TOWN HISTORIES AND THIS N' THAT (Page three)
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What a wonderful life I've had!
I only wish I'd realized it sooner.
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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.
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Choice, not chance,
determines our destiny
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RIVER FALLS CITY
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
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
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.
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Normal day, let me be aware
of the treasure that you are.
Mary Jane Irion
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