"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.


Gagen, Daniel after whom the village of Gagen in Oneida County was named, and who was familiarly known as "Dan" GAGEN by the inhabitants not only of Oneida, but also of several adjoining counties, was one of the notable pioneers of northern Wisconsin, using the work pioneer as applying to one who came among the first actual settlers and remained in this region to help build it up and civilize it. Mr. GAGEN was born in England in the year 1834 and came to America in 1851 at the age of 17 years. For a young man he had a good business education, but his first work was in the copper mines of northern Michigan, where he spent a year. It was a pretty wild country in those days and the Indians were more numerous than the whites, upon whom, however, they were largely dependent for their supplies. On the other hand the furs procured by Indian hunters and trappers found a ready sale in civilized marts, and the natural result was an exchange of products. It was a trade that had been carried on with ups and downs for nearly two centuries, or ever since the white man first penetrated into these regions and its advantages appealed to Mr. GAGEN, who quit his work in the mines and became a trader, building a log cabin for a post at a point about two miles from the present village of Eagle River. A part of this old cabin could still be seen as recently as the year 1908. During the early 60's he did an extensive business with the Indians, making team trips from his post to Berlin, in Green Lake County, where he disposed of his furs for cash to L. S. COHN, a man who later laid out an addition to the city of Rhinelander which is still known as Cohn's addition. One of Mr. GAGEN'S closest friends, who made several of these trips with him, was Ace NEWELL, who later settled in Rhinelander and was still living there in 1908. Toward the close of the Civil War period the fur business began to drop off, as a consequence of which Mr. GAGEN drifted into the lumber business and also took up farming, establishing his home at Pine Lake, then in Shawano County, but later in Langlade and now in Forest County. For years he was a member of the county board and was a man of such prominence and influence that he was often referred to as "The King of the North." He was a particular friend of the red man and was often called upon to act as arbiter or judge of claims or matters of dispute between the Indians and the whites. His fame at that time extended throughout the state and at the present day it is hard to find a lumberman or old settler in its northern part to whom his name is not familiar. He was always noted for his hospitality, which he extended at need to all who called on him, and many there were, both red and white, to whom he rendered aid in times of starvation or privation. He made money radidly and spent it freely, and it is said that he made and lost several fortunes, caring more for his friends than he did for his money. About 1896 he moved with his family to Three Lakes, which place remained his home thereafter until his death on Nov. 25, 1908, at the age of 74 years. He had held the office of chairman of the town board for several terms and at the time of his death was school clerk. During his last illness he received a message from his old English home which greatly please him. It was brought from the old country by his nephew, Harry GAGEN, who spent many weeks in locating him, and whom he had never before seen. From this nephew he learned that his relatives in England had long mourned him as dead and he spent many hours and days with him in asking questions and hearing news about his brothers and sisters, other relations and friends of whom he had heard nothing since 1851. Mr. GAGEN'S last illness covered a period of nearly six months, and he breathed his last in the presence of his whole family, consisting of his wife and two sons, James and Henry, the former a resident of Antigo and the latter of Three Lakes. He has passed on but his memory as a pioneer of this region, through which he was honored by all who knew him, shall long endure.

Transcribed by Susan Swanson, from pages 280, History of Lincoln, Oneida and Vilas Counties Wisconsin; Compiled by George O. Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others 1924, H. C. Cooper, Jr. & Co.

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