"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.


Thomas, Louis L. son of a pioneer northern Wisconsin resort man and himself one of the prominent figures in this industry here for many years, was born at Rockland, Mich., Jan. 4, 1871. In October, 1876, when he was not quite six years old, he came to Wisconsin with his parents, Leonard and Mary (DRAPER) THOMAS. The family located at a point on Lac Vieux Desert where there had been a trading post and post office during the Civil War, and here the father resume the trading which had been abandoned. He carried this on for several years, and in 1884 he established Lac Vieux Desert Resort, the first to be put into operation on Lac Vieux Desert and the only one on this lake until 1902. Soon after establishing the resort, Mr. THOMAS, Sr., had the misfortune to break his leg, and consequently the management of the property fell upon his son, Louis L., subject of this sketch. The father died Feb. 8, 1898, and the wife and mother passed away May 30, 1911. Louis L. THOMAS only attended grade school for one term; his father, however was a great student and a man of fine scholastic attainments, and he spent many hours in teaching his son. The latter was also a great reader, as soon as he had acquired sufficient knowledge to enable him to read comprehendingly, and by these means he acquired an excellent early education despite the fact that he did not attend school. He was not satisfied with this, however, and after reaching mature years he earned and saved money expressly for the purpose of continuing his education. When he had acquired sufficient capital he took a course in the high school at Spirit Lake, Iowa; later he supplemented this with a course at Boston, Mass., and two years after this he took up commerical law at Norman University, Ada, Minn. He then returned to the resort on Lac Vieux Desert, assumed full management of the property, and continued its development and upbuilding. He made this one of the most successful resorts in Northern Wisconsin; its popularity became so great that many prospective guests had to be turned away every season for lack of room, and up to the time he sold it in 1921 he was greeting each season many guests who had made this place the headquarters of their summer outing each year since it was first established in 1884. He could accommodate from 50 to 60 persons, having 13 cottages, a main lodge and club house 20x30 feet in dimensions, and a laundry and dining hall for the help. His resort maintained a fine fleet of row boats and launches, and at one time boasted a number of birch-bark canoes. The orginal cabins were constructed of logs, but during the time that he operated the property he installed a sawmill, and with this he sawed lumber for the cottages he subsequently built. The grounds at first consisted of 40 acres, but in 1901 Mr. THOMAS purchased an additional 20 acres adjoining the original tract on the sourth, and on this he erected his private residence in 1903. His resort was always particularly noted for the excellence of its cuisine, for its homelike atmosphere, and for the fine personal qualities of its owner and its hostess, Mr. and Mrs. THOMAS. It was a Mecca for hunters every fall, the shooting in this locality being unrivalled, and it was also a great gathering place for fishermen. Besides conducting this property Mr. THOMAS developed a portion of his land for agricultural purposes, and he carried on farming for many years; he also followed logging and lumbering, buying tracts of timber land and logging them off, and he did considerable cruising and guide work; and he is one of the best posted men on the lakes as to the haunts of the fish and wild game. Mr. THOMAS sold his resort, including 30 acres of land, to F. C. PORTER in the spring of 1921, and since that time he has lived practically retired in the fine home he built in 1903, on the 20-acre tract adjoining the resort property. His residence is beautifully located at the southwest end of Lac View Desrt, at the head of the Wisconsin River. Mr. THOMAS was married June 30, 1901, to Emily BONESS, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Mrs. THOMAS was wonderfully successful as hostess at the resort, and she takes a prominent part in the social life of the community.

Transcribed by Susan Swanson, from pages 495-496 (with picture), 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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