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

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ringing in the season at the Festival of Trees

It was another great Festival of Trees this past December 1! With trees, wreaths and other goodies for raffle and silent auction, as well as lots of cookies and good company, we had a blast and helped the library doing it. The fundraiser garnered the library $2,729 -- and lots of happy patrons.

Check out some photos from the event below, or click over to our Facebook page to see the full album.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Celebrating our volunteers

As we all know, it's the volunteers that help keep our library running, provide great customer service to our patrons, work hard -- and most important, make us smile!

Many volunteers also serve as members of the Friends of the Library
Many, many volunteers have crossed our threshold over the years. After the cut is a complete list of individuals who have volunteered their time and effort to the Koller Memorial Library, from 1987 to the present.

Library volunteers having fun at the cookie counter during the Festival of Trees

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bob Loveless: "thoroughly expert"

Robert F. Loveless, proprietor of Virgin Forest Park on the shores of Alder Lake in the western part of Vilas County, was born at Balsam Lake in Polk County, July 4, 1871. As a young man he took up fishing, hunting and trapping, in which pursuits he became thoroughly expert, and also in guide work.

In 1891 he came to what is now Vilas County, but which was then a part of Oneida, and took a homestead of 91 acres, being a part of the land surveyed by the government on Alder Lake. In this wild country he carried on his occupation of fishing, hunting and trapping, and in 1892 became guide in this region for the Southgate family of the Congress Hotel, Chicago, a position which he held for 30 years, or until the death of the head of the family in 1922. He was also guide for eight years for Marvin Hewett, Jr., vice president of the Chicago & Northwestern Railway.

In the spring of 1923 Mr. Loveless built at his present location a magnificent Park Hall, perhaps the finest in northern Wisconsin, 116x52 feet in dimensions. It is paneled with spruce and birch, the doors being all birch, and the walls are ornamented with 30 deer heads and also a large American eagle shot by himself. The dance hall measures 40x80 feet. Mr. Loveless rents this building to parties for entertainments.

Owning three-quarters of a mile of lake frontage, he also rents sites to campers. He keeps boats for rent, handles cigars, tobacco, candies and ice cream, and his resort is lighted by electricity generated by his own electric light plant. The resort is on a chain of 15 lakes called the Manitowish Waters.

Mr. Loveless has a small portable sawmill with which he cut every piece of timber in his buildings, the latter including four cottages which he rents out. He also has a fine house in which he resides, and plans to build about 40 more cabins in the immediate future.

Mr. Loveless is a hardy, middle-aged man, but is the oldest and most experienced guide in this region, having followed the business, as well as hunting and fishing, for 32 summers and winters. Since coming to live here he has killed about 200 deer. He was married in August, 1903, to Hulda Swain, and he and his wife have been the parents of four children, three daughters and one son, namely, Leona, Ella, Dolly and Lloyd. The only son, Lloyd, died at the age of ten years.

Abe La Fave

Abraham La Fave, proprietor of Island Lake Resort and of Inland Resort, on Island Lake, Vilas County, was born in Canada in 1858, and there received his schooling, which was very limited, as he had to enter the ranks of industry at a very early age. As a small boy he went to work in the cotton mills of Massachusetts and continued in that line of employment until reaching the age of nineteen. He then went to Point Sable, Mich., where he found work in the neighboring woods as a logger and general employee in the lumber business, being thus engaged until 1888.

In that year he came to Vilas County, of most parts of which he soon acquired a sound geographical knowledge, and was employed as a guide on Trout Lake and the vicinity by John Mann. After spending a short time in Mr. Mann's employ, he went to work in the woods for the Chippewa Logging Co. at Grandfather's dam, and remained with them subsequently for four years. His next move was to Price County, where he spent three years in logging and driving, by the end of which time he had discovered an easier and pleasanter way of getting a living.

Buying a camping outfit he began work as a guide for fishing parties on the rivers and was thus occupied during the summers until 1897. He then started the Island Lake Resort, located on an island in Island Lake, of Manitowish Waters, Vilas County, which, with the assistance of his wife he has built up very successfully. In 1920 he established Inland Resort on the same lake and now conducts them both. The Inland Resort consists of 80 acres of land, a main lodge and four cottages, while the Island Resort, with a main lodge and five cottages, is also well developed. Mrs. La Fave does the cooking and looks after the welfare of everything on the inside, while Mr. La Fave attends to the outside work, and together they are doing a nice business.

Mr. La Fave was first married in the fall of 1898 to Mary Fernette, who died in 1900, leaving a son Thomas, who is now a resident of Minneapolis. Mr. La Fave later married Mrs. Sarah Noonan, of which union six children have been born, Frank, Wilbur, John, Marie, Charles and Olive. Mrs. La Fave has three children by her first marriage, Dora, Patrick and George Schroeder.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Get your library card!

September is Library Card Sign-Up Month!

Doriot's Deer Park Lodge: "the last word in summer resort hotels"

Charles H. Doriot, proprietor of Deer Park Lodge in Vilas County, was born at Kelly, Marathon County, Wis., July 3, 1885, son of Calvin H. and Effie (La Port) Doriot. The father, a native of Ohio, and the mother, born in Marathon County, Wis., were residents of the latter county after their marriage until 1892, when they removed to their present home in Iron County. Charles H. Doriot was educated in the schools of Langlade, Oneida and Iron counties, and his subsequent career has found him in many and varied capacities, including those of logging contractor, guide, sawmill operator, and, for six years, proprietor of a general store in Manitowish and postmaster of that village. In 1908 he established a resort on Stone Lake, known as Clear Lodge, and he operated this until 1917, when he sold it and took over his present resort, Deer Park Lodge.

Deer Park Lodge, which has been graphically called the Palace of the Northern Woods, lies on the eastern shore of Lake Manitowish, in the western part of Vila County, sometimes known as the Manitowish Lake Region. To the sportsman, tourist and summer camper who have visited this country the name calls up entrancing memories of forest, stream and lake with all their attendant joys of sport in every outdoor form or needed rest and recuperation from the strenuous battle of life in the busy marts of trade and commerce.

Such relief as a sojourn in these picturesque wilds brings to those who seek it is of the sort that both cheers the spirits and invigorates the body, adding years to life and sending the rest seeker back to the city or town with renewed vigor, hope and ambition. In truth, a few weeks in such a place is a good investment, adding largely to one's capital of energy and endurance without an abundant supply of which even business success -- the accumulation of dollars -- may be jeopardized.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

a man of fine ability

Our next few posts will profile some of the individuals recorded in the Big Green Book, also known as History of Lincoln, Oneida and Vilas Counties Wisconsin. First up, William O. Strandberg.
William O. Strandberg, well-known resident of Vilas County, was born in Sweden, Sept. 28, 1863, son of Eric G. and Anna (Olson) Strandberg. The parents were natives of Sweden, and the father was a captain in the Swedish Army for many years; they came to the United States in 1872 and settled in Putnam County, New York, remaining until 1886 and then going to Bessemer, Mich., and from there to Hurley, Wis. Later the family moved to Langlade County, where the father died. William O. Strandberg received his early education in the schools of Putnam County, New York, and subsequently attended Princeton University for a time. He then learned the trade of printer, which he followed in various cities in the East until 1901. In the latter year he came to Vilas County and purchased a small tract of land on Star Lake; here he built a home and cared for his aged mother until her death in 1911. He worked as a guide on the lakes and in the woods until 1922, becoming very widely known in this capacity and a prominent figure throughout this locality. He served as township assessor and as justice of the peace, and also as clerk of the school board in District No. 2 of the town of Flambeau. He is secretary of the Manitowish Waters Conservation Association at the present time, and during the World War he served on many different committees, giving himself whole-heartedly to his country's cause. Since 1922 he has followed carpenter work as an occupation. He is a man of fine ability, and stands very high in his community.
If you have further information on William Strandberg, or any of the other individuals we will profile, please don't hesitate to share it with us!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

how wisconsin is very near china

On a recent foray through our shelves, Janelle handed me a massive green volume ("tome" seems an appropriate word). Called History of Lincoln, Oneida and Vilas Counties: Wisconsin, it was compiled in 1924 by George O. Jones, Norman S. McVean and others, and published by H.C. Cooper, Jr. and Co. of Minneapolis, MN.

The volume writes up a history of Wisconsin (since European settlement), and more specifically, history on the three aforementioned counties. In a unique twist, the "prominent" folk who lived in these counties could pay to have their names and information entered into the volume. I will share some of these accounts in a later post -- a fascinating look at how people wanted themselves to be remembered.

I personally have always wondered why so many things up here, and generally in Wisconsin, are named Nicolet. There is the Nicolet National Forest and Nicolet Area Technical College. Nicolet High School. Nicolet Bank. One might deduce, in etiological fashion, that Nicolet must have been a Frenchman. But who was he?

Nicolet's arrival in Wisconsin: no wonder the natives wanted to throw things

The green book supplies our answer in Chapter 1: The Explorers.

The first white man to set foot on the soil of Wisconsin was Jean Nicolet, a young Frenchman of Norman birth* who had come to New France, or Canada, in 1618, when both Quebec and Montreal were infant settlements. He was then a very young man of an intrepid and adventurous spirit, and the Governor of New France, Samuel Champlain, saw in him the material for an able lieutenant in the work of advancing French interests in the New World. For that purpose Nicolet was sent to live among the Indians, to learn their language, manners, habits and customs, which he did very satisfactorily, residing among them for a number of years, during which time he suffered many hardships, especially from hunger. With such apprenticeship he was well fitted to become an explorer. About 1632 he returned to Quebec, where for two years he was employed as a clerk and interpreter.

Champlain was obsessed with the idea, prevalent at the time, of a short route westward to India and China, and being anxious to discover it, both for the honor and glory of France and his own advancement, sent Nicolet to prepare the way by making peace among the warring Indian tribes, and also instructed him to penetrate as far as possible westward in the hope of discovering the long sought route. Accordingly, in July 1634, furnished with a very imperfect map, Nicolet set out in a canoe from Montreal. He followed the Ottawa River westward, then up a branch of that river and by portage to Lake Nipissing, which he crossed and then went down the French River to Georgian Bay. After stopping there for a while with the Hurons, he proceeded westward along the coast of the bay until he reached the Sault Ste. Marie, the river or waterway connecting Lake Huron with Lake Superior. At the rapids he rested, then, without exploring Lake Superior, which was in part at least depicted on his map, he turned southward, passed through the straits of Mackinac and coasted the northern shore of Lake Michigan until he reached the mouth of the Menominee River, which empties into Green Bay. There from an [Algonquin] tribe he heard about certain "Men of the Sea," who were not far distant, and jumped to the conclusion that he had almost reached China. In order to properly impressed the luxurious Orientals whom he expected to meet, he arrayed himself in a gorgeous robe, with which he had come provided for the express purpose, and pushed his way forward to the head of the bay. He must have been greatly disappointed to meet there only a band of Winnebago [Ho-Chunk] Indians, whose language he could not speak or understand. Making the best of the occasion, however, through his Indian followers he urged them to be at peace with the Hurons and to bring their furs to Montreal to exchange them for the white man's commodities. The occasion was celebrated by a great feast, at which much wild game was consumed.

Nicolet then ascended the Fox River southward to Lake Winnebago and went beyond it to a village of the Mascoutin Indians [a tribe extinct now] which stood probably about where the city of Berlin, Green Lake County, does now. There he first heard of the Mississippi River, but not realizing the importance of the information, and having, besides, fulfilled the main purpose of his mission in making peace between the tribes, he went further southward, visited the Illinois, later returned to the Fox River and Green Bay, and thence to Montreal, which he reached in July 1635, his journey having taken about a year. The discovery of the Mississippi was thus left to others.
*Jean Nicolet de Belleborne was born in Cherbourg, Coutances, Normandie, France in 1598 -- according to Wikipedia. He would have been about 20 when he started his apprenticeship. Check out the Wikipedia page.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

the resort era in full swing

Resort guests in the first few decades stayed longer than most guests today: from a month to a whole season, and there were more men, generally, than women. Cottage owners often came for the entire seasons, bringing along the season's supplies -- "Kerosene lamp chimneys by the hundred," recalls one lady. Or they ordered things like from mail order grocers like Pieper's, Steinmeyer's in Milwaukee, and other things from Sears.

Getting here, in those days, wasn't any too easy. North Western Railway Pullmans sped guests up from Indianapolis or Chicago or Milwaukee, but when they clambered down from the trains into the Manitowish dawn, it was a horse and buggy that awaited them, and a rough ride paralleling the river bank on the little lane to the dam site... the end of the road. Most resorts and some homeowners had big, gasoline-engined launches, and at the Rest Lake dam travelers and their baggage transferred to those for the last leg of the trip. (For travelers to Big Lake, two more transfers were ahead: an overland portage from Clear Lake to Big and then a boat trip on Big. Can you imagine moving up a piano in the face of such handicaps? One party did -- and it took days!)

A look back at resort era activities

The Teens or even 1909 brought three or four more resorts on the American plan format, and the Twenties added several others, but then the development trends turned toward furnished housekeeping cottages.

Most likely the first host to rent furnished cottages without pairing them with a dining lodge was Henry Voss around 1911. He supplied some of his guests' needs from his garden, chickens and cows -- and added American plan facilities around 1920. By 1930 there were half a dozen housekeeping cottage resorts, and the early 1930's witnessed the first clusters of complete little homes with city conveniences built for housekeeping rental.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

the resort era begins

"Manitowish Waters Area History: A Look Back," continued...

The Chicago & North Western Railway main line may have been the key to the development of this area.

It was built north in 1888 and where the track crossed the Manitowish River, the settlement of Manitowish developed (even before Mercer did!). It was a cluster of general stores, liveries, hotels, post office and homes. Supplies for the dam building crews, lumber camps and residents now could be wagon-hauled easily from Manitowish, or poled or rowed up the river in the bateaux that the Chippewa Lumber & Boom Company favored. For decades afterwards the railroad remained a lifeline, bringing up settlers, vacationists and supplies. Passenger train service ended just after New Years's later.

From 1906 till World War I, travelers could ride a small connecting train directly to the waters of the Manitowish chain at a landing at Rice Creek Bridge. The train, which often handled freight and log cars ahead of his little coach, linked Buswell, Rice Creek, and Boulder Junction with teh main line of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway at Star Lake (near Sayner).

Logging, rafting and even river driving were still going on when the first adventurous vacationists began coming up to enjoy the Manitowish Waters, and the trend eventually spawned several forms of hospitality or enjoyment: resorts, camping, summer homes, even group camps.

Resorts, as a result, have been an important part of the Manitowish Waters scene for over ninety years [since the original writing does not have a date], and there have been resorts at over one hundred locations on the chain or nearby lakes during that time, divided between American plan resorts and housekeeping cottage resorts.

It was the American plan idea that the first area resorts adopted, usually in the form of a central lodge with dining room, lobby and perhaps a few sleeping rooms, along with a few separate sleeping cottages, and all with the trademark of the era: screened porches.

The early host chose picturesque settings for their resorts. Abe LaFave perched his hotel and cottages on a little island in Island Lake around 1895, making him the first resort operator on the chain. Within less than five years George Washington Buck had opened a lodge at the narrows between Spider and Manitowish Lakes (a resort better remembered as Koerner's), and J.A. LaMotte had chosen the eastern shore of Manitowish Lake, facing the sunset, to begin Deer Park Lodge. He blended ruggedness with gentility as he equipped it with a launch, fishing boats, a cow and a piano. Peter Vance ran a little "resort" about the same time, before burning out in 1903, but his was more a roadhouse or little inn with meals downstairs and a few sleeping rooms upstairs, on the shore of Rest Lake near the dam.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

looking back at the logging years

Manitowish Waters Area History: A Look Back, continued.

Every few days a gate in the dam was opened and a large batch of logs was sluiced through, followed by a dose of water large enough to assure that the logs would float freely downstream but not enough to wash the logs ashore along the river's wandering course. The sluicing lasted only a few weeks, but took place every spring for ten to fifteen years.

As the logs moved downstream, log driving crews shepherded them to prevent jams and to get stray logs back into the flow. The most colorful fixture of the log drive was the wanigan that accompanied the drive. It was the kitchen boat that was built on the flat below the dam: A scow with a house on top to enclose the kitchen, supply space and sleeping quarters for the cook. Each evening the log drivers would gather at the wanigan for a hearty supper and maybe a little singing before they separated to sleep in little tents or just under the stars. All the dams below the Rest Lake Dam had gates big enough to allow it to be sluice through, guided by its big oars.

The logs were boomed and sorted and fed into the huge sawmills of the Chippewa Falls or Eau Claire area, or some of them were sent on toward the Mississippi mills, and the wanigan was abandoned or dismantled.

Back at the dam here, when each drive was over, two and a half billion gallons of water had been penned up and then released; the lakes were down to their original pre-1887 levels; and raw, ugly scarred new margin of erosion and stumps marred fifty some miles of the shoreline.

Penning the water for the next drive began the next fall or winter; but after the very last drive around 1904 or 1905 there was consistent policy about water levels, and that often infuriated local residents -- some wanted water high, some wanted it down, and one person even sabotaged the dam. At stake were fishing, esthetics, convenient access to the water.

Things were finally settled when a reservoir company bought the dam in 1912 and the state began prescribing water levels. The summer level is set at 8 1/2 feet above the original level, and the winter level is five feet. [unsure if this information is still current]

The reservoir company replaced the wooden dam with the present masonry dam in the mid-1920's.

Left behind by the white pine loggers were all the other species of trees, many of which were also valuable for lumber. So the white pine lumbermen sold their "cutover" lands for another round of harvesting by different loggers.

Again the lakes figured in the harvest.

Two logging railroad spurs were pushed to the shores of the chain on Rest and Little Star lakes. Norway pine and other logs were put into the lakes of the chain and rafted by gas or steam tugs as quickly as possible to these two railroad landings and hoisted onto flatcars. These other species do not float as well as the white pine, so there was always a sense of urgency in rafting them, and rafting sometimes went on day and night. There was also a side track at Rice Creek Bridge where a self-propelled log loading crane could come and load logs rafted from the lakes of the chain or floated down from above Big or Round Lakes.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A look back: the 19th century and earlier

Having unearthed another article by Michael J. Dunn, III, on the history of Manitowish Waters, I think it's appropriate to share most of it on this blog. I will, of course, split the content over multiple posts!

The Lake Superior Chippewa [Ojibwe] Indians were the first people to leave a significant imprint on this region. The Chippewa people had moved westward along the Great Lakes in quest of better hunting during the 1600's and 1700's, had become involved in the fur trade with Europeans and had come to depend on [European] trade goods, like guns, iron vessels, woven fabric, even whiskey. They were now venturing farther and farther inland from the Lake Superior shoreline to find supplies of fur-bearing animals to meet their trading needs. Between 1700 and 1750 they had routed the Sioux [their sometime rivals] and had established .... a settlement at Lac du Flambeau.

Native people building a birch bark canoe
Their traditional lifestyle was a cycle of moves with the seasons of the year: in spring they made sugar in their maple-sugaring grounds. In summer they moved on to their fishing grounds, where they fished for present sustenance and dried fish for later use, planted and harvested corn, and picked and preserved berries. In late summer they progressed to their wild ricing grounds, and in fall they moved on to their hunting grounds.

They traveled in birchbark canoes and when they stayed any length of time, they covered sapling frameworks with birchbark to make wigwam-style homes, rolling up the precious bark and taking it with them when they moved on.

In the waning decades of the 1800's, though, the Chippewas were playing out the final years of this drama, perhaps without realizing it at the time, for the later 1800's would see a movement to cluster them all on their government sponsored reservation at Flambeau and settle them there.

Until then, however, some of the Chippewas had a favorite encampment spot on the east shore of Manitowish Lake where Deer Park Lodge was later developed, and here they camped, fished and even buried some of their dead. They also gathered wild rice not far away up near Big Lake, which they were able to reach by canoe via Island Lake and Rice Creek, and they continued to gather rice there into the 1900's, well after they had ceased camping on Manitowish Lake. (Their impact upon the area is evident in the fact that Manitowish Lake is almost the only body of water labeled by name on the map made by the first surveyors in the 1860's. Manitowish is the word for weasel or muskrat* in the dictionary of Chippewa language that Father Baraga compiled and published during his long career as a missionary among the Lake Superior Chippewa in the mid-1800s.)

Government surveyors were the first [Europeans] who left a record of their passing through the area we know as Manitowish Waters; one party passed by as it established the boundaries for townships in 1860 and a second party crisscrossed the township in 1862, establishing interior section lines. They made systematic notes, and these notes acknowledge the valuable timber resources here and even note the fact that the logs could be floated down rivers to sawmills elsewhere. By 1872 people were putting in applications for lands near the chain of lakes and by the 1800s [?] the lumber people were jockeying in earnest for control of large timber tracts.

By 1884, if we can rely on Peter Vance, one of the participants, a little flotilla of canoes paddled up the Manitowish River from Eau Claire-Chippewa Falls area[.]

They were sent to evaluate, or "cruise," the woods for timber and help plan the assault on the white pine forests, and their arrival also established a permanent white presence in township 42 North, Range 5 East: the present Manitowish Waters. The 1800's also brought [pioneers] who were not directly involved with this timber cruising.

What the lumbermen found -- and coveted -- were virgin forest so tall and thick that while they still stood uncut, a person could walk six miles downstream from the present dam toward Manitowish, on the little road that developed parallel to the river, and never leave total shade for direst sunlight!

In contrast, when all the loggers were done, twenty-five years later, a person could stand, say, at Boulder Junction, and could see all the way across the logging and fire-ravaged landscape to Trout Lake or almost to the Manitowish chain.

A little rapids formed a threshold for the chain of lakes. In 1887 the state legislature authorized the lumbermen to build a dam there to pen up waters of the chain for logging and river driving. In 1887-88 crews built a camp below the dam site and began freighting in the first supplies upriver from the railroad at Fifield and Park Falls. They also began grading the earthworks on either bank and began building rock crib and timber dam tall and strong enough to hold back water fifteen feet deeper than the chain had ever seen before!

White pine was valued for its fine lumber, but besides that, it was light enough to float infinitely, and logs put into the water on the Manitowish chain could certainly stay afloat long enough to reach mills almost 200 miles away at Chippewa Falls or Eau Claire. So crews began cutting the pines in winter and putting the logs into the swollen lakes at break-up; and paddle-wheel steamboat herded them to the dam end or Rest Lake from all around the chain.

*Another translation of Manitowish might be "playful spirit" -- perhaps more otter than weasel! [C.B.]

to frighten an angel or intimidate a Caesar

A final excerpt from Malhiot's journal, written during his time at the fort in Lac du Flambeau. If Malhiot felt that Flambeau Lake was "worthier of the name of swamp," I can only imagine that he would have felt much the same about the Manitowish Waters chain!

Voyageurs at Dawn, Frances Ann Hopkins, 1871
[O]f all the spots and places I have seen in my thirteen years’ of travels, this is the most horrid and most sterile. The Portage road is truly that to heaven because it is narrow, full of overturned trees, obstacles, thorns, and muskegs. Men who go over it loaded and who are obliged to carry baggage over it, certainly deserve to be called “men.”

This vile portage is inhabited solely by owls, because no other animal could find a living there, and the hoots of those solitary birds are enough to frighten an angel or intimidate a Caesar.

As to Lac du Flambeau it is worthier of the name of swamp than of lake and at this season it would be easier to catch bullfrogs in the nets than fish. I have had the nets set three times since my arrival without catching a fish. Today I am sending Gauthier to cast his nets in another lake; perhaps we shall get some crawfish. With regard to the river I will never call it anything but a small stream, because in many places a mouse could cross it without wetting its belly. All the Savages I have seen so far seemed to me to be good providers; another time, when I shall have seen them all, I will speak of them more at length.
Next time you hop on your pontoon or climb in a canoe, think of those wiry Voyageurs paddling across the lakes and struggling on the narrow portage trails in between, carrying 90 pounds of gear. Monsieur Malhiot, suffering from toothache. The so-called Savages, whose culture we have at last learned to respect. The 200 years that separate us is not, in the scheme of things, so very far. It certainly puts our lifestyles in perspective!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

visit the past

Intrigued by the idea of what it might have been like to live at the time of Malhiot and others? Check out impressive Fort William in Thunder Bay, Ontario, where the original North West Company trading post has been recreated and is alive with reenactors and historically accurate surroundings!

Malhiot's arrival in Lac du Flambeau

Ever wonder what it might be like to travel to our area 200+ years ago? Read on for Francois Victor Malhiot's account of his journey to Lac du Flambeau in July 1804.

Quetico Superior route, passing a waterfall, Frances Anne Hopkins
Hopkins painted herself into some of her pieces -- see her in the middle wearing a blue hat
Keep in mind that just getting to La Pointe was a journey in itself, requiring Malhiot to traverse Lake Superior. He started out from Kaministiquia, now known as Fort William, in present-day Ontario. It took him 11 days to reach La Pointe on Madeline Island, and several more to reach the mouth of the Bad River, where he begins the following journal entry:
27th Friday. Our people from Lac du Flambeau, Tremble Martineau, and Le Beau, arrived here at six o’clock yesterday evening with their baggage, decided to go on to Mr Cadotte at la Pointe if they had not found another clerk to replace Gauthier.

They are thin and emaciated like real skeletons. They say they were more ill-treated than ever by Gauthier; that half the time they had nothing to eat, while he is resolved to go and work for the XY if he is replaced by another; further, that he has sworn to kill Raciot for having written against him, and that there would be murder before he left Lac du Flambeau; that he is resolved to pull up all the clearings, that is to say the potatoes and corn he had planted or caused to be planted; finally, that he is like a wild beast, and not a day passes without his swearing, storming, and inveighing against those who wintered with him last year. He has got only three packs of furs at the most, besides one he traded for his own goods.

I will not undertake the portage today because these men from the interior aska day’s rest. How weak they are!! I gave each of them a drink of shrub, two double handfuls of flour, and two pounds of pork and they began to eat with such avidity that I was twice obliged to take the dish away from them, and, notwithstanding this, I feared for a long while that injurious consequences would result; fortunately they all escaped with slight twinges of colic.

28th Saturday. I started this morning from Lake Superior with seven of my men to proceed at once to Lac du Flambeau. I took with me a bale of merchandize, a roll of tobacco, 20 pounds of shot, 20 pounds of bullets, three quarters of a sack of corn, a barrel of rum double strength, and all my baggage. Today we did forty pauses. I left the remainder of my things under the care and charge of Racicot. Durocher, who has been poisoned with poison-ivy, is also with him; otherwise he would have come with me with a load. My toothache is beginning again as bad as ever. I gave my people a small drink of shrub.

29th Sunday. Today we did only 20 pauses because I suffered too much from my toothache last night, and had to get my head sweated this morning which soothed the pain a little. It is now 4 o’clock in the afternoon and we are camping because several of the men are complaining greatly of pains in their legs and it is necessary to spare them. My toothache is a little better than it was in the morning. I feel weak at times, owing to my being unable to take any food. I gave my men a drink of shrub.

31st Tuesday. We started at seven o’clock this morning and at last, at one o’clock in the afternoon, we reached the end of the Portage; the people were somewhat tired, and Bourbon had severe pains in his legs. I sent them at once to get the canoes that were cached, to have them gummed, and I made them make paddles so as to be able to start tomorrow morning.
August 2nd Thursday. I started at 4 o’clock this morning and arrived here at Fort du Flambeau at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. I found Gauthier quite disconcerted, trembling, and not knowing what to say. I read him the letter from Mr William McGillivray which frightened him still more and made him shed tears. I gave him all the messages from Mr McGillivray and Mr Sayer, remonstrated with him in every way, after which he admitted his errors.

Malhiot's journal is sourced from Digital Time Travelers.

a glimpse into Manitowish Waters during the fur trade

Most of us are familiar with the Voyageurs, those intrepid French and French Canadians who traversed most of North America by canoes that they carried on their shoulders over long-distance portages. From the late 1600s to the 1800s, the "fur trade" boomed in North America and depended on these hardy men to see it through.
Shooting the Rapids, Frances Anne Hopkins
A Voyageur canoe in action!
Wisconsin, ribboned by rivers and fronting Lake Superior, formed an important part of the route. Place names reflect their presence -- Jacques Marquette being the most famous for having founded Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan/Ontario. On the Bayfield Peninsula's Madeline Island (so named by the French), the town La Pointe was the main route by which the Voyageurs accessed the interior of northern Wisconsin, taking "la Mauvaise riviere" (the Bad River) down to none other than Lac du Flambeau. Seen from this perspective, it is perhaps no surprise that the resort area of Manitowish Waters/Spider Lake once belonged to the Lac du Flambeau township.

In the winter of 1804-05, Francois Victor Malhiot was sent to Lac du Flambeau to investigate the complaints of the local clerk, Charles Gauthier.

Malhiot's journal survives. Complete with references to "the Savages" and unending complaint of toothache (we must remind ourselves that 19th century dental care left something to be desired), it is a fascinating document reflecting the concerns of the time. Read the complete document at Digital Time Traveler, or peruse some excerpts below and to follow.

A little background on Malhiot, from the footnotes:

Francois Victor Malhiot was a French-Canadian of good family, the "son of a respectable gentleman, rich in sentiment and honor." Two of his brothers were known in the service of their country-Lieut.-Col. Pierre Ignace Malhiot, who entered the army and served in Canada, and Hon. Xavier Malhiot, representative in the Canadian parliament, who died at Boucherville in 1855. Francois was born in 1776, being scarcely fifteen years of age when he became an articled clerk to the North West Company. At the time of Malhiot apprenticeship, the young clerks were required to serve five years for their expenses and £100. Since Malhiot speaks of thirteen years of traveling and eleven years of wintering, it is possible that he spent two years in coming to the upper country for the summers only, serving in the Montreal house during the winters. It is probable that his experiences were in many ways comparable to those of Gurdon Hubbard of Chicago, who has described in his Autobiography the life of a fur-trade apprentice some twenty-five years later (1818-23).

In 1796, Malhiot received his appointment to the upper Red River department, where apparently he remained for eight years, and where in 1799 his annual salary was £240. His was the department of Assiniboine River, which unites with Red River of the North at Winnipeg; and Malhiot was under John MacDonnell, wintering partner of the North West Company (1796-1815). The principal fort was on River Quappelle, with several subsidiary posts. See MacDonnells journal in Masson, Bourgeois, i, pp. 267-295.

At the summer meeting of the partners in 1804, it was decided to promote Malhiot and send him to take charge of a post to the south of Lake Superior [Lac du Flambeau], where complaints of the clerk in charge, Charles Gauthier, seemed of sufficient importance to make some change necessary. Malhiots experiences during the succeeding winter are here related by himself. He repaired and rebuilt the post, and his reports were sufficiently promising to cause his return to the same place for the next year, and apparently for the succeeding one.

In 1807, having become tired of the fur-trade, Malhiot determined to retire, and resigned his position with the company. During his residence in the interior he had, in the fashion of the country, married an Indian woman. This occurred August 8, 1800, at the fort at the mouth of Winnipeg River. See Daniel W. Harmon, Journal of Vayages and Travels (Andover, 1820), p. 49. "This evening," he says, "Mons. Mayotte [Malhiot] took a woman of this country for a wife, or rather concubine." Upon leaving the interior, Malhiot left his Indian wife with her own people, but took with him his half-breed son, Francois Xavier Ignace (named apparently for himself and his own two brothers). Settling at Contrevcoeur he educated his son, and lived there until his death in 1840.

Malhiot was familiarly known to his relatives and intimates as Erambert. He was a cousin of Jacques Porlier of Green Bay, and for a short tie after his return from the Northwest, lived with the latters maiden sisters at Verche`res. He is frequently mentioned in the family letters, and several letters from him to Portlier are in the Wisconsin Historical Library; i.e., Wisconsin MSS., 3B28, 4B52, 13B42, 2C57, 90. ED.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Remembering when... Manitowish Waters was in its infancy

More memories of Manitowish Waters in the old days abound, as cataloged by Jean Rein in a July 10, 1998 Lakeland Times article, excerpted below. Inspired by an evening presentation that Ruth Dickerson Gardner gave at the Koller Library, Rein delves into the history of our area.
In 1889 [Ruth] Gardner's great-grandparents Susanne and Henry Levi LaPorte arrived as loggers, settling in Manitowish, near what is now Murray's Landing on the Turtle [Flambeau] Flowage. ...

More important than knowing the chronology of events, Gardner believes, is understanding what life was like during these eras, and feeling the adventurous spirit that brought these people to a rugged wilderness where they worked extremely hard for many years to achieve their dreams. [...]

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Excerpted from "History..." by Michael J. Dunn, III, in an old chamber of commerce booklet. Though  not especially politically correct, this article does contain a few interesting tidbits in "poetical" style -- read on!

The Native Americans apparently visited a site on Manitowish Lake, location unspecified: "The Indians had an age-old gathering place on the eastern shore of Manitowish Lake. Here they met to trade, to distribute funds from Federal paymasters, to bury their dead."

Dunn turns more reliably to "white man history":

The story of early Manitowish Waters rings with the names of colorful settlers and personalities. Abe LaFave, who settled in 1888 and became the predecessor of the resort trade that is now the lifeblood of our community; long gone is the island lodge he built on Island Lake as the first tourist accommodation in the area, but on the shores of that same lake his family today continues the tradition of resort keeping he originated. Dan Devine, who raised a family on Clear Lake, whence he paddled each summer on a month-long canoe journey to Madeline Island in Lake Superior to sell his furs. Peter Vance, a timber cruiser who came here in the 1880s and lies now in our cemetery, his grave marked by a stone recording his hundred years and his pioneer status. Stephan Stewart, once a Yankee soldier in the Civil War, who ... surveyed for a timber company dam[.]

Thursday, June 7, 2012

come on by

Swing by the library to view the coat Carl Christensen wore when he was shot by Baby Face Nelson, on display in our foyer!

Carl Christensen was the Manitowish Waters (then Spider Lake) town constable in 1934, when the FBI tracked down John Dillinger and his gang at Little Bohemia. Carl took place in the resulting shoot-out, having been asked to accompany several FBI officers to the scene. They had just driven up in their car when Baby Face Nelson, driving out, shot and killed one officer, wounding Carl and the other. Carl was subsequently hospitalized for his eight bullet wounds and received federal funding to cover his medical bills.

It is perhaps no surprise that Carl's scrapbook, in our possession, contains the grim images showing Dillinger's and Nelson's bodies in the mortuary after they were later tracked down by the FBI (and successfully killed). Though I must confess my initial distaste at these photos, it struck me that Carl had a simple reason to want them in his scrapbook. The men who had threatened his life -- who could so easily have killed him -- were now dead. They could never trouble him again. There must have been a reassuring finality in such images.

Such things serve as a reminder that the "Dillinger days" are not fiction. Real people lived in those times: experienced real fear: died real deaths. When we visit Little Bohemia to see the scene of this shoot-out, we must remember this, and though we all enjoy the exciting nature of the stories told, it must be said that not one of us would have wanted to be there on the night of April 22, 1934.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

the making of the library: original town board documents

Report of the Committee
to the Town Board of Manitowish Waters

August 27, 1985

l. Creation of the Library Committee and its original mandate:
At the regular, annual town meeting of Tuesday, April 9, 1985, the assembled voters present voted to create a Library Committee. The official minutes of said meeting record : ". . .that a committee be formed to look into a library.” The committee as presently constituted (below) has interpreted that mandate to mean that this committee should serve as a preliminary study committee, with responsibility for bringing recommendations concerning the establishment and construction of a town library to the town board, and through said board to the citizenry of Manitowish Waters.
          The minutes of the April 9, 1985 meeting also show that "Chairman Olesen appointed Rev. Hall as chairman, Helen Townsend, Betty Skrobot and Toby Hyland —the report to be given at the budget meeting in Nov.” The Library Committee has duly functioned with that membership, and feels prepared to make at least its initial report and recommendations to Town Board at this time.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Names Carved in Stone, 2

Joseph Kullick: 1878-1915

Mike Sullivan: 1869(?) - 1940

Mother: Nelda St. Pierre 1876-1941

Husband Paul W. Lange: Aug. 2, 1877 -- Mar. 27, 1954

Thomas R. Ferris Died June, 1942

Thursday, April 19, 2012

names carved in stone

Edward James, 1865-1943

Stenback: Olga W. 1886-1961 and Frank S. 1889-1947

Charles H. Lockerman Wisconsin Sgt. O.M. Corps June 13, 1937

Wife Minnie Lange Feb. 15, 1866 - Jan. 5, 1941

"Spider Lake" town directory, 1938

Who lived in Manitowish Waters (then called Spider Lake) in the year 1938? Read on to find out!*

Spider Lake, Wisconsin 1938 Directory

Andrews Gordon (Alice) Manitowish caretaker
Red Wood Point H Joseph

Bazso George (Mabel) Manitowish clerk Hansons Hdw P Hanson
Belter Ben H (Maude) Manitowish resort owner
Bernard Josephine (widow) Manitowish tavern keeper
Bey Frank (Hilda) Manitowish electrical shop
Brown Frank (Maraget) Manitowish laborer day

Campbell Julia (widow) Manitowish housework A I, Mayer
Cass Theresa (widow) Manitowish housework H B Hull
Christensen Carl C (Ann) Manitowish tavern keeper

De Woody Helen student
De Woody Loren in Navy,
De Woody L R Manitowish resort keeper
DeVine Dan (Elizabeth) guide resorts
Dooley Bert R (Cecilia) Manitowish guide
Durant Wentworth T (Katherine) Manitowish lawyer

Ferris Thomas (Susanna) Manitowish slot machines

Haakenson John (Esther) Manitowish resort keeper
Hanson Palmer C (Mildred) Manitowish contractor building
Haskin Thos (Mary) Manitowish laborer
Hayes Clarence (Ola) Manitowish caretaker Northwood Lodge Roy Jorgeson Heenan
Hugh (Pearl) Manitowish laborer
Heidemann Gus Manitowish resort keeper
Heim Walter (Myrtle) Manitowish bartender Belters Island B H Belter
Howe Robert S Manitowish retired
Hull Harry B (Maraget) Manitowish retired

Ilg Joe (Lenora) Manitowish resort keeper
Ilg Joe Jr. (single)
Ilg Robert (single) forest service South Dakota
Ilg, Vivian (single) Chicago office work Chicago

Jasniak August (Louise) Chicago laborer
Johnson Loraine (widow of W H) caretaker Dam
JOHNSON MAUDE (widow of Albert) resort owner
Johnson Robert (single) Manitowish electrical hlpr Frank Bey

Kirback Peter (widower) Manitowish retired
Kjir Henry (single) Manitowish carpenter
Knopp Frank (Maraget) Manitowish carpenter
KOERNER ALVIN (Lorraine) Manitowish resort owner
KOERNER T J (Marie) Manitowish resort owner
Kudrnacek Steve (single) Manitowish caretaker Seven Gables W T Durant
Kuhnert Henry A (Sophie) Manitowish hotel owner

Lang Paul W (Minnie) Manitowish resort owner
La Porte George (Anna) Manitowish store keeper
La Porte Neal (Eva) Manitowish store keeper
La Porte Susan (widow of Henry)
Larsen Jens (Lenora) Manitowish guide resorts
Leach L M (Lillian) Manitowish camp owner
LeVigne Joe (widower of Minnie) guide resorts
Loveless Dolly (single) Manitowish housework Milwaukee
Loveless Robert (Hilda) Manitowish tavern keeper
Ludsin Peter (single) Manitowish carpenter

Mayer A E (Maraget) Manitowish retired
McSweeney Bert (single) Manitowish caretaker Olivida C S Smith
Mehl Mae R (widow) Manitowish retired
Miller Christ (Ella) Manitowish pensioned
Mitchell Ed J (Annie) Manitowish resort owner
Mussati Adolph (Viola) Manitowish bartender Northern Lights H Kuhnert

Nichols Chas B Jr (Katherine) Manitowish resort owner

Oestricb Otto (Clara) Manitowish contractor stone mason
Olson John K (Bertha) Manitowish laborer

Pepowski Chas (Marie) Manitowish bartender Birchwood H A Voss
Perkins Earl R (Harriet) Manitowish pensioned
Peterson William (single) student
Powell Ethel (single) Manitowish resort keeper

Rayola Chas (Lilian) Manitowish laborer
Reinert Chas single Manitowish caretaker Twin Pines C Tialacker
Roe Irwin L (Annie) Manitowish carpenter

Schroeder Louis C (Ida) Manitowish resort owner
Schroeder Katherine (single) Manitowish home girl
Seppela Arvid Manitowish laborer
Seybold George (single) Manitowish caretaker A E Spiegel
Startz Joe single Manitowish home
Startz Myrtle (widow of Peter) Manitowish resort owner (Y)
St Pierre Ossie (Ann) Manitowish pensioned
Strang id (single) caretaker W W Alwort
Sullivan Michael (single) caretaker H G Pierle

Theriault Romey (Francis) Manitowish caretaker Rest Haven C W Nash
Tialacker Carl (Minnie) Manitowish tavern keeper

Vance Peter (widower) Manitowish pensioned
Versau Don (Grace) Manitowish mail carrier,
Voelzke Francis (widow of Ed) Manitowish resort owner
Voss Audrey (single) Madison Wis saleslady
VOSS HENRY A (Ruth) Manitowish Resort Owner Birchwood Lodge
Voss Lloyd (Carol) Manitowish resort owner

Walasek Frank Manitowish store keeper
WANATKA EMIL Manitowish Resort Owner Little Bohemia
Wanatka Nancy Manitowish
Williamson Peter (single) Manitowish resort owner
WIN-MAR THE Manitowish Specialty Store on 51 at Da
Wallen Godfrey Powell guide
Whitman John W (Mary) Park Falls R R farmer
Wilbecker Arthur Powell Bear River Camp Resort
Wilbecker William Powell Bear River Camp Resort

Young Charles (Elizabeth) Park Falls Big Muskie Lodge Self
YOUNG WINNIE (widow) Manitowish Store Keeper

ZIMMERMAN MARIE (single) Manitowish Store Keeper

*Please excuse any misspellings and errors -- if you notice some, please let us know!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lunch at Boney's Mound

A great source on local history comes from Ruth Dickerson Gardner of Voss' Resort. Besides her personal knowledge and stories, Ruth has produced a book, Lunch at Boney's Mound: A Portrait of Family and Friends, as well as several films -- all of which are available at the Koller Library. The book is not readily found outside our local area, but please find the Amazon page here. The films, respectively titled Voss'...the First 100 Years and Generations, can most easily be found at our library.

These works have been produced with great affection for Ruth's family and for the area, as well as a reverence for our northern Wisconsin history. As she eloquently puts it in her introduction to Lunch at Boney's Mound:
This is the story of these people who sought the peace and solitude of Boney's Mound and the rest that came before...these loggers, farmers, hunters, trappers, and guides; raw-boned and rugged as the land itself.

It is the story of my family, myself; of all of us who cherish this land we have inherited. It would be a sad loss to forget those who have carved the way for us; passed into our care this beautiful piece of Paradise.

Their strength and determination should hearten us and their imperfections, warm our souls.

low in the grave he lay

Our blog regulars may recall the posts we put up on Daniel Divine (or Devine), an early settler in the area. A recent photo of his gravestone has come in, as well as data on Dan from the U.S. Census in 1900.

Dan Divine's gravestone

His gravestone reads: Daniel Divine, 1 Sgt. Co. C 23 Wis. Inf., memorializing his service in the Civil War.

Additional information (via AncestryLibrary.com and rewritten here for easier reading) on Dan's statistics:

Name: Daniel Devine
Age: 61
Birth Date: Jul 1838
Birthplace: Ireland
Home in 1900: Minocqua, Vilas, Wisconsin [Vilas]
Race: White
Gender: Male
Immigration Year: 1848 [1843]
Relation to head of house: Head
Marital Status: Married
Spouse's Name: Kate Devine
Marriage Year: 1879
Years Married: 21
Father's Birthplace: Ireland
Mother's Birthplace: Ireland
Occupation: [blank]
Household Members: by name and age
  • Daniel Devine, 61
  • Kate Devine, 55
  • James Devine, 16
  • Paul Devine, 9
  • Hillie Devine, 1
Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census place: Minocqua, Vilas, Wisconsin; Roll: T623; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 188.
 A U.S. Civil War Record is also available for Dan. (Information from AncestryLibrary, retyped here for easier reading.)
Name: Daniel Devine
Residence: Lewiston, Wisconsin
Enlistment Date: 13 Aug 1862
Rank at enlistment: 1st Sergt
State Served: Wisconsin
Was Wounded?: Yes
Survived the War?: Yes
Service Record: Enlisted in Company C. Wisconsin 23rd Infantry Regiment on 13 Aug 1862. Mustered out on 12 May 1865.
Sources: Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers: War of the Rebellion
An even earlier census record, from 1860, suggests Dan's whereabouts before the war began. Looks like he was the oldest of six siblings!
Name: Daniel Devine
Age in 1860: 25
Birth Year: abt 1835
Birthplace: Ireland
Home in 1860: Lewiston, Columbia, Wisconsin
Gender: Male
Value of real estate: [blank]
Household members (by name and age)
  • James Devine, 48
  • Lizzie Devine, 43
  • Daniel Devine, 25
  • Abia Devine, 20
  • James Devine, 16
  • Thomas Devine, 12
  • Lizzie Devine, 10
  • Mary Devine, 5
 To check all this fascinating info out on your own, visit AncestryLibrary.com!