Chapter VIII, 22 July 1909 -- Thorp Courier, Clark County, Wisconsin

Written by R. J. MacBride and transcribed by Crystal Wendt.


"Great nature spoke; observant man obeyed;

Cities were built, societies were made."


The years from 1861 to 1865 passed with matters to but little interest to record. The war on, times were hard, and there were but little increase in the population of the county.

In the whole five years the addition to the population was a trifle over two hundred.

At the spring election in 1862, Judge George Gale, circuit judge, was a candidate for re-election to the bench but was defeated by Edwin Flint a lawyer residing at La Crosse. Judge Flint carried Clark county by a vote of 117 to 52 for his opponent. He also received the greatest number of votes in the remaining counties of the circuit and was elected. He served acceptably during his term, and at its expiration was a candidate for re-election.

In a triangular contest for the office wherein General Milton Montgomery and Romanzo Bunn, both of Sparta, were his opponents, he was defeated by Judge Bunn. Montgomery received the second highest number of votes, and Flint the least number.

Judge Flint was a bachelor, a man of dignity, but was bald as a billiard ball. After his defeat he removed to Mason City, Iowa, and he died in that state some years ago.

His photograph adorns the walls of the circuit court room at the court house at Neillsville; it was obtained for that purpose through the efforts, and by the courtesy of Col. Carl C. Pope, of Black River Falls.

At the fall election in 1862, Leander G. Merrill (from who Merrillan takes its name) was elected to the Assembly from the Assembly district composed of Clark and Jackson counties, and the following county officers were elected at the same time: James O’Neill, county treasurer; B. F. French, district attorney; James Furlong, clerk of the board; James Hewett, sheriff; G. Sterns, clerk of the court; O. S. Crossett, register of deeds; Hiram Renne, county surveyor, and Charles Sternitzky, coroner.

In 1864 James W. Strudevant was chairman of the county board, the other members of the board being Samuel Calway, and C. W. Benedict.

On the 4th of July, 1864, the board granted a license to Millet J. Smith, for the term of three years, for a ferry across Black River, on Sec. 25, Town 23, North of Range 3 west. By the terms of the license Smith was to keep the ferry running when the ice and water would permit, from four o’clock in the morning until eight o’clock in the evening, and was authorized to charge fifty cents for conveying a yoke of oxen and cart, or two horses and wagon, ten cents a head for loose stock, and five cents for foot passengers.

The county board on the 21st day of March, 1862, created the town of Lynn. This was the first new town organized, after the county was originally divided in 1856 into the three towns of Levis, Pine Valley and Weston, and takes rank in point of time as the fourth town of the county.

It is thought best at this time to take up each and all of the towns, in the order of their organization, from the earliest days of the county, down to the-present day, giving the date of their creation, and for or after whom they were named.

As has been previously stated, the county originally consisted of one town, Pine Valley. Its name explains itself, and was appropriate to the surroundings at the time, as there were valleys there, and pine in abundance. The pine has departed but the name and the valleys remain.

The present town consists of congressional township No. 24 north of range 2 west except what is embraced in the city of Neillsville.

In November, 1856, the town of Levis and Weston were created, they were named for Mahlon Levis, and Samuel F. Weston, respectively.

By order of the board of March 21, 1862, the first town meeting of the town of Lynn, was ordered to be held at the house of John D. Wage.

Lynn takes its name by reason of the fact, that it had large numbers of bassword trees in its territory, these trees are noted on the surveyors field notes of the U. S. Governments Survey at Linden or Lynden trees.

The fifth town to be organized was the town of Loyal. It was created by order of the county board on the 28th day of February, 1865, and the first town meeting was held at the house of George Huntzicker. At its organization it embraced a large amount of territory extending as far north as the north line of township No. 31. At present is consists of township No. 26 north or range No. one west. It was created just before the close of the rebellion, and its name was given it to attest the loyalty to the Union, of the good citizens.

Mentor the next town to be organized and sixth in point of age, was created by the county board of supervisors on the 17th day of December, 1866, and held its first town meeting at the house of Orin Wilson on the first Tuesday of April 1867.

The name of the town was selected by Hon. Geo. W. King, who was a resident of that territory. Mr. King was an Ohio man and lived at one time not far from Mentor, in that state, the home town of the late President Hayes, and the town of Mentor was christened in honor of its Ohio namesake.

The town of Grant was the seventh town to be organized. The date of the action of the county board creating it can not be determined for the reasons that the county clerk failed to copy the order in the journal of the proceedings of the board; but the town was organized, and the town meeting held on the first Tuesday of April, 1868. It is hardly necessary to state that the town was named in honor of General U. S. Grant.

On the 20th day of July, 1869, the county board made an order creating the town of Eaton, the order providing that it should take effect on the first of March, 1870.

In may be stated here that in the orders creating the several towns the county board from time to time, fixed various dates when their orders should take effect, but in every case, no town was organized until the first town meeting day of the first Tuesday of April subsequent to the adoption of the order of the board.

The town of Eaton, the eighth to be made, was named for Elijah Eaton, one of the early settlers, and the first town meeting was held at the house of S. C. Honeywell, known familiarly through the county as "Case" Honeywell. Eaton now comprises one congressional township being town 26, N. of R. 2 west.

It was within the limits of the present town of Eaton that the first entry of land was made in the county of Clark. Lot number 6 in Section No. 3, Town 26, Range 2 W, was entered at the U. S. land office, by Hiram Pitts on the 28th day of September, 1849.

The entry is some two years earlier than the entry of James O’Neill, of the land where Neillsville is located.

The land entered by Pitt is on the west side of Black River opposite the city of Greenwood and the same land upon which Robert Schofield and Schofield and Weston had their sawmill many years after.

The ninth town was Beaver, created by the county board Nov. 15, 1870.

It took its name from the number of beaver dams, there were in certain portions of the town. There was a highway that was known as the Beaver Dam road in the town. The first town meeting was had at the house of C. H. Burgess on the first Tuesday of April, 1871. The town of Beaver consists of one congressional township 27, Range 1 West.

Sherman, the tenth star on the flag of the county, was organized and held its first town meeting at the Coles school house, on the first Tuesday of April, 1873. The town comprises Township 26, Range 1, East.

Some three years before efforts had been made to have this town created but remonstrance were filed with the county board, and on the 4th day of February 1870 the board rejected the application for the new town by indefinitely postponing the whole subject. Sherman was named for General W. T. Sherman, a number of its original residents having some years before marched with him through Georgia.

Washburn was the eleventh town and was named for General C. C. Washburn, and who was at the time, governor of the state. It originally comprised townships 23, R. 1 E, and 23 R 1 W, but at present consists of one township, town 23, R 1, W. The one township, Town 23, R 1, W. The first town meeting was held the first Tuesday on April 1873 at the house of O. W. Babcock.

On the 24th day of February 1873, the board made orders, authorizing the organization of the towns of York and Hixon.

As York is the first of two named in the records, it constitutes the twelfth town of the county. It takes it name from the large number of settlers there who came from "York" sate. It consists of one township 25 R 1 East and is one of the very best agricultural towns in Clark County. The first town meeting was held at the house of Leroy B. Osgood, on the first Tuesday of April, 1873.

Hixon the thirteenth town was named for Gideon C. Hixon, a wealthy lumberman of La Crosse, who had extensive land holdings in the northern part of the county, it contained considerable territory when first organized but now embraces one township, viz.; town 29 R 2 W. On the first Tuesday of April 1873, the first town meeting was held at the house of Joseph Gibson.

Colby, Mayville and Hixon were all authorized by orders of the county board on the same day - Nov. 12, 1873. They all were organized and held their first town meetings on the first Tuesday of April, 1874.

Colby Wisconsin, 1909.

The town of Colby took its name from the railway station on the Wisconsin Central Railway, which had been built through that country a short time before, and the station was named for Gardner L. Colby, father of Charles L. Colby, who was so long identified with the railway.

In common with Pine Valley and Eaton, the town of Colby enjoys the distinction of having within its borders an incorporated city.

The first town meeting of the town of Colby was held at the house of G. F. Cook. The town ranks as number fourteen.

Mayville was the fifteenth town and now comprised one congressional township, town number 29 N R 1, E. It was named after Summer May, one of the early settlers there, and at whose house the first town meeting was held in April, 1874.

Unity obtained its name from the railway station on the Wisconsin Central Railway. It is the sixteenth town in point of age. While the railroad was being graded the inhabitants were termed by the adjoining settlers as "Forty-fivers" -- coining the name from the number of the railroad section, then being graded through that party of town. The first town meeting was held at the school house in district number 5.

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