The History of Humbird, Wisconsin

Transcribed from the 1881 History of Clark Co., WI by Janet Schwarze.




This thriving village is situated in the southwest portion of the county, on the line of the West Wisconsin Railroad and took its name from Jacob Humbird, a well known railroad contractor.


The earliest settlers in this part of the county were, Orvin Wilson, a Mr. Alderman, who owned the land on which the village was laid out, Elisha, Isaac and Elijah Hurl, Ashael Webster, E. Webster, Horace Stiles, George W. King and Charles Miller.


In 1869, Mr. Alderman laid off forty acres for a village site, caused the same to be surveyed and platted, and the place now known as Humbird, occupied by graded streets, bordered by fine buildings, was then covered with heavy timber, where deer and wild animals wandered at will.  At that time the railroad had not been completed; still a spirit of the enterprise was manifested by those already on the ground, and of adventure, by the comparatively frequent arrivals of settlers, many of who became permanent.  The first building erected after the survey was the Rocky Mound House, which was erected by George W. King, and used as a hotel.  F. D. Carter and F. W. Whitcomb were among the early arrivals.  They built residences and opened the first store in Humbird.  A man named Bump came about came about this time from Black River Falls and opened a store, also.  The arrivals between 1870-73 were quite numerous, and the village assumed an appearance of age, while it was yet young, with its mill, brewery, hotels, stores, shops, all commodious and neatly painted.  Among these was William Schmidt, who built the flouring mill; Michael Andrews, who erected the brewery; Edward Freeman, Isaac  Cross, Robert McElhose, Biswell Alderman, Mr. Whipple, the first carpenter; E. Edwards, the first wagon maker; George Cole, Joshua Gore, David Hoyner, E. D. Travis and Lawrence Sloan, all of whom engaged in business, and have contributed to the welfare and prosperity of their adopted home.


In the Fall of 1873, the village was overtaken by visitation of the small-pox, which created a havoc among the inhabitants and retarded its growth for several years.  In the previous year the railroad had been completed, and Humbird had become a prominent point for the shipment of grain and lumber from the surrounding country.  In a brief period this was summarily checked, and for ensuing two years the shipments were comparatively light.  About twenty-five residents died during the continuance of the scourge, the corpses being buried at night; business was suspended, and trains rushed by the station as if fleeing from the wrath in pursuit.  All the Winter of 1873-74 was one of desolation, indescribable; nor did the Spring bring encouragement to the afflicted residents.  As the year advanced, business, however, began to revive, and occasional traveler would come in and decide to remain, and with the dawn of the Centennial year of American Independence, Humbird had fully recovered from the effects of this temporary paralysis.  The new arrivals of that period, and since, include, among others, Henry Clark, O. G. Tripp, A. E. Holbrook, J. Q. A. Bull, Mr. Hickox, Frederick Robfax, C. Fowler, Peter Frances, Christopher Rector, R. D. Shaw, D. A. Tracy, L. D. Halstead, Peter Wilson, and others.


These also projected and completed improvements, and have identified themselves with the growth and advancement of the village.  Humbird cannot help being a permanent and thriving town, situated, as it is, with large pineries on one side and on the other a rich farming country, leading even into Minnesota, from which large amounts of produce are hauled by farmers to this place and exchanged for manufactured lumber.  In addition to the lumber trade, there are extensive growths of pine timber north and east, manufactured at these points are either shipped to Humbird or pass through, en route to Minnesota.  The village, like many other thriving villages of the West, enjoys the residence of enterprising citizens, whose courage, ambition and attention to business are a valuable guarantee of the future prosperity of the place.


The population is quoted at between 300 and 350.


The first school opened in the vicinity of the village was taught in a small frame which stood opposite the Webster House, and was continued in that locality until 1870.  In the latter year, the number of pupils was so in excess of the accommodations that it was decided to establish a graded school, and the  present edifice was erected at a cost of $2,500.


At present two teachers are employed, the average daily attendance is 100 pupils, and the expense incident to maintaining the school is $1,3oo per annum.


John Stallard, Isaac Cross and Orvin Wilson constitute the School Board at present.


Humbird as yet is without a church edifice, though there are three church societies, though each is limited in numbers. The Free Methodists meet in the Town Hall weekly, when they are addressed by Mrs. Dutton ; the Methodist Episcopal society are addressed semimonthly by the Rev. Mr. Robinson, services being held in Carter & Whitcomb's Hall, and the Seven-Day Advents, at the residence of Warren McClafflen, Saturdays.


Humbird Lodge, No. 191, A. F. & A. M., was organized in April, 1874, with thirteen members, and worked under a dispensation until June following, when it was regularly chartered, and the following officers elected : F. W. Whitcomb, W. M.; FL C. Holbrook, S. W.; E. P. Houghton, J. W.; A. B, Holbrook, secretary; Warren Page, treasurer, and Oliver Houghton, Tyler. The present officers are: E. P. Houghton, W. M.; E. J. McKinley, S. W.; S. A. Wise, J. W.; F. W. Whitcomb, secretary; Oliver Houghton, treasurer; W. H. Clark. S. D. ; Albeit Alderman, J. D.; W. H. Colfax, Tyler. The present membership is thirty-five; meetings are held on the first and third Saturday nights of each month, and lodge property is valued at $500.


Humbird Lodge. No. 252, I. O. O. F., was organized February 10, 1876, with a complement of members, and the following officers: C. B. Hackney, N. G.; J. Q. A. Bull, V. G.; G. A. Tracy, secretary, and L. Wilder, treasurer. The present officers are: R. D. McElliose, N. G.; A. D. Stiles, V. G.; Allen Young, secretary, and E. D. Benson, treasurer. The present members number forty; meetings are held every Saturday night, and lodge property is valued at $1,000.


Rocky Mound Lodge, No. 190, 1. 0. G. T., was organized April 10, 1875, with twenty members. The officers were: Calvin Allen, W. C. T.; Mrs. Sarah Toff, W. V. T.; W. H. Clark and R. D. MeElhose, secretaries; Mrs. Emma Clark, treasurer; W. L. Stanton, chaplain; F. J. Simons, marshal; G. A. Tracy, P.W.C.T. Meetings are held weekly, on Wednesday evenings; the present membership is forty- two, and the officers are: C. Fowler, W. C. T.; Miss Lou Cross, W. V. T. - Nliss Inez Holbrook and Mrs. F. L. Stevens, secretaries ; David Fitzmorris, treasurer; Frank Bockus, chaplain, and William Sloan, marshal.


The manufacturing interests of the village consist of a planing-mill, flouring-mill and brewery. The former was put up by E. D. Carter, in 1877, at a cost of $2,500, and is supplied with machinery affording capacity for 25,000 feet of lumber per dieum.


The flouring-mill was erected by William Schmidt, in 1873, and is three stories high. It is supplied with two run of stone, with capacity of fifty barrels of flour in twenty- four hours, and is operated by water power from Hale's Creek. The cost of the mill is estimated to have been $5,000.


Eilert's Brewery, on Hale's Creek branch, was erected in 1870, by Andrews & Gunderson. The following year the same was purchased by Enos Eilert, who has since completed improvements and operated the business. He employs four hands, turns out 1,000 barrels of beer, and does a business of $10,000 Per year.


The Post-office was established in Humbird about 1871, whence it was removed from Garden Valley, and D. B. Travis appointed Postmaster. He is still in the service, and mails are received twice daily from east and west.


The cemetery is situated a mile and a half from the village, in a northwesterly direction, where it was laid out, in 1871, on land formerly owned by Orvin Wilson. The grounds are prettily platted, securely fenced and kept in good order.



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