"History of Lincoln, Oneida, and Vilas Counties Wisconsin"
Compiled by George O.Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others.
Printed in 1924 by H.C.Cooper. Jr. & Co., Minneapoli-Winona MN. ill.
787 pages. The first two hundred pages are history of the three
counties, the remainder of the book is biographies.
Chapter XXIII continued
The salient facts in regard to newspaper history in Eagle River are as follows In December, 1886, Patrick O'Brien established the Eagle River Vindicator, which he sold in July the following year to Orrin B. Moon, an attorney, who remained its proprietor for three years. Near the close of that period, or in June, 1890, the Eagle River Review was started by Dewar & McIntyre. Thus threatened with injurious competition, Mr. Moon in the following month (on July 14) bought the Review from Dewar & McIntyre and sold the Vindicator to Samuel Shaw of Crandon, who at once moved it to Rhinelander, in which city it was published for some ten years thereafter, being succeeded in 1910 by the Rhinelander News. In the meanwhile Mr. Moon was conducting the Review as an independent weekly issued Saturdays. About 1902, or possibly in 1903, he leased the paper for a few weeks or months to E. J. Dunn, by whom it was published on Saturdays as a Democratic weekly. About 1914 Mr. Moon sold the Review to N. A. Colman, who continued it as a Democratic sheet but changed the day of issue to Friday. He did not conduct it long, however, as the Wisconsin State Blue Book issued in 1907 gives the name of the publish6r as E. 0. Bowen, the politics of the paper as Republican, and the day of issue as Friday. In January, 1912, the Review was bought from Mr. Bowen by Verne Richards, the present proprietor, who at first made it independent in politics, and later Democratic, but who about two years ago (1921) changed it back to a Republican paper, and by whom it is published as a weekly issued Thursdays. In October, 1922, he enlarged it from an eight-page to a twelve-page paper, publishing six pages of home print and six furnished by the Western Newspaper 'Union.
On April 22, 1893, just one week after the creation of Vilas County, appeared the first issue of the Eagle Riker Democrat, published by the Democratic Printing Company and edited by James R. Howe. The Democratic Printing Company was a stock company the members of which were A. W. Shelton (then chief owner of the Rhinelander Herald), Niles A. Colman, S. W. Smith, T. B. Walsh, W. J. Walsh, J. T. Nemachek, W. J. Reilly, M. Holland, Max Sells and James R. Howe. But gradually this large company dissolved. In the following September the paper was leased to G. W. Small and H. B. Carpenter and was conducted by them until February, 1894, then by Carpenter alone for four months. The next proprietor was R. G. Sherwood, who remained as such from June, 1894, to January, 1895. Then the Democrat Printing Company again took hold of the sheet and issued it on Saturdays until the following year, with C. F. Colman as editor. The paper helped to gain votes for the Democratic Party. In 1896 the Democrat be- came the 'k7'ilas County News, and in November, 1997, it changed hands and also its political creed, the new proprietor being D. P. Riordan, with whom was associated G. F. Sanborn, and it was issued Mondavs as a Republican paper. Mr. Riordan seems to have been the real owner until 1906. Then the name of the publishers appeared as "The Park Company" for awhile, but in 1907 the News was bought by David C. Menefee and George Rogers. Two years later Mr. Menefee bought out his partner and has since been sole proprietor. The News is one of the influential journals of northern Wisconsin.
St. Peter's Catholic Church.---Quite a number of the earliest settlers at Eagle River were Catholics whose spiritual wants were ministered to for a number of years by visiting pastors or missionary priests. The first 'Mass was celebrated and services held in the log house of Mr. John O'Connor, situated across the river from the present village, by the Rev. John Siebert, who came all the way from Clintonville for that purpose. Father Siebert returned at somewhat long intervals to visit the Eagle River people, some two or three times altogether, and Father Nicholas July from Rhinelander also ministered to them at times, after which, in 1885 and 1886 they received attendance from the first resident priest at Antigo, Rev. A. N. Buschle. Father Buschle left Antigo in April, 1886, where he was succeeded by the energetic and enterprising Father W. Takken, who afterwards visited Eagle River repeatedly, but always on week days. When Mr. O'Connor's building on the corner of Wall and Railroad streets was completed, services were held there. Mass was also said quite often in the home of T. B. Walsh, and later in the town hall. The year 1890 was made memorable by the erection of St. Peter's Church, which was built at a cost of $1,325. To secure the necessary funds Samuel W. Smith, hotel keeper and one of the members of the congregation, visited the lumbering camps and called upon all of the settlers for aid. In this enterprise he was eminently successful, people of various denominations contributing liberally. John O'Connor donated the lots and he and Samuel W. Smith, Thomas B. Walsh, M. Holland, Frank Stein, Josert Deckert, John Brosnan, August Deschamps, William McGrath, and many others gave of their money and time while the work was going on. In the same year the church was solemnly blessed by the Rt. Rev. P. X. Katzer, then Bishop of Green Bay. Rev. Father Nicholas July from Rhinelander was then ministering to the congregation, having succeeded Father Takken in that capacity. On Sept. 10, 1894, the congregation at Eagle River became a parish, and the Rev. Prosper Goepfert, C. S. Sp., came here as resident pastor. He showed much useful activity, purchased some lots and a parochial residence, furnished the house and also the church with altars, statues, stations and a bell, visited, like Mr. W. S. Smith, every camp, collected in every home, and paid every debt. The bell was obtained through popular subscription and was blessed Oct. 20, 1895, on the occasion of an Episcopal visitation by Mgr. Messmer, bishop of the diocese.
A Catholic writer in 1898 said, "At the present time the parish of Eagle River and dependent missions extend over a territory comprising 4,000 square miles. The members- of these congregations are much scattered in parts of Vilas, Forest, Oneida, Langlade and Lincoln Counties, the missions being located, at North and South Crandon, Parrish, Jeffris, Monico, Gagen, Stella, Scott, Conover and State Line'. North of Eagle River there is not a priest located within a distance of 100 miles, while to the south there are two at Antigo, SI miles away, one at Rhinelander, to the- southwest 27 miles, and one east at Florence, to reach whom a journey of over 60 miles through tangles and trackless woodlands must be made." The Rev. Prosper Goepfert remained pastor at Eagle River until 1899, leaving Aug. 25, that year, for Sharpsburg, Penn. He was succeeded by Rev. P. J. Toplak, who guided the destinies of the parish for 20 years, retiring Oct. 1, 1919, owing to advanced age and infirmity. He is now residing in the vicinity of Three Lakes. In the early part of October, 1919, Rev. Bernard Gerlitzki arrived to succeed Father Toplak. He at once undertook a much needed enlargement of the church building, which was too -small to afford good accommodations for the congregation and the numerous summer tourists. With the generous aid of all, he began the work in the summer of 1920, and in a few months it was completed, the Catholic Extension Society of America donating the High Altar. Owing to poor health,
Father Gerlitzki resigned his position and left Eagle River in October, 1922. He became chaplain of St. Mary's Hospital, Rhinelander, Wis.,: but died in Catawba, Wis., Nov. 3, 1923. On Oct. 22, 1922, Rev. Arthur P. Shank arrived to take up the work of guiding the parish, and on Oct. 25, he was formally installed. Recognizing the need of a new church location, Father Shank, with the consent and approbation of Rt. Rev. J. G. Pinten, Bishop of Superior, purchased nine lots and a house which now serves as a rectory, the new property being acquired at a total cost of $6,600. In March, 1923, Father Shank had the altars and statues redecorated, giving added beauty to the quaint little church of old. This building has now stood over 33 years, and it is the fond hope of the pastor and the members of the congregation and parish to see the erection in the near future of a larger and finer church. The Catholic missions at Phelps, Monico and Pelican are served by the pastor at Eagle River.
The Congregational Church. In the fall of 1884 Jackson Tibbits of Antigo, better known as "Deacon" Tibbits, came to Eagle River, started a Sunday school, and preached in the little log schoolhouse which stood on or near the site of the present Lawler residence on the north side of the river. Soon afterwards a photographer put up a portable studio on the south side of the river, close to where the present bridge spans the stream. G. M. Nash, now a deacon in the church, cared for the studio and the Sunday school moved there and held its sessions during the next summer. In 1885 a Methodist named Rose started a Methodist Sunday school in the school building since bought and remodeled by M. Frankel as a residence, and both Congregationalists and Methodists had Sunday schools for about six months. In the meanwhile the Methodists erected a frame building for church work, and then sold it to the Congregational people for $200. This is the present building located at Division and First streets on the lots donated by John O'Connor. The organization of the church known as "The Congregational Church Society" was effected.with nine members in 1887, namely, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Stewart, Mr. and Mrs. S. Walters,- Mrs. R. A. Richmond, C. A. Thompson, Seymour DeWitt, Jacob Klumb and Mrs. Anna Wark. The only one of these now living in the village is Mrs. R. A. Richmond, better known as "Grandma" Richmond, and she has been for years a cripple and unable to attend services. Most of the pastors have been men of strong characteristics. Deacon Tibbits covered a wide area in making points as far apart as Wakefield, Tomahawk, Antigo, Eagle River and others. He is well remembered by the surviving pioneers as an uncompromising and self-sacrificing man of faith. Among those who served soon after him were Revs. L. A. Holp and A. S. Newcomb. In June, 1890, the Rev. H. C. Todd took charge and was pastor here for ten years. From June, 1900 to 1902, and again from 1907 to 1910, the pastor was Rev. C. W. Pinkney, a strong temperance and reform worker, who is credited with having caused the slot machine to be banished from the business houses. Rev. W. R. Dixon was pastor during four years from December, 1902 to 1906; Rev. Thos. J. Harris from 1906 to 1910, and Rev. Mr. Moss from 1910 to 1912. After him came Rev. G. P. Griffith, who remained three years, and Rev. Geo. H. Walters, (1915-1918) who helped to make Eagle River a dry town before national prohibition came. The present pastor, Rev. W. J. Davies, came to Eagle River as an associate to Mr. Walters, the field having grown to include Three Lakes, Phelps, Sayner, and many country points. The parsonage, located on Second Street, was bought and moved to its present location from the lot where the court house now stands. Plans are now under consideration for the erection of a new $25,000 church building, which will contain a pipe organ, the latter being the gift of Mr. and Mrs. A. H. Stange of Merrill. The missions of the Congregational parish of Eagle River in the last few years have included some 23 points, with Eagle River as the center of the parish. The Sayner congregation numbers about 25, and holds services in the community Protestant church, which was erected about four years ago. At Boulder Junction there is a union congregation of some 35 members, or attendants, who meet in the schoolhouse, services in summer being held on alternate Sundays. At Lake Oswego and at Baaken Sunday schools are held at intervals. In the town of Washinton, -nine miles east of Eagle River, there is the Anvil Lake Point Sunday School, other- wise called the Sanborn Sunday school, where services are held on alternate Sundays, and in the southeast part of the town of Lincoln, on State Highway No. 32, there is the Evergreen Sunday school, where services are held occasionally. Four miles southwest of Eagle River is the Sundsten Sunday school, held during the summer; to the northwest of the latter point, four and a half miles from the county seat, is held a Bohemian summer Sunday school; 20 miles west is the Juve school -",here services are held at wide intervals; four miles northwest of Eagle River is the Fenn summer Sunday school, and five miles northeast is Mayo, where religious services are held at intervals.
St. Ignatius Episcopal Church.-This church was originated with a Sunday school, and occasional services held in 1898 by Father Hitchcock of Rhinelander in the old opera house over James Morgan & Sons' store. Afterwards a warehouse owned by P. G. McIntyre on Main Street, just south of the site of the present Burkle's garage was used. The building now occupied by the tin shop of Behn Bros. was also occupied for a time. In 1906 removal was made to the Masonic hall on the west side of the railroad and for four years, or until the church edifice was built, regular services and Sunday school were held there. During the period of organization, which covered about ten years, Fathers Hitchcock, Babcock and Johnson gave valuable aid and direction, while the local leaders were faithful in maintaining the Sunday school. The summer of 1910 saw a young man, student from Washotah, working out his vacation in the interest of the church under the direction of Bishop Weller of Fond du Lac. Unstinted praise is given this gentle- man for his valuable service by those who knew him. Then came the first resident priest, the Rev. Alfred Nugent Samwell. It was in November, 1910, that the church edifice was completed and dedicated. The laying of the cornerstone had been formally celebrated by the local lodge of Free Masons, and now the completed church was formally dedicated with Bishop Weller in charge, and Fathers Johnson of Rhinelander, Johnson of Wausau, Griffin of Antigo and other clergy present. Father Samwell remained as priest-in-charge from 1910 to 1913, leaving for visits to the South and East. It was learned that during the World War he served as chaplain in the army, seeing active service in France. Following Father Sam,well, Rev. L. H. Webster took charge, he and his wife coming straight from England. It was during his rectorship that the bell was bought and dedicated and the vicarage built. He remained about two and a half years and then went from here to Canada. Rev. Father Grey of Rhinelander arranged for a service and communion once a month, which was continued until Rev. Everett Ellis of .Boston became the resident priest in 1920. Father Ellis left in 1921 to be an assistant in a large parish in Boston, Mass. Father Roy Wallace Mason, who had succeeded to the rectorship of the Rhinelander parish, took charge of the work here and continued through 1922 to hold week-night services. Recently a new resident rector in the person of Rev. John Lloyd, has assumed charge, coming here from the cathedral. The records of the church show unremitting and intelligent labor on the part of local leaders. Among the earnest workers was John Radcliffe, who was superintendent of the Sunday school from its organization until his death. The names of F. G. Hall and August Weil, deceased, are also recorded as active communicants. The ladies' auxiliary, the St. Ignatius Guild, has been a powerful working organization in maintaining the finances of the church, and in this connection it is worthy of note that Mrs. James Morgan and Mrs. Margaret Mckenzie held the respective offices of president and vice president for 14 years, or from the organizing of the guild until a year or so ago.
Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church.-There is evidence that among the earliest settlers at Eagle River there were a few Lutherans, and it is probable that the first Lutheran services here were held in the early 80's, if not before, by the Rev. Mr. Hoyer. The Rev. Mr. Kuesteman seems to have been the next pastor serving the Lutherans at Eagle River, and it was in his time that the present-Christ Evangelical Congregation was organized Nov. 11, 1890, at the home of Mr. Ed. Frederick, Chas. Ewald, August Ziemke and'August Nedden signing the certificate of organization. The Rev. Rutzen became successor to the Rev. Kuesteman. Up to this time the services had been held in private houses, chiefly in the homes of August Ziernke and Ed, Frederick; but as these houses were too small to hold all the visitors, Rev. Rutzen induced the congregation to engage the present Congregational church edified for the purpose. But by and by the congregation decided to have its own house of worship, and in the year 1892 the little church building in the southeast part of town, on Third Street, on lots donated by Geo. E. O'Connor, was erected and has been in use to the present day. The Rev. Rutzen was succeeded by Rev. Dejung, Sr., and Rev. Dejung, Jr., Loth in their time stationed at Rhinelander, from which place they also served Eagle River. The Rev. Herzfeld, the next pastor, was the first to make his home here at Eagle River. The present home of Mr. Puekett, in the rear of the church edifice, was purchased by the congregation for a parsonage. The next parsonage, a seven-room house, was purchased of Mr. A. Radke. The Rev. Mueller was the successor of Rev. Herzfeld, and in a few years he was succeeded by Rev. H. Schmitt, who served this congregation almost eight years. Three years ago the present pastor, Rev. Jos. D. Krubsack, came and he has since been stationed here. The congregation has now 34 voting men; 145 communicant and contributing members and about 200 souls. It has in. its midst a number of organizations: A Ladies' Aid Society with a membership of 35, a Bible class for the young people, and a Sunday school of about 50 children-and seven teachers. Until recently financial support was received from the synod, but the members, all working hard, are today proud of the fact that they have become self-supporting. The present church building being too small, it has been decided to build a new and larger edifice, and lots for that purpose adjoining the lots of the present parsonage have been purchased from Mr. Aug. Zibell. The new building will measure 140 x 70 feet, the material to be of stucco or brick veneer, and the seating capacity about 250. The approximate cost of the building, without bell and organ, will probably be in the neighborhood of $15,000.
In or about the year 1910 some of the residents of Eagle River formed a librarian, association and took up subscriptions for the purchase of books. A small sum was realized by this means, the members purchased cards at 50 cents apiece, and the town board donated one hundred dollars. The first books purchased were kept in a building which stood on the site of the present First National Bank. The building subsequently burned down but the books were saved. Subsequent purchases and donations have since increased the number of books in the library to 915 (June 1, 1923). After the library had been in existence for about four years the Woman's Club took charge of it and has since been the main factor in its support, raising necessary funds by giving entertainment's and taking up collections among the business men. The Inter Se Society, another woman's organization, has also helped by donating books. The library has been housed at different times in various store buildings. The custom of charging 50 cents a year for ownership of cards entitling bearer to the privileges of the library, though for some time in abeyance, has been revived. Mrs. Delia D. Austin has been chairman of the library board and also of the financial committee since the library was started. Though small at present, and the books mostly confined to fiction, the library may be regarded as the nucleus of a future institution that shall have a home of its own and prove an important factor in the educational advancement of the community.
Lyman J. Cook and A. A. Denton have been mentioned as early postmasters of Eagle River, and later others held that office, among them F. G. McIntyre, under whom it -became an office of the third class. On Aug. 19, 1915, John A. Zimplemann became postmaster and is still serving. In July, 1922, Eagle River was made a second-class post office. It has one rural route, and also what is known as the "marine route," which is operated during the summer to accommodate the summer tourists and campers. The office has 226 lock boxes, and since the present postmaster took charge, the sales have increased from $4,500 to $14,000.
Eagle River Lodge No. 248, F. & A. M., was organized 31 years ago, or about 1892, and has since continued its meetings, having now about 100 members. The
chapter of the Eastern Star was instituted in 19t 7 with 14 charter members, March 17, and now has about 70 members. Both the lodge and E. S. chapter hold their meetings in Masonic Hall.
Eagle Waters Camp No. 990, M. W. A., was established at Eagle River some 35 years ago and now has 98 or 100 members. After it had been in successful operation for about ten years, Manila Camp of Royal Neighbors was organized with 21 charter members; it now has 97. The Woodmen's camp and that of the Royal Neighbors own a half interest in a building on Railroad Street, in which they have their hall. About 1888 an Odd Fellows lodge was organized in Eagle River and was in existence for about ten years thereafter, when it surrendered its charter. For many years a branch of the W. C. T. U. has flourished in the village and is still active. There was also a Good Templars' lodge here in early days.
The Eagle River Woman's Club was organized in 19t5 and has at the present time (June, 1923) about 40 members. Its main object is civic improvement, though occasionally study meetings are held. Some years ago the club took charge of the public library and has since looked after its interests, for that purpose giving card parties, or other public entertainments. For years also the club did what work was done on the cemetery, and in the spring of 1922 organized the Eagle River Cemetery Association, in accordance with the statutes of the state of Wisconsin, which association now owns the cemetery, the latter having been deeded to it by the village board. The cemetery lies some three-quarters of a mile east of the village.
In 1918 Eagle Post No. 114 of the American Legion was organized and within a year had 99 members, including nearly every service man in the county, but the number has since dropped to a purely local membership of 14, as the boys on the farms and in the small country villages cannot easily get to town to attend meetings. Since 1921 the commander of the post has been Reinhold R. Ewald. The first commander was A. H. La Renzie, who is now its finance officer.
In addition to the above mentioned societies, there are several connected more or less closely with the churches. The Earnest Workers' Club, connected with the Congregational Church, was organized some 25 years ago as a Ladies' Aid Society, but for I years has been called by its present name. In 1920 a local division of the Catholic Foresters was organized and now has about 35 members. The Eagle River Band should also be mentioned, an organization that has been in existence for many years. In January, 1921, when it had but 13 members, the Rev. W. J. Davies took hold of it and has since brought its membership up to 25 men. In 1922 new instruments were bought and paid for, and recently a regular director, Mr. Hebestreit, has been engaged. The band gives summer concerts and is increasing in popularity.
The Forest, Vilas and Oneida Counties Medical Society. See chapter on Rhinelander.
Eagle River was incorporated as a village March 9, 1921. The survey was made Jan. 5, that year, by W. J. Walsh. The map showed an-area of 544 acres, and the census 790 names. At the election held April 25, 1921, to decide the question as to whether the village should be incorporated or not, 124 votes were cast in favor of the proposition, 15 against it and two were blank. The population is now about 1200.
Among the industries which have sprung up within comparatively recent years and are being profitably exploited by those initiated, is that of silver black fox raising, the animals being bred for their extremely valuable fur. In Guy G. Henry of Eagle River, Vilas County has an experienced representative of this industry, and a comprehensive description of it may be found in connection with his biography.
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