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


Chapter  6

How Eau Claire County Was Made

(-As transcribed from pages 29 - 32)

The territory of Wisconsin was organized in the year 1836, and comprised the present states of Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and parts of North Dakota, South Dakota and Michigan. This entire area included only six full counties and parts of. others, what is now Eau Claire county forming a part of Crawford county.

In 1845 Chippewa county was set off from Crawford county, although the county government was not wholly perfected until 1854. In the meantime, in 1848, the territory of Wisconsin was admitted as a state, its area having been reduced from time to time until it reached its present limits.

Chippewa county as originally formed was of vast area, the counties of Bau Claire, Buffalo, Pepin, Clark, Dunn, Barron, Burnett, Washburn, Sawyer, Gates, Rusk and parts of Taylor and Price.

On July 27, 1855, the county board of supervisors of Chippewa county divided the county into three towns, the southernmost of these, which was identical in area with the present Eau Claire county, was set off as the town of Clearwater, the first town meeting to be held at the boarding-house of Gage & Reed. The next town north was set off as the town of Chippewa Falls, and the northernmost town as the town of Eagle Point. Up to this time the name Eau Claire had not appeared in the official records of Chippewa county, or which what is now Eau Claire county formed a part. In this same year R. F. Wilson and W. H. Gleason came to Clearwater settlement, at the junction of the Chippewa and Clearwater rivers. They recognized its possibilities and soon made a deal with Gage & Reed whereby a considerable part of what is now the east side was platted as the village of Eau Claire. Of course the platting of this village under the name Eau Claire could have no legal effect on the name of the town, but it seems to have confused the town officials, as the records show both the names Clearwater and Eau Claire for a short period, after which, without any recorded official action, the name Clearwater was dropped and the name Eau Claire only was used. The town remained under town government only one year, when by act of legislature approved October 6, 1856, it was set off as Eau Claire county.

The town of Eau Claire was the only organized town government in the new county, and the legislative act forming the county stipulated that the town board of Eau Claire should canvass the returns of the first election of county officers and perform the functions of the county board until the county organization should be completed. There were but two election precincts in the entire town and county, the polling places of one being in what is now the east side of the city of Eau Claire, and the other usually at the farmhouse of Robert Scott in what is known as Scott's Valley, in the town of Otter Creek.

The first election of county officers for the new county took place December 30, 1856. "At an election held at Eau Claire in the county of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, held at the house of P. N. Drake in said village, December 30, 1856, C. M. Seley, chairman of the board of supervisors, was present. In the absence of E. W. Robbins and M. A. Page, supervisors, Taylor Stevens and S. N. Wilcox were elected to serve as inspectors of election, and were sworn as follows:

Opening paragraph election returns from first precinct. "At an election held at the house of Robert Scott in the township 25, range 7, on Tuesday, the 30th day of December, A. D. 1856, the following inspectors were chosen viva-voce by the electors: Lorenzo Bennett, Robert Scott, Charles H. Hale, and were sworn as follows:

Opening paragraph election returns from second precinct. On the first day of January, 1857, the town board of Eau Claire, as authorized by legislative act, met and canvassed the returns of the first county election. "At a meeting of the board of supervisors, January 1, 1857, C. M. Seley, chairman; E. W. Robbins and Moses A. Page present, ordered that the votes of the election of county officers be canvassed according to the act of legislature approved October 6, 1856, who were chosen December 30, 1856.  We, the supervisors of the town of Eau Claire, having met at the office of Gleason & Seley, in the village of Eau Claire, on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand and eight hundred and fifty-seven, pursuant to the act for organizing the county of Eau Claire approved October sixth, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-six, to estimate and determine the number of votes given for the several officers provided for by the said act at the official election held on the last Tuesday of December, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-six, as provided by said act do determine and declare as follows:

"That the whole number of votes cast for the office of clerk of court was one hundred ninety-one, of which George Olin received one hundred eighteen and J. H. Duncan received seventy-three. Sheriff, Moses A. Page 188, M. M. Reed 54. Register of deeds, Charles H. Howard 114, R. F. Wilson 76. District attorney, B. U. Strong 189. Clerk of board of supervisors, Charles T. Babcock 120, George Olin 68, scattering 2. County treasurer, Adin Randall 130, T. B. Medlar 58. Coroner, George Sprague 191.  County surveyor, J. B. Randall 135, Benjamin Hadley 56. County judge, Ira Mead 129, J. S. Cook 59, scattering 2.

"Report of canvassing board first election county officers." As there was still but one town in the new county, the town board continued to perform the functions of a county board until a sufficient number of towns should be formed to allow the supervisors of such towns to comprise a county hoard in the usual manner. Action to this end was taken without delay. On the second day of January, 1857, the day following the canvass of votes for county officers, the town board of Eau Claire, acting in its capacity as county board, set off the town of Half Moon Lake. This comprised all territory in the county west and north of the Chippewa river, or the present west side of the city of Eau Claire and the town of Union. On February 24, the towns of Bridge Creek and Brunswick were formed and the three new towns held their first election in April of that year. On November 16, the chairman of the town boards of Eau Claire, Ha1f Moon Lake, Bridge Creek and Brunswick organized as a county board of supervisors, after which the town board of Eau Claire ceased to perform the functions of county board.

In March, 1858, the county board changed the name of the town of Half Moon Lake to Half Moon. On the fourth of December of that year a resolution was passed setting off a town to be called Machas, but later in the same day the name was changed to Pleasant Valley. The town North Eau Claire was formed in March, 1857.

In November, 1860, all that part of the town of Half Moon lying north of an east and west quarter section line running a few rods south of the present county courthouse and directly through the site of the present high school building was set off under the name of Oak Grove. The part south of this line became the town of West Eau Claire. Later in the same month the town of Fall Creek was formed. After a few years the town name was changed to Lincoln, the village only retaining the name of Fall Creek. The town of Otter Creek was set off in April, 1867, the town of Washington in January, 1868, and the town of Seymour in March, 1872.

The state legislature having in March, 1872, granted a charter forming the city of Eau Claire, with its present boundaries, the parts of the towns of West Eau Claire and Oak Grove lying between the new city of Eau Claire and the Dunn county line were by act of the board of supervisors in March, 1872, voted to be formed into a new town to be called the town of Randall. On the twentieth of the same month, two petitions from residents of this proposed new town were received by the county board.  A petition from that part formerly in Oak Grove asked that the action of the board uniting these two parts of towns be rescinded, and a petition from the part formerly in West Eau Claire in opposition to same. The board refused to rescind its former action uniting these two parts of towns, but did pass a resolution changing the name from the town of Randall to the town of Union.

In November, 1873, the southern part of the town of Brunswick was set off under the name Lant. This name was later changed to Drammen. In March, 1874, the town of Fairchild was formed; in April, 1876, the town of Ludington, and in 1882, the town of Clear Creek.

Augusta was incorporated as a village in 1864 and received a city charter in 1885. Altoona, which was formerly a part of the town of Washington, was platted as a village in 1881, with the name East Eau Claire. This was later changed to Altoona, and in 1887 it was granted a city charter, having the distinction of being one of the smallest, if not the smallest, city in the United States. The village of Fairchild was incorporated May 6, 1880.

Although of considerable size, Fall Creek remained under the government of the town of Lincoln until 1907, when it was incorporated as a separate village.

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