An Early Description of Cumberland Township

and the communities of Barronett, Comstock, Cumberland, Granite Lake and Sprague

-- From the "Historical and Biographical Album of the Chippewa Valley Wisconsin, 1891-2" pages 326 - 336.


Cumberland Township is equal to four regulation townships, and contains 144 square miles.  It is bounded on the north by Burnett and Washburn counties, on the south by the towns of Turtle Lake and Clinton, on the east by the towns of Oak Grove and Stanfold, and on the west by Polk County.  It contains numerous lakes, including Clear, Beaver Dam, Granite, Silver, Loon, Crystal and Vermillion, with several streams flowing into and out of them, including the Yellow river and its tributaries.

Barronett, formerly named Foster, is a manufacturing village in the northern part of the township.  It was settled in 1880, and has a station on the Northern division of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha railway.  There are about 200 inhabitants.  The plant of the Barronett Lumber company is located here.  This organization was incorporated in the spring of 1881, with a capital of $150,000.  The officers of the company are:
President - Artemus Lamb
Vice-president and General Manager - W. R. Bourne
Secretary and Treasurer - David Joyce
The main office of the company is in St. Paul.  The mill has two band saws.  There are also lath and shingle-mills.  From eighty to 100 men are employed.  The annual product of lumber is about 10,000,000 feet.  In close proximity to the village is the extensive bed of brick-clay and works of J. F. Fuller, of Cumberland.  The output of brick averages 4,000,000 each season.

Comstock is a small settlement on the same line of railway, with about fifty inhabitants.  It has a church, a district school and a post-office, with a steam saw-mill, owned and operated by Messrs. Griggs, Foster & Miller, of Cumberland.

The city of Cumberland is built on an island, at the lower extremity of Beaver Dam lake, which is encircled for the most part with rugged hills, whose slopes and summits are adorned from spring to autumn with the brilliant foliage of a variety of trees and shrubs, including the pine, oak, birch and elm; the whole forming a series of magnificent pictures, the perfection of nature's handiwork, from almost numberless points of view.  Fifteen years ago this island and all the territory adjacent to the beautiful Che-wa-cum-ma-towan-gok, or "Lake made by the beavers," as Beaver Dam lake was called in the Chippewa language, was an unbroken wilderness, save the clearings and the cabins of two or three adventurous pioneers.  In this period a city has grown up that is a surprise to the visitor.  What was a tangled forest of trees, shrubs, wild creeping plants and flowers, weeds and grass, is now a business and residence center that demands volumes of praise for the enterprise of the citizens.  With wide and graded streets, substantial sidewalks, handsome homes, fine stores, electric lights and a complete system of water-works in operation, astonishment that so much could be accomplished by the brain and hand of man, in so short a time, is but natural.

In December, 1874, the first settlement, within what are now the limits of the city, was made by Gunder Dahlby.  He entered a homestead on the north side of the island, and erected his claim log shanty, a very primitive structure, twelve by sixteen feet.  O. A. Ritan, who came with him, helped him build it.  It was near where A. B. Estabrook's residence now stands.  Here, with their families and C. C. Clauson, they passed the winter of 1874.  The first residence on the island was built by Mr. Dahlby, in the following spring.  It was then that Mr. Ritan and Mr. Clauson moved on the homesteads they had entered just south of the town.  In June of that year this little band of pioneers was joined by G. C. Hodgkin, who homesteaded the land about his present residence, and the next month brought his family from his old home in Trempealeau county by wagon across the country, cutting the first wagon road, or rather trail, through the woods to his new abiding place.  On November 14 of the same year A. J. Cook arrived and entered land in the northern part of the settlement.  His son, George B. Cook, accompanied him.  They, with their family, consisting of Mr. Cook and his wife, their son, George, and son-in-law, John Hopkins, his wife and two little children, lived in a cloth tent, twelve by sixteen feet, through the winter of 1875-76.  They secured homesteads across the lake, where Mr. Cook still resides.  They were soon joined by Chris. Finson, J. C. Bonett and others.

During the next four years they experienced many hardships, but as they had already proved themselves to be brave men and true women, with the hope of a bright future before them, it was comparatively easy to them to make the best of their present circumstances and struggle on as best they could.  Fish and game were abundant, including the different species of bass, pickerel, wall-eyed pike, sunfish, horned-pout, red-horse, partridges, rabbits, raccoons, porcupines, deer, bears, foxes, wildcats, etc.  The pioneers were visited occasionally by the families of Powagams, Wabesesh and Okka-Tuccom, who usually came in a body when they favored their neighbors with a call, which usually lasted from three to four hours, and was remarkably entertaining, interesting and instructive.

What seemed harder to bear than anything else with these lonely islanders was the having to wait so long for letters and papers, but the mail always reached them if they only waited long enough.  It would be sent from one logging-camp to another until, finally, some one would bring it to them.  Sometimes the envelopes would be nearly worn out, and the letters so defaced and dirty that it would take all the members of the family to decipher them.  It was always a gala day when letters and papers were received from relatives and friends.  After a while L. L. Gunderson built a log house, near where the North Cumberland bridge now is.  He was appointed postmaster in 1878, and used to go to Rice Lake, through the woods, every week, and carry the mail on his back.  He also put in a small stock of groceries and dry goods, purchasing them in St. Paul and having them shipped by rail to Clayton, the then teminus of the road.  They were brought the rest of the way by team.  The building was fourteen by eighteen feet, and served for a store, post-office and dwelling-house for the family.  The post-office was in three or four different locations until it found a permanent one, where it is now, in 1886.  C. F. Kalk is the postmaster.

There was no school-house on the island in the early days.  To meet this want Mrs. Hodgkin established one for her own children, teaching them at certain hours of the day.  This method of tuition soon became known to her neighbors, and they asked and obtained permission to send their children to her for instruction, paying her $1 each month for each pupil.  This system of education was continued until a school district was formed and a log school-house built, near where Mr. Willard now lives.  Miss Ida Schofield was hired to teach the first term of school.  She performed her duties for two months and then retired.  Miss Carrie Fay, of Prairie Farm, was engaged to finish the term and remain during the next one.  The present school-house was built in 1881 as a graded institution, with four departments.  It was made a free high school in 1889, and has an average attendance of 300 scholars, with five teachers.  Prof. A. E. Brainerd is the principal.

The first white child born on the island was Mae Jenet Hodgkin.  This event occurred September 10, 1876.  She was christened by the natives, the "Lily of the Woods," and presented when a year old, with a pair of beaded moccasins by "Little Pipe."  Hugh McDonald, fourteen years old, a son of Alex McDonald, was the first person who died on the island.  A short time afterward, a young man was killed in Messrs. Mansfield & Lang's saw-mill, they having purchased Mr. Dahlby's homestead for its site.  The first hotel was kept by Jack Collingwood, who afterward built the Collingwood house, which is still in existence, and is owned and managed by Frank Anderson.  There are now several hotels in the city, including the Merchant's, Sherman house, the Jaffer's house and the Hotel Cumberland.  The last named was erected in 1890, and completely furnished for occupation, and opened to the public in the spring of 1891, by the Cumberland Hotel company, at a cost of about $15,000.  It has been leased for five years by J. H. Kahler, of Northfield, Minn.  The architect was L. S. Hicks, of Oshkosh.  The size of the frame structure is eighty-two by forty-eight feet, and its height, from the sidewalk to the top of the flag-staff, seventy-five feet.  It has three stories and a basement, with wide verandas extending along two sides of the building, and two ornamental towers.  There are forty-six rooms.  The officers of the company for 1891 were:
President - S. H. Waterman
Secretary - J. F. Fuller
Treasurer - J. F. Miller

There were no religious institutions in the city during its infancy, but, occasionally, a Methodist preacher would visit the island and conduct services.  In warm weather the meetings would be held in the open air, and in winter in one of the log cabins.  On one occasion, one of these itinerant ministers came on to the island at night.  It ws very dark, and the rain came down in torrents.  Not knowing his way, and seeing no light to guide him, he was compelled to remain in the woods until daylight.  Tired, wet and hungry, he reached a settler's cabin in the morning, and not in the least discouraged, preached the next evening, before all the inhabitants of the island and surrounding country -- not a large congregation.  The first church organized here was of the Methodist Episcopal denomination.  This was accomplished in October, 1882, by Rev. Richard A. Clother.  In that year a small frame church building was erected on Second street.  It was the first sacred edifice in Cumberland, and has a seating capacity of 250.  The ministers who conducted services here were:
Rev. George I. Constance
Rev. W. B. Hopkins
Rev. David Ingle
Rev. Isaac Bull
Rev. A. H. Kellermann
Rev. J. F. Miller
The Rev. J. H. McManus was the first pastor in charge, and he closed his ministry here in September, 1883.  His successors were the Revs. M. J. Robinson, G. W. Smith, G. W. Empey and L. A. Willsey, the present pastor.  The membership numbers ninety, with twenty probationers.

Special attention was called to the island as a desirable location, when it became known that a line of road was to be constructed by the North Wisconsin Railroad company, from Hudson to Spooner, which would pass through it.  It was the intention of that organization to build as far as Cumberland during the summer of 1875, but litigation into which it was forced, over its land grant, compelled it to temporarily suspend operations.  The road did not reach this point until the fall of 1879, when the rails were laid over the bridge.  The station was erected immediately afterward, and the track in working operation in the spring of the following year.  In the meantime the settlers were forced to obtain provisions, clothing and everything they needed, and carry them on their backs, from Rice Lake, Barron or Clayton, those being the nearest trading points.  During the summer of 1878, David Ingle, in company with his brother, opened the first grocery store on the island, in a shanty erected by some of the men constructing the road-bed of the railway, and a man named Gregg established the first dry goods store.  In February, 1879, the railway company laid out what is known as the original plat of the village, as owners of the land.  The name of the island was originally Lakeland, and when the post-office was established, it was so named.  The designation was changed to Cumberland by Jacob Humbird, the president of the North Wisconsin Railway company in commemoration of his native home -- Cumberland, Md.

In the spring of 1880 a complete steam saw-mill, with planers, and lath and shingle-mills were erected by Messrs. Mansfield & Lang, at what was then North Cumberland.  They manufactured their own lumber.  From this tim the hamlet began to increase rapidly in population and importance.  The firm operated their plant for about two years, when it was purchased by S. G. Cook & Co.  They leased it to E. G. Oliver & Co., who managed it for a brief period, when Cook & Co. took possession of it.  After running it for nearly a season it was destroyed by fire on August 15, 1884.  N. L. Hunter then bought the site and what was left of the plant and built the present works, which are operated by steam with eighty and thirty-five horse-power engines.  They have a capacity of 60,000 feet of lumber, and 120,000 shingles a day.  He saws by contract.  The logs come from a radius of twelve miles around the chain of lakes.

The leading manufacturing industry on the island is the steam saw-mill built, in the fall of 1880, by T. P. Stone and J. C. Maxwell.  They had that year purchased about 100,000,000 feet of pine timber in the vicinity.  The next season the plant became merged in the Cumberland Lumber company, and a few months later was transferred to the Beaver Lake company.  The officers and principal stockholders were:
President - H. E. Southwell
Secretary - Jeff. T. Heath
Treasurer - L. B. Royce
An extensive business was transacted.  The product for five years was as follows:

16,500,000 feet of lumber
21,500,000 feet of lumber
21,300,000 feet of lumber
25,000,000 feet of lumber
23,450,000 feet of lumber
On January 1, 1888, this corporation was absorbed by the Beaver Dam Lake Lumber company, which had just been organized, with a capital of $200,000.  In the fall of 1879, Messrs. Griggs & Foster, of St. Paul, established an extensive general store here, and, early in 1880, it was placed in charge of J. F. Miller.  The firm also engaged largely in the purchase of cordwood, piling and railroad ties.  In the summer of 1881 they consolidated with the lumbering firm of Stone & Maxwell, and both became merged in the Cumberland Lumber company.  In December of that year the association disposed of its pine land and manufacturing plant to the Beaver Lake Lumbering company, and in the following month sold all its remaining interests to the firm of Griggs, Foster & Miller, and wound up its corporate existence.  In the early part of the winter of 1887-88 the firm purchased an extensive tract of pine timber land, and January 1, 1888, became incorporated under the style of the Beaver Dam Lumber company, with J. F. Miller as vice-president and general manager.  In the spring of 1891 this organization erected a new band mill and made extensive improvements in their plant.  The capacity is now 60,000 feet of lumber and 175,000 shingles a day.  The machinery is run by a 150 horse-power engine, and employment is given to 125 men.  The officers for 1891 are:
President - Col. C. W. Griggs of Tacoma Wash.
Vice-president and General Manager - J. F. Miller
Secretary - L. B. Royce
Treasurer - A. G. Foster of Tacoma

What is now the Cumberland "Advocate" was established as the Cumberland "Herald" June 22, 1881, with C. H. Clark, proprietor, and M. P. Morris, editor.  September 21, 1881, C. A. Lamereaux purchased Mr. Clark's interest in the property, and the firm name became Morris & Lamereaux.  This partnership was dissolved December 6, 1883, Mr. Lamereaux retiring -- Mr. Morris continuing the business.  He disposed of it March 19, 1884, to L. L. Gunderson, who continued the publication of the paper as editor and proprietor.  July 3, 1884, A. F. Wright became associated with Mr. Gunderson as one of the publishers, and the firm name became Gunderson & Wright.  Mr. Wright severed his connection with the paper November 6, 1884, and Mr. Gunderson continued its publication.  S. S. Hull became the owner of the property April 2, 1885, and changed the name of the paper to the Cumberland "Advocate."  Early in the spring of 1886 Mr. Hull sold the publication to the Cumberland Publishing company.  The property again changed hands in November of the same year, H. S. Comstock and David Russell, acquiring the stock.  The paper was then published by Comstock & Russell, with the former as editor and manager.  In September, 1887, Mr. Comstock bought out Mr. Russell's interest in the business.  July 19, 1888, T. F. Ball became the proprietor, and September 28 of the same year F. F. Morgan secured a half interest in the  undertaking, and the firm became Ball & Morgan.  The latter member became sole proprietor on September 19, 1889, and has since that time conducted alone.  During these years the paper has grown from a modest beginning to a large and influential journal, having been a strong factor in the development and growth of the city and county -- almost from its first settlement.  The paper is now an eight-column folio weekly, and republican in politics.

The Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran church was organized in 1883.  The services were held in the Methodist church building.  There was no regular pastor until the organization erected its own edifice in 1888, when Rev. N. B. Olson was appointed to that position.  He had conducted the services from the beginning, and remained until the spring of 1889.  The Rev. Mr. Bordall, of Minneapolis, then performed the duties of the charge, once a month, to the close of April, 1891, since which time there has been no service.  The church has 100 members.

St. Mary's Catholic church was established, in 1883, by Father De Paradis.  Services were held occasionally in the church building before its completion in 1884.  Rev. Father Oderick, a Fransican, attended from Superior for some time.  Rev. George Keller was the first regular priest, and was succeeded by Rev. Michael Schoelch in 1886, who remained until August 1887, when he was followed by Rev. Peter Becker, who served until July 1889.  The present rector, Rev. Charles L. Jungblut, was then appointed.  He resides here.  The church building is furnished with 400 seats, and there is a membership of twenty-five families.

The Bank of Cumberland is a private institution, and was established by J. F. Miller, the proprietor, October 8, 1883.  C. F. Kalk is the cashier.

All Souls Protestant Episcopal church was organized in 1884 and a small frame house of worship erected shortly afterward.  Rev. A. P. Peabody has been the rector since its foundation.

In March, 1884, the greater portion of the lower part of the village was consumed by fire.

Cumberland was incorporated as a city in the spring of 1885.  The officers for that year and those succeeding, are as follows:


Mayor L. B. Royce
City Clerk T. M. Purtell (he resigned 
before the expiration of his 
term, and was succeeded by
A. J. Olson).
Treasurer E. V. Benjamin
Assessor A. F. Wright
City Attorneys Messrs. Mead & Wright
Justices of the Peace R. H. Clothier
S. W. Alderson
First Ward  James Griswold, two years;
T. A. Johnson, one year
Supervisor - J. H. Smith
Second Ward S. H. Waterman, two years;
M. D. Richards, one year
Supervisor - J. F. Miller
Third Ward W. L. Hunter, two years;
W. C. Pease, one year
Supervisor - Robert Corbett


Mayor T. P. Stone
City Clerk & Attorney H. S. Comstock
Treasurer G. C. Hodgkin
Assessor W. H. Nalty
First Ward T. A. Johnson
Supervisor - J. H. Smith
Second Ward N. D. Richards
Supervisor - J. F. Miller
Third Ward A. J. Cook
Supervisor - Thomas H. Oakes


Mayor W. C. Pease
City Clerk & Attorney H. S. Comstock
Treasurer G. C. Hodgkin
Assessor A. F. Wright
First Ward Peter Hocum
Supervisor - F. A. Weiblen
Second Ward August Wolff
James M. Boyden (filled vacancy)
Supervisor - J. F. Miller
Third Ward W. L. Hunter
Supervisor - Thomas H. Oakes


Mayor L. B. Royce
City Clerk A. J. Olson
Treasurer G. C. Hodgkin
Assessor William Schultz
City Attorney H. S. Comstock
First Ward F. A. Weiblen
Supervisor - A. H. Kellermann
Second Ward William Roberts
Supervisor - J. F. Miller
Third Ward Frank Algeo
Supervisor - Thomas H. Oakes


Mayor W. L. Hunter
City Clerk William Schultz
Treasurer C. F. Kalk
Assessor P. A. Johnson
City Attorney H. S. Comstock
First Ward John Doar
Supervisor - P. Hocum
Second Ward George L. Luff
Supervisor - J. F. Miller
Third Ward C. E. Foote
H. C. Doolittle (filled vacancy)
Supervisor - Thomas H. Oakes


Mayor W. L. Hunter
City Clerk & Attorney H. S. Comstock
Treasurer C. F. Kalk
Assessor William Schultz
First Ward Frank Anderson
Supervisor - Charles Hagborg
Second Ward F. P. Hunter
Supervisor - J. F. Miller
Third Ward J. L. Hunter
Supervisor - A. J. Cook


Mayor Peter Wachter
Treasurer C. F. Kalk
Assessor H. Z. Shepherd
City Clerk & Attorney H. S. Comstock
First Ward Peter A. Johnson
Supervisor - P. G. Jacobson
Second Ward S. W. Hines
Supervisor - J. F. Miller
Third Ward Frank Olcott
Supervisor - F. A. Weiblen
Fourth Ward J. F. Fuller, two years;
L. Kirby, one year
Supervisor - G. H. Irwin

The Swedish and Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran church was organized in 1885.  The services were held once a month until 1888, when the frame church edifice was erected.  Since that time the services have been held twice a month, and are conducted by Rev. A. Benson, of Shell Lake (Washburn Co., WI).  He has been the regular pastor of the organization for the past year only.  The building has seating accommodation for 200 persons, and there is a church membership of ninety.

The Cumberland Agricultural and Driving Park Association was organized May 20, 1888, under the provisions of the revised statutes of the state.  The officers were:
President - H. L. Williams
Vice-President - W. A. Hall
Treasurer - W. B. Hopkins
Secretary - G. H. Irwin
The association has fine grounds including a race-track.  The fair is held annually in September.

In May, 1888 a Congregational Sunday-school was instituted, and in August of the same year Rev. T. F. Murphy came to the city and conducted services.  In the following October a Congregational church was organized, with fourteen members.  The services were held in Miller's hall.  In the spring of 1889 the congregation purchased a building which had been formerly used as a gymnasium, and altered and fitted it up for church purposes.  Mr. Murphy has been in charge from the beginning.  The membership of the organization has increased to thirty-four.

The Baptist church was organized in the spring of 1890, with forty members.  Services have, since that time, been held every Sunday in Stone's hall.  They are conducted mostly by college students.  Rev. E. D. Bennett is now in charge of the association.

A steam grist-mill 100 x 28 feet, with a produce warehouse and elevator, was built in the winter of 1890-91, by the Cumberland Milling company, a recently incorporated institution, with a capital of $10,000.

St. Anthony Hospital is what is termed a provident institution, with a capital stock of $100,000.  It provides to men and women an annual membership ticket for $10, which entitles the holder to medical and surgical treatment, with free medicines, and, in cases of illness, to board and nursing.  Dr. H. D. Jenckes is the surgeon in charge.

Miller's hall, on Main street, owned by J. F. Miller, is utilized for dramatic performances, lectures, balls, meetings, etc.  It has a seating capacity of 400, and the stage is furnished with a complete set of scenery, and the usual appointments.

The religious, social, secret, civic and literary organizations in the city are as follows:

Congregational Christian Endeavor Society
Baptist Christian Endeavor Society
Methodist Epworth League
Methodist Ladies' Aid Society
Baptist Home Mission Society
Young Ladies' Mission Band
Congregational Ladies' Home Mission Society
Episcopal Home Mission Society
Catholic Total Abstinence Society
Chatauqua Circle
Norwegian Lutheran Home Mission Society
Woman's Christian Temperance Union
Cumberland Lodge, F. & A. M.
Cumberland Lodge No. 303, I.O.O.F.
Island Lodge No. 69, Daughters of Rebekah
Cumberland Lodge No. 62, K. of P.
Cumberland Post No. 225, G. A. R.
Ladies' Relief Corps
Modern Woodmen of America
Cumberland Library Association
Young Men's Christian Association, organized in April, 1891; president, G. H. Irwin; secretary, Fred Miller; treasurer, Jay Hamilton.

The population of the city was 1,219 in 1890, according to the census returns.

There was formerly a station on the Northern division of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha railway at Granite Lake, two miles south of Barronett, but it has been discontinued.  The place was surveyed and platted by the Northern Wisconsin Railway company, as owners, in February, 1879.

Sprague is a small lumber hamlet, with about fifty inhabitants, three miles south of Cumberland.  It was settled in 1880, and has a post-office.  It had a station on the same line of railway as Granite Lake, but trains have ceased stopping there.  Sprague Brothers, after whom the place is named, own and operate the steam saw mill.  A church and district school have been established at this point.  The population of the township, exclusive of the city of Cumberland, was 1,546, in 1890.


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