Early History of St. Croix County
(Taken from "History of the St. Croix Valley", published in 1909)
At the state election held November 1, 1848, there were one hundred and fifteen votes cast in the county of St. Croix for electors for president and vice president, Zachary Taylor, Martin Van Buren and Lewis Cass being candidates that year. The first officers elected under the state legislature by the legal voters of the then existing St. Croix County were as follows: A. Hayatt Smith, member of Congress; E. E. Williams, superintendent of schools for the state; and James Fisher, state senator. For member of assembly, Joseph R. Brown; county commissioners, W. H. C. Morse, Harmon Crandall and Ammah Andrews; county clerk, W. Richardson; register of deeds, W. R. Anderson; judge of probate, A. D. Heaton; coroner, W. O. Mahoney; county treasurer, Philip Aldrich; surveyor of logs and lumber, A. S. Youle; assessors, Geo. W. McMurphy, O. Weymouth and M. V. Nobles; road supervisors, Edward Worth, H. Crandall, Moses Perrin and L. M. Hamsberger; collector, Geo. W. McMurphy, the Mouth of St. Croix precinct; W. Thingand I. R. Rice, justices of the peace; A. Cornelieson and L. M. Harnsberger, constables. At Willow River precinct, justice of the peace, Philip Aldrich and E. R. Steves; constables, J. McKnight and P. F. Bouchea; Osceola and Falls of St. Croix precinct, John Davis, Andrew Kelley and S. S. Crowell, justices; R. H . Hughes, John Weymouth and Geo. E. Deathey, constables. Three licenses were granted that year: F. Larpenter, mouth of St. Croix store; Geo. Field at the Falls of St. Croix; M. M. Samuels, at the Falls of the St. Croix tavern. At the same election in the representative district of St. Croix and La Pointe fifty-three votes were cast for member of the assembly; W. R. Marshall received thirty-four.
At a meeting of the county commissioners held at the house of Philip Aldrich the first Monday in January, 1849, a license was granted to Philip Aldrich to run a ferry across Lake St. Croix at a point any place on the northwest half of section twenty-five, south of Walnut street, it being the south boundary of the present plat of the village of Buena Vista. The rates to be charged for ferriage were regulated by the law as follows: Footman twenty-five cents, horse and rider seventy-five cents, horse, driver and single buggy one dollar, one span of horses with wagon or buggy one dollar and twenty-five cents, wagon with four horses or wagon with four oxen and driver one dollar and fifty cents; horned cattle, mules or horses, twenty-five cents each; sheep or swine, twelved and a half cents each; lumber, for one thousand feet, thirty-seven and a half cents;; all kinds of freight, eight cents per hundred pounds.
At a meeting of the board at the house of Philip Aldrich, February 28, 1849, the county of St. Croix was divided into towns as follows: All that portion of the county lying north of the south boundary of township No. 28 north, and south of the line between No. 28 north, and south of the line between Nos. 30 and 31, shall comprise one town, named Buena Vista; and all that portion of the county lying north of the south boundary of township 31 north, shall compose one town, called Falls of St. Croix; all that portion of the county lying south of the line between township Nos. 27 and 28 north, shall compose a town to be known by the name of Elizabeth.
At the same meeting it was voted to purchase a lot of ground for county purposes lying due east of block No. 3 of the original plat of Buena Vista, containing one acre from Moses Perrin, receiving from said Moses Perrin a bond for a deed, the conditions of which were that the county commissioners or their successors in office pay or cause to be paid to said Perrin, on or before March 1, 1850 the sum of $53.50.
Also voted that the first town meeting shall be held in the several towns, viz: The town of Elizabeth, at the house of Freeman Larpenter; the town of Buena Vista, at the house of Philip Aldrich; the town of Falls of St. Croix, at the house of J. McLaughlin.
The result of the first county election by towns, at which ninety votes were cast, was as follows: Sheriff N. C. D. Taylor; district attorney, S. J. Hewett; county surveyor, R. V. D. Smith; clerk of circuit court, J. D. Ludden.
At a meeting of the county board of supervisors for St. Croix County, held at the house of Philip Aldrich, June 4, 1849, it was voted to authorize the clerk to issue a license to W. H. Moses to run a ferry across Lake St. Croix for the term of three years. He, the said Moses, to comply with the law in such cases made and provided. Also a tax was voted for the current expenses of the present year of 10 mills on the dollar. It was voted at the same meeting that the treasurer proceed against the persons elected to office in the several towns, also county, who failed to qualify at a meeting of the justices and clerk of county board of supervisors, September 17, 1849, to canvass the vote for county judge at the election held September 3. Ninety-one votes were canvassed, of which Hamlet H. Perkins received 40, Joel Foster 41, and Bailey F. Baldwin 1.
Hamlet H. Perkins, though elected to the office of county judge, did not fill the position, in consequence of the sad calamity of his death, which happened by drowning during the winter following his election. Mr. Perkins was a lumberman, and had received the support of his class of people at the election. During the winter he broke through the ice while engaged on the river, and thus met an untimely end. Accordingly Governor Dewey, first governor of the state of Wisconsin, made out a commission with an appointment, and sent at once to Mr. Foster, who had received the next largest number of votes at the previous election, by the support of the farmers, to come to Hudson and take charge of the first court. Joel Foster by this means obtained the office and continued to discharge its duties until the separation of Polk and Pierce counties.
At an election held November 6, 1849, the following was the result: Whole number of votes cast, 69; John S. Watrous, member of assembly; Joseph R. Brown, clerk of circuit court; Sylvander Partridge, sheriff; D. N. Johnson, prosecuting attorney; Alex S. Youle, surveyor of logs and lumber. At a special meeting called at the house of Philip Aldrich, May 25, 1850, it was voted to appoint James Hough district attorney in place of D. N. Johnson, resigned; also John O. Henning, county surveyor. In view of the fact that there was no suitable place for holding court and for other county purposes, it was voted that a committee be appointed to make arrangements for a suitable building for such purposes, also for the confinement of county prisoners. The committee appointed was James Hughes and J. M. Bailey.
At an election held the first Monday in July, 1850, for the election of judge for the Sixth judicial district, 130 votes were cast, of which Wiram Knowlton received seventy-four. At an election held November 5, 1850, the following was the result: 152 votes cast; Benjamin C. Eastman, member of congress; Joseph R. Brown, senator; John O. Henning, member of assembly; W. R. Anderson, register of deeds; W. R. Anderson county surveyor; James M. Bailey, clerk county board of commissioners; W. H. Simmes, district attorney; James Purinton, coroner; J. W. Jones, county treasurer; James Hughes, surveyor of logs and lumber.
In 1850 the value of real estate and personal property in three towns and one village, which composed the county of St. Croix was: Elizabeth town, 522 acres of land, assessed at $3,930; personal property, $11,281; amount of taxes, state and county, $310.31; Buena Vista town, 3,100 acres of land, assessed at $31,765; personal property, $2,430; taxes, $697.56; village of Buena Vista, real estate, 105 lots, assessed at $7,164; personal property, $130; taxes, $148.80; Falls of St. Croix town, 1,531 acres of land, assessed at $19,425; personal property, $83497; taxes, $2,099.61. The population of St. Croix County in 1850 was 624.
At the annual meeting of the county board, held November 15, 1850, Otis Hoyt was fined $50 for non-attendance at the meeting of the board, but the action was rescinded at a subsequent meeting on his making due explanation of the cause of his absence. At a special meeting of the board, held at the courthouse January 15, 1851, a petition was presented by the citizens of Kinnickinnic valley desiring to be set off into a separate town. After due deliberation it was voted to grant said petition, the boundary of said town to be as follows: Beginning at the northwest corner of section 3, in the township 28 north, range 19 west, and running east along said township line to the east boundary of said county; thence south to the line between townships 26 and 27 north; thence west along said line to the center of township 27, range 19; thence north to place of beginning; which town shall be called Kinnickinnic; the first town meeting to be held at the house of Joel Foster. At the same meeting the board voted to erect a building for the use of the county, as a temporary prison. Mr. Ammah Andrews was appointed agent to carry out the same, with specifications given. During the session of the legislature of 1851, John O. Henning prepared a bill, which was passed, changing the name of the town of Buena Visa, and all villages therein, to Willow River; also the village of Elizabeth and town change to Prescott. At a meeting of the county board, held at the village of Willow River, Otis Hoyt was called to the chair. It appeared at this meeting that Ammah Andrews had failed to fulfill his contract with the county to build a jail.
The board voted to rescind said contract, also voted to appoint Daniel Mears to build said jail after different specifications; said jail to be located on the grounds of the county. At an adjourned meeting of the board, held November 13, 1852, a petition was presented, signed by Joseph E. Bonin and others, asking for a new town to be set off from Kinnickinnic, and granted, the boundary of said town to be as follows: Commencing at the northwest corner of section 4, township 28 north, range 17 west; thence east on township line, between townships 28 and 29, north to the eastern boundary of the county; thence down the county line to the township line between the townships 26 and 27 north; thence west along the township line, between the townships 26 and 27 north to the southwest corner of section 33, in the township 27 north, of range 17 west; thence north to the place of beginning; said town to be known by the name of Rush River. It was further ordered that the first town meeting be held at the house of Daniel McCarney. At an adjourned meeting of the board, November 15, it was voted to appropriate $350 to build a jail. At an annual meeting of the county board, held at the office of Joseph Bowron, November 9, 1852, the following petition was presented, signed by Aaron Chase and others, desiring a new town to be set off from the town of Falls of St. Croix. On motion the petition was granted, with the following boundaries, viz: Commencing at the southwest corner of fractional township 31, of range 19; thence east to township line, between 14 and 15; thence north to township line, between 31 and 32; thence east to the east line of St. Croix County; thence north to township line, between 33 and 34; thence west on said lines to St. Croix river; thence down said river to the place of beginning; said town to be known by the name of Leroy. The first town meeting to be held at the house of W. Kent. At the same meeting of the county board a petition was presented by A. Day and others asking that the name of the town of Willow River, and the villages therein contained be changed, to be hereafter known by the name of Hudson. Since the people were dissatisfied with the old name, they voted two to one for the change, after Day had the honor of suggesting the new name. By an act of legislature, March 1853, all that portion of St. Croix county lying south of the line between townships 27 and 28 was set off as Pierce county. By the same act all that portion of St. Croix county lying north of the line between townships 31 and 32 was set off as Polk county, leaving a strip of territory between Polk and Pierce counties twenty-four miles wide and thirty miles long, which was then known as St. Croix county, with seat established at Hudson.
At a special meeting of the board of supervisors called at Hudson, July 2, 1850, with Duncan McGregor in the chair, on motion of Ira Parks, it was voted to annex that portion of the town of Leroy, in St. Croix County, lying between the south line of Polk county and north line of Hudson to the town of Hudson.
At a meeting of the county board held June 15, 1855, it was voted to purchase and adopt a seal for said county board of supervisors, described as follows: C. B. S., St. Croix County Wisconsin, to be used as the seal of the board of supervisors of said county. At a subsequent meeting of the board, held July 28, 1856, a petition was presented by B. C. B. Foster and others asking the organization of a new town to be called Star Prairie; said town to consist of the following described territory: Commencing at the northeast corner of section 1, township 30, range 27 and running west a distance of 188 chains and 40 links; thence north on the east of township 31, range 17, a distance of 482 chains and 10 links; thence west along the north line of township 31, a distance of 960 chains; thence south along the west line of township 31, range 18, a distance of 480 chains; thence east along the south line of township 30 a distance of 125 chains and 67 links; thence south along the west line of township 30, range 18, a distance of 240 chains and 50 links; thence east through the center of township 30, ranges 17 and 18, a distance of 961 chains, and 80 links; thence north along the ast line of township 30, range 17, a distance of 243 chains and 37 links, to place of beginning. That is to say, all of the township 31, ranges 17 and 18, and the north one-half of township 30, ranges 17 and 18; the first town meeting to be held for organization and election of officers at the home of B. C. B. Foster.
At a special meeting of the board, called at the clerks office, September 19, 1850, the following petition was presented from the towns of Rush River and Kinnickinnic, asking of the formation of a new town, with the following boundaries, viz: the east half of township 28, range 18, and the west half of township 28, range 17; said town to be called Pleasant Valley; the first town meeting to be held at the house of Davidson Williams on the fist Monday in October, 1850. A second petition was granted for a new a new town to be called Somerset, comprising the following territory, viz.: Commencing at the northwest corner of the town of Star Prairie, running thence west to the St. Croix river; thence down said river, and Lake St. Croix, to the south line of section 15, township 30, range 20; thence east to the southeast corner of Star Prairie to place of beginning; the meeting for the organization and election of officers to be held at the house of Mr. Chaples, on the first Monday in October. At the same meeting a petition for the organization of the town of Hammond was presented with the following boundaries: All of township 29, ranges 15, 16 and 17. The meeting for the election of officers and the organization of the town was ordered held at the store of George Spaulding.
While the board was in session the question of building a new courthouse was discussed. On motion it was voted to advertise for sealed bids or proposals to build said court house. At a meeting of the board, held October 27, 1856, it was voted to change the boundary line of Kinnickinnic and Pleasant Valley town, by taking from the west end of Pleasant Valley two miles by six, and adding it to the town of Kinnickinnic.
At a meeting of the board, held November 13, 1856, it was voted to award the contract of building the courthouse for St. Croix County to Ammah Andrews on condition that he would build said house according to the proposals now before the board, for $14,300. At an adjourned meeting, held November 14, 1856, it was voted to form a new town from township 28, range 18, said town to be called Dayton; the first meeting for the organization and choice of officers to be held on the first Tuesday in April 1857, at the schoolhouse in District No. 2.
At the same meeting, November 14, 1856, it was voted to add the west half of township 28, range 19, and all that part of the fractional township running to Lake St. Croix, of township 28, range 20, of Hudson to Kinnickinnic. At a meeting of the board, held March 25, 1857, it was voted to change the name of the town of Dayton to Malone. December 9, of the same year, the inhabitants of Erin Prairie presented a petition to the board asking the formation of a new town, with the following boundaries, viz: All of township No. 30, ranges 15 and 16, and the south half of township No. 30, range 17. At the same meeting petitions were presented asking for the formation of a new town with the following boundaries: All of township 30, range 18, to be known as Cold Springs. It was also voted to attach to the town of Star Prairie township 31, ranges 15 and 16; first meeting to be held at the village of Fremont, December 10, 1857. The board voted to change the name of Kinnickinnic to Troy. On motion it was voted to annex the following territory to Erin Prairie, viz. Sections 13, 14, 15, 15, 16, 17 and 18, in township 30, range 17.
At a meeting of the board, held March 10, 1858, a petition was presented by the inhabitants of township 28, ranges 15 and 16, asking for the formation of a new town to be called Brockton; petition granted, but the name was subsequently changed to Eau Galle; the first election to be held at the schoolhouse near Homans.
At a previous meeting the board voted to establish a new town, to be called St. Joseph, with the following boundaries: Commencing at a point on the shore of Lake St. Croix, where the south line of lot No. 1, in the northwest quarter of section 12, township 29, range 20, intersects said lake, and running east on said line to the town line between township 29, range 19, and township 29, range 18; thence north to the center of the east line of township 30, range 19; thence west to the shore of the lake; thence south along said lake shore to place of beginning. At the same meeting it was voted to change the name of the town of Cold Spring to Richmond. At a meeting of the board, held November 25, 1858, it was voted to set off from the town of Hudson the territory embraced in township 29 north, of range 18 west, to be called the town of Warren, the first election to be held at the house of Dr. J. N. Van Slyke, to organize said town.
At a meeting of the county board December 2, 1859, an order was issued to detach sections 1, 2, 11, and 12 of township 30, range 17, from town of Cylon and annex the same to Erin Prairie; also that sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, township 30, range 17, be detached from the town of Star Prairie and annexed to town of Erin Prairie; the order to take effect the first Tuesday in April, 1860. The population of St. Croix county in 1860 was 5,394.
At a meeting of the county board, held June 8, 1860, an act to organize the town of St. Joseph was adopted, viz: All that portion of the late town of St. Joseph, in the township 30, ranges 19 and 20 west, and which was by an act of the legislature approved April 2, 1864, attached to, and made to become a part of the town of Somerset, and all of that portion of said town of St. Joseph, being in township 29, ranges 19 and 20, which was by said act attached to and made to become a part of the town of Hudson, is hereby set off from said town, to which they were so attached, and organized as, and made to constitute a town to be known as St. Joseph; the election for the re-organization to be held at the store of J. R. Brown June 27, 1860. At a meeting of the board, held June 18, 1860, an act was passed attaching the east one-half of township 28, of range 16 west, to the town of Rush River. At a meeting of the board, held June 9, 1860, the following act was passed: That all of township 28 north, range 16 west, is hereby detached from the town of Rush River, and attached to Eau Galle, in said county.
At a meeting of the board, held November 23, 1860, the following act was passed, viz: That sections 1, 2, 11 and 12, township 30, range 17 west, now forming a part of the town of Cylon, be detached from Cylon and attached to the town of Erin Prairie; said act to take effect the first Monday in April, 1861. On the same date the following act was passed: That township 30, ranges 15 and 16, now forming a part of the towns of Erin Prairie and Cylon, be, and is hereby detached from said towns and organized into a new town to be called Emerald; the first election to be held the first Tuesday after the first Monday in April, 1861, at the house of Thomas Ross, in section 20, township 30, range 16.
At a meeting of the board, held November 12, 1861, an act was passed that all of township 29, ranges 15 and 16, now forming a part of the town of Hammond be, and is here by detached from said town and organized into a new town, to be known as Springfield, the first election to be held at the schoolhouse in district number 4, the first Tuesday in April, 1862. At a meeting of the board held December 2, 1864, it was voted to change the name of that portion of St. Croix known as Malone, in township 20, range 18, to Kinnickinnic. At a meeting of the board, held December 30, 1870, the following act was passed: Township 31 north, of range 17 west, of the fourth principal meridian, being a part of Star Prairie, is hereby detached from said town of Star Prairie and formed into a new town, to be known as Stanton; first election to be held the first Tuesday in April, 1870.
St. Croix County contains 127 school districts, all under the supervision of a county superintendent; and the city of Hudson comprises one district, under the supervision of a city superintendent. Of this number four are high school districtsat New Richmond, Glenwood, Baldwin and Hammond. All of these are four-year course free high schools. The high schools at Baldwin and Hammond have only and English course. Baldwin employs six teachers and Hammond five. The high schools at New Richmond and Glenwood have courses in English, German and Latin, and have a professional department for the training of teachers. This has proven a valuable adjunct to the schools, for a large percentage of their graduates take up the work of teaching. New Richmond employs twenty teachers and Glenwood eleven.
Thirteen districts have state graded schools. The following have state graded schools of the first class, employing three teachers: Woodville, Hersey, Wilson, Roberts, North Hudson, Somerset and Deer Park; Houlton, Cylon, Star Prairie, Districts No.s 2 and 4, town of Somerset; district No. 4, town of Glenwood, and District No. 5, town of Glenwood, have state graded schools of the second class, and employ two teachers.
There are 110 rural districts having schools of one department. Four of these do not maintain schools, but send their children to neighboring villages and city schools, transportation being furnished in some instances. Of the remaining 106 districts, eighty six have within the past year, through the untiring efforts of County Superintendent H. A. Aune, been organized into rural schools of the first class, and will under a law passed by the Wisconsin state legislature of 1907 secure special state aid of $50 a year for a period of three yearsthe requirements being that an adequate system of ventilation is provided, and the school otherwise fully equipped with the necessary supply of working tools needed for a successful school being maintained for a period of at least eight months. A number of the remaining twenty districts have taken steps toward having their schools placed on the list of rural schools of the first class next year; and in a very short time every school in the county will undoubtedly be a school of the first class.
The school buildings are on an average of quite modern construction, an are being kept in good repair. Many of the older buildings have been replaced by new ones, and others extensively repaired.
Outside of the city of Hudson, employing about twenty teachers, the St. Croix county schools employ 185 teachers. About one-half of this number have had some professional training in state normal schools; and a large percentage of the remaining number have had training in the professional departments of the high school at New Richmond, Glenwood and Hudson. The city of New Richmond was one of the first in the state to inaugurate a professional, or practical department in its schools. This feature has proven so profitable in training teachers for the rural schools that many of the larger high schools in the state have incorporated the plan into their courses.
County Superintendent Aune conducts regular series of teachers institutes and associations each year, and consequently the teaching force of the county is progressive and ranks among the first in the state in the highly important work of teaching.
A school board convention is called each year by the county superintendent, where from 200 to 300 school board members attend each year. The purpose of these meetings is to discuss matters that are of interest to the schools in general, and as a result of this it has been possible to make the schools of St. Croix county quite uniformly well equipped, and progressive from a modern point of view.
The prevailing school spirit of St. Croix County is one of mutual co-operation, and cannot help but result in an intellectual and moral upbuilding of the present growing and future generations.
Following is the total acreage of various crops raised in St. Croix county in 1908: Wheat, 2,118; corn, 22,698; oats, 74,560; barley, 18,455; rye, 5,086; flaxseed, 3,048 ½; potatoes, 2,575 ½; sugar beets, 48; other crops, 172; apples, 7 ¾, with 1,881 bearing trees; raspberries, 71 1/8; strawberries, 34 ¼; currents, 4; flax, 181; tobacco, 15; hay 53,883; growing timber, 5,446. There are in the county 14,803 milk cows, value $307,885; 15,474 other cattle valued at $163,265; 7,623 horses, valued at $491,573; 12,083 sheep and lambs, valued at $38,523; 6,222 swine, four months and older, valued at $33,497.