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"Eau Claire County History, 1949"


History of the Fairchild School District

Fairchild's First Newspaper

The Fairchild Observer was the first newspaper to be printed in Fairchild.  It was founded by Julius Ewald in the year of 1900.  Mr. Ewald's partner was E. A. Pratt.

The Ewald & Pratt Company published The Fairchild Observer for two years.  It was then sold to J. H. Netteshin, who after publishing the paper for one year, sold the company to E. A. Harman.  After Mr. Harman died, his widow continued publishing the paper for one year.  In May, 1907, the plant was purchased by R. B. Swarthent.

The Fairchild Observer was an eight paged paper with six columns on each page.

Now, Fairchild has no newspaper publishing plant, but the news is sent to a paper in Augusta, Wisconsin.

Switch board heroine of Fairchild

Ruby C. Bahr worked on the early shift on the day August 21, 1935 when suddenly she heard gun shots.  Ruby saw a car drive away.  The man that got away had just shot a filling station keeper and got away with the money.  They traveled toward Black River Falls.  Ruby called the sheriff in Black River Falls and told him of the murder.  The get away car was running out of gas.  They stopped to get gas.  The sheriff spotted them.  The get away car started.  The sheriff shot the killer.  In a desperate move the crook jumped out of the car.  The sheriff shot again.  He got him.  The next morning all was quiet in Fairchild.  People respected Ruby Bahr for she saved the day.  Her quick wittedness had caught the criminal.

The filling station robbery of Fairchild

One early morning about 6 o'clock a car drove up to a filling station in Fairchild.  They wanted some gas, the operator gave the gas to the man and then refused to pay for it.  The two men started to argue and finally the man that wanted the gas shot and killed the other man. Then the man went in and robbed the place and left in a car.  he told his wife what had happened while she was waiting in the car.  She then started to worry but the man told her not to because there probably was no one around except the lady in the telephone office and she probably was sleep.  (Ruby Bahr), but Mrs. Bahr was not asleep and heard the shots.  Then she telephone the sheriff at Black River Falls.  He sent plenty of men to be on the lookout and they cornered him in the woods and shot him.  So that proves that a man isn't the only one that can be a hero.

The Resources of Fairchild

There used to be black berries two inches long.  You could sit on a stump and moved along it while you pick bushels of berries.  The black berries of today are not very numerous or large.

The blue berries were also very large.  There are very few now days.  This is because most of the marshes and swamps are drained.  N. C. Foster in the olden days used to offer $1.00 for the first quart brought into his store.  Mrs. Sietz's sister-in-law's mother won this prize most every year.  Mrs. Sietz was the sixth and seventh grade teacher.

Early History of Fairchild

Fairchild was incorporated May 6, 1880.  Fairchild was named for Governor Fairchild who was Governor of Wisconsin at the time Fairchild was discovered.  Harry Graves names Fairchild.

Fairchild became a town because of its forests.  A saw mill was started.  People began to come here.  Fairchild is now a village started by loggers.

Fairchild's millionaire and movie star

The two celebrities to whom I am referring in the title are, Carol Landis and N. C. Foster.  Nearly all movie fans have heard of Carol Landis and have seen her in pictures, while N. C. Foster is known better by the older folks of our community.

Foster was a well-known business man in Fairchild.  He was born in Owego, New York, on June 6, 1834.  He came to Wisconsin in 1854 and settled near Green Bay.  He became interested in the saw mills and in 1876 he moved to Fairchild.  He bought large tracts of woodland near here.  By 1877 he had built a saw mill which employed 250 men.  He started the bank and also a store, opera house, and a hotel in Fairchild.  In 1882 he built 45 miles of railroad track from Fairchild to Mondovi.  Mr. Foster built many extentions to this but they are not in operation now.  The railroad from Fairchild to Mondovi is still running and is a great help to the community.

A short story of Carol's life is as follows:  Carol was born in 1924 on a farm near Fairchild.  She left for California at a very young age.

Carol made her first movie at the age of eighteen.  Her real name is Francis Ridate.

Early names of Fairchild

The settlers named below are now deceased.

Foster was a business man and built many buildings and a railroad for Fairchild.  Hines owned the building which is now the drug store. Mr. Laren was in the sawmill business with Mr. Foster.  Revard built a grocery store for Fairchild about the time Foster built his in 1895.  F. H. Ferguson built the first garage of Fairchild.  Charles C. Calkins father was once manager of the Big Store.  William F. Hood was once a cashier of the First National Bank of Fairchild.  Harry Graves was the man who gave Fairchild its name.  Richard B. Swarthout publisher of the "Fairchild Observer".  James Nickerson was once president of the village.  Julius Ewald founded the "Fairchild Observer."  Roy C. Ferguson was a prominent dentist of Fairchild once.  Mr. Van Auken built the first steam sawmill of Fairchild.  R. E. Arnold once operated the Drug Store.

Important names of Fairchild Now, running business places or doing other things

Carol Landis - a well known movie star.  A. Erdman - runs a grocery store.  Mr. and Mrs. Larson - own the Larson's Cafe.  Mr. Seitz - now runs our drug store.  H. Yule - now manager of our Big Store.  Ruby Bahr - acting as postmistress now.  James Vance - owns and runs our Locker Plant.  Mr. Ross - owner of our Big Garage.  E. Darling - owner of our quaint Dutch Mill and Filling Station.  Mr. Schnell - owner of Schnell's Filling Station. Mr. and Mrs. Otis - now runs our hotel and coffee shop.  L. D. Primus - our local auctioneer.  Mr. Santo - owner of Louis Bar.  Mr. Kaufman - runs Kaufman's Bar.  Oli and Lars - run the "Girls Tavern."  Mr. Guay - our local electrician.  Mr. Abrahamson - our local town's president.

The History of Fairchild's Park

N. C. Foster was a wealthy man who practically built Fairchild.  His daughter married a Wilson so as a present Mr. Foster built them a beautiful house to live in at Fairchild.  This house was one of the most beautiful houses in Fairchild.  The lot around it had bushes and beautiful trees.  On the northeastern part of the log there was a frog pond with some frogs and goldfish in it.  In the back of the house was a grassy piece of ground which they did not use.  After the Wilsons moved from their home in Fairchild they donated it to the village of Fairchild for a park.  This was about in 1942.  The park is now cared for by Fairchilds school children.  In the fall some school classes rake the lawn, in the summer different pupils are appointed to keep the lawn well mowed and the trees trimmed.  The Fairchilds Womens Club built an outdoor oven in the park.  School picnics and Sunday School picnics are held in this park.  There is a playground in the park and in the winter it is flooded to provide a skating rink.  We appreciate Mr. Foster for the beautiful park he gave us.

History of Fairchild

In 1868 a few pioneers settled in the southeastern corner of Eau Claire County, starting the present village of Fairchild.  One of these early pioneers was Mr. Van Auken who built the first sawmill and later sold it to a Mr. Graves.  Because most of the country was woodlands the mills employed many of the early settlers.  The mills were twice destroyed by fire and were not rebuilt until seven years later.

In 1870 the West Wisconsin railway was opened for business.

The firs church to be built was the Methodist, built in 1874.  It was later moved to a new location and almost entirely rebuilt.

In 1875 Fairchilds first doctor came.  His name was Dr. Cole.

A man who was soon to become famous to the people of this community for years to come, settled in 1876.  His name was N. C. Foster. He started the long deserted saw mill and by 1877 the mill was employing 250 men.  

All this time the small community of Fairchild was progressing very well and on May 10, 1880 it was incorporated with a population of 1,500.  This city was named after Governor Fairchild who was at that time Governor of Wisconsin.

In 1882 Foster built a railroad from Mondovi to Fairchild, making another improvement for the city.  Foster was by this time a very wealthy and well known man.

Fairchild had another thing to be proud of, its large Farmer Store, run by Foster and sons.  It was the largest in northern Wisconsin.

In 1897 a paper was started by J. E. Pratt.  This paper was called, "the Fairchild Observer".  It was published successfully for many years.

The first school was under the supervision of Prof. Beeman.  It became a high school in 1898.  The school was destroyed by fire two different times.  The building we are now using is Fairchilds third school.

Fairchild is not the booming town it used to be.  Its population is now only 639.  The reason for this decrease was because the timber was but down so Foster had to move his mill to another town.  When this happened most people were out of work so they had to move to places where mills were located.

Nathaniel C. Foster

This well-known and well remembered man was born in Owego, Tioga County, New York state, June 6, 1834.  Mr. Foster came to Wisconsin in 1854.  In 1859, Mr. Foster was married at Green Bay, Wisconsin.  In 1876, he moved to Fairchild, Wisconsin.  A while later Mr. Foster purchased large tracts of land with many acres of very good timber on it in Eau Claire and Clark counties for which he built mills in Fairchild in 1877.

Mr. Foster was quite a wealthy man and did many progressive things for Fairchild.  He was the president of the Farmers Co-operative Supply Company in Clark County and the First National Bank of which he was the founder.  He was one of the few men who built a railroad without mortgaging it for a single dollar.  In the year of 1882, Mr. Foster built 45 miles of railroad from Fairchild to Mondovi, Wisconsin.  In 1886, Mr. Foster chartered his original railroad of 38 miles from Fairchild to Owen, Wisconsin.

Mr. Foster was a man of excellent character and pleasing personality.  One incident I recall hearing about Mr. Foster was this:

Mr. Foster had gone out West for a trip.  A man joshed him about his short railroads of only 30 to 40 miles.  To this Mr. Foster replied, "My railroads may be shorter than yours, but I'll bet mine are the same width as yours."

You see, all railroads in the United States must be the same width because all railroads' cars have the same width from wheel to wheel.

Fairchild once had a good basketball team

Around about 1936 Fairchild had one of the best teams in this area.  They took third place in the District Tournament up in Eau Claire. They were playing Elk Mound, for the consolation.  They were behind by three points and less than 5 seconds before the game would be over.  A man named Calvain Dauffenbauch made two baskets inside of those five seconds and won the game for Fairchild.

In another tournament up in Eau Claire, Fairchild played Altoona to advance to the quarter finals.  Altoona was highly favored over Fairchild in fact favored to take the tournament.  But when the first half was over the score was tied 19 - 19.  But when the second half started Fairchild's team fell apart and Altoona won 50 - 30.  Everybody felt so bad, because when the coach went up for the first half he was so happy he didn't know what to say.  That was the last time Fairchild got any place in the tournament.  This year they got last  place.

Buildings of Fairchild and their owners

The Dutch Mill is owned by Ed. Darling.  The Standard Service Station is managed by Mr. Schnell.  Ford Garage is managed by A. B. Ross.  Warehouses are owned by L. Vanderburg.  The Locker plant is owned by James Vance.  The Farmers Store is managed by Harold Yule.  The telephone office is owned by the Federal Government.  Louie's Bar is owned by Ray Santa.  Erdman's Store is owned by Lois Krinky.  Sietz Drug Store is owned by L. Kaufman.  Gladstone Hotel is owned by Mr. Otis.  Ole and Lars is owned by Ole and Lars.  The Barber Shop is owned by l. Kaufman.  Larson's Cafe is owned by Otis Larson.  Pat's Garage is owned by the Chev. Company.  Co-op is managed by Francis Diller.  The cabins are owned by Charles Calkins.  Lumber Yards are managed by Roy Abrahamson.  Gas tanks are owned by The Standard Service.  Depot is owned by the Railroad Company.  The Fairchild manufacturing Plant is managed by J. Gifferus.

Fairchild 1868 - 1948

The village of Fairchild is located in the extreme southeast corner of Eau Claire County, and was settled in 1868.  The land at this time was a thick growth of bushes.  One of the first settlers here was Mr. Van Auken.  He built the first steam saw mill and sold it to another settler G. S. Graves in 1870.  It burned down twice, and the second time was not rebuilt.  The first hotel was erected in 1878, and was operated by Samuel McKinney.  Another hotel was built by N. C. Foster in 1885.

The village was surveyed and platted in May, 1872, and the district school was erected in 1875.  A steam sawmill was erected in 1876 by N. C. Foster.  It was destroyed by fire twice and each time was rebuilt.  In 1891 this sawmill became the property of the N. C. Foster Lumber Co.  Employment, at that time, was given to (unreadable) men.  N. C. Foster also built one elevator with a steam feed-mill attached in 18?? (unreadable).  A hall was also erected by him and it was used as an opera house, seating 350 people.  A railroad to Mondovi, thirty-seven miles was built by Foster in 18?? (unreadable).  Later he sold it to the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha railroad Company.  there was to be erected about 30 miles of tracks, which was used for logging purposes.  According to the census of 1910 Fairchild had a population of 700.

Fairchild was famous, not only for its history of the big sawmill, but also for the Big Store.  It was one of the biggest retail merchantile institutions in Northern Wisconsin.  After the big fire of 1895, the N. C. Foster Lumber Co. planned to build a model store.  The store was began to be erected the next spring.  The store was completed and ready for service in 1896.  In 1905 the control passed to the Farmers (unreadable) Trading Company.

The Drug Store was owned and operated by R. E. Arnold.  He had a fine stock of everything in the line of drugs, toilet articles, and notions.  Mr. Arnold was postmaster also and the Post Office was a building adjoining his store.

The First National Bank, of Fairchild was one of the solid institutions of the northwest and was a bulwark of finance and strength.  It was capitalized at $25,000.  N. C. Foster was president.

The Fairchild "Observer" was the newspaper that brought the latest in everything to the population.  It was founded in 1897, by P. E. Pratt.

F. N. Furguson, proprietor of the Fairchild Motor Co. dealt in all types of automobiles, while Charles C. Calkins had a warehouse and did extensive business in all kins of farm products, shipping as high as 500 carloads per year to Chicago and Eastern markets.

The medical profession was well represented in Fairchild.  There were able physicians, fully equipped for an emergency.  The doctor of surgery was equal to any in the country.

The agricultural interests were taken care of by a thrifty and enterprising class of farmers.  They supplied the village with the best products and their shipping facilities were brought about by the N. C. Foster Railroad.

The local government was of statutory form and consisted of a president and board of trustees.

The educational interests of the village were centered in the Fairchild High School, and institution of which people have always been proud.  The first principal of the public schools was Prof. E. M. Beeman.

The spiritual needs of the people were not neglected in Fairchild.  There are two Catholic congregations, a Lutheran and Methodist church.  The Methodist congregation is perhaps the oldest in the village having been organized in 1874.

The social life of Fairchild was delightfully light and free.  The Masonic Ardu had a large membership, likewise the Knights of Phtheas.  The A. O. V. W. and R. M. A. have strong lodges that meet in the village hall.

The story told so far is the history of early Fairchild.  The village today differs greatly from that of the early 1800's.  No longer is there a sawmill here in town.  Numerous restaurants and taverns have been erected, but this didn't increase the population of the village.  In 1947 one of the mercantile institutions was destroyed by fire.  At the tie of the loss it was operated by Gil Holmes.  the building had been sold to L. D. Primus, who was constructing a locker plant in the rear of the building.  The building was never reconstructed.

The P. O. has had numerous locations in the village.  The present one is located in the Sanke building on Main Street.

In the summer of 1947 the former Canning Factory building was turned into the Fairchild Mgft. Co. J. Jeffrys was president of the firm.  In January in 1948, the firm passed into the hands of the Lea Brothers of Alma Center.  J. Jeffrys remained president of the plant.

The population of Fairchild now stands at 649.


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