Throw back Thursday – 94 years ago the City of Crandon had two taxi companies, McMillion’s Pool Hall, three schools, the Hotel Hellstrom, and a wide variety of automobile dealerships and service stations. Check out the 14 page city directory on our Archives site at www.crandonpl.org/archives
As our local history collection here at the Crandon Public Library continues to grow and we are able to visualize and read about the early residents of this place we call home, we are beginning to get a better understanding of the early beginnings of Crandon and Forest County. But while we have photos and documents that bring early Crandon to life, we have not been able to hear what early Crandon sounded like– hoof-beats down main street, carriage springs squeaking while passengers made the long trip between Crandon and Argonne and waking up to the 6:00 a.m. quiet of a snowfall that would be shoveled and not plowed. Some day we may uncover photos or documents of these type of events but sadly we may never hear the voices and sounds of these events. Or so we thought…
Last Wednesday evening a handful of Crandon residents were able to hear the voices and sounds of some of our early residents thanks to the efforts of Jim Leary, a co-founder of the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Jim Leary and his colleagues have made accessible hundreds of original sound recordings found within the Archive of Folk Culture in the Library of Congress including materials collected at lumber camps and shanty’s right here in Forest County.
The materials were originally collected by Sidney Robertson, an independent song catcher, who traveled the upper Midwest in the 30’s and 40’s frequenting “lumber camps, dance halls and chain gangs.” (Folk Music of Wisconsin, http://csumc.wisc.edu/src/) During one of her travels she found herself in the Forest County welfare office in the company of Warde Ford, a caretaker at Crandon’s funeral home. Through her relationship with Warde, Sidney Robertson was able to meet, interview and record a handful of Crandon residents including Robert Walker, Elizabeth Walker Ford, Jerome Ford, Warde Ford, Charles Spencer, and Harry Fannin. (Leary. Folksongs of Another America, p. 26-40).
Sidney Robertson’s field notes, currently located within the Library of Congress, revealed a song composed by Ed King of Crandon, and sung by Warde Ford, simply titled Crandon.
Jim Leary thoughtfully agreed to allow us to add this song to our website acknowledging that the reason he and his colleagues study folk art is not for fortune but rather to uncover these type of hidden gems that will enhance the understanding of our local history. Thank you Jim!
Also many thanks to Jacque Hurley for donating a copy of Jim’s book Folksongs of Another America to our Wisconsin collection. It will be available for checkout soon!
Good afternoon Forest County residents. You will notice that this blog post is being written by me, Michelle Gobert, the Director of the Crandon Public Library. Regretfully our local history clerk Amanda Flannery has taken another position in central Wisconsin and has completed her time here at the Crandon Public Library. I’m sure those of you who read this blog have thoroughly enjoyed Amanda’s devotion to documenting Forest County history one blog entry at a time. Here at the library we will miss her sense of humor, her love of literature and her dedication to making a difference in her small community.
And while Amanda has moved on, she has left with us a copy of her graduate thesis, which I will use as inspiration in my attempt at writing a weekly column focusing on local history. Here it goes:
The Oral History and Archaeology of the Keith’s Siding Site Location was submitted to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in December of 2013 as Amanda’s partial fulfillment of her Master of Science in Anthropology Degree. In the thesis abstract Amanda states that “the goal of this research was to systematically conduct oral history interviews in order to compare the information derived from those interviews with the historical documentation and archaeological data to create a richer interpretation of the Kieth’s Siding site”. (Flannery 2013)
Ironically, one of the oral history interviews that Amanda was fortunate enough to conduct was with Pauline Quade, who just this week passed away at the age of 87. Pauline was only three years old when her family left Wolfe County, Kentucky and settled five miles south of Crandon at Keith’s Siding. Pauline’s entire oral interview, and references from her own manuscript titled Keith Siding Days are used throughout Amanda’s thesis.
These two documents are both part of our Local History Collection. Both offer a glimpse into a small part of Forest County’s rich history. A history that both Amanda and Pauline chose to document. In closing her thesis Amanda states that “besides the accounts of a few wealthy lumber company owners not much is known about the lives of the ordinary citizens that settled in Forest County”. Gratefully we now have Pauline’s story, Amanda’s thesis and the collection that Amanda herself sorted, cataloged and documented as the basis of our local history room. A growing collection that tells the story of ordinary citizens that at one time called this place home. A collection that is truly “ours”.
Hello Forest County Residents,
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
Does anyone remember their relatives turning in animal pelts to the Forest County Courthouse for extra money?
Hello Forest County Residents!
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).
Hello Forest County Residents!
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!
Hello Forest County Residents!
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!
Hello Forest County!
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!
Happy Memorial Day Weekend!
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.