The History of Prairie Lake Township

Written by Bernice (Johns) Meeker, in 1965.

Donated by Linda George
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Map of Prairie Lake Township, Barron, Wisconsin

    INFORMATION REGARDING INSERT

This insert is drawn quite casually and is intended only as a supplement to the accurate map available at the Barron County Clerk's Office.  All of the people named herein were inter-related with the exception of Hans Ericson and the Gregarson's.  Their history, however, is so firmly intertwined with the Hanson-Joelson-Johns history, that it would be next to impossible to exclude them.   It is rather surprising, as a matter of fact, that since the families have know each other for at least 100 years, that there has been no known inter-marriage.

Since David Joelson came to Barron County first, he will be presented first.  Courthouse records show that he owned the SE ½ of Section 11, Township 33, Range 11, Town of Prairie Lake.  This land was acquired by him by land grant (it is believed-may be under homestead laws) signed by President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, March 1, 1877.  The volume was not recorded.

There is a record of David Joelson signing an easement to the railroad (Chippewa Falls and Northern Railway) in 1881, recorded on page 121, Volume E of DEEDS giving them permission to run their line across the SW corner of the original property.  The Joelson property is not pictured as an exact quarter of Section II.  The size of the cemetery has been exaggerated so that it can be seen well.  This cemetery is mentioned at the courthouse on different records as the Pleasant Plain, or as the Joelson cemetery, or, as the Jolyson cemetery.  David Joelson donated the corner of his property to the Lutheran Church in Chetek-which is located on the map.  It is at this church where David was cantor, and where a great many Hanson, Joelson, and other relatives were baptized, confirmed, married, and buried.  The record of the transfer of that property is at the courthouse in Barron, Wisconsin.

As of 1965, the following family members are buried at Pleasant Plain Cemetery: David and Stephena (Christoferson) Joelson;  Alfred, Annie (Anna Hanson) and son Arden Joelson; all three daughters of Ole H. Hanson who grew to adulthood--Annie, as already mentioned, Thressie (and spouse Harry L. Johns) and Hannah (Mrs. Fred Johnson).  In addition, Harry Johns' mother, Mrs. Eliza (Blanchard) Johns; the two infant children of Eliza (Blanchard) and William Henry Johns, John and Dinah (Lusby) Blanchard (parents of Eliza) and William Blanchard Johns (Harry's brother).

There is also a record of David's transferring the farm to Alfred.  Either David or Alfred sold the north half.  The details of this transaction are not presented here but are available at the courthouse.

After Anna (a.k.a. Annie) Hanson and Alfred Joelson married, they lived with Alfred's parents until they built a house of their own.  This was a two-story house, quite large, about 50 - 75 feet from David and Stephena's original log cabin.  There are pictures of this log cabin.

In about 1920, jobs were pretty hard to find and someone recommended to Hans Severin Hanson and his wife Helen that they might find work in Waukegan, Illinois.  When Harry Johns and wife Thressie (Hanson) came back to the United Stated after living in Canada for a number of years, they lived in Chetek a year and then went to Waukegan, too.  Not long afterward, Emil, Levi, Tom Joelson (the sons of Annie and Alfred) and their Uncle Carl Hanson (brother of Thressie, son of Ole H.) went to Waukegan and worked there too.  They were all at carpenters.

After Levi and Gladys were married and their son Ronnie was born, about 1930, they moved back to the Joelson farm to take over the farming.  The log house had been vacant for some time then and that was where they moved in.  Annie, Alfred and Arden lived in the big house.  It is believed this was the arrangement until some time after Grandma Hanson died in 1936.  Sometime about then, one of the outbuildings was dragged out to the corner of the farm where Levi's name appears.   This is the location by the highway designated as Highway 53.  (Note:  in 2002, this is no longer Highway 53 but County Road SS.)  As Levi's family increased, Annie and Alfred moved out to the house on the corner (by the highway) and Levi and Gladys moved into the big house.  Annie and Alfred had huge strawberry beds and loads of flowers and a small hothouse.  Bernice especially recalls the strawberries because she ate so many of them when she was about 13 that she couldn't stand to look at them for about 20 years and still didn't care much for them.  She was supposed to be picking the berries and if she had, perhaps she wouldn't have eaten so many and would have still liked strawberries.

The Joelson farm had a long driveway.  The pasture was in the southeast corner of the farm and this is where the cousins played baseball.  Home base was not far from the farm buildings.  Because of the trees and the ground not being completely flat it was not possible to stand at the house and see all of the buildings.  In the back of the house, the trees were left standing all the way back to the farm of William Henry John's (Harry's father).  Bernice recalled that she quite often ambled through the woods by way of an old trail to visit the Bronstad's who bought the farm from William Henry Johns in 1911.  The Bronstad's were also related to the family by marriage.

Somewhere in the early 1950's, fire destroyed the big house on the Joelson farm.  According to Levi, the log house was also destroyed, however others questioned that it was not as it had been the log house that was hauled out to the corner and would therefore still exist.  As Levi lived there at the time, he should have known so he was probably correct and it must have been another outbuilding that had been moved to the corner.   In 1965, one of the original buildings built by David Joelson was still standing  (with a new roof) and was being used by the current owner as a granary.

After the fire, the family let the farm go, retaining only the corner.   How many acres were retained is not known.  There was room for several large strawberry beds and lots of trees and flower beds.  They sold those products for some years and it was known as Joelson's Gardens.

Levi built a nice house on a few lots on the lake just south of what was known as Joelson's landing.  This was a favorite fishing spot.  The bank is quite high for quite a ways there, and Joelson's landing was actually a gully that had happened to wash a convenient path to the lake.  Levi's cottage was about a mile south of the landing.

About 1962, Levi and Gladys decided to build a house out on the corner and move back there.  Their new house was about 50 feet from the one Annie and Alfred lived in.

William Henry Johns bought his farm, the W 1/2 of the NE 1/4, Section 11, Township 33, Range 11, from Knapp, Stout and Company, December 22, 1880, signed by John H. Knapp, President, and Thomas W. Wilson, Secretary (Volume C of DEEDS, page 495).

William Johns sold that property for $4,000 on February 3, 1911, as recorded in Volume 50, DEEDS, to Martin Bronstad.  One of the William Henry's daughter, Edie, married Martin's brother, Olaf, and Martin's wife Alma Anderson, was a sister of Agnes Anderson who married Carl Hanson.  (Carl Hanson's sister was Thressie Hanson who married William's son Harry Lawrence Johns).   In 1965, the Bronstad's youngest daughter, Margaret still lived on the farm with her husband Robert Howie.   William Henry Johns moved his family to Virginia.

In 1965, Gertie Gregarson still lived on the home farm just south of the original Hanson farm.  Carl Hanson lived on the property.  She had a Magic Lantern (early movie type of thing) toy that Charley (Carl Johan) Joelson had given her.  He had been her sponsor when she was baptized.  Her father's sister married Nels Nelson who lived along the highway just north of the Joelson's.

The land where Ole H. Hanson settled is virtually an island although most people do not realize it.  Bernice and her dad, Harry, used to go fishing almost every Sunday for several years and they were all over the chain of lakes of Prairie, Chetek, Pokegama, and Mud. Where the roads crossed at the narrow points (and they are much narrower than show on the map) Harry and Bernice would sometimes need drag the boat though the culverts.  All of those lakes are, of course, artificial.  They were formed by the dam in the city of Chetek that was built by Knapp, Stout and Company during their lumbering years.  Knapp, Stout and Company went to Oregon and Washington when Wisconsin was logged out.

The name of Stiner Wogsland appears in the book of DEEDS, Book B, page 491.  Stiner or Stener was the father of Emma Amelia Wogsland who married Ole H. Hanson.  He did not live very long in this area.  In the records his name appears as Stener.  The record gives his wife's name as Caroline, which was his second wife and not the mother of Amelia.  Her name was Anlue, and she died at Iola, Wisconsin before they came to Barron County.  They only lived there from sometime before Amelia was confirmed in the Gregarson School in 1878 until they sold the property to H.J. Sill August 4, 1880 and then, it is believed, they went back to Iola.  Stener died in Iola in 1909.

On the map, a bit southeast of Joelson's Landing, is the name of Ole Olson Raaken, he was Ole H. Hanson's uncle.  David Joelson came to America alone.  The following year Stephena and their daughter Phena came to America.  With them came Ole Olson Raaken, his wife Elizabeth and their daughter, Nettie (Nettie became Mrs. Gunder Anderson), Hans Ericson and his wife Georgens and their foster daughter, Caroline (who became Mrs. Tom Gregarson).  In 1965, descendants of the Joelson, Hanson and Ericsons (Gregarson’s) still lived on the home farms-or parts of them.

Lakeview Cemetery is much larger than Pleasant Plain and is where Ole H. and Amelia (Wogsland) Hanson and two of their children, who died in infancy, are buried.  Marvel (Johns) and Eugene (Gene) Holman owned a resort on a point on Pokegama Lake.  It is a very pretty location-lots of trees and a good, shallow, sandy beach for children to swim.

 

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