The History Of The

Village Of Canton

From the "History of Barron Co., Wisconsin, H. C. Cooper, Jr., & Co., 1922"
pp. 1137-1139.

Donated by Vic Gulickson

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Canton is an unincorporated village located on the north half of the southwest quarter of section 18, township 34 north, range 10 west, the town and range corresponding to the political division of the county known as Sumner Township.

The present village owes its existence and location to the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railway, which was built through the county in 1884; but the nucleus of the village was formed in a settlement begun some ten or twelve years previously on the townsite of Sumner, three miles south of
the Canton of today, and which is now often referred to as "Old Canton."

The latter designation has only a sentimental application, for, as above indicated, the settlement was really called Sumner, and so, also, at first, was the post office established there. After a short time, it having been discovered that there was another post office in the state by the name of Sumner, it was discontinued, or suspended for a time, but was later restored to the village under the postal name of Sioska. Among the later postmasters there were Morris Witters, proprietor of a general store, who held the office at least for several years, and Mrs. Fannie Malone, the mother of R. E. Malone of Canton.

The chief promoters and founders of Sumner were W. D. Edgbert and William Hutchinson, the latter of whom owned the land and had it platted. Mr. Hutchinson built a sawmill on Pokegema Creek, and W. D. Edgbert and Harlow J. Youmans built and operated a general store. These events occurred between 1870 and 1872, and H. J. White, who arrived there in 1873, found the sawmill and store in operation.

A still earlier settler there was Silas J. Packard, who arrived and took a homestead in 1871, and who later for several years conducted a store.

A log schoolhouse was built in Sumner, in which Mrs. Thomas Gotham, now of Chetek, taught the first school. Soon afterwards a frame schoolhouse was erected. The first teacher in this building was Judge H. J. Sill. The next winter, that of 1874-75, he was succeeded as teacher by H. J. White, now a
resident of Canton.

When the railroad was projected, it was believed that the line was to be built through the village, and the settlers there and in the surrounding region were persuaded to vote bonds for as much as the assessed valuation of their property would admit. But when the railroad was built, it did not touch
the village, but passed three miles to the north.

In 1884, when the people of Sumner saw that the railroad was not coming to them, they resolved to go to the railroad, and accordingly a general exodus took place to the site of the present village of Canton. Buildings were moved to the new site, leaving little or nothing behind, and the transplanted village began to bloom in a new environment. The village was platted Oct. 6, 1884, on land of L. C. Stanley, of Chippewa Falls, Straw and Lyte were the surveyors.

The site was a good one. The village stands on the prairie, with wooded elevations of land, resembling low hills, showing in the distance on all sides except the south and southwest. Between Canton and Cameron, which is three miles or more to the southwest, lies a part of the tract of land which from early days has been known as Pokegama Prairie. East of the village is timber land somewhat thickly sprinkled with hardheads of a size, reckoned by weight, of from 25 to 100 pounds. This tract is large enough to accommodate a hundred more settlers, who would doubtless have taken possession of it but for the
disadvantage above mentioned. The removal of the stones and the cultivation of the land is a task that may be accomplished within the next few years.

Silas J. Packard, who moved to Canton with the rest of the Sumner people, opened the first general store here, which subsequently passed through a number of different hands. The second general store was started by William Locke in 1887 or 1888. A man named Birkholz started a blacksmith shop and
after conducting it for a while was succeeded by Robert Kleve. Later Mr. Kleve's place as village blacksmith was taken by F. Skinner, who is now conducting a shop here. A hardware store was started some years ago by J. B. Fiske, who later gave it up. His place as hardware merchant was taken by
James B. Ward. In 1890 the population of the village was about 50 and that of the township 365.

There are now in the village two general stores, a hardware store, garage, bank, feed mill, lumber yard, blacksmith shop, pickle station and four potato warehouses; also a school, church and small hotel.

In early days a sawmill was built here, for which L. C. Stanley probably furnished the capital, and William Bell, now living in Chetek, operated it. As there was not much pine in the vicinity, Knapp, Stout & Co. did not work close to the village. The mill was later operated for a number of years by William
Locke, who came to Canton in 1885 and is still living here. H. J. White, another early settler still in the village, came here at the time of the general exodus in 1884, when S. J. Packard came. Arthur and William White, at an early date, settled on a farm close by and finally moved into the village. Two other pioneers of Canton are Nels Lowell and J. N. F. Cain, the latter living north of the village. R. E. Malone, the present postmaster, was born at Sumner, where, as already mentioned, his mother was at one time post mistress, but he spent a number of years out of the county before making his home in Canton.

The first postmaster at Canton was Silas J. Packard, who was succeeded in the office by Frank Lutz. Then Lewis Walsh had it, and after him William Locke, J. Packard and J. F. Caldwell. Mr. Caldwell was succeeded by Raymond E. Malone, who was appointed in 1910 and is still serving.

About 1898 or 1899 the farmers near Canton started a cheese factory on the cooperative plan, which had an existence of four or five years. Then a disagreement occurred, some of the farmers being in favor of putting in a creamery and others being opposed to it. It was finally turned into a creamery
and was so conducted until its destruction by fire.

In 1914 F. M. Lepley started a cheese factory at Canton and conducted it until 1917, when he turned it over to his son-in-law, William Sandmire. The latter operated it until it burned down in 1918, since which time Mr. Sandmire has been manager of the Canton Lumber Yard.

Another co-operative enterprise started in Canton was the Canton Farmers' Store and Market Association, which was organized in September, 1919, some fifty or sixty farmers taking stock in it.
G. J. Boortz was the first president, Robert Miller vice president, Julius Krueger treasurer, and
J. B. Stearns secretary. Later Thomas Gulickson became president. The farmers bought stock from Charles Johnson and at first used his building as their store, but subsequently they established quarters opposite the general store of R. E. Malone, who was manager of the Association during most of the time it lasted. Having started with insufficient capital, the hard times and high prices broke them up, and after an existence of a year and a half the enterprise came to an end.

The Canton Farmers Telephone Co., which has always been a co-operative concern, was incorporated Dec. 31, 1908, by Olaf Arneson, P. E. Lowell, L. E. Losey, William Locke and Fred Block. Olaf Arneson was president and F. E. Moe secretary and treasurer. The company has about 125 phones and in addition to
Canton Village, covers territory as far east as Lehigh, as far south as Chetek, also a mile and a half to the west, and to the north and northwest about half way to Rice Lake. Connections are made with the Chippewa Valley Telephone Co.'s lines and with those of the Barron County Telephone Co., the farmers' lines running out of Chetek and, indeed, practically all the farmers' lines throughout this region. The officers of the company in December, 1921, were: Frank Pitman, president, and A. 0. White secretary and treasurer. The directors were Frank Pitman, Dell Cowin, Mat Huiras, John Halverson, A. 0. White and Fred Locke.

The Farmers State Bank of Canton was organized in the fall of 1917 by C. J. Johnson and others, with a capital stock of $10,000. The first officers were: C. J. Johnson, president; J. M. Ward, vice president, and Erland Engh, cashier. The building now occupied was erected at starting and is an ideal village banking house-fireproof, with cement floors and full basement, and provided with a complete modern equipment, C. J. Johnson sold the majority of his stock to David Russell, but later bought it back. When Mr. Russell came in he became president and so continued for about a year, Mr. Engh continuing as
cashier. Before Mr. Russell got out George Malcolm became president and Mr. Russell was then vice president. With that exception Mr. Ward has been vice president from the beginning. The present officers (Dec. 11 1921) are: George Malcolm, president; J. M. Ward, vice president; E. 0. Johnson, cashier. The directors are George Malcolm, Bert Apker, Wesley Winchester, J. M. Ward, J. Packard,
E. 0. Johnson and A. 0. White.

The first schoolhouse in Canton was a frame building which was put up about thirty years ago on the homestead of H. J. White, close to the southeast corner of the village. It was used for educational purposes for about ten years, and at that time another school building was erected, which is now used
as a blacksmith shop, though when built it was located farther east, having been subsequently moved to its present site. When it finally became inadequate to accommodate the increasing number of pupils, the present building, a concrete structure of two stories, was erected. To this an addition will soon have to be made, as it is now overcrowded. This is a grade school which includes also the first two years of the high school course. Eighty-eight pupils were enrolled in December, 1921.

It was thirty years ago or more that the religiously inclined people of Canton united their resources and built a church which came under the control of the Free Methodist society, though people of different denominations met there to worship. The most active worker in the organization and building was the
Rev. Mr. Howe, who himself performed much of the manual labor and subsequently made personal sacrifices to clear the building from debt. In course of time quite a number of the members moved away, mostly to Chetek, until the Canton congregation had dwindled down to a few members. Then, in 1909, with the permission and approval of the conference, the building was moved to Chetek, where a Free Methodist class had been organized three years before. This removal was opposed by the Canton members, who believed that the ownership of the building was vested in the Canton trustees, and an appeal was made to the court. There the matter was decided in favor of the Chetek members and the
removal was accordingly proceeded with. Finding themselves without a place of worship, the Canton people subsequently got together and erected a new edifice, joining the Methodist Episcopal organization. This building is the only church in the village.

The water supply of Canton is obtained from wells. Electric light for general purposes has not yet been installed, but the J. M. Ward garage is provided with an electric light generating system for its own use and has extended wires to the Methodist Church, these two buildings being at present the only ones in the village lighted in that manner.

The population of the village is 217.
 

 
 

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