Make your own free website on


* * * * * * * * * *
What a wonderful life I've had!
I only wish I'd realized it sooner.
* * * * * * * * * *


From the days of the earliest history, the site of the city of Prescott has been an important one. In the time of the red men, it became the camping place for parties going up and down the Mississippi and the St. Croix rivers, and many a bloody Indian battle has been fought here, some of which the white men learned the particulars of from the Indians in this vicinity at the time of the early settlements. It is not unlikely that the early French explorers, traders and Jesuits, made a landing at this point, but the first permanent white settlers were Philander Prescott, Col. Thompson, Dr. Emerson and Capt. Scott, the three last named being army officers at Fort Snelling, who recognized the advantages of the site as a strategic point, commanding the upper courses of the Mississippi and the mouth of the St. Croix, which is navigable from Prescott to Taylors Falls. Mr. Prescott, acting as agent for the others, made the claim in 1836, remaining three years to hold it, when it was left in care of Joseph Mosier until 1851. In 1837 seven acres were broken and fenced, constituting the entire landed improvements within the present bound of Pierce County. In 1849, 150 acres were improved. George Schaser and H. Doe were the first resident farmers.

From 1838 to 1849 a trading post for Indian supplies was kept by persons holding the claim. W. S. Lockwood opened a store in 1842, and other improvements were made. As the army officers were called to other fields of labor, Mr. Prescott soon found himself in the sole possession of the original claim, he purchasing their interests. In 1849, when the lands had been surveyed by the government, he entered sixty-one acres. In 1853 Dr. O. T. Maxon and W. J. Copp purchased the greater part of the town site and surveyed and platted it as the city of Prescott. A charter was obtained in 1857. A postoffice was established in 1840 called the "Mouth of the St. Croix," but it was removed across the lake and renamed Point Douglass. The postoffice was re-established at Prescott in 1852. Dr. O. T. Maxon was the first president. The number of persons who came that year to Prescott is estimated at 150. Mr. Schaser platted an addition to the city of sixty-one acres in 1855. When the city received its charter, the following officers were elected: Mayor, J. R. Freeman; aldermen-first ward, N. S. Dunbar, Thomas Dickerson, and Seth Ticknor; second ward-Hilton Doe, George W. Oakley and N. A. Miller; president of the council, Seth Ticknor; justices of the peace, I. T. Foster, O. Edwards; city attorney, P. V. Wise; city surveyor, Wm. Howes; superintendent of schools, Thomas Dickerson. William Schaser built the first frame house, and his wife was the first white woman settler. Their daughter, Eliza, was the first white child born in the new settlement. The first marriage was that of G. W. Murphy to a Miss Rice, April 24, 1848. The first death was that of W. S. Lockwood, in 1847. When the county of Pierce was organized, Prescott was designated as the county seat and so remained until 1862, when by popular election, Ellsworth was chosen.

The first school in the county was taught by a missionary named Denton at Prescott in 1843. In 1851 Miss Oliver taught a private school. In 1853 the first district school was established. The schoolboard were: Directors, M. Criag, George W. McMurphy; treasurer, N. S. Dunbar; clerk, Dr. O. T. Maxon; teacher, Miss Matthews. The first school house was built in 1854. A building for a graded school was erected in 1859. A high school edifice was built at a cost of $20,000. The first religious society was that of the Methodists, organized in 1853, under the labors of Rev. Norris Hobart. The first building of this body was erected in 1856. In 1868 a new church was erected, which is still in use. In 1854 the Baptist church was organized by the Rev E. W. Cressy. In 1854 the Congregationalists organized, with Rev. P. Hall as pastor. In 1855 they built a brick church. The Lutheran church was organized in 1865 by the Rev. C. Thayer. The Episcopal Church was organized in 1872 during the pastorate of the Rev. M. Guild. Previous to the organization, Revs. Breck, Wilcoxson and Peabody, had labored from time to time. The Catholic Church was organized by the Rev. Father Vervais in 1860 and in 1868 a church edifice was built. The Masons perfected an organization in 1856, the Odd Fellows in 1868, and the G. A. R. in 1884. Prescott City is beautifully located at the junction of the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers.

The business portion of the city is on a terrace at the base of the bluff, being between the bluff and the lake and river. The public buildings, churches, school house and residences are chiefly on the upper terrace or bluff, and command an extensive and beautiful view. The two rivers at the junction are about 1,000 feet wide with an average depth of fifteen feet. The banks slope to the water's edge or stand in some places in vertical ledges, thus forming a natural quay, along the entire front of the city. The quay or landing is semi-circular in shape, and the upper terrace or bench, is likewise semi-circular in shape, the convexity being toward the river and the lake. The crest of the terrace is worn by the water into ravines, leaving rounded points or promontories, on the summit of which the ancient mound builders left unmistakable traces of their art and occupancy. The new proposed waterway from Lake Superior to the Gulf will restore to Prescott the commercial prestige which it at one time bade fair to realize. In 1856 Messrs. Silverthorn and Dudley started a saw mill, which they operated until 1861, when Mr. Dudley purchased his partner's interest and erected a flouring and saw mill. A wagon and carriage factory was established in 1862, the Prescott brewery in 1866 by N. P. Husting and the Prescott machine shops in 1876 by H B. Failing. The city bank of Prescott was organized in 1858, Charles Miller, president, and W. P. Westfall, cashier; capital stock, $50,000. It closed in 1862. The national bank was established in 1877 by W. S. Miller.

Following are some of the prominent men of Prescott in the early days: George Schaser was a native of Austria, came to this locality in 1841 and pre-empted land in 1849, previously having erected the first frame house in the village. In 1858 he erected a brick hotel known as the St. Nicholas. He died May 3, 1884, leaving a widow, nee Christine Bucher, and four children, Henry, Edward, George A., and Emma. William S. Lockwood was born in New York State, came to Prairie du Chien, Wis., in 1833, and to Prescott in 1842. He died in 1847. James M. Bailey was one of the pioneer clerks and treasurer of St. Croix County when that county included Pierce County. He was born in Sullivan county, New York, in 1824 and came to Prescott in 1849, engaging in farming, mercantile and real estate business. He married Nettie Crippin in 1856 and had three children, Victor, Myrtle, and Jessamine. Adolph Werkman was born in Germany in 1826, came to America in 1847 and to Prescott in 1848. Joseph Manese, known as Joseph Abear, was a native of lower Canada and became one of the early settlers of Prescott. He was a man of many adventures, and died 1884. Hilton Doe was born in New York State and in 1840 settled in Red Wing, Minn., as Indian farmer. In 1844 he came to Prescott, in 1844 married a Miss Daily and in 1884 passed away. Lute A. Taylor, who enjoyed considerable local reputation as a humorist and writer, came to River Falls in 1856, later to Prescott, publishing the "Prescott Journal," continuing until 1860, when he moved to La Crosse and established the "Leader." He died in 1872. John Huitt came here in 1847, built a blacksmith shop in the village and a saw and planing mill on the Trim Belle River. He died at Trim Belle in 1873. John M. Rice was born in Massachusetts in 1805, married Mary A. Goodenough in 1828, located in Illinois and in 1847 came to Prescott. He died in 1878. The present population of Prescott is 1,002. Reference: Taken from "History of the St. Croix Valley", published in 1909.

* * * * * * * * * *
Choice, not chance,
determines our destiny
* * * * * * * * * *


By an act of the legislature approved March 18, 1885, a city charter was granted to the citizens of the territory now embraced within the limits of the city of River Falls. The organization was effected April 7, 1885, by the election of city officers; those then chosen being A. D. Andrews, mayor; W. W. Wadsworth, S. M. Rosenquist, and Leonard Stiles, aldermen; E. H. Daniels, assessor; G. E Pratt, treasurer and R. R. Bouren, justice of the peace at large. The minor elective offices were also chosen at this time. At the first meeting of the new council held on the eight day of April 1885, Allen P. Weld was chosen by the council as city clerk. Dr. Andrews, the mayor, at once took and active part in perfecting the organization of the city. Ordinances and by-laws were adopted and steps taken to carry them into effect. Unhappily for the new city Dr. Andrews was struck with a mortal disease, a few weeks after the election, and died on July 23, 1885. His funeral was attended by all of the officers of the city and vicinity, who gathered to pay the last respects to a worthy citizen and faithful officer. J. D. Putnam was chosen as his successor on August 3, next ensuing. As one of the objects in obtaining a city charter had been to afford the citizens a more favorable opportunity for local improvements than were practicable under the township organization, the first work was naturally in the line of putting in better sidewalks, streets and bridges, and much activity was shown in this direction. At the outset lumber being cheap and the use of cement almost unknown the sidewalks were constructed of wood and a large amount of this material was put down. In later years, however, the use of plank for this purpose has been entirely discontinued and at present the wooden walks are being replaced with cement as rapidly as possible, the city having expended more than five thousand dollars for this purpose within the past three years. The general history of the city since 1885 has been that of one growing in wealth and population with few striking experiences. The city government has moved smoothly, little fault being found with the work of its officials and as a rule changes have been infrequent. The mayors of the city have been Dr. A. D. Andrews, who died in a few months after his election in 1885, and was succeeded by Prof. J. B. Thayer, then a professor in the State Normal School. In 1886 Dr. Edward Ballard was elected and held the office until April 1888, and afterward was again elected in 1890, and served until 1896. W. L. Perrin served from April 1888 until April 1889, and was succeeded by B. A. Brackett, who held the office one-year. George W. Chinnock was elected in 1896 and held the office for three years, being succeeded in 1899 by James Dunn, who held the office until April 1902, when he was succeeded by Andrew Lund, who served two years. James Dunn was again elected in 1904, but resigned before his term was completed on account of business engagements. F. M. White, Esq., was chosen to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Mr. Dunn, and upon the expiration of his term was re-elected and continued to serve until April 1908, when Victor E. Bailey was elected. There have been but three city clerks, Allen P. Weld, F. L. Perrin, and Amot T. Carroll. Of the officials above named, A. D. Andrew, E. Ballard, W. L Perrin, J. D. Putnam, and Amos T. Carroll have died and J. B. Thayer and F. A. Brackett have removed from the city. In 1894 a sever flood swept down the valley of the Kinnickinnic, destroying a large amount of property. In this disaster the city lost two fine steel bridges, one at Cedar street and one at Maple street, both of which had a short time previously been erected at a cost of about $5,000. Temporary structures of wood were put in and one of these was taken down in 1908 and a fine steel arch bridge with concrete floor constructed at a cost, for the bridge and approaches, being $13,000, the cost of the superstructure and abutments being $12,250. The city now owns three steel bridges, costing in the aggregate about $20,000 and will soon erect another across the main stream.

At the time of his death O. S. Powell, Esq., left to his family, among other real estate, a tract of land lying along the Kinnickinnic river, which he had held for the purpose of developing a water power at the Powell Falls. A part of this land lies upon the plateau about eighty feet above the stream. His sons in 1898 offered that part of the tract which lay most favorably for the purpose, to the city at a low price, on consideration that it should be used for a public park. The city accepted the proposition and purchased twenty acres, which is designated as Glen Park. The subsequent purchase of the rest of the holdings connected with the waterpower has added materially to the extent and beauty of the park. The land at that time was in its natural state, nothing having been done for its improvement. It was covered with small trees and underbrush. A board of park commissioners was elected, of whom John Barrett, Esq., was elected president of the board. Mr. Barrett took a deep interest in the improvement of the park and in a short time the brush had been cut out, more trees planted and a neat rustic building erected, which is used as a kitchen for picnic parties. The park has become a very popular place of resort for people. Nearly every day during the summer season parties may be found there enjoying the cool shade afforded by the abundant trees or taking their picnic dinners around the kitchen. Messrs. Barrett and Foster erected a large pavilion upon the grounds, which afford an opportunity for public entertainments. Mr. Barrett died a few years ago and since his death the Park board have acquired his interests in the pavilion. In 1903 the city purchased the remaining part of the tract held by the Powells and erected a dam to furnish waterpower for its electric lighting system. The pond formed by this damn has given an additional attraction to the park, as it affords a fine opportunity for bathing and for the use of boats, it giving a water area of about fifteen acres. The park and its surroundings are now very picturesque, affording a combined forest and river view, which is ever a delight to the visitors. The ladies of the city have formed a Ladies' Improvement League, and this organization has been very active and helpful in improving the public places in the city.

In 1878 the Hudson & River Falls railroad had been built from Hudson and River Falls. This road had been promoted by A. B. Stickney, Horace Thompson and other St. Paul men who were interested in the St. Paul & Sioux City railroad. A. D. Andrews and other prominent citizens of the city also gave their aid. The road was operated independently for several years, but later became the property of the C., St. P., M. & O. Ry., and is now operated as a part of its system. The original road from Hudson to River Falls cost, without equipment, about $150,000. At this time there was a large amount of timberland within a few miles of the city and the flouring industry was large. In those days the railroad yards presented a busy aspect. They were crowded with lumber, cordwood and railroad material, the shipments of all these articles being very heavy. At this time also the Junction Mills was turning out from 300 to 400 barrels of flour daily, and the Prairie Mills had also a goodly output. Owing also to the large attendance at the Normal School, the passenger traffic was heavy. In 1882, however, the road was extended to Ellsworth, Beldenville and Ellsworth, each being nearer the timberlands. The shipment of these products practically ceased at River Falls. The decrease in the wheat crop and litigation affecting the Junction Mills caused a serious drop in flour manufacture, and for a time the freight interests of the city grew less. But in a few years the farming community came to realize that the lands could be farmed to better advantage than by simply raising grain, and diversified farming has been the rule for many years. The result of this has been a revival of the freighting industry and now the city is an important shipping point for all kinds of farm products and also for some manufactured articles. Its proximity to St. Paul also gives a large local passenger traffic, necessitating two passenger trains each way daily. The railroad company has provided a very neat passenger depot and a good freight warehouse, as well as convenient and well arranged stock yards. The Ladies' Improvement League has for several years maintained a fine flower bed in the center of a triangular tract near the depot grounds and has kept the tract in order, adding much to the appearance around the station.

For several years after the city had commenced its career the only fire protection that was in existence was first a bucket brigade with a small number of ladders, next a hand fire engine, but from time to time the question of more efficient means of protection was discussed, until in 1894 the need had become so manifest that it was decided to put in a system of waterworks, both for supply for fires and for domestic use. Bonds to the amount of $25,000 were issued and a contract was let to Messrs. Fairbanks, Morse & Co. to do the work. A fine reservoir was excavated in the solid rock on one of the mounds, which look down upon the place and lined with heavy masonry. A pumping station was erected and a system of piping laid, the amount being over 20,000 feet. The elevation of the reservoir is about 165 feet above Main Street, and the pressure is sufficient for all needed purposes. Since that date several extensions have been made until now the system represents a cost of about $40,000. Fully two-thirds of the houses in the city are supplied with "city water," and there is also a generous supply of fountains for drinking purposes for animals and men and also for ornamental purposes. The source of supply is from artesian wells, three in number. Encouraged by the success of the waterworks system, in 1900 the people determined to provide an electric lighting plant to furnish its citizens with light and also to light the streets. At this time, however, the city could not, on account of the constitutional limitation, issue sufficient amount of bonds to complete the plant. Patriotic citizens came to the rescue and provided funds to purchase the Junction Mills and Foster water power and construct a power plant, while the city itself put in the wiring and dynamos. A contract was made with these citizens providing that the city might purchase the plant from them at a stipulated price, which simply covered actual cost. In a few years the city took the plant and it is now entirely owned by the corporation. Up to the present date there has been expended upon the lighting system about $40,000. More than two-thirds of the cost of the municipal plants has been paid, the indebtedness arising from this source being now not more than @24,000. Other notable municipal improvements are a large amount of cement walks, a new steel arch bridge costing about $13,000 and two other iron bridges valued at $5,000.

The first bank organized in this territory was that of the Bank of River Falls, the principal stockholder and organizer being J. M. Smith, Esq. With him were associated the Burhyte Brothers, L. Stiles, Esq., and others. This bank had a capital of $25,000 and met with immediate success. For many years it paid liberal dividends to its stockholders and had the confidence of hundreds of depositors. Evil fortune overtook it in 1894, but it survived the period of depression. A little later, however, the local owner united with the Farmers' & Merchants' State Bank and the two banks were merged under the latter title. The Farmers' & Merchants' State Bank came into existence in 1893. Its first president was W. P. Carr, N. B. Bailey being the cashier. The bank suffered but little from the panic of 1894 at first, but as much of its capital was invested in outside securities, it was found necessary to follow a conservative plan until these could be realized upon. The bank is now doing a large business and is prospering. The present principal officers are: George W. Chinnock, president; C. N. Wiger, cashier, and R. S. McGregor, assistant cashier. In 1904 a Mr. Welcome, of Minneapolis, Minn., with the aid of some local people, founded the First National Bank, of River Falls, with a capital of $25,000.

Mr. Welcome soon after sold out his interests and the control of the bank passed into the hands of W. G. Spence, Esq., formerly a banker at Spring Valley, in this county. The bank is doing an excellent business upon conservative lines. Its present officers are: George T. Smith, president, and W. G. Spence, cashier. The two banks above mentioned have deposits of more than $400,000, most, if not all, of these coming from the immediate locality, the farmers contributing no small share. Most of their funds are loaned locally and in a careful manner.

The general merchandising of the city is represented mostly by R. N. Jenson, the oldest merchant in the place, who commenced on a limited capital over thirty years ago-the Stewart Mercantile Company, a corporation; Norseng Brothers, C. T. Ritchey and J. W. Allard, all doing a successful business. All of these firms have grocery departments connected with thei stores. Exclusive grocery stores are conducted by C. F. Heinrich and D. V. Dawson. The hardware business is represented by four firms-George J. Dodge & Son, F. W. Sturtevant & Co., Dunn Brothers and A. W. Lund. There are two lumberyards, conducted by F. D. Ensign and the Consolidated Lumber Company, respectively. For several years the only livery has been conducted by A. H. Lord, Esq., who has been at the same stand for more than thirty years. He keeps an excellent stock and does a large business. At an early date the flouring industry was quite extensive, but at present little is done in that line, owing largely to the fact that there is so much less wheat raised in this vicinity. Some manufacturing is done for local markets by the Whitcomb-Campbell Company, but their principal business is dealing in grain and farm products. They occupy the old Prairie Mills, the first one to be erected in the city. Elliott & Wasson, George Fortune and the Wisconsin Elevator Company have quite an amount of trade in grain and feed and do a good shipping business. W. H. Putnam also deals in grain and farm produce, but devotes more of his attention to beekeepers' supplies, in which he has a good and growing trade. The furniture and undertaking business is represented by two firms, O. W. Newcomb & Co. and I. I. Lusk. There are two drug stores, one conducted by R. S. Freeman & Co. and the other by C. R. Taggart & Co. E. E. & H. L. Levings are the only exclusive book and stationary dealers, though some of the other establishments have limited stocks of paper and books, etc. J. H. Johnson is making a success with a 10-cent store. H. A. Hagerstadt & Co. have the only exclusive clothing store; C. F. Winter has a jewelry store, finely fitted up. He also carries a stock of electric fixtures and does watch repairing. Frank Peterson also repairs watches and jewelry and carries a stock of goods. Messrs. Carish & Sons and A. W. Lund each have quite extensive wagon shops in connection with their business and deal in agricultural machinery, harness and agricultural implements.

There are three hotels, all having an excellent reputation. The Gladstone is conducted by Oliver Tuttle, the Parker by C. D. McKinnon and the City by Mrs. Stahl. N. A. Thelander owns and manages the only opera house. Messrs. H. W. Thomson, Frank Demulling and Henry Zorn each have blacksmith shops where they do work in their line in a very acceptable manner.

Merchants have in general had excellent success in the city. Very few failures have taken place within the last twenty years, and several of those now here have been in trade for many years. The dealers in fuel are F. D. Ensign, the Consolidated Lumber Company and F. A. Howe. The Milton Dairy Company has a fine creamery near the railroad station and are doing an excellent business. J. S. Wadsworth and Hans T. Wiger each have fine boot and shoe stores and keep a good stock in this line. There are seven church edifices in the city, having a total seating capacity of over 2,000. These are the Roman Catholic Church, known as the St. Bridget's congregation; an Episcopal, Congregational, Methodist, Baptist and two Lutheran churches. The largest edifice is that occupied by the St. Bridget's congregation, but nearly all of the others are fine buildings. School interests are cared for by the Fourth State Normal School building a fine edifice recently erected in place of a former one, which was burned a few years ago. The building has a capacity of 300 pupils and the rooms are always well filled. The president of the school is W. J. Brier, who has the aid of an efficient corps of teachers. There is also the High School building, erected in 1880, but which has been greatly enlarged, having now a capacity for about 400 pupils and employing thirteen teachers. Both schools have a more than local reputation and many fine teachers and professional men have been pupils in them in days past. The present principal of the High School is Prof. J. W. Ames, who has been at the head of the school for a number of years.

River Falls boasts of two excellent newspapers, one owned by C. R. Morse, Esq., known as the "River Falls Journal." The "Journal" was originally instituted by the Taylor Brothers in 1857. It was discontinued upon their accepting positions elsewhere, but was revived at a later date by Abner Morse, Esq., and after his death it became the property of his son, C. R. Morse. It has a large circulation and makes a specialty of local news. It is Republican in politics. The "River Falls Times" was formerly issued under the direction of Iver H. Smith, Esq., but subsequently passed under the control of Percy A. Roberts, Esq. Mr. A.P. Roberts has aimed to make it an independent paper, devoted to local improvement of the city especially, and has written some strong editorials on the subject. The paper has a good circulation and is doing a good work in the city.

River Falls is well supplied with lawyers, there being now Messrs. White and Skogmo, W.P. Knowles, Esq., Jay Grimm, Esq., and Allen P. Weld, Esq., all of whom are prospering. The justice of the peace at large is E. P. Sanderson, Esq., before whom most of the local cases are brought. Andrew Lien, Ewq., holds the position of justice in the first ward. Reference: Taken from "History of the St. Croix Valley", published in 1909.

* * * * * * * * * *
Normal day, let me be aware
of the treasure that you are.
Mary Jane Irion
* * * * * * * * * *