As residents in Milwaukee continue their lookout for the wild cat stalking their city, here at the Crandon Public Library a local history volunteer has completed an indexing project to a collection of county records that highlight a time in Forest County’s history when local residents hunted wild cats and wolves in return for bounties paid out by the Forest County Treasurer.
The collection includes over 150 certificates of bounties created by the Forest County treasurer’s office in the early 1900’s. The documents acted as the official record allowing for the disbursement of county funds in exchange for the scalps of wolves and wild cats.
While reading through the bounty statements in this collection it is important to remember to put the documents in historical context. In today’s society reading about the bounty on wolf pups may be upsetting to some; however, according to L. David Mech, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, in the forward to the book The Timber Wolf in Wisconsin by Richard P. Theil, “Wisconsin settlers thought of the wolf as evil incarnate” (Mech, xvi) reinforcing the fact that our elected officials used tax payers dollars to pay for the scalps of wolf pups, wolves and wild cats not as a sport but rather as population control.
Descriptions of the records, including the names of individuals who received bounty payments, can be viewed online here.
I am the new archivist for the Crandon Public Library and Forest County Historical Society. This summer I will be working on organizing and cataloging all the archival information for these two institutions. Some of the items that I am working with include: photographs, postcards, letters, government records, local organization’s meeting records, books, and pamphlets. If anyone has any items they would like to donate to enrich the historical collection of Forest County feel free to visit me at the Crandon Public Library I will make sure your items are preserved for future generations to learn from and enjoy!
Every week I am going to post something about a unique or interesting item I find in the archival collection. This week I organized the Assessment Rolls for the city of Crandon dating from 1909-1976. The collection contains information on the real estate assessment and tax roll as well as personal tax roll, bank stock, occupational assessment and a summary of real estate and personal properties for the city of City and adjoining villages.
Since it is my first week I am going to give you two fun facts!
In 1909 only one person, Dr. Decker, owned an automobile in the entire city and the car’s estimated value was $250.00.
In 1921 the city government started assessing occupational taxes and would have certain categories for occupations that paid taxes on their livelihood. Throughout the 1940’s the books recorded occupational taxes for the category of “Domestic Mink Farmer” and “Bee Keeper”. How many mink farmers were living in Crandon Wisconsin that they had to create a whole category for it! How times have changed!
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.