Stories of Metonga : Part 5

Good morning folks. Sorry for the bit of delay this week. It’s been a bit busy here – I have been planning for additional History on Tap programs, planning for the Historical Society’s annual meeting and working on lesson plans for the upcoming Centennial Club. (Stay tuned on details for all of these!)

This week’s visit to Metonga begins at the North End of Metonga “where the banks are high, in most place being about 20 feet above the lake level”.

Forest Republican. March 3, 1887

The Historical Society has quite a few photos of the North End of Lake Metonga in its collection.

Crandon Area Historical Society photo collection. ID 23404-20
Crandon Area Historical Society photo collection.
Crandon Area Historical Society collection. City Hall 1148-1.

The City Hall photo collection photo, pinpoints the location of the original homestead of C.T.H Riggs, one of Crandon’s earliest businessmen. A biographical sketch of C.T.H. is not necessary as his obituary, published on June 10, 1926 in the Forest Republican, paints a picture of a dedicated father, teacher and Crandon booster. A photograph of Mr. Riggs can be found in the City of Crandon first Council meeting. He is identified as the bearded gentleman sitting in the front row with his hand on the Mayor’s desk. It was Mr. Riggs’ daughter Melvina, a school teacher, who conducted the early Crandon history project mentioned in blog post #3. I believe descendents of C.T.H. Riggs still own the Lake Metonga property identified above.

Forest Republican. June 10, 1926.

Crandon Hospital on North End of Metonga

One of the most interesting photos of the “North End” is a photo that includes the Crandon Hospital on the banks of Metonga. A close up photo of the Crandon Hospital can also be found in the Historical Society’s collection which includes 12-page promotional brochure.  The publication date of this brochure is unknown, however, many of its photos are also reproduced in the 1907 Forest Republican.

MG personal collection.
Crandon Area Historical Society collection. 2014.02.09
Crandon Area Historical Society collection. 2014.02.09
Page 8 of The Forest Republican, published in Crandon, Wisconsin on Friday, August 23rd, 1907

The location of the original Crandon Hospital building was recently brought to my attention by local resident Stacey Karcz. Last summer, prior to the digitization of the Forest Republican newspapers, Stacey brought me a copy of a 1907 newspaper article that was included in paperwork associated with her house on Lake Metonga. According to Stacy, the original Crandon Hospital building was moved across an icey Lake Metonga to the east shore a few years ago with her family still owning the residence. The article, not only has a great photo of the house, but also provides information about the illustrated book now in the Society’s possession.

Source: Stacy Kracz, clipping. Forest Republican July 19,1907

Photo mystery Solved

Those of you that attended the Metonga Presentation at the Crandon Hotel, may remember that during the presentation I also showed a photo from the M.S. Barker collection that raised questions about the original location of the Crandon Hospital. The photo, labeled “M.S. Barker home”, seems to show the same building including the same flag pole, as the Crandon Hospital photos. Zooming in you can see the same latticework and the same front porch. Yet, we know from Metonga research that M.S. Barker’s home was on the West side of Lake Metonga. Or so we thought! It appears that M.S. Barker owned not only West shore property, but he also owned North end property. According to the June 14, 1907 Forest Republican, Drs. Murphy & McCarty rented the Miles Barker house and grounds on “Lake avenue near the Lake shore” for hospital purposes. Mystery solved! We also now know that the building known as the Crandon Hospital was not built for purposes of a hospital but originally as a residence and that it was built prior to 1907. Excellent information for the current owners of the property.

Miles Barker home. Crandon Area Historical Society photo collection. 2019073104a
Forest Republican. June 14, 1907.

That’s all for this week. Next week’s tour will take us to Echo Bay on Lake Metonga which, according to research, is now most commonly known as Glen Park.

Stories of Metonga : Part 4

Hello again folks! I’m back with another installment of the blog series titled “Stories of Metonga”. I hope you are enjoying these mini-history lessons. I know I am. I’m also working to develop my Fall programming schedule for Extension which includes local history classes and family history classes. Stay tuned for more details!

The last Metonga blog post provided a glimpse of how our earliest pioneers made their way via the County Road to Crandon and Metonga. Today we’ll actually get a glimpse of both Metonga and Crandon Lake Avenue as our earliest settlers saw it.

If we continue on our path of following the March 1887 Forest Republican article, we are now on paragraph three which begins “an opening in the forest…”

[Source: Crandon Area Historical Society photograph collection. 20160219]
Crandon Area Historical Society photo collection. AS000018.

Crandon’s earliest pioneers took great pride in photographing Lake Metonga from not only East Hill and from the roof of the Courthouse as the above pictures show, and they also took great pride in photographing Metonga from Lake Avenue. Early newspapers describe the work involved in clearing the forest from the courthouse square and the “lake road”. In November of 1886, the Forest Republican reported that “Lake Avenue is now open full width to Lake Metonga.  A great improvement”  Early photographers took advantage of this photo opportunity as the following photos show while standing on the roof of what is now the Subway building.

Crandon Area Historical Society photo collection. lfk00132.
Crandon Area Historical Society photo collection. lkf000025.
Crandon Area Historical Society photo collection. 2019060101.

Next week we will continue our series focusing on the north end of Metonga where the “banks are high”. Enjoy the photos! [Extra credit points to the readers who find the dog sleeping on the sidewalk and the little boy taking a break]

It is an amazing time to be a local history researcher!

Exciting news for those of you interested in researching either your Forest County family tree or the history of our county! The State Historical has recently announced a third-wave of a digitization grant which enables them to add to their holdings in the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America digital newspaper repository.

Not having been to the Chronicling America site in awhile, I decide to jump over and take a look at what Wisconsin papers were freely available and keyword searchable. Turns out that the 2nd wave of the grant allowed the state of Wisconsin to digitize four years worth of Wabeno newspaper the Northern Wisconsin Advertiser!

Currently the online holdings cover the years 1899-1902 but hopefully additional scans will be added soon. Please note that if you need additional Wabeno research, the Crandon Public Library does offer all of the Wabeno newspapers on microfilm.

Happy Searching!

P.S. Here’s a quick link to a Wisconsin Historical Society research guide on using the website Chronicling America.

If you’re looking for direct link to the Northern Wisconsin Advertiser, click here.

We interrupt this blog post…

We interrupt this Lake Metonga series blog post for an important message about John F. Kennedy’s visit to Crandon which included a fishing report from Lake Metonga! What??? That’s just crazy!

I agree. This is what happened. As I was conducting my research for the Metonga presentation, I was searching the Crandon Public Library’s Newspaper Archives for the keyword “Metonga” and an article blurb appeared on my screen that mentioned both “Metonga” and “John F. Kennedy”. So I had to investigate. (Seriously, I had to investigate. In my world an old newspaper = bright, shiny object)

The article was from March of 1887 and discusses a visit by John F. Kennedy of the “Sheboygan News” to the Crandon area. Turns out this John F. Kennedy, while his family was from Ireland and may, in fact, be a distant relative of President John F. Kennedy, was a hard-working Wisconsinite who lived the majority of his life in the Plymouth / Sheboygan area working as a farmer, carpenter and writing columns for the “Sheboygan News”.

I apologize for the leading headline AND the short blog post this week. I’m working on the Forest County 4-H Fair and needed a quick little blog post to keep your attention on Metonga stories. I promise to write more and share more photos next week.

Until then, here is Mr. John F. Kenney’s article on Crandon. While you’ll notice that some things have changed in Crandon (we are definitely not a temperance town) I especially like the following description of Crandon:

…”its people are remarkable for their business enterprise and hospitality. Every one seems to want to do you a kindnes, and the good heart shines out in honest faces, that have a smile and a kind word for every one they meet”

132 years of Crandon Pride! #CrandonProud #HistoryMatters Enjoy!

Stories of Metonga: Part 3

Today we get our first glimpse of Metonga coming in from the “Railway station”, “on the county road”. If you recall from our history lesson, Forest County is less than two-years-old at the time of this article, so one does have to wonder what route the author is referring to. There are two possibilities: North Crandon Railway and/or the Pelican Railway.

North Crandon Railway station and County Highway

As I began researching the early routes in Forest County, I discovered a map from the National Archives at Chicago that I obtained a few years back. The map is part of the National Archives Microfilm Publication M1126, Post Office Department Records of Site Locations, 1837-1950 (683 rolls) and details the location of the Crandon Post Office, a county highway, and the Saint Paul, Sault Ste. Marie and Atlantic Railroad station located in North Crandon.

The document provides a location for the Crandon Post Office in section 29 with the highway to the railroad station located along the section lines headed north, and turning east essentially where Hwy 32 runs North in Argonne today.

Crandon Post Office. [Source: National Archives Microfilm roll 662. M1126 Post Office Department Records of Site Locations.]
Map created locally.

County Road from Pelican to Crandon

While the post office map does offer an explanation of a possible route to catch a glimpse of Lake Metonga, there is also another route that existed at the time of the article and that is the route from Pelican to Crandon via the Lake Shore railroad. This route can be seen on the 1888 Map of Forest County that currently hangs in the County Register of Deeds office.

Close up photo of the county road to Pelican in 1888.

Essentially the County Road in 1888 is Highway 55 out of Crandon. The split at Hwy B is visible on both maps with the original county road being further south than Hwy B.

According to the March 1887 newspaper article, a traveler taking the county road to the Northern Shore of Metonga would have ridden through a forest for several miles. “There is forest to the right of you, forest to left of you etc, not a forest of Poplar, or Jack Pine, or Spruce, or Tamarac with a road bed of corduroy but a forest of towering maple, splendid birch, elm and basswood.”

This route, along with the description of the forest, is detailed in a January 1912 article titled “A Glimpse of the Past” in the Wisconsin Presbyterian. The article, written by Rev. James S. Wilson, offers the reader a wonderful account of Rev. Wilson’s trip from Pelican to Crandon.

“I was told to take the Lake Shore railroad to Pelican, and then take the stage.  I did so, left Pelican at ten a.m., rode all day and part of the night, made one involuntary disembarkment, and at last, wet, muddy and hungry, reached Samual Shaw’s log house, which was then the center of activities.  We passed two houses on the journey, at one of which we had a good meal, and that day I made my  first acquaintance with two luxuries of the virgin country—wild rice and venison.   On the next day, September 15, 1886, I held my first service in Forest County, in a little log building which stood on the banks of beautiful Metonga, then unscathed by the woodman’s axe”

Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Synod of Wisconsin. Home Mission Committee, and Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Synod of Wisconsin. Administrative Council. The Wisconsin Presbyterian. De Pere, Wis.: Home Mission Committee of the Synod of Wisconsin, 19121933.
Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Synod of Wisconsin. Home Mission Committee, and Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Synod of Wisconsin. Administrative Council. The Wisconsin Presbyterian. De Pere, Wis.: Home Mission Committee of the Synod of Wisconsin, 19121933.

Rev. Wilson once again confirmed this route when he wrote a letter to Mrs. F.J. Davis in May of 1923. Mrs. Davis, a high school teacher at the time, was conducting a history lesson for Crandon High School students and had written to early pioneers of Crandon asking for their memories of early Crandon. These letters were transcribed by Historical Society members Winnie Krueger a few years ago.

Mrs. F.J. Davis,  Crandon, Wis.                                              May 15th 1923

Dear Vina, I have your letter of recent date asking for some data of the early days of Crandon.  I have few records, and did not then have a Kodak, so will have to depend on memory, but I remember the events of those early day better than those of later years.  I first went to Crandon in August 1886, rode on the stage from Pelican Lake to Crandon, leaving Pelican about 10:00 AM and reaching Crandon at 8:30 PM. – rained all the way.  Had dinner at Beaudettes, – wild rice & venison- I held my first service the next day in the Little Log school house, which stood in what is now Harry Keith’s lawn.  It was a beautiful Sunday A.M.  We came ? boat from Mrs. Shaw’s Metonga’s banks were then unscathed by the woodman’s ax.

Not only does this letter confirm the route from Pelican to Metonga, it also details the location of the little log school house on the banks of Metonga as “what is now Harry Keith’s lawn”. Today, we know Harry Keith’s lawn as “The Bungalow.”

And here is our first glimpse of Metonga! 

Next week we will move on in our story and learn about the opening of Lake Avenue south to Metonga,  Have a great week!

Stories of Metonga : Part 2

Welcome back! I hope you all enjoyed learning a bit about the name of our Lake Metonga. We did receive one comment that asked about a sign near the South end of the Lake that mentioned an Indian Chief’s name as being the source of the name Metonga. If anyone has any information on this sign, please let us know!

Today we are jumping back 132 years to March of 1887. March 1887 was much like the March of 2019. Forest County residents were tired of the snow (“and still more snow”) and the ice and were beginning to think about Spring and Summer weather. On March 3, 1887, the Forest Republican began offering a series of articles titled “Lakeland” featuring Metonga as its first in the series. Our Stories of Metonga presentation and blog series will follow the path of this article’s afternoon cruise around the lake with stories, photos and historical research.

Page  1 of Forest Republican, published in Crandon, Wisconsin on Thursday, March 3rd, 1887. Crandon Public Library Digital Archives.

Historical Perspective

In March of 1887, the state of Wisconsin was 39 years old and Forest County was not yet two years old.

Forest County was created by an Act of the Wisconsin Legislature in May of 1885, taking land from Lincoln, Langlade and Oconto counties to form Forest County.

In March of 1887, the shape of Forest County is a bit different than it is today. If you notice on the map below, the Western towns of Pelican Lake, Monico, Gagen and Three Lakes are within the boundaries of Forest County. It would be another 39 years, in 1926, when the shape of Forest County finalized with a U.S. Supreme Court hearing deciding in favor of Wisconsin and eliminating Iron County, Michigan’s overlap of Forest County. [source: The Newberry Library. accessed 08/20/2019]

[source: Historical U.S. counties on Google Maps. Randy Majors. : date accessed 08/20/2019]

Forest County officers included E.O. Woodbury as Sheriff, Charles C. DeLong as County Clerk, Louis Motzfeldt as Treasurer, D. Babock as our District Attorney, J. Monaghan as Superintendent of Schools, H. Graeff as Register of Deeds, Clark Whitbeck as Clerk of Court, B.H. Darling as our County Judge, A. Vanzile as County Surveyor and A.J. Beudette as County Coroner.  

Next week we will get our first glimpse of Lake Metonga via the county road! Have a great week!–Michelle

Stories of Metonga : Part 1

Good afternoon Crandon residents. Last week I presented at a History On-Tap Program at the Hotel Crandon to a crowd of about 85 people. Afterwards, I received a few different requests to share my power-point presentation and while I am willing to do that, I also am planning to post the material online in hopes that others will find their way to it. (Local history is much more fun and exciting if it is shared!) Publishing my research on this site will also allow people to post comments about the presentation and hopefully, we will continue to learn from each other about our county and its heritage.

What’s in a Name?

When Forest County officially became a county by an Act of the Legislature in 1885, the lake that we now know as Metonga, was called Sand Lake.  And in truth, the lake today is still called by that name.  The definition of Sand Lake is in fact the Indian name “Mitaawangaa”, or as the English spell it, Metonga.

In fact, only a few short months after the county was established, the editor of the Forest Leaves published a description of the lake known as Metonga.

Additional research from The Ojibwe People’s Dictionary defines the word “sandy” as “mitaawangaa”

Another source document that was beneficial in determining the origin of the Lake’s name was provided by the Forest County Potawatomi Library and Cultural Center. In September of 1941, Mrs. Wm. Tahwah of Wabeno provided the following list of names of Forest County Lakes and their meanings:

source: Forest County Potawatomi Library collection

Page 1 of Forest Leaves, published in Crandon, Wisconsin on Thursday, August 6th, 1885

Lake Cisco?

Lake Metonga residents might also be suprised to learn that they were at one time destined to live on a lake named after a the fish Cisco, also known as Lake Herring.  


The Forest County Spy, published in Pelican Lake, Wisconsin on Tuesday, May 26th, 1885

The Forest Leaves, published in Crandon, Wisconsin on Thursday, August 27th, 1885

Calling the lake by its Indian name caught on, and very soon there was no doubt the lake would be called Metonga.

However, its possible that not everyone agreed to have the name returned to its proper Indian title. As you can see from this 1906 Crandon map that hangs in the Forest County Courthouse Treasurer’s office, the name Sand Lake stuck around for some time.

Next week we will begin our tour around Lake Metonga courtesy of a March 1887 newspaper article. Don’t forget to leave your comments and share some of your local history related to Lake Metonga.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Enjoy this valentine themed photo from our archives!

A photograph that appeared in the February 24, 1983 edition on page 1. The caption reads: Through their Valentine fund-raising effort, the residents at Crandon Health Care Center were able to contribute a check in the amount of $219.55 to the American Heart Association. Support of reaching their goal of $200 never lost momentum and was surpassed two days before their target date of February 14. Shown presenting the check to Rev. Jim Newman, 1983 Heart chairman in the City of Crandon, is resident co-chairperson Alice Henrich, along with Administrator Jim Mueller.

Walk and Talk Script: Crandon Arcade

This script was originally written for the 2018 Crandon Drama Club Walk & Talk. Historical research was conducted by members of the Crandon Area Historical Society and student researchers Nolan Wilson, Tucker Krause, and Rachelle Cappel. Joe and Dort Keller were portrayed by Rob Keller and Tia Poe.

Joe:  Good evening.  My name is Joe Keller, Jr. and this is my dear wife Dort.  We are the proud owners of the Crandon Arcade.  I actually bought the Crandon Arcade back in 1961 with my first wife Margaret Greene Keller.  Together my wife Margaret and I ran the Crandon Arcade, including the bowling alleys, bar and restaurant while at the same time raising our twin boys Bob and Bill and daughter Deb.  Unfortunately, our family suffered a tragic loss when my dear Margaret passed away in 1963. 

Dort:  Yes, that was a tragic loss for your family Joe dear.  I too had lost my first husband Archie Wickham in 1956.  We had five children:  Johann, Jim, John, Harold and Marie.    It was a sad time for our family.  Luckily I had a large family for support the years after he did. The whole Gretzinger family helped me out.  Each one of my 6 brothers and sisters helped out the years after Archie died.    Anyways…Joe and I both being widows decided to marry in 1964 and we’ve been happily married since.

Source: Forest Republican. 08 SEP 1904. p8. Retrieved from

Joe:  Honestly, part of the reason we’ve been so happy together is this here building, the Arcade.   You see, there’s not always been a lot of things to do in Crandon.  We don’t have a community band anymore, the theaters are gone and the Opera House burned in 1912.  But through all of that, Crandon people have enjoyed bowling.  Yes sir!  There have been people bowling in Crandon since 1904!  That’s even before this old courthouse was built. 

Dort:  Yes Joe, but they’ve only being bowling here at this location since about 1920.  Before that they were bowling in Jim McMillian’s bowling alley.  I think it might have been located on Lake avenue.  Frank Granger and James Duff took it over in in 1907 and added a restaurant too.    

Joe:  That’s true Dort.  But they’ve been bowling!  This building was built in about 1920 when Walt and Blanche Carter owned it. You know Walt, he’s the son of Henry and Etta Carter who live over near the Carter Garage.  They bought the Patterson building and the McClinchy building that were located right here.  Patterson was the guy who two fake legs but he managed to get around his pool hall just fine.  Walter and his wife Blanche must have turned those two buildings into this one.  That may explain why the basement of the Arcade looks like it does with tunnels and separate rooms.  The Carter’s sold the bowling alley to a German girl named Rosa Ammer, in 1947.  Oh, she was a tough one that Rosa.  High school boys would give her a hard time in her restaurant and she’d chase them out and send them packing. 

Dort:  Are you sure that was Rosa?  I recall Ula Plummer running the Arcade restaurant for awhile.  Either way, you are now the owner and while it does take up a lot of your time, you sure do enjoy spending time up here with the bowlers. 

Joe:  Yes I do enjoy it.  Even if some of those bowlers try to talk to me about City politics.  Back in 1961 when I was the Crandon City Clerk and in 1964 when I was president of the Crandon Chamber of Commerce, I had to make sure politics didn’t interfere with me running the bar. 

Dort:  You did a good job, honey. And the Arcade is more than just a bar.  According to the Green Bay paper it’s a restaurant with atmosphere!   Ernie Wilson’s giant murals painted on the alleys sure do attract tourists.  They sure do seem to like the murals that feature racoons climbing trees, deer bounding from the forest and that darn bear fighting over the beaver dam.

Joe:  Oh, dear.  Look at the time.  Its time for us to get back to our bowlers and let these fine people move along to their next stop. 

Walk and Talk Script : Dr. Rathert

This script was originally written for the 2018 Crandon Drama Club Walk & Talk. Historical research was conducted by members of the Crandon Area Historical Society and student researchers Nolan Wilson, Tucker Krause and Rachelle Cappel. Dr. Burton Rathert was portrayed by Luke Bukovic.

Good evening.  How’s everyone feeling today?  My name is Dr. Burton Rathert and I’m assuming you’re here because you’re not feeling your best.   I’ll just need you to jump up here on this kitchen table and we’ll take a look.

Oh, you’re not here for a check-up?  Well, in that case let’s just relax and I’ll tell you a little bit about my time here in Crandon.

I started my practice in Crandon right after WW2.  My father’s second wife, Dora VanDoren, had family living in Crandon while I attended medical school in the early 1920’s.  I graduated in 1926 from UW-Madison and married my first wife Phyllis in Minneapolis in 1928. Sadly that marriage was a short one and I found myself practicing medicine in Kansas in 1930’s and married my wife Susan in Kansas in 1938.  During world war II my family and I transferred to Seattle, Washington where I worked for the Boeing company.

While we were in Seattle, my wife and decided to return to Wisconsin to raise our family.  I was fortunate to be offered a position with Dr. G.W. Ison.  Dr Ison himself built this building after he moved here in 1915. His dear sister Mrs. Kendall had been very ill the summer before and was being treated by Dr. Decker and Dr. Diamond but wanted her brother to consult on the case as well.  Doc Ison was impressed by the potential he saw in Crandon and moved his family here the following year. 

Doc Ison passed away only a few years after I joined his practice. In 1952 to be exact.  I continued to see patients in the upstairs clinic while the new Dr., Dr. Moffet opened his office above the Rexall drug store. 

Source: Green Bay Press-Gazette. 12 OCT 1950. p 24. Retrieved from

The 1950’s were a busy time for a Dr. in Crandon.  Lots of babies being born, families needing doctoring and new public health laws being put in place.  Both Dr. Moffett and myself kept busy and no one seemed to complain that our offices were located up long flights of stairs.  Not even the pregnant ladies or my elderly patients.  But I myself was not getting any younger.  In 1960 Rudy Augustine added offices in the back onto the original G.W. Ison building which allowed me to see patients on the first floor.

I’ve always held a special place in my heart for the residents of Crandon.  In 1972, the community of Crandon got together and created “Dr Rathert Day”  Oh, that was a fun day.  There were Dr. Rathert day bumper stickers and “I’m a Dr. Rathert baby” buttons for sale at Harry’s Red Owl store. A photo display was put together that featured many pictures of babies that I delivered.  My good friend Ken Conway also arranged to have a recliner chair delivered to my home during the event and I recall sitting in it the first time was a treat. 

However, the best gift were the words from the Mole Lake tribe.  Charles McGeshick while presenting me with a ceremonial headdress said “I am here to speak for the people of the Mole Lake reservation.  We came here as one, to give our thanks, to a man who has devoted his life to helping people in sickness and health.  To him it has made no difference what color you were, or where you came from.  He was always there, even when you couldn’t make it to his office, he’d somehow always made it to your home, sometime staying overnight, sleeping at the foot of your bed, reassuring you you’d make it through the night, but he never complained.” 

I was so honored to accept the honoree headdress of the Chief of the Mole Lake Sokoagon Chippewa Tribe.  Mrs. Dora Ackley, the wife of the late Chief Willard Ackley,  also honored me with an Indian name Mushke – Ke – We – Neh – Nene, which means “man of medicine”.

This honor meant so much to not only me but to my whole family. I was very proud, still am proud, to be one of Crandon’s hometown Doctors.  Downtown businesses like Luigi’s, down the block, have come and gone over the years, but one thing remains true.  The people of Crandon care about each other and that’s what matters most.  Good luck with you tour.  Tell Luigi I said hello.