The personality of James Beulen, Forest County Civil War Veteran

Here’s a follow up, written by local historian R.T. Krueger, about Forest County’s Civil War veteran James Beulen. R.T. has spent many hours researching and documenting Forest County’s civil war veterans and over the years he has managed to track down photos of the veterans.  A photo of James Beulen and some of his contemporaries is included in this post as well.

I’d never make a good academic historian – I’m too eager to fill in blanks with my own opinions.  Create personalities for people from the shreds of documentation.  I’ve done this with far too many of the folks I’ve researched and James Beulen is no exception.  He seems to me to have had the classic “bark is worse than the bite” personality.  Serious, civic-minded, even gruff when the situation required, but never too full of himself to take things too seriously.  Never afraid to be made fun of respectfully and to do the same to others.  Quietly generous with his time and money. 
Shirley Coleman, of Crandon, provided me with a page of hand-written notes her mother had put together on memories from her childhood.  This is what she said of Mr. Beulen, “Civil War veteran, often visited my folks, told us war stories, every other word was a curse, we loved it.”
Jim Beulen was born in the east, but came to the frontiers of Wisconsin as a kid, along with a wave of New York farmers who made the journey in the 1840’s and 1850’s.  He and several of his brothers enlisted in the Union service during the Civil war and Jim rose to the rank of sergeant by its close. 
Like so many other young men from Central Wisconsin, Jim hooked up with logging crews working in the northwoods and, by 1884, was employed at a new mill on the north shore of Lake Metonga.  When Forest County was created a year later, Governor Jeremiah Rusk, himself a Civil War vet, named Buelen to be the first sheriff.  Governor Rusk was probably looking for a man with some natural sense of authority and leadership and Buelen’s wartime experience would have made him a prime candidate.  Jim Buelen resigned as sheriff after only a short time, but would later serve the community as an alderman and in other civic roles throughout his years in Crandon. 
While these things make him noteworthy as a pioneer settler in Crandon, it is the informal paper trail that he left that makes him interesting to me.  He seems to have been one of the local newsmen’s go-to guys on those slow news days.  A man who always had some ridiculous cause, complaint, or issue to keep the typesetter busy.  These are some of my favorites:


Fine Cut Club Resolves

That the Rights of the American Citizen are Being Trampled Upon

At the last meeting of the Fine-Cut Club a resolution was passed authorizing the president of the order to appoint a commission to investigate the workings of that unholy combination the tobacco trust.  To the members of the Club, tobacco is the staff of life, and the article put upon the market in these degenerate days is something fierce.  Brown paper, sawdust, bootlegs, and supernuated German socks, it is believed are ground up and sold as “Duke’s Misery”, “Dub’s Delight” and other popular brands, while plug contains things unmentionable.

A prominent member of the club said he bit off a chaw of plug once and immediately thereafter found a rat’s tail between his teeth.  He said on more than one occasion the hired girl had complained about his breath and he would like to know how he could have a violet breath on a diet of rat tails.  What?

One of the veteran members of the Club advocated a boycott upon all Crandon merchants who refused to keep “poor boxes” in a prominent place in their stores.  He said he had patronized Crandon merchants liberally for many years, running large accounts, some of which he had been forced to pay, and he thought any self-respecting dealer should willingly furnish free tobacco to such as he, as well as free cigarette papers to tallow-faced dudes.  The brother’s remarks were uproariously cheered.

The next meeting of the order will be held on “All Fool’s Day”, April 1st.  A special program is being prepared.



Sporting News


Col. James Beulen, president of the Crandon Euchre Club and Fine Cut Chewers Union arrived home Saturday from a trip to Seattle.  In an interview with the sporting editor of this paper he stated that prospects look good for some interesting games this winter and with the knowledge he had picked up on his trip he could easily trim anyone brought forth…. Mr. Beulen expects to meet all comers and convince them that they do not know anything about the game… Hereafter, spectators on the sidelines will be charged a nickel a piece, the fund to be used in buying chewing tobacco for the players… Thomas Walker, he of little words, has been chosen by James as a partner.  When the score gets too close for comfort and the opposing players go over the top and out upon no-man’s land, Walker and Beulen will give them a gas attack.  Mr. Walker will quote a few of the ten commandments and little Shakespeare and Mr. Beulen will use a few chose words that go something like pbzqtohellwiththem.  This method of attack is sure to rattle their opponents and win the game.  Since leaving Crandon, Mr. Beulen has learned to swear in French and Dago which feature will be introduced whenever necessary.


Beulen spent time out West with old buddies and his brother, but reported not being impressed and always returned to Northern Wisconsin.  He passed away in 1926 after over 40 years on and off in the area.

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