Bio: Spaulding, Dudley J. (1834 - 1900)

Contact: Janet Schwarze 


Surnames: Spaulding Stickner Campbell Osborn


----Source: Biographical History of Clark and Jackson Counties, The Lewis Publishing Co., 1891 pages 241 - 242.

      D. J. Spaulding

No name is so prominently identified with the earliest history of Black River Falls as that of Jacob Spaulding, the father of the subject of this biography. The Spaulding family is numbered among the pioneers of the Massachusetts Colony. The first American ancestor was Edward Spaulding, who came to Braintree, Massachusetts, about the year 1633. The records of the colony show that he was made a freeman in 1640. His descendants became numerous in New England, and many of them took an active part in the settlement and development of the country.

Jacob Spaulding was of the seventh generation in direct descent from Edward Spaulding he was born in Massachusetts in 1810, and is a son of Jeremiah Spaulding. There were ten children in the family, all of whom except one daughter lived to maturity. Their names are: Isaac C. David, Jeremiah D., Mercy, Lois, Wealthy J., Elmira, Sarah P. and Jacob. The father was a stone mason by trade he emigrated from Massachusetts to New York about 1830, and six years later went to Illinois. Jacob Spaulding learned the trade of a millwright, and early in life was engaged in bridge building. He married Nancy Jane Stickner, a native of the State of New York, and in 1836 accompanied his father's family to Warsaw, Illinois. The father died at Johnstown, New York, while on a visit there to his children.

In 1838, when the Indians ceded the lands along the Black River, Jacob Spaulding became a member of the colony that made the first settlement that was permanent at Black River Falls an attempt had been made as early as 1819, but the Indians had driven the would be colonists away. It would be impossible in a sketch of this character to give in detail the history of this settlement. Mr. Spaulding became the most conspicuous and influential member of the expedition.  Some of the members returned to their former homes, and others settled elsewhere.

Mr. Spaulding finally became sole owner of the fine water power on Black River, and of much of the adjacent property. He was a man of wonderful force of character and indomitable will. He continued a resident of Black River Falls, highly respected and esteemed, until his death, which occurred in January, 1876.

Dudley J. Spaulding, son of the above, is one of three children, Mary and Angeline being the other two. He was born at Johnstown, New York in 1834, and when a mere lad was taken by his parents to Illinois, where the educational advantages were extremely limited. In early life he began the business of lumbering and farming, in both of which he achieved success. In 1860 his father deeded him the mill property and water power, which he has since owned. In all his business operations he has been uniformly successful, and as a business man he stands without a superior in the county. Of his ability as a designer and builder, Black River Falls bears many evidences. As a citizen, his record upon every question of public interest is above reproach. The church has in him a liberal supporter, and the public school a warm friend.

Mr. Spaulding was united in marriage at Platteville, Wisconsin, to Miss Margaret J. Campbell, a daughter of Alexander Campbell. five children have been born of this union: Julia E. Wife of C.D. Osborn, of Chicago, John D., Mary C., Jennie May and Sadie K.

The parents are both faithful members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Mr. Spaulding in his political opinions sympathizes with the Republican Party.


*Dudley J. Spaulding died 20 Jun 1900 and is buried in the Riverside Cemetery, Black River Falls, Jackson Co., Wisconsin.



----Source: The Centennial Edition of the Banner Journal of July 1, 1983, (p. 5), articles transcribed by Dolores Mohr Kenyon.

Spauldings: an era of elegance

By Betty Epstein

When the Spaulding mansion burned in 1961, the last remaining vestige of grandeur and elegance of old Black River Falls perished.  The fire of unknown origin may have been the work of vandals in the vacant building.  They destroyed trunks of letters and pictures or wrote their names inside the little glass lookout town (tower) atop the mansion of Spaulding Hill.

But the fire cannot erase the stories of the building, which was erected about 1860-1862 by Dudley J. Spaulding, son of Jacob Spaulding, founder of Black River Falls.  He engaged in farming and logging and even though he had a limited education, he designed and built many Black River Falls buildings, including the old grade school in 1871.

The original farm covered 968 acres, part of which now includes the Black River Falls High School, the Skyline Golf Course, the Family Heritage Nursing Home and the Rye Bluff addition.

When Spaulding went to Milwaukee in 1870 he made what was is believed to be the first long distance telephone call between Milwaukee and Chicago.  Mrs. Spaulding wanted some remodeling done and he called Marshall Field and Company asking that they send someone to plan furnishings for a 33 x 16 foot drawing room and a 15 x 15 foot bedroom.

The bedroom was furnished with a walnut suite with marble topped dresser. The oversized bed required a special built mattress when the original was replaced.  The blue background wallpaper, as well as the grey and red striped paper of the drawing room, and the grey carpeting with red roses, was still on the walls and floor when the building was torn down after the fire.

The drawing room furniture was walnut with ebony trim.  The sofas were red velvet and the chairs were red velvet with a shirring of green velvet around the seats and backs.  One of the conversation pieces of the room was a 6 x 9 foot mirror from floor to ceiling with an ornately carved frame.  A vandal’s bullet went through the mirror after Spaulding’s twin daughters, Mary and Jane, moved from the mansion in 1943.

Spaulding even made the bricks for his elaborate home.  The house was 40 x 37 feet with an attached 21 x 30 foot kitchen.  The grounds also had a brick woodshed, a carriage house, horse and stock barn, hog pen and hen house.

But it was the Spaulding mansion grounds which became to widely known as the most beautifully landscaped in this area of the state.

The ornamental trees and shrubs were sheared in interesting shapes. The tile walks, fountains, cedar hedge rows and plantings of Elm and Pine decorated the grounds.  There were many plantings of raspberries and flower garden driveway which decorated the two drives - one for pedestrians and one for carriages.

Eland Enerson maintained the grounds and even may have planned them.  He was 14 when he came to the city in 1862 and helped with the yard work. He also learned the greenhouse business in his spare time and lived at the Spaulding place until he married.  He was in charge of the grounds for 20 years.

The house and then remaining 10 acres of land were sold in 1949 to Erwin Homstad and Ralph Boehlke, but it was more of a headache than a joy to them.  People kept breaking into the building carrying away souvenirs, setting fires, breaking up the furniture.  The marble was stripped from the fireplaces.

Dr. Roland Thurow purchased the partially burned building and two acres of land from Homstad and Boehlke in 1964. They were able to save a chifferobe and the staircase handrail.  They later discovered a 32-inch wide-tile sidewalk made from eight inch tiles which had been covered with dirt.  They were imprinted with the name H. Doud, evidently the work of Hiram Nelson Doud, Sr. born in 1858 a well-known stonemason.  The tiles were used in the Thurow home for steps and for three porches, which they built on the site.

The Thurow home was eventually sold to the present owners, Milton and Lydia Lunda.  The windbreak of Pine, the walnut tree and the hemlock still stand - the silent sentinels of the grandeur which once was Black River Falls.

----Source: The Banner Journal of July 1, 1983, (p 5)

Historian Revisits Spaulding Mansion

By Ann Marie Olson

Lawrence Jones, 87, tells about the Spaulding plantation.  It was owned by his great uncle, Dudley Spaulding, son of the Founding Father of Black River Falls, Jacob Spaulding.

“I was invited up to the Spaulding’s once, when I was young, with the family for a picnic.  That’s when the Thompson boys lived across the street here, and I didn’t get to come home.  Finally they went up there, and I was home and crying my head off as I didn’t get ready to go up to the Spaulding place.”

“But I had a few meals there.  It was a much more ornate home than anyone else had down here.  It had high ceilings and paneling all around.  Their living room, on the north side, was decorated by Marshall Fields, and that was still the same.”

“We’ve got some porch chairs up at the cabin that came from the porch of the Spaulding home.”

“Mary and Jane Spaulding said their dad had plans to put a third story on the house, but it never got done.”

“They had their big house, and the horse barn was right across the street to the south, on the side where the High School is now.  They had a whole bunch of horses.”

“The other side, there were barns there too, up back of the Heritage Home.  They farmed that great big farm, pretty near 1000 acres.  I worked there two different summers in the hay mow.”

“There was a greenhouse, back by the big pines.  There were sheds for the vehicles.  The great big cattle barn was up where Rye Bluff Apartments are now, right north of the hill there.  That was stuck by lightening and burned before 1917.  It was gone when World War I started.”

“When Ralph Boehlke and Erwin Homstad used to own that place, they’d go up and put a board across the door and nail it on.  The kids used to go and vandalize the house.  They built a fire in the middle of the dining room floor, and when there was a fire later on, one of the fireman fell through that floor into the basement.  That was two-three years before the big fire.” 

“The night of the fire, we had a bridge club at our house.  I was a fireman for 35 years.  The fire siren blew.  We had a code then.  We used to ask the operator at telephone central, “Where’s the fire?” “You’ve got to have the code before we can tell you,” she said. The code word, one of them was “Where’s the smoke?” Another one was, you’d say, ‘Ladder,’ and they would tell where the fire was.”

“So I called.  That was when I said, “Where’s the smoke?” and she told me “the old Spaulding house.” So that broke up our card party.”

“I stayed there until about morning.  The brick walls stayed up pretty good.  That was one of the worst fires we had.”

Ollie Halverson, 88, who worked as a maid from 1929-41 said, “When I heard it burned, it was just kind of a funny feeling.”

Millie Zlesak, 73, worked there as a cleaning lady about 50 years ago. She stated. “You can’t describe the house.  It was simply beautiful.  When I heard it burned, it just made me ill.”



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