History: Medford, Wisconsin (1881)

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1881 Medford Small Picture


----Source: 1881 History of Northern Wisconsin, pg. 1024-1026.

1881 History of Medford, Taylor County, Wisconsin.

The shire town of Taylor County, is on the Wisconsin Central Railroad, at a point where it touches the Black River, which runs through the village from north to south. The railroad here is on the bottom lands, and on the east the ground rises quite abruptly, so that that part of the town is much higher than the west side, which also is higher than the depot and mill. The railroad runs 20° or so west of north, and the streets correspond in this respect. On the east side, the streets beginning at the north, at right angles with the track, are named Pine, Taylor, Broad, Broadway, Clark, Ogden and South streets. Parallel with the railroad the streets on the east side are Front, Second, Third, etc.

On the west side, the cross streets are Elm, Cedar, River, Spruce and Division streets. The longitudinal streets on that side are Wheelan avenue. Water, West Second, etc.

Good water is obtained at variable depths Most of the buildings are substantial and in good taste. Several are veneered with brick.

There are good facilities for drainage, and the place must continue to be healthy. It is constantly improving. The second Monday in November. 1875, was the occasion of the first Circuit Court in Taylor County, held by Judge Park.

One week in April, 1875, the amount for freight received in Medford by the railroad company was §1,770.83. In 1875, the railroad company gave the county a lot for the court house, 316x500 feet, a whole block. The house of Mrs. Cranney was destroyed by fire on the 24th of June, 1876.

About the same time the Medford House was burned, with C. Donaldson's building, occupied as a saloon, with a loss of $1,500. Donaldson at once began to rebuild. In the early history of Medford and Taylor County, there was a bitter and uncompromising fight over the location of the court house. In writing cotemporaneous history, it is improper, as it is impossible, to characterize such a controversy, as it will be designated at some future time, when the parties to the contest shall have passed away and the personal interests involved shall have become obliterated. The question was whether the court house should be on the east side, where the mill-owners, McCartney and Whelen, owned the land, or on the west side, on the hill, where the railroad company owned the land.

To secure it on the west side, the mill company, with the concurrence of the advocates of that location, erected a building, had it enclosed and roofed-in. That building stood unfinished for several years, and was finally removed. Meantime the County Board, who were committed to the east side plan, had the subject referred to a vote of the county, and, notwithstanding it was overwhelmingly in favor of the west side project, they proceeded to contract for its construction on the square donated by the railroad company. In February, 1876, the contract for its construction was let to E. Perrine & Co. for $5,200, and assigned to Royal Green, of Waupaca, who proceeded to build, and completed the structure, an injunction procured to prevent the work having been dissolved by Judge Park. So the court house was thus located, leaving many wounds, none of which healed by first intention, but the gradual process of granulation is going on, and in due time only the cicatrices will remain as an evidence of the conflict which involved side issues, and in which the merits of the case were often lost sight of amidst the smoke of the battle.

In the summer of 1876, hemlock bark began to be shipped as a commodity from Chelsea and other stations in the county.

May 8, 1877, the house of John Herbst was destroyed by fire, most of the contents being saved. In the early autumn of 1877, the Medford Post Office was made a money-order office.

June 14, 1877, the house of T. T. Mulcahy was destroyed by fire.

At 1 o'clock, April 19, 1878, a fearful tornado passed through the county a mile north of Medford, laying everything low for a hundred rods wide, unroofing houses, killing cattle and doing other damage.

The total amount of land sold in Taylor County in 1878 was 19,802 acres, at an average price of $3.45. In the fall of 1878, a fine dramatic company was organized with the following personnel: James E. Clancy, Ch. Clancey, F. A. Healy, Ed. T. Wheelock, Charles Wade, Miss Delia Keating, Miss Mamie Wheelock and Miss Nellie Patterson. They gave the citizens such plays as "The Drunkard's Warning," "Fruits of the Wine Cup," "The Serious Family," "The Loan of a Lover," and "Paddy Miles' Boy." The company still exist, and is a popular corps.

In 1878, Medford had 125 scholars attending school, where five years before was an Indian camping ground. In March, 1879, a fine deer was killed within three fourths of a mile of Medford.

At the spring election in 1879, 584 votes were cast in the county.

In May, 1879, Medford began to feel metropolitan; in one week, there was a jewelry peddler, a photographic exhibition, a traveling photograph gallery, a phrenologist and a book agent, and the town was threatened with a minstrel troupe from Spencer.

In the summer of 1879, the young ladies of Medford organized an "anti-gum chewing society," and seriously interfered with the gum trade.

September 3, 1879, there was a fire, John Taggart, W. E. Lockerby, Mr. Russell and Mr. Craney were inconsiderable sufferers.

The great flood: June 12, 1880, this flood, spoken of 80 frequently in this work, had its little frolic here. The dam overflowed and carried out a 100,000 feet of logs, sweeping away the River street bridge. The boom broke, but the logs formed a jam in the canal and remained. The water rose to the level of the floor of the Forest House. There were three washouts on the railroad near here.

The first tent show in the form of a fragmentary circus struck Medford on the 23d of August, 1881.

The whole number of votes cast in Taylor County in the election of 1880 was 574; of these, 300 were for the Republican candidates, and 274 for the Democratic.

The southwest corner township in the county is Deer Creek. The other towns in that tier constitute Little Black, The next tier across the county is Medford; the next Chelsea, and the upper row Westboro. The last three contain seven townships each. Little Black contains five, and Deer Creek one.

J. A. King is the pioneer merchant, who began business near the depot in a small way.

A saloon was early established, and its successor, with several competitors, which have come in from time to time, still continue to meet the demand in their direction.

On the 11th of June, 1873, the first tree on the right of way of the Wisconsin Central Railroad, in the county of Taylor, was cut by Frank Chase.

At that time, Taylor County was a howling wilderness; that is, when the wind blew, or the wolves were in tune. The woodman's ax had not yet resounded through her forests, except around the lonely and solitary cabin of a single adventurer. What it now is, after eight years of labor bestowed upon refractory stumps and stubble, by an accumulating population, inspired with industrial ideas, with brawny arms and stout hearts, will be shown in the remainder of this sketch of Taylor County.

Medford has a cemetery containing seven acres, two of which have been set apart for the Catholics. It is located a mile east of the town, on the State road, and is not very thickly inhabited.

The Wisconsin Central Railroad Company, in the summer of 1881, built an emigrant house near the track in the upper part of the village, containing seven rooms and conveniences for newly arrived emigrants.

C. J. Fay is station agent. The monthly amount received for incoming freight averages about $1,500; outgoing, $2,000; passenger, $300.

Banking—Exchange Bank of Medford, a private bank, started business August 10, 1881, with a cash capital of $5,000. The Milwaukee correspondent of the bank is the First National Bank. The New York correspondent is Kountze Bros. The bank is agent for the Hamburg-American Packet Company, S. B. Hubbell is President, and J. H. Wheelock, Cashier.

Newspapers.—The county has but one newspaper, the Taylor County Star and News, a six-column quarto of the Republican persuasion. Ed Taylor Wheelock is editor and proprietor, a practical printer with a decided newspaper genius; but, he has as yet been unable to determine whether the county was named after him, Abram Taylor, of Chelsea, or Gov. William R. Taylor, or some other straggling member of the Taylor family.

The present paper is the result of a consolidation of the Star and the News, the history of which is as follows: The News was first published on Wednesday, March 31, 1875, Ogden Bros., editors and proprietors. January 6, 1876, J. E. Ogden became editor, and F, E. Ogden, publisher. July 6, 1876, J. A. Ogden, editor and publisher. March 22, 1877, J. A. Ogden and George M. Patchen, editors and publishers. September 29, 1877, Patchen disposed of his interest, October 6, 1877, H. K. Pitcher bought a half interest. Ogden & Pitcher sold the whole concern to S. B. Hubbell, who at the time owned the Star, and the two were consolidated. The Star was first brought out March 18, 1876. G. L. Loope was imprinted as publisher, and George M. Patchen, editor. Loope sold the paper to E, R. Prink May 20, 1876. January 1, 1877, Corning & Cross took charge of the paper for Judge Prink in the summer of 1877, when E. B. Morley leased the paper and ran it until November, when it was purchased by Dr. S. B. Hubbell. The Star and News is well printed and well edited, and certainly deserves the support it receives from the people of the county.

Schools.—Medford has good schools, kept in a good building, with two departments.

Miss D. E. Damp is the Principal, with Mamie Wheelock as assistant.

Miss Belle Cleveland is the teacher of the primary department.

There is a general attendance of the enrolled pupils, and the training is thorough, comparing well with schools anywhere.

In other parts of the county the interests of education are as carefully attended to as the sparseness of the population will admit.

Churches.—The history of the early struggles of the different church denominations in Medford is a counterpart of like efforts in almost all the other recently settled Northern Wisconsin villages.

The Catholics were the first to get up their church, which they did in 1877. The Methodists came next with their edifice in 1879. The Episcopal Church was built in 1880, and the German Lutheran the same year. The Scandinavian Lutheran was erected in 1881. These buildings are all small, but neat, and of a varied style of architecture. They are all on the west side of the town, except the German Lutheran, which is on the hill on the east side. Most of these pulpits have supplies instead of local Pastors, although from present appearances they will, erelong, have the ability to support their preachers without outside assistance. At present only Rev. J. W. Wells, of the Methodist, and Rev. B. Wugrodt, of the German Lutheran, are resident ministers.

The lumber and shingle-mill in the midst of the village has quite an eventful history. It was built by James Semple in the spring of 1874, who soon sold an interest to Messrs. Whelen & Roberts. Semple died, and Whelen succeeded to his interest. The firm was then Roberts & Whelen. David McCartney bought Roberts' interest, and it became McCartney & Whelen. On the death of Whelen in September, 1870, it became David McCartney. In the fall of 1881, McCartney sold the whole establishment to Ferguson Bros, who, it is understood, are supported by W. H. Butterfield of Columbus The mill is a good one, the logs being taken from a pond on the Black River. W. W. Fry has a mill which is now idle.

Hardware—T. B. McCourt.

General Merchandise—Dodge & Healy, Ferguson Bros., F. W. Mclntyre, J. B. Thompson.

Groceries & Provisions—Lewis Brown, Peter Doyle. S. H. Keeler, M. W. Ryan.

Dry Goods, Etc.—Blumberg & Shapiro.

Drugs, Paints and Oils—George S. Phelps. Marsh & Bailey.

Meat Markets—Lewis Brown, John Carstens. Flour and Feed—Ch. E. Williams, S. H. Rider.

Manufacturers of Boots and Shoes—Nick Shafer, William Seidel.

Blacksmiths—Lewis Shepke, Hans Anderson, Gus. Lupinski.

The mills also operate blacksmith shops. Lawyers.—J. K. Parish, District Attorney; G. W. Adams, S. A. Coming. Physicians.—W. F. Abbott, S. B. Hubbell. Clergymen.—Rev. J. W. Wells, Rev. B. Wugrodt. | Saloons.—There are five in Medford.

Hotels —Exchange Hotel, M. W. Ryan, proprietor; Mrs. M. W. Ryan, housekeeper; First National Hotel, S. , Burwell, proprietor; Forest House, D. McCartney, proprietor; Central House, J. M. Meyer, proprietor. Medford has the usual number of fraternal orders, and they attract the average number of adherents.

Masonic.—Medford Lodge, instituted 1881; Eli L. Urquhart. W. M.; W. W. Fry, T. G. Jeffers, Sec; J. B. Hull, J. K. Parish, H. J. Grennell, A. Dodge, A. J. Perkins, S. B. Hubbell. Meet second and fourth Thursdays of each month.

Odd Fellows.—Medford Lodge, No. 292. instituted December 23, 1879. Charter members—A. J. Perkins, P. G.; Eli Urquhart, N. G.; R. M. Williams, S. B. Hub- . bell, Solomon Keeler. Present officers—T. G. Jeffers, N. G.; J. H. Wheelock, V. G.; S. H. Keeler, Treas.; E. L. Urquhart, Sec. Meets Tuesday evenings.

A. O. U. W.—Medford "Lodge, No. 78, instituted: January 22, 1880, with the following officers: F. A. Healy, P. M. W.; Alfred Dodge. M. W.; T. B. McCourt, F. G.; S. A. Anderson, R.: W. D. Smith, O.: J. Biscornel, F.; S. H. Keeler, J. B. Anderson, S. B. Hubbell, Trustees. Present officers E. L. Urquhart, M. W. Ryan, William Seyer, Alfred Dodge, F. A. Healy. Meets Wednesday evenings.

Temple of Honor.—Wheelen, No. 211, instituted March 29. 1879. W. F. Atwill. C. T.; G. W. Adams, P. C. T.; A. C. Stevens, V. T.; E. T. Wheelock, R. Present officers—G. W. Adams, C. T.; J. O. D. Coleman, V. T.; j Peter Danielson, R. Meets on Saturday evenings: fifty- two members.

Two several organizations of the Good Templars have been instituted here, but they died of the diseases incident to childhood.

The Timber Belt Railroad is projected to run through Medford. A local committee has been appointed to look after its interests, consisting of F. A. Healy, T. B. Mc- Court. D. McCartney, S. B. Hubbell and William Seeger. Should this line be constructed, it will cut the county from east to west, and materially assist in settling it up.

The death of President Garfield was appropriately noticed with the closing of business and memorial services in Music Hall, with a general mourning display.

Medford, Taylor County, Wisconsin--1881.



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