An Early Description of Turtle Lake Township

and the Village of Turtle Lake

-- From the "Historical and Biographical Album of the Chippewa Valley Wisconsin, 1891-2" pages 347 - 351.


Turtle Lake Township is twelve miles in length from north to south, and six miles in width from east to west, containing seventy-two square miles.  It is bounded on the north by the town of Cumberland, on the south by the town of Vance Creek, on the east by the towns of Clinton and Prairie Farm, and on the west by Polk county.  It has four fine bodies of water -- Echo lake, Upper Turtle lake, Lower Turtle lake, and Moon lake, besides several small streams.  The village of Turtle Lake is surrounded on all sides by forests of pine and hardwood timber, and located at the junction of the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie and the North Wisconsin division of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha roads.  It was settled in 1870 by Stephen F. Richardson, who erected the first saw-mill here.  He disposed of it to his brother, Joel Richardson, in 1884, who operated it until Allen, Moon & Co., of St. Paul, and J. W. McCoy, of New Richmond, foreclosed some mortgages they held on the plant, when it was sold in 1890, to the Parr Manufacturing Company of Barron, and removed to that city.

One of the necessities first provided by the early settlers was a schoolhouse.  A small one was built in 1879.  Mr. Knight was the first teacher. A graded school, with two departments, was erected in 1887, and the old building sold to Charles Brown, who fitted it up as a dwelling-house.  Another necessity was a post-office.  Stephen F. Richardson built one in 1879, and he was the first postmaster.

The first hotel in the village was the one erected by C. W. Haskins in 1881.  It bore his name.  He managed it until it was destroyed by fire in the fall of 1888.  A new, handsome frame building was put up in its place by W. W. Fisk.  He is conducting it, and it is named after him.

The records, which are imperfect, do not show when Turtle Lake was first platted, but additions were made  to it in November, 1884.

The first religious organization established here was the St. Ann's Roman Catholic church.  This was in 1880.  The preliminary work was performed by Father Paradis.  He was succeeded by Rev. S. La Plante, the present rector.  St. Ann's church cemetery was platted in 1887.

A small frame church building was erected here in 1887, by the United Brethren, under the auspices of Rev. William Smith, the first pastor.  He remained a year, when he was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Good.  After he had served twelve months Mr. Smith returned, and has since that time continued in charge of the organization.

A shingle-mill, feed-mill and saw-mill, the last named with a capacity of 30,000 feet a day, were erected in 1890, by J. W. Stone.  The shingle-mill plant was sold to the Parr Manufacturing Company, and removed to Barron in the spring of 1891.

F. E. Creelman, of St. Paul, purchased 5,000 acres of land adjoining the village, of Joel Richardson, in the fall of 1890, for the establishment of an extensive stock farm.  Operations were begun in the following spring, and between 400 and 500 head of cattle located there.

The population of the village is estimated at 300, and the town hall is utilized for lectures, meetings, entertainments, etc.  It has seating accommodation for 500 persons.

There are several large farms in a high state of cultivation within a short distance of the village with a corresponding product.  For instance, John Benson raised from thirty to forty bushels of wheat to the acre in 1890.  The potato crop has always been a prolific one.

Perley is a lumber settlement on the northern division of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha railway, and near Echo Lake, with about fifty inhabitants.  The saw-mill of Andrews & Perley is located here, and there is a post-office service.  The township had a total population of 874 in 1890.


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