"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.


      The lake region of northern Wisconsin is part of a larger lake area embracing also the lakes of northern Minnesota; but it is not its geographical or geological importance that has made it famous, but its irresistable appeal to the tourist, sportsman, health seeker, and lover of the beautiful in nature. It is beyond all things the paradise of the fisherman. With thousands of lakes an streams to chose from, no lover of the rod need come back empty handed from a fishing trip. Such a multitude of lakes and streams cannot be "fished out," and moreover the state of Wisconsin is one of the foremost in the Union in maintaining the supply of game fish in its waters. The waters of the North are stocked by the state every season, fish hatcheries being maintained for the purpose. The fishing season in the lake region is long, beginning early in the spring and lasting well into the fall. Trout abound in hundreds of the streams and in the waters flowing northward there is unexcelled bass fishing, with plenty of pickerel and perch. The muskellunge, or "muskie," is plentiful in various localities having waters flowing south. Excellent casting-spots abound along the shores of innumerable lakes, while the opportunities for trolling are as numerous as the streams and lakes themselves. The fisherman can take his outfit with him or "travel light" and equip himself at any of the good fishing grounds where there is plenty of tackle to be had, with bait for every sort of fish, together with canoes, boats and camping outfits. Also there are experienced guides and congenial companions to be had for trips into the more distant fishing grounds. Yet the tourist who loves to get close to Nature has no need to "rough it" as formerly. The clean comfortable bed, the attractive dinner table, and other home comforts and conveniences, await him in the hospitable log cabin or more awaits him at the end of his daily trips. The huntsman in season can find deer and other game in abundance, and those who like canoeing, boating or bathing can be here gratified to their hearts content. The climate of the region is temperate, with abundant rainfall (about 44 inches during the year), as a rule distributed evenly throughout the growing season. The excessive heat of summer does not penetrate the northern woods, and the winter cold is not hard to endure, owing to the invigorating quality of the air, which is unfavorable to the propogation of such annoying diseases as colds, catarrh, hay fever, and asthma.
      The map of the territory included within the scope of this volume show that of the three counties Vilas contains the greatest number of lakes. Oneida comes next, while in Lincoln County the lakes are not numerous and are chiefly found in its northern portion in the vicinity of Tomahawk. One of the most noted in the territory is Lac Vieux Desert, which lies on the Wisconsin-Michigan boundary line and is the source of the Wisconsin River. That river, issuing from its southwest extremity, pursues an irregular southerly course through Vilas County, until it leaves the county in Sec. 32, T.42 north of Range 11 East. In Se. 31, Range 10 of the same township it is joined by Eagle River, Rice Creek and Mud Creek, and all that part of the river above this point up to its source was called by the Indians "Keteg-it-tee-gon-ing."
      After leaving Vilas County the Wisconsin continues its southerly direction passing through Oneida and Lincoln Counties, and with its tributories, draining a large part of this area. The principal streams in the western part of Vilas County are the Manitowish and Flambeau, and in the western part of Oneida the Tomahawk River and Little Rice Creek. In Lincoln County the chief tributories flowing into the Wisconsin from the west are the Spirit River, New Wood River and Copper River, and from the east Pine Creek, Little Pine Creek, Prairie River and Pine River. Western Vilas is drained by the Flambeau, which runs into the Chippewa River. Numerous streams in all three counties, especially Vilas and Oneida, flow into the various lakes, sometimes connecting a number of them together in the form of a chain.
      These lakes and streams have a human as well as geographical interest. In bye-gone centuries they have witnessed on their banks and shores the transient wigwam of the aboriginal Red Man and the curling smoke of his campfire. Those same banks and shores have at times been the scene of many a warlike surprise and bloody massacre, or perhaps of individual conflict, as well of the primitive home life of a primitive people. of more interest to us of the present day, they have witnessed the white man's advent, as the first adventuous pioneer, after a long and weary journey, first glimpsed them and stooped to quaff their pure and cooling waters, into which doubtless he speedily cast a line, making his first catch of those piscatorial bounties which nature has so richly bestowed on this region.
      Let us recall one or two of these pioneers. it is now 67 years ago since Joshua Fox located on the east shore of Catfish Lake, two miles southeast of what is now the village of Eagle River and opened a trading-post. His wife was the first white woman known to have set foot in these parts. Another settler had located on Yellow Birch Lake and he, being a carpenter, was employed by Fox to erect suitable buildings. This carpenter was C.L.Perry, most probably the "Dad" Perry known to the early settlers. The trading post established was called Kim-me-con, meaning "Have you found it," which name was chosen because an Indian guide had asked that question of Joshua Fox in regard to a beautiful site on the lake. Doubtless Joshua answered, "Eureka." In this trading-post was housed the famous bank of Kim-me-con, and it was where the first presidential votes were cast when Abraham Lincoln was elected in the fall of 1860. Kim-me-con was also a post office, the second to be located between Ontonagon and Wausau on the old Ontonagon mail route, which started at Wausau and penetrated through the forests by the way of Pelican Rapids (now Rhinelander). It followed the Wisconsin River much of its way; thence along the Eagle, passing the site of the present court house at Eagle River on the south; thence to Gagen Hill and across the thoroughfare between Otter and Eagle lakes a little east of the Magee farm. An appropriation for a bridge across the thoroughfare below Scattering Rice lake was made by Marathon County. From there it ran north by way of Twin Lakes and Lac Vieux Desert to Ontonagon. The mail was carried by packers in summer and by dog sleds in winter.
      Soon after establishing himself at Kim-me-con Fox and a partner named Helm started logging on the east shore of Catfish, near to the location of the present Hemlock resort. A couple years later a settler named Bonduel, with his wife, located near to the Fox household, which supplied Mrs. Fox with the much needed female company. the Bonduel place was afterwards occupied by a man named Hall, from whom it derived its name, "Hall's Place," referred to in government surveys of the town.
      Moving northward a few miles, we now strike the old military road which was built from Green Bay to Ontonagon. We now skirt the edge of Anvil Lake then Big Twin at Phelps village, and finally Lac Vieux Desert, or Vudesare Lake on the way to Ontonagon. This route, completed in 1869, took the place of the Wausau-Ontonagon as the arterial way for alll supplies, which previously had been brought by canoe along water routes and by teams in winter. Lac Vieux Desert is one of the largest lakes of this region, and it nestles among the hills, a pretty blue gem in a setting of greens of the timbered shore. This lake is noted for its muskellunge and also contains many bass and pike. It has 40 miles of shore line, pleasntly wooded and with well hidden bays and numerous islands.
      Mr. and Mrs. Fox moved to Lac Vieux in the early 60's and kept a trading-post by the military road. "dad" Perry was the builder of the hotel, using what is known as whip-sawed lumber for the roof boards and hewing the big pine logs used for the cribs. This building, since made into several, may be seen today as part of the popular Thomas resort, which fact introduces us to another family of pioneers and their history. The grandfather of Louis Thomas, the genial old-timer of the Thomas resort now named Camp Vudesare and owned by F.C.Porter, was the first to carry mail on the old Indian trail called the mail route from Wausau to Ontonagon. When the route was established on the military road the government let out the contract for mail carrying and so the job passed from one hand to another. Thomas's grandfather built a log house at the site of the present dam. Among the historic cabins is one named "Wianno," which was one of the first trading-post buildings.
      There is a local tradition that Father Jaques Marquette here for a time pursued his missionary labors and that he crossed the lake with his followers in a canoe and paddled down the Wisconsin on his way to discover the Mississippi River. He may, possibly, have visited Lac Vieux Desert at some time,but, according to authentic history, he did not do so in 1673 when he accompanied Jolliet on the expedition which resulted in the discovery of the Mississippi. On that expedition of which Jolliet was the leader, they started together from Mackinac, followed a course along the north shore of Lake Michigan, then southwest to the head of Green Bay, then up the fox River, through Lake Winnebagp, and along the upper portion of the Fox River to the portage in what is now Portage County, whre waters flowing ultimately into the Gulf of St. Lawrence apprroach within a mile of so of waters that flow ultimately into the Gulf of Mexico. Having crossed the portage, they launched their canoes on the Wisconsin and followed that stream down to the Mississippi. At no part of the route, as thus given by historians, were they nearer to Lac Vieux Desert than a distance of about 95 to 100 miles.
      Around the shores of Lac Vieux Desert are many mounds of the kind formerly attributed to the mysterious race of mound builders, but which are consideredd by modern ethnologists to have been constructed by Indians such as are living today, and in addition to the mounds various implements of stone and copper have been found. Lac Vieux Desert Summer Resort, or Camp Vudesare, as it is now called, is the pioneer resort of north Wisconsin. Leonard Thomas, father of L.L.Thomas, with his family settled at the old trading post on Lac Vieux Desert in October 1876, and L.L. Thomas was born at this place. According to the latter the first tourists came to this region in the late 70's and were guests at the Thomas home, where, it said, they broke any known record for muskellunge. In those days pike and bass were not a real game fish and very few were caught. .. Nothing but muskellunge would satisfy the appetite of the trappers or traders, or, for that matter any sportsman who fished the Wisconsin waters. The catches reported are enormous, but of all the fish caught none were wasted; if the creel was filled, then the suplus fish, hooked and played were released to again fight the lure. This was before the day of the "fish hog", who has been the prime casue of game fish depletion in these northern waters. There were many of such "hogs" among the tourists who visited this region soon after the building of the railroads, who caught vast quantities of muskellunge, many times more that they could use or rationally dispose of, then hung them up to view to let others see what great sportsmen they were, and left them to rot.
      The Thomases started operating their resort in the 80's, and that makes theirs the oldest resort in the north half of the state. it is stated that the beautiful and romantic looking lake was not originally called Lac Vieux Desert, but went by the Indian name of Kat-a-kit-lekon. It seems the Indians planted the islands of the lake to corn and rice and after harvesting finally buried it. When late fall and winter came, they would return from expeditions and find their cached food. When the Indians finally abandoned their planting, after the advent of the white man, the circumstances gave rise to the name Kat-a-kit-lekon, which means "Old Planting Ground." These islands we know as Cow Islands, South Island, and Near Island. The tribe of Indians were the Chippewas. After the Indians came the French Traders, who translated the name Kat-a-kit-lekon to Lac Vieux Desert, which conveys the meaning in the old French-Canadian dialect of an old abandoned planting ground. The name appears on an old map prepared by the French and bearing the date of 1718, but it suppposed to have been in use much earlier.
      The second summer resort was started in this region in the early 80's on Big Twin Lake by Seth Conover of Plymouth. After operating it for five of six years he sold it to William Crosby, of Plymouth, Wis., who managed it for three years and then sold it in 1889 to the Twin Lakes Hunting Club. the president of the club, Harvey L. Goodall, and his family, lovers of nature, who had derived much benefit from visits to the north woods, were enthusiatic over the possibilities of a new resort. Accordingly in 1891 Mr Goodall purchased the property and changed the name to the Lakota resort and it became popular in the Northwest. He built several cabins and in 1893 added a lodge, the largest log building that had ever been built, as it measured 40 by 80 feet. This was finished in August, a1893, and in the next month, September, it was wiped out by fire, together with about a dozen smaller cabins. Mr. Goodall never rebuilt and then in 1907 sold to William Adams of Milwaukee, who has operated the resort ever since. C.E. Hazen owner of Long Lake Lodge, was house manager of the club whil Mr. Goodal owned it.
      O.W. Sayner, who owns Sayner's Resort on Plum Lake at the village of Sayner comes next with 33 years of service to the summer guest. He built his resort in the early 90's and has been at its head ever since, today having an absolutely modern summer resor. To hear Mr. Sayner tell of how he brought in his first guests and how he managed to pack in supplies, both on his back and on a primitive dog team clear from Eagle River, is well worth listening to. Nothing but an old tote road was in use at that time between Plum Lake and Eagle River.
      Charles A. Bent next comes to the front as an "old-timer" in the resort business. Thirty-one years ago he and his wife and children took up their abode in the dense woods 12 miles west of State Line, then a rendevous for lumberjacks and logging men. With his father's help he started a camp for tourists, taking up a homestead on what is now Lake Mamie. His only road was a trail broadened out by the axe to permit the passage of a wagon and team through the virgin hardwood. The timber was so thick that on single 40-acre tract at State line produced a million feet of the finest kind of pine. Today Mr. Bent can accommodate an immense crowd of pleasure seekers and ther is still plenty of timber in the immediate vicinity of his resort.
      The next resort was started on Big Trout Lake by John Mann and is now owned and operated by Dan Cardinal. The Radcliffe boys were teamsters who helped cut the road from Woodruff to Trout Lake, transporting the first lumber for the resort. Today, over 30 years later, this resort is one of the foremost in the Lake region.
      The oldest resort on the Eagle Chain of Lakes is now known as The Everett. It was started almost 30 years ago by Fred Morey, now owner of the Morey resort on Otter Lake. The resort started by Mr. Morey was on Catfish and consisted of but one building. Mr. Morey, who came here with Arthur McKenzie and started the State Bank, was a devoted fisherman, and with Ed Lacau as his guide, rambled about the lakes pursuing his favorite passtime. After operating his resort a year he sold it to E.A. Everett, a business man from Chicago and a tourist to the lake region, and it has been under the control of Mr. Everett ever since.
      This region, today noted for its good roads, was very different during the early years, for it was not until 1911 and 1912 that road building was really started. Previous to that time the only method of traveling was over old tote roads and old logging roads. A logging road was one built from the logging camp, to some place on the river or lake where the logs were floated for transportation. Nowadays it would be built to some railroad. A "tote" road was one over which supplies were carried (on the back) into Camp. These roads were grass-grown and the centers almost a foot higher than the wheel tracks. The only method of transportation in early days were those of the horse and wagon. A tourist stepping from the train was escorted to the "Wonderful One-Horse Shay" and driven through dense forest for miles and miles. Although the scenery was beautiful the riding was not extrememly enjoyable. It is not a pleasure to ride in springless bumping wagon jolting over corduroys and fording creeks and streams, with most of the way up and down hill. The firs motor car ever driven in this country was seen for the first time in 1907. In 1917 ther were good roads throughout the country and cars were no longer a novelty. With the introduction of the former the country was soon settled and in most places cultivated fields have taken the place of dense forests. The lake region is 80 miles east and west and 60 miles north and south, and a recent cesnus shows that it contains 400 resorts, all connected with the railroads by good driving-roads or water.
      In Oneida County, within a twelve-mile radius from Rhinelander, ther are 230 lakes of various sizes, glistening like gems in a setting of primeval forest, making this an unsurpased outdoor playground from early spring to late fall for camping, boating, swimming and fishing, where tourists from all sections of the country find the best of summer resorts, some of which have been frequented by them for many years. The most famous of these lakes, deserving mention, are following: Pelican Lake, 20 miles southeast of Rhinelander on State Trunk Highways Nos. 39 and 14, has five resorts with capacity for 120 guests: Lake View Inn, Resthaven Resort, Weaver Cottages Resort, Maple Beach Lodge and Shagewaunecog. The fish are "musky", pike and bass.
      Lakes Minocqua and Kawaguesaga, near the northern county line, are in reality one lake, being joined by a long strait; to many they are known simply as Lake Kawaguesaga. The fish are musky, pike, pickeral and bass. This neighborhood, with the possible exception of Three Lakes, is the most frequented by summer visitors and the best provided with summer resort facilities of any in Oneida County. On Kawaguesaga are four resorts: Kawaguesaga Resort, North Shore Lodge, Woodland Resort and the Northern, with a capacity of 167 quests. On Minocqua Lake are two: Oake Ridge and Rainbow Resort, caring for 27. Within easy reach is Squirrel Lake with two resorts: Shishebogamon (or Shashesagama), three; Jerry Rush or Blue Lake, two, this lake containing rainbow trout. Minocqua is 32 miles from Rhinelander via Nos. 14 and 10 highways.
      Three Lakes, 21 miles from Rhinelander via No. 63 and County Trunk "A", is on the famous Eagle chain of navigable connected lakes, about 50 miles in total length and flowing into the Wisconsin at Eagle River. In this region are ten resorts caring for 260 guests at one time: Light House Lodge, Lake Breeze Resort, Pine Wood Resort, Virgin Lake, Lake Side, Recreation Camp, Pleasant View, Stone Lake Farm Cottage, Deer Lake Lodge and Medicine Lake Lodge.
      Lake Katherine, five miles south of Minocqua on Trail 10, boasts whitefish besides the fish usually found in this region. There are three resorts: Sylvan Shores, Pine Shore Inn and Forest Glen, and in the near neighborhood are several others: Beautiful Birchwood and South Lake Resort on Garth Lake; Camp of the Tequenini on Lake Raymond; Kaubashine and Idle Wild Resort on Birch Lake.

The Lake Region continued on next page

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