A Brief History of Clark County, Wisconsin

 

Sources: "Early History of Clark County - 1853-1900" By R. J.MacBride; "The Book Of Years - 1853-1953" Compiled By Clark CountyCentennial, Inc. 1953; "History Of Clark County, Wisconsin" CompiledBy Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge, Chicago And Winona, H. C. Cooper Jr., & Co.1918


An act approving the creation of Clark County took affect on June6, 1853. This act provided that the county would consist of one town,with other towns to be organized in the future. This first town,which encompassed the entire county, was known as Pine Valley. Thename was chosen from the valleys and white pine trees that surroundedthe area. At this time, the county population did not exceed 200residents total. The first election of county officers for ClarkCounty was held at O' Neill's Mill (known today as Neillsville), onthe 7th day of November, 1854. During this election, amid plenty ofcontroversy and a barrel of whiskey, O'Neill's Mill, won the vote ascounty seat.

George Rogers Clark, Revolutionary War hero, is the namesake ofClark County. Reference to this is made in Volume One, page 12, ofthe Wisconsin Historical Collections. Lyman Draper, secretary of theWisconsin Historical Society, made this entry. "The legislature hasrecently honored George Rogers Clark by naming Clark County afterhim." Clark's military ingenuity and perseverance againstoverwhelming odds enabled the New England colonies to claim possessionof the Midwest, pushing the British into Canada. George Rogers Clarkwas a brother of William Clark, of the famed Lewis and Clarkexpedition.

A potentially incomplete list of early settlers in 1854 containsthese single men or heads of households: James Burge, Allan Boardman,S. C. Boardman, R. McCalep, Jas. Conlin, N. M. Clapp, Conrad Dell,Elijah Eaton, George Frantz, Samuel Ferguson, William Ferguson, JohnFrench, B. F. French, John Hoofer, James French, Robert French,William Heath, B. Hamilton, Martin Moran, Jack Murphy, J. McLaughton,Miles Murray, Eli Mead, James O'Neill (founder of Neillsville), RobertRoss, Henry Rickerman, Reuben Roik, Lyman Rodman, Henry Rodman,Nicholas Snyder, James Sturgeon, Cyrus O. Sturgeon, Washington Short,Harriss Searls, Jas. W. Sturdevant, Robert Scott, Edward Tompkins,Hugh Wedge, Samuel F. Weston, and Thomas Wilson.

In 1856, Pine Valley was split into three townships; Levis, Weston,and Pine Valley. As time progressed and Clark County's populationgrew, these larger townships were broken down into smaller ones.Thus, leading to Clark County's current thirty townships. The lasttownship, named Dewhurst, was organized in 1901. The townships aresubdivided into 36 tracts called sections of a square mile, eachcontaining approximately 640 acres.

The early settlers were attracted to Clark County because of itsvast holdings of pine suitable for logging. The Black River and itsmany tributaries, flowing through the entire county, provided a greatmeans of transporting logs. The Eau Claire River also flows throughthe north and western portion of the county and was an active loggingriver as well.

Many loggers from LaCrosse, WI, were active in Clark County fromits inception until the 1890's. In the 1860's principal loggingoperators, who were residents, were Hewett & Woods, Leonard Stafford,and Robert Ross. Contractors for Hewett & Woods were Ed Allen, JohnDwyer, Richard Hawks, Charles Hyslip, Jones Tompkins, Hiram Palmer,and numerous others. In later years, owners and contractors wereHenry Huntzicker, Jacob Huntzicker, S. C. Boardman, Richard Dewhurst,Jones Tompkins, B. F. Thompson, Homer Root, George Lloyd, DanielGates, Joseph Gibson, Anson Green, J. L. Gates, Andrew Emerson andmany others.

Nearly every farmer in the county, in its infancy, had at some timesold a part of his timber for saw logs. A logging camp on Black Riverin the days when the business was at its best would have been wellworth miles of travel to visit. Here, camped in log shanties, andwith log stables for oxen and horses, were congregated togetheranywhere from twenty-five to nearly a hundred men, according to thesize of the winter's work laid out for them. By the early 1900'sClark County logging in mass quantities had ended. It has sincebecome known as a dairy county.

 

Written and contributed to this site by Kay Scholtz


Floral Bouquet © Copyright: All files on this site are copyrighted by their creator and/or contributor. They may be linked to but may not be reproduced on another site without specific permission from Clark County Coordinator Judy Groh, the State Coordinator, Tina Vickery and/or their contributor. My very special thanks to Holly Timm for the creation of the WIGenWeb Clark County graphic. The use of the Penny Postcard in the title graphic is used with permission of the Penny Post Cards a USGenWeb Archives Web Site.


This page was last updated on -- Friday, 01-Apr-2011 21:27:48 EDT

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