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Histories > Eau Claire Co. Historical Accounts

"History of Northern Wisconsin, 1881"


(-as transcribed from pages 295 - 297)

The county of Eau Claire was formally established, with full powers, by an act of the Legislature, approved October 6, 1856. The bill declared the village of Eau Claire to be the county seat. The first election was held in November, 1856. On the second day of January, following, the Board of Supervisors met and organized, with C. M. Seeley, chairman, and Charles F. Babcock, clerk. The other members were M. A. Page, C. M. Robbins and Henry Huntington. The Clerk's office was located in Gleason & Seeley's store. Charles H. Howard was Register of Deeds; William P. Bartlett, District Attorney, and George A. Buffington, Coroner.

In March, 1857, Adin Randall was authorized by the Board to operate a ferry across the Chippewa, the tolls being fixed by the Board. This must have been an opposition line. The town of Half Moon Lake, now embracing the west side of the city, was created at that session. On the 24th of February, 1857, the towns of Bridge Creek and Brunswick were organized. In May, 1857, the Board was augmented by the appearance of Ira Mead, from Half Moon Lake, and G. L. Frizsel, of Brunswick.

November 17, 1857, the County Board of Supervisors was re-organized. Ira Mead, chairman, and Charles Whipple, clerk, pro tem. For assessment purposes, the land for the whole county was equalized at $3.12½ per acre. The sum raised that year for school purposes was: Eau Claire Township, $100; Half Moon Lake, $150; Brunswick and Bridge Creek, $50 each. This item shows the relative size of the towns at that early period in their history.

An extra session of the legislature, of Wisconsin, in 1856, had set from Chippewa County the counties of Dunn and Eau Claire, though still attached to that county, however, for judicial purposes for one year, so that there were no judicial offices for the county until the next year, when Ira Mead was elected Judge. The first Sheriff of the county was Moses A. Page; Under Sheriff, A. S. Bostwick.

In 1858, the counties of Clark, Chippewa and Dunn were in one assembly district, having been so apportioned before Eau Claire was created a county. In 1858, Lucius Cannon represented the district; 1859. Richard Dewhurst, of Neillsville; 1860, William P. Bartlett, Eau Claire; 1861, Rodman Palmer, Chippewa Falls; 1862, H. W. Barnes, Eau Claire ; 1863, William H. Smith, Eau Galle ; 1864, Thad. C. Pound, Chippewa Falls; 1865, Francis R. Church, Menomomie; 1866, Thad. C. Pound; in 1873, J. G. Thorp was a Senator, and William P. Bartlett, of Eau Claire, an Assemblyman; in 1874, H. P. Graham, of Eau Claire, was in the Senate, and Thomas Carmichael, of the same place, an Assemblyman; 1875, Mr. Graham of course held over; Jonathan G. Callahan was in the lower house; in 1876, Hobart M. Stocking carried off the Assembly honors; in 1877, Thomas Carmichael was sent to the State capital; Julius G. Ingram represented this district in 1878, and was returned the next year; in 1880, Michael Griffin was Senator from Eau Claire, Ira B. Bradford, of Augusta, was elected to the Assembly. The Senatorial District being large, the choice of a Senator has not fallen upon Eau Claire every year.

There is comparatively little of public interest in the doings of the county government. Every thing was to be done in the matter of erecting public buildings, and getting the county machinery in motion. At one time there was North Eau Claire, since absorbed into the city. The town of Lincoln was organized as Fall Creek, and Pleasant Valley started its individuality as Machias. Oak Grove appears as a township, but in connection with West Eau Claire it was transformed into Union.

The Judicial Circuit, in which Eau Claire is associated is composed of Buffalo, Dunn, Pepin, Pierce, St. Croix and Eau Claire. Egbert G. Bundy, is the judge at present. The judge on the bench at the creation of Eau Claire County was Judge Fuller.

The first school-house was on the Sparta road in the Olin and Bebee neighborhood, in the Fall of 1857.

The Court-House .-- This building was erected in 1873. Judge Bartlett had general supervision of its erection. The structure is of stone and well adapted to its purpose. It includes a jail in the basement, and a room for female prisoners in the second story. The question as to the location of the court-house excited a lively discussion, conflicting interests, which are usually overestimated, entered largely into the contest. On Monday, Nov. 20, 1871, the first public meeting was held to decide the questions of the location of the county buildings, and that of organizing the village Eau Claire, which resulted in a satisfactory of location of the one and the organization of the other.

It was only in 1850 that men began to take up farms, and from that time there has been a steady increase of farm products.

In 1879 there was raised:
Wheat       38,541 bushels.
Corn          73,411    "
Oats          12,801    "
Barley            762    "
Rye               868    "
Potatoes        666    "
Add to this showing the stock, vegetables and dairy products, and there is a respectable aggregate.

The county is a regular parallelogram, the greater length being from east to west. It is composed of the following named towns: Union, Eau Claire, Seymour, Ludington, Brunswick, Washington, Lincoln, Bridge Creek, Drammen, Pleasant Valley, Otter Creek and Fairchild. Only the towns of Drammen and Fairchild are identical in size and shape with a township of government survey.

Brunswick, bounded by the Eau Claire River on the north, has about the same number of acres.

The town of Seymour is twelve miles long and three wide, having of course the same amount of territory as one six miles square.

Eau Claire Township is the smallest in the county, having but a little more than sixteen square miles - not quite half the size of a government town.

Bridge Creek is a large township; it contains 106½ square miles, nearly three regular townships.

Ludington is sixteen miles from east to west, six miles wide, and has ninety-four square miles.

Pleasant Valley represents a whole township, on the northwest and southeast, respectively, seventy-two square miles.

Washington has sixty-six square miles, is rectangular, but irregular in outline.

Otter Creek has a length of nine miles and a width of six, with fifty-four square miles.

Lincoln has an irregular outline on the north, is nine miles in the longest part from north to south, and eight from east to west, and has a little over sixty square miles.

Union is nearly the size of a regular township, having thirty-four square miles.

As the towns fill up with inhabitants, they will be divided to meet the requirements of the various localities.

The whole county contains 648 square miles, 414,720 acres.  The length from east to west is thirty-six miles, and from north to south eighteen miles.

There is a large amount of good faming land in the county.  It is well settled from Fall Creek to below Augusta on the railroad.  Otter Creek has splendid farms all over its territory.  Bridge Creek and Lincoln are good farming towns.  Washington is also quite a good town. Ludington has hard wood timber in abundance.  A large part of the west center of the town is the great maple sugar region. Pleasant Valley has good but light land.

The post-offices in the county are:  Eau Claire, Augusta, Otter Creek, Fairchild, Fall Creek, Nooks Hill, Norseville and Hadleyville.

The total debt of the county is only $43,000.

The value of real estate as fixed by the State Board in 1880, was $5,079,086.

The State tax for the county in 1879, was $5,258.42.  Total town, city and village taxes $121,322.06.  Of this amount $35,327.07 was for school purposes.

The State tax for the county in 1880, was $9,085.21.  

The population of Eau Claire County, according to the Federal and State census, was;  In 1860, 3,162; 1865, 5,281; 1870, 10, 769; 1875, 15,991; 1880, 19, 992.  A larger proportion than in many Wisconsin counties are natives, there being of this class 13,501, and 6,491 foreigners, and 25 colored.

The census, of 1880, showed:

        Eau Claire                    10,118
        Bridge Creek                  1,894
        Brunswick                        898
        Drammen                         401
        Fairchild                           887
        Ludington & Seymour        727
        Lincoln                          1,481
        Otter Creek                   1,060
        Pleasant Valley                941
        Union                              631
        Washington                     954

Total Towns                           9,847

In whole County                    19,992

The present county officers are:  County Judge, George C. Teall; Clerk of Court, M. B. Hubbard; Sheriff, A. W. Munger; County Clerk, L. P. Hotchkiss; Treasurer, S. H. Wilcox; Register of Deeds, L. E. Strum; Coroner, W. H. Willard.

There have been but five judges on the county bench since its organization.  They were elected and served in the following order:  Ira Mead, John E. Stillman, H. W. Barnes, George C. Teall, A. C. Ellis, and George C. Teall again, the present incumbent.

Eau Claire County was not represented in the State Legislature until, when, it having been associated with Chippewa and Dunn counties as an Assembly District, it was represented in the Assembly by William H. Smith, of Eau Galle.

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