The History of Lincoln Co., Wis. History 1881 Transcribed from pages 438-450 "History of Northern Wisconsin" by: Crystal Wendt


Lincoln is one of the northern tier of counties, located near the middle of the northern boundaries of the State, with Michigan between it and Lake Superior, the northwest corner, however, coming within ten miles of the lakes at Oranto Bay.

Langlade County is on the east, Marathon on the south, Taylor, Price and Ashland on the west. The county contains about 100 townships of Government survey. The form is rectangular, except the northern, or Michigan boundary, which runs diagonally north of west, striking the Montreal River near the 44th township line, and following the river until the western boundary of the county is reached.

The upper part of the county is studded with lakes several hundred in number, from half a mile or less in diameter to three or four miles. More than one-half the country is so dotted, for they come down on the east side within a dozen miles of the Marathon County line.

 About ten towns in the northwest corner of the county, which hang over, as it were, into Ashland County, have been set apart as a State Park, and the lands withdrawn from the market.

Four townships on the southeast of this park are set off as the Lac De Flambeau Indian Reservation. The Flambeau River, which empties into the Chippewa in that county, rises in the northwestern part of Lincoln County, and the numerous lakes there early received the name of Lacs de Flambeaux. Many of these lakes have individual names, such as Trout Lake, Island Lake, Big Lake, Sand Lake, Swamp Lake, Crab Lake, High Lake, Island Lake, Plum Lake, Lake Lourd, Lake Potter, Sugar Cane Lake, Tomahawk Lake, etc.

These lakes constitute the head-waters of the Wisconsin, which flows south, into the Mississippi, of the Menomonee and its branches, going eastward, into Lake Michigan; and of the Montreal, Presque Isle, Ontonagon, and other rivers, emptying into Lake Superior. From the divide the declivity toward Lake Superior is more abrupt than the other way. The towns are all long and narrow, running from south to north.

Pine if from two to twelve miles wide, and seventy-five long. Ackley is seventy three miles long and from six to nine miles wide. Merrill and Rock Falls are 100 or more miles in length, Corning forty-one, and Scott forty-eight. Of course, as the settlement goes up the county and the necessities seem to require these towns will be subdivided. It was organized as a county, October 22, 1874, and contains 2,750,000 acres of land.

The lower range of the towns in the county, according to the Government survey, is 31 north, and seven townships wide; the most northern is 46 north.

The various logging stations and settlements as you go up the county will be here mentioned. Merrill is four and one-hale miles from the southern boundary of the county, twenty-five miles from the eastern edge of the county, and seventeen from the western. Five miles to the east is the county poor-house. Pine River Station is in the first tier of towns east of the center, on the county line. Twelve miles west of the center is Corning. In tier 32, the second from the southern county line, there are as yet no stations. In Township 33, north, we have, beginning of the west, Champagne P. O., Grandfather Falls, Grandmother Falls, Ingersol’s Station and Dudley. In 34, there is Kanadas Rapids, on the river. In 35, Somo Lake, Blanchard’s Station, Tomahawk Rapids, Whirlpool Rapids, and a part of Big Pelican Lake. In 36, is Rice Lake, Pelican Rapids and Pelican Station. In 37, Willow Lake. In 38, is McPhail’s Camp and Sugar Camp. In 39, is Squirrel Lake, Kawaquesagon Lake, Tomahawk Lake and Curran’s Camp. In 40, is a part of the Indian Reservation, Crawling Stone Lake, Fence Lake, Arbor Vitae Lake, St. Germain Lake, Birch Lake, White Lake, and Catfish Lake. In 41, Shoe Lake, the rest of the Indian reservation, Trout Lake, Plum and other lakes. Above this the depressing points are lakes. These lakes begin in the third tier of towns from the south and accumulate in numbers, until above the middle of the county, they stud every township as the stars dot the heavens, and must be a paradise for the lone fisherman, or even for the aggregation of the descendants of Isaac Walton.

The State Park, an humble imitation of the great “National Yellowstone Park,” lays up here in its primeval simplicity, and if protected as it should be by the fostering care of the State, will preserver for coming generations an actual idea of the pineries and the wilderness of Northern Wisconsin, as they first appeared when the woodman’s ax first reverberated, where solitude had previously pre-empted its undisputed home. The capacity of Lincoln County to support a teeming population, after the mighty forests are laid low, is now all appreciated, but it does not require a very rampant spirit of prophecy to foresee a thriving population on its soil at no distant day.


This county is one of the largest in State, but has a present only six town organizations aside from the Indian reservation: Corning, Scott, Merrill, Pine, Ackley and Rock Falls. The Indian reservation, called the Lac du Flambeau, was set aside for that purpose in 1866, on the 27th of June.

Since that organization of the county the following gentlemen have represented, in part, Lincoln County is the Assembly: N. A. Withee, Solomon L. Nason, Freeman D. Dudley, Bartholomew Ringle, M. H. McCord.

Thomas B. Scott has been in the Senate nine years.

County Judges: F. C. Weed, Judge Donaldson, A. C. Norway.

County Treasurers: Th. P. Matthews, W. H. Swinehart.

Register of Deeds, V. R. Willard.

Daniel Kline, Surveyor.

David Flynn, School Superintendent.

J. T. Adams, Deputy Sheriff.

The county at first was connected with Marathon for judicial purposes.

County Supervisors: Charles Sailes, Chairman; W. H. Keys, George Stowbridge. These gentlemen served until the regular election in the Spring of 1875, when the following persons where installed into their respective offices:

Sheriff, A. W. Crown; Attorney, Charles O’Neill; County Judge, F. C. Ward; Clerk of Court, A. D. Gorham.

Officers of the town of Jenny: C. A. Kline, Chairman; Ed. Patzer, Treasurer; Ed. Klutz, Clerk.

County Clerks: Z. Space, Herman Rusch.

District Attorneys: Charles O’Neill, W. H. Canon.

Present County Officers: William H. Swinehart, County treasurers: Herman Rusch, County Clark: Van R. Willard, Register of Deeds: W. H. Canon, District Attorney; S. J. Robinson, Clerk of Circuit Court; George R. Sturdevant, County Surveyor; A. C. Norway, County Judge; J. S. Westcott, County Superintendent of Schools;  William Dereg, Sheriff; Jules Pose, Coroner. County Board of Supervisors: P. B. Champagne, Chairman, town of Merrill; Miles Swope, town of Pine River; Carl Gierhahn, town of Corning; P. O’Neil, town of Rock Falls; Frank Kennedy, town of Ackley; Jacob Weber, town of Scott.


The Wisconsin is the river of the county, its northernmost branch drawing from Lake Desert, on the Michigan boarder, and from numerous lakes and tributaries on either side. It leaves the county in the center of its southern boundary a mighty stream, which has already turned a thousand wheels and started the hum of industry which shall follow its course to the sea.

The principal tributaries in the county, on the west, are the Tomahawk, Somo, Spirit, New Wood, Cooper, Donil Creek; on the east, Noisy Creek, Big Pine Creek, Prairie, Pine and others.

As this river rises in Lincoln County and seems to be a gift to its sister counties, or rather, to the State itself, it being the largest river belonging exclusively to the State, an account of its peculiarities seems to be appropriated right here.

As the river moves down, it received numerous other accessories. Its general direction is south, until reaching Portage City, when it deflects sharply to the right, and finds its way to the Mississippi near Prairie du Chien. At Portage City it is within a mile or so of the Fox River, which runs in an opposite direction and empties into Lake Winnebago, and thence into Green Bay.  Through a canal at Portage City the waters of the St. Lawrence are connected with those of the Mississippi. Below this point the river is in a sandy bed, with a slope of about seventeen inches per mile, and as it is broad, with sedgy flats, navigation in lows stages of water is difficult. The amount of water flowing in the lowest stages is 35,000 cubic feet per second.

Above the Kilbourn City are the wonderful dells, the most remarkable scenery of the kind in the world, the river having cut its ways through a long succession of rocks leaving the most fantastic forms. At one point it is narrowed up to fifty-two feet in width. At the foot of the dells is the last fall on the river. Above the dells the falls and rapids are numerous. At Conant’s Rapids, between Plover and Stevens Point, the fall is twenty-four feet. At the latter place, eight feet are utilized for power. There is steamboat navigation between Stevens Point and Mosinee, thirty-sixe miles. The fall at this point is sixteen feet, through a narrow gorge, formerly considered the ugliest rapids in the river by the rafts men.

Several important tributaries join the river in Marathon County, some of them with valuable water power.

The next fall above Mosinee or Little Bull Falls is the Big Bull Falls, at Wausau. These falls are formed by a ledge of granite across the river, some thirty feet high, which has worn down to a fall of fifteen feet in one fourth of a mile. Next to the last fall to be noticed as we go up the river, is the first on the river as is comes down, and the highest. Here the water has cut through the trap rock, a depth of 100 feet, and three is left a fall of eighty-seven feet, and is called the Grandfather Bull Falls.

The water power is unrivaled anywhere on the river. Above this is Grandmother Falls. This wonderful river from its origin, in the Thousand Lake district and which flows with a sluggish current for about ninety miles through the Lac Vieux Desert, as it is called, but which at no distant day will drop the last word in the designation, is a series of surprises in its accessions, its falls, dells, rice fields and sand bars to it junction with the Father of Waters.

According to the census of 1880, the population of Lincoln County was as follows: Ackley Town, 184; Corning Town, 112; Jenny Town, 454; Merrill, 882; Pine River Town, 278; Black Falls, 101; total, 2,011. The population of the county in 1875 was 895. The next census will show a marked increase, as the county is rapidly filling up, and the village of Merrill has nearly if not quite doubled its population in a year.


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