This week I was cataloging documents on loan from the Forest County Courthouse Treasurer’s office. There is a large collection of papers stating how much money community members received for killing either a wolf, wild cat, or lynx. According to these documents as least from 1907-1912 people were encouraged to kill these animals and bring in the scalps as proof to the county clerk in order to receive money. To make sure no one stole someone else’s animal scalps you also had to have a witness to attest that you killed the animals. For example, John Shawano received $20.00 for killing five wolf cubs in Wabeno and it was witnessed by Shiloh Carlson. Through this collection we could figure out how many wolves, wild cats, and lynx were killed during this time period and where in the county the animals were found.
The Wisconsin State Legislature passed a state bounty in 1865 due to the pressure from farmers who did not like large predators killing their livestock. A person could earn $5.00 for every wolf that they killed. By 1900 deer hunting was an enormously popular past time in Wisconsin so large predators were detested even more. The bounty was increased to $20.00 for a mature wolf and $10.00 for a wolf cub. At the state level the bounty on wolves stayed in place until 1957
This week in the collections I found a scrapbook from the 50th Anniversary of the Halcyon Chapter of Number 178, The Order of the Eastern Star. The Order of the Eastern Star is a free mason organization that includes both male and female members. This organization was founded by Dr. Robert Morris in the late 1800’s because he wanted women to be allowed to be involved in free mason activity. Through this organization the values of the free masons could be a family affair(http://www.easternstar.org/our-history/).
The Eastern Star ” strives to build an environment for our members and our Order which is truly dedicated to Charity, Truth and Loving Kindness by uplifting each other and through service in our communities” (http://www.easternstar.org/our-history/)
According to The New North published on July 2, 1908, Dr. C.H. Moore from Oakfield, Grand Patriarch of the State, came to establish The Eastern Star in Crandon. There were many prominent members of the community involved in the organization including Mrs. Mary Moe. Mrs. Moe was the only original member at the 50th Anniversary celebration. The 50th festivities included an elaborate dinner, cake, prominent guest speakers, and musical entertainment such as the male quartet: Lyle Jackson, Clyde Sundberg, Earl Schilling, and Arthur Monbeck (Forest Republican 1958). I have heard that there are still some member of the Eastern Star in Crandon but they now have to travel to Antigo to attend meetings (Steve Conway Jr. 2014).
This week I discovered a hotel registry for The Raymond House located in Crandon, Wisconsin at the Forest County Museum. I had not previously heard of this hotel and I was surprised to learn that another hotel was operating in Crandon besides The Park Hotel. From the registry I learned that this hotel operated from at least August 1901-November 1903. Harry Pooler, most likely was the clerk of the hotel due to the fact that his name was written many times in the front and back cover. Harry Pooler unfortunately died at the age of seventeen in 1903 after battling a bout of pneumonia for ten days. He may have picked up the illness from a passing traveler at the hotel. Harry’s brother Howard was a well known barber in the town.
An advertisement from the August 22, 1901 Forest Republican revealed that Joseph D. Raymond was the owner of the hotel. Joseph was born in St. Clair, Michigan in 1853. He came to Forest County in 1900 and remained here at least until 1905, according to The Federal Census. His occupation was listed as farmer and lumberman so he may have ran this hotel for extra income. He died in Isabella, Michigan in 1923. People traveling from Ireland, Canada, and all around the United States stopped at this hotel. According the registry J. Piermont Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and Grover Cleveland spend the night in Crandon. Former President Cleveland supposedly came to the Northwoods to do some fishing. This could be true because Cleveland was done with his presidency at this time and he listed his home address at Buzzard Bay which is where Cleveland owned a summer home. It is difficult to say for certain if these famous individuals stayed in Crandon because the clerk often wrote down the name so signatures could not be confirmed. But it is entirely possible that these great men of their time came to Crandon to get away from their work.
If any one has any information on the exact location of the hotel or has a photograph of the building I would love to see it!
I would like to congratulate the Crandon Golf Team on qualifying for the WIAA Division 3 State Tournament. The tournament will take place June 9-10 at the University Ridge Golf Course in Madison. If you see any of the Crandon golfers including Brady Weber, Sam Belland, Thomas VanZile, and Dakota Conley, wish them luck in their tournament play!
The Crandon golf team was first established in 1966 according to the Crandon High School Yearbook collection. There was not any description of the team in the yearbook or in the local papers that year but there was room for growth as the 1966 Yearbook declared they were “small in number but great in potential”. The WIAA high school boys spring golf tournament dates back to 1923 in Racine, Wisconsin in which 11 teams participated. Racine High School took first in that first competition with Arrowhead taking second. The tournament was held in Racine for three years before moving among many different communities. In 1989 it was turned into a two class tournament and in 1991 the three divisions were formed that are in use today. In 1994 the tournament was moved to University Ridge Course and it now the official location of the competition. The team that holds the title for most wins goes to Madison West High School with 15 championships(https://www.wiaawi.org/Sports/BoysGolf/History.aspx). Crandon High School might not have one of the oldest teams but I know they will do great!
I would like to congratulate all of the Forest County high school graduates! We are so proud of you! Now go out into the world and make your own history! In honor of the occasion I have attached a Forest Republican article detailing the 1939 Crandon High School graduation as well as a photograph of a few of that year’s graduates. According to the article it was the largest graduating class to come through Crandon yet, with 42 students in the senior class. At that time it was tradition for the senior class to put on a play for the public. This year’s play was entitled ” He was a Gay Senorita” and it was hailed a success by the local newspaper. If anyone has more photographs of local graduates from the past please feel free to share with us!
I found an article in a Forest Republican from December 10, 1915 that I think captures one of the most exciting events in early Forest County history and allowed for many more opportunities. The column covers the grand opening of the Wisconsin and Northern railroad in Crandon which would connect to Shawano. This caused an increase in logging, allowed tourists to enjoy the natural beauty of the northwoods, and gave Forest County residents quick access to a larger city and all its amenities. I found the description and flowery language of the article amusing so I am including the entire column in this blog.
Big Crandon Turn Out
Twelve hundred people headed by a brass band met the first regular passenger train on the Wisconsin and Northern Railroad from Shawano Monday morning, December 6, 1915. The train arrived on time to a minute and when it rolled into the station a roar of voices greeted it. As it appeared along the shore of Lake Metonga, Mayor Himley grasped a spike maul and drove the last spike in an artistic manner. The crowd boarded the train of new coaches and had a look see all expressing satisfaction over the appearance of the long expected second link with our neighbors to the southward.
Some of the officials of the new road were expected to arrive on this train but failed to show up. Some railroad men are said to be very modest and perhaps this was the cause. Crandon had an orator loaded and primed for this auspicious occasion but he had to reserve his ammunition.
The train crew of this first train consisted of Harry Collins, conductor, Ed Swamer, engineer, Len Gunther, fireman, and Emil Frank, brakeman. Mr Guenther who formerly resided in Crandon was hauled out of the cab to shake hands with old friends.The turnout was spontaneous exhibition of friendliness toward the new road, its owners, officers,and employees.
In the afternoon of the same day Traffic Manager Trathen of the Wisconsin and Northern invited nineteen business men of Crandon to accompany him to Shawano on the return of the first passenger train. The train left here at 3 o’clock and made a quick run to Shawano. The party expressed surprise at the smooth running of the train which made fast time all along. The new line traverses nearly all the way a heavy body of timber scarcely a stick being cut until Neopit is reached. Many beautiful trout streams are crossed and we imagine there will be a fishing ground that will attract hundreds of fisherman next summer. The soil through the territory we crossed is excellent and when Lily was reached several fine farms could be seen from the coach windows. This is going to be a beautiful county when it is cleared up and will support great population of farmers for the timber will pay many times for the clearing of the land.
The party had supper at the Murdock House and then went out on a hand shaking tour about the little city which of late years has greatly improved in appearance. Although the people of Shawano knew nothing of our coming it was easy to find many acquaintances and the time passed swiftly until bedtime. Everyone received a cordial greeting and also a little joshing regarding our fear of catching something although the Shawano folks said we did the right in postponing the proposed excursion. The Shawano people are as much pleased over the building of the road as are Crandon people, Shawano expecting a substantial benefit from the line that will open this great territory to them.
The Crandon men who made the trip feel under obligations to Traffic Manager Trathen for his courteous treatment in taking them to Shawano.
As I was going through the agricultural and forestry artifacts that the Forest County Museum I came across a booklet entitled “Annual Report of the County Agricultural Agent in Forest County Wisconsin 1928”. On several of the pages there are notes from the Forest County Land Council, which organized on February 11, 1928. The group was put together to create a balanced program of forestry, agriculture, and recreation. They were a group of business men with ties to not only farming but logging, milling, and resorts so that all areas of the county could prosper. One of their initiatives was to create three school forests in Crandon, Laona, and Wabeno made up of a total of 160 acres. This was a revolutionary idea, Forest County is the home of the first school forests in the United States. The Land Council came upon this idea with the help of H. L. Russell, Dean of the College of Agriculture at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Russell had seen Australian children planting trees on public tracts of land and believed the practice could be adopted in Wisconsin. Forest County was in desperate need of reforestation after fifty years of heavy logging that had stripped the land ( https://environment.madison.k12.wi.us/forest/edwischf.htm).
The Dedication ceremonies for the school forests were held on April 26th and 27th with H.L. Russell, John Callahan, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and W. McNeel, State Leader of the Junior Forest Rangers giving the speeches. The school children planted 83,700 Norway and White Pine seedlings with 2,400 of the seeds being planted on farms as a demonstration tool and the rest being deposited in the school forests (Annual Report, 1928). The school forests of Forest County are still being used today as an unique teaching tool for students.
This week I was getting the Forest County Historical Society Museum into shape for another summer season. While rearranging the school room exhibit I came across an interesting packet of papers. It was a high school newspaper created by the Crandon High School junior class in January of 1947. The two editors-in-chief were Jeanne Sturzl and Cliff Asbach. There was also the sports editors: Bob Marsh and Bonnie Duff, gossip editors: Lillie McCabe and Jerry Cronce, humor editors: Bill Mountain and Margie Greisinger, music editors: Jane Russell and Danny Dehart, and advertising editor, Allan Stranz.
The front page article details what they believe Benjamin Franklin’s New Years resolutions would be based on the rules that governed his life. The second page is the humor page which features gems like a song matching contest like: “Rootin Tootin Cowboy” for Loyal Abney, “Why Did I Kiss that Girl” for Rod Chartraw, and “Rum and Coca Cola” for Mr. Geske. The third page names everyone in chorus (60 people!) and explains what the group is doing in the new year. The last page is my favorite, the gossip column. There are a few of the most interesting contributions:
” What girl is taking inventory of all the available men in high school? That’s right Virginia Sharon!”
“Why was Rosie Spencer crying in her coke at Marsh’s Tuesday night? Is Joe Mean to her?”
“Miss Broulais came back from Christmas vacation with a sparkle in her eye and a sparkler on her hand! Wonder when the big event will be?”
I sincerely wish the local high schools still had newspapers they published because it is wonderful to look back on a certain time through the eyes of teenagers. I found three copies of this school newspaper at the museum but if anyone has other school newspapers I would love to see them.
Everyone knows about the large town cemeteries located around the county but not everyone is aware of the smaller burial sites that are no longer used. Cemeteries hold valuable information for researchers and genealogists. The gravestones can give the person’s birth and death dates and the location of the person when they died. This information can be used to conduct more in-depth research into county records and the archives.
Recently, a research request was made for information about a small burial plot outside of Crandon known as the Gibson Cemetery. With further investigation I learned that it was actually a burial site not a cemetery because the town never owned the property. According to research done by a Forest County Historical Society member the Gibson Cemetery began when a lumber jack working on the George Gibson farm as a laborer for the summer suddenly died. The man’s name and date of death were not recorded. As time passed the Gibson family allowed the area to be used by their neighbors as a final resting place for their loved ones. The burial site has approximately twenty graves but not all of the people have been identified. Some of the graves were marked with wooden crosses and field stones except for one grave that is marked with a headstone. The woman with the headstone was Clarinda Smith and she died eighty-seven years ago today. My hypothesis is that she died in child birth because a baby girl was buried with her that shared the same death date. Not much is known about the individuals who were laid to rest on the former Gibson Farm. I could not find an obituary or census information for any of them. This must have been an isolated community that formed outside the town of Crandon. It is a common belief that is community was mostly made up of migrants from Kentucky.
Around 1996 a small group of Forest County community members banded together to clean up the Gibson burial site and replace the deteriorating wooden crossed with metal ones. Since this time the cemetery has again fallen into disrepair. The land is now owned by the county and I think it would be in the county’s best interest to form a task force to once again clean up the cemetery area. If anyone is interested in being a part of this group please let me know. If you have any information on the individuals buried in the Gibson Cemetery or know any other small cemeteries in the county please contact the Crandon Public Library.
People Buried at Gibson Cemetery
Clarinda Smith B. December 1, 1888-D. May 1, 1928
Baby Girl Smith B. May 1, 1928-D. May 1, 1928
Sara June Pence B. October 5, 1912-D. September 25, 1914
Lula Smith Pence
Charles Reva D. September 28, 1922
Eliga McPherson D. July 7, 1931
Mrs. Columbus McPherson
Robert McPherson December 12, 1923
Baby Roda Gibson
Baby Girl Westimayer B. May 4, 1941-D. May 4, 1941
Baby Eckart B. December 5, 1919-D. December 5, 1919
We all know that city budgets can be tight especially in small towns but at least we don’t have the monetary issues that past Crandon residents had to deal with. According to the April 20, 1939 edition of the Forest Republican, so many community members did not pay their real estate taxes that the city was forced to turn all the street lights off. The city was to remain in darkness until some funds flowed into the city treasury. The budget for that year was $29,000 but only $17,000 was received. The city was not able to keep all of the money they had received they had to turn $4,000 over to the grade school and $4,000 to the high school. The city was in “tough financial straits for the next year” (Forest Republican 1939).
Please note that due to staffing issues, access to the Local History Room is by appointment only. It is highly recommended that you call us at 715-478-3784 to confirm the room's availability. Thank You.