort Howard, Wis., was  manufacturing a steam engine and other substantial machinery for the Wisconsin Central Railroad shops at Stevens Point, Wis.



RAILROAD OFFICIALS -- The railroad officials of the Wisconsin Central in  company with  Gov. William R. Taylor went up to the end of the railroad last night in an extra and passed down the line this morning.

In January, 1876, Governor William Robert Taylor would leave office; he had lost his race for reelection to Ludington who would be inaugurated the first week of January.



WESTBORO -- Mr. [John] Duncan and lady, of Fort Howard, one of the proprietors of the Westboro mill, passed down through town [Medford] last Monday enroute to Westboro.

Mr. and Mrs. John Duncan resided in Fort Howard, a city on the northwest side of the city of Green Bay.




CHELSEA HOUSE –[advertisement]  C. H.  Gearhart, Proprietor.  Chelsea, Taylor County, Wis.  Mr. Gearhart is an old experienced landlord, and knows the way to run a first-class house. He invites the traveler to stop and partake of his hospitality.  Good accommodations for teams [of horses].

In another part of the newspaper appears: “Squire Gearhart has more then one can handle at his hotel—between railroad men, his road [building] crew and transients, his house is crowded. Charley is doing well, and we wish him success.”  [Charles Gearhart had a crew of 10 men constructing roads for Taylor County.]



COUNTY JUDGE -- C.C. Palmer received the appointment of county judge for Taylor County last week. A good appointment so all say.

The post of Taylor County judge had been vacant.  Newly elected Governor Ludington appointed C. C.  Palmer who operated the Palmer House hotel in Westboro.  Palmer was not an attorney.



FIRST ROAD TO MEDFORD -- The county road north of Medford is progressing finely and the road from Chelsea to Medford will be completed in a few weeks.

The specifications for county roads called for a right of way of 4 rods with the center two rods “grubbed.” A rod is 16 ½ feet long.



PINE LOGGING -- The number of feet of pine contracted to be cut in Taylor county this winter will reach the astonishing figure of 100,000,000.  At this rate it will not be many years hence before the pine for home consumption will be scarce.

While white pine was the lumber tree par excellence, it made up a small fraction of the virgin forest.  Without doubt, Taylor County’s virgin forest was mainly hemlock.  We were not in the pinery, rather the hemlockery.



LUMBERING STATISTICS -- To ascertain the amount of lumbering that is being done in this vicinity this season, we sent a circular and postal card to all of those we could learn the names of, and to the response, we received the following  minutes:

In Town 31 (sic; should it read 33?)  Range 1 and 2 East, Biggers & Co is logging.  They commence the season’s operations about Nov. 12, 1875.  The contracted to put in  12,000,000 feet; 6,000,000 for Duncan & Taylor at Westboro and 6,000,000 feet for Mississippi Lumbering Company, which are landed on Silver Creek.  They have 120 men employed, and 31 teams with average wages at $26 per month for men and $65 for teams.    The number of logs as to date is about 3,000,000 feet. Prospects are favorable that their job will be finished this winter.  There are three foremen in charge of the work, A. Marshall, J. McVay and J. Shoca.

In Town 32, Range 1 east and west. L. [Linus] M. Marshall is lumbering and has a contract for 2,250,000 feet; he commenced operations in November, 1875.  The logs are landed in the mill pond at Chelsea.  Mr. Marshall has 18 men, 4 horse teams and 2 ox teams under the control of Antoine Iodoin as foreman and 18 men, 4 horse teams and 3 ox teams under the management of Henry Shearer.  The average wages paid men is $22 per month, teams: $50 for oxen and $ 65 for horses.  The prospects for a good winter’s work are good…

On the Jump River and tributaries, Walsh & Co., Stanly Brothers, Mead and another four Chippewa firms are lumbering.  In all there are seven camps.  The number of men employed is 141, teams 57; amount of logs now landed 7,000,000; the number contracted to get out: 16,000,000, Average wages per man $26.  The logs are cut in Town 32 and 33, range 1 east and 1 west, and landed on Grass Brook and Yellow river.

The Meridian Mill Co. is putting in logs for Jerome B. Garland to the amount of 2,500,000 feet.  Robert S.  Keene is foreman; work commenced on December 1; logs are landed on Silver Creek, Taylor Co.  The number of employed is 28, teams 5, amount of logs landed 950,000 feet. Prospects are good.  The logs are cut in Town 33 1 East.  Average wages paid to men $26 per month; average wages.

W. N. Brown is putting in logs for McCartney & Whelen to the amount of 2,000,000 feet.  The logs are to be delivered in [to] the Black River; men employed 24; teams [of horses] 8.  Amount of logs to date 200,000 feet.  Lumbering in town 32 range 1 east. Average wages paid to men $23 per month; average wage for team $50.

I believe the correct location for Bigger & Co. logging operations was town 33 not 31.  Both Silver Creek and the Duncan and Taylor mill were in Town 33 not 31.

Taylor County contains four tiers of congressional townships.  A congressional township is a 6 mile by 6 mile square made up of 36 square miles; each square mile contains 640 acres and is called a section.  The south-most tier is 30 and the north-most is 33.



NOTICE OF DISSOLUTION -- The firm of Duncan, Ritchie & Co, heretofore existing and doing business at Westboro, Taylor County, Wis. was dissolved by mutual consent on the 25th day of October 1874.    John Duncan, James Ritchie, Wm. S. Taylor.

The undersigned succeed the old firm in said business and all claims due the old firm must be paid to them, DUNCAN & TAYLOR, Westboro, Wis., October 25, 1875.



A NEW NEWSPAPER -- The first number [issue] of the Taylor County Star will be issued tomorrow.

This is the commencement of a competing Medford newspaper that would eventually merge with the News to form The Star News.



MARCH 22, 1875 -- COUNTY BIRTHDAY -- Dear Editor:  With your permission, a few words for the News in the interest of Taylor county…  The territory comprising Taylor County consisted of one township from Marathon County, ten from Clark County, ten from Chippewa County and six from Lincoln County,   making a total of 27 townships.  Medford, being the geographical center of the county, was appointed the county seat by the act of corporation.  


Taylor County came into legal existence March 4, 1875, when Wisconsin Governor William R. Taylor approved legislation creating and naming the new county.



WESTBORO -- The voters of Little black and Westboro [townships] have shown their appreciation of Mr. Biscornet’s and Mr. Palmer’s ability to represent their towns, by re-nominating them without a dissenting voice.  We welcome these gentlemen back as members of our County Board.  They have been watchful and diligent in their business transactions for the county and have won the respect of the people of the county in general.

The January, 1876, edition of the News reported that C. C. Palmer had been appointed Taylor County judge by Governor Ludington.  Later editions reported that Palmer was out as judge. At this point it is not clear what happened, RPR The 3/30/1878 News reports E. R. Prink is Taylor County judge.

This issue reports that C.C. Palmer continued to represent Westboro on the Taylor County board.



DELINQUENT TAX LIST -- OF 1876 FOR UNPAID TAXES OF 1875 “NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT ON THE SECOND Tuesday, being the 9 day of May, 1876,…at the office of the County Treasurer of Taylor County in Dodge & Healy’s store in the Village of Medford, the seat of justice of said county, State of Wisconsin, I shall sell at public will be necessary for the payment of the taxes, interest and charges due therefore for the year A. D. 1875. /s/ F. A. Healy., County Treas.

[A long list of legal descriptions of land follow including Section 12, Town 33 North, Range 1 West in which 8 of the 16 quarter quarters (forties) are delinquent—each owing $4.98 in taxes.]



HEMLOCK BARK -- “Those who are desirous of getting out tanners’ bark, and delivering it to the railroad, can learn particulars in regard to price, terms, etc. by inquiring of Ogden and Adams or W. E.  Lockerby.   A. J. VAN EPPS

This is the first comment in the News that a market existed for hemlock bark.

The June 8 edition of the News under Chelsea News reports:  “Hemlock bark is now the shipping product here.  William Seeger [a Medford merchant] is loading [rail] road cars for points south every day.  Contracts for considerable quantities have been made by Messrs. Kinney, Jones and other with the “Milwaukee Leather Co.” of Milwaukee and several gangs are now peeling or getting ready to do so.  The trade in this material promises to get good this season.  At no point on the line of the railroad are there such facilities for an extensive trade in hemlock bark.”

TAYLOR COUNTY WAS HEMLOCK HEAVEN; hemlock bark was peeled by the Rib Lake Lumber Company and shipped by rail to Milwaukee tanneries as late as the 1940’s.  RPR



BOUNTIES -- Since the first of January, no less than 7 lynxes, 1 wolf and 1 wolverine have met their fate within the borders of Taylor County, and for which the State has paid the small sum of $50.

I have never seen any of these animals in Taylor County thought I have been outside a lot for 70 years. I think our lives would be richer and our environment healthier with them.   RPR



CHELSEA, WIS. -- The [Abrams] Taylor (and L. [Linus] Marshall & Co.) saw mill in Chelsea has started up in tip-top order and is running day and night on the very best class of logs in this county.  It is a pleasure to look over the mill since Mr. Taylor had had it over hauled and repaired.  All the higher grades of shingles have already been contracted for at a fair living price, and Mr. Taylor has, with his characteristic energy, affected A SALE OF ALL HIS FIRST-CLASS LUMBER CUT, IN DEALS TO A FIRM ENGAGED TO SUPPLY THE EUROPEAN MARKET. It will be the first time that Wisconsin Central lumber will be shipped across the Atlantic to our “blasted ancestors”.  SO MUCH FOR LITTLE CHELSEA.  (EMPHASIS ADDED)

This is the first news about exporting Taylor County lumber from the United States.



WHITTLESEY -- Last Sunday the tie train ran over and killed an ox belonging to P. Taggert near the Charlestown switch.

Railroad officials chose the name Charlestown for the town site they created 5 miles north of Medford.  The name Charlestown did not catch on.  About 1881 the Nortons platted lots at the site and called it “Whittlesey.” It was named for Ezra Whittlesey, first mayor of Ashland, Wisconsin, a pioneer Wisconsin state legislator who once snow-shoed from Ashland to Tomah, where he caught a train to Madison to attend the legislature.  Whittlesey arrived in Madison with woods clothing; his legislative colleagues took up a collection to buy him a suit-coat.



BREWERY -- Medford thinks some of having a brewery. This will suit our German friends. About 200 kegs of beer are used each week in Medford.  It is principally shipped from Milwaukee.

Deutsches Bier ist deutsches Brot.



“Official Paper of the County---Republican in Politics.”

“John A. Ogden, Editor and Publisher.”  So reads the masthead.   John’s brother and former partner has left the News.



MEDFORD MILL PRODUCTION-- At the McCartney & Whelen’s mill, the largest day’s sawing was performed, on Tuesday, of any mill on the line of Wisconsin Central Railroad, having sawed 60,000.



SALE OF SWAMP LANDS -- Office of commissioners of school and university lands, Madison, Wis. July 27,1876      

Notice is hereby given that all of the Swamp Lands in Town 34, Range 1 East, …which were conveyed by the United States to the State of Wisconsin by Patent bearing date May 18,1876,  and which have not heretofore been offered for sale, will, if not previously pre-empted, be offered for all sale  at public auction at the Capitol in Madison on the Third day of October, A. D., 1876 at 10 o’clock a.m. and all persons claiming the right of preemption to any of said lands are notified that such claims must  be proven, and such proof deposited with the Secretary of State and the land  paid for at the rate of [$ 1.25] per acre, at least 10 days prior to the time fixed for the sale of said lands as above specified.                        

/s/ Commissioners of School & University Lands, Peter Doyle, Sec’y State, Ferd. Kuehn, State Treas., A. Scott Sloan, Att’y Gen.

The government was selling land and its virgin timber for $1.25 per acre.  




….Charlestown [today, Whittlesey] is a small hamlet hardly awake yet.

Westboro has a saw mill, a dozen houses, besides stores, hotels and chain-lightning dispensaries.

Ogema has a steam saw-mill at Worcester, at the end of the track, 101 miles above Stevens Point. This place is almost entirely occupied by the employees of the [Wisconsin Central Railroad] company, and as about half the dwellers therein live in tents, we were forcibly reminded of early mining towns in California.  The company has a large force at work here and is rapidly shoving the work along.  On the 19th day of July track laying was commenced northward and they expect to have the ten miles laid to Elk River [Phillips] by the beginning of August… (emphasis added)

Westboro has “chain lightning dispensaries…’’  WHAT ARE THOSE?   Moonshine??

Worcester was 2 miles north of Prentice and where railroad construction northward had stalled for 18 months due to a lack of money.  

The track of the Wisconsin Central Railway had reached Worcester in February of 1875 and stalled there until August of 1876.



LOCALS -- The ticket agent for the Wisconsin Central Railroad at this place [Medford], W. E. Lockerby, sold a ticket to Truckee, California, one day last week. Price $66.95.



C.C. PALMER OF WESTBORO-- The Democrats of this Assembly district, comprising the counties of Clark, Wood, Lincoln and Taylor, are talking strongly of nominating C. C. Palmer of this county [as their candidate for the Wisconsin Assembly].  Mr. Palmer is in every way qualified for the position, and would fill it with honor if elected. If a Democrat is to be elected in this district, Mr. Palmer is certainly a good choice, We know him to be a clearheaded, shrewd man of good business tact.

These kind words come from a long-time, staunchly Republican editor.



IMMANUEL EV. LUTHERAN CHURCH OF MEDFORD -- A meeting of the Germans of this place was held at the residence of R. Saeger on Tuesday evening for the purpose of organizing a German Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel Congregation of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession. The following persons were elected as trustees: Christophe Frank, William Seeger, and Chas. Faude.



MORTGAGE SALE -- Henry Baetz v. Abram Taylor &Martha Y. Taylor.  Whereas default has been made in the payment of money secured to be paid by a mortgage dated …1/20/1875… to secure the payment of the sum of $4,000…

The mortgage shall be foreclosed by sale of the premises …at public auction to be held 12/8/1878 at the Ogden & Adams law office in Medford.  The sum due is $3231.15. [The mortgaged premises are the sawmill and real estate approximately ½ mile south of Chelsea and other lands].

Together with the saw mill thereon erected and all boilers, engines and machinery connected therewith or belonging thereto. /s/ Henry Baetz, mortgagee

The News also reported the bankruptcy of the Watermelon Company, operators of the saw mill at Little Black.



Mr. William Taylor of the firm of Duncan and Taylor of Westboro gave us a pleasant call.  He informed us that the company would put in 8,000,000 feet of logs this winter.

The News also reported that Duncan & Taylor intended to construct a planing mill in Westboro.



RAILROAD -- THROUGH TO LAKE SUPERIOR -- Beginning 12/21/1876 the Wisconsin Central Railroad will be operated through to Ashland, Lake Superior, and a daily train leaving Milwaukee at 1:30 a.m.  Sleeping cars and coaches will be ready for occupancy at 8:30 pm.

Freight will be carried to and from Ashland, Bayfield, La Point and Odanah.  The rates for the winter between Milwaukee and Ashland will be: 1st class: $1.15; 2nd $1.09; 3rd .95 cents; 4th class .85 cents….

The railroad is now completed excepting that portion between Butternut Creek and Chippewa River, over which 12 miles—stages and teams will be run by the company in connection with trains in each direction. (emphasis added)

The distance are as follows: Milwaukee to Butternut 197 miles; Butternut to Chippewa River (stage line) 12 miles; Chippewa River to Ashland 42 miles.  TOTAL MILES 251. The uncompleted portion will be finished in the spring of 1877…




The east road leading out of Medford is cut through to the German settlement, a distance of 24 miles. A sleigh load of Germans was in from there last Saturday. They contracted a quantity of hay and feed to some our lumbermen and will deliver it over this road.  This will be the means of a reduction on prices of feed, etc.

This “German settlement” was/is in Lincoln County west of Merrill. A large group of Pomeranian Germans immigrated there.



COUNTY BOARD -- Motion  made by C. C. Palmer, seconded by G. W. Norton, to  appoint A. [Albert] J. Perkins on the committee to settle with  Clark  County instead of  George S.  Phelps [who has] resigned.  Carried

Perkins had recently moved to Medford and gone into the abstracting business.  He would go on to be the first mayor of the city of Medford and a distinguished businessman and politician; Perkins was with J.J. Kennedy in the summer of 1881 when they camped on the shores of Rib Lake and Kennedy chose the site for his sawmill.



INDIANS -- Yesterday several Indians were in town [Medford] and made complaint to our District Attorney that white men had been at their wigwam in Town 32 Range 1 East and given the Indians whiskey and outraged the squaws.  The white parties are known and the District Attorney will cause their arrest at an early moment. They should receive the fullest extent of the law.

The February 2 edition of the News reported; “The prisoners arrested for selling liquor to the Indians were discharged from custody last Saturday for the want of witnesses against them.”



CHELSEA -- The Taylor and Marshall mill at Chelsea started up on the 15th. These gentlemen have put about 3,000,000 feet of pine into their pond this winter and are still cutting and hauling logs.

While the News in 1876 ran a legal notice that Abram Taylor mill would be sold to settle a mortgage debt, there was no coverage that the sale had actually taken place,   In any case, Abram Taylor is now in business with Linus Marshal and their Chelsea mill is going strong.  Abram Taylor is not to be confused with William S. Taylor, co-owner of the Westboro mill, nor William R. Taylor, former Governor of Wisconsin, for whom Taylor County is named.



TIMBER TRESPASS -- The [Taylor] County treasurer issued a warrant and placed it into the hands of the Sheriff directing him to seize the logs that have been cut off the lands the country holds tax certificate on.



See the notice of the Bankrupt Sale of the Watermelon & Co. mill property at Little Black which comes off on April 4 at Green Bay.



C. C. PALMER OF WESTBORO-- Mr. Palmer, our candidate for [Taylor] County judge, has a fair way of dealing with his opponent. He says he will try to obtain his election but not by slandering and abusing his opponent. We admire this policy in a candidate for office.  Mr. Palmer is a gentleman, liberal and consistent in his views, honest as the day is long, shrewd as a man need to be a good judge of law—just the man for county judge.  He is a friend to the settlers—has been very thoughtful on their behalf while a member of the Town and County Boards in getting them roads, etc.  He has not attempted to build town and county roads by paying the laborers in trade and shoving the cash in his trousers pocket. He has well earned in this county a more important office than chairman of a town board. We bespeak for him a large majority in the county.

George S. Phelps announced himself as a candidate for county judge in the same issue of the News.

While Phelps won the judgeship. Palmer was reelected chairman of the Town of Westboro. Neither candidate for the county judgeship was an attorney.



LIEN LAW-- The lien law for Taylor County had a little revision in the last session of the Legislature.  As the law is, the laborer who performs any kind of labor in the woods which in any way assists in getting out logs can have a lien on logs. It is a good law and one that will be appreciated by the laboring class.



TANBARK -- Fifty to ten hundred cords of hemlock bark wanted by George H. Wheeler [of Medford].  This is a grand chance for the homesteaders to make a summers work. The bark is to be delivered on the railroad track.



RAILROAD LANDS EXEMPT FROM TAXATION -- Marathon county has been investigating the legality of the law exempting the Wisconsin Central Railroad land. The county authorities have wisely employed the best legal talent of the State, and their opinion is that the law is unconstitutional.

The governor of Wisconsin had just signed into law such legislation.  The Wisconsin Central Railroad had successfully lobbied for the law claiming it was broke.



BARN RAISING -- On yesterday afternoon occurred the first genuine, old fashioned barn raising ever held in Taylor County, and if this county is ever blessed by such an organization as Pioneer Settlers, A. J. Perkins is the man who will get up and brag of owning and raising the first barn. The barn is located up Mr. Perkin’s farm just east of the village and is a commodious structure—its dimensions being 26x36 and sixteen posts. Everyone left full of beer and admiration for “Perk” and his barn.



WESTBORO -- We lodged at Westboro one night last sharing the hospitality of friend, C. C. Palmer. With several hours to while away, we “took the burgh in.”

We found the business establishments of Duncan & Taylor, A. Tucker, Wellington H. Haight, C. Palmer, Nelson Salvo and P. Campbell doing very good business.  The town was full to overflowing with river men, out of employment. The saloons were reaping their semi-annual harvest.

We were just too late to witness the conflagration—the burning of the woods encompassing the town.  The fire ran through the forests for miles destroying lumbering buildings and homesteaders’ shanties, but, was fortunately impeded before any of the buildings in the village were reached. It burnt within two rods of the school house, frightening the teacher and scholars from the building.

The village school is being taught by Miss Hugaboon of Dorchester and we are informed she is giving general satisfaction.

The absence of the revered station agent, S. D. Cone, knocked the sunshine from the depot…



CHARLESTOWN -- [The News noted the Wisconsin Central passenger train schedule; trains leave Milwaukee at 12 pm. and pass through Medford at 2:45 the next p.m. and arrive at Ashland at 7 that evening.  The South train, i.e. from Ashland to Milwaukee passed the northbound train at Charlestown, later renamed Whittlesey].

The 6/16 issue of the News reported that the last rail needed to connect the Wisconsin Central north of Medford was installed.



LOG DRIVES-- The lumbermen are still jubilant.  The heavy rain a week ago brought the streams up to a good height for log-driving, and a sufficient quantity of rain has since fallen nightly to keep the water up.  Moore& Bussell’s drive is far down the main Black River on its way to La Crosse, and a force of men is now engaged in picking up the rear on the Little Black. We are safe in stating that all the logs in this portion of the State will reach market this month.

The Black River empties into the Mississippi just north of the City of La Crosse, Wis.  The 6/30/1877 News reported that the Moore & Bussell log drive on the Little Black River produced 3,000,000 feet.



SHINGLES CUT -- Daily cut of [cedar] shingles in McCartney’s [Medford] saw mill ending Wednesday. June 20, 1877: Thursday 95,000; Friday 93,000; Saturday 90,000; Monday 94,000; Tuesday 92,000 and Wednesday 96,000.  TOTAL FOR A SIX DAY WEEK: 560,000

Many Taylor County saw mill made shingles as well as lumber. In addition, dozens of shingles mills ran in Taylor County independently of any saw mill. The Pelkofer shingle mill operated on the southwest side of Rib Lake as late as the 1930’s.    TCN Reported on  8/4/77 that a Michigan shingle maker cut 79,400 shingles in a  single day—a record.



BIG WORK -- The following from The Northwestern Lumberman: Among our records of a big day’s work, Mr. W. F. Nuler of the well-known shingle manufacturing firm at Whitehall, Michigan, deserved a place: one of the sawyers in the mill of the firm above mentioned, with a hand machine of Perkins make, cut 79,400 shingles.

Mr. Nuler adds to his letter: “I have noticed several reports of large shingle cuts lately in The Lumberman, but as none of them state what kind of machinery was used, I am unable to judge whether they are remarkably large or not…”

Nuler claimed the sawyer cut 79,400 shingles in one day!



BIGGER WORK -- The following letter is just received at this office.  Mr. Chas Martel must “brace up” and look to his laurels:

Office of Duncan & Taylor, Westboro  - To editors of the News:  We notice an article in the Star of Saturday, July 28 headed “Big Work.” Will you favor us by stating in your paper that we have a shingle packer, Thomas Conely, who packed 55,000 shingles in 12 hours, in the presence of Holmes’ crew, and he now feels a little conceited and would like to hear from Chas. Martel? Conely can put up more shingles—if necessary.  Yours respectfully,  /s/ DUNCAN & TAYLOR



“The troupe show at Charlestown switch this evening.”

This tidbit appeared in the local news section.  It demonstrates that the original name of Charlestown prevailed in usage at this time rather than its later name of Whittlesey.



Messrs. [Linus] Marshall and [Abrams] Taylor, proprietors of the Chelsea sawmill, will commence operations next Wednesday.  Their operations this winter will be limited to two camps, and the banking of about 4,000,000 feet of logs. Their mill will remain idle until the first of February.

Nota bene; The online “photo and document collection” at contains over 6000 images; the lease and map for this sawmill can, for example, be found there.



[ADVERTISEMENT] WISCONSIN RAILROAD LANDS 40,000 ACRES FOR SALE -- Excellent farming lands: good water, sure crops, healthy climate, plenty of work, no malicious diseases, no grasshoppers, and no prairie winds.    Before settling elsewhere, write for maps and pamphlets to Charles L. Colby, land commissioner, Wisconsin Central R.R. Co, Milwaukee, Wis.

The same edition carried an ad from the B & M [Burlington & Missouri?] railroad for its lands; “mild & short winters.”



RAILROADS -- The [Wisconsin] Supreme Court has affirmed the decisions of the lower courts in relation to the Potter law—that the State has the power to regulate and prescribe the maximum rates for fare and freight on railroads within the State. (emphasis added)

A change in time has been made in the running of the trains, and we understand it is permanently established for the winter.  The passenger [train from Milwaukee] from the south arrives at 1:58 and from the north at 2:25 p.m., passing [one-another] at Charlestown. The freight from the south arrives at 8:40 p.m., and from the north at 6:50 a.m.

The north bound train originated in Milwaukee, passed through Medford, met the south bound train at Charlestown [Whittlesey] and ended up at Ashland.



COUNTY POLITICS -- The office of sheriff has more aspiring candidates than any office to be filled, unless it is the office of surveyor. The Republicans have  Eli [Elias] Urquhart of Westboro; the Democrats, George Morrisette, of Chelsea; the independent candidates are Dennis Nedham of Medford and Mike Mullen of Westboro

Eli Urquhart is said to be just the man for sheriff. We don’t know anything about him. But we are informed by his acquaintance that he is a straight forward citizen, and a man that would serve the people well if elected.  His physique and appearance would give one the impression that he would make a capital officer.

Eli Urquhart lost to Needham but went on to serve as Taylor County Board of Supervisors chair and many other elected positions.

South Harper Lake was originally named Urquhart after him.



NEW NEWSPAPER OFFICIALS -- John A. Ogden and H. K. Pitcher, editors and proprietors



LOGGING CAMP -- Elbridge Turner, foreman for W. T. Price, has erected a new camp on the Flambeau River which surpasses any similar structure ever erected in that town. Its dimensions are 26 x 68 feet and will give shelter this coming winter to about 50 men.

The main camp building consisted of two log structures 26 feet wide; they were positioned end to end but with about 20 feet between them leaving an opening. A single roof covered the buildings including the opening called a “dingle.” One building was the bunk house and the other the cook house where breakfast and supper were served.

Two sites in the Town of Rib Lake preserve “foundations’ of such camps: Rib Lake Lumber Company Camp 6 is along the Ice Age Trail on the Rusch Preserve: SE NE 12 33 2 E. A better preserved site is open to the public along  the Rib Lake ski and snowshoe trail  on  the SE NW 13 33  2 E.



MOONSHINE -- A goodly portion of Chelsea was brought to town [Medford] last Monday by Constable James Sloat for crooked (sic) whiskey dealing. The case was settled by the principal defendant paying a fine of $5 and costs. A cheap get-off.

Another portion of these newspaper notes quote from a correspondent’s description of Westboro containing “…lightning dispensaries.”  Were these unlicensed saloons or places selling moonshine?



[COLLEGE IN MEDFORD]     Why not?    Medford is an excellent point, it is a central place, beautifully situated and it is just the place for a college of some kind.  Supposing Mr. McCartney [owner of the Medford sawmill and leading Medford landowner] would donate the site—the square on the west side of the river—and some educational parties, with capital, take hold of it, wouldn’t it give the appearance of business?

Such a thing is not unlikely. It has been talked of considerably of late and we expect to hear more of it within the next year. We suggest that if the talk results into anything of a business-like nature that the institution is dedicated McCartney Institute or University.

A college here in the wilderness! Yes, and it is just the place for it, among our lakes and streams where health and vigor is insured. It is far superior to cities and many older towns for educational purposes.

By coincidence, the Star News reported this week, October 28, 2011, that the Medford School District is donating land so North Central Technical College can build there.




The Chippewa River has risen about three feet and made the logs that have been lying on the sand bars and along the banks of the river have been running quite freely during the week. Messrs. Ingram, Kennedy & Co. started up their lower mill on Wednesday and will probably run it until the weather gets too cold.

This is probably not a reference to J.J. Kennedy or his family.



WESTBORO CORRESPONDENCE -- January 2, 1878 -- Editor, TCN

Saturday night, December 29th,fire broke out near Duncan & Taylor’s lumber yard in a large pile of refuse, slabs, saw-dust, etc., which  rapidly communicated to the slabs and ground work of the lumber yard. Our citizens became somewhat alarmed and a telegram was sent to Stevens Point for assistance which was answered by the prompt arrival of an extra [train] with a hand engine which our boys got to work and done good service in quenching the smoldering fire. It was a narrow escape for our friends Duncan & Taylor, for, had the fire communicated with the lumber, it would have taken everything before it, and not a vestage (sic) would have been left of the best mill along the line. Considering everything, the loss is light, and we are very thankful to the City of Stevens Point for sending their engine and to the Wisconsin Central Railroad for transporting the same, free of charge.

Mick Mullen looks every inch a landlord since his return from “God’s county” and the Haight House [a Westboro hotel] is enjoying a lively business under his management.

There is a prospect of a weekly paper being started here soon, and then, Mr. News, look out for that will get the county printing.

Our efficient Station Agent and Town Treasurer, S. D. Cone, is busy collecting taxes. Taxpayers would pay more promptly if County orders were acceptable for county judgment tax. Where are our county fathers? County orders will be poor property next summer.

C.C. Palmer is overflowing with customers at his hotel. By the way, it seems good to hear C. C. tell the Medford news since his return Tuesday. {Palmer server on the county board which held  its meetings in Medford]

Nelson Salvo continues to look as cheerful as ever behind the “bar” dispensing the ardent (sic), and feels happy over that Christmas present.

Our village school closed with a very pleasant entertainment at the school house. Miss Hugaboom [the teacher] makes a very successful teacher; the scholars have improved greatly under her management.

Hoping to see your valuable journal as usual. We will bid you adieu. By the way, who is editor now?          /s/ VERITAS

Taylor County saw mills at the time had little or no firefighting equipment, hence the telegraph to the City of Stevens Point.

The need for a municipal fight department was one of the primary reasons for the incorporation of Rib Lake in 1902.

The Haight House hotel was owned by Wellington Haight. Wellington Lake is named after him.



Mr. McCartney [owner of the Medford saw mill] has only succeeded in banking about 3,000,000 feet of logs this winter. This is not very encouraging for the laboring men of Medford, the majority of which depend on the saw mill for a summers’ work

Quite a few of our homesteaders are bringing in shaved shingles, and stacking them up near the railroad ready for shipment.

Note the term “shaved” shingles.  This is in contrast to sawed shingles. Shingles were made from white cedar—a rot resistant easily worked wood.  Mills routinely sawed the wood to make shingles.  Settlers made shingles by hand and without power equipment. Settlers split the shingles off of blocks of cedar using hand tools.

Shingles should be thicker on one end than the other. This taper can be created in a mill by sawing.  

The same edition of the News reported that a local merchant, J. A. King, “is buying all the shaved shingles that are brought into town [Medford].”    “Pete McCourt is thinking of setting up a portable shingled mill somewhere in this town; he says “there’s millions in it.””



The following bills passed the Assembly during the week: a bill to compel children to attend school twelve weeks in each year.  A bill  prohibiting deer killing between Dec. 15th and August 1st.



Albert J Perkins has a corner on stump pulling, 50 stumps a day is the average; his clearing is beginning to   look like a lawn.



McCOURT, HIRSCH, SHERER AND URQUHART ELECTED IN THEIR RESPECTIVE TOWNS -- The local elections in the different towns in Taylor County were conducted with more than the usual amount of interest…. In Medford the heart of the contest was between T. B. McCourt and A. J. Perkins, for Chairman of the town Board of Supervisors.  When two contestants are so well qualified to fill an office of trust and both so popular, there must certainly be a close vote. McCourt came out with the small majority of sixteen…

“At Westboro, Eli Urquhart was elected Chairman over C. C. Palmer, the former incumbent. Those who know Mr. Urquhart best feel confident in entrusting the welfare of their town to his hands.”



TAYLOR COUNTY HISTORY 4/13/1878 -- Taylor County is rapidly filling up with actual settlers; in five years, at the present rate of immigration, every foot of agricultural land in the county will be taken up for homesteads. To those having knowledge of agriculture and wishing to procure a farm cheap, Taylor County offers greater inducements than any other in the northwest. The soil is fertile, particularly adapted to the raising of wheat and other small grains, and it is natural grass land.

Before many years it will be one of the largest stock raising counties in the state. Land is cheap, five dollars per acre being the maximum  price asked for the best land, convenient to the railroad; homesteaders can enter farms at from fourteen to twenty dollars each, free from taxes for five years, and—in one year’s time—a clearing can be made large enough to raise provisos for the support of any ordinary family….

The climate is remarkably healthy; being sheltered on the north by a range of hills almost mountainous in height and extent. [Taylor  County]…is not subject to the sudden changes of heat and cold as the southern parts of the state, and the dry bracing cold of the winters is particularly favorable to those afflicted with pulmonary complaints

The railroad company  has large tracts of land which  it offers for sale cheap, and on long time, and there are also resident land agents in Medford, who have lands for sale at reasonable terms, at as long time as the purchaser ma require, and at low rates of interest. Messrs Perkins & Jeffers, real estate agents, and G.W. Adams, Attorney at Law, will procure homesteads for parties at nominal charges.

Cheap farmland was a huge draw, especially for landless Europeans.  



[ADVERTISEMENT]  DUNCAN & TAYLOR -- Manufacturers of Dealers in Lumber, Shingles, Lath;  Also dealers in Dry goods, groceries, provisions, hats, caps, boots &  shoe, crockery, glassware and a complete assortment of General Merchandise constantly on hand. Westboro, Wis.

This was a regular, weekly ad.



McCARTNEY DAM -- The dam which Mr. McCartney has been building on the Black River, section 24, Town 32 is a great improvement. Heretofore it took a flood to drive logs through the meadows, and as there was no dam right at the head of the meadows, it was a hard matter to raise a flood. Now, with a dam right at the head of the meadows, a flood can be raised in one day that will drive500,000 feet of logs to the next dam with very little trouble.

The Black River was extensively used to drive logs not only to Medford but to cities far down stream; logs from my great grandparents’ [August & Pauline Steiner] farm at Whittlesey were floated to a sawmill at Clinton, Iowa.



WESTBORO TRAM RAILROAD -- Duncan and Taylor have a tram road at Westboro on which they put 20,000 feet of logs on one day; they challenge the state to beat it.

This short “tram road” lead south from their mill; it used logs for rails.  The tram cars had concave wheels that fit over the curve of the log rails.  A horse pulled the car.  A similar tram served the Whittlesey sawmill for a short time.  



NEWSPAPER -- Geo. W. Adams has sold his interest in the News to T.B. McCourt and J.H. Wheelock…



Mr. McCartney’s [Medford] shingle mill averages 100,000 shingles per day.



LOW WATER LOG DRIVES -- It is estimated that about 90,000,000 feet of logs were left in the Elk and Flambeau Rivers from last year’s cut to be added to this year’s cut of 45,000,000. The water that fell during the latter part of April gave about 12 days of driving, during which time about 53,000,000 feet were run out of those rivers, This leaves 80,000,000 feet still hung up.  With anything like a respectable fall of rain the streams will all be cleared this season

The [log] drives on the Wisconsin River are a TOTAL FAILURE…A few logs drifted into the booms at Wausau—probably 3 or 4,000,000—but no drive has been made. The water in the Wisconsin River and its branches has not been high at any time and there being no snow or ice in the woods there was nothing to keep it up and it went down unusually quick.

This is the second year that the log crop on this river has been a failure; and what makes it worse is the fact that east on the Oconto, Wolf and Menominee Rivers, they have made or will make a clean drive; while on the west, on the Black, Eau Claire, Chippewa and St. Croix Rivers a large number of logs have reached the mills.  We believe this can accounted for partly for the reason that on all the rivers east and west of us there are many good dams, while some there have a series of dams which are substantial auxiliaries to getting out the logs.

One thing lumbermen on this river may as understand first as last, and that is, that the Wisconsin will  never be successfully and cheaply driven until it is improved.   /s/ LINCOLN COUNTY ADVOCATE

These were problems the Rib Lake Lumber Co. never had since it never used river driving of logs.



The railroad company [Wisconsin Central], through their agent; Mr. K.  A. Ostergren is   circulating pamphlets descriptive of the soil, climate and other natural advantages, of the section of the country through which the road passes. The company is sparing no effort to settle up the country, and is succeeding admirably.

See my later comments, at 6/29/1878, regarding Ostergren’s Kulla and the newspaper report of the Spirit River Colony.



Last Monday, a special train containing the railroad officials and the Boston directors, passed up the line….  The Bostonites expressed  themselves well  pleased with  the  condition of the  road and  surprised at the  rapid  growth of  the  towns along the  line.

The board of directors of the Wisconsin Central Railroad corporation was dominated by residents of Boston, Mass.  As the  railroad was  built northward in 1873 the names of  cities near Boston were given to the new stations; this  explains Marshfield, Dorchester,, Medford, etc.



JOSEPH HARPER -- The broad and smiling face of Joseph Harper of Butternut Lake was seen on our streets…..  Joe is a mighty hunter and looks as if killing moose, elk, bear and deer agreed with him better than bossing a logging camp for Duncan and Taylor.

Did Joseph Harper give his name to the Harper Lakes?  He could have easily worked there since Duncan and Taylor routinely drove their white pine down Silver Creek from North Harper to the Duncan and Taylor sawmill at Westboro.



WESTBORO TOWN OFFICERS -- Eli [Elias]  Urquhart  chairman, Nelson Salvo  [station agent] and P.C. McCormick, supervisors; John Jacobs, treasurer; J. B. Ames, town clerk; Assessors: A. S. Russell &  Robert McDonald Justices of the Peace: Alvin Pierce 2 years, Claude Feagels 1 year, A. Busha 2 years; constable M. Mullen



SETTLEMENT IN TOWNS OF HILL & SPIRIT -- Mr. Ostergan informs us that there are about 30 settlers in the colony over which he presides, and they are all well pleased with their new homes; They are principally Scandinavians who have resided in the State of Rhode Island about 3 years. They formerly were farmers when at home in their native land. They are the right material for this undeveloped country and are the very best kind of citizens.

The colony is located in Lincoln [later detached and made part of Price] County, Town 34 North, Range 3 and 4 East. Their greatest need at present is a highway running from Ogema on the Wisconsin Central Railroad to the settlement.

Lincoln County should give them all possible encouragement, and that at once, as more are locating every day. Robert Klinesmith (sic, should read Kleinschmidt] Supervisor of the Board of the Town of Corning and Dan Kline [Klein?], chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Lincoln County, are just the men to look after and encourage this very thrifty settlement in their town and county.  Dan promised to come over in this part of the state and look his county over. Come over gentlemen and you will be surprised.

Wisconsin’s highest natural point, Timms Hill, was originally called Ostergan [a/k/a Ostergren] Kulla after Pastor Ostergren. Kulla is Norwegian for hill.

This is the first report of settlement in the Townships of Hill or Spirit in the Taylor County News.



WESTBORO ITEMS -- The frost last Saturday night played said havoc with the garden here; corn, potatoes and other tender vegetables were cut almost to the ground.

Westboro has more dogs to the square inch than any town of its size in the state. One man has ten on hand now, and says “Sacre Gee—Mackinaw, that’s not many dogs.”

Mr. Murphy, the gentleman in charge of the Eau Claire [Lumber] Co. camp on Mondeaux Creek, came near losing his life by a bear a short time since; it happened this way; Mr. Murphy was walking along the tote road near Lunt & Biggers old camp, when he saw a young bear, probably about 15 months old, which he shot down; while engaged in reloading his rifle and before he had the ball down, a large she bear which he had not before observed rushed up him. He only succeeded in driving her off after a vigorous use of clubbed rifle.

Duncan and Taylors’s mill is still running to its full capacity. Their logging camp, under the efficient management of Mr. George Allen, is doing a good business with three cars on the tram road; they are putting logs in the pond faster than the mill can saw them. This will keep the mill running until snow comes.

Note the mention of the “tram road.”  It was a railroad using wood poles rather than iron or steel as rails. Horses pulled the cars. The cars had concave shaped wheels to ride on the poles.

The Duncan & Taylor mill was originally dependent on logs being driven to it via Silver Creek, which was dammed to create a mill pond.  The tram railroad was build southward from the mill allowing a new area to be harvested of its timber.  

Note: the “rolling stock’ consisted of three cars.  The other problem solved by the tram railroad was a snow free winter, which meant sleighs could not be used to move logs to the mill.  The winter of 1875-1876 was snow free and marooned John Duncan’s logs in the woods.  His father operated a foundry in Fort Howard, Wisconsin, which made the special, concave wheels to fit over the wooden pole rails.



OGEMA MILL BURNS -- A fire at Ogema last Monday morning destroyed the shingle and sawmill of B. M Holmes.   LOSS $6,000, INSURANCE $3,000.  Two homesteaders on their way home went into the mill to rest for the night; they built a fire in an   old stove which had not been used since last spring.  The result was that the pipe leading through the upper part of the mill set the mill on fire instantly.  We understand Mr. Holmes will rebuild immediately. The size of the new mill is to be 40 x 100 with boiler and engine room of brick.



The  past week will long  be  remembered as  the  hottest  on  record in  this  section of  the  State.  The thermometer averaged from July 18 to 17th, 84 degrees in the shade…



LITTLE BLACK SAWMILL IDLE -- The mill property at Little Black has lain idle about two years. The mill has good machinery, is built on the Little Black River, where there is an unfailing amount of timber to be had. The people of Little Black are desirous of seeing some one buy or rent the mill and put in one run of stone [grind stones]. They now send their grain to Stevens Point to be ground. A splendid opportunity is offered to mill men who wish to engage in a saw, shingle and grist mill enterprise at that place.

In 2011 the mill site is a farm field.



GOVERNMENT PAID RIVER ‘IMPROVEMENTS’ -- The Chippewa Herald wants us to give the name of some of those useless creeks that congress has squandered millions of the people’s money on. Well, there is the Chippewa River that as far as the scheme to build reservoirs to improve the navigation of the Mississippi River is concerned is all bosh, as Pound, Ginty [Wisconsin lumbermen, now in Congress] or any other man interest knows. It is only a scheme to build dams at the expense of the people to float logs to market.

Then, again, there are the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers. Millions have been squandered on these rivers and they are not now and never will be navigable. The only benefit has been to build a few dams on the lower Fox River which in time will make that valley a manufacturing center, if the soulless corporations which now own the water privileges do not scare capitalists away by their extortionate prices. There are two instances in this state alone.           SHAWANO JOURNAL

At this time the Wisconsin Legislature routinely enacted legislation granting exclusive river related rights to lumbermen. See, for example, such legislation for the Little Black River;



The Central railway is doing heavy freight business this summer.  Last Tuesday morning the freight bound south consisted of 26 cars, loaded with lumber, shingles and railroad ties.   The train Friday morning was almost as large.

Note that trains consisting of 26 cars were considered big.



COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS -- T. B. McCourt, Chairman, Medford, H [Henry] C. Shearer, Chelsea, Vincent Hirsch, Little Black, and Eli Urquhart, Westboro.

At that time Taylor County had 4 townships.  At the same time T. B. McCourt ran a general store in Medford and was the proprietor of the newspaper, the TCN.



SPIRIT LAKES -- A grand fishing excursion is organizing to proceed to Spirit Lakes, situated a few miles east of Westboro. Parties from Rockford, Illinois, pronounce it the finest fishing in northern Wisconsin. Black bass, Muskallonge (sic) Pickeral (sic), etc. are abundant.

Is this the first mention of Spirit Lake in Medford newspapers?



SHUT DOWN.  Owing to the low state of water in the Black River, Mr. McCartney was unable to keep his mill supplied with logs, and it was consequently shut down Wednesday. It will remain idle until a sufficient “rise” occurs to render the river at a good running   rate.  The mill furnishes employment for a large number of our homesteaders, and they are thus thrown out of work.

The same edition of the News reports:  During the month of July [1878], 1,644,945 lbs. of freight—mostly lumber, shingles and tanbark—was shipped from this station; the total freight charges upon the same... [Amounted] to the snug little sum of $2,376.90. Is there another town north of [Stevens] Point that can equal this?



TAYLOR COUNTY --   …..This county was an unbroken wilderness until the fall of 1874, at which date the Wisconsin Central Railroad was built through the county; the following spring the erection of a mill was commenced at Medford on the Black River by James Semple and others from Oshkosh, which was completed the next summer. It has manufactured every year since six to ten million feet of lumber. A flourishing town has sprung up at Medford of between 600-700 inhabitants.  

Saw mills have since been erected at Westboro, Chelsea, Little Black and Stetsonville.   Towns of 100-200 inhabitants have grown up at these locations.    

The county contains a population at the present day of over 3,000.  The inhabitants are a great many homesteaders who have taken up farms on government land.  Clearings from 10 to 40 acres in extant are plentifully distributed within 5 to 6 miles of the railroad….        

This writer during a twenty year residence in wheat growing areas of Wisconsin has seen the finest crops of winter wheat in Taylor County. All small kinds of small grains look equally well. Hay does extremely well in this county; clearings seeded in spring produce 1 to 2 tons per acre the first year. As a grass country, it is fully equal to the best portions of the State of New York. The water is soft and the climate healthy in the extreme.          

It is estimated that there is 350,000,000 feet of pine in this county.  It is scattered about equally, being mixed through the hard wood throughout the county.          

The choicest of government lands are still available for the homesteader. The Wisconsin Central Railroad owns every alternate section of land within twenty miles of the Railroad, and is selling the same to settlers at very low rates, on time, if desired. There is also a tract of 20,000 acres of land in Town 31 Range 2 and 3 East, embracing some of the finest agricultural lands in the county owned by New York parties [Cornell University Pine Lands]. The same can be purchased in tracts suitable for farms, on time and at very low rates, by actual settlers.          

There are also vast quantities of hemlock in the county. The bark of which always finds ready markets at remunerative prices; hard wood suitable for cabinet’s purposes is also plentiful.          

In this immediate vicinity are to be found the center of operations of many of the heaviest lumbering institutions in the state: consuming vast quantities of hay, and all the productions of this county?  

When  it is taken into consideration that the county north of this county is an unbroken wilderness, and the supplies of this vast  lumbering country, comprising Chippewa, Flambeau and upper Wisconsin rivers have  all to be shipped in, it will be readily be seen that a ready  market will always be found for everything that can be raised. Work for those desiring it can always be obtained at good wages. Roads, school houses and other necessaries are fast being constructed.  School houses have already been erected in which schools [sic] are being taught, in several districts of the county.          

I would say to people that desire farms, and that expect to cultivate for a living, that there is no county in the United States [that] offers better inducements than Taylor county. The hardships incident to pioneer life are almost entirely obviated here, as we have a railroad running through the county, and if settlers do not raise the necessaries of life, work is always to be obtained.  We do not claim that Taylor county is a paradise, but do claim that good honest labor is better paid here than in almost any county into which emigration is now settling.                    

To those that are willing to work for good pay, we extend the right hand of fellowship; we have a place for you.  But to those that expect to get a living without work, I would say right here that we have no place for you.  /s/ “One who has tried it.”

This may be the first written history of Taylor County.  It continues beyond the portion quoted here.  No author is identified other than “Correspondence of the Real Estate Journal.” & “One Who Has Tried It.”

This history claims:

A.  Wisconsin Central was built in Taylor County in 1874;

B. James Semple’s sawmill in Medford was built in 1875;

C.   The 1878 Taylor County population was above 3000;

D.  Taylor County contained 350,000,000 feet of pine:

E. Taylor County contained “vast quantities of hemlock…”

F. Virgin pine was not in dense stands of species of trees. Rather, pine trees “were scattered” among other trees.

G. The virgin forest contained “vast quantities of hemlock.”



HOMESTEAD LAWS IN BRIEF --  Under the United States Homestead Law any person at least twenty-one or older, male or female, native or  foreign born, may obtain 160 acres of Government land on payment of $18 in fees and after a residence of 5 years on the land; they [sic] can have a clear deed for it from the Government.    

After 6 months residence, if it be preferred, they may get a deed on payment of $200.00, and no further residence will be required. Soldiers may deduct time spent in the service of the Union not to exceed four years from the five years.  

By the Preemption Act a person over 21 years-except a married woman—may take 160 acres of Government land upon payment of  $200 fees and residing on it  six months, for  any  time not exceeding three years and one half, may get a deed on payment of $200.00 and giving evidence of settlement and improvement.                                                

The Timber Law gives 169 acres to anyone planting one-fourth of it in trees and cultivating it for 8 years; 40 to 80 acres may be taken on like conditions.  The fees are the same for homesteading.                                                                            

An Act of Congress approved March 8, 1877, over-ruled a method of making the final proof in homestead entries, dispensing with the necessities that the party attend at the district land office, as required in official regulations of May 16, 1876. The party desiring to avail himself thereof must appear with his witnesses before the judge of a court of record…in which the land is situated, and there make the final proof required by law…together with the fees allowed by law.

The judge being absent in any case, the proof may be made before the Clerk of the proper court.  

A party desiring to change his claim under a preemption filing to that of a homestead entry, should be required on making the change to appear at the proper land office, with his witnesses, show full compliance with the preemption law to date of such change…”

Both the Homestead Law and Preemption Act were extensively used in Taylor County.  The Timber Law was designed for the treeless prairie and was repealed in 1890.



David McCartney has cut and put into the Black River 2,300,000 feet of logs from Sec 16, T 31, 1 east.  This work was done with six teams and 22 men since the 20th of May.

I have no firm explanation for this highly unusual logging occurring in summer.  I surmise the Medford Sawmill was running low on logs, Section 16-31-1E is just one mile north of Medford, making it a short river drive.  



DEMOCRATIC COUNTY CONVENTION -- The Democrats met in convention last Wednesday evening and organized by electing C. C.  Palmer [of Westboro] chairman, Peter Doyle Secretary. F. A.  Healy, A. S.  Russel, Isaac Biscornet were appointed as committee on credentials.

The following named gentlemen were found entitled to seats in the convention: Little Black - I. Biscornet 3 votes; Medford - S.A. Corning, D.W.  Needham - Peter Doyle and M.W.  Ryan; Chelsea - Dan Shay and Louie Burbey; Westboro- C.C. Palmer, Peter Campbell, A.S. Russell and Nels Salvo.

On motion the following named gentlemen were elected delegates to attend the Senatorial district convention: T.B. McCourt, C.C. Palmer and F.A. Healy. The convention elected 5 delegates to represent Taylor county in the assembly district convention.  The following gentlemen were elected by acclamation: F.A. Healy, D.W. Needham, C.C. Palmer, Peter Doyle and Isaac Biscornet.

It appears that the TC News has switched political persuasion. For years following its founding in 1875 the TC News announced on its masthead “Republican in Politics.”  That no longer appears. The 9/7/1878 local section in the TC News states: “The Taylor County Star [a new, competing newspaper] claims to be the mouth piece of both the Democratic and Republican parties in this county. Quite an undertaking; advocate the principles of one or the other. There is a great deal of anxiety among leading Republicans to find out what a party organ consists of. THERE IS A PAPER CALLED THE TCN, T. B. McCourt, EDITOR, WHICH IS ISSUED AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE ISSUED IN THE INTERESTS OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY…(EMPHASIS ADDED)



FIRST VISIT TO RIB LAKE -- “Lewis Brown, James Shannon, Hans Anderson and Rufus Bishop went on an excursion to “Rib Lakes” Tuesday last. Friday they returned home loaded down with fish. For a good right time these lakes offer the very best fishing, hunting etc. to be found in Taylor County. We are under many obligations for a beautiful pickerel (sic). Go again gentlemen.”

Note the reference to lakes is plural.   It appears that the excursion was to several of the lakes clustered around Rib Lake; at 320 acres, Rib Lake is the largest natural water body in Taylor County.

This is the first mention of a trip to Rib Lake in the TCN.  

Note that Rib Lake has that name by 1878, three years before J.J. Kennedy gets there.  So much for claims that Kennedy named the lake “Rib.”



“Lewis Brown, James Shannon, Hans Anderson and Rufus Bishop, went on an excursion to “Rib Lakes” Tuesday last.  Friday they returned home loaded down with fish, for a right good time these lakes offer the very best fishing, hunting, etc. to be found in Taylor County.  We are under many obligations for a beautiful pickerel. Go again, gentlemen.”

Note the use of the plural.  Was the writer referring to the cluster of lakes near the head waters of the Rib River?  There are three lakes within one mile:  Rib Lake, Little Rib (a/k/a Kennedy) and Muddy Rib Lake.  At 320 acres, Rib Lake is Taylor County’s largest lake.  Rib Lake got its name since it was the headwaters of Rib River, which was named for Rib Mountain.  Rib River empties into the Wisconsin River at the foot of Rib Mountain.



MONDEAUX RIVER – “The Dam on Mondeaux Creek, lately completed by the Meridian Lumber Company cost nearly $3,000.  It has more than paid for itself during the late rains.”

The current Mondeaux Dam in the Town of Westboro is a Depression Era recreational dam, built by the W.P.A. (Works Progress Administration), on the site of an old logging dam. Larry Zimmermann recently donated to the Rib Lake Historical Society a map he compiled of Westboro area logging dams; he based it on his own observations of fill, logs and other extant features, still to be seen in 2012. The map shows several dams sites on the Mondeaux River. To view the map, consult the Photo and Document Collection at



LOGS DOWN BLACK RIVER TO LA CROSSE -- Robert Moore of the well known firm of Moore and Bussell of La Crosse was seen about town [Medford] this week. Bob is preparing to do some heavy logging.

A lot of Taylor County pine was floated down the Black River to La Crosse, Wis., for milling.  The Moore and Bussell firm has been frequently mentioned in the TCN since its inception in 1875.

The pine logs from my great grandfather’s (August Steiner) farm at Whittlesey (W ½, SE ¼ Section 26, and Town 32 Range 1 East) went by water all the way to Clinton, Iowa. The water route started with Rocky Run Creek on the north side of the Steiner farm; the pine logs were driven to the Black River and down it to the Mississippi River where the logs were corralled into a raft; a river steam boat directed the raft to a large sawmill on the river bank in Clinton, Iowa. Clinton is 30 miles south of the Wisconsin-Illinois state line.

Perhaps the most famous log drive down the Black River was conducted by the Mormons. About 1830, they sent a crew of men to central Clark County, Wisconsin, and logged pine that was driven to Nauvoo, Illinois, where the pine was sawed and used to construct the Mormon Temple. To this day “Mormon Creek” in Clark County commemorates that feat.



RAILROAD IMPROVEMENTS -- The Wisconsin Central Railroad is putting Westinghouse Air Brakes on all [of its] passenger trains. This, with the Miller platform, will make the Central one of the safest as well as one of the pleasantest roads in the state.

The Westinghouse railroad air break was a revolutionary safety feature. Without it, a train would be stopped by the engineer slowing the locomotive and brakemen going from car to car manually turning a device tightening brake shoes on the wheels of each individual car.

The Westinghouse systems used air pressure pumped by the locomotive thru a continuous line of air hoses extending to the last car. When the train trip was to start the engineer activated the air pump which released the breaks.  Once the train was in motion, any accident, e. g., a car becoming uncoupled, severed the air hoses, allowing the pressurized air to escape and automatically causing the brakes of every car of the train to go on.  In other words, the brakes of the train were off only when air pressure forced them apart.  



CHELSEA NEAR DEATH -- Mrs. James Gallagher of Chelsea had a narrow escape from instant death last Tuesday. Charles Carrow, a trapper and guide, who was stopping at Gallagher’s temporarily, left a mixture containing strychnine, which he intended to poison lynx and wolves with. Mrs. Gallagher, having a violent cold, partook of this mixture, thinking it was cough medicine, and had it not been for timely arrival of Dr. Hubbell, and an overdose of the poison, we could give our readers an account of a first class funeral at Chelsea.




Trains Going South:

Passenger     depart 2:02 pm

Freight          depart 11:54 pm

Trains Going North:

Passenger     depart 2:02 pm

Freight          depart 7:40 am

“Upon time card No. 1, taking effect Oct. 13th, the Lake Superior Express [train] No. 3 runs between   Butternut [Price County, Wisconsin] and Ashland Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays only.

The Chicago Express [train runs] between Ashland and Butternut on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only.  PASSENGERS SHOULD BE PARTICULARLY CAREFUL NOT TO PURCHASE TICKETS FOR THOSE DAYS UPON WHICH TRAINS DO NOT RUN NORTH OF BUTTERNUT (emphasis added).

The TCN ran an article during the summer of 1878 noting an unusually long freight train passing through Medford; it consisted of 26 freight cars.



SPIRIT, WISCONSIN -- K. A. Ostergren of Ogema was in town [Medford] Wednesday. Mr. Ostergren purchased largely, at this place, the necessary supplies needed in and about the “Spirit River Colony.” Thirty-three votes were polled at that precinct the last election. Taylor County should make an effort and procure Towns 3 and 35, Range 1, 2, 3, and 4 West and 1, 2 and 3 East. It would be of vast benefit to the settlers and also to Taylor County.

This marks the first mention of the “Spirit River Colony.” Pastor Ostergren recruited many Scandinavian settlers to what eventually became the Town of Spirit, Price County.  Timms Hill was originally known as Ostergren Kulla, Norwegian for Ostergren’s Hill.

The first mention in TCN of settlement in the Towns of Hill and Spirit was on 6/29/1878.



TAYLOR COUNTY LAND VALUES -- The total amount of land sold the past year in Taylor County amounts to 19,802 acres; the average price received for the same was $3.45 per acre. The average assessed valuation per acre upon the tract sold was $2.34, showing a difference of $1.11 per acre between the price received for the lands and the amount at which they were assessed. Upon reviewing the Secretary of State report we find that in every particular Taylor County has made a correct and just assessment…



RIB AND SPIRIT RIVER LOG DRIVES -- Lumbermen are making extensive preparations for a very large log crop, especially throughout this county. The Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire mills, also a few mills on the Mississippi, are securing aportion of their crop upon the Yellow River, Silver Creek [its headwaters are the Harper Lakes], Mondeaux Creek and the Jump River.

Black River, running from the northern central portion of the County, will have a large number of camps. David McCartney of Medford will bank nearly 8 million feet, while a few lots will be banked by sundry individuals to sell below [south of Medford].  Moore and Bussell of La Crosse, Sawyer and Austin of Black River Falls, and numerous other parties are intending to lumber extensively upon these streams.

In the north-eastern and eastern portion of the County, Wausau loggers are putting in a good stock, upon the Rib and Spirit Rivers.

The estimated amount that will be cut throughout this county will be from one hundred to one hundred and twenty-five million [feet of pine logs].

Note the reference to the Rib River.  According to the late William Bundick of Westboro, the very first logging at Rib Lake was done by Ole Olson near Little Rib Lake. Bundick did not provide a time but it did occur prior to J.J. Kennedy’s construction of a saw mill at Rib Lake in 1881.

The Rib River saw the very last log drives anywhere in the Wisconsin Valley; logs—no longer pine—were driven down the Rib River from Taylor County as late as the 1920’s.   RPR 11/8/2011.

This is the first mention of log drives on the Spirit or Rib Rivers by the TCN.



S. D. Cone of Westboro lost a child last Tuesday by the dread disease, diphtheria…



Mr. William Miller, of the firm of Miller and Co. at Westboro, was in Medford lately.

I surmise Miller was a pine logger driving white pine down the Chippewa river and its tributaries such as Silver Creek.  He may have given his name to the large dam and flowage on the Yellow
River near Hannibal; the original logging dam was replaced by a new dam about 1965 and created a popular flowage in the Chequamegon National Forest.



DIPTHERIA -- Diphtheria is raging to an alarming extent through out this county, and especially at Westboro. No less than 8 are suffering at present from this dreadful disease at that place. We clip the following recipe from an exchange, and think it would be well to try it in an extreme case.

Should you or any of your family be attacked with diphtheria do not be alarmed as it is easily and speedily cured without a doctor. When it was raging in England a few years ago, I accompanied Dr. Field [and witnessed] the so-called ‘wonderful cures’ he performed while the patients of others were dropping on all sides. All he took with him was powder of sulphur and quill, and with these he cured every patient without exception.

He put the teaspoonful of flower of brimstone in a wine glass of water, and stirred with his finger instead of a spoon as the sulphur does not readily amalgamate with water. When it was well mixed, he gave it as a gargle and in ten minutes the patient was out of danger. Brimstone kills every species of fungus in man, beast or plant in a few minutes…

In extreme cases, in which he was called just in the nick of time, when the fungus was too near closed to allow the gargling, he blew the sulphur thro’ a quill into the throat, and after the fungus had shrunk, to allow, then gargling. He never lost a patient from diphtheria…




SAWYER DAM -- Messrs Sawyer and Austin will build a large flooding dam on the Black River, in town 31; range 1 west, at an expense of $3,000 to $4,000. The capacity of the dam will be about the same as the Hemlock Island dam [in Clark County, north of Neillsville].   MERRILAN LEADER

Their sawmill was in Black River Falls.  In 2013, probably the best preserved large dam site in Taylor County is on Pine Creek.  The earthen wings of this dam can still be clearly seen north of Taylor County Highway A, SE SW 13-30-1W, Town of Holway.



OGEMA -- B. M. Holmes mill [at Ogema] is doing a good business, sawing at about 50,000 feet a day.

The mill had recently been rebuilt after a disastrous fire.



CHELSEA -- L. [Linus] M. Marshall of Chelsea is running his mill night and day. A. [Abram] Taylor Esq. is one of the hardest working men along the line of the [rail] road, night and day he is busily engaged in attending the numerous duties devolving upon him as Mr. Marshall’s superintendent.

Abram Taylor was initially the founder and owner of the Chelsea saw mill.



WESTBORO -- John Duncan, of the firm of Duncan & Taylor, with his corps of assistants, Thomas and William, his sons, Mr. Jacobs, the gentlemanly book-keeper for the firm, are up to their eyes and ears in business. With several  camps in full blast, the largest and best mill on the line running daily, a large and complete stock of groceries, provisions and merchandise to dispose of, makes business very lively around the village Westboro. Mr. Eli [Elias] Urquhart is conducting the logging operations for this firm.

The same edition reported that “Messr. Palmer and Cone have commenced clearing ground and are preparing to build a dam at what is known as “high banks” on Silver Creek…a splendid stream and immense body of water is tributary to Westboro. This was the second saw mill for Westboro. In 1901 it became the Westboro Lumber Co.

The Palmer & Cone sawmill was building ½ mile east of the Wisconsin Central north-south main-line, about ¼ mile northeast of where, in 2016, CTH D crosses Silver Creek.

August Franck constructed Westboro’s third sawmill. It was located “downtown” on the west side of the railroad tracks and powered by a wind mill Franck built. It was the only wind powered saw mill in the State of Wisconsin.

Greater Westboro’s fourth saw mill was located about 1 mile northeast of the village on the east side of what is in 2011 Lucia Road. The mill was owned and operated by Isaac Gay and formed the nucleus of “Gay Town.”



Duncan & Taylor removed the belting and saw from their mill at Little Black to Westboro during last week.



Mooer & Bussell are still doing big work, hauling from 1500 to 2000 feet at a load. Bob lays it to putting his sprinklers to work before the snow fell last fall, and now he is getting the benefit of them.

The winter of 1878-79 had little snow and, therefore, sleighing loads was difficult. Mooer and Bussell spread water on the routes which turned to ice, making sleighing productive.



BIG TREE -- Eldred & Son send us the following as a sample of the kind of trees they make a deal of for the Glasgow market.  They cut a  pine tree on the north branch of the Oconto River which made seven logs scaling as follows:

1 log 50 inches, 12 ft long, scaling 1,587 ft

1 log 49 inches, 12 ft long, scaling 1,452 ft

1 log 46 inches, 12 ft long, scaling 1,323 ft

1 log 44 inches, 12 ft long, scaling 1,200 ft

1 log 42 inches, 12 ft long, scaling 1,083 ft

1 log 49 inches, 12 ft long, scaling 972 ft

1 log 38 inches, 16 ft long, scaling 1,158 ft

TOTALS:  7 LOGS, 88 FEET LONG, TOTALING 8,773 board feet

The combined length of the logs was really over 90 feet, the odd two feet being taken up by the extra inches allowed for the log.

John Driscoll is putting in 5,000,000 feet of logs for Eldred & Son on the north branch of the Oconto River that will average one and a half logs to 1,000 board feet. These are intended for the Glasgow market.    GREEN BAY ADVOCATE

Here “inches” refers to the diameter of the log on the smaller end.

I surmise these logs were exported to Glasgow, Scotland.



WESTBORO’S SECOND SAWMILL -- Cone and Palmer have a crew of men at work clearing and breaking ground for their mill at Westboro.

The Duncan, Taylor and Ritchie was the first sawmill at Westboro.  Cone and Palmer’s was the second; in 1902, it became the Westboro Lumber Co.  The latter mill stood c. 1000 feet north of the county highway bridge across Silver Creek.      



PINE LOGGING PROJECTIONS FOR SEASON -- We have taken considerable pains to procure the amount of logs banked at the several logging camps up to  February 1st. Below will be found the amount as reported by H. Ripley, from estimates made upon the  ground:

Linus M. Marshall



John Owen

Silver Creek


Meridian Slough Co.,

Mondue [Mondeaux]


Ingram Kennedy & Co



Wm. Miller & Co



Duncan & Taylor



David McCartney

[Medford sawmill]        


“This statement does not include timber cut upon the Rib, Spirit or any of the tributaries of the Wisconsin River.”



The editor of TCN concluded that the season cut would total about 40,000,000, excluding figures from tributaries of the Wisconsin River.




FIRST MENTION OF WHITTLESEY -- G.W. Norton, of Chelsea, has delivered about 1800 telegraph poles at Whittlesey station for D.O. Miltimore of Dorchester.

This is the first mention of Whittlesey using that name in the TCN. Previously, the locale was called Charlestown. At the time of the railroad construction there in 1873, the Wisconsin Central named it Charlestown after a suburb of Boston; the board of directors of the railroad at that time had several Bostonites.

The early Wisconsin Central maps show the location named Charlestown.  Ezra Whittlesey had acquired from the Wisconsin legislature - in which he served–the right to dam the Black River there; his activities lead to naming the station and eventual community after him.



CHELSEA HOUSE -- Chelsea, Wis. C.H. Gearhart, Proprietor.  I respectfully solicit the patronage of the traveling public.

This was a long running ad.



John Worthington came down from Chelsea last Tues with two lynx and several other skins. John  is  the  boss lynx  hunter



SAWYER DAM -- The iron and castings to be used on the dam being built by Sawyer & Austin at T31, 1W arrived this week.

This refers to the long standing log driving dam on the Black River.



A.J. Perkins, wholesale and retail dealer in FLOUR & FEED!  Medford, Wis.  Keeps constantly on hand the celebrated Weyauwega Flour, manufactured by Weed Gunnar & Co.  Special prices given to wholesale dealers.

Albert J. Perkins would turn out to be one of JJK’s longtime friends and supporters.



STEAM SHOVEL -- The Wisconsin Central Railroad is repairing a steam excavator, purchased by it from the Hannibal and St Joe Railroad; it will load 150 railroad cars per day. The company intends to commence ballasting the road as soon as the weather will permit.



The Wis. Central pay-car has been up and distributed the needful among the boys.  The last pay was for November [1878], leaving the company still three months in arrears with its employees.  

The Wisconsin Central Railroad operated for long periods of time while in bankruptcy.



PROPOSED STATE HIGHWAY -- Messrs.’ C. C. Palmer of Taylor County, Everett of Chippewa, and Kline of Lincoln, are the commissioners of the State  Road running from the Village of Jenny [Merrill] in Lincoln County, via  Westboro, to a  point in Chippewa County.  They have caused a survey of that portion of the road running through this county and Chippewa to be made….The completion of this road will open up one of the finest agricultural sections in this county.  The road in passing through Taylor County strikes Town 33 in ranges 1, 2, and 3 east, also Town 32 in Range 3 east.

This may be what John H. Dums Sr. described and mapped as the Wausau  Road; see the 1981 Pictorial History of Rib Lake at page  104.



L. M. Marshall at Chelsea stopped logging last week for the season: all told he has hauled to the mill about 3,000,000 ft. of splendid logs 1,300,000 ft. he has manufactured.  The mill will be kept running until July.

The mill man referred to is Linus M. Marshall; many documents in the photo and document collection refer to him.



Duncan & Taylor of Westboro have cut the last winter a little over 3,000,000 ft. of good logs and have manufactured about a third of that.  Their  mill will saw about all they have on hand by the first of June if they run to its capacity.

Their former partner, James Ritchie, has gone bankrupt and is no longer an owner of this mill.



THE LOG CROP -- …The cut on the Wisconsin River and its tributaries foots up 125,000,000.

On the Black Rivers and tributaries the cut is larger than it has been in eight years; footing up something over 250,000,000 while work is still going on in a large number of camps. The great army of men in the Black River pinery was paid last week. Senator W. T. Price, the most extensive lumberman on the Black River the past year, has paid for help over $37,000.

On the Chippewa and Eau Claire Rivers, the cut reaches 225,000,000.

The same edition reports: “driving on Black River will commence about the 10th of April.”



K.A. OSTERGAN, A/K/A OSTERGREN -- Mr. K.A. Ostergren of Ogema, Price County, well known along the line of the Wisconsin Central Railroad, has been appointed one of the members of the State Board of Immigration, as provided by Chap 176 Laws of 1879, The Board as fully constituted is: Gov. Wm. E. Smith, ex-officio; Hon J. A. Becher of Milwaukee; Sec. of State Hans B. Werner, Hon. J. M. Smith of Wausau and Rev. K. A. Ostergren of Ogema.

The appointment of Mr. Ostergren will give universal satisfaction throughout this part of the State. He is eminently fit and will be instrumental in settling Taylor and Price counties with a large number of emigrants the coming season,

Pastor Ostergren was instrumental in bringing a host of Scandinavian settlers to what would become the Town of Spirit, Price County.  By 1885 Taylor County had its own Immigration Association; it published well-written, illustrated German-language booklets soliciting settlers.



Parties that have been out on the south fork of the Yellow River at the head report that all the fish, which were of the very finest kind, pickerel, large bass and muskellunge, are all dead.  Immense quantities were found all through the ice and about the edge of the lake.   Old fishermen attribute their death to the want of air and the severity of the winter freezing the lake nearly to the bottom.  THIS IS THE CASE ON WHAT IS KNOWN AS LITTLE RIB LAKE.  (emphasis added)

About 40 acres in size, Little Rib Lake is one mile west of 320-acre Rib Lake.

This is the first mention of Little Rib Lake in the TCN.



Peter McCourt has a curiosity, captured by Henry Grant near Rib Lake, in the shape of a young porcupine…



The last Congress passed an act allowing all homestead settlers on public land within the granted limits [of] land grant railroads to enter 160 acres of land….  The law formerly was that only soldiers were entitled to 160 acres within railroad limits and others to 80 acres…

The Westboro and Rib Lake areas were within the limits of the Wisconsin Central land grant.



O’Leary won the great 75 hour walking match at Chicago having completed 250 miles to his opponent’s 225. The prize was $10,000.  The gate money was $ 8,000.



HEMLOCK -- The shipment of hemlock bark from Little Black, Medford, Chelsea and Westboro will aggregate 125 car loads, averaging 11 cords per car; this makes nearly 1,400 cords of bark at an average price on the car of $ 2.50 per cord, making the total receipts for bark nearly $3,500…



The Review of Fort Howard, Wisconsin, notices the appearance of John Duncan of Westboro and David McCartney of Medford.  Both gentlemen have residences at Fort Howard.

John Duncan was a major industrialist in Fort Howard operating the Duncan and [William S?] Taylor foundry there; the foundry had just suffered a $30,999 loss through fire.   In 1874 John Duncan, William S. Taylorand James Ritchie constructed a large   sawmill in Westboro just north of Silver Creek and abutting the Wisconsin Central railroad tracks.   The 8/23 edition reported “work on Taylor & Duncan’s new foundry and machine shop is being pushed along as rapidly as possible.”   This work was taking   part at   Fort Howard, Wisconsin, which is just west of Green Bay.



SPIRIT LAKE -- We are informed that a colony of about 30 families WILL SETTLE NEAR THE SPIRIT LAKES, about 6 miles from Westboro next spring. (emphasis added)

I have no firm evidence that a group of 30 families, in fact, settled; but, the report may have referred to Siegfried Meier’s “German Settlement” or K. A. Ostergren’s Swedish-Norwegian group.



COURT CASES -- Wisconsin Central Railroad vs. Taylor County, John Duncan and William S. Taylor vs. C.C. Palmer; H.C. Milnor vs. John Duncan and William S. Taylor.

John Duncan and William S. Taylor were the remaining owners of their sawmill at Westboro after   their partner, James Ritchie, went bankrupt.  The actual court files were about 1980 transferred from the Taylor County courthouse to the regional historical library on the University of Wisconsin campus at Eau Claire.




The Hon. T. B. Scott, Hon. Myron McCord and Hon. Ambrose Hoffman, are on the line this week viewing the political horizon.

Thomas B. Scott was the leading lumberman in Merrill, Wisconsin.  Perhaps the Village of McCord—a few miles east of Prentice- is named for Myron.  A later edition reported he was elected to the Wisconsin Legislature.



James Garfield is elected president.

This newspaper labeled itself “Republican” and finished its reporting on Republican candidate Garfield’s election as president:  “Thank God the country is safe for another 4 years.”



LITTLE BLACK -- Duncan and Taylor will operate the Little Black mill this coming winter, and stop the Westboro mill; logs cannot be got to Westboro to run that mill the entire year.  The mill at Little Black has stood idle for about 4 years.



WESTBORO -- S.D. Cone, one of the whitest (sic) men on earth, has purchased the interests of his partner, C.C. Palmer, in the sawmill at Westboro, and will hereafter run the mill himself.

This mill stood on the west side of Silver Creek 1000 feet north of current county trunk highway D; it later became the mill for the Westboro Lumber Company.     The John Duncan and William S. Taylor mill was one half mile further downstream and on the east side of the railroad mainline.




This is the first mention of John J. Kennedy, later founder of Rib Lake, in the TCN.

Kennedy was then living in Spencer, where his sawmill had just burned.  Several newspapers reported that he and a brother [Angus Kennedy] logged pine and drove them westward from Taylor County; they moved to Rib Lake in 1881.




MEDFORD NEWSPAPERS -- Ed. T. Wheelock is editor and proprietor of “Taylor County Star and TCN”.

Each was then a separate paper.



The planing mill has gone up in smoke.

The Medford sawmills and its planing mill was owned by David McCartney.  The paper gives a long account.



The cold weather is making an excellent bottom for logging roads by freezing the swamps and wet places.  A few more days of cold and 12 inches of snow will make the loggers happy.



INDIANS -- Some of our Medford saloon keepers appear to ignore the fact that it is an offense against the law to sell liquor to the Indians, being prohibited by both state and federal law. Indians are often found drunk upon the streets…



C.H. Gearhart has built a new barn at Chelsea for the accommodation of teams hauling supplies to logging camps in that neighborhood.  Gearhart is doing a rushing business in his hotel.

A beautiful picture of the 3-story hotel can be found in the photo and document collection of the Rib Lake Historical Society at its website:



LOGGING MATTERS -- The following camps are now in operation in the Towns of Chelsea &Westboro:


H. Curran, of Stevens Point, T 32 R 2E, will put in 2 to 3 million [board feet of pine].


Vaughn, logging on section 7, T. 32 R 3E. Contract for 2,000,000 to be sawed at the Chelsea mill for Fay, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Henry C. Shearer, for [David] McCartney on section 9 T 32 R 1E.

A[bram] Taylor, 3 camps: one in section 4 T 32 R 1E, another 28 33 2E.


McKay, 8 32 1W.

Baker & Prealx, [T] 32 2W.

J. Day, 24 T 33 1W.

D. McLeod, T 33 1 West.

Joseph  Gibson, two camps


Fred Leonard, one camp for Meridian Mill Co.

J. Meehan, 30 33 1W.

Joseph Gibson, one camp.

Ingram & Kennedy [Orrin H. Kennedy-NOT J.J. Kennedy] 4 camps on Mondeaux and Yellow [rivers].

D. Alexander for A.D.  Lunt, 13 32 1W.


Duncan & Taylor, 4 camps in operation.

John [S.] Owen, 2 camps

The following loggers are operating in the  Town of  Westboro, but we  do  not know on what stream they are banking [their pine logs]:

William Miller for Ingram & Kennedy;

Ed.  Rutledge, two camps; McKinnon, one camp.

Silver Creek begins by flowing out of North Harper Lake.  One of John S. Owen camp foreman was named Harper; the lake was named after him.

Note the logging on the Rib River; it was downstream from Rib Lake.

Consult the Photo & Document Collection at; it contains a map prepared in 2011 by Taylor County Zoning administrator Larry Peterson of loggings dam sites he has seen on Mondeaux Creek.



G.S. Phelps has 12 men putting in logs off his homestead in the Town of Chelsea. He will run them to [the] Yellow River and sell them in the spring to [city of] Eau Claire parties.

A great many Taylor County pine logs were sawed at mills in the cities of Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire—floated there by way of the Chippewa River and tributaries.



In the Logging Items of last week’s paper we state that Mr. A. Taylor of Chelsea had 4 camps in operation. Mr.  [Abram,] Taylor informs us that he is not interested in logging, but Mr. L. M. Marshall is doing the business…

The reference is to Linus M. Marshall; the photo & document collection has a variety of original documents, including leases and maps regarding his Chelsea sawmill.



TC Star & News

NOTICE Land Office at Wausau, Wis. Jan 4, 1881.

Complaint having been entered at this office by W.B. Burgess against William Hooper for abandonment of his homestead entry No. 1952 date: Ap. 1st, 1875, upon E ¼ of the SW ¼, Section 4, T 33 N, Range 3 E, with a view toward calculation of such entry. The parties are hereby notified to appear 2/9/1881 at 1 pm to respond and furnish testimony concerning such alleged abandonment. /s/ S. H. Alban, Register.

Next to this Notice is another notice dated Jan 5, 1881, that William Hooper filed notice of his intent to make final proof in support of his claim to the same land and his intent to call the following witnesses: McIntyre, M. H. Mullen and E. [Elias] L Urquhart, all of Medford. Urquhart was a well-known Westboro businessman at the time who went on to become town chairman, sheriff and Taylor County board chairman.

The same edition lists Elias Urquhart as Taylor County sheriff.



AS OTHERS SEE IT -- The author writes a thumbnail sketch of the village of Medford and notes there are two newspapers; “I have made the acquaintance of Mr. Wheelock of the Star and News and I smiled gently when he told me that he published and edited two newspapers in the county, one Republican and one Democratic .” (emphasis added)

The article was dated 12/8/1880 and signed Samuel Murdock.

This helps to explain the conflicting names of the newspapers Wheelock published.

Murdock wrote regarding the growing number of farms in Taylor County, “…these, with the GREAT AND ALMOST INEXHAUSTIBLE LUMBER TRADE, will soon make the region through which the [rail] road runs, one of the richest in Wisconsin.” (emphasis added)



WESTBORO -- Wellington Haight has a crew of men in the woods cutting pine for S. D. Cone of Westboro.  The logs are hauled [by sleigh] to Cone’s mill.

[John] Duncan and [William S.] Taylor of Westboro have 3 crews of men in the woods. Robert McDonald has one, John McCoy the other and Mr.  Bonneville the third.

Note that Westboro had two good-sized sawmills running at the same time; that was not being duplicated any place else at the time in Taylor County.



SLIEGHING -- Experienced lumbermen say that the present winter has been so far one of the best logging winters for many years. There has not been a time since the snow first came when good [sleigh] loads could not be hauled.  The only drawback experienced is the dryness of the snow, which prevents its packing and making solid roads; but this fault is easily obviated by the use of sprinklers, which not only improve the roads now, but which make solid roads of ice which will remain solid until long after an ordinary snow road would have melted to the ground. Verily, sprinklers (sic) are a great invention.

Sleigh hauling of logs was required in the vast majority of Taylor County logging operations; it was the way to get the logs to the river for spring driving or to the railroad for shipment or to the sawmill.  See the Photo & Document Collection for maps of the sleigh and ice road system that once served Rib Lake.

The same Collection contains photos of the water tankers described here as “sprinklers.”    



GOVERNMENT LANDS -- We are in receipt of the annual report of the Commissioners of Public Lands…..  The lands owned by the State in Taylor County are school lands 640 acres, Agricultural College 80, Normal School 11,144, and Drainage 13,957…

Congress from time to time passed legislation setting aside lands from the public domain to be sold to fund certain projects.  This article gave a fiscal accounting for the several funds.

Congress, for example, gave the states containing federal land every Section 16 to be sold or managed to produce income for local schools.  While most Section 16 lands were promptly sold to settlers, as of 2012, the Wisconsin Board of land Commissioners still owns some Section 16 lands, although none in Taylor County.



AUGUST BENNOT INJURED -- …August Bennot, a young man of about 20, employed in one the Holmes logging camps near Ogema met with a terrible accident.

He was assisting in the loading of a log to the top of the [sleigh] load. Finding that the log was slipping off, he let go of his cant hook and attempted to escape from under it. He was not quite quick enough. The log fell to the ground just in time to catch his foot, completely crushing it from the ankle down. Dr. Hubbell was immediately telegraphed for and went up on the afternoon train [from Medford]…it was decided that amputation was necessary. Dr Hubbel assisted Dr. Wyatt of Phillips, who removed the foot above the ankle in order to get sufficient covering for the bones….

Mr. B. M Holmes, proprietor of the camps and mill at Ogema, where the accident occurred, has, in his usual goodhearted way, ordered at his own expense everything possible for the boy’s welfare and comfort. THIS CONDUCT OF MR. HOLMES IS IN STRIKING CONTRAST TO A LUMBERMAN WE  KNOW OF – WHO TURNED A MAN WITH A  BROKEN LEG OUT OF CAMP – and then deducted half of the four dollars due him—as pay for taking the poor fellow to the railroad station.

It would be another half century before Wisconsin enacted the Workers’ Compensation Law; it guarantees payments to employees injured at work regardless of “fault.”



…Clarence H. Palmer of Westboro has established himself in the mercantile business at that place. Clarence is one of Taylor County’s most promising young men…



GERMAN SETTLERS -- We were favored with a call last Monday by Mr. Joseph Bruder (sic) of the firm of  Bruder & Ludloff of Milwaukee publishers of  [a newspaper], “Der Anseidler in Wisconsin,” devoted  to the interests of the  State of Wisconsin inducing immigrants to settle within its borders…

This is the first mention of a county firm devoted to settling German-speaking settlers in Taylor County.  It was successful.

The correct spelling was not Bruder but Brucker.  The magnificent Brucker & Ludloff Building still stands as of February, 2012, on the northeast corner of Main and Division Streets in downtown Medford.  Unfortunately, there appears inadequate appreciation to prevent its imminent razing.

For several years the State of Wisconsin paid for efforts to recruit settlers from German-speaking Europe, including running an office there.

The Wisconsin Central Railroad ran das Immigranteen Haus, the Immigrant House, in Medford, which housed prospective settlers for several days free of charge.



CHELSEA -- Dave Montour has opened a saloon at Chelsea. Isn’t that crowding things a little? Two saloons and a Temple of Honor, and only about sixty voters in the town.

The Temple of Honor was a lodge dedicated to sobriety and prohibition of alcohol.  Such a Temple functioned at this time in many Wisconsin communities including Westboro and Medford.

The same edition reported; Rev. T. W. Cole held a temperance meeting at Stetsonville one week ago last evening which result in about thirty signers to the pledge and a promise of an organization of Sons of Temperance.  Several Dorchester members of that order were present and assisted in the exercises.

In 1885 newspaperman Wheelock visited Rib Lake and wrote an account.  He noted that John J.  Kennedy allowed neither sale nor use of “mind befuddling liquors in the village.



SUPREME COURT CASE -- J. K. Parish returned from Madison Thursday where he had been to argue the railroad case before the Supreme Court. He reports everything favorable to the county. The case was argued for the county by Mr. Parish, E. L. Browne and S. W. Pinney and for the railroad company by E. H. Abott and W. F. Vilas.

In April, 1881, the Supreme Court issued its decision finding constitutional a law exempting the WC railroad from having to pay real estate taxes.



WESTBORO -- Mr. John Duncan of Westboro reports having already banked about 6,000,000 feet of logs and expects to put in another 1,000,000 feet. Mr. Duncan gave us some very interesting statistics relative to the disadvantages of manufacturing lumber when there is no competition of shipping facilities…

The 1873 contract Duncan and his partners signed with the Wisconsin Central Railroad for their Westboro mill site REQUIRED DUNCAN TO SHIP ALL HIS LUMBER TO MARKET BY WAY OF THE WISCONSIN CENTRAL RAILROAD.

You can read the contract in the Photo and Document Collection at



L.[Linus] M. Marshall of Green Bay, proprietor of the saw mill at Chelsea, and also heavily interested in several other mills on the [Wisconsin Central railroad] line, was in town Wednesday. Mr.  Marshall is an indefatigable worker and richly deserves the fortune which he has accumulated after so many years of work and honorable investment.

Marshall took over the Chelsea sawmill found by Abram Taylor.  A map of the mill and lease with the railroad with Taylor are in the Photo and Document Collection.



JOHN J. KENNEDY -- Kennedy & Bro. logging on the Yellow River lost a valuable yoke of oxen by a tree falling on them, one day this week.

THIS IS A REFERENCE TO JOHN J. KENNEDY, who in the summer of 1881 camped on the shores of Rib Lake, laid plans for a sawmill that cut its first board on December 2, 1881.

They spent part of the winter logging pine in central Taylor County and banking them along the Yellow River. Later editions of the Star & News will report their log drive [westward into the Chippewa River].



A.S. Russell, [Taylor] county surveyor, is looking up trespass on county lands in the Towns of Chelsea and Westboro. He reports there are forty lumber [logging] camps in those towns.

Russell was checking for illegal cutting of timber on county owned lands – the vast bulk of which Taylor County acquired by “tax title.” If a private landowner failed to pay real estate taxes, the county could and often did become the owner through a process called “tax title.”  Stealing trees from county lands was commonplace.

Land on which real estate taxes had not been paid were “tax delinquent.” See 4-9-1881 entry; an estimated 2,000 parcels were tax delinquent.



WESTBORO SCHOOL -- Report of the Westboro school for the month ending March 4, 1881: number of days taught…19 ½, number of names registered…24, average attendance 20.

Pupils over 90 % in scholarship: Willie James, Charles James, Ella  Fitze, Clara Fitze, Freddie Fitze, Bertha  Mead, Hattie Cone, Oliver Bonneville, Phyllis Bonneville, Eddie Fitze, Howard Fitze, Fannie Palmer   /s/ Hattie M Hull, teacher



WISCONSIN CENTRAL -- The railroad company paid taxes in the Town of Little Black amounting to $1,100. They have paid in all of the towns a small percentage of their tax and in all probability will let the balance run.  T. L. Kennan, attorney for the company, has been in the county for several days looking over tax matters.

The failure of the Wisconsin Central Railroad to pay its real estate taxes to the Towns of Little Black, Medford, Chelsea and Westboro was a long-standing issue.

The same edition reported; “Mr. Kennan paid $700 for taxes in the Town of Medford.”

Still further the edition reported; “It is estimated that the loss to the Wisconsin Central Company during the recent snow and ice blockade will reach nearly $200,000. The suspension of business, loss of freight charges, and two engines wrecked. And the large extra force of men employed to clear the track, all go to make this enormous sum.”



LOG TOLL -- An amendment has been introduced in the [Wisconsin] Legislature authorizing William Baker and others to increase the toll on logs in the Yellow River, where they have made improvements.

Many lumbermen like Baker got legislation passed authorizing them to build dams to store water to aid in log driving; such Legislation would also routinely authorize the removal of rocks or other impediments to log driving.  This legislation also authorized the man or company making these “improvements” to the river to charge a toll when others wanted to float logs over their dams.

See the Photo and Document Collection for a copy of the act authorizing the construction of the logging dam at Little Black and the charging of tolls to drive a log through it. The dam owner was the Davis & Starr Lumber Company.

The April 9, 1881 edition of the Taylor County Star & News printed Chapter 221 (Laws of 1881) “an Act to authorize John Duncan, his assistants and assigns, to build dams on Silver Creek in Taylor and Price Counties and maintain the same   for floating logs, and to charge tolls for driving logs and the use thereof, and to protect their rights and improvements thereon.”    



WESTBORO -- S. D. Cone, the Westboro mill man, reported that his mill had been running about one week, doing good work. He has about 2,000,000 feet of logs to saw.

The Cone sawmill was on Silver Creek north of current CTH D; it later became the Westboro Lumber Company.



TOLL TO FLOAT LOGS THROUGH WESTBORO -- The TC STAR & NEWS published in their entirety Chapter 258 authorizing William Baker to dam and improve parts of the Yellow River and charge tolls and Chapter 221 authorizing John Duncan to do the same on Silver Creek above the Wisconsin Central railroad crossing.

John Duncan built and maintained a dam on Silver Creek just 100 feet west of the Pine Line Trail bridge.  This dam created a mill pond for Duncan’s mill. This law authorized Duncan to charge a toll from any other logger or mill owner wanting to drive logs through the Duncan dam.  Silver Creek fed into the Jump, Chippewa and Mississippi Rivers, on which there were many sawmills.



LAND OFFICE AT WAUSAU, WIS. NOTICE -- Notice is hereby given that the following named settler has filed a notice of his intention to make final proof of his claim and secure final entry thereon on the 17th day of May, 1881 before the clerk of the circuit court in Medford, Wis., viz., HENRY JAMES…for Lots 1 & 2 and the West ½ of the Northwest ¼, Section 10, T 33 North Range 2 East…

Henry James gave his name to James Lake.  His homestead land, government lots 1 and 2, are on the east side of James Lake and, in 2012, the site of Neale Lodge and other buildings of Camp Forest Springs, renamed Forest Springs in 2015.



WESTBORO -- Duncan and Taylor’s mill at Westboro started up this week for the season’s run with a large stock of logs on the pond and river [Silver Creek].  In another column will be found the law passed by the Legislature this winter authorizing that firm to improve Silver Creek.

This mill pond was formed by a dam on Silver Creel located where business highway 13 crosses the creek in 2012.  There are no extant signs of a mill pond except a grass covered wetland.

The state law referred to authorized Duncan & Taylor to:

A) Make Silver Creek between Westboro & North Harper Lake easier for log drives by essentially doing whatever they wanted, e.g. digging new channel or removing obstructions:

B) Building a dam to create a mill pond for the Duncan & Taylor Westboro sawmill:

C) Charging others fees to allow others to drive logs through the Westboro dam.



SPIRIT -- Two former Medford citizens, Nelson and Charles Auly, have been chosen chairman and treasurer of the Town of Brannan [now called Town of Spirit] in Price County. The Auly brothers are good men and the citizens of Brannan have shown good judgment in electing them to office.

Price County and the Town of Brannan had just recently been created.  The township was later renamed “Spirit.”



CHELSEA -- L. [Linus] M. Marshall’s mill at Chelsea is running night and day, turning out lumber and shingles at a rapid rate.

The paper also reported that 24 railroad flat cars were being loaded with lumber in Medford to be sent to Manitoba, Canada.  

The treeless prairies served as a great market for Wisconsin lumber.




The list is huge-containing quarter quarter [“forties’] throughout the county. I estimate the list to contain 2,000 such legal descriptions.

The office of the Rib Lake Historical Society is in Section 13 Town 33 North Range 2 East. The list reported 5 “forties’ there tax delinquent, i.e.  NE SW, NW NE, NE SE, SE SE AND NE NE.

The usual explanation for this is that speculators/ lumbermen acquired some interest in the land, THEN CUT THE PINE OFF THE LAND, and thereafter let the land go tax delinquents with the county eventually acquiring it via a tax deed. But, there was no sawmill in Rib Lake nor any mill convenient to which to transport logs from section 13, 33 2E, at that time.  This leads to the conclusion that sawmills downstream from Rib Lake, e.g, mills at Rib Falls, Wausau or Stevens Point, were cutting in Section 13, T33-R2E, or it may be speculators bought the lands but their logging plans fell through and they abandoned the lands.

The John Week Lumber Co. logged pine in Taylor County and drove it down the Rib River to its sawmill.

The John Dessert Lumber Co. of Mosinee built a logging dam on Wood Lake to help float its timber from Wood Lake down Wood, Rib and Wisconsin Rivers to its Mosinee, Wisconsin, sawmill.  



PAYDAY -- Duncan and Taylor paid out $20,000 in cash last week to men who had been at work for that firm the past winter. Laboring men like to work for such a firm.

This Westboro firm was owned by John Duncan and William S. Taylor.

The latter is not to be confused with William R. Taylor, governor of the State of Wisconsin in 1875 when Taylor County was formed and for whom the county is named.



KENNEDY -- The Kennedy Bros., who have been putting in logs on the North Fork of the Yellow River the past winter, left with a crew of log drivers last Wednesday prepared to take advantage of the flood.

The “flood’ is in reference to the spring flood of water due to snow melt and rains...

The founder of Rib Lake was John J. Kennedy.  He had three brothers, Angus, Hugh and William.


John J., known to all as “J. J.”, was born in Canada in 1845, making him 36. While this article makes it clear that he went on the log drive, we do not know if he rode the floating logs or walked the stream banks.  In any case, Kennedy would have a rugged time since there were no roads in the vicinity at that time.

The North Fork of the Yellow River starts a couple of miles west of the modern Mondeaux Flowage in Town 33 R 1 west, Town of Westboro.  The Yellow River runs westerly through Town 33 Range 2 West then north of modern Perkinstown.  In 2012 the popular Chequamegon Waters Flowage has been created by damming the Yellow River.

The Yellow River eventually enters the Chippewa River just upstream from Chippewa Falls. I surmise that the pine logs John J. Kennedy was driving were sawed in Chippewa Falls or in the City of Eau Claire, although the logs could have been floated to the Mississippi River where many mills lined its banks.



POPPLE PULPWOOD -- Pat O’Shea returned from his camp 4 miles north of Phillips yesterday. He and his partner, C. C. Webster, have cut and shipped to the paper mills at Appleton the past winter about 700 cords of spruce and poplar wood to be used in the manufacture of paper. The last [railroad] car load was shipped Thursday. (emphasis added)

Here is proof that at least some of the virgin forest contained aspen, “popple,” which eventually took over much of the logged landscape.

An affidavit in the case of Marshfield Land & Lumber Co. versus John Week Lumber Co in 1900 reported that poplar was growing near Goodrich.



“LEGENDARY LUMBERMAN WEYERHAEUSER GETS HIS START IN WISCONSIN” -- Four weeks ago we reported the sale of property belonging to the Chippewa Lumber & Boom Company to the Mississippi Logging Co. From the Winona Republican the following facts are gleaned:

The names of the purchasers are: Weyerhaeuser [Frederick] & Denham…

Of the 100,000 acres [purchased], 50,000 is uncut pine…


Frederick Weyerhaeuser was an organizational genius; the Weyerhaeuser Lumber Co. flourishes to this day.



RAILROAD LANDS TAX EXEMPT -- The Supreme Court of this state has decided that the act exempting the lands of the Wisconsin Central [Railroad] from taxation is constitutional, and Taylor County is therefore beaten, The opinion of the court was written by Justice Cassidy, Justice Orton filed a dissenting opinion. [The lawsuit] has been pending for two years. (emphasis added)

In 1881 the Wisconsin Central was the only railroad operating in Taylor County.



DELAYS IN RAILROAD PASSENGER SERVICE -- The trains of the Wisconsin Central have been delayed very much the past two weeks by the trains on the Wisconsin & Minnesota, the road bed of the latter being new and unbalasted. The melting snow and the heavy rains have softened up the roads delaying trains very much. Every day trains on the main line wait at Abbotsford for the St. Paul train.  The train due here at 2:48 pm usually arrives about 5 pm.

The Wisconsin and Minnesota Railroad, a subsidiary of the Wisconsin Central Railroad, had just completed a line from Abbottsford running westerly and ending in St Paul.  Although the part between Abbottsford and Owen was removed in the 1930’s, the remainder remains in operation in 2012.



JUMP RIVER “IMPROVEMENTS” -- We are informed that lumbermen operating on the Jump River will this summer improve that stream to facilitate log driving.  Messrs J. [John] Owen, [Frederick] Weyerhaeuser, Ingram, Rust and Garland, are the parties principally interested.

“Improving” the stream for log driving routinely included removing rocks, blasting away bedrock, and rerouting by digging straighter routes.



TAX CERTIFICATES -- Never in the history of Taylor County has there been such a rush for tax certificates as there has [been] this spring. The treasurer’s office has been attended every day by parties interested in land, and some sharp bidding has been indulged in, a sign of prosperity we call it.

People would routinely read the list of tax delinquent land and go to the treasurer’s office if interested in acquiring it.  The successful bidder got a tax certificate; if the land owner did not pay the taxes  within the prescribed time, the holder of the tax certificate obtained a tax deed from the county.



CEDAR SHINGLES -- Orville Pierce, son of A. Pierce, of Westboro, employed in Duncan & Taylor’s mill, packed 55 THOUSAND shingles in one day this week. That can be called ‘lighting packing.’ Is there a man on the [railroad] line that can beat it?



TANBARK -- Hemlock bark will be shipped from every station on the [railroad] line the coming summer.

There was already a market for hemlock bark.  A Medford store offered to buy it for $7.00 a cord in trade.  Much of this “tanbark” went by rail to Milwaukee, which had several large tanneries.



The following letter was received from Westboro, and explains itself.

T. Wheelock, Dear  Sir,

We are obliged to host the world renowned emblem, the broom, last night, having cut 78,353 feet of logs. We feel confident that we can raise this amount if necessary. Please give credit to Joseph Gotchy, head sawyer.

Yours Resp’y, John Duncan.

The letter announces a new, local record for one days sawing at a sawmill, to wit, 78,353 board feet.  That was quite an accomplishment for the time and for the state of the equipment used.

About 50 years later the Rib Lake Lumber Company claimed a record of sorts for cutting 144,000 board feet during one shift.

The head sawyer was the man who operated the very first saw that a log entering a mill encountered.  He needed to make quick and good decisions about what type of boards and timbers to try to saw out of each log. The speed of the mill operation, and, therefore, its profitability, rode on his shoulders.

Earl Thums operated a small sawmill in Westboro. He was truly a delightful guy but some of his lumber was crooked and uneven in sizes; his mill has been jokingly called the “Thick & Thin Lumber Co.”

One day I asked Earl just how straight he could saw a board; his quick and insightful answer: “It all depends upon how much time I take.”



DUNCAN WESTBORO MILL RECORD -- June 22 John Duncan’s saw mill at Westboro cut 65,669 feet of logs with one circular [saw], Joseph Gotchy, head sawyer. The same day the shingle mill cut 119,000 [shingles] with one double cutter and a hand machine.

The same edition reported; “W. M. Upham & Bro. sawmill at Marshfield cut 80,845 feet of logs with one circular [saw] out of 326 logs, 20 percent of which were hardwood.”

“The mill at Marshfield has one advantage over any other mill along the [railroad] line, it has a steam feed. A mill with the old style feed cannot compete successfully with one having a steam feed.”

I surmise “steam feed” meant a steam-powered system to bring the saw log into the mill, repositioning it as needed on the carriage, and move it against the saw with a steam-powered carriage.--RPR



WISCONSIN CENTRAL -- A. Lunt passed down the line. Mr. Lunt has two crews of men in the woods in Price county looking over railroad land, but has received word to discontinue operations for the present. The officials probably have other work for Lunt and his men, who are competent woodsmen.

The railroad had received a land grant of every other section of land from the government on either side of its line. I surmise Lunt was inspecting this land to determine its timber and value in preparation for its sale.  This was called “cruising.”



RAILROAD TIES 14 CENTS -- 10,000 railroad cross ties wanted by J. B. Thompson of the village [Medford], for which 14 cents will be paid. They are to be of hemlock or rock elm and to be delivered on the right of way anywhere between Dorchester and Westboro. (emphasis added)

Surprisingly, hemlock was a preferred species.



ROAD TO SPIRIT LAKE -- The new road from Westboro to Spirit Lake is nearly completed, several of the contractors having worked out their jobs and received their orders. Westboro is very much in need of roads and improvements and there is also room for settlers who would no doubt locate there if inducements were offered.

This is the first mention of any road to Spirit Lake. While its route is not mentioned, the road may have used, at least in part, the route of the modern Rustic Road #1 since Henry James had a homestead on the northeast side of James Lake.




     A large supply of pine, which will take many years to cut, is tributary to that lake, making it one of the best locations for a mill in Northern Wisconsin.

     It is not definitely settled yet whether the railroad [Wisconsin Central] will build a spur track from Chelsea to the lake, to be operated by Messrs. Kennedy Bros., or a plank road will be built by the latter to facilitate hauling lumber to the railroad [at Chelsea].

    The business boom has undoubtedly struck Chelsea, and her future holds many promises of prosperity. (emphasis added)

According to A History of Rib Lake written by Guy Wallace, J.J. Kennedy earlier in 1881 had a chance meeting with a successful lumberman, Curtis, who had extensive pine holdings around Rib Lake; Curtis hired John J. Kennedy to run the sawmill to be built on the shores of Rib Lake and allowed John J. Kennedy to speculate in pine stumpage and saw it at the Rib Lake mill with J.J. Kennedy pocketing the proceeds from the stumpage he bought.

Kennedy lost no time in taking Curtis up on the deal. The Rib Lake sawmill, owned by Curtis and Company, was built in 1881 and cut its first log on December 21, 1881.

Thus began the modern history of Rib Lake.



JAMES LAKE NAMESAKE -- Henry James of Westboro was in town [Medford] Monday. He was on his way to Merrill, but will soon return and be employed at the new mill at Rib Lake.



Kaiserliche Deutsche Post   Hamburger Linie [Royal German Post office…]


Thus began the first ad published in the TC STAR & NEWS in German.  It advertised passage by steam ship from Europe to America.

Other portions of the paper carried news that Medford residents bought steamship tickets to bring relatives here. Taylor County had a growing German population which would soon turn into a flood which included all of my grandparents, Bertha Steiner, Wilhelm Gebauer, Ida Lange and Herrmann Emanuel Rusch.



WESTBORO’S SECOND SAWMILL -- C. [Clement] C. Palmer has purchased the [saw] mill property formerly owned by S. D. Cone. The sawmill is small but contains good substantial machinery and is capable of being made into a paying piece of property. Mr. Palmer was one of the original company that erected the mill, and has a thorough knowledge of his purchase, and work it may be expected to perform.

This mill stood on the west bank of Silver Creek 1000 feet north of the modern county highway bridge across that creek. It evolved into the Heidrick & Matson Lumber Co and, in 1902, into the Westboro Lumber Company.



TANBARK -- Charles E. Williams, the Medford bark buyer, has shipped 1,300 cords of [hemlock] bark, and has additional contracted for.



KENNEDY BUSY AT RIB LAKE -- Work on Kennedy Bros. mill at Rib Lake, in the Town of Chelsea (sic), is being rapidly pushed forward. A road has been cut to the mill site. It will be graded and turnpike and fitted for use both in winter and summer.

Rib Lake was then in the Town of Westboro.

The site of Kennedy’s mill was on the northwest shore of Rib Lake.  It sawed its first board on 12/2/1881.  Replacements mills occupied the same site until June, 1948, when the Rib Lake Lumber Company sawed its final board.



 [The] Ferguson Bros. of Spencer have purchased D. [David] McCartney’s [saw] mill property in this village [Medford] and will take possession of the saw mill Nov. 1st, the store on Dec. 1st, and the planning mill on Jan. 1st. The purchase price was $20,000. The sale does not include the stock of lumber.

While the paper has not printed the first names of the Ferguson brothers of Spencer, Wis., they could well be relatives of John J. Kennedy.  At least one of J.J. Kennedy’s brothers married a Ferguson. William Kennedy married Christy Ann Ferguson.  See  KENNEDY FAMILY: MOVERS & SHAKERS

J.J. Kennedy and family lived in Spencer from at least Oct. 30. 1876 until their move to Rib Lake.

The McCartney sawmill was the biggest in Medford. Founded by Semple with the construction of the Wisconsin Central in 1873, it eventually evolved into the Medford Lumber Co., which cut its last log in 1926.

The edition of 2/11/1882 announced that Mr. P. P. Ferguson had charge of outside mill operations and that 210 men were employed.



KENNEDY AT RIB LAKE -- The new Kennedy Bros. mill at Rib Lake will be in operation in about a month. The frame [of timbers] is already up and the machinery is expected at once. One of the boilers has been hauled to the mill and the other three will immediately follow.  Kennedy Bros. are young, enterprising, industrious and experienced, and the venture will surely succeed. It will be an acquisition to Chelsea and Taylor County.

Note the report that the mill will have four boilers—signs of a good sized mill.

At least one map identified the new settlement as “Kennedy Mills,” rather than Rib Lake.



KENNEDY RAILROAD SIDINGS -- Civil Engineer Agnew of the [Wisconsin Central Railroad] was at Chelsea last week running lines for two new sidings to be put in there.  One of the tracks will be 800 feet long and the other 400 feet in length. They will be used by the Kennedy Bros. in loading lumber. The tracks are to be put in opposite the Thos. Healds homestead, where [the] Kennedy Bros. have located their lumber yard.

Until the railroad spur to the Kennedy mill at Rib Lake was completed in 1883, lumber from the mill was transported by wagon or sleigh to Chelsea and loaded on railroad cars spotted in this rail yard.

Over the years the rail yard at Chelsea grew to contain 4 or 5 spur tracks-some over a quarter mile (1,320 feet) long.  Both empty and loaded railroad cars were kept there for the extensive Rib Lake mills and tannery.

The remaining yard and mainline railroad tracks were removed in 1989 when the entire rail road between Medford and Prentice was abandoned. Fortunately, the right of way was preserved by its conversion into The Pine Line, a recreation trail.



IMMIGRANT HOUSE -- A. [Albert] J.  Perkins is putting up an immigrant house on lots 13 and 14, block 9, of the village [Medford]. The structure is to be 18 x 84 [feet] and 1 ½ stories in height and will contain 7 rooms 12x18. The center room will be fitted up for a common kitchen and will be used for cooking by all the occupants of the building during their stay.

Word has been received by Mr. Perkins from Land Agent Abbott of the Wisconsin Central Railroad that a ship load of immigrants are now on their way to the county….  Much credit is due the railroad for their untiring efforts to settle up the country.

My mother, Martha Hedwig Rusch, nee Gebauer, always referred to this structure in the German, “Immigranten Haus.”  Its purpose was to provide a temporary residence for new settlers as they got off the train.  The Wisconsin Central offered one week free stay in an apartment in this house while prospective settlers checked for land. The railroad still had tens of thousands of acres for sale from its federal land grant.  



J.J. KENNEDY -- Mr. J.J. Kennedy was in [Medford] yesterday. He is up to his ears in business connected with his new mill in Rib Lake.



The ground for J.J. Kennedy and Bros. new siding at Chelsea is all graded and ready for track laying.



W. H. Haight and Wellington Haight, both residents of Chelsea, were in [Medford] this week. We hate to see them go away. They are good company.

Wellington Lake is named after Wellington Haight.



Mr. John Ferguson, a member of the firm of Butterfield, Ferguson & Co., of [Medford] who lost a foot by a railroad accident at Spencer several weeks ago, arrived in Medford.



KENNEDY SAWMILL OPENS DEC. 21, 1881 -- Kennedy Bros. mill at Rib Lake, five miles from Chelsea, started up for the winters run last Wednesday [12/21/1881]. Mr. J. J. Kennedy informed us that the mill was found on trial to be all in first class running order, something very unusual for new mills.


While Historian Bundick reports that small logging operations took place near Rib Lake earlier, the founding of Rib Lake took place in 1881.

Mrs. Gustave Bielenberg wrote in her 1936 history of Rib Lake that the Kennedy mill sawed its first board Dec. 2, 1881.  Apparently normal mill operations started December 21, 1881.

Sawmilling at Rib Lake may have set a Wisconsin record for longevity.  June 4, 1948, saw the last log sawed at the Rib Lake mill – which occupied the site of Kennedy’s mill.  This means mills at the same site on the shores of Rib Lake made lumber for 67 years!

The Kennedy sawmill site was centered on a small hill on the northwest corner of Rib lake; that “center” in 2018 is about 100 feet west of the boat launch off of STH 102.  In 2018 the “center” is occupied by the residence of Mrs. Estelle Berg, f/k/a Hanke, 60 Mill Lane.  When the basement for her house was excavated c. 1985, one could clearly see the former sawmill’s cement foundation.




HARDWOOD -- One industry that is needed in Taylor County is a hardwood saw mill with machinery for getting out [wagon] hubs, spokes, wagon timber, sleigh timber and cabinet lumber. The best timber in the world for fine ornamental cabinet work abounds in these woods, and is now being converted into stove wood. We have seen maple, with a grain to make a furniture manufacturers’ mouth water—so to speak.  There is millions in it. We are building houses of pine when there is hardwood timber all around us that would work up for floors, windows and door casing, wainscoting, etc. elegantly. Let us have a hard wood mill.

On 2/10/2012 Herbert Magnuson, a spry 84 year old from Spirit, told me that the virgin yellow birch from his father's farm was not cut until World War II. Prior to that, there was no market.



“Old Bill” Skinner, one of the best mill men in Wisconsin, now employed at J.  J. Kennedy’s mill in Rib Lake went down the line Thursday. He talked over the “beer and cracker” days with someone we know of.



SAWMILL MOVED TO WHITTLESEY -- The old sawmill at little Black is rapidly disappearing and will soon be among the “has beens.” It is to be moved to Whittlesey and put up by Sanger & Rockwell, who by adding new machinery and another boiler will increase the former’s capacity.

The substantial sawmill at Little Black and on the Little Black River was torn down and its machinery moved to Whittlesey.




J.J. Kennedy was at Spencer Tuesday last, purchasing teams [of horses]

The earliest photograph in the Photo and Document Collection. Rib Lake historical Society, LLC, is a spectacular photo of the Kennedy’s mill taken in 1884; in the foreground about two dozen teams of Kennedy’s horses are proudly displayed.



A workman named Ludwig Olm, employed in the lumber woods at Rib Lake by J.J. Kennedy & Bro. was killed last Tuesday by a limb falling from a tall pine tree and striking him on the head. Deceased was a German, about 41 years of age and resided in Randule, Calumet County, where he leaves four children. At the time of the accident he was sawing logs, when a limb fell and killed him instantly. The body was taken home.

At Kennedy’s mill last Friday, a man had his left arm and right leg broken, that of the arm being a compound fracture, the bones protruding from the wound.

Less than a week from its start-up, Kennedy’s Rib Lake mill had its first grievous accident.  Many more would follow.

The truth was that while Kennedy’s mill was a dangerous place to work, it probably was less dangerous than most.




Three hungry orphans, Pete McCourt, Fred Barrett and ye Knight of the festive quill [T. C. Wheelock], visited J.J. Kennedy and Bros. mill at Rib Lake, in the Town of Westboro 8(sic) miles northeast of the village of Chelsea last Tuesday. Each of the party had an object in view and they went unarmed with the exception of a flask of cold tea, which could be seen protruding from the pocket of the first mentioned gentleman.

The sleighing from Medford to the mill in question was found to be excellent with the exception of about four miles in the vicinity of Whittlesey. At Chelsea we stopped for a short time to exchange courtesies with C. H. Gearhart, Boniface of the Chelsea House [hotel], who is always courteous and obliging. We notice a look of relief stealing over his countenance when we mentioned that we were not intending to stop for dinner. Wonder why he was pleased?

Mr. William Kennedy [the youngest brother of John J.] was taken into the cutter, and the party turned their horses toward the mill. The way runs for about a mile on the county road almost due  north, the taking a logging road running a little to the north of east (sic)  it winds around on low  ground the entire  distance to the mill, thus avoiding the hills, and making the hauling of lumber, which all comes out over this road, an easy affair.

At their mill the party was met by Mr. Duncan McLennan [J.J. Kennedy’s brother in law], the gentlemanly clerk of the mill firm, who made this first duty to fill up the aching void under each individual vest with an excellent repast, which was appreciated. The mill was then visited. It is not entirely completed, but is turning out lumber at the rate of 80,000 feet every 24 hours. It contains a circular saw, gang edger and gang trimmer, all of the latest and most improved patterns, an improved Chalendar shingle machine and the necessary small machinery found in all mills. The shingle mill is not yet running, owing to the non-arrival of the bolter, which is used to cut up the bolts for the large double cutting machine.

Five boilers supply the steam to the motor (sic), a large 18 by 28 inch engine. The frame of the mill is very solidly built and the object of the builders seems to have been “strength and simplicity” or to get the greatest amount of work with the least possible machinery. Mr. William Skinner superintends the mill which is itself a guarantee that it will do good work and plenty of it. The head sawyers are Ben Wallace and Frank Loehner, the former working days and the latter nights. W. H Skinner, the son of the foreman, is night foreman[1]and filer.

There are two boarding houses near the mill, one for the day crew and the men working in the woods near the mill and the other is occupied by the night crew. The latter house   has just been completed and was occupied for the first time last Monday. In a little room in the new boarding house is a stock of indispensable merchandise, consisting of mackinaw clothing, boot packs, tobacco and such, all of which is doled out to the boys by the clerk, Mr. McLennan[2].  The day boarding house is in charge of Mr. J. R.  Davis, who is said to be one of the best cooks in this neck of the woods, and the other house, is run by the family of Mr. H. [Hugh] D. McMillan, Mr. M. also acting in the capacity of village blacksmith. Of course, there are many things yet to add to make the inhabitants of the little berg thoroughly comfortable, but the proprietors are using every effort for improvement and in a very short time the results of their labors will be manifest.

To the east and southeast of the village stretches one of those little lakes which are so numerous in northern Wisconsin.  This lake covers a section of land [actually, Rib Lake consists of 320 acres or ½ section] and is bounded by high banks, very little of the shore being marshy. Its waters abound with pickerel [northern pike], moskalonge (sic) lake bass and other species of the fishy tribe. It is to be  requested that  the fish which are not so abundant will soon vanish, for the lake is to be the receptacle for the summer’s supply of logs for the mill, and as fish cannot live in water in which pine logs are floating, their death warrant is signed, sealed and delivered. Only two miles from the mill is another lake which will supply the settlers with fish when needed.

Crews of carpenters are employed all the time around the mill and on the houses in course of erection. The carpenter work is under the direction of Mr. William McCourt, a brother of the Medford McCourt’s, who is claimed to be an excellent workman. All around this new village in every direct stretches extensive pine lands, some of the best timber in their Wisconsin pineries being tributary to this mill.

The mill firm Kennedy & Bro.[3] and their backers, Messrs. Curtis Bros. & Co., own about 70,000,000 feet of stumpage, and it is estimated that there is more than double that amount that is naturally tributary to their mill and will eventually come into their hands. This will insure many years employment for the mill.

Our visit was necessarily short and we left  regretting that we  could not spend more time in the little hamlet among the whispering pines, and determined to soon accept the hearty invitation to “come again”, given on our departure.

According to historian Mrs. Gustav Bielenberg writing in 1936, the first construction of any sort by Kennedy and his crew at Rib Lake took place in the summer of 1881.  So T. L. Wheelock recorded these observations after less than one year of Kennedy’s work. Bearing in mind that Rib Lake was cut off from the world but for a 5 mile sleigh or wagon road to Chelsea, the amount of development in such a short time was truly amazing!

The sleigh road followed the low, flat lands toward Black Lake.  In 2012, these wetlands are still clearly visible from STH 13 at NE NE 36-33-1E.

Here is confirmation of Guy Wallace’s claim that J.J. Kennedy came to Rib Lake at the behest of George Curtis to primarily cut Curtis timber.  The mill site and the “Kennedy mill” built there were owned by the Curtis Brothers from 1881 to 1893.  J.J. Kennedy purchased the land and sawmill in 1893 from Curtis Brothers.  

The public was totally unaware that the Rib Lake mill was owned by non-locals.  None of the Curtis Brothers lived or worked on even visited Rib Lake.  In contrast, J.J. Kennedy and his three brothers were active in creating the settlement and mill from the very beginning.  The Kennedy’s lived in Rib Lake, were “hands on operators” of the mill, company store and hotel.  While some newspaper editors wrote about Kennedy Brothers mill, the public simply called it Kennedy’s mill, referring to John J. Kennedy, the ubiquitous, apparent owner.




The writer last Wednesday visited what soon will be the village of Whittlesey for the purpose of gathering information regarding the building of the [saw] mill at that place. G. W.  Norton, the pioneer, acted as my host…

The mill firm, Sanger, Rockwell & Co., of Milwaukee has purchased of Mr. Norton a mill site, containing 40 acres west of the [railroad] track, the Black River running diagonally through it. They have already constructed the dam, and have commenced framing the mill. The dam is about 20 rods from where the mill will stand. It is 240 feet in length running from bank to bank, which are at that point high.  One 11 foot gate will let off the surplus water, and also serve as a sluice gate for the logs which are to be run down stream. A head of 12 feet of water can be raised by this dam.

Near the main track of the railroad and at the end of the switch track the mill will be built. It will be framed by heavy timbers making a structure of 90 by 140 feet, to contain 3 boilers, one 18x28 inch engine, circular [saw], gang edger, gang trimmer, slab saws, two shingle machines, etc. etc. Mr. Anton Stollenwork, an experienced mill builder, has the contract for putting up the mill, and it was from him we learned these facts.

The Village proper is now being surveyed and platted by County surveyor A. S.  Russell.  Mr. Norton informs  us that he will lay out 50  lots on this land on  both side of the  [railroad] track, south of the  present switch, and offer them for sale as soon as  possible…..

At Sanger,  Rockwell & Co.’s logging camp, 2 ½ miles from the village, there are about 60 men and 18 teams [of horses] employed in cutting, skidding and making roads…..  The intention of the company is to putting all the logs they can with the force now employed, but as their timber, or  a good share of it, grows on the banks of the  [Black] River, they can log both summer and winter, thus ensuring a supply. They estimate the amount of their timber to insure about a 12 year run.

The company will build, in addition to their mill, a store and boarding house or hotel. The gentlemen comprising the firm are experience mill men financially sound, and their new enterprise is an acquisition to the business interests of Taylor County.

In constructing its railroad it was customary for the Wisconsin Central Railroad to put in switches about every five miles and to name the brand new town it hoped would be built there.  The site described in this article was named ‘Charlestown’ and appeared as such on railroad maps.

The board of directors of the Wisconsin Central Railroad was dominated by men from Boston, Massachusetts, and chose names of village around Boston for these new town sites; this explains naming Marshfield, Dorchester Medford, Charlestown, etc.

This article fails to explain why the name Whittlesey was chosen for the 2/1882 plat of the “Village of Whittlesey,” created in place of Charlestown.  I provided an explanation for the choice of the name in an article, “How Charlestown became Whittlesey,” published several years ago in the Star News, which you can find in the Photo and Document Collection of the Rib Lake Historical Society website; in short, the new village was named Whittlesey after Asaph Whittlesey, first mayor of Ashland, Wisconsin, and first assemblyman to sit in the Wisconsin Legislature representing north Wisconsin.

Mr. & Mrs. G.W. Norton caused the plat of “The Village of Whittlesey,” to be recorded with the Taylor County Register of Deeds Office in February, 1882.  I surmise they chose Whittlesey to name the newly-platted village for several reasons:

A) Ezra Whittlesey owned the dam site there;

B) the name “Charlestown” had not caught on;

C) the Nortons hoped for some favor in return from Ezra Whittlesey, who was a successful businessman and then in the Wisconsin Legislature.

Note the 1/21/1882 article explaining that much of the machinery used in the Sanger and Rockwell mill at Whittlesey came from the razed saw mill at Little Black.



Ed.  [Edward] H. Winchester was up the line early in the week on insurance business. He has been writing up a policy on Kennedy’s mill.

The palatial Hotel Winchester in Medford was named for him.



Frank Loehner and Leopold Hardky came down from Kennedy’s mill Saturday and spent Sunday in the bosom of their families.



J.J. Kennedy was a passenger bound for Spencer on Tuesday train where he had been called to see his brother Angus who was seriously ill from the effects of a cold contracted on the Yellow River and which had settled in the lungs.



WESTBORO MILL SERVED BY RAILROAD -- George Allen has been doing a splendid job for John Duncan as anyone can see by glancing at the fine lot of logs banked on the [railroad] right of way between Chelsea and Westboro.  George is a good businessman and knows how to run a first class camp.

George Allen frequently bought “stumpage” from landowners, i.e. the right to cut the trees.  See the Photo & Document Collection at the Rib Lake Historical Society website for copies of Allen’s and others’ stumpage contracts.   John Duncan was the manager and part owner of the firm of Duncan and Taylor whose Westboro sawmill was on the Wisconsin Central Railroad tracks just north of Silver Creek.

While Duncan still got some logs by floating them to his mill on Silver Creek, railroad transport via the Wisconsin Central was playing an ever more dominant role.




LETTER FROM J.J. KENNEDY - February 21, 1882–To: Editor, Star & News.

If a few items from me will be of any service, you are welcome to such as I can give. Our little burg is getting on splendidly; we now have eight tenant houses, with families in six of them and more coming in as soon as we have buildings completed for them.

The recent thaw had no effect on J.J. Kennedy, but he rather used the time by banking 118,400 feet of logs on Rib Lake on Friday last, and it wasn’t much of a day for hauling [logs] either, the roads have improved since by the cold  weather, and the snow we have had.

We are delivering lumber at the railroad tracks [at Chelsea] at the rate of 70,000 feet per day, and the way the mill is working no one can be idle. We want  to tell that Centralia [a then village south of Nekoosa, Wisconsin] that E. P. Lamb is working in our camp, A. McDonnell foreman, has him beat [by] 1,100 feet [of pine], by putting it with his team at one load 4,380 feet of logs. [They also] have put in from their Camp to date 2,200,000 feet with an average of six teams [of horses].

William Layman from mill camp has put in 1,260,000 feet, with Peter Bonneville from his camp, has put in 1,450,000 feet, all of them putting in the logs at the mill. We have one and a half million feet of lumber at the railroad tracks [at Chelsea]. If the roads hold out for 30 days [we] will have as much [more] there.

LAKE VIEW HOUSE, RIB LAKE, WIS. J.J. Kennedy, Proprietor

You can sense the pride of accomplishment in this letter of John J. Kennedy...  Kennedy built “tenant houses” which he leased to workers.

There is no substantial waterway that flows into Rib Lake; therefore the logs at this time were hauled by sleigh and dumped on the frozen lake.

I spent today, February 12, 2012 looking for possible routes for Kennedy’s sleigh road running between Rib Lake and Chelsea. I found a couple of possible routes of mostly level land and even a draw near Black Lake THRU WHICH THE SLEIGH ROAD MAY HAVE BEEN LOCATED.

The reference to feet of logs is to board feet, a standard unit of measurement; a board foot is 1 inch thick by 1 foot long by 1 foot wide.

I surmise J.J. Kennedy had two logging camps.  One was a standard camp with a cluster of building in the woods where the loggers spent nights during the work week. Secondly, the “mill” camp consisted of loggers who boarded at the company boarding house next to the saw mill; Wheelock described the “mill’ camp in his article appearing Feb. 18, 1882.   It sounds like there is a third logging camp run  by Peter Bonneville, perhaps a  “jobber,”i.e. someone else cutting trees owned by Curtis Bros.

Note that John J. Kennedy signs this letter as proprietor, Lake View House Rib Lake.  The Lake View House was the boarding house Kennedy had built next to the sawmill in 1881.  At that time there were no residences in Rib Lake.  Mrs. Gustave Bielenberg’s 1935 history of Rib Lake reports the first female living in Rib Lake came in the spring of 1882 and got a house only by putting her foot down.  Finally, John J. Kennedy’s statement that he was the proprietor of the Lake View House was right on. He was not its owner, the Curtis Brothers were.  Kennedy and his underlings ran the place.  J.J. Kennedy slept at the boarding house much more than at his family house in Spencer.  J.J. was in fact the “proprietor.”



WESTBORO  ITEMS -- G. W. Allen has put in a winters work of which any  many may be proud, he has with 3 horse teams banked on the Wisconsin  Central Railroad right of way 2,500,000 [feet of pine logs] for John Duncan, the successful mill man. They are a splendid lot of logs AVERAGING LESS THAN 4 [logs] TO THE THOUSANDS FEET.

W. Lawler, one of his teamsters, hauled in one day 25,000 feet with a team [of horses] weighing less than twenty hundred [2, 000 pounds].  Several of his loads scaled from 4,000 to 4,500 [board feet per sleigh]. (emphasis added)

The same edition reported that the passenger train coming south through Westboro struck the logging train that was stopped and was in the process of loading logs.

The accident occurred ½ mile south of Westboro where a series of turns in the right-of-way prevented the passenger train from seeing the other train until it was too late to stop.



JOHN WORTHINGTON -- John Worthington of Chelsea died yesterday morning at 7 o’clock. John had been a resident of Taylor County since the county was organized.  He was a hunter and trapper by profession, and owned a homestead near Rib Lake.  Poor John was his own worst enemy.

Worthington’s homestead was on the north shore of Wellington Lake.  The lake was initially named for him.



John Severance has disposed of the pine on his homestead. The amount of the estimate fell far short of his calculations, about 450,000 feet we believe. The pine was sold to J.J. Kennedy & Bro. near whose mill it is situated.

Here is an example of a landowner selling “pine stumpage”.   If you use that as a search term on the Photo and Document Collection of the Rib Lake Historical Society website, you can see dozens of such contracts.

This sale to J.J. Kennedy is also an illustration of an important part of the deal J.J. Kennedy had with Curtis Brothers; while the latter owned the Rib Lake sawmill and had J.J. Kennedy manage it, J.J. Kennedy was authorized to buy stumpage and cut it at the mill.  Curtis owned the mill until 1893.  This hybrid arrangement proved a win-win for both parties.



WHO CUT THAT TREE? -- Two gentlemen who are looking over land in this locality have discovered a curiosity on the SE NE Section 33 T 31 North Range 1 East. They found the stump of an old, hollow pine tree, cut down by an axe, and out of that stump had grown a hemlock tree, which they estimated to be 70 years old. The age of the hemlock was ascertained by counting the rings in the grain. The ax scarf is plainly visible they claim and there can be no doubt it was cut down many years ago. Who cut that tree?

If the hemlock was 70 years old, the pine was cut in 1812 or earlier.



PROGRESS AT WHITTLESEY -- The mill track at Whittlesey has been laid and is now in use. The Sanger, Rockwell & Co. mill is up and will be included in a few days… Mr. Anton Stollerwert is rushing [construction]…..

The new mill railroad track spurred off the north-south Wisconsin Central mainline and curved westward about ¼ mile to the mill site along the Black River.



MEDFORD -- Butterfield, Ferguson and Co. now have on the [river] bank 6,000,000 feet of logs, and still have two camps of their own and one contractor hauling.

This is the company that has taken over operation of the sawmill on the Black River in Medford. Pete Ferguson is one of the owners.



RIB LAKE -- J.J. Kennedy, Esq., of Rib Lake Mill was in town. Mr. Kennedy is not one of the lumbermen who has cause to grumble at the past winter’s logging. He has put in at his mill about 7,700,000 feet of logs, and at his camp on the Yellow River, 3,000,000 more.

He has cut and has now piled in his yard at Chelsea 3,000,000 feet of lumber, and is adding to that amount every day. As the past season was considered an unfavorable one by most loggers, it can only be a matter of conjecture what Kennedy would do if he had a good winter.

Note that the location is identified Rib Lake Mill. Some early maps identified the settlement as “Kennedy Mills”.

While the sawmill at Rib Lake was operating by Dec. 21, 1881, and a variety of residences built simultaneously, there was no plat of land there until 1895.  In 1895, J.J. Kennedy and his wife had lots and streets surveyed from Railroad Street southward; they recorded it with the Register of Deeds as “The Original Plat of the Village of Rib Lake.”

Note that J.J. Kennedy continues to cut logs along the Yellow River about 15 or more forties from Rib Lake.  J.J. and his crews have driven these logs to mills reachable via the Chippewa River for the past several years.  These Yellow River logs would not be sawed at Rib Lake.



The bill authorizing the building of a road from Westboro in this county to Glidden in Ashland county has passed houses and is now the law.



ANOTHER SAW MILL ACCIDENT -- At Kennedy Bros. mill at Rib Lake last Monday evening, William H.  Skinner lost his right arm to an accident. Mr. Skinner was night watch of the mill and was attending his duties when the accident occurred. Mr. Skinner’s tour at night commences at 7 p.m. and it is his duty to look through the mill and see if the machinery is all in running order. He found on examination one of the edger saws was hot, and, taking a can of oil in his hand, leaned over the edger frame to oil the arbor, when the feed belt caught his coat and jerked him forward upon the saws.

His right arm came in contact with the running saw and was severed about 5 inches above the wrist and the arm was terribly lacerated above the elbow. Mr. Angus Kennedy [a brother of J. J.], who was standing behind Mr. Skinner at the time, grasped him by the coat and pulled him away from the saw—an action which probably saved his life—as there were three saws in the edger, and the victim would undoubtedly have been thrown into them all.

Skinner was taken to Chelsea and Dr. Hubbell telegraphed for. Upon the arrival of Dr Hubbell the injured arm was amputated midway between the elbow and shoulder. When he saw the patient—Tuesday evening—he was doing finely and the doctor reports in all probability he will recover rapidly….

Note that the sawmill was operating at 7:00 pm.



SAW MILL CHANGES -- At every town along the line of the Wisconsin Central will be found saw mills, and in the past, logs have been hauled and floated to the mills to be sawed. Back from the [railroad] track there is an abundance of timber that has never been touched except that tributary to some stream large enough for driving purposes. This timber, as a  matter of course, can be secured for a reasonable price, for unless some enterprising man puts up a mill on the ground for working it into lumber, the prospects for getting it to the market  are somewhat slim.

J.J. KENNEDY & BRO. WERE THE FIRST TO GRASP THE SITUATION, AND NOW THEIR MILL AT RIB LAKE IS DOING WONDERS AND THE FIRM IS MAKING MONEY.  There are many other chances that will compare favorably with the above firm, but they will not be improved until mill men get over the notion that a saw mill must be near the [railroad] track…. (emphasis added)

The editor commends J.J. Kennedy for being the first to build his mill off the Wisconsin Central mainline.  For the first two years of Kennedy’s Rib Lake mill existence, 1881-1881, all of the lumber had to be hauled or sleighed 5.5 miles to Chelsea, where the railroad ran.  Fortunately, a gently-sloping sleigh road from Rib Lake allowed loaded sleighs to go down hill to Chelsea.



KENNEDY’S MILL REOPENS -- Kennedy’s mill at Rib Lake started up for the summer last Tuesday.



L. Woodard entered a quantity of valuable pine land on the Rib River last week.

He filed a claim for acquisition under the Homestead Act.



SAWYER DAM ON THE BLACK RIVER -- A trip down the Black River in a small boat is one of the pleasures that we left untried for many years. Last week we made the journey... The river runs its winding way through good farm land to Sawyer &Austin’s dam. This dam was built several years ago at a cost of $5,000 and has added much to the convenience of getting out timber cut along its banks. In fact, without this dam it would be impossible to drive the river with any degree of success. The dam is known as a flooding dam and contains 5 gates, one large sluice gate, 3 smaller flood gates, and a large overflow gate. John Shimoneck of Medford has charge of the dam…

Sawyer & Austin have a camp at the dam where they put in logs last winter. From the dam the river runs through town 30 and 29 range 2 west and through pine, hemlock and hardwood land…. In Town 30 Range 2 West the land is owned principally by the railroad company and capitalists G. B. Barrows and Wayne Ramsey have the largest tracts….

Next week we [W. T. Wheelock] propose to start from [Medford] with a crew of tie cutter makers to put in railroad ties on the river, to be floated to the [river] crossing of the Wis.& Minnesota division of the Wisconsin Central Railroad two miles from the Village of Withee. We ask the prayers of all our subscribers for success.

Wheelock announced he had contracted to provide 5000 railroad ties for the new railroad branch built westward from Abbottsford.

A well-preserved dam site still stands on a tributary of the Black River, Pine Creek, nine miles west of Stetsonville. I visited the dam site in January 2011 and found it in good condition.  It lies in a farmer’s field and is clearly visible from the county highway.  While the wooden gates and gone, the 20 foot high earthen bank extend for at least 100 feet from the center of the Black River. An historic and impressive sight and site; its location is SE SE 16-30-1W, Town of Holway.

Sawyer &Austin operated its saw mill for pine in Black River Falls and extensively logged in Taylor County floating its logs down the Black River.



OGEMA -- A. M. Holmes of Ogema was arrested a day or two ago at the instance of Peter Neddo charged with committing a rape upon Neddo’s wife. Defendant took a change of venue to Phillips and the case was tried Wednesday. After hearing the testimony, the justice [of the peace, i.e., the judge] dismissed the case. It was a clear case of blackmail—and the thinnest kind of blackmail at that.

The edition of July 8 reported; “Editor, Star & News, An article appeared in your paper on June 17 to the effect that a suit brought by me again B. M. Holmes had been dismissed by the justice and that the suit was a clear case of blackmail. Now I wish to be heard in my own behalf. I will prove that this case is not blackmail. The suit was dismissed because my woman was seriously ill at the time of the trail and had to be carried out of the court room. We will prove as soon as she recovers that this case rests on a sure foundation.   /s/ Peter Neddo



PROPOSED RAILROAD TO RIB LAKE -- The Wisconsin Central Railroad is locating a branch [railroad] out to Rib Lake, where J.J. Kennedy is manufacturing first class pine lumber, and lots of it….

It would take another year to construct the Chelsea-Rib Lake spur.



CHELSEA -- Notice is given that the contract for a new town hall building for the town of Chelsea is to be built according to the plan and specifications at the post office in the Village of Chelsea; contract to be let to the lowest bidder at a public auction at the office of the town clerk of said town on Monday, August 7, 1882 at 4 pm. /s/Wellington Haight, Town Chairman.

The new town hall lasted until about 1917 when destroyed by fire; my maternal grandfather, Wilhelm Gebauer, was town chairman at that time.



RIB LAKE -- Strayed—From my place in the town of Chelsea, one iron gray horse, 5 years old; one fore foot turned in; weighs about 1,200 lbs; had halter on when last seen. A suitable reward will be paid for  his recovery /s/ J.J. Kennedy  Chelsea, Wis., August 10, 1882

I don’t have an explanation for “Chelsea” since the Rib Lake mill was in the Township of Westboro until 1885.



RIB LAKE -- There is talk of putting up a telegraph line from Medford to Rib Lake, with instruments at Whittlesey and Chelsea. Such an enterprise, if successful, will prove of great benefit….



RIB LAKE -- J.J. Kennedy informs us that his Rib Lake mill has already cut 7,000,000 feet of lumber this season, and that it will run right on the year through.

Kennedy’s Rib Lake mill quickly generated production records: The Taylor County Star & News, on 6/10/1893, reported that Kennedy’s Rib Lake mill produced in 1892:

a)  Pine: 22,000,000 board feet;

b) Hemlock: 15,000,000 board feet;

c) Cedar Shingles: 2,000,000.



CHELSEA -- The L. [Linus] M. Marshal & Taylor Lumber Company is the name of the new firm that will operate the Chelsea saw mill in the future. Mr. Marshall of Green Bay, the senior member of the company, is one of the most experienced and successful lumber dealers in the northwest; and everyone who knows Mr. Abram Taylor know that he can run a saw-mill. They have for years been connected in business and we predict that their past success will be continued.

There are three men with the surname Taylor that have important rolls at this time:  

1) William Robert Taylor, Governor, State of Wisconsin, 1874-1876; Taylor County was named for him.

2) William S. Taylor, a partner with John Duncan and James Ritchie and part owner of the first sawmill in Westboro in 1874.

3) Abram Taylor, partner of Linus Marshall in owning and operating the Chelsea sawmill.



HERMAN RUSCH -- The Democratshave nominated HerrmannD. Rusch of Lincoln County for assemblyman for this district. We understand that Mr. Rusch is a very clever gentleman, although he owes his nomination to the fact that he is German, and there are a large number of German voters in the district, whom the Democrats say, Rusch will CATCH. Well, there are a good many German voters in the district, but a great many of them are REPUBLICAN GERMANS, and a German DEMOCRAT is not the kind of bait to catch them with.

My father, Herman Arthur Rusch, was born in Rib Lake in 1902-- and was no relation.



RIB LAKE-CHELSEA SPUR -- The branch [railroad] track so long talked about from Chelsea to Rib Lake to Kennedy’s mill at Rib Lake is at last an assured fact, as the grading has already commenced. The Kennedys are making a large amount of lumber and this new method of transporting it from the mill will cheapen the way of getting it to market.



RIB LAKE -- M. H. Mullen will put in the pine on his homestead this winter, amounting to about 600,000 [board feet]. He has contracted with J.J. Kennedy of the Rib Lake mill to deliver it at Kennedy’s camp, one and a half miles haul, for $7.25 per M. We wish you a good road and a down grade, Mike.

One of Kennedy’s many pine camps was located in SE NW 13 33 2 E.  It is a well preserved site where the outlines of the buildings and the camp well are clearly visible. It is located on the community ski and snowshoe trail maintained by the Rib Lake Ski and Snowshoe Club, Inc. Perhaps this is the camp mentioned here. The camp along the recreational trail is named the “McGillis” Pine Camp after its foreman, Matt McGillis.



RIB LAKE-CHELSEA SPUR -- The grading on the branch [rail] road to Kennedy’s mill is progressing rapidly and it is expected that the [railroad] cars will be running to the mill next month. A large amount of lumber is now piled at the mill ready for shipment and the advent of the first train is awaited with impatience. The mill will start up for the winter’s run as soon as it freezes sufficient to haul logs.

J.J. Kennedy, our old townsman now at Rib Lake, is bound to have all the conveniences. A branch [rail] road from Chelsea to the lake is being built by the Wisconsin Central folks. The Bell Telephone Co. is on the ground putting up a [telephone] line from Chelsea to the mill.

This spur was built on fill over the north end of Wellington Lake to avoid a high hill.  It would take until 1883 to successfully build across Wellington Lake.



WESTBORO -- J.J. Kennedy has two four horse teams engaged in hauling supplies from this [Westboro] [railroad] station to his Rib Lake mill. A. Lawler handles the reins of one of them.

I surmise the wagon road between Westboro and Rib Lake must have been shorter, smoother or less hilly than the Chelsea-Rib Lake option.



TANNERY -- Last week J.J. Kennedy, representing a Canadian tannery firm, visited Medford, looking for a site to build a tannery…



RIB LAKE -- The Bell telephone line between Chelsea and Kennedy’s mill is in working order.

The next edition reported; “J. J.  Kennedy, the Rib Lake Lumber King, was in town Tuesday. John now HAS A SAW MILL, A TELEPHONE AND SOON WILL HAVE A RAILROAD. But he is like us in one respect; prosperity does not make him proud—not at all.”



WILLIAM S. TAYLOR -- Mr. W. S. Taylor, formerly of the firm of Duncan and Taylor at Westboro, died at his home in Fort Howard [Wisconsin] on the 14th, after an illness of 2 years.

He should not be confused with William R. Taylor, former Governor of Wisconsin, and for whom Taylor County is named.



MEDFORD -- The January 1st number of “Der Waldbote,” the new German language paper to be hereafter published here, is on our table. Mechanically, it is a neat, good looking paper. We are not prepared to comment upon the contents—yet. It starts out with a liberal advertising patronage, and will without doubt take a leading position among the papers of North Wisconsin. It is liberally and ably backed—the proprietors are practical newspaper men, and good fellows, Here’s luck to you, boys

I have a treasured fragment of the paper which title means “Messenger in the Woods.”  Der Waldbote was published until after the American entry into World War I.




UP AND DOWN THE LINE - RIB LAKE -- Rib Lake is a lively town and lively people in it, and will soon have a railroad to export its products to the entire world; Mr. J.J. Kennedy has now ready for shipment over 700 [railroad] car loads of lumber and the logging is going on with vim.

They have a good school and Sunday school.  Their Ladies Society has paid over ten dollars to the missionary since last May, besides what others have done. They are worthy of the good name they have, of being a generous, sociable, intelligent people. They work with a will, and things have to move when Mr. J.J. says we’ll do it. They all seem interested for each other.

Not only do they have many amicable qualities, but they are good-looking, jolly and good natured. /s/ N.L.S.  Spencer Tribune

Newspaper editor Edward T. Wheelock had great respect and admiration for John J. Kennedy.



OGEMA -- A.P. Morner has been appointed postmaster at Ogema since B. M. Holmes resigned. Mr.  Morner completed his bonds and forwarded them to Washington.

Morner Road-a town highway 3 miles north of Ogema, is probably his namesake.



RIB LAKE SPUR -- Mr.  Kennedy informs us that the grading on the branch [rail] road to his mill on Rib Lake is completed and that the iron [rails] will be laid at once.




WHITTLESEY -- The firm of Ives & Hale of Oshkosh has purchased the Whittlesey mill built by Sanger, Rockwell Co. of Milwaukee, together with the pine tributary to the mill owned by the latter firm.



TOWN OF BRANNAN n/k/a SPIRIT -- The town authorities of Brannan will not grant a license to sell liquors and they are constantly at loggerheads with A. Bonneville, who, they claim, sells it without a license. A suit against him is now pending in the Price County Circuit Court, having been appealed from justice court by the defendant,



RIB LAKE HISTORY -- The following from the Spencer Tribune is the result of a visit by the editor of that paper to the village among the Whispering pines.

We visited Rib Lake this week, and we must say, that we are  very much surprised at the development made and very much pleased with the place.

About 18 months ago, J.J. Kennedy first broke ground at the lake and commenced erection of the present sawmill. At that time the seven miles between Chelsea and the lake was an unknown wilderness. Now there are about 25 dwelling houses, J.J. Kennedy’s saw mill, store, boarding houses, shops, barns, lumber and shingle piles, a lake full of logs and a railroad nearly completed to the place.

Mr. Kennedy is the sole proprietor of the town, lake and all. His saw mill is one of the best mills on the line, the main  building being 36x122 feet, is  provided with all the modern improved machinery, and has AN AVERAGE DAILY CAPACITY OF 60,000 FEET. His store is 26x60, with a fine hall over head, all of which is finished in a neat and substantial manner.  His average stock of goods would invoice at about $5,000; his books show, so far, average monthly sales of about $3,000.

His boarding house is 24x40, two stories high; the other is a trifle smaller.  His shops and barns are in proportion to the surrounding buildings and in keeping with demand.  Mr. K. employees during the winter season from 175 to 250 men, about 40 being required to operate the mill, 35 for horse teams and 15 for yokes of oxen.  

In the mill yard can be seen 10,000,000 feet of pine lumber and about 11,000,000 shingles.  He has on the lake, for his seasons’ sawing, nearly 10,000,000 feet of logs, which he intends to increase to 12 or 13 million.

He [J. J. Kennedy] now has in operation 5 [pine logging] camps. Logs are being dropped on the ice [of Rib Lake] at the rate of 200 to 225 thousand feet per day.

Rib Lake itself is about 1 mile across and is said to be about 15 feet deep and has high dry banks closely studded with heavy timber and would in its season, we are sure, present a very attractive appearance to a tourist; its waters are well stocked with fine fish, many of our citizens can testify from last summer’s experience.

We found at Rib Lake a large delegation of former Spencer residents, among them we note was D. [Duncan] J. McLennan, who has charge of the store, and is assisted by Will E. Young.  By the way, Will’s wife presented him with a bouncing boy last week. Bernie Hoey is also there. Angus Kennedy , who assists J. J. in the general supervision of the  business, Jay Hildreth, who  has charge of the saw mill, Patsy Welch, the head sawyer, Sam Hagan, in  charge of the shingle mill, Joe Campbell, who manipulates the double block Challoner, Frank Johnson, general property man, and Will Kennedy [brother of  J. J. and  Angus]. All of these have their families with them and all appear happy and comfortable.

We found Angus McDonald and Will Lyman at their [logging] camps, pushing logs toward the lake. The Wisconsin Central Railroad branch is completed to [Rib] Lake, with the exception of 1 mile of iron [rails], which are expected on the ground any day. This branch [of the railroad] will undoubtedly be extended to the Wisconsin River in the very near future and will, when completed, tap one of the finest timber districts in the North West.

Kennedy’s store is connected with Chelsea by telephone which is found to be very convenient. As yet no school district has been set off that will accommodate the residents, but a private school is maintained by those having children of school age and we are informed that the attendance is about twenty five. No regular church organization has been  formed, as the place being as  yet a missionary field, the interests of which are looked after by Rev. N. L. Sweet of Spencer, who conducts service at the lake once in two weeks,

J. J. and Duncan [McLennan] undertook to make us believe that their sales on tobacco alone for 8 months had footed up to eight tons.  We called for proof and Duncan provided evidence to the amount of 3,000 pounds in 5 months, and we took their word for the balance.

Mr. Kennedy evidently feels proud of the effect which his untiring energies have produced in that section, and takes delight in showing visitors the premises, and when we look back over the “hard streaks”[4] he had at Spencer, three or four years ago, we become satisfied that he has a right to feel that way, and we are glad that he’s struck it rich. (emphasis added)

Eighteen months old, Rib Lake made quite an impression on its Spencer Tribune visitors.

While J.J. Kennedy was born in Ontario, Canada, he lived in Spencer, Wisconsin, for at least three years, 1877-1880.  He left Spencer after his sawmill there burned in 1880.  The winter of 1880-1881 J.J. Kennedy managed a sawmll at Ogema owned by Curtis Brothers.



Ten [railroad] car loads of iron were laid on the Rib Lake branch of the Wisconsin Central Railroad last Sunday, which nearly completes the line to Rib Lake.



RIB LAKE SPUR RAILROAD -- The first shipment of lumber from Kennedy’s mill occurred this week over the new [railroad] line.  Trains are now making regular trips.


This paper has never reported on the big hold up to the completion of the Chelsea-Rib Lake Railroad; it was—in one word—Wellington Lake.

A 30 foot high ridge of land runs northward from Wellington Lake creating a barrier to railroad construction. Solution; fill in the north end of the lake and build on the level.  That fill – now grown over with trees – is still there in 2018.



We’re down on John Kennedy. We asked him for a pass over his new railroad and he told us to go to------we’ve forgot where.  He’s another---he can go there himself—his road don’t amount to much anyway. If we couldn’t own more than 7 miles of road, we wouldn’t own any.

The same edition reported: Freight train No. 12 now makes regular trips to Kennedy’s Rib Lake mill, after lumber and shingles. Eleven car loads were hauled out from there Tuesday last, and it wasn’t a good day for lumber either.

When the memorial last log was erected in the Village of Rib Lake in 1950, a sign on it claimed that the Rib Lake Lumber Company had produced 1,850,000,000 board feet of lumber during its existence.  Except for a few truckloads shipped in the final years of operation, all of this was transported by railroad over the Rib Lake-Chelsea spur. It was a big money maker for the Wisconsin Central railroad and the Soo Line (St. Paul, Minneapolis & Sault Ste. Marie), after the latter took over in 1908.



KENNEDY CONTINUES OPERATIONS ON YELLOW RIVER -- The following estimate of the log cut on the Yellow River and its tributaries in Taylor County was kindly furnished by C.  S.  Webster, who has been there:

     …..J.J. Kennedy 1,300,000….

The above is the cut up to and including last week, and is not  to be considered the cut of the season, as the loggers are still at work and will increase the amount considerably before they break camp

The list shows 21 other firms that I did not show here.  

It is unclear how personally involved J.J. Kennedy was in the Yellow River operations at this time. I noted that the Spencer  Tribune article on  Rib Lake printed above made no mention of the fourth  Kennedy brother, Hugh; was Hugh on the Yellow River?



TOWN OF BRANNAN, n/k/a SPIRIT -- Officers; Nels Auley and N. F.  Norlin, chairman, 93 [votes] each, Drew cut and Auley got it. The rest of the Auley ticket is given below and elected…

Board: J. C. Roberson, Andrew Peterson; Clerk, Evald Hammar; Treasurer, C. Auley; Assessors, O. A. Johnson, Alex Nelson, N. J. Hammond; Justices, N. F. Norlin, A. K. Ostergren, Evald Hammer; Constables, A. P, Mourner [Moerner], Nels Auley.

Note the name A. K. Ostergren. The beloved Spirit historian Roy Meier told me that Ostergren was responsible for inducing many Scandinavian immigrants to settle in the township and that the original, local name for Timms hill was Ostergren’s Kula; kula being Norwegian for hill.



CHELSEA -- The Star Hotel at Chelsea, the property of L. A. Burbey was sold last Monday to satisfy a mortgage held by S.  B. Hubbell & Co. The property was bid in by Haight & Co. for $525.

Chelsea at this time has at least 2 hotels; the larger is owned by long-time entrepreneur, C. H. Gearhart, “the Chelsea Hotel prince” as dubbed by editor Wheelock.



RIB LAKE -- H. S. Russell is putting in a new steam feed at Kennedys mill Rib Lake mill, after which he will go to Phillips and build the Griffith mill at that place

J. J.  Kennedy was known for continuous innovation and improvement of his plant.



SPIRIT LAKE -- J.J. Kennedy is doing a thriving business at Rib Lake. He is cutting 50,000 feet per day, and is having a large trade at his store. There is quite a settlement at Spirit Lake and Mr. Kennedy proposes to connect the two places by a good road thus bringing the trade to his place.

Not only was Kennedy successful in this,  but the Spirit  region became oriented and tied to Rib Lake; note, for example, it is  in the Rib Lake  School District; long time board chair, Jerry Blomberg, and his father, Wilbert, before him, are residents of the Town of Hill, Price County.



RIB LAKE SPUR -- The Rib Lake branch of the Wisconsin Central Railroad is not a very safe one to run on when a train will tip over standing still, as it did last Saturday.  

As of yet, no details given. I surmise the road bed was not firm; note that this is spring time and the frost is coming out of the ground. Some of the grading for this line was done during the winter.

In the same edition it is reported: “The pile driver is up repairing the break on the Rib Lake branch and picking up the wreck.”

The April 28 edition reports: “A gravel train is being run between Ogema and Rib Lake under the supervision of B. F. Bowen, yardmaster at that point.”



RIB LAKE -- Rib Lake is the latest town asking for recognition in the “New Wisconsin.” It is the terminus of the branch line of the Wisconsin Central railroad running east eight miles from Chelsea. It already has a large saw mill owned by J.J. Kennedy & Co., two stores and several good, substantial buildings.

A post office will soon be established there. The new [rail] road is being ballasted and put in first-class order and is operated by the company. A daily train is run over the road. It is though that the [rail] road will soon be extended east as far as the Wisconsin River.

Rib Lake, from which the town takes its name, is a beautiful sheet of water set down in the heart of a heavily timbered country, which is being rapidly settled up by hardy emigrants. The company employs upwards of 600 men, and produces 15,000,000 feet of lumber to market annually. The company has a fine body of pine estimated at 156,000,000 feet. Rib Lake is bound to cut no mean figure in the future, but will soon become one of the thriftiest settlements along the line.---Ashland Press. (emphasis added)

Note that the railroad to Rib Lake is in the process of being “ballasted.”  Ballast is the rock placed under and around the railroad ties; it is essential to providing a safe, stable road bed. The failure to ballast during initial construction may well have been the cause for the locomotive tipping over as recently reported.

The “Kennedy” sawmill at Rib Lake was not owned by J.J. Kennedy until 1893, when he bought it from his silent partners, the Curtis Brothers of Wausau and Clinton, Iowa.



TOWN OF CHELSEA—NOW TOWN OF GREENWOOD -- Messrs. Davis and Roth will put in a portable saw mill in the town of Chelsea, about 7 miles east of that village, south of Rib Lake. They have  purchased a portable saw mill, engine and boiler of the largest size all complete from T. B. McCourt and Co. of this village [Medford], said to be the best in the market.

This is typical of the many small mills that ran a couple of years and then moved on.



CHELSEA PLATS -- Three additions to the village of Chelsea have been recorded in the Register of Deeds office in the past two weeks. The Wisconsin Central Railroad has surveyed and platted 42 lots in that village, to which road they have given the name Second Street. The lots are divided by Walnut, Taylor, Hemlock and Pine Streets.

On the east side the largest addition is that of A. Montour who has platted 21 lots, each 50 x 150 feet, bounded on the east side by Washington Street.

Abram Taylor has also secured a plat for an addition made by him, in which there are 19 lots as follows: eleven lots 50x150 on Marshal Street, 9 lots 50x132, 1 lot 80x150 and 132x350, the LAST BEING THE SITE OF THE NEW HAIGHT HOTEL, and containing an acre of ground. (emphasis added)

While these platted lots and streets still exist today on paper, most of the lots were never built upon.

Note that Chelsea was slated to get a third hotel, the Haight, which I surmise was owned by Wellington Haight, then chairman of the Town of Chelsea and the namesake of Wellington Lake.



WESTBORO-AN OVERVIEW -- …At Westboro, C. Bailey met us on his [train station] platform… We made across country to C. C. Palmer’s mill, which was shutdown that day for some repairs. Mr. B. showed us around the mill and through the lumber piles. This mill runs a rotary and shingle machine and cuts about 25,000 daily and will saw out about 4,000,000 [feet] this season. A.P. Vaughn and H. D. McCulloch of this city [Medford] and Fay Bros. of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, are all having sawing done at this [the Palmer] saw mill.

We next went to look over the Duncan saw mill, and were shown over the premises by book keeper, Thomas Duncan [a son of the owner, John Duncan]. The mill is located on Silver Creek on the east side of the [railroad] track and their pond will hold 7,000,000 feet of logs and is now full. The mill is one of the best for its capacity on the line and has the reputation of turning out first class lumber.

The machinery is first class including a handsome engine built by the Fort Howard [Wisconsin] Machine Works which is also owned by Mr. [John] Duncan. The mill is cutting from 35,000to 50,000 feet daily and 115,000 shingles and Mr. D. expects to cut all the logs in the pond before it freezes up.

Mr. [John] Duncan came to Westboro 8 years ago and has met with good success in this business as well as nearly everything he has taken a hold of.  He is now putting up a planing mill this fall. He also has a dry kiln through which all his shingles pass before being stacked for the market. He is putting up a large shingle shed to hold 6,000,000 shingles.

Convenient to the mill are a number of tenement houses, built for the accommodation of those employed in the mill. The store is run under the supervision of W. E. [Duncan], who also does the buying, and books are kept by Thomas Duncan, Mr. [John] Duncan’s two sons, both of whom we found very pleasant gentlemen.

The saw mill is run under the personal supervision of Mr. [John] Duncan, and in his absence, his son Thomas takes charge.

Westboro has two hotels, the Star Hotel by George Allen and the Campbell House by Peter Campbell; a general merchandise store owned by C. H. Palmer, and two blacksmith shops, one at Palmer’s mill and one at Duncan’s. They also have a good school taught by Mrs. A. Sawyer of Medford.

This article was written by Edward T. Wheelock, the owner and editor of the Taylor County Star and News.

The Palmer mill was 300 feet north of today’s CTH D bridge over Silver Creek and on the west side of Silver Creek.

Duncan’s mill was 800 feet south of today’s CTH D and on the east side of the Wisconsin Central Railroad.



“THE WHITTLESEY HORROR” -- At 1:55 o’clock Thursday afternoon the boilers in the Whittlesey saw mill exploded, killing 3 men and injuring several more….The mill was comparatively new, having been built a little more than a year ago, but two of the boilers were from the old Watermelon mill at Little Black and for 6 years prior to their purchase by Sanger, Rockwell & Co they had been laying idle. The present proprietors of the mill, Messrs Ives & Hale, are experience mill men….

The mill is a total wreck, only a portion of the frame being left.The bodies of the victims were packed in ice and taken down the line to their home yesterday.



RIB LAKE -- J.J. Kennedy left for Dakota yesterday to look after his teams that are working on the extension of the St Paul road into that territory.

This is what I surmise.  Kennedy owned many teams of work horses which he did not use during summer. He rented them out for money.

The railroad was the Chicago, Milwaukee and St Paul.  After the turn of the century it extended its railroad lines to Tacoma, Washington and added “& Pacific” to its title.  It had a long and illustrious history eventually owning the line running west of Merrill, Wis.,within 6 miles of the Taylor County line. It was known as “The Milwaukee Road.” It went  bankrupt and was purchased in 1987 by the Soo Line.



CHELSEA -- [Advertisement] Dr. T. M. Miller, Chelsea, Wis., Graduate of  Trinity Medical College, Toronto, Canada, Member of College of  Physicians and Surgeons, Ontario; Member of the Royal College of Physicians and Licentiate of Midwifery, Edinburgh, Scotland, and associate of the Obstetrical Society, Dublin, Ireland

This is the first such ad published here. It looks like the medical doctor will devote his entire practice to Chelsea.



WHITTLESEY -- The Ives and Hale saw mill at Whittlesey has been replaced and will start up next week to complete the season’s run, interrupted by the explosion.

The edition dated 11/10/1883 reported: DISSOLUTION NOTICE.  Notice is hereby given that the co partnership heretofore existing under the firm name of Ives & Hale has this day dissolved by mutually consent of the members thereof. The business of said firm will be conducted by  S. A. Hale  who is the only person authorized to collect the debts due said firm and who assumes all liabilities there. Dated Nov 2nd, 1883.  /s/ A. W. Ives & S. A. Hales

The paper reported that Hales was moving his residence to Whittlesey.



MEDFORD -- The Nystrum tannery enterprise is at a stand still for a few days, the boilers and machinery having not arrived.

This was the first tannery built in Taylor County.  The Rib Lake tannery was constructed in 1892 by Fayette Delos Shaw. See document #15231, contract 6/25/1891, in which J.J. Kennedy sold the Rib Lake tannery site to Shaw but by which Shaw was obligated to construct and run a tannery in Rib Lake.



WISCONSIN CENTRAL RAILROAD -- The railroad company has accepted the proposition made by Taylor County for the settlement of the taxes for the years 1878 through 1880 [which the railroad did not pay].  The proposition is that the company is to pay the county clerk $7,500 and to satisfy the two judgments had by them against the county and the judgment held by T. L. Kennan [an attorney representing the railroad] against the county. The county, on the other part, is to issue redemption receipts on all lands in which certificates were issued in those years, The proposition will appear in full in the board proceeding…

There had been a long and bitter fight over taxes.  The railroad got the Wisconsin Legislature to pass a law exempting railroad lands from real estate taxes. The County sued claiming the law unconstitutional but the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the law.

The railroad owned a great deal of land in the county because it was awarded every other section of land by Congress as a reward for constructing the line.

The county board approved the settlement 10/11/1883.



CHELSEA -- [Advertisement] -- FEED MILL, Chelsea, Wis. -- The undersigned have just put in a RUN OF STONE (sic) at their mill in Chelsea and are now prepared to grind feed or graham flour, by ton or on toll. The best quality of corn and oats feed always on hand, and sold in any quantity.  L. M.  MARSHAL & TAYLOR LUMBER CO.

Linus M. Marshall and Abram Taylor were then operating the lumber mill in Chelsea and, like many lumber companies, ran a company owned store. They had just opened the roller mill advertised here to serve the every expanding number of farms as the neighborhood was settled.

In 1911 the Rib Lake Roller Mill opened. In 2012 it is still going under the ownership of William “Bill” Schreiner, even though the number of functioning dairy farms in the Town of Rib Lake has fallen dramatically.



REAL ESTATE TAX VALUATIONS -- The Taylor County Board fixed the equalized real estate valuations or the Towns of Deer Creek, Little Black, Medford, Chelsea and Westboro at $2.08 per acre.

These were all the township Taylor County had at the time; J.J. Kennedy’s Rib Lake mill was in the Town of Westboro until 1885 when the Town of Rib Lake was created.  The Village of Rib Lake was incorporated in 1902.



RIB LAKE -- A splendid donation was given us at Rib Lake, last Saturday evening amounting to $46.53 in cash. And also at Chelsea Monday evening, a goodly number came out and enjoyed a very pleasant evening, the proceeds amounting to $33.00 cash. This is now the first quarter of our present year, and they have our most hearty appreciations and thanks.  Mr. & Mrs.  N. L.  Sweet

Mr. Sweet was a minister whose regular church was in Spencer.  He “road the circuit” to come to Rib Lake every other week.  He apparently also had services in Chelsea.




RIB FALLS -- Gustavus Werlich, of Watertown, committed suicide by shooting himself in the head, Dec. 29th. He was the owner of a saw mill at Rib Falls on the Rib River.

Rib Falls is today a ghost town 2/3 of the way downstream on the Rib River before its confluence with the Wisconsin River.  Periodically there have been log drives down the Rib River; the sawmill mentioned here may have been their destination.


COUNTY BOARD -- The New  County Board and the Townships that elected each: Chelsea, Wellington Haight;  Deer Creek, Irving Newton;  Little Black,  John Herbst,  Westboro, A [Alphonse] Bonneville,  Medford, Adam Allmann.

At the time, the town chairman was ex officio, a member of the Taylor County board.  In 1884, there were only five townships: Little Black, Medford, Deer Creek, Chelsea and Westboro.  


JOHN J. KENNEDY -- John J. Kennedy of Rib Lake came down on Wednesday and looked us over. J. J. IS THE SALT OF THE EARTH,  and we  are always glad to see him  (emphasis added)


KENNEDY -- Will [William, a brother of J. J.] Kennedy and wife, and Mrs., Johnson of Rib Lake, were in town [Medford] Wednesday.

William J. Kennedy was one of J.J. Kennedy’s three brothers. William married Christy Ann Ferguson of Glengary, Canada, who may have been a sister to Mrs. Hugh J. Kennedy, another of J. J.’s brothers.

In June, 1884, J. J., Angus and William Kennedy were all residing in Rib Lake.  But to date the Medford newspapers covered here have made no mention of the fourth Kennedy brother, Hugh J. Kennedy.

In addition to the four Kennedy brothers, Rib Lake was home of other Kennedys.  To learn more, consult “KENNEDYS - MOVERS AND SHAKERS; CAST OF CHARACTERS TO EARLY RIB LAKE HISTORY.”   It is  available online at



MEDFORD SAW MILL -- Butterfield, Ferguson & Co. saw mill cut 47,650 feet of [pine] lumber, 44,500 shingles, and 6,500 lath in 6 hours yesterday afternoon.

The mill consists of one circular saw and the usual smaller ones. Will A. Warren is sawyer, James Ures is the filer for the circular saw, and P. [Peter] P. Ferguson is the scaler.  If there is a mill on the [railroad] line that can beat that cut, they had better trot out their scale book.


DEMOCRATIC NEWSPAPER -- The newspaper is an established fact. The Democratic party is to have an organ in Medford. We extend our hands with welcome in it. Knowing the trials of a “first issue” we tender you the use of the STAR AND NEWS office, You can draw upon us at sight. “Tip us your flipper.”

The next issue reports; “The Medford Democrat” is the name of the new Medford paper.


KENNEDY -- J. J. Kennedy, Esq,. of Rib Lake, returned Thursday from Canada, where he had been called by the death of his aged father.

The editor, Edgar T. Wheelock, has always spoken highly of J. J. and used the honorific term “Esq.” [esquire].


RIB LAKE -- Duncan McLennan is building a residence at Rib Lake; John Holderegger has taken the contract to plaster it.

Duncan was a brother to Mrs. John J. Kennedy.  In 2013 the former Duncan McLennan residence is still standing.  For many years it was the residence of Mrs. John (Phyllis) Dolezalek, 900 Railroad Street, Village of Rib Lake.  




Notice is  hereby given that the following named settlers have filled notice of their intentions to make final proofs in support of their claims, and that said proofs will be made to the Clerk of Court in  and for Taylor County at Medford, Wis.,  on Sept 27, 1884:…    

MICHAEL GALLAGHER, homestead entry No. 2885, for the S ½ NE ¼, Section 28 T 32N Range 2 East. He names the following witnesses to prove his continuous residence upon and cultivation of said land, viz.: Wellington Haight, Gaylord Kees, Fred A. Norton and C. J. Wilmont, all of Chelsea, Wis.

/s/ M.M. McCord, Register, U.S. Land Office

His claim was approved and my grand uncle became one of the pioneer land owners near Whittlesey.

Mike married my great aunt Anna Steiner whose parents were August and Pauline. August served as the Whittlesey post master for many years.

Oral history has it that Mike was a happy-go-lucky Irishman who had trouble getting up in the morning. One morning Mrs. Gallagher was unable to get Mike out of bed despite her best efforts; Anna then brought firewood and lit a blaze under Mike’s bed, which had the desired effect. For years those who doubted the fire story were invited into the bedroom, where each saw the burned, wooden floor. -- R. P Rusch 2/14/2012


CHELSEA -- An important business change is reported in Chelsea, the two principal mercantile firms having consolidated.  The new firm will be known as Bardwell & Anderson. J. B. Anderson will build an addition to his business block 20x24, and when completed, will lease it for hotel purposes. Mr. Bardwell will move his store back on the lot 40 feet, and build in front a brick veneered business block 34x40 feet. The new firm will transact their general mercantile business in the latter building. The new team is a strong one, and is sure to succeed.

The last store in Chelsea closed c. 1980. It was a brick building just east of the railroad tracks.  For years it was operated by the Borgemon family.


FLOODING -- A rain storm Monday, followed by another Tuesday night, resulted in one of the most destructive floods ever known in northern Wisconsin…

At Chelsea, the Marshall & Taylor mill dam gave way, washing away a small portion of the [railroad] track. The damage was immediately repaired.

Between Chelsea and Westboro the [railroad] track was under water for about 1 ½ miles and, at the latter place [Westboro] BOTH MILL DAMS WENT OUT, carrying the [Wisconsin Central Railroad] bridge away, and about 2,000,000 feet of logs belonging to John Duncan and C. C. Palmer were TAKEN DOWN THE STREAM [Silver Creek] by the flood.

The water from Palmer’s dam overflowed the banks and carried away Mr. [John] Duncan’s blacksmith shop and stables.

This may have been the flood recounted by Gus Hall in his centennial history of Westboro.  The logs of both Palmer and Duncan had been comingled and ended up so when the flooding ended.  One mill owner refused to let the other retrieve his logs, hoping to acquire them.  He was outwitted when the other owner got the Wisconsin Central to build a railroad spur to the site allowing log retrieval by rail.

The Wisconsin Central Railroad bridge across Silver Creek at Westboro was rebuilt; in 2012 it, or its successor, is still standing and in use as part of the Pine Line public recreational trail.

There were two logging dams in Westboro. Both dams were on Silver Creek. The first dam was built c. 1875 by Duncan, Taylor & Ritchie to form a mill pond for their sawmill just east of the Wisconsin Central Railroad bridge spanning Siler Creek. That railroad bridge was over 40 feet above ground, the dam was beneath the railroad bridge.

The second dam was ½ mile upstream and built c. 1883 when S.D. Cone & C.C. Palmer built their new sawmill about ¼ mile upstream from the 2017 bridge conveying CTH D over Silver Creek.  

Both dams were rebuilt after the destruction on 9/13/1894.  In 2017 it takes a good eye to see any evidence of either dam. You may see photos of both dams in the Photo & Document Collection at


RIB LAKE -- Wednesday night a 36 inch [circle] saw making 900 revolutions per minute at the J.J. Kennedy saw mill flew into pieces all over the mill and no one was hurt.

The same edition reported:  Mrs., Angus Kennedy was in town [Medford] delivering the books. “Our Famous Women” for which she took subscriptions several weeks ago,



WISCONSIN CENTRAL RAILROAD -- The Wisconsin Central Railroad filed its annual report with the State of Wisconsin; the road has 450 miles all in Wisconsin. Total income was $1,476,821; operating expenses were $1,011,428…..  The number of passengers carried at least 1 mile, 15,246,629….

For long periods of its existence the Wisconsin Central was in bankruptcy - being operating by receivers appointed by the court.


RIB LAKE -- The Rib Lake settlement has a polling precinct of its own this year.

Up to this time, voters from Rib Lake had to go to Westboro to vote.


RIB LAKE & KENNEDY -- J.J. Kennedy, the prosperous mill man of Rib Lake and whom every man who has ever been in his employ as well as all others who know him, DELIGHT TO SHAKE HIS HAND, WAS IN THE CITY [Stevens Point] on Thursday last.

His mill closed for the season last Friday AFTER SAWING 15,000, 000 feet of lumber, HAVING RUN DAY AND NIGHT, WITHOUT A SINGLE BREAK DOWN.  (emphasis added)   Stevens Point Gazette

Kennedy’s Rib Lake mill has dramatically increased production to 15,000,000 feet for a season total; in 1883 C.C. Palmer’s mill in Westboro cut 5,000,000 feet and John Duncan’s 9,000,000.

“S. A. Hale of Whittlesey will put in 8 to 9,000,000 feet of logs this coming season, about a season’s cut for that mill.”


NEW GERMAN NEWSPAPER -- Next week there will be issue from this office [TAYLOR COUNTY STAR AND NEWS], the first number of the German newspaper—Deutsche Zeitung.

In starting a German language paper, in addition to his Taylor Co. Star & News, Ed Wheelock said he had two goals: to create a German language paper entirely free from land agencies and to make money.  The existing German newspaper in Medford was Der Waldbote. It was closely associated with Brucker &  Ludloff, real estate salesmen.


RIB LAKE ELECTION RESULTS -- National & State Ticket; Republican 79; Democrat 13: For Congress: Stephenson 78, Meehan 15; for Wis. Assembly:  Parish 65, Knight 13.

At the time, Rib Lake voted heavy Republican.

J.J. Kennedy’s good friend, A.J. Perkins, was elected county clerk; Kennedy’s apparent relative, J. C. Ferguson, was elected Taylor Co. sheriff; both on the Republican ticket.



LUMBER CO. AT CHELSEA SELLS OUT -- Great auction sale by L. M. Marshall & Taylor Lumber Co: 20 good horses, 4 yoke oxen, 15 pair of log sleds, 6 foot run [between runners], lot chains, neck yokes, eveners, whiffletrees, 10 sets good harness; 20 ox yokes and bows, stove, blankets and all camp outfits; 2 good road sprinklers etc.

The above property will be sold without reserve to the highest bidder. Cash and time with good security on sales. Come and see before the sale and then Buy.

Sale to commence De. 24, 1884 and continue daily until all is sold.


MINI TAYLOR COUNTY HISTORY -- The following is a paper read by Mr.  A. J. Perkins at the County  Fair:

Mr. A.E. Harder was the first actual settler in Taylor County. He built the first log cabin upon a homestead.

John Turner built the first hotel.  It was built of hemlock bark in the Town of Little Black and was transient, as he went with the end of the railroad.

J. A. King built the first store in Medford. The only settlers at that time were W. B. Jeffers, station agent and Silas Buswell, the depot being the only building….

The first newspaper was the TCN by J. A. Ogden, March 31, 1875.

Taylor County was organized March 4, 1875.  The first county board consists of G. W. Adams, C. C. Palmer and Isaac Biscornet.

Mrs.  C. C. Palmer of Westboro was the first white woman to settle in the county.  She came here in November 1875 following her husband who came July 18, 1875.

First court held 11/8/1875.

The first man arrested was Judge [E. R.] Prink for an assault on John Britzman.

Arthur J.  Latton’s “Reminiscences and Anecdotes of Taylor County” reports:

A) In May, 1872, A. E. Harder, the first actual settler, started to  build a log cabin on his homestead near the site of the present Library building[5]…[in Medford];

B) The first train went through Medford in July, 1873.



TRAM RAILROAD AT WHITTLESEY -- Morris and Wood have shipped from their mill near Whittlesey about 600,000 feet of lumber, and have about 300,000 yet to ship. They have a tram road one and a half miles long over which they haul the lumber, and they claim that the car is the neatest of all lumber cars. Two men with a team [of horses] take from the pile [and] haul to the [Wisconsin Central Railroad] track.  [They] load on the car 12,000 feet of lumber per day.  They have one crew of men at work now skidding logs for the coming season’s sawing.

A tram railroad used hardwood, round logs as rail with the wheels of the cars made in a conclave shape to fit over the top of the log. Here a team of horses, rather than a locomotive, pulled the tram car.

This was an inexpensive system that could be used year around.

Another place such a tram railroad was used in Taylor County was at Westboro; the Duncan sawmill had a short tram railroad running south of its mill for a while. At Westboro the tram line hauled logs to be sawed; at Whittlesey the tram hauled lumber to the Wisconsin Central Railroad main line.

The Rib Lake Lumber Co. operated a tram line up to mill closing in 1948.  But its tram line conveyed lumber into the dry yard for piling rather than logs to the sawmill using narrow gauge steel rails.

Taylor County has had twelve different railroads, only one surviving as of 2013; See Doc. #17241 in the Photo & Document Collection at for a professionally-made map of those twelve railroads.

In 2018 the Canadian National Railroad operates a high speed mainline from Chicago to Superior-Duluth which passes through Lublin, Gilman and Donald, Taylor County.  The Canadian National Railroad also operates a line from Spencer to Medford using the original 1874 r.o.w. of the Wisconsin Central.

Edwin Knauth in his History of Chelsea called this tram railroad “successful.”



KENNEDY -- OBITUARY OF JOHN A. KENNEDY -- Rib Lake, Wis. Dec. 18, 1884.   It is with feelings of sincere sorrow we pen the following tribute in memory of our departed friend, Mr. John A. Kennedy, who died at this place Dec. 13, 1884, age 26 years and six months.

He died of a severe attack of lung fever, and his illness was of three weeks duration. Prior to his death he was attended by Drs. Miller of Chelsea and Meyer of Stevens Point, who did all in their power to save him…

He was always a true member of the Roman Catholic Church and was administered its last rites shortly before his death. The deceased was a native of Canada where his parents now reside. He also leaves two sisters who reside with their parents in Canada and four brothers, two of whom reside with their parents. The other two [brothers] have, together with the deceased, resided here [Rib Lake] for the past year and a half.

For the past six years he has been engaged in the lumber business, by different employers, in the pineries of Wisconsin and Michigan…. During the winter of 1883-84 he [John A. Kennedy] was in the employ of J.J. Kennedy here, and this season was given charge of one of his logging camps. By his good conduct he well merits the great confidence that his employer placed in him. His two brothers started Monday to accompany the remains to Canada, where they will be buried.

Try as I might. I cannot fit this John A. Kennedy into the family tree. See folder:  “KENNEDYS; MOVERS  AND SHAKERS” WWW.RIBLAKEHISTORY.COM

The edition of 2/28/1885 reports: “Wm. Kennedy returned yesterday from Canada. He was accompanied by his mother, who will live with her sons, J.J., Will. [William] and Angus during the balance of the summer.”  Taking that into consideration, it would appear that John A. Kennedy, the deceased, was a nephew to John J. Kennedy.  That conclusion is buttressed by the newspaper report that his parents reside in Canada.  J.J. Kennedy’s father had died in July, 1884.




JURY LIST -- John McCoy, Thomas Duncan, William Dugen, A. Allen,  John Stoner, Franck LaComb, Charles Kees, Orville Pierce, O. Bonneville, Jery (sic)  Pettell, William McClain,  G. [Gustaavus] T. Skinner, Angus Kennedy, George Lawrence, Frank Bidwell, A. Fournier, W. Mitchell, William Alle, Geo.  Hughes, W.F. Montgomery

This list was for the Town of Westboro of which Rib Lake was then a part. Note that J.J. Kennedy’s brother, Angus, is a resident.  While J. J. had business dealings with all of his brothers and all three for at least some time resided in Rib Lake, J. J. closest and longest fraternal commercial ally and associate was Angus.  

For detailed  information on each of the brothers, consult Kennedy Family, Movers and Shakers,



[RIB LAKE -- Duncan McLennan, J.J. Kennedy’s brother in law and longtime book keeper/accountant at the saw mill, is identified as the treasurer of the Town of Westboro [of which Rib Lake was then a part.]



STRAYED -- From my premises at Rib Lake, one medium sized red ox, with left hip slightly injured. Lost since October; a reward of $10 will be paid for the return of the animal, or information as to his whereabouts.  /s/ J.J. Kennedy

At the time much of the skidding of logs from the stump to the landing or storage pile was done by oxen rather than horses. Oxen were slow, powerful and steady workers that did a good job pulling for short distances. They were much more difficult to shoe; if you lifted up a foot, the animal would fall over. For this reason shoeing required a special wood device with a sling that would support the ox when on 3 legs.



CHELSEA -- The Baptist Chapel at Chelsea erected through the past summer and autumn was dedicated Jan 11, 1885. The dimensions of the house are 28x45, 16 ft. posts….  The Wisconsin Central Railway gave the lots.

This is the first Protestant house of worship erected in Chelsea. The successful termination of the movement is largely due to the efforts of Mr. Abram Taylor, [his son] Carl Taylor and Mr. C. H.  Gearhhart, who made very liberal subscriptions.

Mr. J.J. Kennedy of Rib Lake also aided very handsomely, by cash and liberal lumber subscriptions...

The railroad donated land which it had received by congressional land grant for building the railroad.



CHELSEA -- Linus M Marshall published a notice that his partnership with Abram Taylor (L. M. Marshall and Taylor Lumber Co.) is dissolved.  Another portion of the paper reports Abram Taylor is paralyzed from the waist down and is going to Arkansas to use its hot springs.


RIB LAKE -- J.J. Kennedy is arranging to build a large and very complete planing mill at Rib Lake this spring. He returned from a trip from Milwaukee and Fond du Lac Saturday, having been there to purchase the power [equipment] for the [planing] mill. He made no formal contract, but Messer’s DeGroat, Giddings & Lewis of Fond du Lac will undoubtedly furnish the engine, boiler, connections and fixtures.

The firm, which name was later shortened to Giddings and Lewis, was a highly regarded machine works.



TOWN OF RIB LAKE PROPOSAL -- J.J. Kennedy returned from the state capital last evening and reports that the bill to have a special town [township] erected (sic) by dividing the Town of Westboro is likely to pass the legislature. The proposed town takes all of range 3 and half of range 2 east, in township 33 [north] and a few sections from the Town of Chelsea. As there is no opposition to the formation of the town, there is no reason why the petition should not be granted.

Later in the year 1885, the Town of Rib Lake was created. The Village of Rib Lake was created in 1902.

The same edition reports that the Taylor County board is considering creating a new township from parts of the Town of Little Black.  Note that J.J. Kennedy is lobbying the State Legislature and not the county board. Why?

The April 4th edition reported:  “The Town of Rib Lake in this county has been created by an act of the Legislature…” [4/4/1885]


WESTBORO -- FOR COUNTY JUDGE---Mr. C.C. PALMER OF THE TOWN OF WESTBORO is a candidate for the office of county judge. Like his principal opponent, Mr. Jeffers, Mr. Palmer came to Taylor County at an early age—in fact—he came with the railroad. He settled at Westboro and after the organization of the county [in 1875], he served two terms on the county board.  The first business in which he engaged was hotel keeping, but after following that business a number of years he closed his hotel and, in connection with S. D. Cone, he put up a saw mill at Westboro. Later he purchased his partner’s interest and became the sole proprietor.

Mr. Palmer is well known all through the country. Should he be elected by the people to preside over the county court, he would perform the duties in a dignified and conscientious manner.



KENNEDY -- J.J. Kennedy’s saw mill started up March 30th and is running full blast. He is shipping about 8 [railroad] cars per day.



TOWN OF RIB LAKE ELECTIONS -- County Board members: Duncan McLennan representing the new Town of Rib Lake.

Town of Rib Lake Officers; Supervisors:  Duncan McLennan, chairman; E. Van Gieson and John Closson (sic); clerk, A. B. Kennedy; treasurer, W. E. Young; assessor, Angus Kennedy; Justices, J. S.  Hildreth 2 years, D.W. Bodle 2 years,  A. [Archie] Clendenning 1 year and Joe Campbell 1 year;  Constables,  George A. Clark, William Layman and Nick Stetter.

Votes for county judge: Jeffers 72, C.C. Palmer 2, Textor 3 and Schweppe 4.

Duncan J. McLennan was a busy man. He was J.J. Kennedy brother in law and longtime bookkeeper/ office manager for J.J.

The correct spelling of the supervisor’s name was probably Edward Van Gieson and John Claussen.



KENNEDY -- J.J. Kennedy has recently put a band saw in his mill at Rib Lake.  He claims that it lies over a circular [saw] in the manufacture of lumber.  Although the [band] saw will not make as much lumber as a rotary, in quality it is far ahead of the lumber made by a circular. J.J. is also building a model planing mill to costs about $10,000.

A circular saw is a circle saw.  It is made from a piece of metal cut in a circle with teeth around its outer edge.  

A band saw is made from a strip of metal welded, i.e. “brazed,” together to form a loop.  Saw teeth are always put on one edge but can be put on both edges. Two large wheels turn the blade 180 degrees each; one wheel is on the top and the other on the bottom with anywhere from 5 to 20 feet between the wheels. The saw log is pulled through the saw by a moveable carriage operating in between the wheels.



RIB RIVER LOG DRIVE -- While at work on the Rib River driving logs, Frank Wilmot, oldest son of C. J. Wilmot, was almost instantly killed on Monday last. The logs had jammed in the river, and he went to assist in breaking the jam, riding a log. As the log he was on struck the logs jammed in the river, it rolled and threw him into the water between it and the jam. Another log came down the river and struck the log he had been on crushing him between them, before he could get out. As near as we could learn, the logs struck him in the abdomen, injuring him internally. He afterwards got out and walked to the bank of the river, he lived twenty minutes after reaching it.

This log drive had nothing to do with J.J. Kennedy or his saw mill. The Rib River leaves Rib Lake and has enough water to make it “drivable”, i.e., capable of floating pine logs. For over 40 years the Rib River saw log drives.  The Rib enters the Wisconsin at Wausau.

Richard D. Durbin wrote in The Wisconsin River; An Odyssey Through Time & Space,, Spring Freshet Press, Cross Plains, Wis. c. 1998; “Probably the last log drive on the [Wisconsin] river itself occurred…[in 1916] when the John Week Lumber Co. made a run from the Upper Rib River to their mill at Stevens Point,” page 38.

The Rib Lake Herald reported log drives on the Rib River occurring in 1919, 1920 and 1921, e.g. “The spring log drive was gone down the [Rib] river past Goodrich,” 4/8/1921.



RIB LAKE BOOM -- William A. Warren has gone to Rib Lake to operate the band saw in Kennedy’s mill, and help saw out the 13,000,000 feet of logs in the boom at that place.

Rib Lake is Taylor County’s largest, natural lake with 320 acres of surface water.  At this time a boom of  logs chained together and anchored on shore prevented the  floating logs from drifting all over the lake.



PREEMPTION CLAIM -- LAND OFFICE AT WAUSAU, Wisconsin, March 24, 1885 -- Notice is hereby given the following named settler has filed notice of  his intention to make final proof in support of his claim, and that said proof will be made before the County Judge of Taylor County at Medford, Wisconsin,  on May 9, 1885, viz: ALPHONSE BONNEVILLE PREEMPTION FILING No.  12544 for the S ½ SE ¼ section 2 Town 33 North Range 2 East.

He names the following witnesses to prove his continuous residence thereon and cultivation of said land, viz., M. E. Coe, Charles Lawrence, A. Foraier ands John Fritz, all of Westboro, Wis.  3-28-1885--  M. B. McCord, Register

A preemption claim was similar to the Homestead claim. If successful, the settler obtained title to 160 acres of land from the U.S. government.  The land in question is just north of modern Rustic Road #1 and on the west side of Long Lake, Town of Rib Lake.



MEDFORD SAW MILL BURNS -- Last Thursday evening about 10 pm, an alarm of fire was sounded and soon after the first alarm the Butterfield, Ferguson & Co. sawmills was entirely enveloped in flames.  As the mill is surrounded on all sides by lumber and shingles, it was feared that the flames would spread and soon get beyond, control; but fortunately, there was not a breath of air stirring and the Hook and Ladder company assisted by volunteers succeeded in staying progress of the fire.

The story of the watchman is that the fire caught in the shavings and sawdust in front of the arch, and that his attempts to smother it were unavailing. After doing his best to smother it with sawdust, he attempted to start the pump, but the flames gained such headway he was driven from the pumping engine by the heat.

The mill was insured for $7,500 by the E. H.  Winchester office, in the following companies:

Penna Fire, Phila. $1,500

Western Toronto of Canada, $1,500

North America, $ 1,500

Germania, New York $ 1,500.

Queen, Liverpool, $ 1,500.

The mill could not be replaced for $25,000, but the company valued it at $14,000 as their business was about at an end. There are about 700,000 feet of logs in the pond, and very like, AS THE COMPANY WILL NOT REBUILD, the logs will be sawed at the Shattuck mill. Certainly they can be more profitability cut by him [Shattuck] than by anyone else.

The Butterfield and Ferguson saw mill was located in the very heart of Medford and occupied the site of Medford’s first sawmill built c. 1875 by Semple.

The Medford municipal dam across the Black River occupies part of the site in 2012.

The newspaper comment that the mill would not be rebuilt proved wrong.  The successor mill ran until 1926.



TWICE DAILY RAILROAD PASSENGER TRAINS -- Mike Gallagher, road master for the Wisconsin Central Railroad, spent several hours in town Tuesday. He was superintending some [railroad] track improvements. Mike is a good man and understands his business.

The same edition reported: “See the new time table for the Wisconsin Central Railroad. After tomorrow there will be daily trains. We have never had a Sunday train before and it will be a great convenience to people above and below us [Medford].  The freights run also more conveniently.  You can now go to Rib Lake in the morning and return by noon.

“You can take the morning freight south and connect at Abbottsford with the train for St. Paul [Minnesota]. You can take a sleeper here for Chicago, or at Stevens Point for Milwaukee. You can do most anything you want now. The passenger [train] goes north at 12:47, pm and south at 3:28, after tomorrow.” (emphasis added)



FIRE DESTROYS MEDFORD BUSINESS DISTRICT -- [27 buildings in downtown Medford destroyed, along with the remainder of the Butterfield and Ferguson Lumber Co. buildings.]

This fire destroyed the heart of Medford’s business district.  It leveled buildings on both sides of Main Street from Broadway, a/k/a STH 64, south to Division Street.

The June 6th edition reports: “Brucker, Ludloff & Co. has purchased the corner lot where the Doyle building stood [before last week’s fire]. They will put up a solid brick block (sic) for the bank, land office and printing establishment.”

In 2012 this magnificent building still stands, however it is vacant and tax delinquent.  The Brucker-Ludloff building is two stories high, made of two colors of brick.  Red trim bricks provide a nice contrast to most of the building, using cream-colored brick.  It occupies the northeast corner of Main and Division Street; between 1980-2009 the Rusch & Rusch Law Office ran out of a building just east of the corner, the old Hudson Bay Co, 111 E. Division Street, originally building as the office of the Medford Telephone Company.

The July 4th edition reported: “The solid brick block built by Mr. Morowetz to be occupied by Brucker, Ludloff & Co. is nearing completion. It is an ornament atop the town [of Medford], and a credit to the owner.”  Most of the building was built with cream color brick or stone, but graceful red brick arch were added.  Its final touch was a zinc cornice.


KENNEDY [Reprinted from the Spencer, Wis., Tribune] -- Mrs. J.J. Kennedy and the mother of J.J. Kennedy of Rib Lake stopped by last Friday for a visit for a day.

J.J. Kennedy lived and worked in Spencer, Wisconsin, for several years before moving to Rib Lake in 1881.



SPIRIT LAKE HOTEL? -- Hurrah for Spirit Lakers and fish. If you do not catch enough while there, a whisper and small silver hook handed to Mike Mullen will procure them. Don’t disappoint yourself expecting the accommodations of a Palmer House. Delicacies are not in season there, but good, substantial and well cooked food may be had in abundance.

Reading between the lines, I surmise that the Medford hotel keeper has either moved to Spirit Lake or established a place there.  By the turn of the century, the Spirit Lake Hotel stood where, in 2012, the boat landing on STH 102 and Little Spirit is located.



KENNEDY -- J.J. Kennedy of Rib Lake was in town [Medford] yesterday. He was talking about going to Milwaukee to take part in the bidding for the contract of grading the new [railroad] to Chicago for the Wisconsin Central.

Earlier it was reported that Kennedy went to the Dakota Territory [neither North nor South Dakota were states at that time] to see his horses that were grading an extension of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad. J.J. owned numerous teams of heavy, powerful draft horses that he could rent out during the summer; Kennedy’s Rib Lake use of the horses was confined to winter, when sleighing and skidding took place.

This article refers to the proposed construction of the Wisconsin Central.  The line was planned to go south to Forest Park, Illinois, where it turned eastward; it ended at Union Station in downtown Chicago.  That station was Mile 0, Medford was at Mile Post 317.  Consult the Photo & Document Collection at for an 1895 map of this line through Chicago.



RIB LAKE -- DEAR  EDITOR STAR AND NEWS -- Allow me space in your valuable paper to correct an item written by the Rib Lake correspondence of the Spencer Tribune of Aug. 21. The boys have organized a baseball club, and they are clearing a ground free from stumps, which requires labor, and the young men deserve credit for the active part they have all taken. I must say there were some men who did not take actual part in clearing the ground, but those men had business to attend to of more importance than clearing a base ball ground, but they liberally aided in paying expenses.

The correspondent of the Spencer paper thought in his silly way of thinking that he was going to run the club and the boys as he pleased but found out differently, and then he applied himself to the pen and revengefully remarked that they were lazy drones, and like the irritating little gnat, and not fit for society, etc.

There never was but one drone in this town and that was the correspondent of the Spencer paper. He loafed around here two months last winter as a drone, the father of drones, and J. J. [Kennedy] through pity and as an act of charity, gave him work in his store as an assistant clerk under Charles Van Hecke, his leading salesman and time keeper. Now, as to the great correspondent’s own society; since he first came here he associated principally with dogs: first, the little Penny, a white spitz cur; next comes Sport, a big shaggy dog; Oh! We must not forget Gip, a lank yellow dog; that’s the kind of society he prefers.

To conclude, the boys have organized two nines [baseball teams]; William Warren, captain of one, and Martin Lyons of the other, and they have ruled the great correspondent out of the club entirely, and out of society; for if they had kept such a nuisance in the club it would never have been organized, and one organized by good and faithful boys as we have in those two clubs it can easily be made a success.

Written by a gang of drones.

Wow!  What great sarcasm.

Bear in mind that the Kennedy’s lived and worked in Spencer, Wisconsin, before coming to Rib Lake in 1881. A great many former Spencer residents accompanied John J. Kennedy to Rib Lake.  For that reason the Spencer Tribune frequently covered Rib Lake news.



POPULATION -- According to the [state] census, Taylor County has 5706 population (sic), an increase of 3396 since 1880.  Of this number 1208 are militia and 100 veterans of the war of the rebellion [the Civil war].

Young, able-bodied men were registered into the Wisconsin Militia.



CHELSEA & HEMLOCK LUMBER -- AUCTION.  The undersigned will offer for sale to the highest bidder Oct 21, 1885, all the unsold personal property belonging to the L. M. Marshall & Taylor Lumber Co., Chelsea, Wis.  The property consists, in part, of about 500,000 FEET OF HEMLOCK LUMBER, PRINCIPALLY DIMENSION STUFF, five good work horses, and 17 sets of logging sleighs… (emphasis added)

     /s/ J. B. Leonard & J. B. Anderson,  Receivers of the L. M Marshall & Taylor Lumber Co.

Abram Taylor was described in a printed biography as one of the first mill men to cut hemlock lumber.  This was the age of pine in Taylor County and most lumbermen would not bother with lowly hemlock.

While white pine made up, perhaps, 5% of the virgin stand around Rib Lake, hemlock was ubiquitous.  The U.S. government land surveyors in surveying Rib Lake in 1864 noted that hemlock, tsuga canadensis, and yellow birch were the most common species of trees on high ground.

Please note that my comments regarding pine always refer to white pine, pinus strobus.  There were very few red pine, pinus strobus, in the virgin forests of Taylor County.    

Red pine was planted extensively beginning in the 1940s and today, 2012, it is difficult to distinguish between native and planted red pine.  I know of only 3 locations with native red pine in the Town of Rib Lake in 2012; on the east shore line of Little Spirit lake, the Sue & Rollie Thums estate: SW NE, Section 12, 33 North, Range 2 East, and the Max Dillon forest, NW SW, Section 13, 33 North 2 East.  The Thums land has one native red pine, the others less than a dozen each.  Taylor County does not have the sandy soils red pine thrive in.



WHITTLESEY -- Wheelock, Winchester & Co. will put in about 2,500,000 feet of pine at their mill near Whittlesey the coming season.

This is the first mention of such a mill.

Longtime Town of Chelsea clerk, Edwin Knauth, wrote regarding a “Winchester” sawmill.  It was a mile west of Whittlesey and used a pole line, also called a tram railroad, to haul its lumber to the Wisconsin Central at Whittlesey.  A pole line was a “railroad” using peeled hardwood logs for rails.  For details, see RPR’s “The Twelve Railroads of Taylor County.”



KENNEDY -- J.J. Kennedy, the King of Rib Lake, was in town [Medford] yesterday.

The same edition reports: “J.J. Kennedy will try for about 10,000,000 feet of logs the coming winter, which means he will put in 12,000,000. John always overruns his log estimates. His old stock of logs is not yet cut out, but if the weather holds good for another month he thinks that by RUNNING DAY AND NIGHT that he will clean the pond [Rib Lake].”  (emphasis added)



KENNEDY -- We neglected last week to announce the wedding of A. B. Kennedy of Rib Lake and Lizzie M. Barton of Alma, Wis., which occurred in this village [Medford] Sunday, the 1st. The young people have the best wishes of this journal for their health, wealth and happiness.

A. B. Kennedy is not J.J. Kennedy’s brother, Angus.  The groom, “A.B. Kennedy” is not to be confused with “H.A.B. Kennedy,” a/k/a Hugh A.B. Kennedy, who married Nellie Spencer, Nov. 5, 1896; see image 16756. The registration of marriage certificate for “A.B. Kennedy” identifies him as Angus Kennedy, who married Lizzie M. Barden on 11/1/1885, see image 15821.



TOWN OF GREENWOOD AUTHORIZED -- On 11/25/1885 the Taylor County board passed an ordinance detaching land from the Town of Chelsea and authorizing the Town of Greenwood.  “The first meeting in  and for the new Town of Greenwood shall be  held on  the first Tuesday in April, 1886, at the School House in school district number four….

On the same day the County board created two other new townships within Taylor County. J.J. Kennedy lobbied the Wisconsin State Legislature to have the Town of Rib Lake created. My guess is that J.J. did not think he would succeed with the Taylor County board and, therefore, went to the State.



FERGUSON -- The Ferguson brothers are all ready for snow, their camps are built and roads cut. They will put in 2,000,000 at this site [Medford] and 4,000,000 to 5,000,000 at Thorp.

In January, 1886, the paper reported Ferguson was moving all of its lumbering operations to “Boyd.”



KENNEDY -- From Westboro. John Fitze, Frank Bonneville and Frank Bidwell are logging the pine on their homesteads this winter.  J.J. Kennedy has purchased the logs on the skids.

J.J. Kennedy bought the logs while they sat in a pile on the land from which they had been cut. Kennedy then had the job of getting them to his Rib Lake saw mill.

Here is an example of another way Kennedy got raw material, i.e., buying them from a land owner who cut his own trees.  The land owner got a higher price this way -- contrasted to selling “stumpage,” where Kennedy’s crews would do not only the hauling to the mill but the felling, skidding and initial piling.




KENNEDY - RIB LAKE - HE CAN MAKE ROADS BUT NOT SNOW -- John Kennedy says he can make roads but not snow. On Monday and Tuesday last he put in each day 125,000 feet of logs. HE SHOVELED SNOW ON THE ROAD and the teams went right along. He said if the snow holds out, he would put in that much every day—but he couldn’t make snow. John is a hustler—and make no mistake (about that).

The late thaw had nearly demoralized the loggers, Many companies were seriously contemplating withdrawing their men from the woods—indeed, one man that we know of had gone into his camps for that purpose, The snow on Wednesday morning revived their hopes, and they will stick. The Signal Service Bureau [the predecessor to the U. S. Weather Service] unofficially predicts an early January freeze.

Without doubt, the loggers of that era were dependent on cold temperature and snow to get their logs out of the woods, or, at least, to the river bank for spring drives.

Ninety nine percent of the sleigh roads cut out by Kennedy’s crews have disappeared. In 2012 you can still see at least one small segment in the Town of Rib Lake. The Rib Lake Ski & Snowshoe Club uses it, named Die Promenade, as part of its network of non-motorized winter trails, The old sleigh road runs through a conifer swamp uncut since the Kennedy era; it is within the northwest ¼, southeast ¼, section 12, T 33 North Range 2 East. In 2012 the landowners are Rodney and Kristin Strobach and Mary and Scott Geisler.

Ironically, the old sleigh road is within the very first piece of land purchased by John J. Kennedy at Rib Lake, the west ½, southeast ¼, section 12, Town 33 North, Range 2 East.



KENNEDY -- J. J.  Kennedy was in Medford Thursday and called at this office [Taylor County Star & News] during the absence of both editors.

I conclude that one key to JJK’s success was his practice to visit and talk to people.



MCLENNAN -- Duncan J.  McLennan, chairman of the Town of Rib Lake, General Manager of J.J. Kennedy’s lumber interests, has assumed another title, and one with the gravest responsibilities attached. On the first of January, with the regularity with which he does everything, he became “Papa McLennan.” Duncan is a small man, physically, but he is just about a father as if he weighed 300 pounds. The boss of that household is a little girl, and her name is Mamie Flora. We tender our congratulations to the happy parents.    

The child’s second name honors her aunt, Mrs. Flora Kennedy, a/k/a Mrs. John J. Kennedy.  Duncan and Flora were siblings.



KENNEDY -- J.J. Kennedy’s mill at Rib Lake will start up for the winter’s run about the middle of the next month.



RIB LAKE -- Thirteen persons living at Rib Lake are suffering from …trichinosis. They are Fritz Milke [Mielke] and wife, Fritz Radtke, wife and 4   children, Chris Seaman, John Hump, and wife and child, and Lewis Kennedy.

They all ate sausage that was not fully cooked. Parties have examined the pork from which the sausage was made and claim to have discovered trichinosis.

It was later determined they were not sickened by trichinosis.

Arthur J. Latton, writing about 1940, reported to Taylor County cases of trichinosis.



RIB LAKE TRAIN SCHEDULE -- Rib Lake Trains: leave Chelsea 1:30 pm and arrive Rib Lake at 2 pm: leave Rib Lake at 2:30 pm and arrive at Chelsea 3 pm.

Trains connect at Chelsea with north and south bound mail trains, Sundaysexcepted.

It was 5.5 miles by rail between Chelsea and Rib Lake.  Rib Lake was on a spur that dead-ended at Rib Lake.  Chelsea was on the main line.



RIB LAKE MILL -- The Rib Lake mill was idle for 3 months and in all that time no slabs were thrown into the pit where the mill refuse is burned, and yet, when preparations were being made to start up the mill last Monday, live coals were found in the pit.



WHITTLESEY -- Wheelock, Winchester & Co. are putting in  a band saw in their mill near Whittlesey and expect in the future to make better lumber and save timber as well. BAND SAWS ARE BECOMING VERY POPULAR with mill men in this locality. (emphasis added)

Kerf is the term for the width of the cut made by the saw. Typically, the kerf was much less with a band saw as contrasted to a circle saw. In this way band saws made more lumber than circle saws. This is especially the case with the initial sawing of the log; here circle saws had to be especially thick to cut the log in half.

J.J. Kennedy installed a band saw in his Rib Lake mill in 1885; see below.



RIB LAKE – HISTORY -- We do not claim to be the original discoverer of the village of Rib Lake; It has not been hid away for years from mortal ken until the great magician came with his goggles and a pimple on his nose and made the place famous.

Rib Lake is a manufacturing village situated on the shores of a beautiful lake that gives the town and village their name. The saw mill, owned by J.J. Kennedy, consists of a circular and band saw for cutting logs, a gang edger and trimmer, a double cutting machine and the necessary small saws for cutting up slabs and mill refuse.

Convenience, time and labor saving appear  to have been taken into consideration when the mill was planned and built, as there is no place in the mill where the  “lubber life” is required for  moving  lumber or timber. The power is furnished by steam from 4 large boilers, the machinery being driven by a large, powerful engine.

This mill last year sawed 12,000,000 feet of lumber, and was not crowded beyond its capacity. For the past 3 months the mill has been undergoing repairs, fitting it for the long run just inaugurated. A start was made Wednesday last and the little village “among the whispering pines” is now full of the sound of puffing steam and the buzz of the hungry saw.

Mr. Kennedy also has a planing mill where, in addition to the machinery used in  dressing the several grades of merchantable lumber, he also has machinery for  working up cull lumber, usually a drag on the market, into box stuff, car roofing, etc., which is always in demand and finds a ready sale. Attached are commodious sheds for storing the dressed lumber until shipped.

A switch [railroad] track runs from the lumber yard to the north side of the planing mill where lumber is unloaded from the cars upon a platform and then fed directly through the [planing] machines coming out on the other side of the mill ready for loading upon [railroad] cars standing on another side track running parallel with the main track. THIS LITTLE MILL IS A MODEL OF CONVENIENCE AND NEATNESS. The engine room is of brick and contains a splendid 14x 24 [steam] engine, which does its work noiselessly, without apparent effort.

The village store, also owned by J.J. Kennedy, is a two story building, 26x24 feet, and contains a large stock of general merchandise.  At present Ben Hoey is the only clerk, his later companion, Van Hecke, having accepted a position in Stevens Point. (Ben keeps a package of smoking tobacco and a box of cigars on tap for newspaper tramps). A large, well-lighted office in the body of the store is where the General Superintendent, Duncan J. McLennan, holds forth in company with the book keeper, William Young. Mc. does the buying for the store, attends to the shipping of lumber, and is the auditor of the concern, examining and paying all bills. He has his hands full.

The Village of Rib Lake contains within its limits 37 dwelling houses, with a resident population of about 170. This estimate does not include what is commonly called transients, who are birds of passage and are liable to fly to other scenes at any time. This latter class, or a majority of them, lives in a large hotel kept by Mr. and Mrs. D. W. Bodle. Mr. Bodle says that when the mill is running he has from 75 to 100 boarders, some of whom sleep in apartments over the store. The hotel is well kept house, with good, airy rooms, comfortably furnished, and the table is supplied with wholesome, substantial food, superior to the bill of fare in many hotels “along the line.”  Mr. and Mrs. Bodle are lifelong hotel keepers who strive to make their house not a mere boarding house, but a comfortable stopping place for the traveling public.

Every building in the village, but two, is the property of J.J. Kennedy. The two exceptions are the residences owned by the General Superintendent Duncan J. McLennan and General Manager Angus Kennedy. NO SPIRITUOUS OR MALT LIQUORS, WINE, OR OTHER BRAIN BEFUDDLING BEVERAGES ARE SOLD WITHIN THE VILLAGE LIMITS, or nearer than Chelsea, seven miles away.

There is a good school district within the village attended by between 30 to 40 pupils, and the religiously inclined are privileged to attend services every other week by the Rev. N. L. Sweet, of Spencer, a Baptist minister. The Rev. B. Ungrodt, the German Lutheran clergyman of Medford, also holds services there occasionally.

The logs for the saw mill are cut in the surrounding forests and hauled to the lake by horse teams over ice roads, the main being seven miles in length, and of solid ice from 18 inches to two feet thick the entire distance, and about 10 or 12 feet wide. The sleighs used are the Common Sense (sic) with a six foot run [six feet between the runners] and an eight foot bunk for the two horse teams, the four horse teams using a nine foot bunk. The loads they put on those sleighs would make a prairie farmer who has never been in the lumber woods think that the loaders were lunatics.

The logs are scaled on the landing and the loads run from 3 to 5 thousand feet. There are 3 camps on the main road, all having a full crew of men and teams under the supervision of a competent foreman. There is another camp under the south arm of the [Rib] lake that extends easterly and bounds the village on the south. This camp does not use the main road, but has a shorter road of its own built and kept in repair with sprinklers also.

There is still another camp at Worthington’s [Wellington Lake] about equidistant from Chelsea and Rib Lake; where about 1,000,000 [board feet] have been landed. The Rib Lake branch of the Wisconsin Central Railroad runs by this lake, and in the summer the logs will be loaded on flat cars and taken to the mill by rail. Mr. Kennedy now has on the lakes nearly 10,000,000 feet of logs and is banking from 150,000 to 200,000 daily.

A trip over the main [ice] road with Mr. Lewis of Fond du Lac, J.J. Kennedy, and his brother, General Manager [Angus Kennedy], was a genuine surprise to the writer who flatters himself that he is no greenhorn in the woods, if he is not very cute in some things. The road is a perfectly solid bed of ice and the heaviest loads slip over its surface with very little effort on part of the teams except when ascending grades.  Teams were meeting with loads towering skyward like hay stacks, while the horses plodded along contentedly without sweating a hair.  The sleighing was remarkably good that day, of course, and it is only recently that the warm weather has greased the roads so the teams could have a chance, but even after the constantly cold weather of a month ago, many, in fact, nearly all of the teams are still in fair condition and will come out in the spring without showing very serious signs of overwork.

The teams on the 7 mile haul make 2 trips per day. Some of them start before 5 o’clock in the morning—it is reported.  There are about 80 horse teams hauling  logs from the several camps, only a part  [of the teams] belonging to Mr. Kennedy, the rest being owned by the men  who drive them and are working with their teams by the  day.

Mr. Kennedy’s reason for going so far from the mill for his logs this winter is that he wishes to save his timber near the [Rib] Lake for an open winter, something every lumberman dreads.  There are million of feet of good  pine stumpage almost within sight of the lake, that could be  put in with little or no snow, and it is the intention to save that until the last or until the absence of snow compels the work to be confined to the vicinity of the lake. A PORTION OF THIS TIMBER IS OWNED BY CURTIS BROS. & CO. OF WAUSAU AND CLINTON, IOWA. Mr. Kennedy is under contract to cut and saw all their timber.  Mr. Kennedy has considerable timber of his own, and a portion of the logs he is putting in this winter are from his own stumpage.

As an effort is made to cut each section clean as they go, taking the poor timber with the good, the logs will not grade as high as some logs put in for long  drives, but the timber in that section is good and the average well, a large percentage beingof the very best quality.

Rib Lake is rather a picturesque body of water in the summer—just at present it is a body of ice covered with logs and is only picturesque from a financial stand point of view-shaped something like the letter L. It is a long distance from one side of the lake to the other and still further from end to end. At the point where the two arms of the lake join with the shimmering lake on the east and south, the dancing wavelets coming within thirty feet of the low windows, stands the pretty house of J.J. Kennedy, the man who owns the mills, the lake and the village, the same red-whiskered chap who roused us in the morning with the admonition to look out on the lake and see the logs coming. The cottage [J.J. Kennedy’s home] was built last summer and is unpretentious and homelike. Both Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy are hospitable, kindly people, who take the visitor into their family circle, and make him feel that hospitality with them is second nature. They have one of the prettiest little houses in Wisconsin, they have five beautiful, bright children, and JOHN WOULD BE PERFECTLY HAPPY IF THOSE TEAMSTERS WOULD PUT ON JUST ONE MORE LOG. (emphasis added)

This insightful history was written by Edgar T. Wheelock, editor and owner of the Taylor County Star & News.

No sale of alcohol was legal until 1896 – when a referendum approved it.

A sleigh “bunk” is the rack that held the logs.  

The location of all of Kennedy’s camps have been lost save one.  The Matt McGillis pine camp is along the Rib Lake Ski & Snowshoe trail in the SW NW 13-33-2E.  In 2017 the outline of the foundation of the buildings and camp well are clearly visible.

All Rib Lake development described here took place in less than 5 years.  



RIB RIVER -- Ed Flander’s logging crew, on the Rib River, broke camp, a part of the crew going to Cleveland and Ricker’s camp, on the same stream.



RIB LAKE -- Lightning struck J.J. Kennedy’s mill atRib Lake last Wednesday tearing a hole in the roof and setting fire to the mill, but the flames were extinguished before a great deal of damage was done. Several men were in the mill at the time, and all of them were more or less shocked. Fortunately for the crew, the mill was not running at the time of the accident, having shut down  a few minutes previous on account of the raging storm which made it impossible for the men to work out of doors in caring for the lumber as it came out of the mill. Had the mill been in operation at the time, it is probable that some of the crew would have been killed as the electric fluid passed directly over the stations of several of the workmen.

The lightning first made a landing in the smoke stack, passing thence to the mill, a portion following each guide rod to the ground.  One guy rod is fastened to the “wood butcher’s” [carpenter] shop, and an inmate of the shop who was near the end of the rod will make an affidavit that he was struck in the leg by a “ball of fire as big as a pumpkin.” He shows a badly burned leg and blackened foot to back [up] his assertion.

The mill’s power plant had a steel smokestack that was stabilized by steel guide wires running to guide posts set in the ground. In this case, they all made an unintended lightning rod.

THE KENNEDY BUILT MILL IN RIB LAKE WAS DESTROYED TWICE BY FIRE, first in 1897 and for a second time in 1914.   The planing mill rebuilt in 1916 was destroyed by fire in 1945. You  can see a  movie of the last  fire at


NEW RAILROAD CONNECTION TO CHICAGO -- The distance from Chicago to Medford, on the new line, is 317 miles.

The Wisconsin Central Railroad just completed extending its line from west of Milwaukee to Chicago.

The edition of August 7 reported that the Wisconsin Central’s “fast train” took 14 hours 35 minutes to run between Chicago and St. Paul; the distance was 457 miles; the train averaged 32 miles per hour.



FISH FOR PLANTING -- Our member of the [Wisconsin State] Assembly, the Hon. J. K. Parish, yesterday received 50,000 young brook trout, and forthwith proceeded to distribute the small fry in the numerous streams in the vicinity.

Parish would later serve as circuit court judge for Taylor, Price and Ashland Counties.


KENNEDY -- Julius Roberts of Deer Creek, Tuesday noon, while at work in J.J. Kennedy’s mill at Rib Lake, for Sam Hagan, sawing shingles, met with a  serious accident, cutting the fore finger of the left hand off at the first  joint, tearing the flesh and severely bruising the middle finger and  lacerating the third.

Dr. McDonald of Chelsea dressed the hand. Julius had been at work but 8 days when the accident happened. The boys at Rib Lake expressed their sympathy, and substantially showed their generously by taking up a subscription and raising the snug sum of $89.00 in less than one hour.

That is the way they do it up here in Taylor County, instead of furnishing them [the injured] with a certificate of good character and sending them elsewhere for substantial sympathy. All honor to the boys of Rib Lake!

Note, no money from the company or government. I presume Kennedy paid the Chelsea doctor.

Sawing shingles was probably the single most dangerous job at the mill. It required the worker to hold the block of wood and saw within inches of his hand.



KENNEDY -- J.J. Kennedy broke all of his camps last Thursday.  He has put in all the logs he wanted to this year.

The April 10 edition reported: the Rib Lake mill has shut down until the ice goes out on the lake and the mill additions are completed.  This was the proverbial “spring breakup;” ice on lakes and sleigh roads were rendered impassable by sun and warmer temperatures.  



KENNEDY -- It is said that J.J. Kennedy and John Duncan [owner of a mill at Westboro] will send their [horse] teams west this spring to work on railroad construction. It is claimed that teams kept at work during the summer will do better work in the winter as they hold their muscle and bottom [?] better than teams turned out to grass.




Chairman: Duncan J.  McLennan

Supervisors: Edward  Van Gieson and George A. Clark

Clerk: A. B. Kennedy

Treasurer:  W. E. Young

Assessor: William Layman

Justices: N. H. Stetter and Angus Kennedy

Constables: Robert  Guenther and William Warren

The township of Rib Lake was created in 1885 – mostly from land taken from the Township of Westboro.



FISH PLANTING IN SPIRIT RIVER -- The last invoice of fish from the State hatchery arrived Thursday last, consisting of 500,000 whitefish and 20,000 California trout. The whitefish were distributed around the county lakes one can, or 50,000 in each lake, and the trout put in the streams.

Gallagher, Wood, Worthington [n/k/a Wellington] and Gerow Lakes in the Town of Chelsea each came in for an apportionment, and Powell’s and Nigger Lakes in this [Medford] town were also planted with small fry.

Trout were placed in Spirit River, Mink Creek and other streams in Westboro and Chelsea...

These fish were transported to Taylor County by a special railroad car.  In 2012 it has been restored by the Wisconsin Historical Society.  

About 1980 “Nigger Lake” was renamed Mat Ochs by the Taylor County board.

Gallagher Lake, named for Michael Gallagher, was misspelled Lagher Lake on the 1913 Standard Atlas of Taylor County.  It is in the NE ¼, Section 28, Town 36 North, Range 1 East.  The 2007 Taylor County plat book fails to show it at all.  



FIRE ALMOST DESTROYS WESTBORO -- Last Monday a dispatch was received from Westboro asking that the hand [fire] engine be sent to save the town from conflagration. Chief engineer Perkins soon had the boys [Medford Volunteer Fire Department] out and the engine and the hose cart were ready long before the special train that had been ordered down from Chelsea, arrived. Upon reaching Westboro it was found that the village was bounded on the north by fire, on the west by fire, and on the east by small fires.

Work was commenced by setting the engine at the bridge and putting out fires out along the road to Palmer’s mill; the engine was then moved to a pond by the side of the railroad track and an effort was made to extinguish the fire in a pile of ties that threatened destruction of several homes. This effort was only partially successful. But as the wind had ceased to blow hard, no more danger was feared from that quarter.

The engine was then moved to the bridge on the county road to Palmer’s mill, and a fire that threatened to creep into Duncan’s lumber yard was squelched.

The department then loaded its apparatus on a [railroad] flat car and returned home [to Medford]. The people of Westboro had been working for some hours with pails to arrest the threatening calamity, and were no doubt pleased when help arrived.

It is impossible to say what would have happened had the department not been asked for aid, but it was the best plan to keep on the safe side. The boys belonging to the hose cart were about used up that day, as they were thoroughly wet through, and swallowed whole volumes of smoke.

The following letter explains itself. It was received by Mr. Perkins last Thursday, and was duly acknowledged by that gentleman, who expressed the feelings of “the boys who run with the machine.”

Westboro, Wis., May 26, 1886

To A. J. Perkins, Chief Engineer, Medford Fire Dept.

         Dear Sir:

                   Enclosed find my check for $100 which you will please accept and present to the Medford Fire Department. Please accept and tender to the entire Medford Fire Department my sincere thanks for the promptness shown in responding to my call for aid Monday, May 24, 1886, and for the indefatigable manner in which you all worked and so quickly got the fire under control, THEREBY SAVING THE ENTIRE VILLAGE as well as my own property. I trust that others whose property you so nobly saved will recompense you liberally.

                                      Yours respectfully,  John Duncan

It was just one year since 28 buildings in the center of Medford had been destroyed by fire.

Albert J. Perkins was the first mayor of Medford.



BRUCKER, LUDLOFF & CO., BANKING COMPANY, DISSOLVED -- The private banking firm under the name of Brucker, Ludloff & Co. of Medford, Taylor County, Wisconsin, has this day been dissolved by mutual consent. All assets  have been transferred to and all debts will be paid by the Brucker, Ludloff Co. a corporation duly organized and existing  under the laws of the State of Wisconsin at Medford, Taylor County, Wisconsin

/s/ Joseph Brucker, Karl Ludloff and Emil C. Morawetz



EDGAR T. WHEELOCK LEAVES MANAGEMENT OF STAR AND NEWS -- The Star and News is still my property, but the business and editorial management will be entirely in the hands of A. Dodge…



KENNEDY -- J.J. Kennedy, of Rib Lake, Sunday [was] at Medford, [the dinner guest of] J. H. Wheelock.

J. H. Wheelock was the brother of Edgar T. Wheelock, until recently the editor of the Taylor County Star and News.  J.J. Kennedy was, without question, socially active and well connected in Medford.

Edgar T. Wheelock has just taken the position of editor of a newspaper called Central Wisconsin published in Wausau but he maintained his residence in Medford.


KENNEDY -- [Abram] Taylor of Chelsea has sold this year $1,300 worth of hay from his farm east of Chelsea to J.J. Kennedy of Rib Lake.

Kennedy not only had horses in the woods for lumbering, but used them extensively around the mill for moving the freshly sawn lumber to the dry yards and, eventually, back again to the planning mill.


WHITTLESEY -- P.O. Malong came down from Whittlesey visiting the family. He has had charge of the band saws in S. A. Hale’s [saw] mill at that place… He had the scale book for the month of June, which showed that during the 26 working days for the month of that month THEY SAWED AN AVERAGE OF 47,968 FEET, THE LARGEST CUT IN ONE DAY BEING 76,066 FEET AND THE SMALLEST BEING 38,650.

So far this month the lowest cut is 53,000. This is by far the best work we have seen reported—and the above are exact figures.

The great secret of doing work on a band saw is to keep them in good trim [sharp], and P. A. Malong is the man that knows the secret of it. He is an expert filer and adjuster of saws. They have the E. P. Allis & Co. band mill. William Heller of Whittlesey is head sawyer in the mill.  (emphasis added)

Proper care of the band saw involves not only sharpening. The “set” must be maintained, i.e. the width the blade cuts. Too little means the blade binds in the log; too much means you make sawdust and not lumber.

Band saws were the “new kids on the block” in Taylor County.  Most sawmills used old-fashioned circle saws.


RIB LAKE -- We learn indirectly, that a powerful steam pump and boiler are to be put in an isolated building and supplied with about 2,000 feet of  hose, to protect Rib Lake from fire.

In the recent past there had been a number of serious fires. One fire involved the Medford Fire Dept. taking its equipment and men to Whittlesey to fight a forest fire threatening to burn the sawmill.  On May 29, Westboro had a disastrous fire.


MEDFORD—NEW SAW MILL -- The Shattuck & Willm saw mill at this place  [Medford] is nearly complete, the size of the main frame is 85 x 85 feet….

They expect to cut at least 25,000 [board feet] per day when they get it all in running order. The mill is not a large one but good for its size….


WANTED—RAILROAD TIES -- I will pay 12 cents a piece, cash, for all cross ties delivered  on the line of the Wisconsin Central  [Railroad] before November 1st next.   J. H. Wheelock

This ad was aimed at those able to use a broad axe.  A normal axe has taper on both sides of the blade. A broad axe has a taper on only one side, permitting a strong and competent person to stand on top of a log and hew a flat surface. In the case of a railroad tie, the hewer had to make a flat surface on two sides of the log; one side eventuallylaid on the ground and the top sidesupported the railroad track.


RIB LAKE FATAL ACCIDENT -- Herman Peters, who had a homestead near Rib Lake, was killed at 5:30 p.m. Sept 3rd about 3 miles east of Rib Lake, at his father-in-law’s while cribbing a well which was over 40 feet deep.

He was near the bottom [of the well] putting in curbing, and his father-in-law and another man were dropping down planks. As they were lowering planks into the well, the plank slipped through the rope, one of them in its descent striking him squarely on the top of the head, smashing his skull; killing him instantly. He was about 28 years old and leaves a wife and child to mourn his untimely death.

Curbing, sometimes called cribbing, was the process of building a rectangular wooden form in a hand dug well. The cribbing prevented the earth sides from collapsing.

Sometimes stones or bricks were used in place of wood.  


NEW RAILROAD AT PRENTICE -- The Soo Railroad has completed its new depot at Prentice and is running regular trains from there west. The departure of train west is 6:40 a.m. and arrival from the west is 5:25 p.m. The rails are laid east of Prentice about 15 miles from the Central…

The Wisconsin Central was the first railroad to build there; actually building before the town existed in 1874. Its tracks ran north and south.

The Soo Line, actually the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault St. Marie, was intended to provide a way to get Minnesota flour to the East Coast without going through Chicago; rather than going south around Lake Michigan, it went north through Sault St. Marie, Michigan.

The Soo Line acquired the Wisconsin Central in 1902 but kept its corporate existence until 1962 when the Wisconsin Central was no more.

Until 1902 Prentice had two separate railroad depots less than a mile apart. The first depot constructed was on the Wisconsin Central on the north end of town.  The second depot was owned by the Soo Line and stood where its tracks crossed the W/C.

The first depot was “Prentice.” The second depot was “Prentice Junction.”


LAST MENTION OF CHARLESTOWN? -- The first deer got by a locomotive on this line was struck by the engine of the fast train [going] southThursday night between Charlestown switch and Medford…

Charlestown was the name originally given by the Wisconsin Central Railroad to what is now called Whittlesey; in 1881 the plat of Whittlesey was recorded at the Taylor County Register of Deeds office and the place was officially referred to as Whittlesey.

I take it that the railroad switch there continued to be called “the Charlestown switch” by railroad folks.


“CHELSEA BURNED” -- Thursday afternoon, soon after the passenger train went south, an appeal for help came over the wire notifying us that Chelsea was on fire and asking the Fire Department to come to their relief. A locomotive and caboose was sent down but there was no flat car to be had, so the up bound passenger brought one from Abbotsford. We were soon loaded and followed closely after the passenger train but owing to the delay of three quarters of an hour we reached Chelsea too late to render assistance in time to save a great deal but prevent the destruction of the [Lutheran] church, Ed Gerow’s house and a small dwelling near Gerows…


The following is a list  of the buildings burned and estimated loss:

A. A. Gearheart’s store, loss $5,000, insurance $1,500.

C. H. Gearhart’s Hotel, loss $4,000, insurance $1,000.

Robert Kee’s Hotel, loss $ 2,000, insurance $600.

A. B, Gibbs restaurant, loss $  {unknown}

Ed Services hotel, loss $ {unknown}

J. B. Anderson’s store and residence, loss $4,000. Insurance $2,150.

John Berger’s saloon and residence, loss $1,200. Insurance $600.

W. C. Douville saloon, loss $1,200, insurance $ 400.

Chelsea town hall, loss $2,500, insurance $2,000.

M. Keating residence, loss $400. No insurance.

C. L. Scott residence

J. Trevors residence


A railroad flat car was needed to convey the Medford firefighting equipment to Chelsea.

Chelsea, as a commercial center, never recovered from this fire.

The reference to the call coming over the wire meant the telegraph; it connected all depots including Chelsea and Medford.


KENNEDY -- Two [railroad] car loads of horses, sixteen spans, passed through Medford Tuesday night on their way to Rib Lake for J.J. Kennedy. He will use them this winter hauling logs.

The bulk of logs Kennedy’s mill consumed got to Rib Lake by sleighs pulled by horses. A network of well laid out and well maintained ice roads ran from the saw mill into the hinterlands.

The growing problem was distance. As the areas close to the mill we deforested, the sleigh and ice roads had to get longer.

The limitations of horses in pulling heavy loads over ever longer distances eventually lead J.J. Kennedy to experiment with a logging railroad in 1891.


KENNEDY---IRON ORE EXPLORATION -- The Medford Land and Exploration Company has been formed with the following officers and members: A. [Albert] J. Perkins, president; G. L. Turner, general manager; Cornelius Gillis, superintendant; E. H. Winchester, secretary and treasurer;  George T. Brown, J. A. Cleveland, F. H. Ward and J. J. Kennedy.

The above association has purchased 9 forties of land and will sink 2 shafts on section 9, T 30 Range 1 East. They claim that surface indications of rich iron deposits there are very good. Preparations are being made to commence work immediately.

The land described was 2 miles southwest of the city of Medford. No iron ore was ever found.

Successful iron mining in the Penokee Range 80 miles north of Rib Lake fed local interest.

On December 18 the Star & News reported that 3 pits had been dug—the deepest 16 feet-and hematite found; the company has been “reorganized” with capital stock fixed at $1,000,000 or 40,000 shares at $25.00 each; Albert J. Perkins remained president but J.J. Kennedy was made the vice president.


KENNEDY-“THE PRINCE” -- Prince J.J. Kennedy, of Rib Lake, was in town [Medford] last evening.

The TC STAR & NEWS had just reported that its owner, Edgar T. Wheelock, who had been working in Wausau on another newspaper, gave up that job and has resumed working for the Star & News as editor. Edgar was a dear friend of J.J. Kennedy, which accounts for the funny epithet.


OXEN -- Aaron Gould, a teamster in Eugene Collin’s camp for E. K. Buttrick, skidded with one team of oxen, in one day, 235 [pine] logs. The boys in the camp are of the opinion that that day work will be hard to beat.

Many loggers preferred oxen over horses to skid, i.e., to drag the log from the spot at which it was first cut to the landing.


KENNEDY -- The continued favorable logging weather is doing wonders for lumbermen in the shape of [sleigh] road making.J.J. Kennedy of Rib Lake reports that he is rushing logs to the lake at the rate of 150,000 feet per day.

In this case favorable weather meant cold.


COAL REPLACES WOOD FOR LOCOMOTIVES -- The railroad company [Wisconsin Central] has posted notices to the effect that it will buy no more wood, as all locomotives on the line will hereafter burn coal.

Up to this time the Wisconsin Central consumed huge quantities of local hardwood to fuel its steam engines.

KENNEDY – “Genial John” -- J.J. Kennedy was in town [Medford] yesterday. Everyone likes to meet the genial John.


HEMLOCK -- Isaac Gay [of Westboro] has contracted with the Chicago Lumber Company of Omaha, Nebraska, through their agent, Mr. Firkus, to furnish 50 [railroad] car loads of sawed hemlock ties at 22 cents apiece.

He has also taken a contract of another company (we could not learn its name) to furnish 50 at 22 ½ cents apiece. Ike is bound to get there if stick-to-it-ive-ness will do it.

Isaac Gay operated a small sawmill 1 mile east of Westboro on the SW SW 5 33 2E according to Bob Lucia.

Note that hemlock was being used for railroad ties. Normally hardwood was used because of its strength.

By 1887 there were three sawmills in or near Westboro... The oldest is the John Duncan mill, originally the Duncan, Taylor & Ritchie. The second constructed is on Silver Creek and owned by C. C. Palmer; the Star & News just reported that a siding from the Wisconsin Central Railroad is about to be  built to Palmer’s mill; in 1902 it would become the Westboro Lumber Co. Finally, Isaac “Ike” Gay has his small mill east of town.  It was one mile south of the county line, on the east side of Lucia Road at “Gaytown.”


ACCIDENT INSURANCE—WESTBORO -- A man living east of this village named August Berger met with a severe accident while working in Swift’s camp, near Westboro, last Saturday. He was working on the land and was caught between two logs, both bones of his legs being broken. Very fortunately for him, he had, the evening before, purchased a ticket in the Eau Claire Benefit Co., and will, in consequence, draw $7.00 per week during his enforced idleness, besides having his doctor’s bill paid. Dr. Miller, who is the surgeon at this place, is attending him and reports him doing nicely.


CHELSEA -- A company was organized at Chelsea to be known as the Chelsea Iron Company, to operate on lands in Sections 1 and 6 adjoining the village…

During the last 6 months a number of “iron” companies have been organized; to date, no one has reported finding iron, although “hematite” was uncovered at a shallow digging 2 miles southwest of Medford in which J.J. Kennedy has an interest.

Great excitement and speculation has attended the prospect of local iron mining; see, for example, this clipping from 2/26/1887 edition of the Star &News: “Robert Kees, the Chelsea man, was in town Thursday visiting with the iron kings. Bob believes, like the rest of us, in the future GREATNESS OF TAYLOR COUNTY AS AN IRON PRODUCING COUNTY.” (emphasis added)

Through November 1902, neither the Taylor County News, the Taylor County Star & News, nor the Taylor County Star News reported any verified iron ore found in Taylor County.


CHELSEA—AFTERMATH OF GREAT FIRE -- Since the fire occurred at Chelsea last fall, 4 buildings have been erected in the burned district. C. H.  Gearhart has a large hotel, 48 ft square and 28 ft. to the eaves. He has an office, dining room, kitchen and parlor on the first floor and above he has 18 sleeping rooms, several of them on the third floor and lighted by dormer windows… The sleeping rooms are 10 x 16 feet and, when the house is plastered, will be very attractive.

A. Gearhart, also called “Bert” for short, has a building that is twenty some feet wide by more than forty feet long. In this brand new building, which stands on the site of the old Anderson Store, he keeps the post office and a stock of fancy groceries. In a back room he has a combined pool and billiard table, and in another part of the building his living rooms are located.

Wilfred Douville has build on the site of his old place of business, a saloon that does not differ materially from his former one with the exception that the reporter could not pick the combination of the till Robert Kees has moved into the Barbey building, on the north corner of the square, and fitted it up for a hotel…


NO CONFLICT OF INTEREST? -- The new law firm of Corning & Textor is now ready for clients. The combination was made some days ago but is now announced for the first time. S.A. Corning, the senior member of the firm, is district attorney for Taylor County.; his partner, Clinton Textor, is County Judge. All of which makes the new team about evening matched.

This appears to mean that when district attorney Corning appears in county court on a criminal mater he is before his partner, who is also the county judge?


KENNEDY HAS NEW SNOW PLOW -- J.J. Kennedy says that his main logging [sleigh] road is a model this winter, and adds that it is the best he ever saw. Last fall he purchased a snow plow designed for logging roads, and with this and his sprinkler, he has made a perfect logging road.

The “sprinkler” was a sleigh holding a water tank with spigots at the rear from which water could be let out; working at night when there was no other traffic and the freezing conditions the best, the sprinkler crew spilled water on the sleigh road as a team of horses pulled the sprinkler.  The sleigh road then became a true ice road.

Ice roads had several advantages. As ice was built up on them they would support ever heavier loads.  Secondly, they were smooth and permitted almost frictionless movements.

While I have no data on the snowplow, I suspected it consisted of two timbers coming to a point at the front; the timbers were pulled by a team of horses and “winged” the excess snow to each side of the ice road.


WHITTLESEY -- The boarding house at Wheelock, Winchester & Co.’s mill near Whittlesey was destroyed by fire last Wednesday night. Nearly all the furniture was lost, and some of the men lost their personal effects.


LITTLE BLACK -- The Little Black mill will be stocked with about 5,000,000 feet of logs for the coming seasons run. Only a portion, less than one-half of this stock, will be put in on the Little Black River. The balance coming from points on the [Wisconsin Central Railroad] line. Worcester, Glidden, Penoke and other points will contribute their logs to make the grand total.

The Wisconsin Central track ran immediately to the west of the Little Black sawmill; a spur line leads to the river which was used as a mill pond.

Two current ghost towns appear in the list: Worcester, otherwise known as milepost 101, lay north of Prentice and was a spot where the railroad stopped for 18 months after it ran out of construction money in 1874.  Penoke was a small berg west of Mellon named for the Penoke Iron Range running from there to Ironwood, Michigan.


LIEN LAW -- The Wisconsin supreme court has rendered a decision which is of great importance to merchants, loggers and their workmen. The court held that under the log lien law of this state, a person who works on logs, or who furnishes supplies for putting them in, has no lien upon them against a bona fide purchaser of such logs, unless the petition for lien is filed as required by law.

In other words, a person who works on logs, or furnishes supplies for putting them in, in order to keep his lien good must, as soon as he gets through working or supplying, must file his lien in the way pointed out by law, otherwise, if the logs are sold to an innocent purchaser, the lien is lost.

The general idea before this decision was that men who worked on logs, or who furnished supplies, had a lien upon them at any time within the limit prescribed by the statute, no matter in whose hands they might be found.

“Putting them in” refers to work in cutting the timber and putting them in a river, i.e., a log drive.

Bona fide means in good faith; here it refers to a legitimate log buyer who acted in good faith and was not part of a scheme to defraud.


CLARENCE C. PALMER SAW MILL AT WESTBORO -- Palmer’s mill has started up for the season’s run. The mill has been overhauled and a new [steam] engine and band saw put in and all the modern improvements added, at an expense of $3,000, which with its first cost makes it a valuable piece of property. It should be, and is pronounced by those who have seen it in operation a first class mill in every respect.

…We are informed that a [sleigh] load of logs that scaled 9,500 feet was hauled from one of Evan’s camps, to Palmer’s mill by one span of horses…


JUMBO LOAD AT RIB LAKE -- Pictures of the Rib Lake “Jumbo load’ are on exhibition at Suit’s drug store. It was photographed by Lamb who says he is selling a great many of them to the East and the Prairies as curiosities.

The [sleigh load of logs] was made up of fifteen 16 foot logs, and scaled 16,550 board feet, and was hauled five and one half miles by four horses from one of J.J. Kennedy’s camps.

Note the earlier article about the great roads of ice at Rib Lake.

To view this photo, go to the photo & document collection at  Find the index to the collection and conduct a word search for “jumbo load.”


HEMLOCK AND MEDFORD’S FIRST TANNERY -- An institution that can do business with less fuss and feather than the Medford tannery, and still continue to thrive and prosper, is among the impossibilities. Three years ago John Nystrum commenced building his tannery. At that time he had very little money and not a great deal of property, but he succeeded by the untiring energy of himself and boys in putting up his building and getting ready to dress a few hides.

He was a practical tanner, and with the help of his two sons, he has since been running his industry as he could find means to purchase hides. Slowly but surely he has advanced during the three years until now he has a very good tannery, capable of turning out a large amount of leather during the year.

He has always done business as near the cash system as it was possible. He buys hides for cash while his capital lasts, then turns them into leather and sells the leather for cash, shipping some of it as far as Boston, New York and other eastern cities, taking the money thus procured to purchase more hides. There have been few men would have had the patience to fight the battle that Mr. Nystrum has fought and economy and patience were absolutely necessary to insure success.

Another factor that aided him in his business is his family of boys who are all stalwart young fellows of sterling worth and industry…

The article goes on to say that Mr. Nystrum is ill and his son Robert has taken charge.

In a few years the Shaw family of Boston will appear at Medford and dominate the tannery trade in Taylor County before selling out to the United States Leather Co. headquartered in New York, New York.


KENNEDY -- J.J. Kennedy was down from Rib Lake yesterday. J.J. has completed his logging operations for the winter. His mill will not start up until the ice in the lake melts.

Kennedy’s logs are laying on the ice of Rib Lake at this time. Once the ice melts, his crews will float them to the mill where the “bull chain” would convey them—one log at a time—into the mill.

In 1980 Vernon Hanke constructed his home at the location of the Kennedy and successor saw mills. As he cleaned up the shoreline he found part of the bull chain apparatus in the lake. The lake water had preserved all the wooden parts remaining there after the last mill was razed in 1950.

Vernon Hanke offered the bull chain remains to me for safe keeping. They are now a highly valued, authentic remnant of the great logging operations at my home, N 8645 CTH C, Rib Lake. If you would like to see the bull chain remnant, give me a call at 715-427-5058, RPR.


JOHN DUNCAN SAWMILL—WESTBORO -- John Duncan shipped 1,000,000 shingles in one day last week, and 30 [railroad] car loads in 4 days.

On April 7, 2012 I found a remnant still standing on the north edge of the Duncan sawmill site, One railroad track stands vertically securely imbedded in a massive concrete  base; on top of the 15 foot high rail is a  large U-bolt.

This object formed an anchor for one or more guide wires that once ran from the U-bolt to a metal smokestack at the Duncan mill.

The artifact is 75 feet east of the current Pine Line recreational trail [built on the former right of way of the Wisconsin Central Railroad] and ¼ mile south of  CTH D.


FIRST WOMEN IN TAYLOR COUNTY VOTE -- There was nothing in the  election last Tuesday to distinguish it from any other town meeting except the fact that three ladies, taking advantage of the recent  [Wisconsin] constitutional amendment granted school suffrage  to women, cast their first ballots that day in this village [Medford]. Below are the tickets [candidates] elected:


Chairman: Duncan McLennan

Supervisors: L. R. Simerson & George Clark

Clerk: A. B. Kennedy

Treasurer: W. E. Young

Assessor: Angus McDonald

Justices: J. O. D. Coleman, Joe Wise

Constables: Wm. Kennedy, Wm. Mason


Chairman: J. B. Leonhart

Supervisors: Joseph Grittner, J. Ahlgren

Clerk: William James

Assessors: Frank Fitze, John McCoy

Justices: John Perry, C. [Clarence] C. Palmer, John Fitze & A. H. Peterson

Constables: H. Wagner, M H. Mullen & George Koker

Duncan McLennan was the brother in law to J.J. Kennedy. McLennan had been the chairman when the Town of Rib Lake was created in 1885.

Nota Bene: by Wisconsin constitutional amendment, women had received the right to vote—limited to school board elections.


KENNEDY MILL TO RUN NIGHT AND DAY -- The Rib Lake mill will start up for the season next Wednesday and run night and day.


KENNEDY -- J.J. Kennedy spent last Sunday in Medford and visited the Medford [iron] mine on that day. J. J. is now the manager of that mine.

For the last year a variety of test pits have been dug around Taylor County searching for iron ore. J. J. was  a charter stock holder in the Medford Mining Co. digging 2 miles southwest of that city

This is the first mention that he has become the manager.I suspect prospectors and investors were getting discouraged. Another part of the same edition reports: “At the Medford mine the prospect holes have been filled with water and work has necessarily been suspended for some time.”


LITTLE BLACK—DAVIS & STARR LUMBER CO. -- The Davis & Starr Lumber Co. received a large spark arrester for their saw mill at Little Black.

The arrestor was a screen to be mounted on top of the smoke stack to prevent live sparks from escaping.


RIB LAKE GRADE SCHOOL -- Last Saturday evening the Rib Lake people and a number from Chelsea enjoyed one of the most enjoyable entertainments Rib Lake ever saw. It was the school exhibition… Nearly every scholar did their part of perfection, and, in return, received the hearty applause of near one hundred persons who had paid twenty five cents for admission.

The parents were proud of their children and aware of the fact that their success and rapid advancement in the past year is, to a large extent, due to their teacher E. C. Getchel…

Elliot C. Getchel had just moved from Spencer. He taught school in Rib Lake for a short time, was appointed Taylor County Superintendent of Schools, and became de facto general manager of the Rib Lake tannery in 1892 and later the village banker. He built a palatial home on West Street, which for many years has served as a funeral parlor.  As of 11/10/2012, the old Getchel house – 933 West Street – is Rib Lake’s funeral home.  

Unfortunately, it is not known with certainty whether the school was public or private.


KENNEDY -- The large [steam] engine that drives Kennedy’s large saw mill at Rib Lake was wrecked Wednesday shortly afternoon. The wrist pin broke and both cylinder heads and the follower were completely demolished.

[J. J.] Kennedy blames himself for the accident, as the engineer had pointed out to him the danger, showing him a crack in the pin.

What a class act to take responsibility.


RIB LAKE RAILROAD EXTENSION -- The latest thing in railroad building that has come to the ears of this paper is the extension of the Wisconsin Central [railroad] from Rib Lake to Tomahawk. The extension would be about 30 miles in length and would cross the Spirit and Somo Rivers.

The country to be traversed by this [rail] road is heavily timbered, principally with pine, and would prove a rich field for settlers and lumbermen. J.J. Kennedy is said to be the father of the scheme, and the Central people have taken hold of the matter with energy. It is safe to predict that cars will be running over the new road inside of eighteen months.

The connection  became a reality in 1902 when  the Wisconsin Central Railroad tracks  joined a railroad build  west from Tomahawk, the Marinette, Tomahawk and Western, 2 miles southwest of Spirit Falls.

The fascinating story of this line is covered in a two volume edition of a magazine published by the Soo Line Historical and Technological Society and authored by Jim Welton and Robert P. Rusch. Copies are available as of 4/8/2012 at the Medford Public library. You can view and download free of charge the article on line in the Photo and Document Collection at

The August 27th edition of the Star & News reported; “A crew of 15 men in charge of an engineer recently arrived at Rib Lake and are now engaged in making a preliminary survey of the new extension of the Rib Lake branch to Tomahawk by the Wisconsin Central Railroad.”


FOUNDING OF RIB LAKE PUBLIC LIBRARY -- A circulating library has been put in at Rib Lake, starting with 75 volumes and 25 subscribers. The projectors of this enterprise expect to add to the collection from time to time as the means of the society will warrant.


KENNEDY -- Mrs. J.J. Kennedy and children of Rib Lake returned from Canada yesterday.

Mrs. John J. Kennedy was born in Canada on 10/28/1847 and her maiden name was Flora M. McLennan. She died 1/31/1910 and was buried in Spokane, Washington, where she and her husband were then living.

On September 10 the Star & News reported that J.J. Kennedy was in Medford “looking for a servant girl.”


KENNEDY WILL BUILD A NEW MILL AT BOYD, WISCONSIN -- J.J. Kennedy will build a mill at Boyd, where he has purchased a tract of pine, and it is said that he will also build a mill on the Soo road where he owns other extensive tracts.

Boyd was and is a small town east of Chippewa Falls in Chippewa County. The Soo Line Railroad, technically the “Minneapolis, St Paul & Sault St. Marie, had just  build  through north Wisconsin; it entered the state  north of  Hudson and proceeded westward through Ladysmith, Prentice and Rhinelander before entering the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The October 22, 1887 edition of the Star & News reports: “J.J. and Angus Kennedy, of Rib Lake, were in town [Medford] yesterday; J. J. started up his new mill at Boyd last Thursday and will keep it running night and day until the pine he owns there is sawed out. The mill is of 40,000 feet capacity. Mr. Kennedy also has tracts of pine on the M. S. Ste. M & A. railroad, and may build on that road, but has not yet decided what he will do.”

The Minneapolis, Sault Ste. Marie & Atlantic Railroad ran across north Wisconsin, just south of Lake Superior.  Kennedy operatedat least four sawmills in Wisconsin:

1) Spencer c. 1876-1878;

2) Ogema, c. 1879-1880;

3) Boyd, c. 1887-1889;

4) Rib Lake, 1881-1902.  

Only his Rib Lake mill reached substantial size and operations.  Kennedy shipped logs from outside Taylor County by rail to his Rib Lake mill.  


UNSUCCESSFUL STRIKE -- The freight brakemen and yardmen of the Wisconsin Central Railroad attempted a strike which appears to have fallen flat… The demand of the strikers was for an increase in pay from $1.90 to $2.12 per day.

Brakemen had one of the most dangerous jobs of those times.  The railroad engineer sitting in the locomotive could brake only the locomotive.  All other railroad cars had to be individually and manually braked by a brakeman turning a wheel.  On box cars, the brake wheel was atop the box car.  When the train was moving, brakemen rode in the caboose.  When they received the order to brake the train, they climbed on top of the caboose and jumped to the nearest box car.  A wooden, narrow “catwalk” ran the length of the box car roof, providing access to the brake wheel.


WHITTLESEY -- The Winchester, Kingsbury & Co. mill at Whittlesey will be stocked this winter with 1,000,000 feet of logs.

Yesterday, April 7, 2012, Bryan Wilson, Mark Berglund and I walked the old railroad right of way [now the Pine Line recreational trail] through Whittlesey; we looked in vain for any sign that a saw mill once operated there.


KENNEDY AND MINING -- It is our painful duty to announce that mining in the vicinity of this village [Medford] is suffering from a very severe case of black-eye. The Medford Union Mining Co. has concluded to suspend operations, and sell the [hoisting] machinery recently purchased and other companies are closing up their affairs preparatory to a temporary shutdown that may prove permanent…

Several months ago it was announced that J.J. Kennedy had been made president of the Medford [Union] Mining Co. I surmise he had the insight and courage to call a halt to operations despite the steady flood of predictions printed in the TC STAR & NEWS that profitable ore would be found.


TRAIN SCHEDULE -- Rib Lake trains leave Chelsea twice a day, at 10:10 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Trains left Rib Lake for Chelsea twice a day, 11:40 a.m. and 6:15 p.m.

This is the start of twice a day service between Chelsea and Rib Lake.

The distance between Rib Lake and Chelsea by train was 5 ½ miles. While traffic was mainly lumber from Kennedy’s mill, a combination freight and passenger car was run with any freight traffic.


FREDERICK WEYERHAEUSER -- The Mississippi Logging Co. has bought out the Knapp, Stout & Company. The consideration was said to be $7,500,000. The Weyerhaeuser company now owns about all the lumbering interests in western Wisconsin.

Frederick Weyerhaeuser was the business marvel and president of the Mississippi Logging Co. A Weyerhaeuser Lumber company exists to this day. It was active in pine logging in western Town of Westboro, driving logs into the Jump and Yellow Rivers and then the Chippewa.


GREENWOOD “MOB” -- Last week we published an account of an attempt on the part of certain citizens of the Town of Greenwood to force a resident of the town to move. A warrant was issued by Justice Hobbs of this village [Medford] and Sheriff Grad and undersheriff Adams arrested six of the parties last Tuesday and brought them to town for examination.

Their names are as follows: Henry Voss, chairman of the Town of Greenwood, the Rev. Chas. Meyers, Lutheran minister, Theodore Oldinger, F. Hattes, W. M. Fechtner, Jr., and F. Sanflenburger. Three of the party could not be found and the case as to them was discontinued.

The parties were arrested for unlawful assembling to do an unlawful act, and as the evidence convinced the Justice that they were not innocent he bound them over to the next term of court. The Rev. Chas. Meyers appears to have cut a very important figure in this case.

The parties do not attempt to deny that they attempted to drive Vogle from the Town of Greenwood, and excuse themselves on the grounds that he was not very popular among his neighbors. They appear to have very crude and peculiar ideas of liberty in general, and evidence a desire to augment their own freedom by curtailing that of their neighbors. They should know more when they get older, but the chances are against it, as that class of freemen never learns.

The prior article said the group went as a mob armed with guns to intimidate the Volge family to leave their farm home and the township.

Unfortunately, the Star & News never reported the disposition of this case.

I wonder if the newspaper spelled the surname of the victim correctly.  I suspect the proper spelling was Vogel.  It means bird in German and is a common surname in German-speaking communities, which the Town of Greenwood was at that time.


KENNEDY WILL RUN NIGHT AND DAY -- J.J. Kennedy was down from Rib Lake Monday looking for a night crew for his mill. He will run his mill night and day until the freeze up.


KENNEDY OPENS ANOTHER SAW MILL AT BOYD, WISCONSIN -- J. J. and Angus Kennedy, of Rib Lake, were in town yesterday. J.J. STARTED UP HIS NEW MILL AT BOYD last Thursday morning for the winter’s run, and will keep it running night and day until the pine he owns there is sawed out. The mill is of 40,000 feet [per day] capacity.

Mr. Kennedy also has tracts of pine on the M.S. Ste. M & A. [Minneapolis, Sault Ste. Marie & Atlantic] railroad, and may build a mill on that road, but has not yet decided what do to.  (emphasis added)

Angus Kennedy was J.J. brother and right hand man in running lumbering operations.

Boyd is a small town in Chippewa County just west of Taylor County. I surmise that Kennedy bought substantial pine stumpage there; J.J. has been running his mill at Rib Lake “day and night,” i.e. at maximum output. The only way to cut the Boyd pine in a timely fashion was to involve another mill.

This the first and only reported time that Kennedy ran another saw mill simultaneously with operations at Rib Lake.


WHITTLESEY -- Sanger, Rockwell & Co. has contracted for 9,000,000 feet of logs with which to stock A. A. Hale’s Whittlesey mill the next season.


UNIQUE RAILROAD ACCIDENT AT “WESTBORO SAG” -- Last Saturday night a log train broke in two [that is, the couplings between two cars became unfastened] on the grade of what is known as the “Westboro sag,” between Westboro and Chelsea, the detached cars running back and colliding with a freight train which was following, making a wreck of the freight train locomotive and injuring the fireman, a man named O’Brien.

There were 3 men on the engine, the engineer, fireman and conductor of the freight train. All of them saw the approaching run-away cars, and the fireman jumped, the conductor and engineer remaining on the engine. The fireman struck the ground all right but before he could spread space between him and the point of contact between the trains, the collision occurred and he was caught by falling logs and wreckage. He was not fatally injured, however.

The other two men, who remained on the engine, were entirely unharmed, but the engine itself was stripped of stack, dome and cab. How they ever came out of the wreck alive is “one of these things which no fellow can find out.”

The sag, i.e., the low point of the right-of-way, is along Fischer Creek south of the railroad bridge over Silver Creek. The north high point is at Westboro and the south high point is at the current Czarneski farm.


NOTICE -- Notice is hereby given that a note signed by J. H. Wheelock and endorsed by J.J. Kennedy and A. J. Perkins dated October 24, 1887, running ninety days, was lost by me on the date drawn. All persons are cautioned not to trade for this note. Nov. 3, 1887. -- J. H. Wheelock

Further in the same edition it was reported: THE EXCHANGE BANK:

Last Friday night the Exchange Bank of Medford was closed by attachments sworn out by A. J. Perkins and J.J. Kennedy. Their attachments were made on notes drawn by J. H. Wheelock and endorsed by Perkins and Kennedy. On Monday Mr. Wheelock made an assignment for the benefit of his creditors, E. H. Schweppe being the assignee.

As a matter of record, rumor has had full swing in this case. Reports have been sent to the daily papers to the effect that “every man, woman and child in Taylor County who had money to spare deposited it in the Exchange Bank.” And that the deposits were estimated from $30.00 to $40,000. In addition to reports sent in to the daily press, numerous parties in the village whose business have been very industrious in working up sensations to retell to all who would listen.

The facts of the case, as near as we can learn from reliable sources are as follows: Perkins and Kennedy became frightened and concluded that they had better secure their endorsements and made the attachments when the Cashier, J. H. Wheelock landed from the train Friday night. Mr. Wheelock offered to secure them on the endorsements by mortgages on his exempt property, his homestead and abstracts of title, valued at about $7,000, but they refused and the attachment was made. As a natural consequence, excitement on the streets the next day resulted and parties who owed the bank on overdrafts commence to tell how much they had lost in the “failure.”

As near as we can  judge from conversations  with the Cashier, J. H. Wheelock, and the book keeper, E. L. Urquhart, the deposits will not be much  above $6,000, and the property,  if judiciously handled, will pay all liabilities, and leave something for the Cashier. We have made an effort to get a statement of liabilities and a list of property, but  have been unable to do so as yet, for the reason that the books of the bank were seized on the attachments, notwithstanding  the fact that they were exempt property. The Attachment will be lifted soon, and then we will be able to give a fair and impartial statement of the assets and liabilities.

As the editor of this paper is a brother of the Cashier, J. H. Wheelock, and as his sympathies are naturally with the bank, it is expected that he will be biased in his judgment. That being the case, we will endeavor to curb our indignation at what we consider unjust treatment and give only such information as facts will warrant.

Perkins and Kennedy, the gentlemen who precipitated the crisis, shall have fair treatment in this paper, but we demand for the bank and Cashier the same fair treatment that is accorded by us to others. We shall take particular pains to run down lies and expose them,  and parties who are now trying to make capital out of this misfortune will do well to remember that the exact truth in regard to attachment will be established as soon as we can get it, and those who are now biting off more than they can chew will be compelled to acknowledge the corp. (sic)


EXCHANGE BANK -- Nothing of startling nature has developed during the past week in the Exchange Bank affairs. On Tuesday the attachments of Perkins and Kennedy were lifted by the cashier, J. H. Wheelock, giving those gentlemen security on  his residence and two lots on the west side [of Medford]. The assignee, E. L. Schweppe, with E. L Urquhart as assistant and accountant, is now in possession of the assets [of the Exchange Bank] and an inventory will be filed in a short time.

Confidence in the ability of the bank to pay all claims is general. Those who have money on deposit there, with very few exceptions, are perfectly satisfied to await the action of the assignee.

Wisconsin law provided for voluntary action by a debtor called assignment for benefit of creditors. The law was sometimes called “little bankruptcy.” Cashier Wheelock used that law here by assigning Wheelock’s assets [including the Exchange Bank which Wheelock apparently owned] to Schweppe; Schweppe had the authority and duty to use those assets to settle claims against cashier Wheelock and the Exchange Bank.

It looked unreasonable to me that J.J. Kennedy and A. J. Perkins rejected Wheelock’s offer to give them a mortgage on his home as described in the earlier article.



HEMLOCK -- The prospects look bright for the coming winter. Several parties will buy pine and hemlock logs in this [Medford] and adjoining towns and, probably, two firms will be in the market for [wheel] hub timber. This will give farmers an occupation at home for their timber and shiny money to their pocket.

I have attempted to find some confirmation of the often heard claim that after hemlock was  stripped of its tanbark, the logs were of no value and left in the woods to rot; to date I have read nothing in the early Taylor County papers to confirm the claim.

I have always been skeptical of that claim. Once you have a bunch of hemlock trees laying there, stripped of their bark, with skid and sleigh trails made so the tan bark can be moved to the tannery, I suspect the hemlock was cut into saw timber; while it wasn’t the preferred white pine lumber that resulted, it produced usable lumber and a way to make a buck.


HEMLOCK -- N.B. Holway, of La Crosse, and James Hewitt of Neillsville, spent the first 3 days of the weeks in Medford and vicinity. They were arranging to buy logs to be put in the Black River and run to La Cross where the first named gentleman owns a large saw mill. He has contracted FOR A LARGE AMOUNT OF HEMLOCK, and left a man here, named Marcus Sievers, to look after his interests.  (emphasis added)

The Black River flows from Medford to the Mississippi River which it joins just north of La Crosse.

Here is a purchase of hemlock that has already been felled and stripped of its tanbark.

In all probability, the tanbark had been purchased by the Nystrum tannery in Medford; it was operating at the time and had been running for the past 3 years.


PROHIBITION -- Some years ago W. G. Moore bought a lot at Prentice from the Jump River Lumber Co upon which he erected a building which he rented to R. M. Stitt.  Stitt started a saloon in the building and as the [lumber] company has a clause in all their deeds prohibiting the sale of liquor on lot sold by them, the company commenced an action against Moore and Stitt to declare the sale void and compel them to vacate the premises.

For the past 2 years the action has been in litigation. Last Wednesday the Wisconsin Supreme Court held in favor of the company.

Fayette Delos Shaw built the tannery in Rib Lake in 1891 and bought much land in what would become the north part of the village; he platted much of the land and sold lots, the deeds of which prohibited the sale of liquor.

J.J. Kennedy was a non drinker and, according to Wheelock’s 2/27/1886 overview, the sale of liquor and beer in Rib Lake “Village” was prohibited.

Rib Lake township issued liquor licenses for taverns in 1886 only after a referendum of town voters favored it.  


WESTBORO -- We  learned that [pine] logs will be put in at Westboro as follows:

John Duncan


Evens & Smith


James Ritchie


P. Anderson


The amounts in all cases are the estimated number of board feet to be sawed from the log. Mr. Ritchie will land his logs on a side [railroad] track, and they will be run [railroaded] to the Davis & Starr Lumber Company’s mill at Little Black. The logs put in by Evans & Smith and Anderson are also for the same firm and will be banked on Silver Creek and sawed at C. C. Palmer’s mill at Westboro. Frank Bonneville is also talking of putting in 5 or 6 million feet. Palmer’s mill will probably start up late in January and run during the year.


COUNTY POOR FARM -- Superintendent Nick Ries, of the county poor farm, has moved into [the newly constructed] poor house, and in a week or so will be prepared to receive and care for paupers. He has accommodations for about 30, and it is probable that the capacity will be fully taxed. Two parties now being cared for at the National Hotel will be transferred to the county farm at once, and a farmer from the Town of Deer Creek with his 3 children will also be accommodated…


HEMLOCK – A. [Albert] J. Perkins recently made a sale  of a 15,000 acre tract of railroad land in Taylor County to N. B. Holway of La Crosse, the consideration being $ 3.25 per acre, pine timber being reserved. Mr. Holway purchased this tract FOR THE LAND AND HEMLOCK TIMBER.  This sale nets Perkins a neat little sum on commission. (emphasis added)

The Wisconsin Central Railroad received a gift from the U.S. Government of every other section of land for 18 miles either side of the railroad as a reward for constructing the railroad. Here the railroad sells some of that huge acreage.

Note that the “pine was reserved.” That means that the seller, the Wisconsin Central Railroad, kept title to all the pine trees on the tract with the right to enter and harvest the pine, or, to sell those rights to yet another party.


KENNEDY -- Joseph Lamphear was at home Christmas. He is employed as engineer at Kennedy’s Boyd mill.

In the fall J.J. Kennedy surprised everyone by opening up a second saw mill at Boyd, Wisconsin, to saw pine he had purchased there.



WESTBORO—JOHN DUNCAN -- Several employees of John Duncan of Westboro have jumped their jobs and will commence suit to collect their wages due. Mr. Duncan, they say, refuses to pay them before spring and requires a greater amount of work than they are willing to give for the money. Several lawsuits will probably be the result as Mr. Duncan is known for his vigor with which he defends what he considers his rights.

John Duncan operated logging camps where logs were cut during winter.  He also owned the sawmill where the logs would be sawed when the mill opened in late spring or summer.  Duncan probably claimed he had a cash flow problem; until he sawed the logs and sold their lumber, he claimed he could not pay his camp employees.


KENNEDY -- Johnny Eck, chore boy for J.J. Kennedy of Rib Lake, froze his fingers in a very peculiar manner a few days ago. He had been working at the barn and discovered upon entering the store that the ends of several of his fingers were frozen. A barrel of kerosene had just been rolled into the store and tapped, and as Johnny believed that oil was a sovereign remedy in all cases of frost bite, and under all circumstances, he immersed his fingers up to the knuckle joint in the oil.

As the temperature of the oil was many degrees below the freezing point, the natural result was that, instead of the frost being drawn out of the fingers, they were frozen solidly. At first it was feared that amputation of his fingers would be necessary, but hopes are now entertained of saving them.


WESTBORO WAIFS -- A good many [logging] camps have broken up north of us on account of the deep snow. It will make it hard for the men to lay idle until spring opens.

Too much snow can be as bad as too little snow.


HEMLOCK -- Mr. Holway is putting in a large number of hemlock logs, He is one of the men that can see something besides a pine tree when he goes into the woods.  The day may yet come when the hemlock and hardwood in Taylor County will be worth something, and there is more of that kind of timber here than there ever was of pine. It is time the slaughter of valuable timber is stopped. (emphasis added)

Prior reports said Holway was driving hemlocks logs down the Black River for sawing in his La Cross, Wisconsin, sawmill.


WESTBORO FIRE -- The Star Hotel at Westboro, owned by J. B. Leonhart, and operated by Wm. Adams, and the Central House, built by Wellington H. Haight, and owned by Alice McLeod of Milwaukee, were burned to the ground this morning.

The fire started in the Central House, which was vacant, at 1 a.m. and since there were no means to fight the fire, it spread to the adjoining building. Good work by citizens saved other buildings that were too close for comfort.

There was insurance of $2,000 on the Star Hotel but that amount would not cover the loss. Whether there was insurance on the other building or not, could not be learned. Mr. Leonhart will probably rebuild.

Just a week prior, fire destroyed much of the business district of Ogema which had no fire department. Earlier in 1887 a fire destroyed much of Whittlesey and Chelsea.  In 1885 the entire downtown business district of Medford burned.


HARDWOOD LUMBER -- Sanger, Rockwell & Co. of Milwaukee will buy [yellow] birch and pine logs delivered at Shattuck’s saw mill in this village [Medford]. They will take any amount. Here is the opportunity for formers to dispose of their birch timber, of which there is a large supply on every farm. Farmers having logs to sell should see F. N. Norton of Whittlesey or George L. Shattuck of Medford.

This is the first ad I recall appearing in the Taylor County Star and News for hardwood saw logs.

Note that the ad was for yellow birch. There was almost no white birch growing in Taylor County in 1888. White birch is a sun loving, pioneer species that grew prolifically after the virgin forest was cut.

In 1864 surveyors divided Taylor County into townships and sections as part of the U. S. Government initial land survey; the surveyors were  require to note and record the type of  trees found at their survey point. Those notes demonstrate the hemlock and yellow birch dominated the original forest here.


KENNEDY -- J.J. Kennedy made one of his regular visits to the county seat Wednesday last.

Note that John J. Kennedy was usually referred to by his initials “J. J.”


RIB LAKE -- Dr. Sheerer departed Monday for Rib Lake where he will do dental work, and teach a class of about fifty members’ vocal music. He expects to be at the lake about two weeks.


KENNEDY -- Notwithstanding the deep snow of the past winter, J. J. Kennedy has put in all the logs he wanted at Rib Lake.

Quite an impressive achievement!


KENNEDY’S BOYD SAW MILL -- J.J. Kennedy’s Boyd mill has shut down, after a very successful run of five months, during which time 6,000.000 feet of logs have been transformed into lumber.

The edition of April 28 reported: “A. Dodge returned Tuesday from Boyd, where he has been spending the winter as general businessman for J.J. Kennedy.


TOWN OF GREENWOOD ELECTION -- Elected in April, 1888:

Bruno Schwabe, chairman

Supervisors: Joseph Thums and  Franz Klein

Clerk, William Martin

Treasurer, Thomas Seidl

Assessor, Thomas Brehm

Justices: George Knower, Thomas Brehm, Fred Lorenz & Jon. Root

Constables: Joseph Dums, G. Lorenz & F. Lerch


KENNEDY -- The Rib Lake mill [Kennedy’s] is once more running. The ice in the lake having thawed and broken up

The mill had stopped running in March, 1888.  It was reopened as soon as it was again possible to float logs to the bull chain which fed the logs into the mill for sawing.


POLITICS -- Benny [Bernard] Hoey, the lonesome Rib Lake Democrat, was in Medford Thursday. He found consolation by visiting the P. M. [post master]

J.J. Kennedy was very active in Republican politics on county, state and national levels; he often attended Republican National Conventions as he did in June, 1888 in Chicago.


WHITTLESEY -- The Winchester, Kingbury & Co.’s saw mill at Whittlesey shut down, the stock of logs having all been sawed. The mill will probably be moved to north of Phillips.

Something was seriously wrong with the mill operators. To have cut your entire supply this early in the season bespeaks big problems in management.


C.G. Suits and others visited Nigger Lake armed with fishing tackle, bait and lunch. They returned minus the lunch with about 200 fish of the smaller varieties.

In the 1970’s, the Taylor County board changed the name to Mat Ochs Lake. The original name referred to a black family by the name of Washington that had settled in the neighborhood.


KENNEDY -- J.J. Kennedy is now making his annual visit to his old Canadian home. He left Chicago [where he had  headed up the Taylor County delegation to the Republican National Convention] for Canada late last week, to be absent  about two weeks, after which  he will again take up his load of business in Rib Lake.

Angus Kennedy of Rib Lake, First Lieutenant of J.J. Kennedy, was in Medford last Wednesday to consult Dr. Miller in regard to his little son, who had been monkeying with some poisonous weed, and had a bad face on him in consequence.

Kennedy’s ancestral home was north from Cornwall, Ontario.

J. J. had three brothers, Angus, Hugh and William with him at Rib Lake, each of who were involved to some extent in his lumbering enterprise. Angus shared J.J.’s passion for lumber and was indeed his first lieutenant.

When J.J. sold the J.J. Kennedy Lumber Co. and its Rib Lake assets in 1900, Angus was the only brother that stayed in the lumber business, moving to Idaho to harvest and process its white pine.


RAILROAD PLANS FOR PHILLIPS LUMBER COMPANY -- Road Master Jennes, in charge of the railroad division [segment] between Chelsea and Mellen, has resigned his position with the Wisconsin Central Railroad. His resignation was occasioned by his acceptance of a position with the Phillips [Wisconsin] Lumber Co. which plans to build a logging railroad from Phillips to a tract of  timber about 20 miles distant.

Mr., Jennes will have charge of the construction of the new railroad and will operate it for its owners when completed. The Wisconsin Central will furnish [rent] the iron [track] for the new road, but the Phillips Lumber Co. will do all the work, furnish ties, build bridges, grade [excavate and fill] and operate the road in its own interest. It is claimed that the new road will tap a tract of about 300,000,000 feet of excellent pine, and the manufacture of the timber in Phillips will be a fine thing for that village

This far reaching logging railroad ran east from Phillips and had a massive number of spurs in Price and Oneida Counties and operated for a decades under the ownership of the George R. Davis Lumber Co.

The idea of a lumber company operating its own railroad to feed raw material to its mill was relatively new in Wisconsin. The Phillip’s operation caught the eye of J.J. Kennedy and may well have fired his decision in 1891 to build such a railroad at Rib Lake.

According to Frank A. King, Wisconsin’s first logging railroad was built in 1881, for the Shell Lake Lumber Co. of Washburn County.  It was a 3-foot “narrow” gauge, which operated for twenty years.  In 1881 the legendary lumberman, Frederick Weyerhaeuser, built the second logging railroad in Wisconsin to get logs to his Chippewa Falls sawmill.  By 1887 Wisconsin had 11 logging railroads, while Michigan boasted 89.

The logging railroad at Phillips, Wisconsin, was the Lakeshore and Eastern.  In 2016 John L. Berg, did a magnificent job of writing and illustrating its history (1888-1926) by writing a 327 page book using its name as the book title. Kudos to John Berg!




C. B. DeGroat, George Giddings and O. F. Lewis, Plaintiff, versus C. C. Palmer, Eau Claire Grocery Company, and E. P. Allis, Defendants

By virtue of, and in pursuance of a judgment of foreclosure and sale, rendered in the above entitled action on the 28th day of June, 1888, I will offer for sale and sell at public auction to the highest bidder for cash, at the front door of the Court House at Medford, Wisconsin, on the 27th day of August, 1888, at 10 a.m. of that day the buildings situated upon the premises hereinafter described, together with all of the right, title and interest  which the defendant C. C. Palmer had in and to said premises on the 3rd day of February, 1888, or which the said defendants or any person claiming under them have since acquired therein, with the privileges and appurtanances (sic) thereunto belonging.

The following is a description of the premises to be sold as aforesaid: situated in the Town of Westboro, County of Taylor, State of Wisconsin and described as follows: the southwest quarter (1/4) of the southwest quarter (1/4) of section seven (7), Township thirty-three (33) North, Range two (2) east.

Dated July 11, 1888  MIKE GRAD, Sheriff of Taylor County, Wis.

Here is the background: Clarence C. Palmer owned a sawmill on the banks of Silver Creek on the east side of Westboro. He wanted to make improvements by installing newer machinery but did not have the money.

The plaintiff’s, commonly called the Giddings & Lewis Co., agreed to provide the new machinery and take payments periodically in the future secured by a mortgage in the real estate. After the machinery was installed, Palmer failed to make the payments and the plaintiff’s sued both Palmer and others of Palmer’s creditors which had obtained liens against the real estate for other debts Palmer had incurred.


FIRE DESTROYED C.C. PALMER’S SAW MILL – C.C. Palmer’s mill was struck by lightning Thursday morning and burned to the ground. It seemed as though liquid fire was poured down upon it as it seemed to ignite in all parts at once. Clarence Palmer was the first one to reach the mill, on being summoned by the night watchman. The fire had gained such headway that he only got out one [shingle] packer before all entrance to the mill was cut off by the flames.

P. M. Campbell lost tools amounting in value to two hundred dollars. Isaac Gay lost all his mill tools amounting to quite a sum. There was no insurance except upon the band saw. It is a heavy loss to the owners, and the loss to Westboro cannot be estimated. The mill has been doing splendid work this summer, and would soon have become a source of profit to the owner, but when the elements combine against a man, what can he do?

A fire like this—just before a scheduled foreclosure auction-is suspicious. The usual motive for sawmill arson is to collect insurance money and pay off the debts; it is jokingly called “selling the mill to the insurance company.”  But here the writer claims there was no insurance except on the band saw.

The two men who lost tools in the fire may have been contractors working there making shingles.


EXCELSIOR FACTORY AT MEDFORD -- Mr. Nostitz, one of the members of the Medford Manufacturing Company, is making contracts with farmers for basswood bolts for the excelsior factory. This industry puts a good many round dollars into the pockets of Medford farmers.

Excelsior was shredded wood used for packing.


POLITICS AT RIB LAKE -- Rib Lake was the scene of a Republican Rally last Monday evening. J. D. Williams made the principal speech, and O. H. Foster delivered himself of a few remarks that were appropriate and full of meaning. Rib Lake, while not the banner Republican town in Taylor County, has less Democratic votes than any other town, and the [Republican] club there is a vigorous one.

In 1972 I ran for Taylor County district attorney as a Democrat. After a successful campaign I was at a party meeting and introduced as the first Democrat to be elected Taylor County district attorney; that statement precipitated an argument between two old Democrats as to whether or not I was the first Democrat to hold that county position. One old timer insisted that Thomas Andresen was the first county Democrat D.A. Then the other old timer retorted: “Andresen won when he ran as a Republican, but lost when he ran as a Democrat!”


POLITICS AT RIB LAKE -- A party from Rib Lake is expected in Medford tonight. They will come by wagon, each gentleman wearing a Republican campaign hat. The wagon box used for this occasion was especially manufactured by A. B. Kennedy and is gorgeously painted and decorated.


HEMLOCK -- For years farmers in this section [Taylor County] have been compelled to make contracts with Milwaukee parties when they wanted to sell hemlock bark. In most cases the profits of a  [railroad] car load entirely vanished before returns were received, and in some cases there would not be  bark enough to pay the freight [charge to Milwaukee]. Mr. Brucker [of Medford] now buys bark delivered in Medford, where it is measured in pile, and the farmer’s responsibility ends there.

When tan bark is first stripped from the tree it weighs a lot because it is filled with sap,, principally water.  It was shipped to Milwaukee and weighed and the farmer was paid based on its Milwaukee weight. The selling farmer was responsible for the railroad shipping charges, which, when deducted by the tannery from its account with the farmer, often left the farmer in the red.

Under the new system, the farmer sells by cords determined by measuring 4x4x4 feet at Medford and the buyer is solely responsible to pay any railroad charges.

Competition for tan bark had soared. Medford now had the Nystrum tannery. Local farmers could deliver the tanbark to the Nystrum tannery and avoid all railroad charges.


RAILROAD SINKHOLE BETWEEN CHELSEA AND WESTBORO -- Some weeks ago mention was made of a sink hole in the track of the Wisconsin Central Railroad between Chelsea and Westboro. This sink hole has been a source of trouble to the company before, and a large amount of earth was dumped there nine years ago in an effort to bring it up to a level with the track on each side, That effort was successful for a time, but gradually the track lowered again, and this spring it was found necessary to once more haul gravel to raise it.

The additional weight [of the new fill] was too much for the foundation, and THE BOTTOM DROPPED OUT. From that time until the present a large crew of men and a train have been engaged in try to fill the hole without success. FOUR THOUSAND [RAIL] CAR LOADS OF FILL AND TWO HUNDRED CAR LOADS OF LOGS HAVE BEEN HAULED THERE AND HAVE DISAPPEARED INTO THE MUD AND WATER THAT FORMS THE LAKE.

The bank on each side has been caving [in], also, and that earth added to the supply. The strangest part of the whole thing is that on each side of the track, at some little distance, the surface has raised about six feet, bearing [lifting] trees fifty feet in height and smaller in its effort to become hills.

Evidently there is a lake of black muck and water under this spot and as earth is dumped in the mud it is pressed one side and raises the crust on either hand. A sounding rod has been put down about sixty feet without success [without hitting solid bottom]. Sink holes have been found at other points of the [rail] road, but none that caused so much trouble and expense. At present trains are using a temporary track around the difficulty.  (emphasis added)

The location of this sink hole can be easily seen today. It is a small lake, perhaps 5 acres in size. The Pine Line recreation trail – built in 1990 on the former railroad right-of-way – passes through the middle of the small lake which is ¼ mile north of where State Trunk Highway 13 crosses the Pine Line.


KENNEDY TO OPERATE BOYD SAW MILL FOR SECOND YEAR -- J.J. Kennedy has contracted for a steam snow plow and logging machine combined, to be used on his logging roads near Bold.

In the fall of 1887 came the surprise announcement that Kennedy would operate a saw mill at Boyd, Wisconsin, in addition to his long operating mill at Rib Lake.

The “logging machine” was a steam hauler.  It was like a railroad locomotive, except it had no wheels.  Instead, caterpillar tracks supported it and sleigh-like runners in front permitted a “steersman” to steer it.  

The steam hauler eventually used at Rib Lake was manufactured by the Phoenix Iron Co. of Eau Claire, 25 miles southwest of Boyd. The Phoenix Iron Co. may have manufactured the “steam snow plow.”   My guess is that the plow was an attachment placed on the front of the steam hauler when needed.  The steam hauler was slow but powerful.  Its weight required building and maintaining through the winter an “ice road” having a minimum of one foot of ice.  The RLLC last operated a steam hauler in 1922.


HEMLOCK -- Marcus Seivers, business man for N. B. Holway, is again actively engaged in making contracts for logs along the two branches of the Black River, He has already started in a crew at the camp used last winter, where about 21,000,000 feet of hemlock logs will be banked.

South of Medford the Black and Little Black Rivers join—hence the term two branches.

These logs would be driven to the Holway mill  at La Crosse, Wisconsin.


THE PINE IS ABOUT ALL GONE -- The machinery for the new heading factory has arrived and will soon be in place in the planing mill of the Medford Manufacturing Company. The new industry will create a demand for timber that will add one more source of revenue for the farmers of this town [Medford]. They should avail themselves of this opportunity to dispose of their timber, and in that way the cost of clearing land will be lessened.

The future of Medford appears to be brightening up a little bit. THE PINE IS ABOUT ALL GONE… (emphasis added)

A heading mill made the ends, i.e. “heads,’ for wooden barrels. The sides were made of “staves.” Eventually, Medford had a factory making barrel hoops out of “slippery elm.” These were the days before cardboard, so barrels were ubiquitous.


SCIENTIFIC LOGGING BY RAILROAD -- A Chippewa Falls dispatch to the Milwaukee Journal says that “weather prophets are predicting an open winter.” Should that prophecy prove true, the lack of snow would not be much of a disaster to loggers as formerly. LOGGING IS CONDUCTED MUCH MORE SCIENTIFICALLY BY THE USE OF LOGGING RAILROADS and flooding the tracks [with logs].

The pool will curtail the cut this winter, putting in about 400,000,000 feet of logs, which is about two-thirds of the usual cut. About 300,000,000 feet will be carried over. The policy of the pool is to use up the old stock of logs that has been accumulating for years by being stranded along the [Chippewa] river. On the St. Croix, Black and other streams the example will be followed.  (emphasis added)

An “open winter” was one without snow. Snow was essential’ a sine qua non, in sleighing logs to a river bank or the saw mill.

The “pool” was a consortium of major lumber interests that made joint decisions regarding lumbering in the Chippewa River Valley. The “pool” was eventually headed by the legendary lumberman, Frederick Weyerhaeuser.


HEMLOCK -- The Medford Manufacturing Company has been trying experiments of late. Mr. Nostitz, general manager, showed the writer examples of excelsior made from balsam, hemlock and black ash. The balsam excelsior was very fine, and, to an inexperienced eye, looks as adapted to all purposes as the basswood [which was heretofore used].

The hemlock is of a different grade and can only be used for packing, while the black ash is too heavy.

The same edition ran “Westboro Whittlings”, a column of Town of Westboro news reported: “Several camps are being put in on Jump River for cutting hemlock. That does not look as though the woods will be abandoned when the pine is gone.”


CLEAR CUTTING – A.J. Perkins and son have put in a logging camp on section 16 (16 31 1E) in this town. The crew will be a small one, numbering only ten men, with two teams. Perkins & Son recently purchased the land the camp is on and THEY WILL SKIN IT OF ALL TIMBER THAT WILL MAKE LUMBER. The logs will be sawed in the Shattuck mill in this village [Medford].  (emphasis added)

This is the first mention of clear cutting, cutting all trees, in the Star and News. Up to this time loggers took only pine and selected other species. The era of clear cutting has dawned.

Section 16 is one mile northwest of the now city of Medford.


SPRUCE AND BALSAM PULPWOOD -- John Riedl, of this place [Medford], will buy spruce and balsam pulp wood at Chelsea, Whittlesey, Little Black and Stetsonville. The wood must be in lengths of 3 feet, 8 inches, and 7 feet, 4 inches, at least 5 inches on the small end. 128 cubic feet to constitute a cord. He will pay the following prices per cord:

At Chelsea: spruce $2.55 and balsam $1.65

At Whittlesey: spruce $2.60 and balsam $1.70

This pulpwood would be railroaded outside of Taylor County to be made into paper.


KENNEDY—JUMBO LOAD PHOTOGRAPH -- Above we print a [wood] cut of the Jumbo Four Horse Load of 1888. This load [of logs] was hauled five miles on the main logging  [ice] road  from J.J. Kennedy’s camps to his Rib Lake saw mill in March last—we failed to get the exact date.

W. W. Lamb of this place [Medford] photographed the load at the landing April 2, 1888. The load contained twenty-one logs, and the sawed lumber scaled 22,291 feet. A. J. McDonald was foreman of the camp and Charles Pinkerton the teamster.

Large Imperial Photographs (7x10) mailed to any address by W. W. Lamb on receipt of fifty cents each.

You may view, download and  print—free of charge—the photo from the Photo & Document  collection at



KENNEDY -- J.J. Kennedy and Duncan McLennan, King and Premier of Rib Lake, were in town [Medford].

Duncan was J.J.’s brother in law and chairman of the Town of Rib Lake. Duncan was J.J.’s long-time accountant and business manager.


KENNEDY -- Last Thursday morning Dr. McDonald assisted by Dr. Miller amputated the leg of Julius Lemke of Chelsea. Lemke got his foot crushed about a month ago in one of J.  J. Kennedy’s camps, Dr. McDonald did think at first he could save the limb but it took a bad turn and amputation was found necessary. At last accounts, Lemke was doing well and in a fair way to recover.


WILLIAM JAMES -- William James, one of the oldest residents of Taylor County, died at Westboro Thursday morning after an illness of only a few days.  Mr. James was a brother of Mrs. Clarence C. Palmer [Westboro saw mill owner]. He leaves a wife and three children.

James Lake is named for him; his homestead was on its shores. In 2012 the lake adjoins Camp Forest Springs, later renamed simply “Forest Springs.”



LITTLE BLACK MILL DESTROYED BY FIRE -- The saw mill at Little Black owned by the Davis & Starr Lumber Co. of Eau Claire burned Sunday. The fire caught in the engine room, probably from an exploding lamp and, as the room was covered by oil as all engine rooms are, the fire found ready food in the inflammable material about the room. The watchman, who was in the boiler house,  was driven back  by the flames when he attempted to enter the engine room and, as he could not get the  pumping engine to work, it was but a few moments before the entire wooden portion of the mill was in flames, which soon reduced the building to ashes and charred timbers…

A crew of men is now at work clearing out the site, and work on the new mill will commence at once. Another crew is at work strengthening and raising the dam [on the Little Black River] four feet, which will give a larger pond in which to store logs. The company hopes to have the new mill working within ten weeks.

The mill was insured and rebuilt. Considerable timber from Westboro and Chelsea was railroaded to that mill for sawing. A spur off the Wisconsin Central ran along the Little Black River, which was dammed to form the mill pond.  In 2013 all signs of this major mill have disappeared.



CITY OF MEDFORD INCORPORATED -- The bill incorporating the City of Medford was approved by the Governor Saturday last and published in the official state newspaper in Madison…

Up to this point, all the land involved was part of the Town of Medford.


THE ELECTIONS -- Below we give the names of the officers elected in the City of Medford and the several towns in the county….

City of Medford; Mayor, Albert J. Perkins, treasurer, Charles Loper, Assessor J. Hoffman

Town of Chelsea: Chairman, Henry C. Shearer, Supervisors, August Mertz, William Wickey; Clerk,  Kuno Kuenne; Treasurer, A. A. Gearhart

Town of Westboro: Chairman, John Fritze; Supervisors,  Joseph Grittner, Alvin Pierce; Clerk, P. M. Campbell; Treasurer, W. E. Duncan

Town of Rib Lake: Chairman, Duncan McLennan; Supervisors,  B. B. Bonnett, Fritz Martin; Clerk,  Charles De Groat; Treasurer, Ben Hoey; Assessor, M. Gillis; Justices [of the Peace], A. B. Kennedy, Duncan McLennan; Constables, James Craig, L Deitzman

Town of Greenwood: Henry Voss was elected chairman. We failed to get complete returns from this town.

Duncan McLennan, J.J. Kennedy’s brother in law, has been the chairman of the Town of Rib Lake since it was created in 1885.

The assessor for the Town of Rib Lake was Matt McGillis. He was an employee of J.J. Kennedy and the foreman of one of his pine camps, the foundation and well of which are still visible in 2018.  The McGillis pine camp is marked by a sign along the Rib Lake Ski & Snowshoe Trail ½ mile east of CTH C in SE NE 13-T33N-R2E.


WISCONSIN CENTRAL RAILROAD -- Trains for Rib Lake leave Chelsea at 9:30 am and 3:55 pm; they leave Rib Lake for Chelsea at 10:30 am and 4:45 pm.

The same edition reported that trains left Medford going north: Mail 10:37 am; Passenger 2:52 pm; Way Freight 7:10 pm; Through Freight 9:08 pm.


HEMLOCK -- NOTICE TO THE CITIZENS OF MEDFORD AND VICINITY -- We will pay $2.50 per cord for all merchantable hemlock bark delivered on our tannery grounds in Medford this coming year. In our tannery operations we use, and wish to have, all the bark to the tree top. This will enable owners of bark to save it all. All bark should be cut 4 feet long, kept flat, and be well cured [dried]. /s/ T., F. M. & F. D. Shaw

I take the initials to stand for Thaxter Shaw, Fayette M Shaw and his son, Fayette Delos Shaw.

The same edition announces that the Shaws have bought land to construct a tannery in the City of Medford [where, in 2012, Hurd Windows and Doors, Inc., 575 South Whelen, is located].

This is the first time this newspaper mentioned the Shaw family, a Boston-based family highly successful in the tanning industry.

In 1891 Fayette Delos Shaw constructed and began operations of the huge tannery in Rib Lake.

The Shaws eventually owned four tanneries in Taylor County; Medford, Perkinstown, Rib Lake and Westboro.  Each was sold to the United States Leather Co.



HEMLOCK -  OUR TANNERY IS A FACT! -- By November next, Medford will have in full working order, one of the largest tanneries in the State, and if we pull together, each and every one of us doing our best to make it a success, we can perhaps make our county known for its tan bark. We have the material, it is merely a question of whether we can make use of our advantage or let it go by

Men are at work on the grounds purchased by the Shaw Brothers making the excavations for the buildings. There will be one building 63 x 63 for fire rooms where the [steam] engines and boilers will be placed;  one leach mill 890 x 36; one bark mill 26 x 36, a yard building 404 x 44; a dry loft and rolling mill where leather is finished, 70 x 300 [feet].

This will necessitate the excavating of 4,000 yards of dirt and building many cords (sic) of stone wall. The contract for excavating and building has been let to John Reidel, who has a large crew of men at work. The Shaw Brothers will erect their own buildings, under the supervision of Mr. Drake, their mechanic and builder. The work will be pushed as rapidly as possible…

They will need 6,000 cords of bark for the first year, and will increase the capacity of the tannery from year to year, as the supply of bark may justify.

$2.50 per cord will be paid for tan bark in the yard here [Medford]. It will not be necessary for the farmer to pile his bark in the yard until he accumulates a car load, but he will drive [with his wagon or sleigh] onto a pair of scales, his load will be weighed, and a ticket given him for its value, which will be paid in cash at the company’s office; the load will be inspected at the scales before being weighed. Every piece of bark, no matter what length or breath will go. The Shaw Brothers want all limbs peeled way up into the tops; they will pay as much for such bark as for the larger pieces, in fact, they prefer it.

There is some dissatisfaction expressed at the price offered for bark, viz: $2.50 per cord, but did anyone who has shipped bark ever realize more than $1.00 per cord for bark sent away by rail? Is it not a fact that if an accurate account had been kept of all bark sent out of this county to Milwaukee and other points, that it would not net 50 cents per cord to the shipper?

The average load on a [railroad] car is 14 yards. Did any of our shippers ever realize $35.00 net for a car of bark sent from here [Medford]. We doubt it. It is true they offer all the way from $5.00 to $7.00 per cord for bark in Milwaukee and other points, but here are charges for excess of freight, cartage, storage, and deductions for damaged bark. And in many instances the shipper has been notified to remit money to pay freight, as the bark did not bring enough to do it.

All of this is respectfully submitted to the kickers.

Note the preference of the Shaw Brothers for the hemlock bark from the limbs of the tree as opposed to its truck. I surmise they had found that the percentage of tannic acid in the limbs was greater than in the bark from the trunk.

The Shaw Brothers were Thaxter and Fayette M. Shaw.

Initially, a cord of bark was a pile 4x4x4 feet.  Later, a cord was determined by weight.

Note the size of these buildings, e.g., the leach mill was 890 feet long.


HEMLOCK—SHAW WILL OPEN FIRST TANBARK CAMP -- The Shaw Brothers have purchased section 7, Town 31, Range 1 East for the hemlock on it. They will put two camps of over fifty men each, and peel bark as long as it will peel. Work on the tannery is progressing rapidly, and by November first will be ready for business, The capacity of the tannery will be about 8,000 cords of bark per year.

The last several editions of the Star & News have reported unhappiness with the price of $2.50 per cord of tanbark offered by the Shaws; some have urged farmers to boycott the tannery with hopes that the Shaws will be forced to pay more.

Shaw’s surprise announcement that it will run its own tan bark camps may have been a ploy to induce acceptance of the $2.50 per cord offer.

The Star & News reported that F. M. Shaw is a son of Thaxter Shaw.  Other sources report Fayette M. Shaw is the brother of Thaxter and the father of Fayette Delos Shaw.


HEMLOCK -- Shaw Bros. now employ about 200 men. They have 150 men in their camps peeling bark, all of which indicates that an attempt to make them pay a fancy price for bark will not succeed beyond the most sanguine expectations of the projectors of the scheme.

The edition of 6/22/1889 included this add: “Wanted at once—25 men to peel bark.-- T.F.M. & F. D. Shaw.”            


HEMLOCK -- Shaw Brothers have sold all the [peeled] hemlock logs on section 7, where they are peeling bark, to parties who will put them into the Black River and run them to La Crosse.


HEMLOCK -- Shaw Brothers have received a proposition from the Soo railroad authorities to build tanneries along the line of their road.`

At that time the Soo Line ran east and west through Prentice. Medford, Chelsea, Westboro and Rib Lake were on a competing line, the Wisconsin Central. In 1902 the Soo Line purchased the Wisconsin Central.


HIGHWAYS -- C. Palmer drove down from Westboro Wednesday. It is becoming a very common thing for citizens from the north to visit the county seat via the county road.

Driving down the county road meant driving a horse; apparently the road Taylor County built north of Medford had improved to the point that it gave serious completion to the two passenger trains that daily served Medford, Chelsea and Westboro.


RIB LAKE—PROPOSED RAILROAD EXTENSION -- There is a prospect that the Rib Lake Branch of the Wisconsin Central Railroad will be built through to Tomahawk in the immediate subsequent. J. J. Kennedy, the Rib Lake lumberman, is working to that end with excellent prospects of success. If this [rail] road is built, it will open up tracts of timber and vacant government lands that will prove valuable.

The Rib Lake-Tomahawk railroad connection finally came about in 1902 when the Wisconsin Central jointed the Marinette, Tomahawk & Western two miles southwest of Spirit Falls.

The Rib Lake-Tomahawk railroad was a failure in terms of passengers.  No passenger train ever ran between the two cities.  Likewise, no freight train ran between the two cities.  According to Marvin Meier, Gus Brietzke, a Town of Spirit farmer, had a carload of bagged cement delivered via railroad tracks, which ran through the Brietzke farm.

The tracks were a success in allowing logging trains to convey large volumes of tan bark, cedar posts and logs to Tomahawk and Rib Lake.  

For additional information, including maps and photos, consult the two-part article in the Soo Line Historical & Technical Society periodical.



KENNEDY & HEMLOCK -- J.J. Kennedy of Rib Lake was in town [Medford] yesterday. Like a sensible man, KENNEDY IS BEGINNING TO EMANCIPATE HIMSELF FROM THE PINE SLAVERY, AND IS NOW PREPARED TO APPRECIATE THE EXCELLENCE OF HEMLOCK and other Northern Wisconsin timbers.

There was a time when a Wisconsin lumberman was timber blind to everything but pine. MR. KENNEDY SAYS HE BELIEVES THERE IS MORE MONEY IN HEMLOCK AND HARDWOODS of Northern Wisconsin, than there ever was in pine. And he also says that his belief is gaining ground. He is right, of course, and the time is coming, and coming right soon, when a man who has a good crop of timber on his land, even if it is not pine, will have an investment that will pay better than bonds.  (emphasis added)

To all but a few like J.J. Kennedy, pine was king, hemlock a pauper.

On 10/5/1900. “The Mississippi Valley Lumberman” published a highly complementary biography of Kennedy entitled “Self Made and Well Made.” See document #14050 in the photo and document collection at; it concluded: “In the manufacture of hemlock lumber, Mr. Kennedy has been one of the pioneers.”

On 6/3/1900, the “American Lumberman” wrote of Kennedy under the title “The Home of Hemlock,” “J.J. KENNEDY’S NAME WILL GO DOWN IN LUMBER HISTORY AS THE PIONEER HEMLOCK MANUFACTURER OF WISCONSIN. He may not have been the first lumberman in this section to make hemlock lumber, but he was the first to make a specialty of hemlock.” (emphasis added)



HOMESTEAD CLAIM NOTICE OF ANNA M. JAMES -- Land Office at Wausau, Wis., July 23, 1898 -- Notice is hereby given that the following named settler has filed notice of her intention to make final proof in support of his claim and that said proof will be made before the Judge, or in his absence, the Clerk of Court, at Medford, Taylor Co., Wis., on September 10, 1898, viz: ANNA M. JAMES, WIDOW OF  William James, deceased, homestead entry No. 1264, for the  W ½ NW ¼ and N ½ SW ¼, Section 10, Township 33 North, Range 3 east.

He (sic) names the following witnesses to prove his continuous residence upon, and cultivation of said lands:  L, M. Allen, George Krocker, M. E. Coe, and Alvin Pierce, all of Westboro, Wis. /s/ S. E. Thayer, Register

I have included this in the Newspaper Notes for two reasons. First, it is an illustration of one of hundreds of such notices published regarding Rib Lake lands; the federal Homestead Law of 1862 was used by many to obtain land from the United States government.

Secondly, I believe this a fraudulent claim and typical of the widespread abuse of the Homestead law.  Anna M. James and family lived on a farm adjacent to James Lake; that land had been acquired by her late husband via the Homestead law. Anna had no intention of moving to and farming the 160 acres she claimed in this notice; it was wild land far removed from settlements, schools or even a town road. I have walked portions of the claimed land and saw no stone piles or other evidence of cultivation.

One of the witnessed she named was L. M. Allen of Westboro. He was an active lumberman engaged in cutting trees and selling them to mills. I surmise that he paid Mrs. James to serve as his surrogate to obtain this well forest tract of land which he would then cut.



REBUILT SAW MILL OPENS AT LITTLE BLACK -- After many weeks, the Davis and Starr Lumber Company mill at Little Black is ready for business. The machinery was tried this week and everything was found to be in satisfactory shape, and on next Monday the regular run will commence.

This company’s saw mill burned last spring, entailing a heavy loss to the owners, but they are enterprising and the new mill is of larger capacity and better in every way than the one that burned.

Just about every saw mill erected in Taylor County has burned down at least once.


HEMLOCK -NEW TANNERY AT MEDFORD -- The large [steam] engine in the vat house of the Shaw Bros.’ tannery was started up this week to try the machinery. The large pump was also started to fill the vats with water and see that they were in shape for work. The next thing to do, now that the smoke stacks are in place, will be to start the bark mills and commence grinding bark and making liquor.

By the time the liquor is ready a consignment of hides will be received and the Medford tannery will be making sole leather. Then, the last building, in which the leather is to be finished, will be commenced.

Liquor was the name given to the tanning liquid concocted from the ground tan bark and other substances.  I do not know all the substances that went into liquor, but I remember my father telling  me that sugar was one of them; he vividly remembered stealing into the Rib Lake tannery as a boy and helping himself to the sugar stored there.

An earlier edition of the Star & News reported the two chimneys at the Medford tannery were 100 feet tall. I believe they were of metal and erected section by section at the spot where each would stand.

Nota bene: the Medford tannery intended to produce sole leather.


HEMLOCK-MEDFORD TANNERY BEGINS OPERATIONS -- A [rail] car load of hides has arrived at the tannery and the tanners immediately commenced operations. While the tannery is not yet completed, enough has been done to start the leather making…



HEMLOCK - DRY/ROLL LOFT AT MEDFORD TANNERY -- Shaw Bros. commenced the foundation for their last building, which will contain the rooms where the leather is first dried and then rolled. This building will be by the side of the switch track and will be 48x200 feet. The caulkers have completed their work on the liquor vats and they are now all ready for business.

The firm is breaking in new men to do their work, the foreman. Mr. Doyle and his brother being the only men brought out from Maine. The masons are now employed in covering the second battery of boilers which have been placed in position and as soon as this work is done, the steam pipes will be put in, as all the company’s buildings are to be warmed [heated] by steam.

“The caulkers” sealed the joints between the wood staves forming the vats. There probably were over a hundred of these large vats about 8 feet deep and 10 to 14 feet in diameter. The hides would be soaked in the liquor in these vats.

Drying and rolling the hides was the final step in leather manufacture. Hides were hung from the ceiling of the building to dry.

The rolling process began by laying the hide flat on a large table.  A worker there operated a powered roller to repeatedly run over the top of the hide until all wrinkles vanished. The roller was made of brass and would shine likely a freshly minted penny.


HEMLOCK - PEELED HEMLOCK LOG SALVAGE -- Logging has commenced in earnest in this county. John Paul, of  La Crosse, has put in a camp on Section 7 in the Town of Medford, and will put in [into the Black River] the timber cut by the Shaw Bros. this summer, in their bark-peeling operations.  Mr. Paul will land on the Black River, and will have about a four mile haul.

There would be a 4 mile wagon or sleigh haul of the logs to get them to the banks of the Black River.

Many claim the peeled hemlock logs were left in the woods to rot. While that may have happened in some cases, e.g. where there was a small quantity of logs without easy access, this article shows a demand for the logs. These logs would be floated down the Black River for sawing in La Crosse, Wisconsin; given the crooks and bends in the river, the trip was more than 100 miles long.


KENNEDY - PAULINE LEMKE COMMITTED -- Paulina Lemke was sent to the Northern Hospital for the insane at Oshkosh this week by Taylor County Judge Clinton Textor, she having become violently insane. She is the widow of the man who died of injuries received by accident in one of Kennedy’s logging camps one year ago last winter. She has nine children, some of whom are old enough to care for themselves, and the others will be sent to the Sparta home.

The State of Wisconsin operated “The Sparta Home” until 1973.

Without any adequate aid from government or private sources, this poor woman became “violently insane.”


HEMLOCK - CAPACITY OF MEDFORD TANNERY -- The Shaws are now putting into their vats 200 sides of leather daily. That will be increased to 400 sides per day. That will be increased to 400 sides per day which will be the capacity of the [Medford] tannery.


KENNEDY -- The J.J. Kennedy mill at Rib Lake shut down last Monday, to start up again sometime during the winter.

I presume its supply of logs had been exhausted.

With the Rib Lake mill temporarily shut down, some of its crew took jobs at the newly rebuilt mill at Little Black: “A number of Rib Lake mill boys have taken jobs at the Little Black mill [Davis & Starr Lumber Co.], and, AS THEY ARE EXPERTS, an improved condition of affairs now prevails.” (emphasis added)


TIMBER TRESPASS -- [It has been] some time since the State timber agent for this district seized about  95,000 feet of pine and hemlock logs that were landed  in the Little Black River by the Davis & Starr Lumber Co. The logs were cut on sections 16 and 22, T 31, Range 2E, on contracted state land.

The logs were cut by mistake, the foreman having through carelessness allowed his men to get across the line. The sale occurred last Monday and the logs were bid [purchased] in by Mr. Davis, of the Davis & Starr Lumber Co.

In 2005, The Wisconsin Legislature passed legislation eliminating “mistake” as a defense to timber trespass.

While we do not know what Davis & Starr Lumber Co. paid, it looks like they came away from the entire matter smelling like a rose. They were prosecuted neither criminally nor civilly; they bought the logs and undoubtedly sawed them as planned.


WESTBORO LOGS TO LITTLE BLACK -- The [railroad] shipment of logs from Westboro belonging to the Davis & Starr Lumber Co. commenced last Saturday night.

Davis & Starr Lumber Co. bought pine stumpage  on land about two miles south of Westboro, cut the pine, and shipped it by rail to its newly reconstructed saw mill at Little Black.  You can see the stumpage contracts in the Photo and Document Collection at



HEMLOCK -- If hemlock logs can be driven from Taylor County to La Crosse and manufactured into lumber for a profit, what becomes of the argument that it cannot be manufactured here at a profit?

Editor Wheelock is dealing with the prejudice against use of hemlock lumber. The Austin & Sawyer Lumber Co. of La Crosse had just begun to buy peeled hemlock logs near Medford and drive them via the Black River to its mill in La Crosse.



HEMLOCK LUMBER -- Our friends, the lumbermen, are talking very blue these days. They say that the yellow pine of the south (e.g. Alabama) has made sad havoc with the market, and many firms are carrying larger stocks over than ever before. The southern lumbermen are paying little or nothing for stumpage, and when the northern white pine lumberman pays $5 and upwards stumpage it is very difficult to compete with his southern brethren. This is true, and the day when the pine tree was sole king is likely to wane.

There is another kind of timber in northern Wisconsin, however, that can be manufactured as cheaply and will make as good lumber as the yellow pine in the South, AND THAT IS HEMLOCK. This country is noted for the vast quantities of hemlock, and the owners of land will be willing to sell the stumpage at very reasonable figures. Hemlock, when properly handled, that is, when handled with the same care and consideration given to pine—makes good lumber, and finds a ready sale in the market. If the  lumber is carelessly piled and put  upon the market undressed, it does not sell well, but we have the word of one of the best lumbermen in Wisconsin, one who speaks from experience, that it sells readily when properly handled.

This being the case, there is no reason why the hemlock industry should not  be developed in this country where it abounds beyond all reason. Now that Medford has a tannery capable of using the bark from 6 to 10 million feet of logs yearly, it is probable that more hemlock lumber will be sawed here than formerly. Many of the farms in Taylor County are entirely  timbered with hemlock, and if the farmer can  peel his bark in the spring and haul his logs the following winter, this industry will prove a source of revenue to him while aiding him to clear his farm.

It has been the practice heretofore to cut down the hemlock timber and burn, bark and all, in a log pile [in order to clear land for farming]. It does not cost  any more to cut down a tree to peel than it does to cut one to burn, and the cutting has to be done only once, even if the logs are hauled to a mill.

We understand that the Medford [saw] mill will be stocked with hemlock this coming winter. That is very good as it gives the farmers a chance to sell their logs to a firm that will manufacture them at home, and not run them down the river to be sawed in La Crosse. We learn, also, that there is a move a foot to form a company to purchase the mill, or site, and build another [saw mill] of increased capacity. That is better; the more lumber manufactured here the better for the city. THERE IS MORE HEMLOCK IN TAYLOR COUNTY THAN THERE EVER WAS OF PINE, and if the timber is properly handled it will result in more benefit to the country than the pine ever did. HEMLOCK FOREVER. (emphasis added)

This powerful and prophetic article was written, apparently, by the editor Edgar Wheelock. He held J.J. Kennedy in high regard and was referring to him when citing the unnamed, but “one of the best lumbermen in Wisconsin…”  J.J. Kennedy was one of the pioneers in milling hemlock.

The term $5 means the lumberman had to pay $5 per 1,000 board feet for pine stumpage, i.e., the right to harvest pine on another’s land.

I love it:  “Hemlock forever!"


MEDFORD LOG  PRICES -- The Sherry  & Cook Lumber Co. [operators of the  sawmill in central  Medford] will pay for logs delivered on  their pond in Medford during the winter of 1889-1890:

No. 1  pine

$9.00 per 1000 feet

No. 2 pine  


No. 3 pine


No. 1 basswood


No. 2 basswood


No. 1 black ash


No. 2 black ash


Red oak


White Oak


Rock Elm




These prices are for the city of Medford. Pine and hemlock will be bought anywhere on the [Black] River between the [Medford] mill and Whittlesey dam. North of Medford $2.50 will be paid for hemlock [per 1,000 board feet].

While pine clearly was worth far more than hemlock, the switch from pine to hemlock was driven by the reality that all the pine had just about been cut or was not accessible



HEMLOCK—PREJUDICE AGAINST IT -- We are informed that Taylor County has more hemlock trees than any other county of the state.

In conversation with an extensive saw mill owner of La Crosse who visited Medford…he said: “It is only a matter of time, and a short time at that, when we will have to depend on hemlock for sills, joist, scantling, etc. OUR PEOPLE ARE  PREJUDICED AGAINST IT  BECAUSE WE HAVE HAD SO MUCH  PINE WHICH CAN BE CUT AND WORKED WITH LESS LABOR THAN HEMLOCK, but our pine is fast disappearing and in the future we must depend on hemlock, of which Wisconsin has a vast quantity.”  (emphasis added)



1.        The Vat Building

The vat building is 428 x 45 feet and contains 172 vats and an underground vault divided into 12 sweat rooms, each 9x35 feet and 8 feet high. The hides are hung up in these vaults to remove the hair by the German sweating process, no lime being used.

This process makes much better sole leather, the only kind they [the Shaw Brothers] manufacture.

2.      The Leach House

The next building is the leach house and bark mill. The leach house contains 8 leaches each having a capacity of containing 8 cords of grounded bark.

3.        The Roll House and Dry Loft.     The final building is the roll house and dry loft, in which the leather is finished. They use 3 [steam] engines with two banks of boilers, 3 boilers being in each battery.

Overview of Operations.  Three hundred sides are put into tan each day except Sunday. They are worked from vat to vat during the process of tanning.Six thousand or more cords of hemlock will be used in 1890.  The capital invested amounts to $250,000. Fayette Shaw has his headquarters in Chicago and is the buyer of the hides used by the firm. He buys from St. Paul to St Louis, and in the eastern markets. A lot from Boston are now in transit.

THEY EXPECT TO USE SOUTH AMERICAN AND OTHER FOREIGN HIDES.  They now employ 50 men and expect to increase to 200 and to use 20,000 cords of bark before long. They use the spent bark from the leaches for fuel. This is taken to the furnace rooms on belt carriers and so strong is the draught that it is burnt in its wet condition. This fuel gives an intense heat, the furnaces being constructed especially for this purpose. They are not under the boilers, as is the case with other fuels, but at the sides. The liberated ignited gases from the decomposed water and the flames from the bark itself roar under the boilers, making plenty of steam.     (emphasis added)

The leach house is where the tannic acid was leached, i.e., removed from the ground bark by soaking the bark with water and other substances. Once the tannic acid was in the water it was called “liquor” and provided the chemically active medium in which to tan the raw hides.

At this time the City of Medford had two active tanneries. The Nystrum tannery was the first and was much, much smaller than Shaws’.  The January 18, 1890, edition announced: “John Nystrom, Esq., the proprietor of the small general tannery in this city, has announced that he will close out business and advertise his tannery for sale.”



KENNEDY—FATAL  ACCIDENT -- An accident occurred at one of J.J. Kennedy’s logging camps at Rib Lake Saturday afternoon resulting in the death of  a Swede named Charles Anderson. Anderson was working at a skid way decking logs. He had several tiers of logs piled up and incautiously passed in front of them. Just at the wrong time one of the logs was crowded out by the weight above, and the whole pile came rolling upon the unfortunate man, crushing him to death. Deceased was unmarried, about 23 years old, without relatives in this country with the exception of a brother at Minneapolis. He was buried at the lake.


KENNEDY—AID TO “PAUPERS” -- Taylor County Board proceedings at annual session: “Moved and carried that claim No. 193 of J.J. Kennedy for goods furnished to paupers be allowed at $114.55.”

Paupers were indigent, needy individuals. J.J. Kennedy had probably furnished food, clothing or other necessities from his company store.

At the time, there were no state –yet alone, federal-welfare programs. To the extent government provided aid to the needy, it was a county, town or municipal responsibility. Note, for example, that Taylor County—like most other Wisconsin counties—ran a poor farm where indigents were housed and fed.


HEMLOCK - SHAW TANNERY BEGINS SHIPPING PRODUCT -- T. F. M. & F. D. Shaw is shipping finished sole leather. It takes some time to build a tannery and tan leather, but this feat has been accomplished by the Medford firm and about 300 sides of leather are being taken out of the vats daily and put through the finishing process.

From this [time] out, the shipment of leather will be continuous, and all grades of sole leather will be always on hand at all times wherewith to fill orders. Thus the enterprise, that has been so long a bill of expense to the owners, will begin to pay interest on the investment.

The odd initials were the proper, standard and formal way to refer to the company which was a partnership. The “T” stood for Thaxter Shaw, “F. M.” referred to Fayette M. Shaw, and “F. D.” stood for Fayette Delos Shaw.  F.M. was the father of F.D.

The “finishing process” included drying the hide/leather, oiling and rolling it.

In 1891 Fayette Delos Shaw, in his own name alone and without his partners, contracted with J.J. Kennedy for land in Rib Lake and erected a huge tannery there which operated until 1922.    

Fayette Delos Shaw took title to the real estate in his name alone for the Rib Lake Tannery.  This was a shrewd financial move since his father had lots of judgment creditors.  If Fayette M. Shaw’s name was added to the deed of the Rib Lake tannery his judgment liens would have attached to the real estate.


KENNEDY CONVEYS BODY -- Joseph Morass of Dorchester met with an accident that caused his death last Monday night at Rib Lake. Morass was employed on the landing and, while unloading logs from a sleigh, was caught by a rolling log and crushed to death. THE BODY WAS TAKEN TO THE HOME OF THE DECEASED BY MR. [J.J.] KENNEDY.  (emphasis added)

J.J. Kennedy personally conveyed the body of one of his blue collar workers to the home of his family in Dorchester, Wisconsin. This was an extraordinary act of respect and compassion on J.J.’s part since—in all likelihood, he would then meet and console the widow and orphans. The pages of Taylor County newspapers have never reported similar conduct by any other mill owner.  RPR


KENNEDY’S SAWMILL OPENS -- The Rib Lake mill started up this week for the year’s run with one of the largest—if not the largest—stock of logs put in at that place.

During the winter, the logs to be sawn were sleighed to and off-loaded onto the ice of Rib Lake.


WESTBORO – DUNCAN SAW MILL -- E. [Elias] L. Urquhart has returned to his home in this city [Medford], having finished his work as foreman for John Duncan of Westboro. Eli broke camp last Saturday. During the winter he banked 8,000,000 feet of pine, all on the pond and river [Silver Creek] within sight of Duncan’s mill. This will make [river] driving unnecessary.

By Taylor County standards of that time, it was a hefty supply of saw logs. I surmise they had been sleigh hauled to the mill. Duncan had dammed Silver Creek to create a mill pond just south of his mill.

While Duncan’s mill log pile of 8,000,000 feet of pine was impressive by regional standards, it was small compared to John J. Kennedy’s.  

The Taylor County Star & News, June 10, 1892, reported that Kennedy’s Rib Lake cut for either 1890 or 1891 was: Pine, 22,000,000 board feet; Hemlock, 15,000,000 board feet.  

Kennedy’s saw log pile was 10 times larger than John Duncan of Westboro.  In addition, Kennedy’s mill produced 2,000,000 cedar shingles that year!



RIB LAKE – TOWN ELECTIONS -- Spring elections resulted in a new chairman for the Town of Rib Lake, B. Hoey. The other results were: Supervisors O. C. Larson and Fritz Martin; Clerk, John  Seibel; Treasurer,  Edward  Van Gieson; Assessor,  Henry Grant; Justices, A. B. Kennedy & John  Humes; Constables,  D. B.  Kennedy & Angus McDonald.

Bernard Hoey was then an employee of J.J. Kennedy.


HEMLOCK - SHAW TANNERY INCREASES PRICE FOR TAN BARK -- To the citizens of Medford & vicinity.  We will pay $2.75 per cord for all merchantable hemlock bark delivered on our tannery grounds in Medford the coming year.   T. F. M. & F. D. Shaw

Previously, the Shaw tannery at Medford paid 25 cents less.



HEMLOCK – MEDFORD SAW MILL WILL CUT ALL TREES -- The little mill [in Medford] will be ready to do work by May 1. There will be an additional boiler put in and it is expected the battery thus formed will furnish sufficient [steam] power to run the mill in a first class manner, as they have lacked power heretofore, The logs are all driven into the pond [on the Black River], there being enough to keep the mill running all season.

THE CUT THIS YEAR WILL REPRESENT ALL THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF TIMBER GROWN IN TAYLOR COUNTY and a quantity that will last for years. THIS IS AN ERA OF LUMBER FREEDOM—freedom from the idea that pine is the only merchantable article.  (emphasis added)

The day has come when any kind of timber that will make lumber, will be used.

Edgar T. Wheelock, the editor of the Taylor County Star & News, was an insightful observer. Here he boldly and accurately notes that the pine era is over. Cutting pine in the Medford area began at least with the arrival of the railroad in 1873. In less than 20 years merchantable pine near Medford was no more.

The Medford saw mill referred to was in “downtown” Medford. The site in 2012 occupied by the BP gas station; the mill site was just north of the junction of STH 64 (Broadway Street) and Whelen Avenue. Medford investors had just  bought the mill  from the  Sherry & Cooke Lumber Co.


HEMLOCK - TAN BARK OPPORTUNITY FOR FARMERS -- Farmers are preparing to peel bark. The log harvest has passed, now come the bark harvest, and then the regular farm harvest. There are few counties that furnish farmers with three harvests in one year.

Nearly every farm contained uncleared land in which hemlock grew.  A lot of farmers cut their own trees and had their kids peel the bark.


FISH PLANTING -- The first consignment of fish this year for Taylor County lakes arrived this week. There were 6 cans containing 300,000 pike, and they were planted in Clear Lake, Powel’s Lake, and another nearer town. These fish came from the State fish hatchery and there are others to follow such as rainbow trout, speckled trout, CARP, black bass, etc.  (emphasis added)


KENNEDY – WIFE ILL -- Last Thursday Mr. J.J. Kennedy received a message from Milwaukee that his wife was very sick, and that he should come at once. Mrs. Kennedy had started for Racine to attend the state meeting of the W. C. T. U. (Woman’s Christian Temperance Union). We have learned no particulars of her illness.

Mrs. J.J. Kennedy, nee Flora M.  McLennan, was born in Canada 10/28/1847 and died in Spokane, Washington, 1/31/1910. John J. Kennedy survived his wife by 18 years, dying 4/12/1928 in Portland, Oregon.


HEMLOCK – STENCH FROM MEDFORD TANNERY -- Complaint was made to the City Council that the Shaw tannery was not properly drained and, as a consequence, a very offensive odor was perceptible to the residents of the southerly end of the third ward. The writer [Edgar T. Wheelock] suggested to one of the afflicted residents that, if properly managed, the odor laden atmosphere could be turned into an advantage on the garden soil, by spreading the atmosphere on the garden soil about 6 inches deep and then plowing it under as a fertilizer He seemed to look upon the suggestion as a joke and laughed. Some men never will be serious.

The city council appointed a committee to look into the matter, and, if necessary, to take steps to persuade the tannery people to open a drain and let the offensive accumulation float down the [Black] River.

The sad reality is that the tannery was a continuous source of sickening odors.


HEMLOCK LOGS - NOTICE BY DAVIS & STARR LUMBER CO. -- Notice is hereby given to all parties interested, that hereafter, in buying hemlocksaw logs, whether the quantity  is small or large,  we will require on each contract the following percentages and lengths, viz:


12 ft. 3 inches long


14 ft. 3 inches long


16 ft. 3 inches long


18ft. 3 inches long


20ft. 3 inches long


22ft. 3 inches long


24ft. 3 inches long


26ft. 3 inches long

This lumber company had a market for longer lumber.

This is the first advertisement published in the Taylor County  Star & News for hemlock logs  It signals the end of the local pine era.

While the Davis & Starr mill was on the Little Black River at Little Black, it was also on the Wisconsin Central Railroad that had a spur to its mill pond. This meant hemlock logs could be conveniently railroad shipped there.

Note the requirement for logs to be cut in feet plus 3 inches. The 3 inches guaranteed that the finished product would be of proper length; the lumber was cut to proper dimensions in the mill.



KENNEDY FAMILY WINS A HORSE -- “Turk,” the horse owned by Ben Hoey, Rib Lake, raffled off in this city yesterday, was won by Mrs. Wm. Kennedy, of the same place. The horse took part in the races at the [Taylor County] fair grounds, taking second money in the free-for-all races.

William J. Kennedy was a brother of J.J. Kennedy.  He is not to be confused with William G. Kennedy, the son of J.J.

William J. Kennedy married Christy Ann Ferguson of Glengarry, Ontario, Canada. They had 6 children and lived in Rib Lake until December, 1904. The Rib Lake Herald on 12/4/1904 reported: “William Kennedy and family will take possession of the Adams House [hotel] in Abbotsford, Wisconsin. Under the management of Mr. and Mrs. William Kennedy it will be one of the best hotels on the Wisconsin Central Railroad line.”


A NEW BANK - J.J. KENNEDY CHOSEN AS A DIRECTOR -- There was a meeting of some importance held in this city last Friday evening. A new company was organized under the laws of the State of Wisconsin and is the State Bank of Medford. It will open about September first and has a paid up capital of $25,000.

At a meeting of the stockholders held last Saturday night, the following board of directors was chosen: J.J. Kennedy, Rib Lake, A. J. Perkins, Medford, T. M Miller, E. H. Winchester, and Dorchester, C. L. Alverson.

J.J. Kennedy was also a stock holder in the new bank which changed its name c. 1990 to Mid Wisconsin Bank.

In 2013 the bank was bought by Nicolet National Bank, headquartered in Green Bay.


KENNEDY-FIRE INSURANCE -- E.H. Winchester, banker and insurance agent living in Dorchester, writes: “Please publish the following list [of patrons to whom I have sold fire insurance]:

J.J. Kennedy, Rib Lake,  $18,750.00

E.H. Winchester reported he sold $20,000.00 worth of fire insurance to John Duncan to cover his Westboro sawmill and much smaller sums on mills in Medford.


KENNEDY -- A delegation of Taylor County sporting men attended the [horse] races at St. Paul [Minnesota] last Wednesday. They were J.J. Kennedy of Rib Lake, Drs. McDonald of Chelsea and Miller of Medford. They were accompanied by George Brown of Medford, the traveler, of Oshkosh, and John G. Morner, of Ogema, the merchant.

While J.J. Kennedy had a long and strong interest in horse racing, this is the first report of an out-of-state trip in pursuit of his hobby.



HOMESTEAD CLAIM -- EDWARD P.  FITZE -- Notice is given that the following named settler has filed notice of his intention to make final proof of his claim and that such proof will be made before the Circuit Court, Medford, Wisconsin, before the Judge, or in his absence, before the Clerk of Court, at Medford, Wis. October 8, 1890, viz: Edward P. Fitze, Homestead entry #1302 for the E ½ SW ¼, Section 12, Town 33 North,Range 2 East.

He names the following witnesses to  prove his continuous residence upon, and cultivation of, said land: viz.: Fredrick Everson, Nels Peterson, both of Rib lake, George H. Lawrence and Parley H. Campbell of Westboro, Wis.

August Kickbusch, register, U.S. Land Office, Wausau.

This is a typical notice of which hundreds were published in the Star and News.

In 2012 the land in question is occupied by Rodney and Kristin Strobach and children, Katherine, Ryan and Bekah; they maintain the former Hanke farm field there for Katie’s horse, Kiowa.



WESTBORO -- DUNCAN’S MILL CUTS 8,500,000 -- At noon last Saturday John Duncan’s saw mill at Westboro cut the last log in the pond, and shut down for the season of 1890. An unusually successful run was made this season, as the mill has been remarkably free from accidents, only 1 ½ days being lost during the entire summer.

About 8,500,000 feet of logs have been run through the mill and transformed into lumber and shingles. James Ures, formerly of this place [Medford], was the filer, and Peter Sheff, Jr., of Little Black had charge of the shingle mill.

Note the reference to the filer of the saws. Keeping the saws sharp and set of the teeth proper on them was crucial to profitable operations.


KENNEDY ENLARGES HIS SAW MILL -- J.J. Kennedy has nearly completed the summer’s cut in his Rib Lake mill, and during the winter will make extensive improvements.  Already workmen are engaged in framing a large addition to the mill 90 x 96 feet, which will take the place of part of the mill to be torn down. He will also add a battery of 5 boilers, and will remove 2 old [steam] engines, replacing them by one large [steam] engine 26 x 30 [feet]. Other improvements are in contemplation.



HEMLOCK -- PEELED LOGS -- Peter Canfield has purchased the logs peeled this summer by the Shaws, and will put them into the Black River, having sold them to N. B. Holway. Last year Holway was prejudiced against peeled [hemlock] logs and would not take them. He has changed his mind and will try them one year at least as an experiment. There is no doubt about the result of the experiment, for others have tried it before, and prefer the peeled [hemlock] log to one with the bark on.

N.B. Holway had his saw mill in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and would have these hemlock logs floated there via the Black River.

The reference to “The Shaws” is to the family that owned and operated the newly-constructed tannery in Medford.  During spring and summer of 1890, the Shaws operated a camp north of Medford where hemlock trees were felled and the tanbark removed.  The debarked logs were now ready to be moved to the Black River.  In the high water of the spring 1891, these logs would be floated via the Black River to Holway’s La Crosse, Wisconsin, sawmill.  .  




KENNEDY – 125 HORSE TEAMS -- Our reports from Rib Lake are to the effect that log hauling has commenced on the long ice road, that 125 teams [of horses] were at work yesterday, and more have been sent for. The logs will be rushed in at a rate that would make an ordinary man, not familiar with extensive logging operations, dizzy. Work on the new [saw] mill is progressing satisfactorily, and all J.J. Kennedy prays for now is cold weather, or a reasonable amount of snow, or both.

After 10 years of logging at Rib Lake, Kennedy has felled all the pine near his mill and has been forced to build ‘the long ice road” to tap into virgin forest. The sleigh road has been iced to support larger sleigh loads and reduce friction.

One hundred twenty five teams of horses is an unprecedented, large number.  Kennedy is boldly enlarging operations.

The comment about the “new mill” refers to the extensive reconstruction and enlargement of the mill started last fall.  The old mill was Kennedy’s first sawmill at Rib Lake, built in 1881.

The “new mill” was destroyed by fire in 1897.  Kennedy quickly rebuilt it.

The newspaper’s term “new saw” for an extensively rebuilt structure is confusing.  I feel it is better to limit the term “new mill” to one built to create one where none was before or to replace a totally destroyed or razed structure.  Using that definition, this is a list of sawmills on Rib Lake:




Kennedy builds sawmill.


Mill burns to the ground; new mill built.


Mill burns to the ground and ceases operations.


New mill built and begins operations


Mill ceases oeprations due to log famine.  RLLC ceases operations.


KENNEDY -- Miss Jennie and Master Donald Kennedy were in Medford Wednesday on their return from their home in Rib Lake, where they had spent the holiday vacation, to their school at Evanston, Illinois.

J.J. Kennedy had most of his children attend boarding school in Illinois. His son William, however, attended public school for at least one year in Rib Lake.



HEMLOCK - MEDFORD TANNERY LACKS BARK -- Ad: “$4.00 per cord will be paid for bark at the [Medford] Tannery until further notice.”

This big jump in the price paid for tan bark followed an article in the Start & News reporting that the lack of snow made sleighing very difficult; sleighing was the dominant way to convey the bark from the woods to the tannery.

T., F. M. & F. D. Shaw have commenced constructing its third tannery in Taylor County; it will be in Perkinstown on Section 33, Town 32 North, Range 2 west; the new tannery stood on the east shore of Kathryn Lake.


KENNEDY- OPENS PINE CAMP ON BLACK RIVER -- Kennedy and [Albert J.] Perkins has put a camp on section 19 Town 32 North, Range 1 East, Town of Chelsea, to cut pine, and they will bank logs on the Black River. In the spring the logs will be run to Medford and, if a bargain can be struck for the sawing, they will be cut by the Medford mill.

Here is another new way for J.J. Kennedy to make a buck. A lack  of snow has made the usual winter  sleighing of logs to his Rib Lake mill difficult; so he combines with  his old friend and business partner Albert Perkins to bank logs along the Black River, which flows southward through Medford but away from Rib Lake.

Section 19 was 3 miles northwest of Whittlesey.


KENNEDY, WILLIAM J. -- William [J.]  Kennedy, Ben Hoey and George Fritz, with their wives, and Miss Tena Kennedy, [a daughter of J.J. Kennedy], represented Rib Lake at the A. O. U. W. [Ancient Order of United Workmen, a lodge with strong Masonic roots] celebration last Thursday evening.

The lodge had a $2,000 death benefit payable to the beneficiary of any member.  In 1975 the AOUW had over 318,000 members nationwide.  Its founder boasted that AOUW had “members from the highest professions and the lowest grades of mechanical labor.”

The “celebration” was a dance with a band brought in from Oshkosh to mark the 11th anniversary of the Medford chapter.



HEMLOCK - NEW TANNERY UNDER CONSTRUCTION AT PERKINSTOWN -- As a starter toward a city of industry, the Shaws have concluded to plat village lots on section 3-31-2 w, Town of Grover, this section being the one adjoining the new tannery site. The first plat will contain 36 lots, lying in 2 blocks. The dimensions of the lots will be 66x165 feet.

Surveyor Walrath will commence work on the platting next week, and then the lots will be put on the market. ONE FEATURE OF THIS PROPOSED VILLAGE IS A NOVEL ONE FOR THIS COUNTRY, AND THAT IS THAT  EVERY EVENLY NUMBERED  LOT WILL BE GIVEN AWAY,  the only charge being a nominal one to cover the expense of surveying and making the deed. The odd numbered lots will be reserved, and sold later.

The only condition that goes with the gift is that the one getting the deed must put up a substantial building thereon. A name has now yet been chosen for this village.

Work at the tannery site is progressing satisfactorily, and it is probable that before the end of another week the saw mill will be ready for business. (emphasis added)

What an ingenious idea—to give away a residential lot with the requirement that the donee had to build a substantial building, i.e., a house.  The land itself had little or no value. The gift induced settlers to move to the far away place where they had little choice but work in the tannery.

The village would be named Perkinstown for Albert J.  Perkins, Taylor County businessman and first mayor of Medford.

Note the reference to the saw mill under construction; the Shaws announced that they would build a small saw mill at the village site to saw the lumber needed to construct the tannery buildings.

Perkinstown is the site of the third Shaw tannery in Taylor County.  The first was built in Medford and the second in Rib Lake.


NEW TYPE OF SLEIGH LOGGING ROAD -- The snow storm was not an unmixed blessing after all. The developments in the science of logging road building during the past few years has made snow a luxury—not a necessity. When the time  came for  hauling logs  last  fall, the snow did not  come with the time,  lumbermen  proceeded to make roads by digging trenches for the sleigh runner, and filling them with  broken  ice and water. The result was good roads, for the horses would travel on the solidly frozen  ground and the runners of the sleigh would follow in the trenches of ice,

The snow came and covered the trenches to the depth of a foot or more, so that they could not be seen, and the sleigh runners would cut through the loose snow to the ground. It took several days to get a good road-bed after the storm.  Hence we say the snow was not an unmixed blessing.

I have neither heard nor read of this trench system being tried anywhere else.


HEMLOCK - RECORD TAN BARK SLEIGH LOAD TO MEDFORD -- Shaw’s gray [horse] team hauled a load of bark last Wednesday that heads the list of the big one so far. The rack was 16 feet long by 8 feet wide, and the load was 7 ½ feet high. This load scaled down seven cords full. The team hauled the load from the woods to the [Medford] tannery and up the slip to the bark mill.

Hemlock bark was cut in 4’4” or 4’6” lengths. A cord of bark was 4’ high by 4’ wide and bark peelers were paid by the measured cord.  Tanneries weighted bark as it arrived at the tannery and paid for it by weight of 2246 or 2280 pounds to a cord.

Cords were determined by weight not volume. The tan bark would be ground into small particles at the bark mill and mixed with water and substances to make “liquor,” the active ingredients to tan hides.


WOMAN’S CHRISTIAN TEMPERANCE UNION -- A [Taylor] County organization of the W. C. T. U. was affected last Wednesday at Rib Lake. There were present from the Medford Union, Mesdames H. M. Smith, Annie H. Wheelock….

The meeting was held in the town hall at Rib Lake, and an organization was effected by the election of:

Mrs. Agnes Kennedy, president

Mrs. Belle Severence, vice-president

Mrs.  William Warren, treasurer

Mrs. Annie H. Wheelock, secretary

Mrs. Duncan McLennan, corresponding secretary.

On their return home, the drive to Chelsea was made by the Medford contingent with the hope of catching the 11 p.m. train, but the driver took a “short cut” with the usual result, and landlord Gearhart provided accommodations for the company at his hotel until the morning freight.    

The Rib Lake Kennedy family was dominated by non-drinkers. When Edgar T. Wheelock visited Rib In 1885 and wrote its history, he noted that J.J. Kennedy did not allow the sale of any alcohol there.

Two officers of the Rib Lake chapters were sister-in-laws to J.J. Kennedy, namely, Mrs. Agnes Kennedy and Mrs. Duncan McLennan.



A TRIP TO PERKINS [later known as Perkinstown] & HEMLOCK -- The stately hemlock, the lordly birch, the cedars with their odors of the Orient, the tamarack, the maple and all the other forest trees stand patiently waiting about the new village of Perkins, in range 2 West, waiting for the woodman’s axe, the echo of whose stalwart stroke even now resounds through the deep forest shades. Hiawatha said: “Give me of thy bark, O, Birch Tree.” T., F. M. and F. D. Shaw, not being desirous of building a canoe, have adopted another version and they sing;

Give us of  thy bark, O, Hemlock,

Of they overcoat, O, Fir Tree,

Of thy hide so  rich in tannin;

For we fain would make sole leather

In this sylvan  burg of Perkins,

In this forest village, peaceful,

Nestling on the Chrystal lake’s shore.

Give us of thy bark, O, Hemlock,

Of thy overcoat, O Fir Tree,

And we will bet  you twenty dollars,

That we’ll make the business hustle

In this sylvan burg of Perkins.

We will raise a beastly racket,

Make the tree toad in the forest

Hush  his song and have his throat cut

Out of shame of his weak piping.

And the water lily, sleeping,

On the bosom of the lakelet,

Lading with a perfumed incense

Every gentle zephyr kissing

Her white petals, pure as fragrant;

This same water lily, waking

From  her  peaceful,  child-like slumber,

Will  smell a smell that is the smelliest

Ever smelled by smelling smeller;

And the  lily will take water,

And the cedar-tree of odors

Sweet and grateful—when it smelleth

Of the breath  that ever cometh

From the  tan yard over yonder,

Will be thoroughly convinced

That there’s something dead around here.

This is business, hence we warble

In this Hiawathian measure.

For the dollars that we gather

From this  tannic  acid hidden

In thy hide, O, Forest Monarch,

We are yearning! We are piping!

Give us of thy bark! O, Hemlock    

This poem was Edgar T. Wheelock at his best and worst.  For the past 3 or 4 months he has called the new village Perkins, later changed to Perkinstown.

Wheelock commented that “the country all around here is heavily timbered with fine hemlock, and a large amount of bark will be peeled on the tannery site, as well as in clearing the village.”



HEMLOCK - SHAW’S BARK CAMPS -- The Shaws will employ more than 300 men in their bark camps the following summer.  They  will soon begin advertising for men

These camps were comparable in  purpose, construction and operations to logging camps except: The purpose was solely tocreate tan bark; accordingly, only hemlock was felled and after the bark was stripped from the tree it was usually left for others to cut into length as saw logs as part of a later, separate operation.

Bark camps operated when the bark could be easily stripped from the tree; that time period is in mid spring to early summer, “when the sap is running.”


PUBLIC  EDUCATION – E. C. GETCHEL NEW COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT -- SPRING  EXAMINATION OF TEACHERS FOR TAYLOR COUNTY -- An examination will be held in the upper department of the west side school building at Medford, March 27 and 28. Every person desiring to teach in Taylor Co. within the coming year, and not holding an unexpired certificate, should attend this examination. Do not ask for private examinations or renewal of certificates, but attend the PUBLIC EXAMINATION.  Applicants should be prepared to write with ink upon legal cap paper.  Exercises will begin promptly at ten o’clock the first morning.  State questions will be used.

/s/ E. [Elliot] C. Getchel  -  Rib Lake, Wis.,  March 9, 1891

Elliot C. Getchel was a popular teacher in the Rib Lake public school. He had run unsuccessfully for the elected position of Taylor County superintendent of education. Shortly after his opponent took office, he died; “E. C.” was appointed to serve out the remainder of the term.

After Fayette Delos Shaw opened his Rib Lake tannery in 1892, he hired E. C. Getchel as an assistant in the office. E. C. proved popular and capable and began a long and successful career as a Rib Lake businessman.  He had a mansion built as a residence on West Street; in 2012 the building still stands as the Dallmann-Kniewel Funeral Home, recently purchased by Hemer Funeral Services of Medford.


CHELSEA - ABRAM TAYLOR WILL MOVE -- … Abram Taylor has sold his farm in the [Town of Chelsea] to Wellington H. Haight. We learn that the consideration was $ 6,000.00.  Mr. Taylor will move back to his old home at Fort Howard [a suburb of Green Bay].

The writer has known Mr. Taylor 16 years, and he knows that all the older residents who were acquainted with him in those days, before  physical infirmities confined him almost constantly to his house, held him in high esteem as an honorable, enterprising businessman, and a good citizen…

Abram Taylor was a founder of the village of Chelsea. Shortly after the Wisconsin Central Railroad built through the area in 1873, Taylor constructed a saw mill with a log pond dam made in part of the railroad embankment. A map of the mill and pond can be seen in the Photo & Document Collection at

The Abram Taylor farm was 2 miles east of the Village of Chelsea and consisted of 240 acres.


KENNEDY -- Miss Jennie and Master Don Kennedy are home at Rib Lake for their spring vacation. They have been attending [boarding] school at Lake Forest, [Illinois.]

These are children of J.J. and Flora Kennedy. The Kennedy house was built on Rib Lake on the south side of Church Street at its junction with Lake, originally, Main Street.



Rib Lake, B. Hoey

Westboro, G. W. Allen

Chelsea, William Wieke

Greenwood, Thomas Brehm

Each had been elected at regular April elections.   Hoey’s first name was Bernard; he was a white collar employee of JJK’S.

Thomas Brehm was a pioneer settler in the Town of Chelsea before the Town of Greenwood was set off from it.  When the Brehm Post Office was created it was in his farmhouse at SW SE, Section 8, T32-R2E, Town of Greenwood.  The post office was later moved to the northeast corner of Brehm Ave. & Wellington Lake Road – a location known to all as “Brehm.”  Joseph Thums operated a general store there for many years, kitty corner from St. Ann’s Catholic Church.  


PERKINSTOWN -- Post office authorities have refused to approve the name given to the office to be established at the village of Perkins, and another name will be given. The reason given for the refusal is that there is an office named “Paskins” in the state, and the names are liable to get confused.

The place was eventually called Perkinstown, named for Albert J. Perkins, the first mayor of the City of Medford and longtime friend and business associate of JJK’S.



URQUHART POST OFFICE -- A new post office named Urquhart has been established between Medford and Interwald and service will be commenced immediately. The new postmaster’s name is Frank Rudolph.

I surmise Urquhart was named for Elias Urquhart, a surveyor, timber cruiser, one time Taylor Sheriff and County Board chairman.

The new post office was located in the Rudolph farm house on the north side of the town road which became County Trunk Highway M; the Rank Rudolph house and post office was on the SW SE 22-32-2E, Town of Greenwood.  Urquhart was never a post master.  


KENNEDY -- The Rib Lake mill will shut down early Monday to allow the workmen to attend the circus [in Medford], for which a special train has been provided.

What a telling decision on the part of J.J.K, shut the mill down to allow its workers and their families to go to Medford for a circus. While we have no information regarding who made the arrangements for the special train, it is hard to imagine that occurring without JJK’s pulling some strings.


KENNEDY -- Duncan McMillan, one of J.J. Kennedy’s employees at Worcester [Price County, Wisconsin], lost the first finger of his left hand while coupling [railroad] cars on Tuesday. He was brought to Medford and Dr. Miller…dressed the wound.

Worcester, also known as milepost 101, is 3 miles north of Prentice.  I surmise that J.J.K had logging operations going on there and the timber would be shipped by the Wisconsin Central Railroad for milling at Rib Lake.  With supplies of uncut white pine near Rib Lake running low, John J. Kennedy probably bought stumpage in Price County and established a camp there to cut it and load the logs on railroad flatcars.

Worcester, Price County, WI, is an important historical site.  On Jan. 6, 1874, the Wisconsin Central Railroad laid rail from the south to Worcester and ran out of money.  For the next 18 months, railroad passengers were forced to take a stage coach to Chippewa Crossing, now Glidden, Wisconsin, to resume their rain ride to Ashland, WI.



HEMLOCK – RIB LAKE TANNERY -- Mr. J.J. Kennedy has, through the exercise of his well known liberality, arranged with the Shaws to build a tannery at Rib Lake this present season. Arrangements have been made to transfer Mr. Drake from Perkinstown to Rib Lake in July, to commence building operations there. In the meantime, arrangements have been made at Rib Lake to peel a stock of bark the present season.

We understand that the Shaws were intending to build on a point on the Soo [rail] road, i.e., [an east-west railroad running from Minneapolis through Prentice to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan] but that Mr. Kennedy has induced them to change their location as indicated above.  Mr. Kennedy deserves our thanks for keeping the business in Taylor County. The only regret we have in the matter is that this increase in business on the part of the Shaws could not have been in Medford instead of Rib Lake, as we have reason to believe that at one time it was the intention of the Shaws to double their business in this place [Medford].  We are, however, thankful for what we have, and hope that the business here may never be less than it is at present, and, especially, that we do not lose it altogether. We wish success to the Rib Lake enterprise.

In 1898 the Shaw family built a large tannery in Medford.  In 1899 they constructed a second tannery in Perkinstown using Mr. Drake as their lead designer and builder. Recently, the Star and News reported that the Medford tannery had run out of tanbark.

While I do not know whether all the terms of the Shaw-Kennedy deal regarding the Rib Lake tannery were ever made public, many of them are spelled out in the deed by which J.J.K deeded the property to Fayette Delos Shaw in Rib Lake. A strong argument can be made that John J. Kennedy got the better of the deal. The deed required Shaw to buy Kennedy tanbark and tanbark from Rib Lake area “settlers”. J.J.K knew that the same settlers selling tan bark to Shaw would be looking for someone like Kennedy to buy the hemlock logs.

The Shaw tannery would be up and running in 1891 and ran until 1922. Shaw sold the Rib Lake tannery to the United States Leather Co. of New York, New York, in 1901. In 1906 the U.S. L. C. bought the Rib Lake Lumber Co. making it the owner of both the Rib Lake tannery and the village’s largest saw mill.

The volume and quality of hemlock around Rib Lake was superlative. Hemlock was the dominant tree in the area’s original, virgin forest. The rich loam soil of Rib Lake was perfect for hemlock. In 1904, the Rib Lake Lumber Co. claimed to be THE LARGEST HEMLOCK MANUFACTURER IN THE WORLD; see January 8, 1904 Rib Lake Herald headlines.

The three agreements between John J. Kennedy, et ux, and Fayette D. Shaw were all dated 6/25/1891: each is available to the public at within the Photo & Document collection at Doc. 15231ff.



SALOONS IN MEDFORD -- An effort was made to arrange for a Fourth of July celebration, but the plan fell through, and citizens are advised to go fishing. The saloon keepers always make an effort to reap a rich harvest on that day, but all save two, Simerson and Voshmik, refused to pay their share of the  celebration] expense. The other businessmen, weary of spending their good money that saloon keepers may be benefited have dropped the whole matter.

Now is the time for Rib Lake, Chelsea or Westboro to celebrate. Rib Lake is preferred because there is a good half mile of race track and no saloons. We should all go to Rib Lake. (emphasis added)

In 1885 Edgar Wheelock wrote a history of Rib Lake and reported that J.J. Kennedy, who owned nearly all the land in the village, would not allow any “mind befuddling substances’” i.e., alcohol.

Note the existence of a half mile long horse racing track in Rib Lake.  The race track was J.J. Kennedy’s passion and hobby.  It was located south of current Fayette Ave and north of current STH l02. In 1897 the land was platted into lots and the plat named “McComb’s Racing Park Addition to the Village of Rib Lake.”


KENNEDY -- Ground was broke (sic) at Rib Lake Thursday for a set of camps to accommodate the night crew of the [saw] mill.

Prior reports  said that Kennedy had two boarding  houses near his saw mill;  they provided  lodging  primarily for single men; one  boarding house for the  crew working the day and  the other  for those working at night.

The use of the term “camps” implies some type of temporary lodging; the saw mill had recently been enlarged and remodeled. Perhaps additional workers were now required to man the enlarged mill.



HEMLOCK – WORK ON RIB LAKE TANNERY COMMENCES -- Work was commenced on the Rib lake tannery to be built by T. [Thaxter]. F. M. [Fayette M.] & F. D.  [Fayette Delos] Shaw last Monday.  Mr. Drake, the company’s boss mechanic, going up that day to superintend operations.

Rib Lake will change its nature somewhat, as a consequence, for new men and new interests will be introduced.  The new tannery will be in operation by early autumn.

While the three Shaws mentioned in this article were involved in running the Medford and Perkinstown tanneries, Fayette Delos Shaw alone took title to the real estate on which the Rib Lake tannery was constructed.  See document #15231 & 15232.


KENNEDY & HEMLOCK - “At Rib Lake” -- The writer [Edgar Wheelock] visited Rib Lake last Tuesday for the first time since the improvements were made in the [saw] mill at that place last winter. The town itself has not changed greatly, but THE MILL HAS BEEN ENTIRELY REBUILT.

The saws now operated are a circular and resaw on the north side [of the mill], and  A LARGE  AND  SMALL BAND SAW on the other side, beyond which are edgers, trimmers, etc. (emphasis added)

The lumber is handled by [powered] machine rollers and carriers until it comes to the grading shed, where the cars are waiting to distribute it about the lumber [dry] yard. A ten block shingle machine has also been added. This machine is presided over by Willie Allie, the veteran shingle sawyer, with whom the writer worked in those days so long ago when they were both shingle weavers,

The improvements in the mill have increased the capacity about 25 percent, and the cut is now from 130 m to 150 m feet of lumber per day and 130 m shingles, [i.e., 130.000 to 150,000 feet of lumber per shift and 130,000 shingles]. As these figures are only for the day run, it will be seen that the lumber turned out during the twenty-four hours [Kennedy’s mill ran both a day and night shift] amounts to a good round figure.  [Assuming the night shift to be as productive as the day shift, the mill cut from 260,000 to 300,000 board feet of lumber per day!]

Three million feet [of lumber] were put on pile during the month of August, as the result of about 23 days run.  J.J. Kennedy has always been known as a star mill man, but he never made such a bid for the title as he did when he remodeled his mill last winter. (emphasis added)


A new interest that has opened up there lately is the work of the Shaws on their proposed tannery. The new tannery will be the same size as the one in this city [Medford]. The site is north of the saw mill, and the building will be located on the hill side bordering a deep and narrow ravine, through the center of which runs a stream [“Tannery Creek”] of spring water.

Work was commenced with a small force of men under H. L. Drake, the company’s mechanic, and the business is under the care of Mr. Fayette Shaw.  So far the work has progressed like clock work. Stone and sand are both found on the ground in digging foundations and making excavations for the buildings, thus saving a large expense.

The bark house is completed, the furnaces are nearly built, and work has been commenced on the vats. The machinery is all on the ground ready to be put in place. It is not the intention of the firm to commence putting in hides until the bark can be hauled on runners [sleighs], so they are not rushing matters very fast.

Mr. Fayette Shaw, with whom the writer visited for an hour or two, made the statement that he had never in his long life among tanneries, struck a site that was so perfectly adapted in all respects to the requirements of the business,  as the one at Rib Lake.(emphasis added)

John J. Kennedy has created truly a modern, highly productive saw mill.  The typical saw mill in Taylor Co. at the time had annual production of roughly 5,000,000 board feet. KENNEDY’S MILL IN 23 DAYS OF OPERATION IN AUGUST PRODUCED 3,000,000.

Kennedy’s remodeled mill should produce about 40,000,000 feet per year.

Note the installation of band saws as opposed to circular saws. The band saw did the initial sawing of the log just after it entered the mill. The band saw was much faster than the circle saw.

Another improvement that greatly increased productivity was replacing the old rollers on which lumber was moved from one part of the mill to another. In the old mill, a man provided the power to move the lumber by pushing it. The remodeled mill had “live” rollers, i.e., some rollers were constantly turning and mechanically powered.

J.J. Kennedy merited the accolade of “star mill man.”



BLACK RIVER -- The Taylor County Logging and Driving Association has this year cleaned the Black River as it was never cleaned before, as far south as Hemlock Dam in Clark County. The companies interested in the association are Sawyer & Austin, N. B.  Holway and H. Goddard.  Bill Abbott, foreman for the association, has taken advantage of the dry season to clear the [river] bottoms, and logs that have been lying in the woods for 12 or 14 years have been hauled in, and are now ready to go down stream.

The first two companies listed in the association had saw mills in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Their logs were routinely driven down the Black River which ends at the Mississippi; their saw mills were just a mile southof the confluence on the Mississippi River.



WESTBORO -- A boy named Hjalmer Swansen, living at Westboro, was brought to this city [Medford] and examined by Justice [of the Peace] Hobbs yesterday, as to his fitness to adorn the reform school at Waukesha. It appears that the boy had an itching palm, and that he can only be satisfied by appropriating articles and money belonging to others. “Squire Hobbs” was satisfied with his proficiency and appointed him to reside at Waukesha until he shall arrive at the age of twenty-one.




C. M. Perkins has moved his family into his new house [in the City of Medford].  The lower part of their new house is finished in red birch, with birch floors in the dining room, kitchen, bath room and pantries, and a birch wainscot also adorns those rooms.


Frank and his estimable wife now have a home that they may be proud of, as it is beautifully and conveniently arranged. The cost of the house when completed will be in the neighborhood of $2,500.

The article’s writer, Edgar Wheelock, deals directly with the prejudice and scorn held by most toward the use of hemlock as lumber.

Frank was a son of Medford Mayor Albert J. Perkins.



STATE SCHOOL AID -- The apportionment of the state school fund has been made in accordance with the law, and the statement for Taylor County has been received from State Superintendent Q. E. Wells, and will be paid to the several towns, village and city treasurers not later than Feb. 11th, 1892. The following is the apportionment on a basis of $1.024 per scholar:

Town of Greenwood


Town of Chelsea


City of Medford


Town of Westboro


Town of Rib Lake


Since each municipality was paid just slightly over $1.00 per student, one can easily calculate the number of pupils in public schools.  Since there was no Village of Rib Lake until its formal incorporation in 1902, the Rib Lake figure covered both “urban” and rural parts of that township.


HEMLOCK – Old Nystrum Tannery -- A company of Medford men with Julius Billack at their head, have purchased the old Nystrum tannery property, and will convert it into a basket factory.

This tannery had been the first constructed in Medford and Taylor County. It had not been operating for at least one year.


MEDFORD - THE NEW HOSPITAL -- Drs. Zeit and Miller have succeeded in securing a proper place for their Medford City Hospital. They have leased from Albert Norton the old building on East Second street, formerly a Lutheran church, and will plaster and repair it, and make it a comfortable and convenient place.

The hospital tickets have been printed… Two kinds of tickets will be sold: One, a purely accident ticket, will cost $10.00, and will entitle the holder to board, lodging, medicine and medical attendance, for a space of one year, in cases of accident.

The other ticket, sold for $15.00, is a sickness and accident ticket, and entitles the holder to all the benefits of the hospital in case of either illness or accident. This hospital will prove a great convenience for lumbermen in this locality, and single men who desire to provide a place where they can receive proper care, during periods of illness. The homeless will avail themselves of this opportunity.

Both doctors were in private practice in Medford.

The “tickets” were routinely sold to lumberjacks.  The “tickets” amounted to health and hospital insurance.



HEMLOCK – RIB LAKE TANNERY -- The tannery is so far advanced that hides will be going into the vats in a short time.

This is the last news regarding the Rib Lake tannery published in the TC STAR & NEWS on WSHS micro-film P74 – 255 ending January 9, 1892.

Nothing in that micro-film indicates whether the Rib Lake tannery began operations.

It is clear that construction of the Rib Lake tannery commenced in 1891.  Nothing in micro-film P74-255 reported that the Shaw’s Rib Lake Tannery had started operations.  

The next micro-film reported that Shaw’s Rib Lake Tannery was operating; see 2/13/1892. Therefore, I conclude 1892 was the year Shaw’s Rib Lake Tannery began tanning and provided its first leather; RPR 3/7/2013.




PERKINSTOWN TANNERY -- Teaming between this city [Medford] and Perkinstown is now done over the River Road, and the hills on the town line road are thus avoided.

A tannery was operating in Perkinstown and hides and equipment had to be hauled from the railhead at Medford to and from Perkinstown.  No railroad ever reached Perkinstown. The horse trip was at least 10 miles long—one way.  Hills needed to be avoided for two reasons: first-horses worked hard to get to the top.  Secondly, brakes on wagons and sleighs were non-existent or ineffective.  The kinetic energy of a load could easily overpower a team of horses with disastrous results.  The answer lay in having a road on nearly level ground and avoiding all hills.

Contrast that situation to Rib Lake; the new Rib Lake tannery was on the rail line.




In the matter of the estate of Patrick Gallagher,

Letters of Administration on said estate having been granted to Michael Gallagher, and 6 months from and after the 18th day of Jan., 1892, having been by order of said court allowed for creditors to present their claims against deceased for examination and allowance.

Notice is hereby given by the judge of this county; court will on the 6th day of September, 1892, at the Probate Office of Medford, Wisconsin, examine and adjust all claims and demands of all persons against the said Patrick Gallagher, deceased.

Dated this 18th day of January, A. D. 1892.By the Court, /s/ Clinton Textor, County Judge -- John H. Hogarty, Atty’s for  Estate.



DAVIS & STARR MILL AT LITTLE BLACK -- A [railroad] train of logs, the first one from Plummer, passed through here [Medford] Wednesday bound for the Davis & Starr Lumber Co. mill at Little Black. The company will put in about 7,000,000 feet at Plummer…and expect to run daily trains between that place and Plummer.

Davis and Starr, originally an Eau Claire, Wisconsin, lumber co., bought and logged  extensive pine stumpage near Westboro and shipped it by  train to its Little Black sawmill.

I suspect that “Plummer” was north of Westboro and the Wisconsin Central Railroad.  In any case, Plummer is, in 2013, a ghost town.  A Google search produces nothing re “Plummer.”



WISCONSIN CENTRAL LINES -- NORTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD CO  “LESSEE”[advertisement] -- FAST TRAINS with Pullman Vestibule Drawing Room Sleepers, Dining Cars and Coaches of the latest design, between Chicago, Milwaukee, St Paul and Minneapolis.

THROUGH PULLMAN VESTIBULED DRAWING ROOM AND COLONIST SLEEPERS via the Northern Pacific Railroad between Chicago and Portland, Oregon.

CONVENIENT TRAINS to and from Eastern Wisconsin, Northern and Central Points, affording unequalled service to and from Waukesha, Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, Neenah, Menasha, Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire and Hurley, Wis.,  and Ironwood and Bessemer, Michigan.

The Wisconsin Central was the railroad providing service to Rib Lake as well as Westboro, Chelsea and Medford.  It had just been leased by the Northern Pacific Railroad that had a line from Ashland, Wisconsin to Portland,  Oregon



RIB LAKE -- The greatest amusement here in winter is “going to camp,” which, by the way, is a great pleasure to one and all, as the [ice] roads are grand, the cooks smiling, and camps warm, clean and inviting, and the vitals—words can not describe them. You must partake of them individually to get an idea of their excellence, if you want a  taste  of the genuine pleasure

Choose a day when the sun shines clear and bright,

The weather not too cold,

A sleigh load of friends, a dashing team

And a driver both careful and bold.

The branches wave above you,

You see on  every side,

The beauties of an evergreen forest,

As swiftly on you glide.

The road like a silver ribbon winds,

Through a forest of stately trees,

The oder of pine and hemlock,

Is wafted along by the breeze.

If you wish to enjoy  yourself beyond measure,

I assure you  you’ll never regret,

A trip to the Rib Lake lumber camps,

‘Tis a pleasure you ne’er will regret.

This was part of the weekly column entitled “Rib Lake.”

It was an unwritten law that a lumber camp cook never turned away anyone seeking a meal. The cooks at most camps worked hard to gain and sustain a good reputation.

Eighty year old Dan McCluskey of Interwald told me about his experience with camp cooks. His father worked at camp 28 and Dan would walk out there late Friday afternoons to meet his father and walked with his father to their home. Whenever Dan got to camp, he made a bee-line for the cook shanty where the cook would allow the boy to eat his fill of ginger snap cookies. The walk to the camp guaranteed that they would—and did—taste great.



RIB LAKE TANNERY HAS STARTED -- Sam Hagen and Ben Hoey, two Rib Lake citizens, made the usual report of “no news [going on in Rib Lake] and then GAVE THE INFORMATION THAT THE TANNERY WAS RUNNING LIKE A CLOCK…

J.J. Kennedy, on 6/25/1891, sold the land for the Rib Lake tannery to Fayette D. Shaw the deed required the prompt construction and operations of the tannery. This article confirms that the tannery was operating in Rib Lake in February, 1892. It permanently ceased operations in 1922.



WOMAN’S CHRISTIAN TEMPERANCE UNION -- The Rib Lake ladies in attendance on the County Convention of W. C. T. U. were: Madams’ Bonnett, Hagan, Harding, Warren, Clark, Angus Kennedy, Bailey, Johnson, DeGroat and McLennan. Mrs. Angus Kennedy was the president of the [Taylor County] association.

Angus Kennedy was a brother to J. J. and the general manager of his Rib Lake lumber enterprise.



RIB LAKE TANNERY -- F.D. [Fayette Delos] Shaw is advertising for 200 men to peel bark in Rib Lake and T. F. M. & F. D. Shaw are after 300 men for the same kind of work at this place [Medford] and Perkinstown.

At this time there were 3 tanneries in Taylor County. Fayette Delos Shaw was the sole owner of the tannery at Rib Lake and the co-owner—with relatives—of the tanneries at Medford and Perkinstown.

Each tannery ran its own “bark camps” in summer at which ‘tanbark” was stripped from felled hemlock trees; the tanbark was conveyed to the tanneries where it provided tannic acid with which the hides could be tanned into leather.

The Shaw camp operations rivaled in size and economic importance those of the lumber companies.



RIB LAKE TANNERY -- MONDAY LAST, THE FIRST [RAILROAD] CAR OF LEATHER TANNED AT Rib Lake was shipped from that place. The car contained ten tons.  The date of the shipment WAS JUST NINE MONTHS FROM THE DATE OF THE ARRIVAL OF Mr. Fayette Shaw AND Mr. Drake at Rib Lake, preparatory to breaking ground for the new tannery...

One of the first results of the work on the new site was the discovery of a spring of pure, cold water, and Mr. Shaw, who is partial to water, attributes much of raw good luck that has attended on the enterprise to this water. He writes: “I defy whisky or beer to show a better record.” That the enterprise may continue to grow and prosper is the wish of this paper.

Fayette Avenue in the Village of Rib Lake is named for Fayette Delos Shaw. While originally born out East and a longtime resident of Boston, he died and was buried in Phillips, Wisconsin, in 1942 while living with a daughter.



POLITICS– J.J. Kennedy and A. [Albert] J. Perkins were elected by the Taylor County Republican convention as delegates to the State Republican convention.

Active at the same time in Taylor County were the Democrats and Prohibitionists.

The June 11th edition reported that a large number of people went to the Republican National
Convention held in Minneapolis; “Among the Taylor County delegation to the Minneapolis convention, this week, are J.J. Kennedy, Duncan McLennan, and William Kennedy [a brother of J. J.], of Rib Lake, Peter Doyle, J. H. Wheelock, Frank Perkins, W. P. Price, Sollie Smith, Fayette D. Shaw, Edgar T. Wheelock and G. L. Shattuck of Medford.

J.J. Kennedy and others returned Thursday and report that both Minnie and her brother Paul [Minneapolis & St. Paul] were too crowded with visitors for convenience. A letter from another of the party describes the situation as “CONFUSION WORSE CONFOUNDED.”



COUNTY BOARD REPRESENTATIVES -- Ben Hoey, Rib Lake; Thomas Brehm, Greenwood; P. M. Campbell, Westboro and William Wicke, Chelsea.

Ben Hoey worked in J.J. Kennedy’s company store.

Thomas Brehm and his wife arrived in Chelsea in 1884. He eventually established an important, rural general store and post office just north of St. Ann’s Catholic Church. The Highland Grade school was built across the street from the store. For many years this   cluster was identified as “Brehm” on maps.



NEW RIB LAKE -- John Logan and A. S. Russell returned Thursday from Rib Lake, where they have been platting land into village lots, preparatory to the great boom that will soon strike in that immediate locality.

On the site of old village of Rib Lake seven streets have been laid out, and an even 100 lots platted. These lots vary in size as many of them were already occupied and, to avoid moving buildings, the lots were made to accommodate the buildings. Where there were no buildings, the lots were made 50x100 feet in size.

The railroad engineer, Mr. Agnew, was recently in Rib Lake and laid out a site at the lake and laid out a site for a new depot, near J.J. Kennedy’s store. A track will be laid directly to the depot and another to Shaw’s tannery.

Another plat of lots and streets has been made to the north of the race track, to accommodate those employed in the tannery who wish to purchase lots. More particulars in regard to this matter will be given latter.

It is also rumored that other industries will soon blossom out at Rib Lake, and there is no reason why they should not.

The first plat was recorded with the Register of Deeds on May 23, 1895 and entitled “Original Plat of the Village of Rib Lake.” It was created under the direction of J.J. Kennedy and his wife Flora and remains to this day as the plat defining the size and locations of lots on the south side of Rib Lake.

You can see a color version of this plat at the folder: Kennedys: MOVERS AND SHAKERS;

Fayette Delos Shaw authorized and created a plat of land around his tannery on the north side of the village.

Note the reference to the horse race track in the very center of the village; it operated for years to meet the widespread interest in amateur races at the time.  In 1897 A.C. McComb—for whom McComb Avenue was named—platted that land into “McCombs Racing Park Addition to the Village of Rib Lake.”

For years, the south side of Rib Lake was known as KENNEDY TOWN and the north side as SHAW TOWN.



E.C. GETCHEL -- E. C. Getchel came down from Rib Lake Thursday evening to talk to his mother and sister.  This is his first visit in ten weeks.

E. C. Getchel became a prominent Rib Lake businessman and banker. In 1892 he held the elected position of Taylor County Superintendent of Education. He eventually built a beautiful mansion of a house at 933 West Street in Rib Lake; in 1937 Elmer Taylor converted it into a funeral home.  A succession of morticians have owned it to the present; Kenneth & Ruth Mannel, James & Karon Dallman, Thomas Kniewel and now “Smoky” Hemer.



KENNEDY -- Among those spoken of as candidate for [the Wisconsin State] Assembly on the Republican ticket are J.J. Kennedy of Rib Lake, a prominent and well-to-do lumberman and Mr. Albert Perkins, of the City of Medford. Both of these gentleman are well known and would be a good nominee, especially so with MR. KENNEDY FOR HE IS NOT ONLY WELL KNOWN AMONG THE LABORING MEN BUT IS WELL LIKED AS WELL.  (emphasis added)

This article was reprinted in the TC STAR & NEWS from the Phillips Bee.



AT RIB LAKE -- The writer visited Rib Lake Friday last on a missionary errand, and took note of the improvements which are numerous. The enlargement and improvement of Mr. J.J. Kennedy’s mill have been mentioned in these columns before, but one who has not visited the mill since the changes can not appreciate the increased facility with which lumber is made and handled. The planning mill is busy dressing and preparing last years cut for shipment but it will take until autumn to complete this task.

The most marked change at Rib Lake since last year is, of course, the F. D. [Fayette Delos] Shaw Tannery, and the collection of spic and span new houses that have grown up around it. The tannery is a model, PROBABLY THE BEST OF ITS SIZE IN THE WORLD.  When nature molded the earth’s surface at that site the probable location of a tannery must have been taken into account, as the slopes and ravine, the water supply and drainage are all perfectly natural. This tannery is about the same size as the Medford tannery, but they are doing more work there [at Rib Lake] than here [at Medford].  [The Rib Lake tannery puts out] …550 sides of hides each day into the vats.

[Building] lots have been laid out near the tannery and many houses have been built where workmen with families reside. There is a boarding house for the single men, also. E. C. Getchel is book keeper and the first lieutenant to Mr. Fayette Shaw who manages the entire enterprise.

Among the new things at the lake is the new M. E.  [Methodist Episcopal] church, the foundation of which has been laid.  The building will be small but tasty in design. The size of the main lecture room will be 30x40 on the south end, opposite the platform will be a classroom 15x20, connected with the main room by folding doors. The money for this building has all been raised, and there will be no debt as an ornament when completed.

Chris. Wollesen has taken the contract for the work [of building the church] for $600, material furnished on the ground and, as Christ is a good workman, there is no question about the church being well built. He expects to have it ready for services in September.

The tannery site in Rib Lake is worth a visit; Tannery Lane runs north from Fayette Avenue through the site.

Two blocks north of Fayette Ave is tannery pound; it is a 7 acre lake created by damming tannery creek. The pond supplemented wells in meeting the needs of the tannery for water.

In 2012, solid concrete pillars 3 to 4 feet high still stand in rows along Tannery Creek; the pillars supported  a huge vat house over 300 feet long built over the creek.  Wastes were dumped into the creek which served as a convenient sewer; “out of sight—out of mind.”

In 2012 two original tannery buildings remain; the former “pan” house is now a home. The former boiler house/power plant is a concrete two-story residence at 248 Tannery Lane.

Without question the most impressive remnant of tannery days in Rib Lake is easily seen on Fayette Ave just north of its junction with McComb Ave. Seven former company houses once occupied by tannery laborers stand side-by-side on the north side of Fayette Ave. While some have been remodeled, their classic 1½ story size and rectangular shape declare to the world that they are classic company houses.

The M. E. Church is the proud home of United Methodist Church on Church street in 2012. It is as neat and well maintained as when constructed 120 years ago.



TANBARK -- The men now employed in the woods by Joseph Gibson will soon complete their season of bark peeling, with a stock of 3,000 cords. All of this will be delivered to the Medford tannery during the winter, and the logs stripped of bark will be banked on the Black River for Sawyer & Austin.

The bark peeling season was short. The only time to do it was mid spring to early summer when the tree was in rapid growth.

Note the win-win situation. The bark of the hemlock tree was sold to go to the tannery and its logs were sold to go to the saw mill. The hemlock landowner had a bonanza. And Taylor County was hemlock heaven—hemlock and yellow birch were the dominant species in the virgin forest in Taylor County.



TEACHER’S INSTITUTE  -- A teacher’s institute will be held in the high school building at Medford, Wis., commencing August 22nd and will continue five days. Every teacher is expected to be present every day and to take an active part in the exercises. The work for the institute has been carefully prepared and no teach can afford to miss this opportunity for self improvement. Friends of education are cordially invited to be present.  Teacher examinations will be held as follows:

Medford, August 29 and 30, and Chelsea, August 31 and Sept 1st.

A supplementary examination will be held in the west side building at Medford, Wis., Oct. 21 and 22 for teachers wishing to write in the first and second grade braches…

Exercises will begin promptly at 9 o’clock each morning and all should be present at that time. Applicants will provide themselves to write with ink upon legal cap paper. School boards should see that the teacher holds a certificate good for the entire term of school, and has credit for having attended institute five days this year.

     Dated at Rib Lake, Wis., July 26, 1892

                                                                       /s/ E. C. Getchel, County Supt.

At the time every Wisconsin county had the position of county superintendent of education—an elected position. E. C. Getchel held the position at this time and resided in Rib Lake where he become general manager of the tannery under Fayette D. Shaw.

Getchel went on to become a prominent businessman and banker in Rib Lake. He built a mansion of a house at 933 West Street; in 2012 it is the Dallmann-Kniewel Funeral Home.

My father, Herman A. Rusch, was born in Rib Lake in 1902. His father worked in the tannery but kept one cow on his 4 acre lot on Fayette Ave to provide fresh milk for his family. The Rusch family sold fresh milk and cream for extra cash. My father told me that the Getchel family was his best customer. Not only did they pay for the milk and cream, but they often left dad a tip of five cents—then a generous sum.

Notice the emphasis on LOCAL teacher education.  Almost no teacher had a university education; most attended a local “normal school” [teacher’s college] for one year before starting their teaching job.

Rib Lake did not have a high school building until 1904.



JUST AS EASY -- As grass falls before the mower’s scythe, so fall the baseball clubs before the Medford aggregation of ball tossers. Last Sunday two clubs met defeat in this city [Medford]. In the forenoon Rib Lake found defeat, and in the afternoon nine young men from Eau Claire searched in vain for runs that could not be found...

In the game against Rib Lake, F. [Fayette] D. Shaw acted in the capacity of pitcher and, as Delos’ right arm has not forgotten its cunning, he made conundrums that the Rib Lake batters could not guess…..    

Medford beat Rib Lake 11 to 7. Fayette Delos Shaw was the owner of the Rib Lake tannery and part owner of several more. He had hundreds of men working for him and yet found time to play baseball.  Shaw was a super pitcher – the first in the county to throw a curve ball.



TEN HOUR WORK DAY -- The striking mill men at Merrill and Wausau have returned to work, their demand for a ten hour [work] day being granted. At Stevens Point the strike is not yet settled, and there is about one ripe at Rhinelander.

I surmise that the 11 or 12 hour work day prevailed at the Kennedy saw mill.  The edition of Aug 27th reported that the Davis and Starr saw mill at Little Black went from an 11 hour work day to 10 “with no reduction in wages.”



YOUNG PEOPLES SOCIETY AT RIB LAKE -- A Young Peoples Society, in connection with the M. E.  [Methodist Episcopal] church has been organized at Rib Lake. Weekly meetings will be held during the year, a subject chosen for each meting, a leader appointed.

The officers of the society are: Tena Kennedy [daughter of J.J. and Flora Kennedy], president; Dana Thomas, vice –president; Clyde DeGroat, secretary; Mary Nolan, treasurer; Myrtle Thomas, organist.

Rev. H. P.  Waldron, the pastor of the Rib Lake church is a young man of energy, and his work is already bearing good fruit.

Note that this was a Methodist Episcopal church. Here the term Episcopal did not refer to the Christian denomination of Episcopalians. Episcopal is taken from the Greek word for bishop; that is how the term is used here. This branch of the Methodist church had bishops.



TRAIN SCHEDULE -- The  Wisconsin Central Railroad trains passed through Medford four times daily:

TRAINS GOING NORTH FROM MEDFORD:  Mail 10:30 am; Passenger 4:10 am; way freight [local freight] 9:30 a.m.; through freight 8:04 pm.

TRAINS GOING SOUTH FROM MEDFORD:  Mail 6:22 pm; passenger 11:45 pm; way freight 5:00 pm; through freight 5:28 am.

RIB LAKE TRAINS:  Leave Chelsea at 11:20 am; leave Rib Lake to return to Chelsea at 12:35 pm.

LIMITATIONS ON TRAINS THROUGH MEDFORD; Nos. 40 and 41-freight—carry passengers between Mellen and Abbottsford. No. 38 will carry passengers between Medford and Abbottsford; No. 39 will carry passengers between Abbottsford and Westboro

I suspect this schedule did not admit to trains on Sunday.



FIRE AT RIB LAKE -- The hotel and boarding house at Rib Lake was entirely consumed by fire last Tuesday afternoon.  The building belonged to J.J. Kennedy, was valued at $6,000, and was insured for $3,000. A part of the furniture was removed, but much of it was destroyed.  

Our reporter was unable to learn how the fire started.  The two streams of water from the pump at the mill were used to save surrounding property to good effect, as the flames were not allowed to spread from the burning buildings. Just across the street from the boarding house, which was a monster frame building, was Mr. Kennedy’s large store, and beyond that there was a row of dwellings, all of wood and ready to burn on very little provocation. The men from the saw mill and tannery gathered to fight the fire and worked like heroes, with splendid results.

The Medford fire department was wired for help, and responded, but did not arrive with their [fire fighting] machine until the boarding house was burned and the fire was under control. The wind was blowing with considerable force from the north, and carried sparks from the burning building across the lake, setting fire to an old slashing.

It is very fortunate that the wind was not from the east that day, for had it been so, no power on earth could have saved the lumber yard with its millions of feet of lumber. To Mr.  Kennedy we tender our condolence and congratulations in the same breath.

The hotel-boarding house, the Commercial House, was primarily a boarding house for single men working for Kennedy. It was rebuilt and lasted about 10 years before it too burned.

The “slashings” were a logged over area. The sun dried tree tops and residue from logging made them highly burnable.

Rib Lake is a good quarter mile across, so the flying embers had a good flight before setting fire to the slashings.



KENNEDY -- J.J. Kennedy has forwarded one hundred dollars to the Medford fire department as remuneration for the company’s exhibition of good will in promptly responding to the call for assistance at the time of the recent fire at Rib Lake. Our boys and fire extinguishing apparatus arrived too late to be of any assistance whatsoever, and to say that the donation was appreciated does not begin to express the feelings of the company.



KENNEDY CHILDREN AT BOARDING SCHOOL -- J.J. Kennedy of Rib Lake took the Thursday night train for Chicago.  He will return early next week, as he expects to spend Sunday with his children at Lake Forest, where they are attending school.

J.J. Kennedy and his wife Flora had five children: Donald Angus, born Oct. 30, 1876; Christena Maud born Sept 16, 1872; Jennette born October 1874; William G. born June 6, 1880 and Elbert Carpenter born January 5, 1884.

The Rib Lake Herald of December 23, 1904 reported; “Bert Kennedy came home from Lake Forest, Illinois, to spend Christmas at home. He is a student at Lake Forest College.”

On June 4, 1897 William J. Kennedy graduated from 9th grade after attending Rib Lake public school.

On December 24, 1892 the paper reported: “J.J. Kennedy and his two daughters attended the Arion Band dance in this city [Medford] Thursday evening. The young ladies are home from Lake Forest school, to spend the holiday season.”  Christina Kennedy was 20 and Jennette 18 at the time. Image #14135 in the Photo and Document Collection shows a picture of each taken in 1960.

Lake Forest is a western suburb four miles from Chicago on the Fox River.  It was and is a well-to-do community separated from Chicago by Oak Park, the boyhood homes of Earnest Hemmingway and Frank Lloyd Wright.



TANNERIES TO GET ELECTRIC LIGHTS -- The men who are to put the electric light plant in the [Medford] tannery have been in town this week making preparations. Yesterday they drove out to Perkinstown to look over the tannery at that place.  The Shaws have convinced themselves that the safest and best light for their tanneries is the electric light, and soon all their establishments will blaze with that bright and beautiful light.

Note that the men were installing an electric light plant. This predated electric line or municipal power plants. They would be installing the equipment at each tannery to generate the electricity to power the lights there. Since each tannery had several steam boilers, the electric generator would also be steam powered.



JOHN DUNCAN REMOVED AS WESTBORO POSTMASTER -- The Westboro post office at last has changed hands. In July last Andrew Peterson was appointed postmaster in place of John Duncan, [who was removed], and he filed the necessary bonds, etc. shortly after. On August 22 his commission was mailed to him from Washington but it never reached him. In October a duplicate commission was forwarded to him in care of the editor of this paper and, consequently Peterson got it all right. Then he demanded the post office and Duncan refused to turn it over. Several excuses were made to cause delay, and at last post office inspector Pulcifer was asked to give a hand in the matter, which he did last Wednesday, and now Peterson is postmaster.

Earlier this paper had a short article that the Town of Westboro claimed John Duncan had embezzled funds while he served as town clerk and after a long delay the Town was filling suit. Nothing further has been reported to date.

John Duncan was one of the earliest businessmen in Westboro.  With William S. Taylor and James Ritchie he purchased land from the Wisconsin Central Railroad and opened a large saw mill. Duncan eventually became the sole owner of the saw mill.



KENNEDY AND HIS RAILROAD -- J.J. Kennedy has the iron [rails] laid on about 1 and ½ miles of his logging railroad. The road will be about five miles in length before spring, and the logs will be hauled thereon during the winter.

Last Thursday Angus Kennedy got his hand pinched while coupling [railroad] cars on the new road, and came to Medford to have it dressed. One finger was dislocated and severe bruises mark the other fingers. Angus will content himself hereafter with his position of general superintendent, leaving car coupling to more experienced hands.


Ironically, when the Rib Lake Lumber Company hauled its last railroad conveyed logs to Rib Lake in 1948, it was the last Wisconsin lumber company still doing so.

We know almost nothing regarding Kennedy’s first efforts at railroad logging; Guy Wallace’s history of Rib Lake said the railroad ran to the northwest of the village and it was a failure.

At the time railroad cars were coupled together using what was called a “link and pin.” This was an extremely dangerous procedure which resulted in thousands of men losing fingers and hands. The worker had to stand in between the two cars to be coupled as the locomotive pushed one car toward the other; the laborer had to simultaneously hold the link horizontal so it would fit over a bracket on the other car thru which the laborer had to insert the pin.  It is no surprise at all that Angus got hurt attempting this—there was no safe way to do it.

In 2018 Mr. Curran showed me artifacts he had found using a metal detector along the abandoned Camp 8 railroad spur right-of-way.  The metal artifacts included a link and pin once used to couple together railroad cars.


AT THE [MEDFORD] TANNERY -- All bark delivered at the tannery now is weighed on Howe scales, and paid for by weight instead of measure. The scales have been put between the office and vat yard, and a house built over them. This is one new improvement.

Another improvement is the electric lights which will probably be burning tonight for the first time.  A dynamo house has been built on the west side of the roll house and it contains a small [steam] engine and dynamo [generator].  One hundred lamps [electric light bulbs] of sixteen candle power each are distributed about the different departments, and wires are run across the railroad track to four houses on the hill, the residence of the Shaws, A. J. and F. [Frank] M. Perkins and Joseph Hammel.

The electric light plant at Perkinstown tannery has been running for some time and is giving unqualified satisfaction.

Note the cluster of homes getting electricity from the tannery; these large houses exist in 2012 along South Second Street south of Perkins Avenue.  Fayette Delos Shaw just announced in the paper his new home had been completed.

Joseph Hammel owned and operated the drug store in Medford.      


KENNEDY OVERJOYED BY FREEZE -- The cold weather of this week has been very acceptable to lumbermen, as the swamps will not freeze in warm weather, and when the swamps are not frozen over the life of the average lumberman is dull and uninteresting.

This small article says a lot that is easily overlooked in modern society. The last glacial ice melted from what is Taylor County just 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. It left poorly drained topography with wetlands covering 10% or more of the typical section of land. Most wetlands could be crossed by oxen or horses only after their surface has frozen and thereby ‘firmed up.”

These facts also tell us why J.J. Kennedy wanted a logging railroad; it would be immune from the vagaries of weather.  While crossing a wetland with a railroad had its own problems, one typical technique was to use long logs placed perpendicular to the rails. Such logs formed a mat above the wet, unstable surface. Such logs were easily cut from hardwood and other “junk” trees; they were readily available and their supply was inexhaustible.



RIB LAKE -- The people of Rib Lake, being human, enjoy eating at intervals, the good things of the land. Fully aware of the weakness on the part of people, certain parties, to the writer hereof unknown, have decided to advantage themselves by giving an oyster supper at the Town Hall. Who would not wish to be thereat?

The paper regularly carried an ad by a Medford merchant for oysters.  “Headquarters for Oysters”  “Andresen’s is as usual the Headquarters for Oysters. They are received by express [train] three times a week direct from Headquarters and are sold in cans or in bulk.”

Note that the supper would take place in the Town of Rib Lake Town Hall. Until 1902 there was no incorporated Village of Rib Lake; there was a single political entity, the Town of Rib Lake. Its Town Hall was located in what would become the Village of Rib Lake. In 1902, after the incorporation of the Village, the remainder of the Town of Rib Lake built a new Town Hall on the northeast corner of current STH 102 and CTH C.

The 1902 Town Hall lasted until c 1900 when the Town Board had it burned by the fire department; it was replaced by the current structure at the same location.

In 2012 the President of the Village of Rib Lake is Wayne Trusty. The Chairman of the Town of Rib Lake is Joe Knorn.

The former town hall building in the Village had a long life.  It was remodeled into a municipal power plant generating electricity. Later, it became a general store, which finally closed about 1970. The store was owned by the Heindl family.




COUNTY POOR FARM -- It cost $4.18 a week to board each of the paupers at the [Taylor] county poor farm LAST YEAR. That is too much, and we don’t care a continental (sic) who is responsible for it.  The farm ought to be nearly, if not quite, self sustaining. The county could board its charges at a Medford hotel cheaper than that.

Self sustaining meant that the inmates living at the poor farm would grow their food and sell enough of the excess to buy what they could not raise themselves.

Bear in mind that inmates included many old, sick and infirm.

The Clark county poor farm lasted into the 1970s with a functioning farm. In 2012 the facility continues to exist at Owen as the Clark County Health Care Center; its patients include those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.




United States Land Office, Wausau Wis., Jan.  9, 1893

Notice is  hereby given that in compliance with the provisions of the act of congress of June 3, 1878, entitled “AN ACT FOR THE SALE OF TIMBER LANDS IN THE STATES OF CALIFORNIA, OREGON, NEVADA AND WASHINGTON TERRITORY,”  Theodore Lummerding of Rib lake, Taylor County,  has this day filed in this office  his sworn statement No…. (sic) for the purchase of the NW ¼ SW ¼ and E ½ SE ¼ section 22, Township 33 North of Range 3 East, AND WILL OFFER PROOF TO SHOW THAT THE LAND SOUGHT IS MORE VALUABLE FOR ITS TIMBER OR STONE than for agricultural purposes, and to establish his claim to said land before the Register and Receiver of this land office at Wausau, Wis., on Tuesday the 11th day of April, 1893.  (emphasis added)

He names as witnesses: Joseph Schmidtfranz of Rib Lake, Wis., William Ludloff of Rib Lake, Heinrich Deer and Frank Aigner of Rib Lake, Wis.

Any and all persons claiming adversely the above-described lands are requested to file their claims in this office on or before the 11th day of April, 1893.

     /s/ E, B, SANDERS, Register

Over the years Congress created a variety of laws to transfer land from the U.S. government, i.e., the public domain, to private persons. The most popular was the Homestead Act of 1862.  The Timber Land Act was another, such vehicle.

Theodore Lummerding’s claim was for 120 acres of land 1 mile southwest of Wood Lake.

Under the Homestead Act the homesteader had to prove that he/she cleared and cultivated the land. Under the Timber Act the claimant had to prove the opposite.



NEW LAND LAW -- In another column will be found a notice, the second of its kind ever published in the State, we believe, under the title “Timber Land.” Act June 3,  1878, in which Theodore Lummerding, of  Rib Lake, gives notice of  his intention to buy of the government a tract of land valuable only for its timber

Heretofore, the land in question, and other government lands in this state, could only be had under the Homestead Act, but the Department of Interior having recently decided that the act of Congress passed last August, extended the provisions of the June 3, 1878, known as the TIMBER ACT, to all the states; [the Act]… applied to lands that had once been offered but subsequently withdrawn. It brings the lands in this district under the provisions and renders them subject to entry at $2.50 per acre.

To enter these lands it is necessary to first make a sworn statement the land is timbered and therefore unfit for cultivation. A notice of the claim is then published for 60 days, and at the expiration of that time proof must be made before the land office. The expense connected with the entry consists of a fee of  $10, paid when the first statement is made, the cost of publishing the claim, the cost of taking the testimony at 22 ½ cents per folio, and the cost of the land.

Each person is entitled to enter 160 acres of land under this act. It is not necessary that the different subdivisions join.  Husband and wife can each take a claim, provided that the wife, under the laws of the state in which she resides, is entitled to hold land as a femme sole. But, she is required to make an affidavit that the land was bought with her own money, and that her husband has no interest in the same.

This new law will enable parties to get possession of a quite an amount of land in this district that is entirely unfit for agricultural purposes, but is worth something for its timber, and at the same time will bring some revenue to the government, for it is a well known fact that the timber is rapidly disappearing from the vacant government lands by deprivation and fire, and not worth enough to pay a man for taking it under the Homestead Law; there was really no way it could be disposed of until the passage of this act of August, 1892.

Note that Theodore Lummerding’s claim was the second to be filed in the entire State of Wisconsin.



JOHN DUNCAN OF WESTBORO RUNNING OUT OF  PINE -- John Duncan is putting in the last of his pine at Westboro this winter, about 6,000,000 feet. THE MILL MAY RUN ON HARDWOOD OR HEMLOCK AFTER THIS YEAR, BUT THE PINE IS ALL GONE. (emphasis added)

The soils in the Towns of Westboro and Rib Lake are clay and loam and not sand; that makes them naturally suitable for hardwood and hemlock. I estimate that only 5% of the virgin forest by volume was in pine in those two townships.



KENNEDY -- Christina Dohner, a servant girl at work in the family of J.J. Kennedy, has for some time been suffering from ill health, and recently has shown symptoms of insanity. She is the sister of Mrs. George Long, and was brought to the home of the latter this week and will be examined and, probably, be taken to the Oshkosh hospital for treatment….



KENNEDY WILL ATTEND PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION -- J.J. Kennedy will go to Washington to see Grover Cleveland made president of the United States. He will join the Wisconsin excursion at Chicago.



KENNEDY -- We are under obligations to M. W. Ryan for a copy of the bill which has now been printed [in the Wisconsin Legislature.] This bill proposes to take 45 sections [of land] from the Town of Rib Lake for the new town…..

The bill was introduced by Senator Martin by request, and is now before the committee on town and county organization. It is reported that this bill is the work of [Taylor County] Judge Clinton Textor, AND THAT IT IS INTENDED AS A PUNISHMENT TO BE INFLICTED ON RIB LAKE AND J.J. KENNEDY for the support given Mr. [Albert J.] Perkins last fall. (emphasis added)

Political hardball!



COUNTY BOARD REPRESENTATIVES -- The newly elected chairmen of the several  towns in Taylor County who will form the new county  board of Supervisors are, in part:

Chelsea, W.P. Smith

Greenwood, Thomas Brehm

Rib Lake, Ben Hoey

Westboro, P.M. Campbell

Ben Hoey, last reported to be a clerk in J.J. Kennedy’s store, has taken over as the Chairman of the Rib Lake Town Board from its first chairman, Duncan McLennan, J.J. Kennedy’s booker/accountant.  Town chairmen were ex officio members of the Taylor County board.  



KENNEDY & LOGGING RAILROAD -- Two men were hurt at Rib Lake Thursday. We are unable to learn the particulars of the accidents except that one man was hurt in the mill and the other on Mr. Kennedy’s logging railroad.

This is the second mention of J.J. Kennedy’s logging railroad. It must now be in operation.  This was built in 1892.



RIB LAKE TANNERY -- The F. D. [Fayette Delos] Shaw tannery at Rib Lake is advertising for 300 men, and Fred M. Shaw of the Medford tannery wants a like amount. Wages to be paid by the latter are from $26 to $30 per month. Therefore, it is an easy matter to figure that the tanneries are paying out quite a sum of money during the summer months.

Provided that the tannery had enough tanbark stored, tanneries could and did operate year around. More men were needed in summer to operate the bark camps; while sap in the trees was flowing, the hemlock trees were felled; bark stripped off in 4 foot lengths and loosely piled to dry.

In fall or winter, the air dried hemlock bark. “Tanbark” was hauled to the tannery where huge piles of tanbark over 20 feet high were ingeniously constructed with peaked roof to shed water. Once the dried bark had been properly piled at the tannery yard, it could be stored for years if need be.

You can see a variety of photos of the tanbark and tannery industries in the Photo & Document Collection



A NEW INDUSTRY IN MEDFORD – BARREL HOOPS -- A trial run in the new barrel hoop factory was made last Thursday. Twenty bundles of hoops were made, everything working satisfactorily. This factory is located in the old Nystrum tannery, and is the result of enterprise on the part of Julius Billack and Theo. O. Hartman.

The factory will use only swamp elm, and a stock of 400,00 feet of the logs has been secured and will be sawed by the Medford mill The logs are sawed into 1 ½ [inch thick] lumber, and the hoops are made from this lumber when green. The hoops are steamed, bent and put up in bundles of ten.

This new industry will give employment to 4 men and 3 boys, not counting Mr. Billack, who will superintend operations. While this is not a large force, still the factory will make quite a showing at the end of the year, particularly when it is taken into account THAT THE TIMBER USED IS WORTHLESS FOR OTHER PURPOSES, AND CANNOT BE BURNED IN A LOG HEAP… (emphasis added)

Bear in mind this was before cardboard boxes.  Barrels were ubiquitous.



SHAW FIRM -- Mr. William F. Kimball of Boston, a son-in-law of Mr. and Mrs. Fayette Shaw, was admitted as a member of the firm on May 1st, and hereafter the firm name will be T., F. M. & F. D. Shaw & Co.

Mr. Kimball has been in charge of the leather store in Boston, and will continue in charge of that end of the company’s business…

Mr. Fayette M. Shaw was the patriarch of the family and resided with his wife in Boston.

He had at least one son in the Shaw Co.; namely, Fayette Delos Shaw; Thaxter Shaw was a brother to the senior Fayette M. Shaw.

While the firm owned the tanneries in Medford and Perkinstown, Fayette Delos Shaw was the sole proprietor and operator of the tannery in Rib Lake as per the deeds.

The edition of May 20, 1893 described the agreement between the village of Medford and the Shaw firm: in short, the village advanced $10,000 to the firm on the condition that the firm construct the Medford tannery, consume at least 6,000 cords of tan bark per year, and operate the tannery for at least 15 years and repay the loan with interest.



J.J. KENNEDY – A BIOGRAPHY -- The Minnesota Lumberman [a magazine] thus speaks of J.J. Kennedy, the man who does the heaviest lumbering business in Taylor County today, and who does not fall far below the largest lumbering firms in North Wisconsin:

J.J. Kennedy of Rib Lake, Wis., is one of the pioneer lumbermen of the Badger State. He has been in the lumber business since his youth, and has grown up with it in every detail, and at his pleasant home at Rib Lake, has one of the finest manufacturing plants in this section.

He spent his early years in New York state where he contracted for telegraph poles for the Western Union Telegraph Company. Mr. Kennedy came west and settled at Spencer, Wisconsin, over twenty years ago remaining there some five years, lumbering for himself. Finally he gave up the operating of his saw mill at Spencer, and cut logs on contract for mill men.

While in the logging business, Mr. Kennedy met the Curtis Brothers of Clinton, Iowa, and Mr. J. E. Carpenter, the head of the company, and took a contract to cut logs for them near Ogema, Wisconsin. Some three years later Curtis Brothers & Co. purchased a tract of central Wisconsin pine, bearing some 250,000,000 feet in central Wisconsin, and Mr. Kennedy took the contract for cutting it for Curtis Brothers & Co.

For the past twelve years he has been engaged in this work, his mill at Rib Lake LAST YEAR [1892] turning out some 22,000,000 feet of pine, 15,000,000 feet of hemlock and 20,000,000 shingles.

The mill consists of two De Groat, Giddings & Lewis bands [band saws], an Allis rotary and Egan band resaw, Perkins ten blocks and a hand saw shingle mill. The plant is located six miles from Chelsea on the Ashland branch of the Wisconsin Central road, which is about 10 miles in length. There is about two miles of track in the yard, which gives them the best possible facilities for loading as a track runs at the rear of each [lumber] pile.

The cut runs well to uppers (sic), as the mill is located in the heart of one of the finest bodies of pine and hemlock in the northwest. The company now has in pile at this place about 15,000,000 feet of pine, 8,000,000 feet of hemlock and 10,000,000 shingles. During the time Mr. Kennedy has been cutting for Curtis Brothers & Co. he has picked up considerable pine here and there throughout the state, and has before him a supply for his mill for a number of years to come. (emphasis added)

This highly complementary article confirms Kennedy’s close business relationship with Curtis Brothers & Co. The Curtis firm owned the sawmilluntil 8/18/1892 when Curtis sold to J. J.

Note the text:  “…his mill at Rib Laketurned out 22,000,000 feet of PINE, [AND] 15,000,000 FEET OF HEMLOCK…”   This is a major revelation. While most saw mill owners refused to cut  hemlock until the very last of their pine was cut, Kennedy saw the realities of limited amounts of pine and almost limitless amounts of hemlock; his solution: simultaneously cut both!.  Kennedy early made the transition to hemlock—a transition that some lumbermen refused to make and most lumbermen resisted.  By contrast to Kennedy, Westboro’s main mill man refused to cut hemlock. 2/4/1893 TC STAR AND NEWS re John Duncan of Westboro: “John Duncan is cutting his LAST pine this winter, about 6,000,000. THE MILL MAY RUN ON HARDWOOD OR HEMLOCK AFTER THIS YEAR, BUT THE PINE IS ALL GONE.”  (emphasis added)

In 1892 the mill at Rib Lake sawed 37,000,000 board feet of lumber!


RIB LAKE TRAINS—WISCONSIN CENTRAL RAILROAD -- Leave  Chelsea at 12:15 a.m.; Leave Rib Lake at 2:05 p.m.

Four trains a day went north through Medford: “Mail” 11:44 a.m.; Passenger 3:31 a.m.; Way Freight 9:30 a.m. and Through Freight 8:59 p.m.


WHITTLESEY -- Mike Gallagher, with an ax, cut off the great toe of his left foot, one day last week, while peeling bark. He is treating that foot now with as much tenderness and care as a fond mother gives an only child.


J.J. KENNEDY -- J.J. Kennedy came down to the county seat yesterday. He smiles, and says he is satisfied [even] if times are hard.

John J. Kennedy, the founder of Rib Lake, was routinely referred to as “J.J. Kennedy.”


HARPER LAKE -- A fishing party from this city (Medford) visited Harper’s (sic) lake, in the town of Westboro, the first three days of the week. Their stories of the trip are such disgustingly clumsy lies that they deserve to be studiously ignored.

This is the first mention of either of the Harper Lakes by that name in the Star and News.  John S. Owen, a lumberman for whom Owen, Wisconsin, is named, claims in his autobiography that one of his foremen by the name of Harper  had a logging camp on Silver Creek upstream from Westboro; he claims foreman Harper’s name was given to what is now known as North Harper Lake [from which Silver Creek originates].


TYPHOID FEVER -- A man named August Hedlund, recently from Ironwood, Michigan, working in one of the Shaw bark camps, last week developed a case of typhoid fever. He had been ailing but for a short time when he was brought to town (Medford) for treatment.  Dr. Miller was called and examined him and immediately pronounced his case to be well defined typhoid fever and, as the man was almost penniless, he became a county charge

An effort was made to try to get him removed to the (county) poor farm, but superintendent Henry Voss very wisely refused to take him, as no provision had been made at the farm for the care of patients suffering from contagious diseases.

There being no pest house, the man’s situation was a somewhat precarious one for a time, until Mr. and Mrs. William Zeit consented to take him in and nurse him for a consideration. All this happened last Saturday.

The authorities are anxiously awaiting further developments, as it is more than likely that this patient has scattered the seeds of disease where they will take root.

About 5% of people with typhoid fever continue to live with the disease after they are cured from its acute stage.   The most famous of them was Typhoid Mary, a/k/a Mary Mallow, who spread the disease for years.


LAND OFFICE AT WAUSAU -- August 2, 1893 Notice is hereby given that the following named settler has filed notice of his intention to make final proof in support of his claim, and that said proof will be made before the Judge or Clerk of Circuit Court at Medford, Wis., on 12 Sept. 1893, viz., FRITZ RADTKE, Homestead Entry No. 5307 for the East ½ Southeast ¼, section 30, 33, 3E.

He names the following witnesses to prove his continuous residence upon and cultivation of said land, viz., Carl Kalk, Carl Gruening, Werner Radtke, August Krueger, all of Rib Lake, Wis.          /s/ Louis Marchetti, Register

The same edition carried a notice that Carl Kalk would prove up his homestead claim on the adjoining land, the West ½, Southeast 1/4. Kalk named for witnesses Fritz Radtke, August Krueger, John Schreiber and William Krueger, all of Rib Lake.

In 2012 the Kalk homestead parcel is owned and occupied by Foster Kalk.

A third homestead notice was filed by Ignaz Fuchs for the NH ½ NE ¼ section 25 33 2E. His witnesses were Herman Klemm, Heinrich Gebauer and Franz Rudolph of “Urquhart, Wis.” [Then a post office along what is now CTH M in the Town of Greenwood].  Fuch’s final witness was Thomas Brehm.

In 2012 a descendant of Ignaz. Dennis Fuchs operates a popular Town of Greenwood tavern, Fuch’s Cat Tail Tap, as well as serving on both the Taylor County board and the Rib Lake school board.



The article recounts a fatal accident to Charles Johnson, whose father is yard foreman at that place for the Davis & Starr Lumber Co. “The young man was at work near a shaft which in some way unknown to his fellow workers caught parts of his clothing, and in a moment, the unfortunate young man was being whirled around at the rate of several hundred revolutions per minute, his heels striking the floor at each turn of the shaft.”

Davis & Starr Lumber Co. was headquartered in Eau Claire and recently built a substantial new sawmill at the site of the former Watermelon sawmill on the banks of the Little Black River.  This mill was on the Wisconsin Central Railroad and considerable saw logs were hauled there by rail. For example, substantial Chelsea-Westboro area white pine was railroaded to Little Black.


A SAFE INVESTMENT [From Eau Claire Daily Leader] & HEMLOCK -- In these days of panic and insecurity, when banks are forced to close merely because depositors have lost faith…. The question naturally arises: where can I put my money and be assured that it will be safe?

The answer is hemlock timber lands. There are vast forests of this kind of timber, heretofore despised by lumbermen, in Northern Wisconsin, and before many months these lands will increase in value. Until very recently the lumbermen of Wisconsin have been inflicted with pine madness. The pine tree was over all and above all the grandest and most majestic tree that grew in the woods, because pine boards had brought dollars to many. The hemlock was despised because it was not understood.

But times are changing: lumbermen have been running short of pine, and have been forced to turn their attention to something else. Four or five years ago, N. B. Holway of La Crosse invested all the money he could raise in hemlock lands. He was laughed at by his associates, but persisted in his plans. Last year he died, having made thousands out of his investment.  He made hemlock lumber, treated  it with respect by properly handling and dressing it, and with  it he went into the yards of Iowa, South Dakota and other western states and found a ready market.

When properly cured, hemlock lumber is lighter, both in color and weight, than pine, and for some purposes, it is far better. The farmers of the west prefer hemlock to pine for building granaries because it is rat proof; it holds a nail better than pine and lasts longer.

MR., J.J. KENNEDY OF RIB LAKE, IN TAYLOR COUNTY, WAS ANOTHER PIONEER IN THE HEMLOCK LUMBER BUSINESS, AND HE MANUFACTURERS ABOUT TEN MILLION FEET OF IT YEARLY.  Until the prevailing shut down in the lumber markets came, he found as ready a sale for his hemlock as for his pine, of which he manufactures about twenty-five million feet each year. Other lumbermen have commenced to look into this matter, and nearly all enterprising manufacturers of lumber have posted themselves thoroughly on this industry.

Within the past four years four large tanneries have been built in Taylor and Price counties, a  fifth is now being built in  Phillips, Price County. THESE TANNERIES USE THE BARK FROM ABOUT FIFTY MILLION FEET OF LOGS EACH YEAR, AND THE LOGS THEY UNCOVER ARE THEN READY FOR THE MILL.

This being true, can any sane man doubt that hemlock timberlands will be valuable in a very short time. The time has come when men will respect the hemlock tree, and part with his good money in order that he many possess it. One who has studied the matter tells the writer that THERE IS MORE MONEY NOW IN HEMLOCK THAN IN PINE LANDS, FOR THE SIMPLE REASON THAT PINE HAS REACHED ITS LIMIT, AND ALL LARGER TRACTS ARE NOW OWNED BY WEALTHY LUMBERING FIRMS WHO WOULD  NOT SELL AT ANY FIGURE.

To confirm what has been said herein, it is only necessary to point to the hemlock trade in the East, in Maine, New York and millions of money that has been made from the timber. Now the eastern tanners are coming west. The four tanneries mentioned above being only the advance guard of others, who will be forced to move by the scarcity of timber, and the man who invests his surplus money now in hemlock lands is the man who will reap the reward. For the supply is limited and the market is just on the point of rising.    

I capitalized parts of the article.

The author’s claim that hemlock was disrespected is true.  There were many reasons for the disrespect: first, the old saying “familiarity breeds contempt” applied. Hemlock was literally all over Taylor County; with yellow birch, it was the most common tree in Rib Lake’s virgin forests.

Second, old hemlock trees are frequently hollow. This means that a logger must throw away at least the butt log—the log which if sound, would produce the best knot free lumber and profit.

Third, its limbs were much tougher than pine; delimbing a hemlock with an ax was much more work than pine; axes went dull fast and often had their cutting edge broken off.

Fourth, hemlock lumber is generally inferior to pine.


WESTBORO -- The Town of Westboro chairman, P. M. Campbell, is a devilish sly sort of a chap. He slipped in and bought from Price County the iron cages that the City of Medford had borrowed for the calaboose, and then he shipped these cages to Westboro, where they will be used as a lock up. He got them dirt cheap too. The City can not replace these cages for double what Campbell paid for them….

Small towns like Westboro, Chelsea and Rib Lake had a jail; these communities each had a justice of the peace who would hear cases for which a jail sentence might be meted out—hence the need for a local jail.

The Westboro “jail” was a sturdy strap iron cage; it might have been as small as 6x6x6 feet; then considered room enough for one prisoner.

One of these cages can be seen in the Empire in Pine Museum at Downsville, 8 miles south of Menominee, Wisconsin.

One small cage jail remains in Taylor County.  It stood next to the Town of Grover Town Hall in “downtown” Perkinstown.  In 2014 the Taylor County Historical Society acquired the old Town of Grover jail and moved it to the Taylor County fairgrounds in Medford.


FOREST FIRES AT RIB LAKE -- Rib Lake was seriously threatened by forest fires early in the week. All the men available in the neighborhood were out fighting the flames, many hired at $2 per day. At last reports the fire had been confined to the woods.

About 3,000 cords of tan bark were destroyed, representing an actual loss of at least $10,000. Twenty five hundred cords of this bark belonged to F. D. [Fayette Delos] Shaw, the balance being owned by different parties who will feel the loss severely.

Hemlock trees were felled in spring and the bark stripped then since spring sap allowed the bark to be peeled from the log. The loose tan bark was then stood upright in 4 foot sections and leaned against stumps, rocks, or other objects in order to dry. After this air drying, the bark was ready to be transported to the tannery.

This forest fire destroyed the tan bark between peeling and transportation time.

A cord was roughly 4x4x4 feet and had a value of approximately $3.00 in the woods.

Later, the Shaw Tannery at Rib Lake stopped buying tan bark by size; instead, it was weighed upon delivery to the tannery; the seller was paid based upon the weight of the tan bark.


BLACK RIVER DRIVES -- Joseph Gibson, the most extensive logger on the Black River, was in the city (Medford) last Wednesday making preliminary arrangements for the winter’s campaign among the whispering pine and muttering hemlocks. He says he expects to put in about 13,000,000 feet the coming winter provided, always, that he can make arrangements for feeding his men during the winter. He claims that it takes more financial ability to feed men now than it did to pay them good wages in past seasons.

Note, while pines whisper, hemlocks mutter.

The Black River through Medford was still the scene of extensive spring log drives. The river originates in the Town of Westboro 3 miles directly west of Rib Lake.

Since hardwoods, e.g. maple, elm, oak, donot float, the river drives were confined to softwoods that do. White pine was the historic species for these drives; now that hemlock was cut for tan bark and pine supplies were running low, hemlock logs were also river driven.


HEMLOCK -- Joseph Gibson has one crew of men in the woods now, skidding the hemlock logs peeled during the spring and early summer.

The edition before last announced Gibson would be driving his logs down the Black River; this work was in preparation for the drive.. The skidding would bring the logs to the river bank where a rollway would be built of the logs. Next spring, when the current had been swelled with spring run-off, the rollway would be broken, sending the logs into the frigid, swift river water.


KENNEDY -- Rib Lake was represented at the county capital [Medford] last Thursday by Master Don Kennedy, Mr. and Mrs. William Kennedy and Ben Hoey.

Donald was the oldest child of J.J. Kennedy; William Kennedy was his youngest brother, and Ben Hoey was a white collar employee.


HEMLOCK -- Bark hauling has commenced. With forest fires in all directions, the woods do not furnish safe places for keeping bark in piles. If rain does not come soon, the world will burn up. (emphasis added)

After the tan bark had air dried in the woods, it was usually piled there into a “cord,” a pile 4x4x4 feet.  Customarily, these cords were inspected and tallied by the buyer and sleighing the tan bark to the tannery would begin with the first snows.

The threat of forest fires burning the tan bark forced a new battle plan; the tan bark was hauled by wagon to the tanneries where it was laboriously placed into huge piles-some 25 feet tall.

Yesterday. March 26. 2012, my granddaughter Katherine “Katie” Strobach and I walked through the now wooded site of the Rib Lake tannery; it closed 90 years ago.  It is a nostalgic site, filled with artifacts, e. g. barrel hoops of metal, cinders from the coal fires, and broken pipe fittings. My mind wandered to my grandfather, Herrmann Emanuel Rusch, who worked there from 1896 to his death in 1912.


COUNTY OFFICERS -- Sheriff  - Wellington Haight, Treasurer – Joseph Voshmik, Clerk – Herman Matt, District Attorney – E. H. Schweppe,  Clerk of Court  – John Gamper, Register of Deeds – J. C. Hoffman, Superintendent of Schools – Kuno Kuenne,  Surveyor – John A. Franzen, Coroner – Emil Knabe.

At the time, all of these officers were elected on a partisan ticket for a two year term.


PINE LANDS OF CORNELL UNIVERSITY -- Register of Deeds Hoffman has received for record an instrument of some importance, a deed conveying to W. J. Young and Co. of Clinton, Iowa, all the Cornell University lands in the counties of Chippewa, Sawyer, Price, Ashland, Oneida, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Clark, Vilas and Taylor, amounting to 58,970 and 67,100 acres; the consideration [purchase price] stated in the deed being $700,000.

This sale included much land in the Town of Westboro.

The fascinating history of how Cornell University of New York came to own so much land in Taylor County is recounted in the book: “The Pine Lands of Cornell University.”  Here is what happened:  Congress gave each state lands owned by the federal government within that state which the state could sell to raise money for “land grant” universities.  The states out east no longer had federally owned lands within their boundaries, so Congress gave them “script,” which the landless states could use to  acquire federal lands elsewhere.  The State of New York sold its script to Ezra Cornell for pennies on the dollar.  Cornell hired scouts to identify the best pine lands in Wisconsin and bought them with the script.  He donated his fortune to a university on the condition it be named for him.  This brought about the creation of Cornell University.  


HEMLOCK -- O. Darwin’s logs and tan bark near Perkinstown are pretty well covered with plaster called liens. Sheriff [Wellington] Haight attached the property for ten different lien claimants, which made a very pleasant and profitable trip for the sheriff.

Darwin had been successfully sued for money and his creditors used the statutes to impose liens against his personal property; to evidence the liens the sheriff affixed papers to the hemlock logs and tan bark. If the debt was not paid the creditors could have the logs and tan bark sold and collect the debt from the proceeds.

When I began practicing law in 1972, I recall the Wisconsin Statutes had a variety of antiquated lien laws pertaining to lumbering; e.g., Wisconsin law authorized placing liens on logs being driven down the Chippewa River.

Wellington Haight was originally from Chelsea. Wellington Lake, originally called Worthington Lake, was named after him.  The sheriff earned a fee for attaching lien papers to the logs and tanbark.


HEMLOCK – F. [Fayette] M. Shaw of Medford, and W. F. Kimball of Boston, last week visited their new tannery plant at this place [Phillips, Wisconsin] which is now in the process of erection and expressed themselves pleased with the progress that has been made toward its completion. In spite of hard [economic] times, work will continue…and the plant will be in operation before spring.     Phillips Bee

W. F. Kimball was the elder Fayette M. Shaw’s son-in-law. The Shaw family owned a cluster of tanneries in central Wisconsin, including Medford, Perkinstown, Phillips, Prentice and Rib Lake.

The “hard times” refer to the national financial Panic of 1893.  It would bring JJK to his knees.


KENNEDY -- Mr. and Mrs. Will [William] Kennedy of Rib Lake came down to the [horse] races last Tuesday and, of course, Will was seized with an itching to get in it and, again, of course, he put in Turk [his horse] and got third [place] money.

William J. Kennedy was the youngest of J.J. Kennedy’s three brothers.  As of March 30, 2012, the author has learned little about William. You can read biographies of each of the Kennedy siblings in the folder: Kennedy Family; Movers and Shakers of Rib Lake at  

Both Medford and Rib Lake had popular horse racing tracks at this time. The horse track in Rib Lake was just south of Fayette Ave. and west of McComb Ave. In 1897 A.C. McComb subdivided the land into lots and named the plat “McComb’s Racing Park Addition to the Village of Rib Lake.

There was no man riding Turk during the race. Rather, Turk pulled a two wheel sulky in which the driver rode.


SWEDISH LUTHERAN CHURCH AT WESTBORO -- Married—at the Swedish Lutheran Church, Westboro, Wis., Oct 15th 1893, by Rev. Ander of Ogema, Andrew H. Peterson and  Hulda A. Anderson.

Andrew Peterson has been a resident of our town [Westboro] for the past 12 years, and is a man of ability and sterling integrity, and is respected by all. His bride comes to us a comparative stranger, notwithstanding which she has already won a place in our hearts by her sweet womanly ways. It is our pleasure that we welcome her to our circle, and we predict she will prove quite an acquisition to Westboro’s society.

The Americans joined with their Swedish friends in decorating the church, which was crowded to its full seating capacity. The bride was, of course, the center of attraction, and very fair and sweet she looked in her bridal robes and snowy veil, which enveloped her like a fleecy cloud. The young couple started out in life with bright prospects, and it is the wish of all who know them that those prospects may be realized. May prosperity attend them, and adversity gives them a wide berth.     H.M.M.     Westboro, Oct. 18, 1893

This congregation, now called First Lutheran Church of Westboro, still uses its spiffy wooden edifice in 2012. My mother-in-law, Lorraine A. Killion, age 92, is its beloved organist.

Lutheran congregations at that time were usually organized around the language of its members; therefore St John Lutheran Church in Rib Lake was the German Lutheran Church. Just 1 mile east of Westboro on the county line was St. Marks Finnish Lutheran.

In 1929 my parents moved to Milwaukee and settled on its heavily German populated north side. They joined a congregation with the formal name “Divine Charity English Evangelical Lutheran Church.”  All of its neighboring Lutheran congregations used German so the church elders found it wise to announce to the public that English was used.


INTERWALD -- Henry Voss is building on his farm at Interwald P. O. [post office].  He will soon have everything snug and comfortable out there. He has been living at the Taylor County poor farm for the past two years, and says he will move back to Greenwood after Jan 1st, 1894…

Henry Voss had been selected by the Taylor County Board to superintend the county poor farm. Henry Brehm of Chelsea was just chosen as his successor.

Henry Voss eventually moved to the village of Rib Lake and operated a tavern in the southeast corner of Fayette and McComb Avenues.

This is the earliest reference to “Interwald” in the Taylor County Star & News. It is German for “in the middle of the woods.”  Interwald Post Office operated from 1887-1934.  For a long time it was run by George Knower from his home and general store on the east bank of the Rib River, ¼ mile north of 2012 CTH M.  That location is on the NE SW 28-32-3E, Town of Greenwood.  


GREENWOOD -- Work goes on lively at Anderson’s camp on 16-32-2 east. Logs are skidded, tan bark yarded, ties going onto skids, and the men roll out bright and early. They have a good cook, plenty to eat and a big organ in the cook shanty and dining room.

Gottlieb Weittka, (sic, should read Wittke), has brought home a new organ and his daughter will take music lessons from Professor Pfaff this winter.

Ignatius Fox, on sec. 28-32-2 east, is a No. 1 blacksmith; iron wagons, sleighs and wheelbarrows, and can do a good job at anything in iron or steel. Rates cheap.

Earlier this year-1893-the paper printed the homestead claim of Fox but spelled the name “Ignatz Fuchs.” Fox is the English translation of the German word Fuchs.

Most family members retained the Fuchs name.  It is impressive that Greenwood, in 1893, had two organs.  Both were probably “pump organs,” i.e., the player used his or her feet to pump pedals to pump an air supply for music.  


KENNEDY -- J.J. Kennedy was in Medford Thursday last on business. His logging operations have opened for the winter, and he has his hands full of business.

Logging took place during winter for two primary reasons.  Snow permitted logs to be skidded [dragged over the ground by oxen or horses] much easier than over bare earth. Secondly, cold temperatures froze swamps and waterways allowing sleighs of logs to cross them.  Another benefit of winter logging - especially in Rib Lake - dairy farm work for men was less than in summer.  Some farmers took their horses with them to logging camp.  The logging company paid more for a farmer who brought his own horses.

Later in this edition of this newspaper, the following article appeared: “The snow came before the frost had an opportunity to solidify the swamps, and lumbermen are wroth thereat, as there is no hope of swamps freezing with the present blanket of snow covering them. The only way out of the difficulty is to break down the roads, and wait for them to freeze.”  One way to break down the road was to march a group of men over it; if snow feel before hard freezing had occurred, the Rib Lake Lumber Company had laborers walk the entire length of its planned ice roads; this “marching” compressed the snow and permitted them to freeze. My father, Herman A. Rusch, told me he did this as an employee in the 1920’s. It was an all day, exhausting job. The ice road from Rib Lake went through many swamps and lowland for 8 miles to Camp 9 in Price County.


HEMLOCK -- Liveryman Bull has taken a contract to haul to the railroad and load on [railroad] cars about 2,000 cords of [hemlock, i.e. tan] bark. This is a contract of goodly proportions….

For more than 50 years tan bark was shipped by railroad to tanneries outside of Taylor County. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was often the market; it was the home of some of America’s largest tanneries.


SHAWTOWN -- Fred Winther came down from Rib Lake. Fred is now a merchant, having bought the Shawtown store at Rib Lake.

That part of the “village” of Rib Lake north of Fayette Avenue was referred to Shawtown for Fayette Delos Shaw the owner of the tannery there and the party that had the residential lots platted there. In 1891 the south portion of the “village” was informally called Kennedytown for J.J. Kennedy who platted the lots there and where the vast majority of his mill workers lived.

The petition to incorporate the Village of Rib Lake was not approved until May, 1902; therefore, I put the term “village” in quotation marks. Until May, 1902, there was no incorporated village; rather, all was part of the unincorporated Town of Rib Lake.


HEMLOCK -- CHELSEA CHAT -- F. D. [Fayette Delos] Shaw is hauling [tan, a/k/a hemlock] bark from here [Chelsea] to Rib Lake by teams.

Chelsea was both a station on the Wisconsin Central Railroad and a Township consisting of 36 square miles; the terse article is ambiguous where the sleigh hauled loads of tan bark originated.

The January 6, 1894, edition reported; “Last Thursday evening one of C. B. Powell’s teams hauled a load of bark that will set some type of record.  We did not learn the exact distance, but the load was hauled from Powell’s Lake, probably nine miles, by  one team driven by Charlie Beebe and weighed, on the company scale, 20.000 pounds gross, net weight of bark 18,500 lbs., or 8 ½ cords.

Now, see the next article.




LARGE LOADS OF BARK & HEMLOCK -- Two weeks ago we published the scale of a load of bark hauled to the Medford tannery by one of Chas. B. Powell’s teams, and since that time the evolution of bark loads has been very satisfactory. The Milwaukee Sentinel copied the scale of the Powell load, and last Thursday in a published letter from T., F. M. & F. D. Shaw to the effect that the prize load had been hauled at Perkinstown, and weighed 21, 720 pounds. The letter stated that the load was hauled a distance of 6 miles by one of the company’s teams, and that the team weighed, with harness, only 2,330 [pounds].

All these facts we had on our copy hook for publication in this week’s paper but, since privilege of first publishing this local news item is denied us, we take great pleasure in giving the weight of the RIB LAKE heavy load, which, weighed 23,300 pounds net, and was hauled a distance of 3 miles by a two horse team driven by HUGH KENNEDY.


Last Saturday the largest load delivered to the Medford tannery was brought in by one of the company’s teams driven by Pemberton, a distance of six miles, the net weight of which was 19,040 pounds.  This load was hauled out of the woods to the mail road by a team weighing only 2,250 pounds, driven by Elmer Lane.


There are multiple layers of competition here.  First, you have the weights of the loads. Second, there are rivalries among Rib Lake, Medford and Perkinstown.  Third, you have the egos of the teamsters.

This is the first mention in these newspapers that J.J. Kennedy’s brother is in Rib Lake.  The brother was Hugh J. Kennedy, born in Canada in 1849. He was involved in J.J. Kennedy’s Rib Lake lumber operations, including working as a teamster c. 1890.

There was also a Hugh A. B. Kennedy, a nephew of J.J. Kennedy and employed as a bookkeeper in the Kennedy lumber operations.


WESTBORO WAIFS&WESTBORO -- The Knapp & Grossman [saw] mill is in full operation. The first load of lumber was hauled to Westboro for shipment Tuesday. Success to the new enterprise.

A new, small sawmill has been opened in the vicinity of Westboro; it must be within several miles to “downtown” Westboro since its lumber is sleighedto there for shipment via the Wisconsin Central Railroad.

The February 3, 1894, edition reported: “A new boiler for the Knapp and Grossman saw mill arrived in town this week. Teams are hauling lumber from the mill daily, some of them making 2 trips each way, a distance of thirty-five miles.”

If a team went 35 miles a day by making two round trips, the Knapp & Grossman sawmill was nine miles from Westboro.  It was undoubtedly west of Westboro where there was then no other sawmills.

On 4/14/189, the Taylor Co. Star & News reported the Knapp & Grossman Co. as insolvent.


URQUHART POST OFFICE -- While Frank Rudolph, postmaster at Urquhart, was working with his brothers George and Paul on the latter’s homestead last Wednesday, his dwelling caught fire at about 3:30 in the afternoon and within an hour was burned to the ground. His courageous wife, after fighting the fire until there was no more  hope of saving the house, saved what she could—the post office among the rest.

Urquhart is now a ghost town on the north side of CTH D in the Town of Greenwood.

You will find a map of Urquhart in the Photo & Document Collection at  The Urquhart Post Office operated from 1891-1916.  Like many small post offices, it was located in the post-master’s dwelling.  


KENNEDY -- Kennedy’s large saw mill at Rib Lake started up for the season’s run last Thursday afternoon. Millwrights have been making repairs and improvements throughout the last 3 months.  

Note the editor’s comment that the saw mill was large.  By this time J.J. Kennedy’s mill in Rib Lake had become the largest in Taylor County; when its successor saw mill was sold in 1936, The Milwaukee Journal noted it was Wisconsin’s largest saw mill in capacity.


CHELSEA -- The Chelsea saw mill is one of the few small mills along the [Wisconsin Central Railroad] line that are being stocked with logs to their full capacity this season. We learn that the proprietors, Gearhart & Van Dusen, will stock their mill with 3 ½ millions.

Gearhart and Van Dusen had taken over the saw mill formerly owned by Abram Taylor; it was ¼ mile south of the “downtown” on the east side of the railroad track. It expected to cut 3,500,000 board feet of lumber that season.

Abram Taylor had left town and sold his farm to sheriff Wellington Haight, after whom Wellington Lake is named.  This farm was just a half mile southwest of the lake.


KENNEDY -- Will. Kennedy, the Rib Lake boarding-boss, was in the metropolis [Medford] Wednesday.

This is a reference to one of J.J. Kennedy’s brothers, William J. Kennedy. He married Christy Ann Ferguson of Glengarry, Ontario, Canada.  From short references in the TC STAR & NEWS we glean that William J. and wife have resided in Rib Lake for at least the most recent several years.

William J. Kennedy’s description here as “board-boss” indicates that he was in charge of the large hotel and boarding house next to the saw mill in Rib Lake. The December 23, 1904, edition of the Rib Lake Herald reported: “William [J.] Kennedy and family will take possession of the Adams House [hotel] in Abbotsford, Wisconsin. Under the management of Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy, it will be one of the best hotels on the Wisconsin Central Railway line.”

Per the obituary of Christy Ann Kennedy, nee Ferguson, William J. died in 1911. See document  #13433

William J. Kennedy must not be confused with William G. Kennedy, his nephew—a son of J.J. Kennedy.


KENNEDY -- James Greigg, J.J. Kennedy’s foreman, has been cutting pine stumps for shingles, and it does not pay. So he broke up camp.  Mr. L Gurney does not want any of his Stetsonville friends to know that he has to come down so close to the ground as to cut stumps—Rib Lake stumps.

At that time pine was felled using an axe and cross cut saw. First, the sawyer would cut a notch in the tree trunk.  Next, the sawyer(s) used a cross cut saw to saw through the trunk toward the notch. All of this work was done at a height above ground that was convenient for the sawyer, which routinely left a stump of about four feet in height.

Wood shingles were routinely made from a block of wood about 2 feet long. So, while you could salvage shingle blocks from pine stumps, it would be unhandy and very hard on the sawyer’s back as he bent low to the ground to saw.


KENNEDY -- J.J. Kennedy, the Rib Lake lumber baron, was in the city [Medford] Tuesday.

In 2012 the term lumber baron has a negative connotation in north Wisconsin. The editor of the Taylor County Star and News, Edgar Wheelock held J.J. Kennedy in warm, admiring regard. His choice of the term “lumber baron” was meant as a compliment.


HEMLOCK -- The Shaw [hemlock] bark teams are on the road no longer, having hauled all the bark assigned to them. There is still some bark to be hauled by contractors and, now and then, a farmer bobs up with a load. The winter has been very favorable for teaming, as the sleighing came in November, and has never faltered in its constancy since.

This was written in reference to the Shaw tannery in Medford.

J.J. Kennedy sold the Rib Lake tannery site to Fayette Delos Shaw. The sale document included a contract that required much of Shaw. These requirements included:

a) Shaw had to promptly construct and operate a tannery in Rib Lake of a capacity at least as big as the tannery in Medford.

b) Shaw had to buy hemlock tan bark from Kennedy and from Rib Lake area settlers.

Consult the Photo & Document Collection to see the contract; it is at


OGEMA -- A. M. Holmes, the Ogema [saw] mill man, was in the city [Medford] Thursday. Mr. Holmes built his mill at Ogema in the summer of 1875 and has made a fortune by strict attention to business.  He now lives in Milwaukee but passes some time in Ogema. He says he still has enough timber to run his mill 10 years or more.

Holmes gave his name to a creek east of Ogema.

The website of the Rib Lake Historical Society contains several beautiful photos of Holmes and his Ogema mill.  The public is free to download and print copies, free of charge.

The photos mentioned above are owned by Mr. Dennis Kuehling of Unity, Wisconsin.  He generously loaned them to the Rib Lake Historical Society.  As of 12/4/2013, 168 other people have also loaned photos and documents, allowing the Society to make publically available, within the Photo & Document Collection, over 7500 images.  


KENNEDY -- W. A. Warren, the Rib Lake [head] sawyer [at the Kennedy saw mill], was in Medford a day this week. He reports that the mill hands are now enjoying their spring break vacation, the mill having shut down until the lake opens.

The head sawyer operated the first saw a log met as it was processed at a saw mill. This was a key position since the sawyer’s decisions and actions were a big factor in determining whether the mill was profitable.

The head sawyer decided what type of lumber should be cut from the saw log; the quicker he made right decisions and implemented them speeded up the flow of lumber through the mill and, therefore, its profitability.

At this time of year the warming temperatures had brought logging and sleighing logs to the mill to an end. Teamsters had off loaded their sleighs leaving millions of board feet of timber on the frozen surface of Rib Lake. Once the ice melted, the logs would be floated to the bull chain and pulled-one at a time-into the mill.


RIVER DRIVES -- A WANIGAN BOAT IS BEING BUILT BY A CREW OF MEN NEAR Anderson’s blacksmith shop. It is 10 feet wide by 40 feet long and will be used to carry supplies to the Black River log sailors.

The logging museum at Rhinelander has a river boat on display. It is a called a bateau. A bateau is a narrow, long boat with pointed ends made to shoot rapids and fast water and transport men.  The interpretative sign next to the bateau says it was used on log drive down the Rib River.

A wanigan was a flat-bottom boat with squared ends built to carry supplies.

While J.J. Kennedy never used the Rib River for log drives since he operated on its headwaters, a number of lumbermen at Rib Falls, Wausau, St. Point and Nekoosa did so. In fact, the Rib River was the very last stream in the Wisconsin River watershed to experience a log drive.

The Photo & Document Collection of the Rib Lake Historical Society, LLC, found at, contains an impressive series of photos of the John Weeks Lumber Company log drive on the Rib River.  The wanigan pictured there was flat-bottomed.  


KENNEDY -- Reports say that J.J. Kennedy of Rib Lake is seriously ill. There are hosts of men here [in Medford] who will agree that he should have better luck and hope that he will soon be out again.

There is the first report at any time that J.J. Kennedy was ill.


GREENWOOD -- Grand reception at candidate Gebauer’s residence at Lucky Cross-Roads near Urquhart Post Office last Wednesday evening.

We bid the Ramsay Land Co’s patrons God-speed in their journey hitherwards, and will most gladly welcome our quota around Lucky Cross-Roads and Urquhart Post Office; [There is] mail twice a week, schools handy, both Catholic and Lutheran services within easy reach; a blacksmith shop and rich soil.

Lucky Cross-Roads runs north to the Catholic Church  [St Ann’s] and the country store of  Joseph Thums in Greenwood 4 miles distant;  to Rib Lake  8 ½ miles and to the tie and  tanbark  landing on the Rib Lake branch railroad 5 ½ miles or 1 ½ miles beyond Thums’ store.

[Lucky Cross-Roads is ½ mile west] of Urquhart Post Office and 7 ½ miles west of Interwald Post Office. [It is] one day’s drive eastward to Wausau, but roads are not good clear through.

Roads and road building, farm and gardening are energetically promoted and pursued.  No better neighbors in the County.

                                                                            /s/  Item Izer

The pioneer Heinrich (Henry) Gebauer homestead in the Town of Greenwood was the East ½ NE ¼ section 32 T 32 Range 2 east. It lay on the southwest corner of what is in 2012 CTH M and the Wellington Lake Road. The 2007 plat book shows it owned by Roger and Kimberly Gebauer.

It sounds like a Gebauer was running for office, perhaps for the town, county or school board.

The newspaper dubbed the highway junction next to the Gebauer farm “Lucky Cross-Roads,” in 2013 it is Wellington Lake Road.

Note the reference to the Ramsey Land Company.  This Madison, Wisconsin, corporation owned a lot of local land, which Ramsey sold to settlers.

“Item Izer,” an unidentified correspondent living in the Town of Greenwood, wrote a weekly column of Greenwood news for the Taylor County Star and News.


KENNEDY REWARD -- Fifty dollar reward will be paid for the return of my watch, lost Saturday night, March 4th.  It is a gold watch with my initials J.J.K. on the inside of case. J.J. Kennedy.

The same edition reported that J. J. was feeling better and had returned to working half days at his office next to his Rib Lake saw mill.


DELINQUENT TAX LIST -- Notice is hereby given that the following  described lands have been returned by the treasurers of the several towns of  [Taylor] county… for delinquent  taxes  on the same for the year 1893, and that so much of each tract or  parcel of land herein described, as may be necessary  for that  purpose,  will, on [May 15, 1894]…and next succeeding days, be sold by me at public auction at my office in the  [Taylor County] courthouse, for the payment of taxes, interest and charges thereon, unless such  taxes, interest and charges  thereon  shall be paid before said day of  sale.

 /s/ Joseph Voshmik, County Treasurer, Taylor County.


As lands were denuded of their timber, many speculators abandoned them when efforts to find a settler failed.

The list of 1894 included the quarter quarter of land, a “forty,” whereon I compose these notes on April 2, 2012. RPR

A civil township in which Rib Lake is located is 33 North Range 2 East. It consists of 36 sections of land made up of 16 quarter quarter sections—each commonly called a “forty.”

The Tax Delinquent List referred to contained 112 forties in 33 North Range 2 E which consists of 576 forties.  THIS MEANS THAT ALMOST 20% of the forties were tax delinquent in this part of the Town of Rib Lake


NEW COUNTY BOARD -- The new county board will be composed of the following members: [The name of the township the board member represented follows his name]

John Frey


[Henry] C Shearer


Joseph Augustine

Deer Creek

C. B. Powell


Thomas Brehm


F. W. Ziehlke

Little Black

Fred Moser


J. P. Federspiel



Pine Creek

E. C. Getchel

Rib Lake



Joseph Hammel

1st Ward, Medford

F.H. Wehman

2nd ward, Medford

E. [Elias] L. Urquhart

3rd ward, Medford

     Four of the above gentlemen, Moser, Getchel, Gray and Hammel, have never before served on the Taylor County board. The others are experienced county legislators.

E. C. Getchel replaced Ben Hoey as Rib Lake’s representative.

At the time, the election was not directly for the county board. Rather, the candidate winning the election for chairman of the town board became,ex officio, the representative of that township on the county board.

The Town of Rib Lake was created in 1885 when it was formed from parts of the towns of Westboro and Chelsea.

To date, there have been 3 chairmen of the Town of Rib Lake: first, Duncan McLennan, J.J. Kennedy’s brother in law and the book keeper for his lumber company; second, Ben Hoey, a long time friend and book keeper for J.J. Kennedy; third, E.C. Getchel, one time school teacher in Rib Lake-now employed by Fayette Delos Shaw to run his Rib Lake tannery.

I use the term chairman of the Town advisably; women in 1894 did not have the right to vote, except for school board, and it was unheard of that any woman would run for office.


KENNEDY -- Angus and Will [William J.] Kennedy drove down from Rib Lake to the county capital [Medford] Thursday, returning yesterday.

Both are brothers of J.J. Kennedy and in his employ in the lumbering operations.  William J. is not to be  confused with William G., the son of J. J.


WESTBORO – NEW SAWMILL BANKRUPT -- An official notice appears in another column of the assignment of Knapp & Grossman, the men who built the saw mill last west of Westboro. Sylvester Nusser being the assignee. This has been a bad year for old, established industries, and the new one has found the hill well-greased.

The Notice of Assignment indicated that on 4/7/1894 W. R. Knapp, Albert Grossman as his partner, and Albert Grossman as an individual, delivered to Sylvester Nusser “their certain deed of voluntary assignment [of] all the property of said Knapp & Grossman and said Albert Grossman.

The Notice also said: “every creditor…is to file within 3 months with [Nusser] or the clerk of circuit court…an affidavit setting forth his name, residence and post-office address, and the nature, consideration and amount of his debt claimed by him…”


HEMLOCK—THE SHAWS -- Mr. Thaxter Shaw is advertising  in this issue for bids for the building of a residence, which will be situated on a lot owned  by him and lying between Fred Shaw’s new  house and the F. [Frank] M. Perkins residence. This makes four new residences to be credited to Medford so far this year.

Frank M.  Perkins was a son of J.J. Kennedy’s good friend Albert Perkins; his house stands as of April 2, 2012, on the southwest corner of Perkins and South Second Street in the City of Medford. The editor of the S/N had called this part of the city “aristocracy hill” in recognition of the palatial houses erected for patricians there.

Thaxter and Fred Shaw were part owners of the tanneries in Medford and Perkinstown through a partnership which only listed their initials.

Note that Thaxter and Fred Shaw both had homes in Medford, on the west side of S. Second Street.

In 2017 Sarah Nuernberger wrote a detailed, well-researched booklet “Walking Tour of Medford.”  Its text describes both the Thaxter and Fayette Delos Shaw homes.  The booklet contains a map of both homes as well as others in Medford.  Sarah included photos of the many homes covered.  Kudos to Sarah, who is Taylor County’s Register of Deeds and the president of its historical society in 2018.


KENNEDY -- Hon. A. J. Perkins and J.J. Kennedy were guests at the St. Charles Hotel, Milwaukee, Monday and Tuesday last.


HEMLOCK-PERKINSTOWN -- A roll house is being built at the Perkinstown tannery, and leather will hereafter be finished there as soon as the tanning process is completed. Heretofore, all leather tanned at Perkinstown was hauled to Medford before it was finished.

The roll house got its name since a brass roller rolled the leather under pressure there. Repeated rollings made the brass roll shine.

The rolling stretched the leather, made it lay smooth and worked it into an even thickness.

The rolling required a skilled operator to do the job efficiently and safely; if the operator got distracted, it was easy to have the roller pass over his hand crushing bones.

When the tannery was constructed in Rib Lake in 1891, it contained a roll house.


WESTBORO—DUNCAN SAW MILL -- Several weeks ago we published the facts of the transfer of the foundry and machine shops owned by John Duncan of Fort Howard, Wisconsin, to his son Archie.

This week Mr. Duncan transferred all of his mill property and real estate in this county [Taylor] to his three sons, Thomas, John Jr. and William.  The consideration named in the deeds of the last transfer was $75,000, but Mr. Duncan practically made a gift of the property to his boys.

The land included in the gift covers about 10,000 acres in Price and Taylor Counties, as well as the saw mill at Westboro.

Mr. Duncan started this week for Scotland, the land of his birth, where he will make an extended visit, He now has no business cares, except the investment of his capital, and he can spend the remainder of his life in well earned rest, as his career has been an unusually active and successful one.

The Duncan saw mill was the oldest one in Westboro; With his partners William S. Taylor and James Ritchie, John Duncan bought the mill site and thousands of acres of land from the Wisconsin Central Railroad in 1874. The deed required the buyers to promptly construct the mill and ship all of its lumber via the Wisconsin Central.  You can read the deed in the Photo & Document Collection at

The site of the mill is in 2016 on the northeast corner of the Pine Line bridge across Silver Creek; the land was owned by Douglas Thums who razed the old Laabs Cheese Factory that occupied the site until c. 2005.


CHELSEA—TRINITY  LUTHERAN CHURCH -- To the Honorable County Board of Taylor County:

Gentlemen: We the undersigned members of “The Evangelical Lutheran D. Church,” of Chelsea, petition your honorable body for donation of tax certificate held by Taylor County on lots No, 1 and 2 of block No. 2, Marshall & Taylor’s addition to Chelsea, said above lots having been transferred to, and will be used for by above church society for building a church.

 /s/ Charles Schwoch, C. H., Kickbusch, August  Zemke

Moved and seconded that the county treasurer be authorized  to sell to “The Evangelical D. Church,” tax certificates No. 727, and 728, sale of 1893, on lots 1 and 2, block 2, Marshall & Taylor’s addition, for one half of the amount of said certificates.            Motion carried

Note the capital letter D. in the middle of the church name. D is the first letter of the word for Trinity in German, Dreieinigskeit. I surmise the petitioners felt that spelling out the entire word created more problems than it solved.

In 2012 this Missouri Synod Lutheran Church is going strong and using the 100 year old classicchurch the congregation built on the land the county conveyed.

A tax certificate was paperwork the county produced on real estate where taxes had gone delinquent, i.e., unpaid.


KENNEDY BUYS 16,626 ACRES -- The 50,000 acre sale of land, a notice of which was copied from the Inter Ocean by this paper last week, turns out to be a 16,626 acre sale, now that the deed has been received  for record by Register [of Deeds] Hoffman. The Wisconsin Central Railroad sells and J.J. Kennedy buys.

This acreage was east of Rib Lake.  The Rib Lake to Spirit Falls railroad line built in 1902 made its timber and tanbark readily accessible to Rib Lake.  Nearly all of this acreage is in the Taylor County Forest as of 2013.


HEMLOCK---SHAW TANNERIES -- An unsettled assignment of his old business in the East has kept Mr. Fayette Shaw from doing business under his own name for eleven years, but his affairs have been adjusted, and he has assumed his proper place in the tannery business that he has been building in Taylor and Price Counties.

The Medford and Perkinstown tanneries will still be operated under the firm name T., F. M. & F.D. Shaw and Co.  The Rib Lake and Phillips tanneries are owned by Mr. Fayette [Delos] Shaw alone, and the business at both places will be transacted under his name.

Those who have made Mr. Shaw’s acquaintance since he came to Medford five years  ago, and have seen his untiring energy and marked his wise business foresight, are ready to congratulate him on having weathered the storm which struck him in 1883.

It was Fayette M. Shaw, the father of Fayette Delos Shaw, that had the business troubles resulting in his not taking title to real estate in his own name.

Title to the real estate in Rib Lake on which the tannery was built was solely in the name of Fayette Delos Shaw. Consult the Photo and Document Collection at to read the abstract of title to real estate of the tannery now owned by Karen M. Rusch.

Let me explain two of the initials in the Shaw company name; T. stood for Thaxter and F. M. stood for Fred M. Shaw.


CHELSEA—BURIAL OF GEORGE GEARHART -- The funeral of George Gearhart, the fireman who was killed in the wreck near Marshfield last week, occurred Saturday at Chelsea. The remains were conveyed from Stevens Point to Chelsea by a special train draped from head light to rear platform, the passengers being members of the Stevens Point I. O. O. F. [International Order of Odd Fellows] lodge, their wives and friends, and friends of the dead fireman to the number of 250.

Undertaker Crosby Grant of Stevens Point was in charge of the funeral and he spared no pains to take from the necessary features of the many cold, bare details which he accomplished by a liberal use of flowers and other decorations.  The train arrived at Chelsea near the noon hour, and after partaking of dinner, the officers of the I.O.O.F. escorted the remains of their late brother to the cemetery, where the appropriate ceremonies laid down in their ritual were said.

The train then returned to Stevens Point. A number of Odd Fellows and friends of Mr. and Mrs. Gearhart attended the funeral from this place [Medford].

The fatal accident took place at Mannville, three miles northwest of Marshfield; steel in a switch broke causing a horrific derailing of a train going fifty miles per hour; five died and many were injured.

George Gearhart was a son of long time Chelsea hotel keeper, C. H. Gearhart.

I.O.O.F. stands for International Order of Odd Fellows, of which Gearhart had belonged.  


CENTURY BICYCLE RIDE -- Two Marshfield men, Harkins and Brown, made a century run last Saturday. They started in the morning from Steven Point and arrived in Medford about noon.  Here they visited until late in the afternoon when they mounted their bikes and wheeled it back to Marshfield making ABOUT 110 MILES. (emphasis added)

The edition of June 23, 1894 reported: “Alex. Dean and O. C. Armstrong rode down from Rib Lake on their bikes last Tuesday evening, returning the next morning.”


HEMLOCK -- The tannery people are advertising the fact that their yards and skid ways are full of bark and that, after today, June 30; they will not buy bark until further notice.

We learn that Mr. F. Shaw will discharge a portion of his bark peelers at Phillips soon, in order that the farmers of that vicinity may have a market for their bark, as they appear to be peeling large quantities.

The Shaw tanneries, including the one at Rib Lake, annually employed men to peel hemlock bark, “tan bark,” and build camps in the woods, “bark camps.”

At the same time, the Shaw tanneries routinely bought tan bark that settlers happened to bring to the tannery. The 1891 deed between J.J. Kennedy and Fayette Delos Shaw for the Rib Lake tannery site obligated Shaw to buy tan bark from settlers.

The tanneries injected money into the local economy in myriad ways; note, for example, this ad from 6/30/1894: “Two Horse Teams Wanted. By George Bahr at Perkinstown. Wages $50 per month and board [for teamster and his team], or 50 cents per cord for hauling bark 1 ½ miles, board themselves.”  /s/ George Bahr


WHITTLESEY DESTROYED BY FIRE -- The village of Whittlesey is no more, a forest fire having passed that way last Monday. There were only a few buildings left, the town having been stricken with dry rot when the mill moved.

A large cloud of smoke  hanging over the woods in the north last Sunday was the first notice that the people of this place [Medford] had of the fire, and it was not thought that a great deal of damage would result, as we have not been  suffering from dry weather.

The old mill yard at Whittlesey, however, covered as it was with saw dust and mill refuse, made excellent fuel, and the flames spread all day Monday, and Tuesday WHAT WAS LEFT OF THE VILLAGE WAS WIPED OUT.  The houses were cheaply constructed and the loss is not a heavy one, but it is hard on the owners, as it about cleaned them out financially. The depot burned, together with George Bulin’s store, where the post office was located, and several small residences. (emphasis added)

The former Sanger Rockwell saw mill at Whittlesey was on the west side of the railroad tracks along the Black River. It had been destroyed by a steam boiler explosion.

By 1897 the Whittlesey post office had been moved  one-half mile east of “downtown” to the farm home August Steiner, my maternal great-grandfather, who served as post master from 1897 until his death in 1902.

Railroad passenger traffic stopping at Whittlesey after this fire was so slim the depot was not rebuilt. Rather, it became a ‘flag stop.” If you wanted to ride the train, you stood on the rudimentary platform along the tracks and waived.  My mother, born Martha Hedwig Gebauer, grew up in Whittlesey, and sometimes flagged the train down and paid the conductor the fare of five cents to ride to Medford. But, as a student going to high school in Medford, she regularly walked in autumn and spring each day five miles each way. During winter, she left her farm home weekdays and boarded with relatives residing near the Medford high school.  


HEMLOCK--RAILROAD STRIKE THREATENS SHAW TANNERIES -- The writer interviewed Mr. Fayette Shaw on the effect of the prevailing strike on the business of his firm in Taylor and Price counties. My Shaw finds no difficulty in demonstrating that the laboring man is the loser in this industrial paralysis.

In this [Taylor] county, the  SHAWS EMPLOY AT THIS SEASON ABOUT 800 MEN,  AND IT TAKES MONEY, AND LOTS OF IT, TO KEEP THE BUSINESS RUNNING, In order to get money, leather must be sold and, when shipment of leather is stopped, the supply of money is stopped also.

Mr. Shaw remarked that it was his intention to protect his men as long as possible from the consequences of this [railroad] strike and that, in order to do so, he had determined to haul leather by team to Prentice, ship over the Soo road to the east, as that road, having no Chicago connections, and not running Pullman sleepers, was not affected by the strike.

Teams were put on the road yesterday to haul leather from Phillips to Prentice [where the Soo Line ran]; AND THE FIRST OF NEXT WEEK WILL SEE TEAMS HAULING FROM RIB LAKE.  It is  his intention to wait a few days longer before  starting teams from this city [Medford] but, IF FREIGHT TRAINS ARE NOT RUNNING BY THE MIDDLE OF NEXT WEEK, wagon loads of leather will start regularly from this place [Medford] also.

No one doubts Mr. Shaw’s ability to pull through these times, even with thousands of dollars’ worth of leather IN THE VATS THAT MUST BE CARED FOR, but the loss will be great if a total tie up is accomplished by the strikers… (emphasis added)

Workers at the Pullman factory in Chicago had gone on strike which eventually resulted in railroads running to that city, including the Wisconsin Central Railroad, being shut down by sympathy strikes. This cut off rail service to Shaw tanneries at Medford, Phillips and Rib Lake which were all on the Wisconsin Central.

Until 1902 the Wisconsin Central and the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad (“Soo”) were competing lines. The Soo track ran east-west through north Wisconsin and passed through Prentice. By wagon hauling leather to the Soo at Prentice, Shaw had a way to stay in business.  The Soo line was not on strike.

The next edition of the TC STAR & NEWS reported; “Freight traffic has been of an irregular, intermittent character on this division [of the Wisconsin Central Railroad] this week.”  See next article.


RAILROAD STRIKES -- Freight traffic was resumed yesterday on this division [through Medford and Rib Lake] of the Wisconsin Central, two trains each [way] being put on. The tie-up was occasioned by striking brakemen and switchmen, and their places have been filled with new men. Below Abbotsford there has been little interruption of traffic.

While the newspaper does not say so, I take it that the resumption of freight railroad service on the Wisconsin Central Railroad canceled Shaw’s plan to haul leather by horse to Prentice.  RPR


GREENWOOD -- Master mason Mike Brahmer has just finished an A-1 job on the basement cellar of H. Klemm’s new residence. The walls are 30 inches thick and 8 feet high, solid masonry, forming the foundation of a residence which will have about 1200 square feet on the ground floor and be two stories high.     Item Izer


CHELSEA FIRE SUFFERERS -- At the time Phillips was burning last Friday, the citizens of the village of Chelsea were fighting manfully to keep the flames from entering their village and wiping it from the map of Taylor County. The fire came from the south-east, and all the available men in the town were called out, and succeeded in saving the village. The farmers in that direction were less fortunate, however,  and we give  a list of sufferers below:

Fred Gadan

all buildings burned

Andrew Hanson

all buildings burned

Samuel Williams

all buildings burned

James Hanson

saved house, but lost hay, sheep, etc

John Welch

barn burned

L. A. Burbey

all buildings burned

George Staples

all buildings burned

August Zemka

all buildings burned

Charles Schwoch

all buildings on farm burned

Antoine Fournier

all buildings on farm burned

Robert Kees

all buildings on farm burned


house burned

     The loss falls heavily on some of these people, in fact, they have lost there all, while others are not rendered destitute by the loss.

The Chelsea fire occurred at the same time the infamous forest fire at Phillips, Wisconsin, destroyed the county seat of Price County.  Conditions were extremely dry.


THE PHILLIPS FIRE -- Any attempt to give a detail of the loss incident to the Phillips fire would be a failure, as there are so many losers, and many of them cannot more than roughly estimate their own losses. …The fire first came into the city from the north, but there appears to have been other fires that swept down upon the unfortunate little city, and within a short after the north end, or Beebetown, was aflame the flames seemed to  sweep in  from all directions and the entire town was wiped out with the exception of  37 houses.

The large tannery built last year by Fayette Shaw was the first to go, then followed the mill, lumber yards, box factory, and other buildings of the John R. Davis Lumber Co.; then followed the court house, town hall, opera house, the church and the fine business blocks along the business street, including the Giles house, the finest hotel between Stevens Point and Ashland, everything in fact, except a few houses in the southern end of town.

Mr.  Fayette [Delos] Shaw, of this city [Medford], the owner of the Phillips tannery, was forced to swim across the river to escape the flames, which feat he accomplished successfully notwithstanding his 65 years….

Nearly every single building burned in the horrific Phillips Fire of 1894.

Fayette D. Shaw owned the Phillips Tannery, which was promptly rebuilt after this fire.


HEMLOCK -- With their yard full of bark, the Shaws have consented to take more in order to help the farmers out, as the woods are not the safest place in the world to keep bark these days. The price has been cut to $3.50 [per cord], however, and the farmer is glad to sell at that price.

A summer of 1894 fire seven miles northwest of Medford resulted in the destruction by fire of over a thousand cords of tan bark.


JUMP RIVER LUMBER CO. AT PRENTICE BANKRUPT -- The affairs of the Jump River Lumber Company were placed in the hands of a receiver Friday…

The following sketch of the company is taken from the Prentice Calumet [newspaper]: The officers of the Jump River Lumber Co. are O. D. Van Dusen, president; C. H. Field, vice-president; M.E. Alverson, secretary and treasurer; and C. R.  Gallet, superintendent.

The company commenced operating here [Prentice, Wisconsin] in September, 1882 and from a small plant has built up one of the largest lumbering concerns in the state. The capacity of the mill here is 30,000,000 [board feet] annually. Beside the Prentice mill, the firm controls the output of mills at Mellrue and Adams. They have been extensive dealers in bark and ties. THEY ALSO OWN TWENTY MILES OF LOGGING RAILROAD … Beside some 25,000 acres of land, they own considerable property in this city [Prentice]. As owners of the original town site, they still have claims upon many lots upon which contracts have been issued.  (emphasis added)

To see the extensive system of logging railroads that once criss-crossed Taylor, Price and other north Wisconsin counties, consult the Photo & Document Collection at

The Jump River Lumber Co. logging railroad ran southeast from Prentice.  Part of its former right-of-way is, in 2017, County Highway C.


NORTHERN WISCONSIN SWEPT FROM END TO END BY THE FIRE SCOURGE -- Chippewa Falls, Wis., Sept 3---Northwestern Wisconsin is one immense sea of flames and reports are coming into this city [Chippewa Falls] constantly of fatalities and deaths caused by the great conflagration. The towns of Rib Lake (sic), Marengo and Bradshaw have been completely wiped out….

A dispatch received this morning from Rib Lake asking for assistance stated that the town is on fire and the people are in danger. A special train and a fire engine were sent up. The town contains 100 inhabitants and is situated in the midst of a dense forest where escape is practically impossible…

These claims of fire destroying Rib Lake were without foundation. The newspaper must have confused Rib Lake with any number of north Wisconsin towns actually threatened by the wide raging fires of 1894.


HEMLOCK---PHILLIPS TANNERY REBUILT -- Mr. Fayette Shaw’s new tannery at Phillips is already in partial running order, and the sound of its whistle last Friday noon last is said to have been very melodious to the ears of the survivors of that unfortunate city.

The tannery had been fully destroyed in the Phillips Fire just one month earlier.


HEMLOCK---TANBARK FIRE LOSSES -- Latest reports of losses of fire in Taylor County come from the vicinity of Chelsea and Whittlesey. Henry Scharer is said to have lost heavily in timber besides about 400 cords of bark.

Mike Gallagher lost his barn and hay, and 30 cords of bark. He was severely burned about the head and face while trying to save his property.

August Neumann living near Whittlesey also lost 70 cords of bark, besides his farm house, barn and everything he possessed except the clothing worn by his family.


RIB LAKE -- Rib Lake will furnish a candidate for Republican nomination for sheriff, Will Warren, as well as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for county clerk, Ben Hoey.

William A. Warren and Bernard Hoey both won the election, but Warren did not get the nomination of the Republican Party  The edition of  11/10/1894 reported: “Three independent Republican candidates  were elected  [in Taylor County]…Wm. A. Warren, sheriff, Wm. F. Wenck,  register of deeds, and Kunno A. Kuenne, superintendent of schools. Two Democrats, Bernard Hoey and John Gamper are the only ones of the party left alive in the world to tell the story of the overwhelming disaster.”



KENNEDY---LOG SHORTAGE -- Kennedy’s saw mill at Rib Lake was not running the first half of last week, owing to a scarcity of logs at the Lake. Mr. Kennedy has plenty of logs for a full season’s run, but it will be necessary to ship them in by rail.

He  has about 2,000,000 feet in the Black River at Whittlesey, which has been considered inaccessible  owing to a lack of water, but we are informed that  teams [of horses] are being used  in hauling them from the river bed to the  [Wisconsin Central] railroad and enough were shipped to the Lake to start the mill yesterday morning.

Kennedy also has in the neighborhood of 1,000,000 feet near High Bridge, Ashland County, [Wisconsin] which will be shipped as soon as possible.

This is a first—the Kennedy mill is short of saw logs.  The mill was about midway in its normal sawing season and one would expect a supply of saw logs to be on hand for three more months of sawing.

High Bridge, Ashland County, Wisconsin, is about 100 miles from Rib Lake. While Kennedy often used the Wisconsin Central to haul saw logs from the Chelsea, Wisconsin, area, this is the first report of Kennedy going so far for logs, i.e., High Bridge.

The fact that the logs were in the Black River suggests they were pine logs. The supply of pine available at Rib Lake to Kennedy’s own logging camps had dwindled.

Kennedy’s mill sawed pine, hemlock and hardwood but not at the same time. I conclude Kennedy was hustling to get the pine from Whittlesey and High Bridge so he could finish the pine cut.  

The distance by rail between High Bridge, Wisconsin, and Kennedy’s Rib Lake mill is 91 miles.  J.J. Kennedy’s strong, innovative, problem-solving entrepreneurial spirit is clearly demonstrated here.


KENNEDY-WILLIAM J. -- At the Taylor County Republican Party convention, the following residents of Rib Lake were recognized as delegates: George Powers, Hugh A. McDonald, John Brietzman and Wm. Kennedy.

William J. Kennedy was J.J.’s brother. Both were active in the Republican Party.



HEMLOCK -- It now transpires that [Wellington] Haight’s new $4,000 “residence,” now in course of construction, is designed for a modern hotel and will be used as such when completed. It will contain 16 large rooms for quests, and the management will make a bid for the transient trade.

The Winchester Hotel stood on a high hill south of Medford’s downtown.  It was southwest of the junction of Second and Division Streets.

While Wellington Haight was now the sheriff of Taylor County, he also built the three story Hotel Wellington.  See, inter alia, articles 2/23/1895, 7/27/1895, 1/4/1896 and 5/25/1896.

The hotel was named for E.H. Winchester, successful insurance salesman of Medford and close friend of John J. Kennedy.  Winchester was president of the State Bank of Medford in January, 1895.

The Winchester Hotel opened 2/1/1896 featuring 38 guest rooms, and an in-house barber, café and “sample rooms,” i.e. bar, see 1/22/1896.

The Winchester Hotel had a unique purpose, i.e., to advertise hemlock lumber.  Its construction was sponsored in part by J.J. Kennedy, who supplied the hemlock lumber.  The Winchester Hotel was built three stories high and on Medford’s highest hill to prove that hemlock lumber would withstand wind.  The hotel proved a success in advertising hemlock lumber.



RIB LAKE -- Sam Hagan has been or is about to be appointed postmaster of Rib Lake, and he will build a store and put in a stock of general merchandise at that place.



RIB LAKE -- Mr. A. [Alphonse] Bonneville was down from Rib Lake Thursday. He is, as usual, logging quite extensively this winter. He has also established a stage route between Rib Lake and Chelsea in connection with his livery barn at that place. His stage will make close connections with trains at Chelsea, and will prove a convenience to residents of Rib Lake as well as parties having business there.

One train daily made the 5.5 mile trip between Rib Lake and Chelsea; that train hauled primarily freight but had a combination baggage and passenger car. It left Chelsea at 11:20 a.m. and Rib Lake at 12:35 p.m.

Three trains carrying passengers passed through Chelsea daily on the Wisconsin Central “main line.” South to Medford and beyond or north to Ashland.



RIB LAKE -- Arthur J. Latton, the Rib Lake teacher, is spending the holiday vacation with his parents in this city [Medford].

Latton wrote the first known history of Taylor County in 1920, “Anecdotes & Reminiscences of Taylor County.”  It contains his account of teaching in Rib Lake.


LOGGING RAILROAD -- The Northwestern Lumber Co. recently purchased the Jump River Lumber Co railroad running from Prentice 6 miles southeast into the wood, and a crew of men is now engaging in tearing the railroad up and moving it to Stanley, Chippewa County, from which point the Northwester Lumber Co. has a railroad running north…

The Prentice logging railroad ran in the direction of Timms Hill and some of its right-of-way eventually became County Highway C.

The Stanley railroad evolved into a common carrier, the Stanley, Merrill & Phillips, a/k/a S, M & P, jokingly called the Slow Motion & Poverty.  This railroad served the Northwestern Lumber Co. sawmill at Stanley by transporting logs from western Taylor County.  The railroad ran northward through Bellinger, Gilman, Hannibal and Jump River and into Rusk County, ending at “Walrath,” now a ghost town.

All of these lines can be seen on a series of county railroad maps produced by Everett A. Rusch.




RIB LAKE ITEMS -- School opened last Wednesday with three departments. Miss Warren has charge of the primary and Miss Riek of Boyceville, the intermediate.

Mr. Arthur Branson, who has conducted a barber shop and sold temperance beverages [soda water?] to the people of Rib Lake for many years, has leased a hotel at Ashland and has taken charge of his new venture.

The Star & News now had a weekly column entitled “Rib Lake Items” and “Greenwood Leaves.”



TAYLOR COUNTY STAR & NEWS SOLD -- The Star & News, which I have owned and edited for 17 years has been sold to Peter Danielson, who needs no introduction to it readers, as he has been for many years an employee of the  office for many years…

For the past 4 months I have owned and edited the Torch of Liberty [newspaper] at Wausau, and find that one paper is all I can do justice to, therefore I have sold the Star & News.   /s/ Edgar T. Wheelock



J.J. KENNEDY-DIRECTOR, STATE BANK OF MEDFORD -- The annual meeting of the officers and directors of the State Bank of Medford was held last week, and the old officers were all re-elected, as follows: President, E. H.  Winchester, Vice President, A. J. Perkins; Cashier, C. L. Alverson.

Directors: J.J. Kennedy, A. J. Perkins, C. L. Alverson, E. H. Winchester and Joseph Hammel.

JJK long served as a director and was a charter stockholder and founding member of this bank. In the 1900’s. JJK helped found the Rib Lake National Bank.



HEMLOCK -- Since snow has come, bark has been hauled to the [Rib Lake] tannery at a lively rate. The amount hauled daily is over 300 cords. The largest load this  season was brought in by Thomas Sheehan, and weighed 19,600 pounds, equal to 8 ¾ cords.

Dividing 19,600 by 8.75 shows that the tannery considered a cord of tan bark to weigh 2,240 pounds. The tannery had a large scale and weighed the sleigh loads of bark as they arrived and paid based on weight.

The next edition of the Star & News reported that the Sheehan article created “considerable rivalry among the teamsters” hauling bark; “last Wednesday, Walter B. Patrick brought in a load which weighed 32,000 pounds (14 ½ cords). It was hauled 5 miles by a 2 horse team.



KENNEDY – HEMLOCK – THE WINCHESTER HOTEL IN MEDFORD -- The first carload of [hemlock] lumber to be used in the construction of the Hotel Winchester arrived from Rib Lake Thursday and is being hauled to the location by P. H. Mullaley.

J.J. Kennedy was a creative man; he had lots of hemlock to sell and faced deep prejudices against such “junk” lumber. His solution, construct from hemlock a high profile hotel which would irrefutably demonstrate that hemlock lumber worked!

The three-storied Hotel Winchester towered over south Main Street in Medford for the next forty years.

The edition of March 2 reported: “Hotel Wellington”  “This is the name given to the handsome new house built by W. [Wellington] Haight the past winter, and which was opened to the public early in the week. The building is well apportioned throughout, containing two stories, attic and basement, and is fitted with every convenience known to the modern builder—water works, hot water heat, gas lights, bath rooms, etc.