"[History is] a cyclic poem written by time upon the memories of man." -Percy Bysshe Shelley

Friday, May 27, 2011

Clear Lake: Haskin's Cottages

Haskin's Cottages once stood on Clear Lake. Our file provides little information on them, although they were evidently run by Thomas Haskins, apparently an Ojibwe man, and perhaps also by the Devine family, who appear to have been related by the marriage of Kate Haskins to Dan Devine, if the photos below tell the right story.. Of this tangled tree, we have (at present) only this intriguing, if tragic, glimmer from an interview with Cal La Porte (February 2010):
Thomas Haskins was [a Native American] and owner of property.

Thomas and Dan Devine were out hunting one day. They met each other on Hwy. K and talked. Suddenly, from nowhere, a shot rang out from the distance and Dan dropped [to the ground]. He died of the gunshot wound.

No one found the killer, and the shooting was thought to have been done on purpose, because of jealousy. Dan was in his 40s.
Why would someone have been jealous of Dan Devine? Who was the murderer? How did Thomas Haskins react? Why and how did all of this happen?

These questions are lost to the murk of time... let your imaginations fill the void, until and unless further answers are forthcoming.

From left: Susan Perkins (Ken Perkin's mother), Mrs. Mockley (guest at Moody's), Mrs. Don (Kate) Devine, Mrs. Snow (Kate's cousin), Mr. John Perkins (laying on ground, Ken's dad), Tom Lynch (Kate Devine's second husband), Mr. Tom Devine (Dan's brother) -- North side of Clear Lake (Boulder Junction township)
Devine Family: From left, Tom Devine, Susan Perkins, Mr. Mockley, Mrs. Dan Devine (Kate), Mrs. Snow, Tom Lynch, John Perkins

Devine House, Clear Lake
According to a note on the photo's back, this is the second house of the Don Devine family, built not long after he died, 1901 or 1902 on the northern shore of Clear Lake (Boulder Junction township.)

Thought to be Paul Devine on left, other man unknown (Joe Ilg, Sr. picture taken after 1891)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

How Manitowish Waters Became a Four-Season Vacation Area

The following article, excerpted here, appeared in the Vilas County New Review Centennial Issue (2/19/86):

an old ad for Voss's Birchwood Lodge
At one time, it was the logging industry here that kept Manitowish Waters booming, but the big logging activity ceased between 1911 (when the last Yawkey-Bissell activity ceased; that firm's last local camp was near Mud [Fawn] Lake) and 1914 (when the last logs had been shipped from the hoist at Star Lake).

In 1919 the Milwaukee Road removed its track along the north side of the chain; the spur to the C&NW was quietly taken up around the same time.

The lone sawmills to operate after that era in the area were operated by Bob Loveless, who cut timber in the few pockets of Virgin Forest during the 1920s, and Marvin Loveless, who ran a small mill into the 1940s or 1950s.

The resort business developed alongside the homesteading that brought the early settlers to this area. First to offer hospitality to sportsmen and other visitors in a lodge was Abe LaFave. In 1892, George Buck settled some land at the narrows between Spider and Manitowish Lakes, probably by homesteading it. He too developed a resort business, which stayed in the Buck family until it was sold in 1916 to the Koerners, who began operations under their name the next year.

What is now Deer Park Lodge was begun in the 1890s by one J.A. La Motte of Wausau; its succeeding owners included Jay A. "Dad" Paine, Max Engemann and Charlie Doriot. After spending several summers camping here, Henry Voss built his first cottage in 1909, and opened an American Plan resort in 1911.

By 1927, area residents were chafing at what they felt was neglect by the town of Flambeau, to which the present day Manitowish Waters then belonged, and they succeeded in having the state legislature pass a bill creating the new town of Spider Lake. The new town built a town hall during the next biennium and a modern school soon after. That school was outgrown and was enlarged twice before it was replaced in 1971 by a new, complete plant on Highway K that is a consolidation of the grade schools for several North Lakeland communities.

The town board also authorized a community cemetery in 1935, and the first burials date from 1936.

Koerner's Spider Lake Resort
The Thirties brought the town new distinctions. One was the distinction of having its own fish hatchery, said to be the only municipal hatchery in the state.

It was also in the early 1930s, 1934 to be exact, that desperado John Dillinger brought the area instant notoriety. Detected hiding out at Little Bohemia, he fled lawmen in a shootout that cost two lives.

Manitowish Waters was a more appropriate name for the chain of lakes area, and in 1937 the name of the town was changed from Spider Lake to Manitowish Waters.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Man with Gun: George Loveless

Some photos donated to the library hold memories of the Loveless family, who had a store, gas station and other buildings on Alder Lake.
"Virgin Forest Park, Manitowish, Wis."
This photo, taken in 1929, shows Robert Loveless (photo mis-identified) on his front porch, rifle in hand. A note on the back of the picture reads: Mrs. Ella Kossein(?) picture June 1929. Mr. Robert Loveless at his store, our new place on the road (then U.S. 10, later U.S. 51). Buildings built about 1920. Manitowish Waters, Wis.

Loveless Family, 1929
 This photo shows Robert with his daughters. The back reads, Mrs. Ella Kossein pictures 6/20/29. Manitowish Waters, Wis. From left Dolly, Ella and Mr. Robert Loveless at his store and gas station on old Hwy 10 (later U.S. 51).

Frank R. Koller

A full obituary in honor of Frank Koller:

Frank Raymond Koller was born July 28, 1921, in Chicago to Frank Koller and Rose Koller (Reiger). He died May 15, 2011, in Marshfield after a brief illness.

He is survived by his wife, Betty Jane (Leasure) Koller; nieces Lenore (Smith) Dollries, Cynthia Burns, Barbara (Burns) Weingarden; and grand-niece Alison Weingarden.

Frank and Betty had one son, Frank Berkley Koller, who passed Nov. 6, 1978. Frank also survived by two sisters, Rose Smith and Rae Meyer.

Frank and Betty met in grade school in Chicago and both graduated from Hirsh High School in 1941.

Frank joined the Navy on Sept. 19, 1942. Betty followed him to California where they eloped on Aug. 21, 1943, before he set off for the South Pacific. Frank was a radio operator during the war and was honorably discharged in 1945.

After his discharge, Frank worked with Betty's family on the cranberry marshes in the Rapids where he got his interest in the cranberry business. In 1946, the Kollers moved up to Manitowish Waters to start their own cranberry business.

Of the five original growers in the area, Frank was the last survivor. In addition to the Manitowish Waters marsh, Frank had two other marshes at one time -- Fifield and Oneida.

Frank joined the Masons in 1955 and was ordained to the 33rd degree in 2010. Frank was also a Shriner and Lions Club member.

Frank was a charter member of the Manitowish Waters Community Church and the local fire department.

Frank was an avid car and antique collector and took great joy in giving tours of his collections. He also exhibited his cars in local parades.

He was an avid wildlife enthusiast from planting trees and feeding birds to taking in stray dogs.

Frank and Betty's philanthropy have been far reaching, including the building and maintenance of the Manitowish Waters Community Church Carillon and Tower and the Veteran's Memorial in Pine Lawn Cemetery and wholly providing for the Frank B. Koller Memorial Library in Manitowish Waters.

They started the Koller Behavior Center in Minocqua, and started scholarships at the University of Wisconsin for Cranberry Growing and Lakeland and Mercer high schools for vocational schools.

They purchased the land for the Manitowish Waters Town Park on Rest Lake and are supporters of the Masonic Learning Center for Dyslexia, the Rawhide Ranch and the Marshfield Clinic, Lawton Center and Laird Center. Their latest endeavor is a deferred donation to the Marshfield Clinic to complete the second Laird Center for research. When Frank saw a need, he pursued supporting that need.

Funeral services will be Saturday, May 21, 11 a.m., in the Manitowish Waters Community Presbyterian Church.

Visitation will be 9-11 a.m. at the church on Saturday.

Burial will follow at Pinelawn Cemetery with military honors.

A Masonic service will be held today, Friday, May 20, 6:30 p.m., at the Bolger Funeral Home-Woodruff Chapel.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Frank B. Koller Library in Manitowish Waters or charity of the donor's choice.

Bolger Funeral Home is assisting the family. Condolences may be shared at www.bolgerfuneral.com.

via The Lakeland Times

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

logging on the blog

"Lumber camps on the Manitowish"
"Vilas County Lumber Co. Winegar, Wis."
"Sawmill, Uswell, WI"
A far cry from the cheerful resort world of bathing beauties and dudes in drag, we bring you photographs of northern Wisconsin during the logging era. Grim and positively desertified, these photos show what daily life looked like for the lumberjacks who settled in the area or who came up to take part in the logging camps during the summer months. It cannot have been an easy life!

However, it is beyond the present writer to create a blog post lacking in levity. And so, with the most sincere hopes that it will not offend those in our audience with delicate sensibilities, I submit to your attention a completely different take on lumberjacks:

"lumbering" through history: logging in the northwoods

A train during the logging era
As a brief follow-up to the length interview with Paul Brenner, a somewhat dry extract gives us the following information on the history of logging in Manitowish Waters -- one of the main sources of income when the area was settled. Of course, once the logging companies had removed all of the trees the jobs dried up and, with the Depression, the desertified land dried out. The people of Manitowish Waters and the surrounding communities were forced to reinvent themselves. Thus the beginning of the resort era.

Logging of white pine began in the Manitowish Waters area in 1892. From 1892 to 1905 the logs were transported to lumber mills in the Eau Claire area via the river systems. Logs were brought to the waterways in winter on large sleighs pulled by horses and later by steam tractors.

The Manitowish Waters dam was built in 1892 to raise the water level of the Manitowish Waters lakes to facilitate log transport. The side wheel steamboat was used to move log rafts from the headwaters of the Manitowish Waters chain to the dam.

Many companies used the river system and it was necessary to identify each log with a company's registered mark. Log hammers were used for making the ends of the logs.

In Memoriam: Frank Koller, 1921-2011

Frank and Betty at the library named in memory of their son
One of the library's founders and great supporters, Frank R. Koller, passed away over the weekend. A brief notice: 
Frank R. Koller, 89, a well-known philanthropist who benefited many area community and health care organizations through the years, died at St. Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield on Sunday, May 15.

Koller and his wife, Betty, who survives him, were instrumental in helping to build many area community facilities, including parks and libraries.

One of his most recent benefactors was Marshfield Clinc's Melvin R. Laird Jr. Center for Medical Research in Marshfield. Koller provided a $5 million deferred donation to complete a $40 million capital campaign for the facility.
(via the Lakeland Times)
Mr. Koller's obituary page on Bolger Funeral Home. Please join us in sending our condolences to his wife, Betty, and other family members.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dudes in Drag

Do you know these people?

And what were the men doing while the gals posed in their bathing suits? ... They were raiding the girls' closets! Here is a humorous group photo, although unfortunately I do not know the location. Some of the fellows have been identified, and you are welcome to contact the library if you have more information!

bathing beauties

"Koerner's Resort Recreation Hall, 1940"

Lest it be thought that life in 1940s Manitowish Waters was all work and no play (or all hardy people stomping about in plaid), take a gander at the bathing beauties at Koerner's Resort. The lady on the middle right was Miss Kenosha -- which if you didn't know is the fourth largest city in Wisconsin. Clearly Dillinger and friends were not the only ones who thought the Northwoods worthy of a visit! (Presumably we can be prouder of Miss Kenosha than of Dillinger, even if she has not been portrayed by Johnny Depp. ...odd as that might be.)

Koerner's, once on Spider Lake, no longer exists as a resort and few of the original buildings remain. As Bev Trapp kindly wrote up for us:

Koerner's Spider Lake Resort was probably first built, but run by Fayette Buck, about 1900 (1901-02).

Ted Koerner was an Alderman in Milwaukee and bought the resort about 1910 or a little later, as he died in the 1930's and his son Alvin Koerner more or less took over, as his mother was still alive and not driving. The old Highway 10 (51) that made a loop through the Koerner resort in the years may be her house is still there. Alvin Koerner's house is still standing and our telephone service was housed in the home with the old family lines, hand cranked phones. Pete Williamson was the phone company repair person. Pete and Charlie owned what is now Tellefson Resort on Stone Lake. Pete had about seven house-keeping rentals.

Alvin Koerner's Resort was an American Plan Resort ("Gentiles only"). They also had a couple of house-keeping cabins on Manitowish Lake and a long hall building and long dock extending onto Manitowish Lake. The beautiful sand beach exists today. The building served sandwiches such as ham and had a small fountain serving ice cream. In about 1949/50 he added the oval bar to the Soda Fountain Restaurant, with his liquor license. Fire destroyed that building and the property was purchased and made into a boys camp. Later it was purchased by relatives and subdivided. The Blue Bayou Inn and the first building to the West are the only buildings remaining on the south side of the highway.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chick with Gun

"Want a guide? Visit Little Bohemia, Manitowish, Wis."
Your typical Northwoods guide service from back in the day. I'm sure you would have gotten this lady and not a scruffy bearded fellow in plaid wool.

Its message requires no interpretation.

Not actually sure what publication this appeared in, as all I have is a photocopy in a binder, but it appears to be an ad from Little Bohemia. As shell-seekers (not the sea type) continually remind us, "Little Bo" is infamous for hosting John Dillinger and his gang while they were on the run. A shoot-out between Dillinger and the FBI also took place there -- a scene which has since been immortalized by the Johnny Depp movie Public Enemies, in which the "northern Wisconsin" scenery looks suspiciously like central Wisconsin. However, locals are happy to remind us that filming did actually take place on location at Little Bo, and Mr. Depp was indeed on set.

Interested visitors can visit Little Bo and observe authentic gunfire marks in the walls, as well as an authentic photo of Johnny Depp. (It is difficult to tell which has the greater appeal.) The resort is about one mile south of the library, on the left hand side of the road as you are driving north. There is a sign: "Little Bohemia" and a mention of the Dillinger Gang's Hide-Out.

Maybe Chick with Gun was thinking of them as she posed for her somewhat misleading picture...