The History Of The

Village Of Brill

--From the "History of Barron Co., Wisconsin, H. C. Cooper, Jr., & Co., 1922"
pp. 1143-1144.

Donated by Vic Gulickson

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Brill is an unincorporated village in the eastern part of Oak Grove Township, and on the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha railway. As defined on the map its exact geographical position is on the western half of Section 13, Town 36 north, Range 11 west. The site was first platted by the Interstate Land Co., of Minneapolis, G. W. Peavey, president, and C. F. Deaver, secretary. This company on Nov. 28, 1902, laid out thirteen blocks in what is now the western part of the village. This plat was vacated by the Circuit court at Barron Nov. 25, 1914. On Feb. 13, 1904, the Rice Lake Land and Realty Co., James Robbins, president, and E. Knudson, secretary, platted an addition of four blocks on the south part of the site. Then about 1910, Duncan Monroe laid out another plat, comprising six blocks in the east end. The last addition was made in 1916 by George N. Keesey, who laid out four blocks on Main street, which cover part of the original platting.

Before the coming of the railroad in the fall of 1901 there was nothing here in the shape of a settlement. The railway company built a platform and later added the depot. George N. Keesey, who arrived here in 1902, recollects that there was then a lumber yard here operated by the Rice Lake Lumber Co.

Mr. Keesey opened the first general store here in the spring of 1902, and has since twice made additions to it. He has now an up-to-date and well patronized establishment. In 1919 Arnt Olson opened a grocery and restaurant, which he continues to operate. A hotel was built in 1921, its proprietor being Leo Van Ruth. There is also in the village a garage and auto tire repair shop, a blacksmith shop, a creamery, bank and lumber yard. The last mentioned enterprise was established a number of years ago by the Independent Lumber Co. of Elk Mound, Dunn County, who continue to operate it.

The Brill Co-operative Creamery was organized by the farmers of the vicinity in 1904. In 1916 the building burned down, and the company was then reorganized under the Wisconsin co-operative law, and a new building of cement blocks was constructed on a better site. The officers for the first year were: 0. H. Kjorstad, president; Mike McLeod, vice president; George N. Keesey, secretary, and A. M. Chrislaw, treasurer. During the year 1920 the amount of cream received was 469,583 pounds; the amount of butter made, 162,893 pounds, and the amount paid the farmers for cream, $78,854.40. The officers for 1920 were: Mike McLeod, president; P. A. Helgeland, vice president; Arnt Olson, secretary, and W. H. Cockerill, treasurer and manager.

The Brill State Bank was organized May 6, 1919, by W. R. Zabel, the other persons interested as stockholders being Tom Mason, W. H. Ryan (of Haugen), Charles Zabel, D. J. Herricks, George N. Keesey, F. E. Keesey, William H. Cockerill and A. M. Chrislaw. The officers were: W. R. Zabel, president; George N. Keesey, vice president, and B. C. Leonard, cashier. These officers are still serving. The directorate is also practically the same as at the beginning, including W. R. Zabel, B. C. Leonard, George N. Keesey, Tom Mason, W. H. Ryan, A. M. Chrislaw and B. J. Herricks. The bank was organized with a capital of $10,000 and the required surplus of $1,000. The deposits now vary from $70,000 to $90,000. The bank rented a building for temporary quarters but in the latter part of 1921 constructed a good brick and tile building to be occupied by the middle of December.

Until 1903 the people in and around Brill got their mail through Dobie, where there was a store and postoffice. In 1902 George N. Keesey was appointed postmaster at Brill and has served in that capacity ever since.

The Brill Union Chapel, an undenominational place of worship, was built about fourteen years ago at the crossing of two roads about half a mile north of the village, and has since been served by ministers from Rice Lake of the Presbyterian and Seventh Day Adventist denominations. The chapel is now chiefly under Presbyterian influence.

The village of Brill obtains its water supply from wells. The main street is graded. One or two local plants have installed electric light for their own use but as yet that convenience has not extended to the village.

What is known as the "Irish Settlement" was started about 1871 by a few Irish who settled about three miles north and east of Brill. From there to the south line of Oak Grove Township there were in l876 about six Irish families, but a number of others arrived when the Knapp-Stout Lumber Company began operations in this vicinity. Among the first to come were Frank Mullen and Mike Hanlan. Since then the settlement has and still from time to time receives accessions. These early Irish were practically all in the employ of the Knapp Stout Company and had to get their supplies at the company's trading post, or store. They attended the Catholic Church at Dobie, then a small building constructed of slabs. The schoolhouse was in the southwest corner of Section 14. Those were rough days and the settlers saw hard times, but most of them were strong and hardy, and after the timber had been cleared off bought land and engaged in farming, in time becoming well to do. Some still survive, enjoying comfortable homes, and able to take an interest in the progress of the younger generation.


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