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. http://forestcowi.wgxtreme.com/

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. https://publications.newberry.org/ahcbp/documents/WI_Individual_County_Chronologies.htm#FOREST: accessed 08/20/2019]

[source: Historical U.S. counties on Google Maps. Randy Majors. https://www.randymajors.com/p/maps.html : 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

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.

The Raymond House

Hello Forest County Residents!

This week I discovered a hotel registry for The Raymond House located in Crandon, Wisconsin at the Forest County Museum. I had not previously heard of this hotel and I was surprised to learn that another hotel was operating in Crandon besides The Park Hotel. From the registry I learned that this hotel operated from at least August 1901-November 1903. Harry Pooler, most likely was the clerk of the hotel due to the fact that his name was written many times in the front and back cover. Harry Pooler unfortunately died at the age of seventeen in 1903 after battling a bout of pneumonia for ten days. He may have picked up the illness from a passing traveler at the hotel. Harry’s brother Howard was a well known barber in the town.

An advertisement from the August 22, 1901 Forest Republican revealed that Joseph D. Raymond was the owner of the hotel. Joseph was born in St. Clair, Michigan in 1853. He came to Forest County in 1900 and remained here at least until 1905, according to The Federal Census. His occupation was listed as farmer and lumberman so he may have ran this hotel for extra income. He died in Isabella, Michigan in 1923. People traveling from Ireland, Canada, and all around the United States stopped at this hotel. According the registry J. Piermont Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and Grover Cleveland spend the night in Crandon. Former President Cleveland supposedly came to the Northwoods to do some fishing. This could be true because Cleveland was done with his presidency at this time and he listed his home address at Buzzard Bay which is where Cleveland owned a summer home. It is difficult to say for certain if these famous individuals stayed in Crandon because the clerk often wrote down the name so signatures could not be confirmed. But it is entirely possible that these great men of their time came to Crandon to get away from their work.

If any one has any information on the exact location of the hotel or has a photograph of the building I would love to see it!


Grover Cleveland's registration
Grover Cleveland’s registration


J.P. Morgan and Rockefeller registration
J.P. Morgan and Rockefeller registration

Crandon Golf Team Heads to State Tournament

Hello Forest County Residents!

I would like to congratulate the Crandon Golf Team on qualifying for the WIAA Division 3 State Tournament. The tournament will take place June 9-10 at the University Ridge Golf Course in Madison. If you see any of the Crandon golfers including Brady Weber, Sam Belland, Thomas VanZile, and Dakota Conley, wish them luck in their tournament play!

The Crandon golf team was first established in 1966 according to the Crandon High School Yearbook collection. There was not any description of the team in the yearbook or in the local papers that year but there was room for growth as the 1966 Yearbook declared they were “small in number but great in potential”. The WIAA high school boys spring golf tournament dates back to 1923 in Racine, Wisconsin in which 11 teams participated. Racine High School took first in that first competition with Arrowhead taking second. The tournament was held in Racine for three years before moving among many different communities. In 1989 it was turned into a two class tournament and in 1991 the three divisions were formed that are in use today. In 1994 the tournament was moved to University Ridge Course and it now the official location of the competition. The team that holds the title for most wins goes to Madison West High School with 15 championships(https://www.wiaawi.org/Sports/BoysGolf/History.aspx). Crandon High School might not have one of the oldest teams but I know they will do great!

golf team

Congratulations High School Graduates!

Hello Forest County!

I would like to congratulate all of the Forest County high school graduates! We are so proud of you! Now go out into the world and make your own history! In honor of the occasion I have attached a Forest Republican article detailing the 1939 Crandon High School graduation as well as a photograph of a few of that year’s graduates. According to the article it was the largest graduating class to come through Crandon yet, with 42 students in the senior class. At that time it was tradition for the senior class to put on a play for the public. This year’s play was entitled ” He was a Gay Senorita” and it was hailed a success by the local newspaper. If anyone has more photographs of local graduates from the past please feel free to share with us!

1939 graduation may29blog

The Wisconsin and Northern Comes to Town

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

I found an article in a Forest Republican from December 10, 1915 that I think captures one of the most exciting events in early Forest County history and allowed for many more opportunities. The column covers the grand opening of the Wisconsin and Northern railroad in Crandon which would connect to Shawano. This caused an increase in logging, allowed tourists to enjoy the natural beauty of the northwoods, and gave Forest County residents quick access to a larger city and all its amenities. I found the description and flowery language of the article amusing so I am including the entire column in this blog.

Big Crandon Turn Out

Twelve hundred people headed by a brass band met the first regular passenger train on the Wisconsin and Northern Railroad from Shawano Monday morning, December 6, 1915. The train arrived on time to a minute and when it rolled into the station a roar of voices greeted it. As it appeared along the shore of Lake Metonga, Mayor Himley grasped a spike maul and drove the last spike in an artistic manner. The crowd boarded the train of new coaches and had a look see all expressing satisfaction over the appearance of the long expected second link with our neighbors to the southward.

Some of the officials of the new road were expected to arrive on this train but failed to show up. Some railroad men are said to be very modest and perhaps this was the cause. Crandon had an orator loaded and primed for this auspicious occasion but he had to reserve his ammunition.

The train crew of this first train consisted of Harry Collins, conductor, Ed Swamer, engineer, Len Gunther, fireman, and Emil Frank, brakeman. Mr Guenther who formerly resided in Crandon was hauled out of the cab to shake hands with old friends.The turnout was spontaneous exhibition of friendliness toward the new road, its owners, officers,and employees.

In the afternoon of the same day Traffic Manager Trathen of the Wisconsin and Northern invited nineteen business men of Crandon to accompany him to Shawano on the return of the first passenger train. The train left here at 3 o’clock and made a quick run to Shawano. The party expressed surprise at the smooth running of the train which made fast time all along. The new line traverses nearly all the way a heavy body of timber scarcely a stick being cut until Neopit is reached. Many beautiful trout streams are crossed and we imagine there will be a fishing ground that will attract hundreds of fisherman next summer. The soil through the territory we crossed is excellent and when Lily was reached several fine farms could  be seen from the coach windows. This is going to be a beautiful county when it is cleared up and will support great population of farmers for the timber will pay many times for the clearing of the land.

The party had supper at the Murdock House and then went out on a hand shaking tour about the little city which of late years has greatly improved in appearance. Although the people of Shawano knew nothing of our coming it was easy to find many acquaintances and the time passed swiftly until bedtime. Everyone received a cordial greeting and also a little joshing regarding our fear of catching something although the Shawano folks said we did the right in postponing the proposed excursion. The Shawano people are as much pleased over the building of the road as are Crandon people, Shawano expecting a substantial benefit from the line that will open this great territory to them.

The Crandon men who made the trip feel under obligations to Traffic Manager Trathen for his courteous treatment in taking them to Shawano.

wisconsin and northern


Hotel Murdock early 1900s www3.familyoldphotos.com
Hotel Murdock early 1900s

The School Forests

Hello Forest County!

As I was going through the agricultural and forestry artifacts that the Forest County Museum I came across a booklet entitled “Annual Report of the County Agricultural Agent in Forest County Wisconsin 1928”. On several of the pages there are notes from the Forest County Land Council, which organized on February 11, 1928. The group was put together to create a balanced program of forestry, agriculture, and recreation. They were a group of business men with ties to not only farming but logging, milling, and resorts so that all areas of the county could prosper. One of their initiatives was to create three school forests in Crandon, Laona, and Wabeno made up of a total of 160 acres. This was a revolutionary idea, Forest County is the home of the first school forests in the United States. The Land Council came upon this idea with the help of H. L. Russell, Dean of the College of Agriculture at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Russell had seen Australian children planting trees on public tracts of land and believed the practice could be adopted in Wisconsin. Forest County was in desperate need of reforestation after fifty years of heavy logging that had stripped the land ( https://environment.madison.k12.wi.us/forest/edwischf.htm).

The Dedication ceremonies for the school forests were held on April 26th and 27th with H.L. Russell, John Callahan, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and W. McNeel, State Leader of the Junior Forest Rangers giving the speeches. The school children planted 83,700 Norway and White Pine seedlings with 2,400 of the seeds being planted on farms as a demonstration tool and the rest being deposited in the school forests (Annual Report, 1928). The school forests of Forest County are still being used today as an unique teaching tool for students.

Crandon School Forest
Crandon School Forest

Laona School Forest
Laona School Forest

Wabeno School Forest
Wabeno School Forest

Scribble and Scrawl

Hello Forest County Residents!

This week I was getting the Forest County Historical Society Museum into shape for another summer season. While rearranging the school room exhibit I came across an interesting packet of papers. It was a high school newspaper created by the Crandon High School junior class in January of 1947. The two editors-in-chief were Jeanne Sturzl and Cliff Asbach. There was also the sports editors: Bob Marsh and Bonnie Duff, gossip editors: Lillie McCabe and Jerry Cronce, humor editors: Bill Mountain and Margie Greisinger, music editors: Jane Russell and Danny Dehart, and advertising editor, Allan Stranz.

The front page article details what they believe Benjamin Franklin’s New Years resolutions would be based on the rules that governed his life. The second page is the humor page which features gems like a song matching contest like: “Rootin Tootin Cowboy” for Loyal Abney, “Why Did I Kiss that Girl” for Rod Chartraw, and “Rum and Coca Cola” for Mr. Geske. The third page names everyone in chorus (60 people!) and explains what the group is doing in the new year.  The last page is my favorite, the gossip column. There are a few of the most interesting contributions:

” What girl is taking inventory of all the available men in high school? That’s right Virginia Sharon!”

“Why was Rosie Spencer crying in her coke at Marsh’s Tuesday night? Is Joe Mean to her?”

“Miss Broulais came back from Christmas vacation with a sparkle in her eye and a sparkler on her hand! Wonder when the big event will be?”

I sincerely wish the local high schools still had newspapers they published because it is wonderful to look back on a certain time through the eyes of teenagers. I found three copies of this school newspaper at the museum but if anyone has other school newspapers I would love to see them.

Cover of newspaper
Cover of newspaper

Advertisement in back of newspaper
Advertisement in back of newspaper

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