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"Eau Claire County History, 1949"


History of Robbins School Area

In making a study of the early settlement of the Town of Washington, it is interesting to study various phases in the settlement of Eau Claire Count and its relationship to the settling of Washington Township.

Geologists can trace the physical history of this section of Wisconsin back to the time when it was all covered  by an ancient glacier, which scooped out great hollows which later filled with water and formed the Great Lakes and the two thousand smaller lakes which make this region a summer paradise.

In 1856 the State Legislature set the town of Eau Claire off as Eau Claire County.  The different townships as we know them today were gradually organized.  In 1866, Washington Township was organized, which included Altoona and the territory it now has -- 66 square miles.  Because of the railroad terminal, Altoona was then called East Eau Claire and was founded in 1881 -- one of the smallest cities to have a charter in the United States.

In 1845, Stephen McCann and Jeremiah Thomas built a shanty near the site of what was later the Eau Claire Lumber Co. water mill and a cabin at the junction of the two rivers to they were considered the first white settlers.  Their object was to build a sawmill and float the lumber down to the Mississippi and so on down to markets.  Simon and George Randall joined them later and the first saw mill McCann, Randall and Thomas built along the river was completed in 1846 but was destroyed by a flood in the spring of (18)47.  They couldn't afford to rebuild again but in (18)47 and (18)48 it was rebuilt by Randall, Stone and Cady.  Millwrights were recruited by McCann from as far as Connecticut and Mrs. Vern Bullis' grandfather and his brother came here from Connecticut at this time.  Interesting to note is that they came by ox team.

No communication facilities of any kind and not travel except by water or ox cart were available at this time.  In 1859, the trail leading to Eau Claire came from Sparta by approximately the same route as the present Highway 53.  Some of the stopping off places were the McClellan farm in Augusta, the Avery place (now Brackett) and the John Hobbs farm (now Ed Bennetts farm).

The Hobbs farm is about 8 miles south of Eau Claire on Highway 53 and was settled by John and Georgiana Hobbs on Nov. 9, 1859.  This is practically the only farm still occupied by a direct descendant of the original settlers.  Mrs. Ed Bennett now lives in the house, made of hand hewn timbers and made by her great grandfather.  The original hand hewn farm barn is also still in use.  In 1881, John Hobbs from the Town of Washington, was vice-president of the Old Settlers Association.

The first schoolhouse in our township was built at the intersection of Highway 53 and County Trunk AA, across from the Bleichrodt farm.  The first teacher was Emma Clay.  Five years later the Elbow School was built.

The tenant house on the Bullis farm is known to be over 100 years old and was built by Asgo Wyman.  The Barlands settled also on what is now the Gillette farm, and they owned most of the prairie.  The Turners came in 1865 and lived on what is now the Zimmerman farm, near the Elbow School.  The Robbins family came in 1855 and settled on the property across the road from the Neil home.  The original home was the Malinowski house which burned last summer.  Hubbard Robbins built the Neil home in 1876 for his parents, then six years later, in 1882, he built himself the Berg house for himself  and the frame house was a tenant house, later sold to Louis Leland and Moved to the corner of 93.

The Robbins School was built about the same time these houses were built and was originally brick-faced like the houses.  The bricks for the school were made in a kiln and was located on Highway 12, about where the ninth hole of the Hillcrest Golf Course is now located.

The first Eau Claire County Poor Farm was located three and one-half miles south of Eau Claire, now the Bullis farm and the original farm is that in which Vern Bullis now lives.

A mill with a large water wheel was also located inthis district.  On Highway 12, along Otter Creek, near where the Mooney cabins are now located stood a mill.  The final remains were removed a short while ago by some of the children of the community.  It had deteriorated to such an extent it was thought best to remove it.

The first Eau Claire County Post House was located on Highway 93, one half mile from 53, which is now the Bob Pitt home.  When the Pitts moved in they finished filling in the old foundation.  The Washington Baptist Church was built in 1892 and the land was donated by Tom Cocherine.  Rev. McKillip was the first pastor.

In 1901, the farmers of the Town of Washington built a Cooperative Creamery about 5 miles from Eau Claire which was very welcome in those days and is operated successfully at the present time.  The Creamery is located near the Town Hall.

Some of the early settlers in this district were the Fischers, Hoehns, Olins, Goffs and Hagens.

  

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