THE FORMING OF BARRON COUNTY

 From the "Historical and Biographical Album of the Chippewa Valley Wisconsin, 1891-2" pages 308 - 315

 

By an act of the legislature, approved March 19, 1859, townships thirty-two, thirty-three, thirty-four, thirty-five, thirty-six and thirty-seven north, in ranges twelve, thirteen, fourteen and fifteen west, were detached from Polk county and formed into a new county, with the name of Dallas, in honor of George M. Dallas, vice-president of the United States, from 1845 to 1849.  It was attached to Polk county for all civil and judicial purposes, with the county seat at the village of Manhattan.  In 1860 townships thirty-two to thirty-seven, inclusive, in ranges ten and eleven west, were detached from Chippewa and annexed to Dallas.  It was in the same year taken from Polk and attached to Dunn, for civl and judicial purposes.  The first election of town officers took place in 1862, at the house of John Banks, who was the first man to settle here for farming purposes.  He located in the southern part of the county in 1855.  Those elected, however, failed to qualify, and no further steps were taken in this direction until 1868, when an election was held at John Quaderer's camp.  S. P. Berger, James Vennette and John Banks were chosen supervisors, John Quaderer, treasurer and James Neville, town clerk.

In 1863 range fifteen of Dallas county, was, by an act of the legislature, on a vote of the constituents, annexed to Polk county.  From and after January 1, 1869, Dallas county was organized for county and judicial purposes, under an act approved March 2, 1868.  The county was continued as one town with the name of Dallas, and the first Tuesday of the following November (1869) was fixed for the election of county officers.  The county seat was, by the same act, located on section twenty-six, in township thirty-four, range twelve west, upon which the city of Barron has been built, and the governor was authorized to appoint the first county officers, until the next general election, with the following result:


OFFICE
OFFICER
County Judge  Francis Finley
County Clerk D. F. Boswell
Treasurer  James Bracklin
Registrar of Deeds James G. Neville
Superintendent of Schools Albert Finley
Supervisors Roseman Kellogg
C. P. Fuller
S. P. Barker

By an act of the legislature in 1869, the name of the county was changed to BARRON, in honor of the late Henry D. Barron, of St. Croix Falls, Polk county, at that time judge of the Eighth judicial circuit in which this county was included.

The following is a list of the county officers since that time (1870 - 1892)



 
 
 
 

OFFICE
DATES OF OFFICE AND OFFICER
County Judge
1870 - 1873 Francis Finley
1874 - 1881 H. J. Sill
1882 - 1890 William P. Swift
1891 - 1894 H. S. Comstock
County Clerk
1870 - 1873 (two terms) O. Brayton
1874 - 1875 W. S. Grover
1876 - 1879 (two terms) N. M. Rockman
1880 - 1884 Fred Telke
1885 - 1886 S. E. Washburn
1887 - 1888 C. N. Gunnison
1889 - 1892 L. J. Breen
County Treasurer
1870 - 1871 John Quaderer
1872 - 1873 M. W. Heller
1874 - 1875 Henry Sawyer
1876 - 1879 (two terms) W. Bird
1880 - 1890 N. M. Rockman
1891 - 1892 J. E. Horsman
Registrar of Deeds
1870 - 1871 W. J. Smith
1872 - 1875 (two terms) A. Mero
1876 - 1881(three terms) Walter Speed
1882 - 1884 Ole Christopherson
1885 - 1888  A. J. Barton
1889 - 1892 J. W. Stone
District Attorney
1874 - 1875 E. M. Sexton
1876 J. H. Ives
1877 - 1882 Charles S. Taylor
1883 - 1884 H. J. Sill
1885 - 1886 T. E. Kinsley
1887 - 1888 H. S. Comstock
1889 - 1890 C. C. Coe
1891 - 1892 H. G. Ellsworth
Sheriff
1874 - 1875 A. Benton
1876 A. J. Barton
1877 - 1879 W. W. Dietz
1880 - 1881 A. J. Barton
1882 - 1884 J. N. Plato
1885 - 1886 Silas Speed
1887 - 1888 J. W. Stone
1889 - 1890 W. W. Dietz
1891 - 1892 Silas Speed
Circuit Court Clerk
1874 - 1875 W. L. Morrison
1876 F. C. Donnelly
1877 - 1879 Fred Telke
1880 - 1884 W. L. Morrison
1885 - 1888 Peter Wachter
1889 - 1892 Henry Rademacher
Coroner
1870 - 1871 K. Whitman
1872 - 1873 T. W. Hickok
1874 - 1875 S. K. Young
1876 F. G. Beckwith
1877 - 1878 N. Washburn
1879 L. Paradise
1880 A. F. Skinner
1881 G. C. Hodgkin
1882 - 1884 H. Lampman
1885 - 1886 George McLeod
1887 - 1888 Charles W. Moore
1889 - 1890 Joel Richardson
1891 - 1892 William Small
County Surveyor
1870 - 1873 O. Brayton
1874 - 1875 W. Bird
1876 - 1877 B. Quaderer
1878 - 1879 H. Brewer
1881 A. O. Connor
1882 - 1892 D. A. Russell
Superintendent of 
Schools
1870 - 1871 O. Demars
1872 - 1873 A. B. Finly
1874 - 1875 W. Bird
1876 - 1881 H. J. White
1882 - 1886 S. R. Finly
1887 - 1892 N. E. Carver

The early records of the county were lost in the Menomonie (Red Cedar) river by James Bracklin, the first county treasurer, who was at the same time agent for Knapp, Stout & Co.  The satchel in which the documents were contained, as well as a certain sum of money belonging to the county, fell overboard on the occasion of one of his trips down the river.

In 1870 Barron formed a part of the assembly district, which included Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas and Polk, and was represented by Samuel B. Dresser of Osceola Mills.  His successors were:
Samuel S. Vaughn of Bayfield, 1871;
Henry D. Barron of St. Croix Falls, 1872 - 1873;
Samuel S. Fifield of Ashland, 1874 - 1876;
Woodbury S. Grover of Prairie Farm, 1877;
Canute Anderson of Grantsburg, 1878;
William J. Vincent of St. Croix Falls, 1879;
Lars L. Gunderson of Cumberland, 1880; and
George D. McDill of Osceola Mills, 1881 - 1882.

By a new apportionment the counties of Barron, Bayfield, Burnett and Douglas were made one assembly district.  Its representative was Canute Anderson, 1883.  The districts were again re-apportioned, and Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas and Washburn counties became one assembly district.  It was represented by Charles S. Taylor, of the city of Barron, 1885 - 1888.  In 1888 the county of Barron was constituted one assembly district, and since that year it has been and is now represented by Charles W. Moore.

The members of the county board used to hold their meetings in John Quaderer's logging camp until 1873.  In that year the county seat was removed to Rice Lake, and at the general election, which took place in the next year, the people voted in favor of its return to Barron, and this was done.  The question of its being again removed to Rice Lake is now the subject of litigation (1891-92).

The county building, or courthouse, as it is commonly called, was erected in 1876.  It is a convenient structure for the purposes to which it is applied, and, standing on rising ground, it is the most conspicuous edifice in the city.

The jail, built in 1877, is a small frame building of two stories, opposite and north of the county building.  On the west side is a smaller frame addition.  The ground, or the first floor, of the main structure, is the jail proper, with a door in the center.  The small windows on each side are closely barred, and there is a notice beneath the easterly one, "Talking with prisoners positively forbidden."  The inference is that it is the most primitive, dilapidated looking and most insecure jail in the country.  There are two cells, and into them as many as fourteen prisoners were confined in the winter of 1890.  The last female law-breaker in the building was charged with adultery.  Her companion in crime was behind the same bars at the same time.  The culprits are now in the state prison paying the penalty of the law.  The rooms on the second floor are occupied by the sheriff and his family.  He fills both offices -- sheriff and jailer.

The county is indebted to the extent of $16,000 only.  The amount was, originally, $20,00, and it was incurred, principally, in building the courthouse and making other necessary improvements.

The assessed valuation of property in 1890, according to the returns of the state board of assessors, was as follows:
Land -- $1,967,970
Personal Property -- $643,939
City and Village lots -- $194,217
Total -- $2,806,126

The total population of the county by cities and towns, as appears in the census returns for 1890, is as follows:


Barron (town) 400
Barron (city) 829
Cedar Lake 531
Chetek 1728
Clinton 479
Cumberland (town) 1546
Cumberland (city) 1219
Dallas 1033
Maple Grove 976
Oak Grove 608
Prairie Farm 1047
Rice Lake 2130
Stanfold 589
Stanley 748
Sumner 365
Turtle Lake 874
Vance Creek 314
Total
15416

No state or federal figures are given of the population of the country previous to 1860.  For that year they are stated at 13, and none are given for 1865.  For and from 1870 they are as follows:
1870 -- 538
1875 -- 3737
1880 -- 7023
1885 -- 13596
1890 -- 15416

The county is located in the northwestern part of the state, on the high table land or water-shed between the Chippewa and St. Croix rivers.  It is bounded on the north by Burnett and Washburn counties, on the south by Dunn and Chippewa counties, on the east by Chippewa county and on the west by Polk county.  In area, it is thirty miles square, containing 900 square miles or 543,103 acres.  Speaking generally, the surface is just rolling enough to secure good natural drainage, with a predominant southwesterly declination.  The combination of generally sloping hills, with vales between, adds much to the natural beauty of the landscape.  The county is dotted with innumerable fresh-water lakes, forming the headwaters of several large streams, and a considerable number of brooks, which thread this region like a silver network.  The principal river running through the county is the Menomonie (Red Cedar) river, which rises in the extreme northeastern part of the county, draining Cedar lake, and flows in a generally southwesterly direction, until it is joined by the Chetek river, and empties itself into the Chippewa, in the adjoining county of Dunn.  In the upper part of its course, it passes through a magnificent chain of lakes.  Tributary to the Menomonie (Red Cedar) are the Yellow river, which has its headwaters in Granite and Silver lakes, in the northern part of the county, and flows in a southeasterly direction through the central part, and Hay river, another fine stream, which drains Beaver Dam Lake, and runs nearly south, until it joins the Menomonie (Red Cedar), about fifty miles from its source. Vermillion river is the outlet of the lake of that name, a few miles east of Cumberland.  It flows to the southeast, until it discharges itself into the Yellow river.  These waters abound in fish, including brook trout, bass and pickerel.  Game is plentiful, such as bear, deer, prairie chickens, partridges, squirrels and rabbits.

This county is classed among the timbered, as distinguished from the prairie counties of Wisconsin.  The greater part of its surface was covered with a magnificent forest growth before man began to denude it of its timber.  A small portion of the extreme southern part of the county is composed of what is known as "oak Openings," but practically speaking, the whole land was originally covered with a dense growth of mixed pine and hardwood, comprising almost every variety of tree growing in this latitude.  Everywhere the pine was found, interspersed among a lusty growth of red and white oak, rock and water elm, yellow birch, sugar maple, ash, butternut, basswood and other deciduous trees.  Upon this vast forest the lumbermen have been making unceasing inroads for nearly fifty years.  It is estimated that there are now between two and three billion feet of merchantable pine, at the least, and nearly as much more hardwood, standing in this county.  The soil is a rich, clayey loam, enriched by the forest mold of centuries, owing to the constant accretions of decaying vegetable matter.  It varies somewhat in different localities.  In the northern and western sections of the county it is heavy, and better adapted to the production of wheat, oats, rye, barley and hay, while in the southern and southeastern portions it is comparatively light, owing to a large admixture of sand.  It is better adapted, therefore, to the cultivation of corn and similar crops.

Taking the county as a whole, the land seems to be more suitable to the production of oats, potatoes, and root crops than anything else.  Garden produce grows easily, and well repays the cultivator.  All the small fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, whortleberries, blackberries, currants and plums yield profitable crops.  Dairying is a rapidly increasing industry, and will doubtless become one of the principal occupations of the farmer, owing to the excellent pasture in the woods and "slashings."  A number of cheese factories and creameries have already been established in various parts of the county.  The official report of the farm products grown in it, in 1890, is as follows:
Wheat -- 25306 bushels
Corn -- 67,918 bushels
Oats -- 316,360 bushels
Barley -- 1135 bushels
Rye -- 5651 bushels
Potatoes -- 198477 bushels
Root crops -- 38768 bushels
Hops -- 1400 pounds
Tobacco -- 764 pounds
Cultivated grasses -- 14167 tons
Butter -- 305610 pounds
Cheese -- 3050 pounds

Large formations of cathimite, or pipestone, are found in the eastern portion of the county, and Postdam sandstone in the southern towns.  In the northern section the azoic granite outcrop announces its presence and granite bowlders (sic) are scattered about in all directions.

The North Wisconsin division of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha railway, running from St. Paul and Minneapolis to Ashland and other points on Lake Superior, passes through the western part of the county.  The Chippewa Falls & Northern division of the same system, running from Eau Claire to Duluth, transverses the eastern section and crosses the North Wisconsin at Spooner Junction, a short distance beyond the county line.  The road of the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie railway, usually termed the "Soo" line, running from Minneapolis to the Sault Ste. Marie, where it connects with the Canadian trunk lines to the seaboard, goes through the center of the county from east to west.

When this region was first visited for the purpose of settlement is somewhat doubtful.  Tradition says that at a very early date its first occupants came from Montreal and engaged in trade with the Indians.  A post was established a few miles northeast of Rice Lake by, according to some authorities, the grandfather of August Cadott, while others give the name as Corbine or Cordott.  The ditch, or stockade, enclosed a space 50 x 100 feet.  Near the post a dam, 300 feet long and eight feet high, was constructed, apparently by the same parties, across the Menomonie (Red Cedar), which flows into the lake from the northeast.  It has never been ascertained what the object was for its construction.  The legend is that the old trader was assassinated by the Sioux, in one of their raids, and the post plundered.  In proof of the story a grave, or what is said to be one, which is still visible near the dam, is pointed out as containing his remains.  What may be looked upon as a certainty is that the first logging was done about 1848.  It is an established fact that Capt. William Wilson came fifty miles up the Menomonie (Red Cedar) river in that year, and it was the forests he then beheld that induced him to advise Mr. Knapp to secure an interest in Mr. Black's saw-mill at Menomonie.  The lumbermen of Knapp, Stout & Co. were shortly afterward sent up into this region, and several of them determined to settle here.  Among them were John Quaderer, James Bracklin, S. P. Berger, Hiram Storey, John Myers and C. P. Fuller.  Its settlement for agricultural purposes began about 1855, when such pioneers as George Jones, Edward DeLong, S. K. Young, and Thomas Snyder commenced farming in close proximity to John Banks.  The number increased rapidly, and many of those who came into the district as loggers remained to become farmers.

When Barron was first organized as a county it consisted of ten townships, namely:  Barron, Cedar Lake, Chetek, Clinton, Dallas, Lakeland, Maple Grove, Prairie Farm, Rice Lake and Stanfold.  Since that time some of them have been divided up, or otherwise partitioned off, by which means five townships have been added -- Dover, Stanley, Turtle Lake and Vance Creek.  Lakeland has been changed to Cumberland, Rice Lake to Stanfold, and part of Stanfold to Oak Grove.
 

 
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