Seneca -- History
Shawano -- The County Seat! Shawano County
311 N. Main St., Room 107
Shawano, WI 54166
Telephone: (715) 524-2129
Seneca -- The area that is now Seneca Township was not settled until the later half of the 1860s. In 1860 when the federal census was taken, the closest inhabitants were settled in the town of Smithville which later was renamed Pella. The area was heavily timbered and was logged starting in the 1850s by the Matteson Brothers, later by the Hatton Company. The first big log drive was in 1888 and the last in 1914.
According to the Shawano County Centurawano published in 1953 to celebrate Shawano Counties first centennial, "Old Fritz" Maas was the first permanent settler in the Seneca township. "Old Fritz" was Christian (Frederick) Maass of Kowanz, Pommern Prussia, who with his family, came to America in 1867, making his way to Smithville. In late 1867 or early 1868, Old Fritz decided establish his homestead so he followed the Embarrass river northwest from Smithville to a remote area a couple miles south of present day Tilleda. He had traveled too far to make a safe journey back to Smithville the same day so, after marking off his homestead, he spent the night by sleeping in an old hollow Basswood log. Not long thereafter, Old Fritzís half brother, August Maass also came to Seneca and developed his homestead on adjoining acreage. Many descendents of Old Fritz and August Maass (Maas and Maahs families) still reside in Shawano county.
It did not take long until other families came into the Seneca area and established their farms. By 1870, sixteen families resided in what would become Seneca Township. These early families were: August Westphal, John Abrams, August Zimdars, Joseph Eldridge, Julius Armstrong, Thomas Curtis, Ferdinand Kroening, William Nordwig, Charles Steinberg, Charles Voeltz (Felts), August Bufferth, Frederich Schenk, Charles Schenk, William Schenk, Joseph Guttman, and Fred Maas (Old Fritz).
During this period of Wisconsin history, a great influx of immigrants from eastern United States and northern Europe arrived daily. By April 1871, the population of Seneca had grown to warrant the establishment of a township, referred to as the Town of Seneca. The first annual meeting was held on April 18, 1871, at the home of Julius Armstrong. William Nordwig was elected Town Chairman; August Maas and Carl Voeltz, supervisors; Frederick Maas, clerk; and Carl Steinberg, treasurer. During the summer of 1871 taxes were levied; roads were laid out and in September a public school was organized.
In 1880 approximately sixty-three Seneca Township households and 50 boarders were recorded in the Federal census. Immigrants continued to arrive during the 1880s, however their numbers were nothing near the influx of the 1870s. The following heads of families, single persons, and boarders were listed as residents in June, 1880:
Jacob Boehm from Bohemia, came to Wisconsin
August Zimdas (Zimdars) from Prussia, came to Wisconsin 1868/69.
August Puphal from Prussia, came to Wisconsin 1868/69.
Gottfried and Frederick Giessel from Prussia, came to Wisconsin 1868/69.
August Maafs (Maas) from Prussia, came to Wisconsin 1873.
Ferdinand Zimdas (Zimdars) from Prussia.
Friederich Mussak from Prussia, came to Wisconsin 1876.
Edward Reiter from Prussia, came to Wisconsin 1877.
Mathia Tichaak from Bohemia
Stephen Stefl from Bohemia, came to Wisconsin 1870.
Herman Kleman from Prussia, came to Wisconsin 1876.
Carl Voeltz from Prussia, came to Wisconsin 1874.
August Salzmann from Prussia, came to Wisconsin 1873.
William Schenke (Schenk) from Prussia, came to Wisconsin 1869.
Gottfried Voeltz from Prussia, came to Wisconsin by way of Canada.
John Long from New York, came to Wisconsin from Maine in 1872.
Gottlieb Salzmann from Prussia, came to Wisconsin abt.1875.
Heinrick Walter from Baden Germany, came to Wisconsin 1862.
Friedrich Maafs (Maas) from Prussia, came to Wisconsin 1867/68.
William Nortwig (Nordwig) from Prussia, came to Wisconsin 1868.
Leonhard Brunner from Bavaria.
Friedrich Nienke from Prussia, came to Wisconsin 1873.
August Mundt from Prussia, father in law of Friedrich Nienke.
Ferdinand Kroening from Prussia, came to Wisconsin 1869.
William Hehman from Holland.
William Voeltz from Prussia.
Fred Dihling from Wisconsin.
John Koller from Bohemia, came to Wisconsin in 1875 by way of Pennsylvania.
Fred Bratz from Prussia, came to Wisconsin 1869.
Waldemar Hansen from Denmark, came to Wisconsin abt. 1879.
Chester Rogers from Michigan, came to Wisconsin abt. 1865.
J.W. Curtis from New York, came to Wisconsin abt 1861.
George Ross from Wisconsin
George Bowker from Maine.
Lorenz Deleglise from Wisconsin, parents from Switzerland.
Jorgen Germundsen (sp?) from Norway.
J.P. Holm from Norway.
J.R. Cowles from Wisconsin.
J.M. Rice, born New York, came to Wisconsin from Iowa in 1868.
William Lawrence from Wisconsin.
D. Williams born Pennsylvania, came to Wisconsin from Ohio in 1878
William Meckler born in Prussia, came to Wisconsin abt 1878?, ran a boarding house. Boarders: