BELLE PLAINE -- From Shawano County
It was on October 20, 1858 that a special meeting was called by the
electors of the settlement of Belle Plaine for the purpose of organizing
Belle Plaine was covered with thick forests, and only here and there
could be found a clearing where a settler had made his home.
John M. Neues was appointed chairman of that significant meeting. Egbert
Johnson served as clerk and Richard Evans and William D. Morgan, inspectors.
F.C. Webster was elected chairman of the new township. John Stacy and
George Neword were elected supervisors; Foster Beedle, clerk; James Beedle,
treasurer; Richard Evans and John Dodge, Justices of the Peace; John Neues
and Egbert Johnson, assessors; Henry Stacy and Frank Dodge, constables.
At a special meeting held Nov. 25, 1858, at the home of John Stacy, John
Dodge was elected to the office of Superintendent of Schools for Belle
Plaine. At this meeting, also, the electors decided to levy a tax of $300.00
to be used for making highways and building bridges.
The job of pole bridging was let to Richard Evans for 85 cents a rod;
and the job of cutting and clearing a strip of land for a highway to James
Beedle for 50 cents a rod.
The next year, after the organization of the Township, the settlement
organized its first church. The people petitioned some of the nearest Lutheran
pastors to serve them. The Rev. Ruhland of Oshkosh consented to make the
long and difficult journey to this place. The trip was made partly by water
on the Wolf and Embarrass rivers; and partly on foot or by ox-wagon. Frequently
these wagons were lubricated with fish which could easily be taken from
the streams abounding with fish at that time. The wagons were homemade,
simple cross sections of logs serving as wheels.
On such a trip through the dense forest and swamps, myriads of mosquitoes
would, of course, welcome the wayfarer. Pastor Ruhland, who was accustomed
to order and comfort, chided these people for having moved into this wilderness,
an act which he considered very foolish.
The little group of people gathered together by this pastor, organized
as St. Martin's Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of the Unaltered Augsburg
Confession, Belle Plaine, Wisconsin. The first constitution bears the date
October 23, 1859. The charter members were: Carl Raash, Martin Preusz,
Carl Reisner, F. Jaeckel, G. Mielke, H. Eckert, F. Degener, Carl Retzlaff,
Christian Retzlaff, C. Manteufel, C. Bartelt, W. Retzlaff, J. Klickmann,
C. Schewe, F. Tappendorf and F. Kirschberg.
The first services were held at the home of Carl Reisner. A little later
the congregation used the public schoolhouse for its services. This was
a log building erected on the spot where the parish hall now stands.
In that day the people were too poor to but oxen, not to think of horses
which were still more expensive. So practically all traveling was done
1861 saw the beginning of the great Civil War. Some of the fathers
volunteered for service in the Union Army. The hard times which these pioneers
experienced became still more oppressing. The Town voted to raise the sum
of $100.00 a piece to families of all men who might be drafted into service.
At one time the quota of men was fourteen.
While the country was still embroiled in the bitter conflict, Pastor
Peter H. Dicke came to Belle Plaine with his family and moved into the
new log house which the congregation had erected on its ten acre property.
With great self-denial, Pastor Dicke conscientiously performed the duties
of his sacred office. In 1869, four years after the close of the Civil
War, the first church building was erected for St. Martin's congregation.
In 1864 the freeholders made application for highways. The only early
record book to be found in the Town of Belle Plaine contains a long list
of requests for highways and bridges.
On October 7, 1865, a meeting was held to consider the division of school
districts. Consequently, seven districts were formed.
Many names of the first families to settle in Belle Plaine are found
in the old record book; among them are: Levi Neill, Elias Peterson, E.F.
Sawyer, Foster Beedle, E.D. Shipman, Leander Crain, E.R. Murdock, Ambrose
Howe, Jr., Alex Bucholtz, Chas. Stuebs, John Hedges, E.D. Cumaer, Chas.
Magee, August Winkler, August Kluekmann, Chas. Reisner, H. Eckert, Will
Porter, Martin Preuss, Chas. Laehn, Henry Sanders, Sam Parker, John and
August Kluckmann, Charles Meisner, Chris Retzlaff, Frank Degener, Chas.
Plautz, August Schoenick, F. Jaeckel and Fred Crumbach.
Early Record Book, Town Belle Plaine
Gilbert Kriewaldt, Clerk.
75th Anniversary Booklet of St. Martin's