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The incorporated city of Chetek lies in Section 30, township 33 north, range 10 west, or somewhat more than a mile southwest of the center of Chetek Township.
It is situated on the northwest shore of Chetek Lake, a beautiful body of water of irregular outline, well stocked with bass, pickerel and other choice fish, and largely frequented in the summer time by tourists and rest seekers from various and some far-distant parts of the country. This lake is one of a chain extending seven or eight miles from northwest to southeast, the north end of Chetek city touching the south end of Prairie Lake. The country surrounding the city, and especially that near the shores of the lake, presents many picturesque features, It is well adapted to stock raising, dairying and general farming, all of which are extensively carried on.
Chetek was first settled nearly sixty years ago, in 1863. It was never incorporated as a village but became an incorporated city in 1891. It is on a branch of the Chicago, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway, which was constructed in 1882.
Previous to white settlement the country in this vicinity was well wooded, the timber consisting mostly of white and jack pine, with some varieties of hardwood. Knapp, Stout & Co., who began logging operations here in the middle of the sixties, cut only the white pine, as there was no profit to be made at that time from the hardwood. William W. Carey, now living in Chetek city, arrived in this vicinity about 1866, as a boy of fifteen, and remembers that lumbering operations were then being actively carried on by the above mentioned company.
Among the pioneers who settled on land in the township were: William Bell, H. D. Ross, Charles Dean and Thomas E. Gotham, all of whom arrived in 1872. Mr. Bell settled on land three miles north of the village site, and about a mile farther north was a man named Albert Morrell, who had arrived about 1870 or 1871 These early settlers and, others obtained their supplies from Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire or Vanville (now Bloomer).
It is not now known who was the first white settler on the site of the city. In March, 1872, when B. L. Eighmy arrived, with his two brothers, William and 0. W., he found five settlers here, all located in what is now the south end of town, on what was subsequently laid out as the first village plat. These were D. M. Beagle, Duane Tuller, C. P. Tuller (usually known as "Cobe"), Walter L. Morrison and W. B. Lampman. They were engaged mostly in hunting and trapping. Mr. Eighmy, who is still living, first settled on a farm three miles south. but before long became a merchant in the village, or on the village site. Edward J. Banks, who arrived in 1870, settled on what is known as Banks' Addition in the western part of the city.
Chetek was platted Oct. 15, 1875, on land owned by Knapp, Stout & Co. and E. M. Sexton. It embraced a large tract including much of the present platted portion of the city and other territory besides. Dec. 4, 1877, all except blocks 29 and 30 were vacated. The present business section is located largely on the Second Addition, replotted on a part of the vacated land formerly occupied by the original plat. This Second Addition was platted June 12, 1882, by Knapp, Stout & Co., the surveyor being Thomas Parker. It occupies six blocks and is bounded by Main and Fourth, Douglas and Moore streets. The two blocks left of the original plat lie between Main and Second, Mill and Douglas streets.
During the earliest period in the history of the settlement, Mr. Beagle's log cabin was the stopping place for travelers, but John Barry was the first to erect a building designed for hotel purposes. It was called the Lake View House, and stood on block 29 on the original plat, where the building may still be seen. Mr. Barry was proprietor of this hotel for some eight or ten years. Some time after the erection of the Lake View House Mr. Beagle moved to a farm across the creek and about half a mile to the southeast, where he built a large frame hotel, which was quite a building for its day, and is still a notable landmark, though now used as a farm residence. For some time town meetings were held there. This building is now within the city limits.
John Townsend may be regarded as the first storekeeper in or near Chetek, as he kept a few groceries for sale in his dugout located close to the large Beagle Hotel. He was also accustomed to go to Long Lake to buy fish from the Indians, which he sold in Eau Claire.
The question as to who started the second store remain somewhat in doubt, but it is known that a man called Pink Mattix, who married a daughter of Bradford Lampman, had a little store on the bank of the lake near the W. L. Morrison place.
B. L. Eighmy also started a store in the early seventies, in which the postoffice was kept, A. A. French being postmaster. The next general store seems to have been that of Chase & Elmer, and was conducted by them for two years, when, according to one account, they sold out to a Mr. Miller, whose daughter was the wife of George Whitman, and Mr. and Mrs. Whitman conducted it for a while in the latter's name. Both the Eighmy and Whitman stores were in operation in 1876, but the Whitmans remained but a short time longer, as in 1877 Mrs. Whitman's father, Mr. Miller, was conducting the store, though, it is said, he had very little in it. A Mr. Parker also kept a little store about this time. But by far the largest and most complete store was started by Knapp, Stout & Co. about 1879. Its dimensions were 80 by 26 feet and there was a large warehouse built onto it. From the start it did a large business, the people finding there a larger variety of goods than they could in places operated with a small capital. It was first managed for the lumber company by C. W. Moore, who had erected the building, his successors in the same position being J. W. Munnell, J. Hornby Butcher and J. C. Phillips, the last mentioned of whom is still a resident of Chetek. C. W. Moore in 1893 started a store of his own. He has passed away, but is survived by his widow, who resides at St. Croix Falls, Wis. Knapp, Stout, & Co. also conducted a boarding house for their men, which was managed for them first by Mr. and Mrs. John McGregor and later by Mr. and Mrs. Cush Rogers.
Some years before the establishment of their store Knapp, Stout & Co. had built a large sawmill and planing mill, and later a grist mill. The latter was erected by B. B. Downs, a millwright, whom they made foreman of the mill. Their store was operated until 1903 and then closed. The building was sold, removed to another site and later burned down.
In the fall of 1881 Robert Stewart and his partner, L. Francois, erected a store building in "Bobtown" (Stewart's Addition), in which they opened for business April 15, 1882, having hauled their goods from Chippewa and Vanville (now Bloomer). After two years Mr. Francois sold his interest to Mr. Stewart, who conducted the store about two years longer, when he failed. He is now living in Superior, Wis., while Mr. Francois is still a resident of Chetek. John McGregor built a hotel called the Central House, about 1882, and about the same time, or soon after, S. W. Briggs erected the store building since occupied by the Southworth hardware store.
In the early eighties Hatch & Bird opened a hardware store, and in the spring of 1883 a building was erected where the Moe store is now and opened as a hardware store of Joseph Hurst and Charles M. Horel, under the name of Hurst & Horel. After a short time Mr. Hurst dropped out and Mr. Horel then added furniture to his stock. Later he sold his stock to Stewart & Francois and went to Rice Lake to manage Knapp, Stout & Co.'s stock farm.
The almost simultaneous appearance of so many business enterprises at this time was due to the coming of the railroad. A construction train, with a passenger car on the end, passed through on July 4, 1882, and this event, combined with the celebration of the national holiday, drew a large crowd to the village. Some of the railroad men, after drinking more or less, became boisterous and were driven out of the village by the farmers. The first passenger train passed through the village about October 1, that year. As an incentive to the construction of the railroad, the city issued bonds to the amount of five thousand dollars.
In the early eighties, M. C. Hill, better known as "Potter" Hill, opened a blacksmith's shop on the site of the present Johnson Bros.' garage, which he carried for about eight or ten years, at the end of which time he moved his shop to a farm on the east side of the lake. The second blacksmith shop opened where the Cooperative Store is now located, by Charles Peterson, who operated it until nine years ago, when he retired.
In the early eighties, also, Andrew Olson, who had a saloon, opened a drug store next door, which was conducted for him by Einer Kleve. This was opposite the site of the present Southworth hardware store.
Dr. William H. Robbins came to Chetek in November, 1881, and Mrs. Robbins, with their son and daughter, arrived in the following spring. Dr. Dewitt C. Strong got here a few days previous to Dr. Robbins, so the village now had two physicians, in addition to which two other physicians, both advanced in years, were living some distance out in the country, Dr. Bailey and Dr. Nichols, the latter living east of the lake. The life of a physician was hard in those days, especially in the winter time. Dr. Robbins, when called to attend a patient in the country, often found himself unable to drive up to the house, but had to leave his horse and cutter standing in the snow and proceed the rest of the way on snow shoes.
D. M. Beagle, who was here in 1872, if not earlier, served for a while as postmaster and, so far as is now remembered, was the first to hold that office. He was succeeded in it by A. A. French, who kept it in the Eighmy store. After Mr. French, C. W. Moore had it, and after him in succession, W. H. Bundy, Bernard Moe, Peter Swansby, Bernard Moe (second time), J. H. Bell and Carl Whitaker, the last mentioned being the present incumbent. When J. W. Bell became postmaster, June 1, 1897, it was an office of the fourth class and it was raised to the third class during his incumbency. He served eighteen years, or until Aug. 1, 1915, and it was he who established the five rural routes now operated from this office. The early postmasters kept the office in their stores, but the quarters now occupied in the Farmers & Merchants Bank Building are held by the government on a fifteen-year lease.
It was as a summer resort that Chetek first came into widespread notice. The pleasing scenery and excellent opportunities for boating and fishing attracted the attention of casual visitors and sportsmen, and soon people from Menomonie, Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls began building clubhouses and summer homes on the north and east shores of the lake. Later, on the south end of the west side of the lake, the Chautaqua grounds were laid out, and the annual assemblies drew many people here, some of whom became recruits to the summer colony. Advertising booklets widely distributed also brought visitors from distant parts of the country, including Illinois, Louisiana, Texas and other states. The number of summer cottages has increased to about 400 and more are built every year.
Chetek was incorporated by the legislature as a city in 1891, and on April 2, that year, the following city officers were elected: C. W. Moore, mayor; A. F. Nichols, clerk; J. W. Bell, treasurer; J. E. Cates, assessor, H. J. Dixon, justice of the peace. The aldermen were as follows: First Ward Andrew Olson and Mike Ganske; supervisor, Walter Speed. Second Ward--Aldermen, George A. Strong and Thomas A. Reardon; supervisor, Isaac Bull.
The machinery of local government was at once put into working order and was soon running smoothly. Ordinances were passed pertaining to the licensing of spirituous liquors and the restraint and punishment of immoderate drinking; also for the public health; to prevent the running at large of certain animals; the regulating of the business of hawkers, auctioneers; and in general, everything having to do with the maintenance of public order. For some years tramps were a great nuisance and the city clerk's records contain many items showing that their care was a charge on the city, from ten to thirty being sometimes cared for at one time. In September, 1903, the cost of a saloon license was five hundred dollars.
The question of establishing a waterworks system came up early in 1903, and at an election held on June 17 the proposition of bonding the city to the extent of $6,000 for that purpose, the loan to be payable in twenty years, was decided in the affirmative. The money was accordingly borrowed from the trust funds of the state, and in August Oscar Claussen of St. Paul was engaged to draw the plans. On September 9 the bid of W. I. Gray & Co. for the construction work was accepted. The original bid was $6,736, but an extension of the water main having been decided on, this increased the final cost by about $1,200. In February, 1905, the plant was completed and accepted, the council deducting $100 from the contractor's bill on account of delay in fulfilling the contract. The plant consisted of a water tank, dynamo, mains and hydrants, and the wells from which the water supply is obtained. Since then the mains have been considerably extended.
In August, 1904, a proposal of the Watrous Engine Co. to furnish 800 feet of fire hose, and carts, for $475 was accepted. In March, 1908, the council recommended an appropriation of two mills on the dollar to be made for building a fire hall and city hall, and subsequent action resulted in the erection of the building now in use for those purposes.
The Chetek Light & Power Co.'s plant was built in the summer of 1906 by W. J. Gavin, who owned and operated it himself for about twelve years. About 1918 Mr. Gavin sold the plant to K. Rosholt, A. T. Galby and J. C. Phillips. In 1919 some improvements were made in the machinery and a new cement dam built, which gave increased waterpower. Two water-wheels are used and one dynamo, and there are also two gasoline engines which are used to furnish additional power when required. The plant supplies electricity for street and house lighting, and also the motive power for pumping water into the city tank, located several blocks to the north, and also motive power for industrial plants. The present manager is E. E. Conrad. The large mill building, to which Mr. Gavin added the greater part of the present powerhouse, was erected by K. Rosholt, who had previously bought the old gristmill and waterpower of Knapp, Stout & Co., which he operated until it burned down in 1911. The present mill was at one time operated as the Northwestern Cereal Mill by outside parties. It was also rented for a time by Mr. Gavin, who used it for the manufacture of breakfast food. The present company is operating it as a feed mill.
The Chetek Rural Telephone Co. was organized in 1903 by E. V. Babcock, now clerk of court at Barron, who subsequently sold out to Grant Ross. Mr. Ross later sold to F. W. Ziesniss of Chetek who, after operating the plant for some years, disposed of it to T. B. Haskins, also of this city. On April 1, 1917, Mr. Haskins sold out to the present company, an incorporated concern, the officers of which are: George Thrasher, president; I. 0. Sherwood, vice-president; 0. R. Kienitz, secretary-treasurer and manager. The company's lines cover the city and practically also the townships of Chetek, Maple Grove and Dovre, also extending to Rusk Farm in Rusk County, northeast of Chetek. The company has about 200 phones in the city and an equal number in the country. In Dovre and Maple Grove Townships they control 150 additional phones belonging to mutual companies, for which the Chetek company does switching, or operating, this being equivalent to an additional subscription list. They also have connections with the Barron County Telephone Co.'s lines and with those of the Bell (long distance) lines.
The commercial activities of the city were given a new impetus in July, 1900, when K. Rosholt of Eau Claire established here the Farmers and Merchants Bank. It was operated as a private concern until Sept. 8, 1908, when it was incorporated as a state bank with a capital of $10,000. The incorporators and officers were as follows: K. Rosholt, president; Mrs. Gusta Rosholt, vice-president, and A. T. Galby, cashier. Mr. Rosholt continued as president until his death in January, 1920, when he was succeeded in that office by A. T. Galby, who is still serving. R. R. Rosholt is vice-president and W. R. Strong cashier. In 1910 the capital of the institution was increased to $15,000, and in 1920 to $25,000. The directors in December, 1921, were A. T. Galby, Mrs. Gusta Rosholt and R. R. Rosholt. R. B. Andrews is assistant cashier.
After a number of years it was felt that there was room for another banking institution in the city, and in 1913 the Chetek State Bank was organized. The stock was sold to quite a number of people, a good deal of it locally. The capital was $10,000 and the first officers were: C. W. Dinger, president; F. A. Southworth, vice-president; Bernard Moe, cashier; A. M. Simpson, assistant cashier. The directors were: J. W. Bell, W. K. Coffin, C. W. Dinger, B. F. Faast, T. B. Keith, C. F. Museus and F. A. Southworth. The bank at starting erected the building which they still occupy. In 1916 B. M. Apker succeeded Bernard Moe as cashier and still continues in that office. The capital stock has remained the same, while the present surplus (December, 1921) is $2,000 and the deposits about $180,000. C. W. Dinger is still president and S. Van Gilder is now vice-president. The assistant cashier is Gustave Johnson.
Chetek Cooperative Creamery Co. The plant of this company was purchased by its present owners, the farmers, in June, 1918, it having been formerly owned by John Morrison of Bloomer and managed by E. J. Morrison, his father. In 1920 the amount of cream received was 826,270 pounds; pounds of butter fat, 221,180; pounds of butter made, 267,016. The average overrun was 20.72 per cent; the average test of cream, 267; the average price received for butter, $.556; the average price paid for butter fat, $.606. The officers in 1921 were: W. F. Barber, president, Elmer Weldon, vice-president; William Taft, secretary; Mrs. Raymond Tiffany, treasurer, and Hoie Harrison, manager.
The Lakeside Creamery is owned by Guy Speers of Eau Claire, Wis., and the plant was built in 1917. It is now being used for the manufacture of concentrated milk for ice cream, about 25,000 pounds of milk a day being bought from the farmers in summer and 7,000 to 8,000 pounds in winter. It is sold in Eau Claire, Duluth and elsewhere. Mr. Speers represents the Eau Claire Creamery Co., which has factories In various other cities and villages of Wisconsin, including Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls, Cadott, Greenwood, New Auburn, Cameron and Bruce.
The Chetek Co-operative Mercantile Co. was organized in June, 1915, the first officers being: 0. E. Miller, president; Edward Otterholt, secretary and treasurer; and G. A. Tyler, manager. The offlcers for 1920-21 are: President, L. P. Charles; secretary and treasurer, A. T. Galby; manager, Louis Hedenstrom; directors, Thomas Henson, William Taft and Charles Rehm. The company purchased the large brick building and the business of the Tyler Mercantile Co., made general improvements and in 1920 erected a large warehouse. The store is wide in its scope and handles all lines that can be purchased advantageously, from such heavy material as farm machinery down to household notions. There are about 400 stockholders, most of whom own one share apiece, a very few owning two, the par value being $100. A dividend of 7 per cent is paid, after which the profits are divided among the consumers, in proportion to the consumers' purchases. The manager, Louis Hedenstrom, is thoroughly experienced, and is carrying the store to a decided success.
A small saw and planing mill was started in Chetek about 15 years ago by George Slawson, who is still operating it.
In 1919 Charles Rich established the Chetek Feed Mill which he is now operating. It is equipped with modern machinery and Mr. Rich manufactures flour and other cereal products, besides grinding feed.
The Averill-Mau Lumber Co. established a well equipped lumber yard here during the winter of 1920-21.
In the north part of town, near the lake, there is a pavilion, which was built in the spring of 1920 by Ben Ganske and Rex Pelton, who are proprietors, and which is used for basketball, summer dances and other entertainments. The grounds cover one acre.
There are now two hotels in Chetek, the Yellow Lodge and the Douglas House. The former was started by G. B. Rickard but was subsequently enlarged and sold to A. Haffie, who sold it to the present proprietor, A. E. Cutsforth, It is situated on the bank of the lake and is provided with modern conveniences.
The Chetek Equity Live Stock Shipping Association was organized by the farmers in 1911, and all stock now shipped out of Chetek passes through the hands of the Association. In the year 1921 seventy carloads were handled. The Association numbers about 480 shippers, covering all the territory tributary to Chetek and extending east into Rusk County. In 1921 J. M. Krans was president, 0. C. Hanson, secretary-treasurer, and Ed Otterholt, manager. On the board of directors, in addition to the officers, were Frank Pitman, F. W. Barber and L. P. Johnson.
The city has also an active Commercial Club with a good membership.
While municipal improvements, public utility plants and private business enterprises were being planned and constructed, other agencies of civilization, more or less connected therewith, namely, the press, the school and the church, were doing their part in the work of progress.
The following account of Chetek schools was written by Amos B. Carter: "In 1871 Cobe Tuller, school trustee for this part of the county, authorized the people of Chetek to build their first schoolhouse, which was a log structure located at what is now known as the Dunsmore Hill. Mrs. D. Plato was the first teacher in this building. She had previously taught school one summer in her residence, for which she was paid by the town.
"About 1878 a new frame building was constructed some distance east of the log building. It is now the Catholic Church. Mrs. Cholerton was the first teacher in this building. It was used for all the grades until 1883; then it became too small and Moore's Hall was rented during the years of 1883 and 1884 for the upper classes with N. C. Carver as teacher.
"In 1884 a four-room frame building was erected on the site of the present schoolhouse. The two lower rooms were finished and used the first year, then were added the high and grammar rooms as they were needed. J. Leidenberg, the first principal, taught for two years. He was followed by Mr. Fish and then Mr. Thomas. Mr. Leidenberg returned in 1889, and thus graduated the first class from Chetek High in 1890. The members of this class were Bennie Museus, Joseph Gilbert and Byron Carter. A two-room addition was built onto the north side of this building in 1902, but after using it a few weeks, fire, caused by a defective chimney, destroyed the entire building.
"Soon after the destruction of this building plans were made for a new fireproof schoolhouse, and during its completion school was conducted in various places; the high school in the Presbyterian Church, under L. P. Charles as principal, grammar grades in the Methodist Church, and the lower grades in the Knapp, Stout & Co.'s building.
"In 1903 the present brick schoolhouse, which cost $16,500, was completed. It contained six rooms and several classrooms in the beginning, but has been remodeled until the high room now occupies two rooms instead of one, and the basement has been made into two grade rooms. During 1917 the building became so crowded that Mr. Capener's storeroom across the street was leased for the eighth grade. During 1919, 1920 and 1921 the Capener Building has housed both the seventh and eighth grades, while the barracks erected in 1920 houses the fifth and sixth grades, still leaving the fourth grade in the basement and the other room is used for hot lunches.
"Another large brick building on the western part of the present school site, estimated at costing $60,000 and consisting of a junior high on the first floor and high school proper on the second floor, is now in course of construction."
Another educational agency was the Chautauqua organization, formed in 1898. Thirteen acres of ground in the southeast part of the city was purchased and a large tent being provided for the early meetings. Later an auditorium was built capable of seating 1,200 people, and a dining hall and refreshment stands were also put up. The assemblies proved of much interest and gave local residents and summer visitors the opportunity of hearing such speakers as William J. Bryan, Senator Robert La Follette, T. De Witt Talmadge, Maude Ballington Booth and others, besides good musical organizations, including vocal and instrumental artists. The association was thus kept up for fifteen years and was then dissolved on account of the change in the Chautauqua system to the present bureau plan. The grounds were bought in 1919 by the Chippewa Presbytery and are being used for young people's work, church conventions, boys' and girls' camps and Bible institutes. Meetings are held every year and it is expected that they will be permanent.
A circulating library was established in Chetek in 1888 by the business and professional men together with other citizens. It flourished for a while, and acquired over 2,000 volumes. But after a time it was discontinued and the books packed. These books were moved from place to place and many were lost. A few of them are now in the possession of J. W. Bell. The new school building is provided with a library room for the use of the public. The books in Mr. Bell's possession will be placed there and an effort made to find some of the others. This will be the nucleus for a future public library.
The Presbyterian Church of Chetek was organized in January, 1883, and a church edifice was erected in that year, the site having been donated by Knapp, Stout & Co. It is a neat and tasteful frame building and has been kept in good condition. Among the early members of the church are: Mrs. D. C. Strong, Mr. and Mrs. A. P. Nickels, Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Finneley, Mr. and Mrs. M. L. Andrews, Mr. and Mrs. F. E. Andrews, S. M. Blatchford, Mr. and Mrs. A. S. Jopp, Mr. and Mrs. Duncan C. McDonell, Mr. and Mrs. C. A. Whittney and others. The Rev. W. C. Chapin was the first regular pastor, though before the church was built occasional services had been held. The building has since been improved by the addition of a basement, which was put in during the pastorate of the Rev. C. L. Merriam, May 1, 1910, to Jan. 1, 1912. Another active pastor who made his influence felt was the Rev. George E. Griffiths, who served from 1916 to 1918. The Ladies' Aid Society has also exercised a strong influence in the growth of the church. In 1906 this society built the manse and has since kept it up, chiefly by giving entertainments, and without asking one cent in the way of a direct pledge. The manse was recently remodeled at the cost of fifteen hundred dollars. The entire church property is now worth about thirty-five hundred dollars. The church has about eighty members, while there is a Sunday school enrollment of between sixty and seventy. The last resident pastor, Rev. W. H. Sargent, left in July, 1921.
St. Boniface Roman Catholic Church. This society was organized in 1880, though previously a few services had been held at the home of John Kleve. Father J. Dole, then pastor of the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes at Dobie, came to Chetek as missionary to hold the services at the Kleve home. In 1880 the society bought the present church property, the building having previously been a schoolhouse. Including the two acres of land, it cost only $650, but so small was the society and so poor its members, that it took them fourteen years to pay for it. In 1881 the society was incorporated and called the church of St. Boniface by Father Baker, then pastor. Among the organizers and earliest members were John Kleve, August Qualich, John Gregor, Martin Qualich, Frank Novek and their families. The society now numbers about twenty families. The parsonage is a good brick building, built six years ago at a cost of about $2,000. The present pastor, Rev. W. Tabencki, came to the parish in February, 1918. He also serves the Catholic churches at Barron and Cameron, holding services twice a month in winter and more frequently in summer.
As early as 1872 the Rev. Geo. S. Newcomb of Rice Lake, who had parishes at Rice Lake. Chetek, Sumner and the Fox Settlement, held Methodist services every fourth Sunday in Chetek, and it is possible that occasional services had been previously held here by itinerant preachers. The first step in the direction of a regular organization was taken in the spring of 1883, when a number of persons met at the home of Mrs. Mattie E. Webster, wife of Judson Webster, and organized a Methodist Episcopal Mite Society, the object of which was to raise funds for the establishment of a Methodist Episcopal Church. The first officers elected were: Mrs. C. H. Horel, president; Mrs. Mattie E. Webster, vice-president; Mrs. Phillip Lousley, treasurer; and Miss May Howard, who later became the wife of Robert Stewart, secretary. Funds were raised through membership dues, payable every two weeks, and through suppers and other entertainments, which were given from time to time, but the process of raising the amount necessary for a building fund was a slow one and extended over a number of years. Among the early members of the society, in addition to those already mentioned, were Dr. and Mrs. William H. Robbins and Mrs. Nancy C. Howard. Mr. and Mrs. G. B. Rickard, though not members of the society. rendered active aid, and subsequently Mrs. Thomas E. Gotham and others joined and did good work. In the meanwhile religious services were being held, at first in the school building which is now the Catholic Church, and later in Stewart's Hall, Elder Wesley E. Robinson being the first pastor. Under the subsequent pastorate of the Rev. Mr. Brown the church edifice was built and dedicated, and he himself took an active and enthusiastic part in bringing the matter to a consummation. The cornerstone was laid in August, 1890, but it was a year or more after that before the church was finally completed and dedicated. The building a frame structure with a stone foundation, was improved in 1914-15 by the addition of a basement. A long succession of pastors followed the Revs. Robinson and Brown, but for a number of years there was no regular parsonage, the ministers with their families occupying rented houses. This proved a great inconvenience, as at times a forced removal became necessary on account of a change of ownership, and it was finally determined to build a parsonage. Steps were accordingly taken to raise the necessary funds, which, like the raising of funds for the building of the church, proved a hard task. Mrs. Eva H. Banks, wife of E. J. Banks, and Mrs. Thomas E. Gotham made personal solicitations, not only in Chetek but in the surrounding towns and villages, but the donations came slowly and in small amounts. The Epworth League, of which Mrs. Banks was then president, raised $75, and last, in 1901, the parsonage was built at a cost of about $800, which was, about half what it would cost today. The church has now about fifty members, the Sunday school enrollment numbering about fifty-five. The only auxiliary society at present is the Ladies' Aid. The last pastor, the Rev. James Trish, after serving one year up to August, 1921, was returned and continued here until October when he left.
The Free Methodist Church of Chetek. This society originated in Canton more than thirty years ago, where, after holding services for a while as best they could, the people resolved to build a church edifice. The prime mover and most active worker in the enterprise was the Rev. Mr. Howe, who himself hauled logs from the woods, trimmed and sawed them and did other manual labor. Some expense was necessarily incurred, and it is said, that when the last payment became due and there was no money in the treasury, Mr. Howe sold his trunk, watch and coat to raise it. In course of time a number of the members moved away, and there being not enough left in Canton to keep up the church there, the conference gave the building to the class in Chetek, to which place most of them had come. This class had been organized about three years previously by the Rev. William Good, who served the Sioux Creek Church, and for the first year held its meetings in the Presbyterian Church, and then for two years in a hall. The removal of the building from Canton to Chetek was not effected without some difficulty, as the trustees of the church, believing that they had legal rights in it amounting to ownership, protested strongly, and took legal action, causing the arrest of William Bell, who had charge of the teams and was managing the work. He was released by the court, however, and the case was decided in favor of the Chetek members. The building was removed to Chetek in sections, the events thus described taking place in the summer of 1909. Mr. Bell, who is still living, was then about eighty years old, and it is said that he had to stand some joking from his friends, one of them, R. A. Burton of Cameron, remarking that he never expected to see an old and respected citizen arrested for, stealing a church. At that time the church had a lady pastor, the Rev. Mattie Stole, who resided in Chetek and had charge of the class here. She remained for two years longer and was succeeded in the pastorate by the Rev. Edward 0. Deitzman, who served one year. Then the Rev. George Simpson was pastor a year, and after that for a year the pulpit was vacant. The next pastor, the Rev. W. Carns, served three years, and his successor, Rev. Edward Wolff, for the same length of time. The latter was succeeded by Rev. Frank Wolff, who is now in the second year of his pastorate here. Before the church was removed to Chetek, a parsonage had been built here to accommodate the pastor who served the Free Methodist Church at Sioux Creek. This parsonage burned down six years ago, after which the society bought the building now in use for that purpose. The church has 48 members, and there is a large Sunday school and a missionary society, the active members of which are ladies. The Free Methodist Church at Sioux Creek, on account of diminishing membership, finally disbanded and sold their building to the Adventists.
The Advent Christian Church of Chetek was organized about 1884 or 1885 by the Rev. Charles Slocum, meetings for a number of years being held in private houses or in a hall. Then A. E. Capener donated a lot for the site of a church edifice which was erected soon after and is the building now in use. Mr. Slocum remained pastor until shortly before his death in February, 1904, and his successor in the pastorate was the Rev. W. S. Bowden, who served one year. Then Rev. T L. Stephens was pastor three years. Rev. C. E. Brown about two years, and Rev. Joseph A. Parquette for about two years. Mr. Parquette was succeeded by the present pastor, Rev. George J. Holland, who came here in 1916. The present membership of the church is 116; the Sunday school enrollment about 65. There is a society of Loyal Workers, composed of young people, and a Helpers' Union, composed of ladies, which performs the functions of a ladies' aid society. The church is enjoying a healthy growth and is one of the most active in the city.
The Advent Christian Church in Dovre Township, located seven miles from Chetek city, on the line between Dovre and Dallas Townships, was organized about twelve years ago by Rev. T. L. Stephens, the building, a small frame structure, being purchased from the Free Methodists. For a few years the congregation was served by the resident pastor of Chetek, and at one time numbered about 35 members, but in 1918, as a number of the members had moved to the city, the society disbanded as a church organization and the building is not now in use. The remaining members, however, hold Sunday school in the district schoolhouse. The church building, when belonging to the Free Methodists, was sometimes known as the Sioux Creek Methodist Church.
Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints. This society was organized at Twin Lakes, Bloomer Township, Chippewa County, Wis., July 31, 1893, the first members being Mr. and Mrs. Clayton Weeks, Mr. and Mrs. William Mair, Mr. and Mrs. James Mair, Sr., Mr. and Mrs. James Mair, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. John McGinnis, Leroy Colbert. Orlando Colbert, P. L. Richardson and others. The first services were held in schoolhouses in that vicinity and were continued there until the Church was transferred to Chetek about fifteen years ago, a number of the members having come here to live. A lot close to the railroad track was donated by George Clark, Sr., and the present church edifice erected. In course of time the location was found inconvenient, on account of its close proximity to the railroad, and accordingly about three years ago the building was moved to its present site on a lot purchased by the society. At the same time a belfry was added to the church and a basement put under it. With these improvements the property is now worth about five thousand dollars. Elder P. L. Richardson was the first pastor, acting in that capacity while the congregation was at Twin Lakes and for a number of years in Chetek about fifteen years in all. About three years ago Leroy Colbert became pastor and still remains so. Other officers of the church are as follows: Deacon, Charles Flynn; teachers, James Mair, Jr., Austin Johnson, George Clark, Jr.; priests, Fred Nowak, Marshall Shedd, George Lafferty and M. 0. Shedd; janitor, Arthur A. Rich. The Religio Department is a young people's educational society. There is also a Woman's Department of a similar character, and a Sunday school with an enrollment of about one hundred. The present church membership is 237. In the basement of the church is a kitchen for use when suppers and other entertainments are held. The Sunday school is divided into primary and senior departments. Wednesday night prayer meetings are held and there is a young people's prayer meeting at 9 o'clock Sunday morning, in charge of Elder P. A. Atwood. In the north end of the city, just south of Long bridge, is a piece of ground, 10 by 30 rods in dimensions, owned by the Northern Wisconsin District, which is fitted up for a summer meeting place. The buildings include an auditorium, refreshment stand, dining hall and a cottage for ministers. This place is known as L. D. S. Reunion Park, and services are held here once a year, lasting ten days, beginning in the latter part of June and continued so as to include the Fourth of July, when special services are held. The people come from various places, the elders sometimes from as far as Missouri and Illinois. The attendance averages about three hundred, and as many as forty tents are pitched during the camping season. This property is valued at about five thousand dollars. The auditorium is the largest in town and is used also for large general meetings, such as memorial services and funerals.
A Cemetery Association was organized in Chetek in January, 1882. Its first officers were: C. W. Moore, president; W. R. Smith, secretary, and E. J. Banks, treasurer. Lakeview Cemetery is situated on the bank of the lake and contains seventeen and one-half acres. It is a place of natural beauty, which has been enhanced by the improvements that have been made. The cemetery contains some very fine monuments. M. W. Hatch is now president of the Association, Byron Carter secretary and W. J. Burnham treasurer.
Since the reorganization of the National Guard in 1920 a militia company has been organized in Chetek, which received Federal recognition and was mustered in on May 17, 1921. The organization consists of 41 enlisted men commanded by First Lieutenant Merton Martenson, and is the headquarters company of the First Battalion, First Wisconsin Infantry. The armory in the Opera House building is used for drill, and the company contains a number of high school boys who enjoy the drill and profit by the discipline. The company spends two weeks of each year at Camp Douglas.
Albert Weatherby Post, No. 128, Chetek, was organized in Moore & Regan's Hall, Chetek, on Tuesday evening, Jan. 15, 1884. The charter members were C. W. Moore, 0. J. Hurlburt, P. Swansby, D. C. Wood, M. L. Andrus, F. E. Andrews, Owen Brady,C.. A. Whitney, C. W. Meadows, L. H. Nichols, 0. W. Eighmy, F. J. Banks, B. F. Tyler, S. W. Briggs, B. L. Eighmy, L. P. Locke, H. 0. Field, A. D. Stacy, S. J. Packard, A. M. White, W. H. Hogeboom, A. J. Barton, G. W. Sines, A. Richal, William F. Colbert, D. M. Morley, J. Hanafain, D. A. Russell, C. H. Swan, E. Millard, H. J. Dixon, M. L. Johnson, S. N. Blatchford and A. S. Jopp. The first officers were as follows: C. W. Moore, P. C.; A. J. Barton, S. V. C.; H. J. Dixon, J. V. C.; A. S. Jopp, Adjt.; L. H. Nichols, Surg.; S. J. Packard, Chap.; C. W. Meadows, Q. M.; M. L. Andrus, 0. D.; S. W. Briggs, 0. G.; S. 0. Field, S. M.; A. M. White, Q. M. S. The lapse of time has reduced this once strong post to about twenty members, fourteen of whom reside in the city and the rest in the country. Those now living in the city are: F. A. McIntyre, P. W. Barber, Fred Museus, W. W. Howard, M. Johnson, W. W. Colbert, C. Whitney, A. Golsby, George Clark, J. N. Simmons, Benjamin Dodge, Albert Calkins, Matthew Reardon and J. A. Beebe. F. A. McIntyre has been the post commander for the last six or seven years. The post no longer holds regular meetings, but is now on call." It participates in Memorial Day services, in which hereafter the American Legion will take the leading part.
Albert Weatherby Woman's Relief Corps, No. 131, was organized Nov. 5, 1897, the charter members being: Lidia Leese, Ellen Richal, Mary H. Eighmy, Melvina Swansby, Edna L. Meadows, Agnes E. Colbert, Fannie Price, Flora Moore, Ellen Dixon, Emily Reardon, Christina Whitney, Alvina Swansby, Alice Museus, Gertrude Bull and Melvina Hewitt.
Howard Campbell Post, No. 179 American Legion, was organized in Chetek in November, 1919, by Dr. John H. Prill. The post derived its name from two of the boys who gave their lives on the battlefields of France during 1918, Fred Howard and Oliver Campbell. The post received its charter on December 15, which was signed by the following charter members: John H. Prill, Edwin Williams, Harold Olson, J. E. Harrison, Ben Ganske, Henry Tiffany, Leon Olsen, Orrin Robinson, A. W. Smith, Bennie Knutson, Hans Brusen, Edwin Vickery, Ben Gehler, Earl Hutzler, Al Kraus, Otto Kinnitz, Frank Barker, Ben Larson, Loyd Mogenson, Arthur Nelson, Claude Olson, Oscar Slettin, Gerold Thalocker, Ray Mair, 0. L. Frederickson, George McGinnis, Henry Anderson, Raymond Tiffany, Ed Hatcher, Peter Burke, William Strong, Rex Pelton, P. E. Andrus and William Koepp.
Ben Ganske was elected commander; Emil Harrison, vice commander; Al Kraus, adjutant; Claude Olson, finance officer; Harold Olson, historian; Alfred Smith, chaplain; Dahl Anderson, sergeant-at-arms. For the next year the post met at Dr. Prill's offices, as no clubrooms had been provided. The next year the following officers were elected: John H. Prill, commander; A. W. Smith, adjutant; 0. H. Robinson, finance officer; Harold Olson, historian; Henry Tiffany, chaplain; Raymond Tiffany, sergeant-at-arms, and Earl Hatzler, orderly.
Since the organization of the post in 1919 the, membership has increased from 34 charter members to over 100 members. The meetings have been held the first and third Tuesdays of each month, and since the organization of the Headquarters Company, First Infantry, at Chetek, the American Legion holds its meetings at the armory. Since the post was organized they have done much good in the community. They have helped several ex-service men to regain the foothold they had had before the war, and have been of great service to many transient ex-service men. Several of the bodies of the Chetek boys who were killed overseas have been returned to Chetek for burial, and the burials were all held under the auspices of the American Legion. Several of the G. A. R. veterans have passed on during the last two years, and the Legion assumed charge of their services, owing to the sadly depleted membership of the G. A. R. Albert Weatherby Post.
The Howard-Campbell Post put Chetek on the athletic map last year (1920) by defeating in basketball such cities as Rice Lake, Ladysmith, Barron, Spooner, Sparta, Eau Claire, Thorpe and others. This year the Legion Post have defeated all the teams they have played against and expect to have another championship team. The following members of the post represent the team: Rich Hoffman, Ben Ganske, Leo Callahan, Leon Olsen, Orrin Robinson, Fritz Kinnitz and Hugh Mair.
are the service records of the two soldier boys for whom the post was named:
Fred Winfield Howard enlisted in the United States service May 1, 1917, and was killed in action May 15, 1918. His story is found in the biographical department in this work.
Oliver Philip Campbell enlisted May 14, 1917, and trained at Camp Douglas. Wis., and Camp McArthur, Tex. He was first a member of Company L, 128th Regiment (Third Wisconsin) of the National Army, and as such went overseas, sailing for France about Feb. 20, 1918, and landing March 4. There he was transferred to Company E, 128th Infantry. He was killed at Soissons, July 18, 1918.
Chetek Lodge, No. 309, I. 0. 0. F., was organized Dec. 22, 1879, the charter members being Dr. Abel Bailey, M. C. Hill, A. M. Hill, August Haiden and D. C. Wood. Dr. Bailey was the first Noble Grand. The lodge was organized in what is now a part of the W. J. Burnham furniture store, but later it was moved to the upper part of the building now occupied by the Johnson Bros. garage. In 1890 the Odd Fellows built a hall on the site now occupied by the Tiffany garage and it was used by the lodge, and also by the Rebekahs until it burned down about 1906. Then the Odd Fellows' lodge took up its quarters in the store of Byron Carter in the north end of the town. Somewhere between six months and a year later the present Johnson garage building was purchased and was occupied until about four years ago, when the Odd Fellows bought the C. W. Moore building, where they have since had their quarters. The upper floor is used for the lodge room and the lower as a banquet hall. Meetings are held every Thursday night. The present membership is about 110.
There have been two Rebekah lodges in Chetek, the first of which was instituted, in 1891. Those most active in its organization were Ellen Richal, Minnie Hanson, Louise Peterson, Catherine Peterson, Clara Gilbert and Bertha Ganske. When the Odd Fellows' Hall was burned the Rebekahs lost all their equipment, which caused the lodge to be suspended. The present Rebekah lodge, known as Lake View Rebekah Lodge, No. 99, was instituted July 18, 1912, with the following charter members: Rose Sines, Oscar 0. Rude, Eunice L. Dodge, Louis Francois, Minnie Latshaw, David S. Wear, Louise B. Mogenson, David W. Dodge, Belle Hunt, Grant U. Hunt, Martha Johnson, Alma Richards, Dayton C. Latshaw, Laura Breda, Bertha Dodge, Sarah Campbell, Daisy Wear, Alma Mogenson and Laura Peterson. This lodge is an active organization with 48 members.
Lodge No. 130 of the Scandinavian-American Fraternity was organized in Chetek in 1893. Among the organizers were: Oscar C. Hanson, Thom Thompson, Frits Nelson, Louis Paulsrud, Albert Tiller and Edmund Eng. The lodge has now nearly 200 members and is the largest and best attended lodge in the city. Meetings are held in the Odd Fellows' Hall the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, and are made additionally interesting and attractive by the serving of refreshments. Many of the members live in the surrounding country, especially in Dovre Township.
Chetek Lodge, No. 274, Mystic Workers, was organized March 26, 1901, the charter members being D. W. Dodge, Sarah L. Campbell, Fred Hanson, Byron Carter, Eugene McCumber, Warren C. Slayton, Alfred C. Cole, Fred W. Slayton and Charles 0. Cole. This lodge has now about 80 members. Meetings are held once a week in a rented hall.
Chetek Tent, No. 48, Knights of the Maccabees, was instituted Jan. 29, 1898, with the following charter members: F. W. Zieseness, Byron Carter, W. H. Ross, Fred Hanson, W. G. Malcolm, Geo. Flanders, Clayton Dodge, Rasmus Johnson, John Knight, Charles N. Strong, Frank E. Elwood and Christ Johnson. The organization was unusually strong for many years, having more than one hundred members, but for the last few years has been decidedly inactive, not holding regular meetings. The membership is about 24.
Lakeside Camp, No. 2347, Modern Woodmen of America, was instituted Aug. 27, 1898, the following members being active in its organization: J. W. Bell, J. A. Patchin, Byron Carter. C. J. Nelson, E. F. Museus, Dr. G. C. Devine and F. W. Ziesenis. It has been an active organization and has at present 115 members.
Golden Rod Camp, No. 1838, Royal Neighbors, was instituted Aug. 31, 1899, with Fannie Bell, Eliza Burnham, Chloe Patchin, Minnie Bethel, Mabel Ross, Emma Albrecht, Minnie Tait and Charlotte Babcock as charter members, besides some male members. This camp also is active and holds regular meetings. Its present membership is sixty four.
Lodge, No. 277, F. & A. M., was organized
June 12, 1902 and was instituted by S. E. Washburn, W. M., of Barron Lodge.
The first officers were: Walter Speed, W. M.; C. Bruson, S. W.; J. C. Phillips,
J. W.; C. A. Flano, S. D.; Fred Hanson, J. D.; C. W. Meadows, Sec., and
C. F. Culver, Treas. The lodge has continued to flourish and holds its
regular meetings in the opera house building.
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