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"Eau Claire County History, 1949"


History of Pleasant Hill School Area

In 1872 the northwest part of Eau Claire County was organized into the Town of Randall, but the same year the name was changed to the Town of Union.

Where is the Town of Union located?  It is in the northwest section of Eau Claire county bounded on the north by Chippewa County, on the east by the City of Eau Claire, on the shouth by the Chippewa River, and on the west by Dunn County.

The Eau Claire County Asylum and Poor Farm are located in the northeastern part of the Town of Union on U. S. Highway 12.

Back in 1870, Porterville in Eau Claire County and Meridean in Dunn County, located on the Chippewa River, were flourishing towns.  Many emigrants coming to Eau Claire soon went to these towns to work in the saw mills.  The Scandinavians and Irish out numbered the other nationalities.  The big timber around and near the Chippewa River was the first to be sawed into lumber.  This cleared land was then obtained from the government as homesteads.  The Scandinavians settled mostly on the south side of the river around Caryville, Rock Falls, Meridean, and on the other side (west) of the river in Dunn County.  The Irish crossed the river and settled about directly across from Porterville and Caryville.

Some of the families took up homesteads in Eau Claire County around the Pleasant Hill District and Community and worked in the saw mills in the winter times.

Tom Flynn, an emigrant from Ireland, obtained 160 acres from the government and moved with his wife to this community about the year 1875.  They had eleven children.  One of their sons, Frank Flynn married and today lives on the old homestead.  This couple had fifteen children and three of the sons bought small tracts of land in this community and live with their families here today.

Another old homesteader is John Crawley who is near ninety years of age and lives on Kendall Street in Eau Claire.  His daughter married a Knudtson and lives on the homestead in the Pleasant Hill Community.

Other homesteaders were:  Jim Brennan, Mike Duhig, Pat Ducette, and the Cernahans.  This community was called Little Ireland for many years.  Thus, this was an Irish settlement at one time.

Why this community was an Irish settlement is very well explained in Fred Holme's book, "Old World Wisconsin," chapter nine entitled St. Patrick's Sons Don the Green.  A few sentences of this chapter follows...

"Like the Yankees, the Irish were too impatient to clear stony, wooded lands.  But comparatively, until 1900, the Irish of Wisconsin were an agricultural people.  When some of the more restless could not acquire rich productive soil at the start, they took up work in railroad construction gangs and helped to build the first lines in the state.

The graders on these undertakings found winter work for their teams with logging contractors in the woods; the regular workers became lumberjacks.

They were faithful workers.  From manual labor jobs, large numbers of the Irish drifted into the cities.  Twenty-five years ago the urban trek set in.  If it continues at the same ratio for another century, there will be very few Irish remaining on Wisconsin farms."

Due to the fact that the Irish believed very much in education and each family had several children who were getting old enough to attend school, it was necessary that these homesteaders provide for the education of the children.  Thus, the front 3/4 of the present school building (which consisted of the first three windows) was built and school opened in the fall of 1893.

The old school records seem to be missing and no one seems able to remember who taught the school the firfst year or the wage paid the teacher at that time.

More recent records show that a P.T.A. was organized Sept. 27, 1929 under the direction of Ione Ingalls.  This P.T.A. organization remained in existence until November 1936.  No information found as to their affiliation to the State Parents and Teachers Association.  One meeting a month was held; children, outside speakers, talent, and demonstrations by the teacher comprised the programs.

Since 1936 the only community get-togethers at the school are the annual Christmas program and Spring School Picnic.

A serious accident or happening of the school district was when the school ceiling fell down.  This happened on a Saturday when the children were not in school.  What a terrible catastrophe this may have been.

At the present time the school district consists of such names as:  Flynn, Bennish, Kohlhepp, Myers, Bates, Jones, Giedd, Henning, Hinterberg, Fergerson, Knudtson, Pavelski, Seymour, Soppeland, Renz, Gibson, Buchholtz, and Miller.  Not many Irish left in this community.

Farming is carried on on a small scale (the soil is quite sandy).  Many of the fathers work at the U. S. Rubber Company, National Pressure Cooker Company, or other places of business in Eau Claire.  A few of the families now have small truck farms.

Getting back to the early Irish settlement, this community compared very much to the statements of Fred Holmes concerning the Irish in the book "Old World Wisconsin."

A fwe other interesting facts are: This community was Democratic until the Progressive party was formed in Wisconsin by the late Robert H. LaFollette then all supported the Progressive party wholeheartedly.  At the last Presidential election the voters in the town of Union went very much Republican, this is due much to the fact that the nationality of the community has changed considerably.

This community was originally a Catholic settlement and the people attended the St. Patrick Catholic Church, Eau Claire, this church was named after their patron saint.  The religious affiliation is varied now.


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