"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.


French, Fred--The life and death of the subject of this sketch form an intensely interesting page in the history of Vilas County, the story being marked by both picturesque and tragic elements. As trapper and hunter for 11 years in this region, Mr. FRENCH was well known to most of the inhabitants of the country, and his personal character was such as to make him many friends. His murder while camping out in the wilds was an event that shocked the entire county and is still vividly remembered by all who lived here a quarter of a century ago. But little data is at hand in regard to Mr. FRENCH'S early life, but it is known that he was born in Pennsylvania in 1831 or 1832, and that as a young man he learned the trade of cooper, subsequently, however, becoming a farmer. From Pennsylvania he moved to Wisconsin and was married in Menasha, Winnebago County, to Helena OTT, a native of Germany who had come to the United States when young. In 1875 Mr. FRENCH was shot in the hand, which crippled that member. In 1886 he came to Vilas County, and thereafter his chief occupation was trapping. In this pursuit he was quite successful, getting as much as two hundred dollars' worth of fur each winter. While thus engaged he made his home in a shanty on the banks of Pine Lake about 18 miles each of Three Lakes. It was early in September, 1898--about the 7th of the month-- that Mr. FRENCH started out from his shanty, presumably to visit his traps, and leaving his gun behind, which was not his custom. He was then working in company with a young man named John BUMILLER. After three weeks had elapsed without his reappearance, his relations began to feel some anxiety and a search was instituted, but for some time without result. On Monday, Nov. 1, however his body was found floating in a rice bed on the north side of Pine Lake by two young men or boys who were out duck hunting; it was clad in nothing but underwear. An examination showed that Mr. FRENCH had been shot through the body, the ball passing through his right arm, entering the right side about three inches below the armpit, passing through both lungs and lodging in the left side, whence it was extracted. As John BUMILLER, who was near the spot, had instantly fled when the discovery was announced, only stopping to get his rifle and ammunition from the shanty, he was naturally suspected as the murderer, a warrant was issued for his arrest, and the sheriff and his deputies, and in particular, Mr. FRENCH'S son Charles, took up the pursuit, with the result and BUMILLER was finally captured, but was subsequently discharged for lack of evidence. As a soldier in the Civil War Mr. FRENCH was in receipt of a pension from the United States government, and after his death his wife was awarded a widow's pension. She survived her husband 19 years, passing away suddenly on Wednesday morning, Sept. 21, 1917, and leaving four children, Charles, Fred, Louise, and Anna. The funeral services were held at the Catholic Church, the remains being-escorted from the residence by the Ladies Rosary Society, of which Mrs. FRENCH was a member, and the Royal Neighbors sent a beautiful floral tribute. Thus departed one who in this life had passed through a severe trial, which she had met with Christian resignation.

Transcribed by Susan Swanson, from pages 256-257; History of Lincoln, Oneida and Vilas Counties Wisconsin; Compiled by George O. Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others; 1924, H. C. Cooper, Jr. & Co.

You are our    [an error occurred while processing this directive]    Visitor since 4 Feb 2004--Thanks for Stopping By.

© Copyright: All files on this website are protected by the US Copyright Law, Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, they are not to be copied or altered in any way for commercial use. Individuals may copy the information for their personal use. WIGenWeb Oneida and Vilas County Coordinator Judy Groh.