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"History of Eau Claire County Wisconsin, 1914, Past and Present"


Chapter 46

Fall Creek

(-as transcribed from pages 619 - 622)

The following is a paper sent to Reinhold Liebau by Mr. Zempel, of Fall Creek, and as far as known was written by some member of his family.

"History is a regular record of events arranged in chronological order.  A very large part of school time during the first eight years is used in studying United States history, but little attention is paid to the story of our state's achievments, and we possess almost no knowledge of our pioneer father's trouble while laying the foundation for what is now the prosperous and wholesome little village of Fall Creek.  George Washington, it is true, was a great patriot and has attained an enviable place in our history as a sturdy pioneer, but so was Christopher Zimmerman.  We revel in tales of frontier hardihood and our blood is thrilled by the recital of the deeds of Boone, Clark and Whitman, while they were winning homes from wildest nature and transforming the wooded slopes into peaceful valleys.  Did you ever stop to think that just such was the duty of Arthur Buck, Henry Horel and Jefferson Scott?  So it will be my pleasure to call you back to some slight recognition of the fact that all things were not always as we know them, but that our security and comfort has come to us out of the hardships and struggles of many that were once well known but are now likely forgotten. The first settlers came here in 1850; Christopher Zimmerman cleared the first land in our vicinity.  The early comers were Jim and Richard Horel, George Randall, Daniel Muenchow, J. M. Shong, Joseph Lindenthaler, Fred Keading and Daniel Zempel.  They did not come in carriages before which pranced sleek and well fed horses, but in canvas covered wagons drawn by a team of oxen.  These settlers did not build houses upon their arrival but dug holes in the side of hills and covered them with twigs or lived under their wagons.  Next they cleared land in order to make the start for a small farm.  This was very slow work and took a long time.  After the land was cleared it had to be plowed or broken.  The grain was not sowed or cut by machinery, but instead it was sown by hand and cut with a cradle.  Nearly all supplies were gotten from Sparta.  The lumber with which the dwellings were erected was gotten from Mr. Rheinke's woods and sawed by Mr. Bons and Mr. Jones, who owned the first sawmill which was located on and a half miles northeast of here on the stream.  At first there were but two roads which ran near our vicinity.  One of these was the Pinery road, which followed the Eau Claire river, and the other was the stage road, which ran from Sparta through Black River Falls to Eau Clarie.  This was about half a mile south of our village.  The early comers hardly ever took the stage coach, because it cost too much money.  They would walk from Fall Creek to Eau Claire, a distance of twelve miles; there they would sell their produce at a very low price and come back the same day.

I can remember one of these pioneers telling me a story that may serve to illustrate the difficulty under which they made their purchases.  This is one of the stories of the times when he would go to Eau Claire with butter and eggs.  Butter was sold for eight to ten cents per pound and eggs for from five to six cents per dozen.  You see these prices did not permit of any wild dissipation.  At this particular time the money for his produce, which was not very much, was invested in a jug of syrup.  When he was almost home the horses made a side jump and the jug was broken, and low and behold the beautiful golden liquid was in the wagon box.  A pair of new boots had also been purchased, and quick as thought the syrup was scraped up and put into the boots.  Who ever would now think of eating syrup brought home in a shoe?  But what of that?  They relished it even more than we do the delicious fudge made by some of our handsome village maids.

Fall Creek was surveyed in 1857.  Our village gets its name from the stream which runs one-half mile north of here.  The place where Herman Stabenow is now located was the first boarding house erected; it was owned by Mr. Murphy, but afterwards conducted by Mr. and Mrs. Randall.  The first store was situated on Randall's corner, and the next one was built where Mr. Patzwald's building now stands.  Fred Keading owned the first blacksmith shop, which stood right across the street from where Mrs. Keading now lives.  Mr. Keading frequently walked to Eau Claire, where he purchased heavy rods of iron to be used in blacksmithing.  It was not uncommon for him to be forced to carry these rods home on his back.  Michael Keading was the first dentist in our locality.  He did not fill teeth with gold or silver, but was busily engaged in pulling them, as people did not know anything about filling teeth at that time.  Neither chloroform nor ether were ever used, probably never heard of. This was not because Mr. Keading was like our modern "painless dentists." He was fully able to hurt the patient just as much as they can, but among the trials and hardships which were daily met and conquered a little thing like an aching tooth was hardly noticed.  They just had them pulled; now we have them extracted.  It sounds bigger, but I doubt if it makes the patient live longer.  The first church services were conducted by Daniel Muenchow in a log cabin.  It was not such as we hear today in a grand church, but although he was not a learned preacher he explained difficult parts of that which he read out of the Bible.  A German Lutheran church was erected in 1873, with Rev. Julius Fredrich as minister.  He served for twenty-seven years, when Rev. Carl Baumbach was called, and is still the pastor in St. Jacob's church, which was built in 1884.

Fall Creek is situated near a river and has a good water power, although it was not really used until 1867.  In that year Edward Gessner erected a sawmill.  Mr. O'Mera and Hanaburg were the owners of the earliest flour mill, which was about two and one-half miles northeast of here, on the creek. Martin Martins owned the second flour mill, which was started by Simon Randall, but before it was ready to start Mr. Randall was accidentally shot, and Mr. Martins purchased it.  This mill changed hands a few times until Mr. Bruesewitz became its owner.  In 1903 the mill was destroyed by fire, and another one erected which is at present owned by P. O. Vogler.

In 1869 the railroad was completed and trains stopped to take on passengers half way between the place where R. H. Zempel's farm is situated and where the depot now stands.  The first depot was erected where Mr. William Niebuhis's elevator now stands.  That building burned down and another one built on the same place, which was later moved to its present location.  At that time Fall Creek was called Cousins, in honor of a man in Eau Claire, but the people objecting to this name it was renamed Fall Creek.  Our village is really built on the land which was at one time owned by Mr. Lindenthaler. This village so increased in population that in 1890 it contained 450 people, and one building after another was erected.  Today we boast of as good buildings as are to be found in any town of our size in the state.  Probably few towns of our size anywhere can claim as many pretty and cheerful dwellings as can Fall Creek.

And now comes the last chapter on the story of the beginning of what might be called our new era.  In the spring of 1907 some of the more progressive of our citizens could see where incorporation as a village might aid. Accordingly after the necessary legal steps we bacame a separate political unit entitles to our own representative upon the county board.  As most of you doubtless remember, Mr. J. Zieman was our first president and J. E. Bartz our first supervisor.  Much credit is due the men who have charge of our affairs as a village, for in this short time our streets have been wonderfully improved and substantial cement walks which are daily being added to have been place on the important highways.  This brief recital of facts of our early history is by no means complete, but we hope that the truth has been told.  Perhaps it may serve to excit your interest in events long gone by.  History is not all contained between the leaves of books. let us who are living here in the peace and security of the safeguard of our present government gratefully remember the struggles and hardships of the early pioneer settlers.

Fall Creek is a prosperous village of over five hundred people, situated on a creek of the same nam, which is tributary to the Eau Claire river.  The good water power runs a sawmill and a flour mill.  The earliest settlers were the Horel borthers, George Randall, Joseph Lindethaler, Daniel Muenchow, J. M. Shong, Fred Keading and Daniel Zempel.  A German Lutheran church was erected in 1873 and Rev. Julius Fredrich, the first minister, served for twenty-seven years, when he was followed by Rev. Carl Baumbach, the present pastor.  The schools are good and since the incorporation of the village in 1907 the streets have been improved, many new houses have been erected, cement sidewalks laid and progress has been made steadily in many directions.

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