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Tales of the Northwoods

Echoes From Rhinelander's Past


Volume 2

By

Mark J. Miazga

Hodag PressR
Copyright ©2004 by Mark Miazga
All rights reserved.

Cover and book design by Jeremy Weizel, Wink Design Co.


www.winkwerks.com

Publication Data:

Miazga, Mark J. 1968 -


Tales of the Northwoods: Echoes From Rhinelander's Past Vol. 2
Includes bibliographical references.

1. Rhinelander, Wisconsin-History
2. Hockey, Wisconsin, Rhinelander-History
3. Oneida Co. Courthouse, Wisconsin, Rhinelander- History
4. Fires, Wisconsin, Rhinelander-History
5. Ojibway, Wisconsin, Rhinelander- History
6. P1isoners of War, Wisconsin, Rhinelander-History
7. Roads, Wisconsin, Rhinelander- History
I. Title

ISBN 0-9653745-3-X

Hodag Press·
14704 Yosemite Ave So.
Savage, MN 55378
In Memo;y Of
Vi.dd Marie Miazga
1956-2003
Acknowledgments

This book would not have been possible without the encourage-
ment and support of my family. I am also grateful for the editorial assis-
tance of Kristin Larsen and Barbara Starr. Kevin Norton assisted with
research at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin in Madison.

Clarence "Buck" Puza, Assistant Fire Chief of the Rhinelander


Fire Department, allowed access to the historical collections and photo-
graphs at the Rhinelander Fire Department. His assistance helped me to
develop a better understanding of the major fires in Rhinelander's histo-
ry. Delore "Pat" Deau and Kenneth "Pooch" Cheslock provided me with
historical recollections, insight, and photographs for the chapter on
Rhinelander city hockey. Hal Berndt, former supervisor of the Hugo
Sauer Nursery, provided information for the chapter on Rhinelander's
World War II prisoner of war camp. The staff at the State Historical
Society of Wisconsin in Madison and at the regional archives in Ashland,
were also helpful. Books, microfilmed newspaper, and historical collec-
tions at the Madison site were especially helpful for my chapters on his-
toric roads and the Ojibway-Sioux battle along the Pelican River. Lastly,
a special thanks to my former boss, U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone, who
was the most admired and principled public servant I ever worked for. He,
along with my parents Henry and Laura Miazga, taught me to never sep-
arate the life you live from the words you speak.-MJM-

Saint Paul, Minnesota


May, 2004
Table of Contents

Chapter 1
Rhinelander Hornets and the Heyday of City Hockey 11

Chapter 2
History of the Oneida County Courthouse 35

Chapter 3
Major fires in Rhinelander History 47

Chapter 4
Rhinelander as Ancient Site of Ojibway-Sioux Battle 75

Chapter 5
Rhinelander and the Green Bay Packers 85

Chapter 6
World War II Enemy Prisoners of War in Rhinelander 99

Chapter 7
Historic Northwoods Roads 111
Rhinelander Hornets and the Heyday of City Hockey 11

Chapter 1

Rhinelander Hornets and the Heyday


of City Hockey

One of the most successful, but little known, athletic teams in


Rhinelander history was the Rhinelander Hornet city hockey team of the
1940s and 1950s. Originally known as the "West Side Shamrocks," they
first played games on a small pond near the \Vest Side School, then later
moved to Pioneer Park. \Vhen players got together again after World War
II, the name was changed to "Hornets" because of the colors of their new
uniforms, purple and gold. I

Early History

During the 1930s each section of town had its own hockey team.
The teams combined to make up a league. The west side of the city had
a particularly enthusiastic group of players that played on a little lake
behind the West Side School. This lake served as both the practice and
game rink for the players who would later play on a perennial city state
championship team. By 1940 the city league had dispersed. It was in
1940 that John "Happy" Stafford, a one-time strong hockey player him-
self, began recruiting players for a city hockey team.2 Stafford found a
strong nucleus for a city team in the west side players and a city team was
developed out of this west side team. Stafford's fast city team played
with no unifonns and little equipment. Its record was mediocre. The
United States' entry into World War JI came along in December, 1941.
Many of the city team players went on to serve their country during World
War 11 and the city hockey team was disbanded during this period. After
the war ended, the majority of the pre-World War II team came back to
continue where they had left off. Some members of the pre-World War II
12 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
team that did not play after the war included Bob Kuelrn who was killed
during the war, Toot Sweo, and Ed Poskie.3 Once again, "Happy" Stafford
took over the coaching duties of tbe team to help them along. The post-
war teams of 1946-47 and 1947-48 were just beginning to play together
and fonni.ng the roots of what would become a very successful and well-
respected hockey team across the state of Wisconsin. The 1947-48 team
played in the Vacationland Hockey League which included teams from
Stevens Point, Marshfield, Eau Claire, and Chippewa Falls and may have
included teams from other cities as well. 4 The skiII of this young Hornet
team was evident in victories over Chippewa Falls and Marshfield. The
young and aggressive Hornet team was also frequently hurt by many
penalties. During the second game against Chippewa Falls that year, the
Hornets eked out a 4 to 3 victory despite amassing nine penalties during
the tilt and playing much of the final period of the game with only two men
on the ice because ofpenalties.5 Other highlights of that season included
a 4-2 victory over Marshfield which gave the young Hornet team a three
game winning streak and a third victory over Chippewa Falls by a score of
5-2 at Pioneer Park before roughly 400 fans.6 Members of the 1947-48
team according to newspaper accounts of the season included goalie Bob
Netling, Woody Ek, Joe Jaroski, Walt Jaroski, Ed Jaroski, Ed Pecore,
Ralph Mischnick, Fredrich, Bodwin, Ed Danilko, Pete Predith, Bob
Kennedy Jr., and Yem Baudhuin. Incidentally, the Rhinelander High
School hockey program also received its start during the season of 1947-
48 when then principal Cedric Vig organized a team and set up games
against Eagle River, Wausau, Shorewood and Count:Jy Day from the
Milwaukee area.7 The 1947-48 Hornet team still lacked the proper equip-
ment to be more competitive and needed a manager who had the time to
give to the various details of the organization. This problem was solved
when the team met for the 1948-49 season. Oran Rude took over the man-
aging duties. He and the players solicited local businesses and obtained
enough money to buy equipment and unifonns. Ed Jaroski and Frank
Lemmons came up with the name "Hornets" and the team became official-
ly known as the Rhinelander Hornets. 8

The 1948-49 Hornet team did not play in an officia l league, but
rather played teams from throughout Wisconsin and Upper Michigan
including Tomahawk, Wausau, Mosinee, Bruce Crossing, Michigan, and
Stambaugh, Michigan.9 Fans remember these trips to Upper Michigan as
Rhinelander Hornets and the Heyday of City Hockey 13

being some of the coldest games played by the city team with air temper-
atures reaching as low as 20 to 25 degrees below zero.IO The 1948-49
team had a rough reputation among teams they played. One newspaper
account of the period illustrated this. Under the heading of "City Team
Plays Rough, 'Jacks Quit" was the following aiticle:

"Players of the Rhinelander city hockey team are much too


rough. That's what members of the Wausau sextet said here
Saturday night after walking out in the second period of their
match at Pioneer Park. Wausau was in front 2-0 in the second
period when it decided to call it quits after accusing the
Rhinelander squad of illegal checking and high-sticking. As
forecast, the match was rough, but the visitors claim that
Manager Oran Rude's squad was not playing the game that the
men who write the rules say it should be played.

"Three or four Wausau players were sent limping from the


rink during the heated rough-and-tumble brawl which some fans
said bore little resemblance to hockey. Some criticism was also
directed by Wausau at the officials for not cracking down on the
illegal playing of the Rhinelander team, which was seeking its
third straight win. Joe Jaroski, Rhinelander wing, said today that
the game was rough but no rougher than other games played by
the city team and its foes this season. He said that Wausau play-
ers declared that a player couldn't take two steps and then check
another player, but Jaroski said a rule book was produced to show
that such a maneuver was legal. However, the Wausau players
disagreed and walked off the ice, despite pleas by their manager
that they continue the game.

"Kermit Ek, team follower, said it was the first time he ever
saw such a thing (quitting in the middle of a game). 'The game
was rougher in the first period than it was in the second ', Ek said.
'Why didn 't they protest then? But they waited until the second
period when they took a 2-0 lead before quitting. It looks funny
to me,' Ek stated."11

This Hornet team continued to show promise of better things to


come throughout the 48-49 season. Rhinelander lost its first game of that
14 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
season to Stambaugh by only a 3-1 margin despite having had no formal
practice before the game.12 The Hornets continued to get better that sea-
son posting an impressive 14-0 victory against Tomahawk and avenging
an earlier loss to Stambaugh with a 6-3 victory later in the season.13 The
fact that this Rhinelander team had a lot of impressive talent and poten-
tial was best summed up in the following newspaper account following
the Stambaugh victory entitled "Rhinelander Tips Stambaugh, 6-3, in
Hockey Battle" :

" Improving steadily with each game, the Rhinelander city


hockey team rang up a sound 6 to 3 win over a scrappy
Stambaugh, Michigan sextet at Pioneer Park last night. Vernon
Baudhuin and Joe Jaroski tallied two goals apiece to lead
Manager Oran Rude's team to its third win in four starts this sea-
son. The victory squared the series with Stambaugh at one
apiece. Eddie Pecore opened the scoring in the first period and
Baudhuin followed with another goal to give Rhinelander a 2 to
0 lead. The score went to 3 to 0 on Jaroski 's tally in the second
stanza before Stambaugh could dent the scoring column. After
Baudhuin made it 4 to I, Stambaugh connected again to put the
score at 4 to 2 after two periods of play.

"The Rhinelander lead was threatened when the visitors


made it 4-3 early in the third period but Jaroski came through
with his second goal and Pete Predith bagged his first to send the
city team safely in front. Although 10 penalties were called dur-
ing the game-seven on Rhinelander-no hard feelings developed
between members of the two teams who visited together after the
game. The competitors played hard, good hockey and played it
fairly. Goalie Bob Nettling had 30 stops for Rhinelander and his
competitor across the ice had 21."

Newspaper accounts of 1948-49 indicate that membership on this


team changed little, if at all, from the 1947-48 Hornet squad. One addi-
tion to the Hornet squad was Bob Cheslock and Delore "Pat" Deau. 14
Local interest in the team increased during this season when room need-
ed to be made on the east side of the rink area for cars to be parked and
tickets began to be sold at a cost of 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for
children. 15
Rhinelander Hornets and the Heyday of City Hockey 15

Larry Dahl and the Hornet Powerhouse

Perhaps no single individual deserves more credit for the success


of the Hornet hockey team than player-coach Lawrence Dahl who arrived
on the scene for the beginning of the Hornets 1949-50 season. Dahl came
to Rhinelander to work in the city recreation department headed by Ray
Sorenson. Dahl had previously lived, worked, and played hockey in the
province of Ontario, Canada. Dahl recognized the potential of the Hornet
team he inherited. The team bad a great deal of natural skill and ability
and was very good at playing what was referred to as "sh inny hockey".
Shinny hockey was an infonnal, unorganized brand of hockey character-
ized by very aggressive skating and little formal hockey training.16 Due
to its informal, unorganized nature, the " rules" of shinny varied from
place to place and region to region. For example, the Canadian version
of shinny hockey was characterized by skating and passing with no slap-
shots and no checking.17 The Northern Wisconsin version of shinny
hockey was characterized by more aggressive skating and frequent
checking.18 Shinny hockey is also the type of hockey often played by
young children on rivers, ponds, and lakes and was considered the pred-
ecessor to the once popular ball hockey played on city asphalt or dirt
streets.19 Dahl taught the Hornet team a more organized, positional type
of hockey including how to pass better and how to maintain one's posi-
tion. His education and motivation turned the team into a faster, slicker,
better-passing club than ever before. 20 The Hornet club that season was
again forced to play an independent schedule because it was unable to
hook up with a league before the season started.2 1

The Hornets opened that season with a I0-3 loss at the hands of
the Eagle River Northemaire Falcons. The Falcons were a highly
respected team who had played in the Michigan-Ontario-Wisconsin
Hockey League for several seasons. The league included former profes-
sional hockey players such as Tony Bukovich of the Portage Lake,
Michigan team who had played professional hockey with the Indianapolis
Capitols and the Detroit Red Wings.22 Most of the teams in this league
recruited players from several cities, states, and other regions in addition
to their immediate city. The 1949-50 Fa lcons were members of the
Northern Lakes Hockey League23 and were still considered to be a team
of slightly higher caliber than most city teams. Despite this loss, the
16 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
Hornets showed vast improvement over the 1948-49 team.24 The
Hornets dropped their second game of the season against Wausau, 5- l.
One roster change made after this game was the move of Ed Pecore to the
position of goalie. This occuned after the retirement of goalie Bob
Netling.25 After a mediocre start to the season, the Hornets began to play
very impressive hockey with a combination of a high-scoring offense and
the extremely strong showing of Pecore behind the net.26

Despite the mediocre start to the season, the Hornets went on


to post a strong victory over a good Wausau Lumbe1jack team by a
score of 8 to 4.27 That victory prompted the Rhinelander Daily News
to publish the following article reflecting on Dahl's influence over
Rhinelander hockey that season:

"Once known as a 'ditty' team that substituted rough tactics


on the ice for hockey skill, the Rhinelander Hornets of 1950 are
erasing that tarnished reputation game by game and are now
regarded as an organization that plays the game bard but clean.
There's a world of difference between the present team and the
one that carried the city's banners in prior years, despite the fact
that the roster includes almost the same players.

"Before this season, the city hockey team became involved in


one brawl after another. The frequent duels on the ice gradually
brought the Rhinelander club a reputation of being 'dirty'. A year
or so ago, for example, Wausau players walked off the ice to
protest against the rough stuff employed by the city players." But
take what happened last week against that same Wausau team.
Our city team defeated the Lumberjacks 8 to 4. But the remark-
able thing about it was the fact that the Hornets did not draw a
single penalty! Three periods of hard hockey for the team with-
out a single infraction of the rules! One of the p1ime reasons for
the change in the Hornets ' play is the presence of Lawrence Dahl,
player-coach who learned his hockey where they play it the best-
in Canada. Dahl has taken the squad in hand and taught it plen-
ty of hockey know-how, which has resulted in a scrappy, spirited
team that wants to win and goes all out all the way.

"There's no complaint from the opposition this season about


Rhinelander Hornets and the Heyday of City Hockey 17

'rough stuff'. In contrast to previous winters when opposing


players often sacrificed a few teeth or broken bones before the
game was over. The unnecessary rough play is a thing o f the past
for the current Hornets who won't revert to that kind of hockey
unless they're goaded into it by the opposition.

"After a shaky start, the Hornets have settled down to top-


notch hockey that bas produced recent wins over Mosinee and
Wausau, a pair of strong teams."28

The Hornet goaltending, defense and offense seemed to meld


together to form a formidab le force on the ice after this game. Goalie Ed
Pecore helped lead the team to a victory over a good Mosinee team when
he allowed only one goal in a 2- 1 victory. The Hornet defense played
strong in the Mosinee and Wausau games and received praise from coach
Lawrence Dahl who particularly praised the play of Ed, Walt, and Ray
JaroskJ.29 The Hornet offense continued to put on strong performances,
racking up victories over Bruce Crossing, Michigan 6-3, the Eagle River
Northernaire Falcons 5-4, and the Eagle River Wildcats 7-2.30 Joe
Jaroski scored 4 goals in the 8-4 Hornet victory over Wausau and fol-
lowed that up with another 4 goal petfonnance in the 6-3 victory over
Bruce Crossing. In back-to-back encounters against the Wildcats, the
Hornets won convincingly by scores of 7-2 and 14-3. Jaroski was again
on fire in this game as be amassed a total of eight goals. The 14-3 score
brought the Hornets to a 9-3 record on a season that began with an 0-2
start. The Hornets were now being described as a "Northern Wisconsin
hockey powerhouse."31

After recording their ninth win in a row during the season against
the squad from Bruce Crossing, Michigan, the Hornets began preparing
for the state amateur hockey playoffs in March of 1950. The Hornets
were scheduled to compete for the northern division title. Fond Du Lac
had already won the southern division title and was awaiting their north-
ern opponent for the state amateur hockey championship game. Coach
Dahl elected to play the same starters for the playo ffs that had started dur-
ing the nine-game w inning streak. These players were Ed Pecore at
goalie, Walt and Ed Jaroski on defense, Woody Ek at center, and Larry
Dahl and Joe Jaroski at the wing position. Other players on this Hornet
roster included Ray Jaroski, Ray Blonsk.i, Wayne Bodwin, Vernon
18 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
Baudhuin, Pete Predith, and Kermit Ek.3 2 The Hornets blasted tlu-ough
the tournament with three victories in a thirty hour period en route to the
northern division title. The Hornets soundly defeated all three of their
opponents. In the first game against Tomahawk, RJ1jnelander posted a
12-2 victory and followed that up with a 7-2 victory against Green Bay
and an 8-2 victory against Wausau for the northern title and their twelfth
straight victory.33

The following weekend this RJ1inelander Hornet hockey team


would continue their strong rise to the top with a I 0-3 victory at Eagle
River stadium over the Fond du Lac Bears for the Wisconsin state ama-
teur hockey title. The Hornets offensive onslaught was led by Joe Jaroski
who scored four goals and Wayne Bodwin who scored three goals. The
Hornets completed their season by winning 13 straight games. There
were reports ciJculating at the time that the Hornets would play in a
national tournament in the near future, but reviews of later newspaper
accounts do not indicate that this happened.34

The following season of l 950-5 l found the Hornets members of


the newly organized Wisconsin Valley Hockey League which included
RJ1inelander, Marshfield, Tomahawk, Wausau, Mosinee, Stevens Point,
and Rothschild. The Hornets also scheduled two games with the Eagle
River Northernaire Falcons.35 The season began with two weeks of drills
at Pioneer Pm·k that helped iron out some of the rough spots developed
during the off-season. The roster for the 50-5 l Hornet team included the
previous year's team with the exception of Ed Jaroski who injured a wrist
m1d Ray Jaroskj who entered military service. New additions to the
Hornet roster included Ken "Pooch" Cheslock, Paul Moeller, and Jim
McKenzie and Ed Danilko wbo had figured prominently in previous
years teams.36 The Hornets opened the season in very strong fashion
defeating Marshfield 6-1 and Mosinee 5-4 before being stunned by the
Eagle River Northernaire Falcons 23-3.37 The Hornets recovered from
this game in fine fashion and went on to post a 9-2 season record en route
to first place in their inaugtu-al season in the Wisconsin Valley Hockey
League.38

In order to win the northern division title of state amateur hock-


ey during the previous season of 1949-50, RJ1inelander had to compete in
Rhinelander Hornets and the Heyday of City Hockey 19

a six-game tournament involving teams from Rhinelander, Green Bay,


Mosinee, Eagle River, Wausau, and Tomahawk. The state northern divi-
sion title for the season of 1950-51 would, however, be determined by a
one-game championship to be played at Eagle River's indoor stadium
between the Hornets and the Mosinee Papennakers. This was an excit-
ing time for the Rhinelander Hornets as evinced in the following article:

"The Rhinelander Hornets, who haven't played a game in


about a month, resume hockey action at Eagle River tomorrow
night (8: l Spm) meeting the Mosinee Papennakers for the north-
ern division title of the Wisconsin State Amateur Hockey
Association. Scheduled two weeks ago, the playoff was post-
poned because warm weather ruined the ice at Pioneer Park. This
time, the two teams are taking no chances and will play for the
Northern Wisconsin senior U.S. title on Eagle River's enclosed
rink.

"Winner of this game will meet Green Bay in the Milwaukee


Arena Sunday evening. The Hornets, top team in the Wisconsin
Valley League this season, haven't been idle, despite their long
layoff in actual competition. The Rhinelander skaters have held
several practice workouts at Eagle River, including one last night.
Green Bay was adjudged the southern division winner without
playing a game. Springlike weather also washed out the sched-
uled playoffs at Fond Du Lac. But because Green Bay won the
Fox River Valley League Crown, it was decided to let that team
carry the ball against the Northern champion.

"The north-south state title clash in Milwaukee Sunday will


follow a U.S. Hockey League game involving the Milwaukee
Sea Gulls. Rhinelander, led by player-coach Larry Dahl, won
the Wisconsin championship last season and will try to make it
two straight this week. The Hornets tangled with Mosinee
twice in Valley league competition during the winter and are
batting one thousand. Both of the wins, however, were by tight
margins, the Hornets copping by 5-4 and 2-l. The two rivals
are evenly matched and another close duel is stacking up for
tomorrow night. ,,39
20 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
The Papermaker game proved to be a close matchup as
Rhinelander took a 5-3 lead into the final period before exploding for five
unanswered goals in a 10-3 victory over Mosinee for the northern divi-
sion hockey title. This win sent the Hornets into their second straight
appearance in the state amateur hockey fmals. 40 RJ1inelander played
some of their best hockey of the season in the state title matchup crush-
ing the Green Bay team 10 to 0 on the Milwaukee Arena ice for their sec-
ond straight state amateur hockey championship. In all, seven players
scored for Rhinelander. Player-coach Larry Dahl scored three goals, Joe
Jaroski two and Woody Ek, Wayne Bodwin, Ed Danilko, Pete Predith,
and Jim McKenzie a goal apiece. Jaroski also picked up two assists and
Dahl, Ray Blonski, "Pooch" Cheslock, and McKenzie were credited with
one apiece. 41

The 1951-52 Hornet team had one major position change. Goalie
Ed Pecore began playing offense while Harley Savage took over goal-
tending duties.42 Other new players on the Hornet roster that season
included Pat Stafford, Darrel Fox, and Ray Michalek according to news-
paper accounts of the period.43 Despite another remarkable season by the
RJllnelander Hornets, the Rhinelander Daily News' coverage of their sea-
son diminished markedly during the 1951-52 campaign. The Hornet
powerhouse posted an undefeated season leading up to the state hockey
tournament which was held in Green Bay in Febrnary, 1952. In a tough
first-round matchup against another undefeated opponent, the Madison
Cardinals, the Hornets found themselves on the short end of a 4-3 deci-
sion. The Cardinals would go on to win the state title, beating West Bend
12-4 in the semi-final game and Camp McCoy 9-6 in the championship
contest. The Hornet-Cardinal game was played on very poor ice, which
brought about a scoring oddity. All seven of the game's goals were tal-
lied unassisted, as passing was next to impossible.44

The 1952-53 Hornet team got off to an impressive start in seek-


ing their third State championship in four years. Ray Jaroski and Delore
"Pat" Deau had just returned from military service to rejoin the Hornet
squad.45 The Hornets defeated the Eagle River Wildcats 9-0 in their
opening game at Pioneer Park. The game was the fust Northern
Wisconsin Amateur Hockey League action of the season for both
teams.46 The most noticeable player change of this season was the late
Rhinelander Hornets and the Heyday of City Hockey 21

season absence of player-coach Lawrence Dahl who had ignited this


Hornet team to much of its' success through his leadership, education,
and motivation. Other changes included Ed Pecore resurning bis former
duties as goaltender of the club and the additions of Wally Gaber, Dick
Stafford, and Delore "Pat" Deau with Carl Welk piclcing up the duties of
manager and Joe Halminiak working as assistant coach.47 The Hornets
followed this game with a 9-3 victory over Antigo before dropping their
first game of the season 4-3 against the Mosinee Papermakers.48
Rhinelander would again face the undefeated Mosinee team later in the
season and enter the contest with a 4- 1 record themselves. The Hornets
defeated the Papermakers in the second meeting of the season by a score
of 5-2. The win enabled the Hornets to tie the Mosinee squad for the
northern division title in the Wisconsin Amateur Hockey League.49 ln
early Febmary of 1953 the Hornets began preparing for the state amateur
hockey championship to be held at the Milwaukee Arena. Four teams
were scheduled to compete for the crown including the Mosinee
Papermakers, the defending champion Madison Cardinals who had
defeated the Hornets in first-round play the year before, and the Green
Bay Hornets. 50 As part of their preparation, the Hornets were scheduled
to play a non-conference matchup against the Eagle River Northernaires.
In an impressive display of offensive firepower, the Hornets defeated the
Northemaires 9-3. Sparking the offensive juggernaut during this contest
were Woody Ek with a three-goal hat trick and "Pooch" Cheslock who
scored all of his three goals in a row and remarkably within a two and a
half minute period.51

The motivated Hornet squad defeated the Green Bay Hornets in


semi-final action 3-2 in overtime with Ray Blonski scoring the winning
goaJ.52 This set up a state championship match against the Madison
Cardinals before a crowd of over 1,600. The Hornets snapped the 22-
game winning streak of the Cardinals in a hard-fought 4-1 victory.
"Pooch" Cheslock scored two goals in the game with Woody Ek and Ray
Jaroski scoring the other two goals in helping the Hornets win their third
state amateur hockey championship in four years. 53

The third state championship title in fom years was the peak of
city hockey success that Larry Dahl helped bring to Rhinelander. The
1953-54 Hornet team faced a serious rebuilding job after losing several of
22 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
their veteran skaters. Retiring from the team or seeing limited action for
the season were center Woody Ek, wings Joe Jaroski and Ray Blonski,
and defenseman Ed Danilko. The Hornets also lost several players to
military service beginning with the 53-54 season including "Pooch"
Cheslock, Pat Stafford, Harley Savage, and Wayne Bodwin. Wally Gaber
also left the team to begin college in Minnesota. 54 The Hornets contin-
ued to have good city hockey teams as long as they put a team on the ice.
According to a 200 l Rhinelander Daily News photo caption, the team
continued play throughout the 1961 season. In the late 1950's the
Hornets became a member of the Michigan-Wisconsin Hockey League
which consisted of Michigan teams from Ironwood, Stambaugh,
Escanaba, and Marquette, along with Eagle River and Rhinelander.
Although by no means inclusive, other players and team members in the
late l 940's and 1950's included Don Manning, assistant manager and
scorekeeper, Bob Haenel, Jim Haenel, Don "Chink" Stafford, Dick
Stafford, Ken Michaelson, Dave Bruckner, Larry Gates, Tom Gelb, Dick
Ginzl, Bob McKenzie, Tom Musson, Dave Sackett, Ed Sackett, Ray
Sackett, Larry Scheidegger, George Scholz, Paul Schliesman, Larry
Schreiber, Dick Stafford, Doug Stafford, Ralph Swett, Tom Traeder, Dick
Vig, Al Walkowski, and Tom Yurich. 55

Right: Ed Jaroski (left), Larry "Mr.


Hockey" Dahl (right); date unknown ;
Bruce Crossing, Michigan ; Delore
"Pat ., Deau Collection
Rhinelander Hornets and the Heyday of City Hockey 23
24 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2

Right - Top: The


Jaroski Brothers
Ed and Joe
(back), Ray and
Walt (front);
Del ore "Pat "
Deau Collection

Uight - Bottom:
Hornet Hockey
action; Delore
··Pat " Deau
collection.

Above: Action on Skates - Vern Baudhuin appears to


have just placed the puck in his teamate's direction,
and Walt Jaroski has the idea well in hand and is hot
after it. A good action shot of the hockey game
between Rhinelander and Marshfield. Final outcome:
Marshfield 2, Rhinelander 0. Courtesy ofRipco Ripples.

Belo w: 1948-49 Hornet practice or game; Pioneer


Park, Rhinelander, WI. L-R: Delore "Pat" Deau #6,
Ed Jaroski, Pete Predith, Joe Jaroski #14 , Walt
Jaroski, Ed Pecore in goal, John Miazga, goal judge.
Delore "Pat" Deau collectio11.
Rhinelander Hornets and the Heyday of City Hockey 25


i
,.
l
26 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2

Above. Probably the 1947-48 Rhinelander City Hockey Team shortly


before they were called the Hornets. Front: Bob Netling; Back (L-R) Ed
Ja roski , Vern Baudhuin, Walt Lindwall , Kermit Ek, Ed Danilko, Joe
Jaroski, Vernon "Bud" Collard, Dick Johnson, Ken Herrick, Walt Jaroski,
Woody Ek, Red Dobbie; Ke1111ef/1 "Pooch .. Cheslock Co!leC1io11.

Below: 1953 state playoff game. Ed Pecore in goal. Hornet players are
Ray Jaroski in the middle, Ed Danilko to the right.
Ke1111eth "Pooch " Cheslock collectio11.
Rhinelander Hornets and the Heyday of City Hockey 27

Above: Members of the 1951-52 Rhinelander Hornet Hockey Team; Front


Row (l -R): Wayne Bodwin, Ed Pecore, Harley Savage, Larry Dahl;
Back Row (l-R): Ken "Pooch" Cheslock, Ed Jaroski, Darrel Fox, Ed
Danilko, Walt Jaroski, Ray Michalek, Joe Jaroski, Ray Slonski, Pat
Stafford. Kenneth .. Pooch " Cheslock Collection.

Left: Fans at
Milwaukee Arena,
1953 state champi-
onship game
against Madison
Cardinals: John
Miazga left, Don
Manning right, cele-
brating a goal by
banging cymbals
and ringing a foot
controlled bell. This
photo was featured
in the Milwaukee
Journal the week
after the Hornets
won the 1953 state
championship.
Ke11nell1 "Pooch "
Cheslock Collection.
28 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2

Above: Milwaukee Bound - This is the way the Rhinelander Hornets


looked to the foes at the Milwaukee Arena during the 1953 state cham-
pionship playoffs. The members of the team, left to right: standing, Carl
Welk (manager), Harley Savage, Ed Jaroski, Woody Ek (coach), Joe
Jaroski (coach), Pat Stafford, Ray Jaroski, Wally Gaber, Ed Danilko, Joe
Halminiak (asst. coach), and Walt Jaroski. Kneeling are: Dick Stafford,
Ray Slonski, Eddie Pecore, Delore Deau, and Ken Cheslock. Pete
Predith not pictured. Rhinelander Daily News, February 1953.
Rhinelander Hornets and the Heyday of City Hockey 29

Notes to Chapter 1

1 Delore "Pat" Deau and Kenneth "Pooch" Cheslock, interview by author, Rhinelander,
Wisconsin, 14 June 2003.

2 Ben Lewis, "Hornets to Make Fourth Trip to State Title Playoffs," Rliinelander Daily
News, 12 February 1953, 12.

3 Kenneth "Pooch" Cheslock correspondence with author, Rhinelander, Wisconsin and


Saint Paul, Minnesota, I 0 November 2003; Delore "Pat" Deau correspondence with
author, Rhinelander, Wisconsin and Saint Paul, Minnesota, 11 March 2004.

4 "Point Sextet Tips Rhine lander, 3-2," Rhinelander Daily News, I 2 January 1948, 6;
"Rhinelander Six Tips Chippewa," Rhinelander Daily News, 26 January 1948, 6;
"Rhinelander Six Tips Marshfield, Tics for Lead," Rlii11e/a11der Daily News, 2 February
1948, 6; " Rhinelander Rips Chippewa Falls in Hockey, 5-2," Rhinelander Daily News, 5
January 1948. 6.

5 "Rhinelander Six Tips Chippewa," 6.

6 "Rhinelander Rips Chippewa Falls in Hockey, 5-2," 6.

7 " Hodags To Field Hockey Team," Rliinela11der Daily News, 11 December 1947, 6.

8 Delore "Pat" Deau correspondence.

9 "City Hockey Club Plays Tomahawk Here on Sunday," Rhi11ela11der Daily News, 8
January 1949, 6; "Lack of Ice Idles City Six," Rhinelander Daily News, Januaiy 1949;
"City Hockey Team Bows 3-1 To Stambaugh Six," Rhinelander Daily News, January
1949, IO; " City Team Plays Rough, 'Jacks Quit," Rhinelander Daily News, 24 Janua1y
1949, 6; " Rhinelander Tips Stambaugh 6-3 in Hockey Battle," Rhinelander Daily News,
27 January 1949, 6; "Bruce's Crossing Cuffs Rhinelander Sextet 12 to 5," Rhinelander
Daily News, 7 Februa1y 1949, 6; " Stambaugh Here Tonight, Plays City Hockey Team,"
Rhinelander Daily News, 26 January I 949.

I 0 Laura Miazga, interview by author, Rhine lander, Wisconsin, 25 December 2003.


11 "City Team Plays Rough, ' .lacks Quit," 6.

12 " Lack oflce Idles City Six," 6; "City Hockey Team Bows 3- 1 To Stambaugh Six," I 0.

13 " Rh inelander Tips Stambaugh 6-3 In Hockey Bau le," 6.


14 Kem1eth "Pooch" Cheslock corresponde nce with aut hor, Rh inelander, Wisconsin and
Saint Paul, Minnesota, I0 November 2003; Delore "Pat" Deau correspondence.
30 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
15 "City Hockey C lub Plays Tomahawk Here on Sunday," 6.

16 Delore "Pat" Deau a11d Kennelh "Pooch" Cheslock inlerview; Mike Maunder,
"Hockey costs forcing players outdoors," Winnipeg Free Press, 20 September 1995, 6;
Peter Small and Col.in McConne ll, "Hitting the ice for shinny. lhal good old hockey
game," Toronto Star, 4 February 2002, B03.

17 " Hitting the ice for shinny, that good old hockey game," BOS: "Shinny hockey still
popular wiU1 kids," Guelph Mercw:v, 29 December 200 1, D4.

18 Delore " Pat" Deau and Kenneth "Pooch" Cheslock interview.

l9 Heruy Miazga, interview by author, Rhinelander, Wisconsi n. 9 Februa1y 2001 , JO


February 200 I ; "Childhood memories; Shinny simplest fo rm of hockey," Hamilton
Spectator, I 0 January 2002, B02.

20 "Hornets Drub Wausau Hockey Team, 8 to 4," Rhinelander Daily News, 30 January
1950, 6.

21 " Hornets Entertain Bruce C rossing in Hockey Tonight," Rhinelander Daily News, 3
Febrnary 1950, 6.

22 "Norihemaire Falcons Trim Hornets in Rough I 0-3 Game,'' Rhinelander Daily News,
22 December 1949, 6; " Canadian Sextet meets Falcon Team Tonight," Rhinelander Daily
News, 3 I December 1947, 6; "Bukovich Case Before MOW Board," Rhinelander Daily
News, 31December1947, 6; Delore "Pat" Dcau and Kenneth " Pooch" Cheslock inter-
view; page 6, Copper County Hockey Legends at www. upsh f.com/ inductecs/past.php
current as of July l, 2004.

23 "Northemaire Falcons Trim Hornets in Rough I 0-3 Game," 6.

24 Ibid.

25 "Hornets Lose At Wausau, 5-1 ," Rhinelander Daily News, 19 January 1950, 6.

26 Ibid; Delore "Pat" Deau and Kenneth "Pooch" Cheslock interview; "Hornets of 1950
Shed Shady Reputation for N ice N ew One," Rhinelander Daily News, I Febrnary 1950,
6.

27 "Hornets Drub Wausau Hockey Team, 8 to 4," 6.

28 "Hornets of 1950 Shed Shady Reputa ti on for Nice New One," 6.


Rhinelander Hornets and the Heyday of City Hockey 31

29 Ibid.

30 "Red-Hot Joe Scores 4 as Hornets 'vVin," Rlti11elander Daily News, 4 February 1950,
6; "Hornets Drub Wildcats by 7-2 Score," Rltinela11der Daily News, 15 Febrnary 1950, 6.

31 'Jumping Joe ' Gets Eight as Hornets Tip Wi ldcats, 14-3," Rhinelander Daily News, 22
Febrnary 1950, 6; "Red-Hot Joe Scores 4 as Homets Win," 6; "Hornets Drub Wi ldcats
by 7-2 Score," 6; "Hornets Host Bruce Crossing Sunday, Eye 9th Win in Row,"
Rhinelander Dai~\' News, 25 fcbruary 1950, 6.

32 "Hornets Battle Tomahawk In Hockey Playoff Today," Rhinelander Daily News, 4


March 1950, 6; " Plans Set for Senior B Playoffs at Eagle River," Rhinelander Daily News,
I March 1950, 6.

33 "Hornet~ Win Eagle River 1lockcy Test," Rhinelander Daily News, 6 March 1950, 6.

34 "Hornets Cuff Fond du Lac, 10-3. Win Hockey Title," Rhinelander Daily News, 13
March 1950, 6.

35 "Odds 'N' Ends," Rhi11ela11der Dai~v News. 20 December 1950, 6; "Hornets Work for
Hockey Opener at Marshrield Dec. 27," Rhinela11dc:r Daily News, 22 December 1950, 5.

36 "Hornets Work fo r Hockey Opener at Marshfield Dec. 27," 5; "Hornets Test Falcons
At Eagle River Tonight," Rhi11elander Daily News, 4 Jan uary 1951 , 6.

37 "Hornets, Falcons Bag Hockey Wins. Rhinela nder Tops Marshfield, 6-1," Rhinelander
Daily News, 28 December l 950, 6; "Hornets Topple Mosinee, 5 to 4," Rhinelander Daily
News, 2 January 1951, 6; "Hornets Test Falcons At Eagle River Tonight. Rhinelander
Lays 14-Game Winning Streak on Line,'' Rhinelander Daily News, 4 January 1951, 6;
"Eagle River Sextet Drubs Dazzled Hornets, 23-3," Rhinelander Daily News, 5 January
1951.

38 " Ek Bags Clincher with 30 seconds left. Hornet Rally Tips Vets, 3-2," Rhinelander
Daily News, 8 January 1951, 6; "Hornets Drub Vets, 11 to 3," Rhinelander Daily News, 8
Februmy 195 l, 6: "Hornets. Mos inee Clash Wednesday. Teams Battle for North Hockey
Title at Eagle River," Rhinelander Daily News , 6 March 1951 , 6.

39 "Hornets. Mos inee Clash Wed nesday. Teams Battle for North Hockey Title At Eagle
River," 6.

40 "Hornets Drub Mosinee. I 0-3, for No rth Ice Title," Rhinelander Daily News, 8 March
195 1, 14.

4 1 "Ho rnets, Green Bay Clash for Title in Milwau kee Sunday," Rhinelander Daily News,
32 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
10 March 195 J, 5; "Hornets Rip Green Bay." Rhinelander Daily News, 12 March 195 1;
6.

4 2 "Hornets Top Camp McCoy Sextet. 11 -0," Rhinelander Daily News, 31 January 1952,
6.

43 ·'Hornet Six Loses Stace Hockey Tille. Drop First Round Game to Champion Madison
Cardinals," Rhinelander Dai~J' News, 11 February 1952, 6; "Hornets Post 3-2 Win Over
Scrappy Wausau Sextet," Rhinelander Daily Ne ws. 4 Febrnary 1952, 6; Kenneth "Pooch"
Cheslock, correspondence with author, Rhinelander. Wisconsin and Sain! Paul,
Minnesota, 26 Febrnary 2004.

44 "Hornet Six Loses State Hockey Title. Drop First Round Game to Champion Madison
Cardinals," 6.

45 Delore "Pat" Deau conespondence.

46 "Hornets Defeat Eagle River, 9-0. In Opening Game," Rhinelander Daily News, 2
January 1953, 6.

47 "Hornets Defeat Eagle River, 9-0, In Opening Game,'' 6; ''Hornets Score 9-3 Sunday
Win over Antigo,'' Rhinelander Daily News, 5 January 1953, 6; "Hornets Top Stambaugh
Team, 5-3,'' Rhinelander Daily News, 26 January 1953 , 6; "Hornets, Mosinee To Battle
for First Place Sunday," Rhinelander Daily News, 3 1 January 1953, 5; Lewis, "Hornets
to Make Fourth Trip to State Title Playoffs,'' I 2.

48 "Hornets Score 9-3 Sunday Win over Antigo," 6; "Hornets Lose; Eagle River Enters
Protest," Rhinelander Daily News, I 2 January 1953. 6.

49 "Hornets Top Mosinee Six, 5-2, Sunday," Rhinelander Daily News, 2 February 1953,
8.

50 "Hornets Will Play Green Bay Sextet,'' Rhinelander Daily News, 7 FebrumJ' 1953, 6.

51 "Hornets Score 9-3 Win over Northernairc Six," Rhinelander Daily News, 9 February
1953, 6.

52 Delore "Pat" Deau correspondence.

53 ''Hornets Bring Rhinelander Another State Hockey Title. Bump Madison Cardinals,
4-1, ln Final Contest," Rhinelander Daily News, 16 February 1953. 6; Ben Lewis, "City
Six Cops Third Title in Four State Meets." Rhi11ela11der Dai~v News, 16 Febrnary 1953, 6.

54 "Hornets Meet Eagle River In Season's Opener Sunday. Loss of Veterans Leaves
Rhinelander Hornets and the Heyday of City Hockey 33

Rebuildi11g Job for Locals," Rhinelander Daily News, 30 December 1953, 6.

55 Delore "Pat" Deau and Kenneth " Pooch" Cheslock interview; Kenneth "Pooch"
Cheslock correspondence with author, Rhinelander, vVisconsin and Saint Paul, Minnesota,
IO November 2003; Kenneth "Pooch" Cheslock, correspondence with author,
Rhinelander, Wisconsin and Saint Paul, Minnesota, 26 February 2004; Delore "Pat" Deau
correspondence.
History of the Oneida County Courthouse 35

Chapter 2

History of the Oneida County Courthouse

The Oneida County Courthouse in Rhinelander is considered


one of the finest and most attractive buildings in the upper half of
Wisconsin 1 if not in the entire state. Oneida County was created by an
act of the Wisconsin legislature in 18852 and came into being on January
l, 1887.3 Since 1850, the entire Northern Wisconsin valley had been a
part of Marathon County, a vast uncha1ted wilderness reaching to the
Michigan border and governed from Wausau. 4 From 1850 to 1874 when
Lincoln County was founded, Marathon County included most of all of
present-day Marathon, Lincoln, Oneida, Vilas, Langlade, Taylor, Price,
and Iron Counties.5 Later in 1887, a two-story framed building was
erected in what was then a potato field at the east end of Davenport
Street on the same site as the present-day court house. The orig inal struc-
ture was built at a cost of $7,700. In 1888, plans were made for the con-
struction of a sheriff's residence and jail which were constructed in
1889. This original structure would function unti l 19 11 wben the current
structure was designed and built.6 The cornerstone of the cun-ent build-
ing was laid November 11 , 1908. The material in the box sealed in the
stone contained a copy of each newspaper in the community, proceed-
ings of the County Board authorizing the new courthouse, a list of coun-
ty officers, and other matters of then current history.7 Construction of
the new building necessitated removing or destroying the original build-
ing. The decision was made to not destroy the original building and
instead have it moved across the street to the east side of Baird Avenue8
where the present-day Saint Mark 's Lutheran Chmch is located. The old
courthouse became the Oneida County Training School or Oneida
County Nonna! School which was used to prepare teachers for the edu-
36 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
cation of students in the local schools. The use of th is structure as a nor-
mal school would go on until 1943.9

St01ied Beginning to Present Structure

The decision to construct the current cou11 house was not without
its opposition. According to a 1908 newspaper account, the Oneida
County Board of Supervisors adopted the report of the building commit-
tee recommending immediate construction of a new courthouse. I 0
Dming those days, it was customary for out-of-town board members to
spend their evenings in Rhinelander. A favorite meeting place of these
members during the evening was the Q-P saloon, whicb stood at the
southwest comer of Davenport and Stevens streets 11 near where the law
firm of O'Melia, Schiek, McEldowney, SC is located today. The group
of out-of-town supervisors discussed the building project that evening.
They were info1med that one of the county's wealthiest individua ls want-
ed the building plan abandoned because it would increase his own tax
load. The group was eventually swayed by this thinking and decided they
would reconsider and defeat the building plan the following morning.12

Word of the intention to abandon the construction of the new


courthouse leaked out that evening to A11hur Taylor, board member and
Chair of the Oneida County Board of Supervisors. Taylor was in favor of
constructing a new courthouse. He happened to have one of the earliest
telephones in the city of Rhinelander. He phoned those supervisors on bis
side that he could reach and then spent much of the evening personally
visiting other members to assure their suppo1i. The by-laws of the coun-
ty board required that the board meet at 9:00 a.m. , but board members
seldom sta11ed their sessions before 10:00 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. Taylor pre-
sumably knew this as he had a quorum of board members present at
exactly 9:00 a.m. the following morning. A motion was made to go ahead
with construction of the courthouse. The motion quickly passed and the
board adjourned until the following fall. By the time the opponents of
new courthouse construction had arrived, they were too late and could do
nothing about the quorum 's decision. By the following fall when the
board was again scheduled to meet, construction was under way and the
plan could not be stopped. 13
History of the Oneida County Courthouse 37

Courthouse architecture and design

According to county records, Taylor was made chair of the build-


ing committee. The building committee decided to build a "strictly firs t-
class, modern, fireproof strncture, which would accommodate the needs
and business of the county for at least lOO years to come." The bui lding
was to be constructed of Bedford stone with terra cotta trimmings,
asbestos roof, terrazzo floors , and marble stairs. The cornerstone was laid
in 1908 and the building was completed in 1911 at a cost of
$110,300.00.14

The completed courthouse structme is composed of stone, con-


crete, and metal. The front of the building faces west and is supported by
six Ionic columns. The comthouse is a gray limestone ashlar three-story
Neo-Classical building with an octagonal, stained-glass lantern dome,
which becomes an internally-ill uminated greenish beacon at night. The
outside dimensions are 112 feet long, 96 feet wide, and 38 feet high
(excluding the dome). In the center of the building and extending through
the third flo or is a large rotunda which is sunnounted by a metal dome.
The stairways, railings, and floors of the rotunda are marble, while the
halls have tenazzo floors. The walls and ceilings are painted plaster. The
north and south entrances to the building have ornamental half columns
in keeping with the general classic style of the arch itecture.

The interior of the courthouse is a three-story light well sm-


rounded by county offices. The orders of columns, pilasters, and piers
surrounding the well change in sequence from floor to floor: Dotie on tbe
first, Ionic on the second, and Corinthian on the third. SpandreJ panels
are decorated with four identical mosaics depicting eagles perched before
stars-and-snipes shields. Column and pilaster capitals are painted in gold
leaf throughout the interior and a few geometric, blue stencils may still be
found below third-floor capitals.15

The third floor, east stair hall contains two murals elated 1919
which were painted by Franz Bilberstein. Bilberstein was born in
Switzerland in 1850, began his training as a painter in Gem1any in l 868,
and came to the United States in 1886. Bilberstein was well known for
his murals depicting panoramas or landscapes. H e was 69 years old when
he painted the two murals in the Oneida County Courthouse. One popu-
38 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
Jar mural depicts a lumbe1jack rolling on and directing Jogs in the fore-
ground. The Rhinelander Paper Company mill is in the distant back-
ground and a sawmill is in the near foreground. The scene appears to be
on Boom Lake looking west. The other Bilberstein mural depicts three
Native Americans drying and stretching skins before their tepees by a
river rapids along which rests a dugout canoe. 16 Across the light well on
the west wall of the third floor is a small mural depicting the famous
Hodag of Northern Wisconsin lore.

Southwest of the main entrance is a marble memorial to the war


dead of Oneida County. To the right side of the entrance wallnvay is a
plaque honoring Oneida County's early pioneers. A 1969 Wisconsin
Historical marker across the walk describes the 1933 Oneida County zon-
ing ordinance as the first comprehensive rural zoning ordinance enacted
in the United States. This ordinance became a model for other counties
in Wisconsin and throughout the United States.

The Oneida County Courthouse was listed on the National


Register of Historic Places by the Secretary of the Interior on March 20,
1981. It continues to be a popular site for visitors to the area and is like-
ly to meet and exceed the aspirations of the 1908 county board who hoped
the structure would "accommodate the needs and business of the county
for at least 100 years to come."

Right, Above: The original Oneida


County Courthouse, 1898. This
building became the Oneida
County Normal School. Pliow
Rhinelander Daily News. March 28.
I 994 from original 1900 pos1card.

Right. Below: Postcard of Oneida


County Courthouse, circa 1902.
Author :S Collection.
History of the Oneida County Courthouse 39
40 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2

Above: 1919 postcard featuring Oneida Co. Courthouse. Author :S Co/fection .

Below: O'melia Building. Original site of the Q-P Saloon where plans for
the building of a new courthouse were discussed in 1908.
Authors Collection.
History of the Oneida County Courthouse 41

Above: Closeup of courthouse mural featuring a log roller by artist Franz


Bilberstein, 1919. A11rhor s Collec1io11.

Below: Detail of courthouse mural featuring a native American family


scene along the Wisconsin River._Author j· Colfec1ior.1_. _ __
42 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2

Above: Oneida County


Courthouse national register
of Historic Places designation,
Rhinelander, WI ; January
2004. Aw hor :~ Collectio11.

Left: Historical marker outside


of courthouse explaining
Oneida County's zoning ordi-
nance of 1933 which was
used as a model throughout
the United States. Authors
Collectio11.

Bottom: Date Marker, Oneida


County Courthouse; January,
2004. Authors Collection.
History of the Oneida County Courthouse 43

Top: West side of Oneida County Courthouse, February, 2004.


s
Awhor Co/lec1io11.

Bottom. North face of the Oneida Co. Courthouse, February 2004.


Author :S· Collection.
44 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
Chapter 2 Notes
Jack Cory, "Tang of the No1ihwoods," Rhinelander Daily News, 29 August
1935.

2 T.V. Olsen, Birth of A City. The Rhinelander Country, Volume Two, Pineview
Publishing, Rhinelander, Wisconsin, 1983, l 08; also see Lynn Herstad, "Court
House, Getting 'Face Washed,' Almost didn't Make lt, Records Show,"
Rhinelander Daily News, 14 June 1967.

3 George 0 . .Tones, Norman S. McVean, er al., HistOJy Of Lincoln, Oneida, and


Mlas Counties Wisconsin, H.C. Cooper, Jr. and Co., Minneapolis-Winona,
M innesota, I 924, 92; Herstad, "Comt House, Getting ' Face Washed,' Almost
Didn't Make It, Records Show," I.

4 T.V. Olsen, Roots of The North, The Rhinelander Counny, Volume One,
Pineview P ublishing, Rhinelander, Wisconsin, 1979, I 00.

5 T.V. O lsen, Our First Hundred Years: A Histo1y of Rhinelander, Pineview


Publishing, Rhinelander, W isconsin, 1981 , 15. Also published as Our First
Hundred Years, The Rhinelander Counl1J', Volume Three, Pineview Publishing,
Rhinelander, Wisconsin, 1983.

6 "Court House, Getting 'Face Washed,' Almost Didn 't Make It, Records Show,"
1; Mouw, _A nnabelle, "The Oneida County Courthouse," Oneida County: 1887-
1987. Centennial Histo1y Edition, Oneida County Publication Committee,
Rhi nelander, Wisconsin, 1987, I 6.

7 Nomrn Marjorie Huber, "History of Rhinelander" (A thesis submitted for the


degree of Bachelor of Arts, U ni versity of Wisconsin at Madison, 1920), 21.

8 Mouw, Oneida County: I 887-1987, Centennial Histo1y Edition, 17.

9 For good infom1ation on the Oneida County Normal School see "Everything
'Normal' At School Reunion Attended By Many," Hodag Shopper, 22 June
1977; Olsen, Our First Hundred Years: A History of Rhinelander, 48: Mouw,
Oneida County: 1887-1987, Centennial Hist01y Edition, 17.

l 0 "Courthouse, Getting ' Face Washed,' A lmost Dido 't Make It, Records
Show," I .
History of the Oneida County Courthouse 45

11 Jack Cory, "Court House Saved by Late-Night Maneuver," Rhinelander Daily


News, 20 March 1974, 5.

12 "Court House Saved by Late-Nigbt Maneuver," 5; "Tang of the


Northwoods".

13 For a good discussion of the behind the scenes strategy invo lved in obtaining
county board approval to build the existing courthouse, see Jack Cory, Ja ck
s
C01y Scrapbook, Northern Historical Society, Lake Tomahawk, Wisconsin,
1985, 28,29; "Court House Saved by Late-Night Maneuver,'' 5; "Tang of the
Northwoods"; Mouw, Oneida County: 1887- 1987. Centennial History Edition.
16.

14 "Court House Getting 'Face Washed,' Almost Didn 't Make It, Records
Show," I; "Obey requests funds for One ida County courthouse renovation,"
Rhinelander Daily News, 28 July 2003.

15 For a good discussion of the architecture and design o f the comt house see
Mouw, Oneida County : 1887-1987, Ce11te1111ial HistOI J' Edition, 17, 18.

16 Kris Gilbertson, "Murals have been in counhouse since 19 19 ," Rhinelander


Daily News, 19 August 1997, L2.
Major fires in Rhinelander History 47

Chapter 3

Major fires in Rhinelander History

Devastating fires have a long history in Rhinelander. The


Rhinelander Fire Department receives hundreds of emergency calls a
year, however few ever turn into destructive fires. There are many rea-
sons for this including a knowledgeable fire department, firefighting tech-
nology, and timely reporting of fires to the fire department. Given this
success, it is nonetheless the major conflagrations that hold the attention
of the public and stick out in the memories of people who witnessed the
ruin that fire can cause.

The early citizens of Rhinelander were no strangers to fire haz-


ards. Most businesses and homes were heated by wood burners which
made chimney fires a constant threat during this time. In addition, the
numerous sawmills in the Rhinelander area were very susceptible to
blazes. Despite numerous fire hazards, the city of Rhinelander had no
organized protection against fire for the first five years of its existence,
1882-1887. Whenever a fire broke out, a "bucket brigade" of volunteers
banded together to fight it. I On October 25 , 1887, citizens formed the
city's first fire department.2 This company included 25 people, a number
that was sharply reduced after the department presented its first bill for
services to the town board: $2.50 apiece for 50 men. After receiving this
bill, new rules were enacted by the tO\".'n board that members of each
company receive $1 .00 apiece for participating in drill sessions and $1 .50
for fighting fires. If a man missed three consecutive drills or fires , he was
expelled.3 The city 's first fire crew of firefighters was given the name
"Alert Hose Company." They served the town of Pelican of which the
settlement of Rhinelander was then a part.4 The hose company 's equip-
ment was simple. It included just a hose, some buckets, and a few tools.
48 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
The first fire fought by this volunteer company was the L. W. Beers store
fire on November 28, 1887. Every member of the company was on duty
to fight this blaze. The Fuller House fire occutTed in December of 1887
and 18 men in the company responded to that fire. The first fire station
was located on a lot west of the Davenport Street bridge where Muffler's
Unlimited now stands. In June, 1889, the firemen purchased their first
unifon11S which consisted of rubber coats and boots. In November, 1889,
a second fire company was fonned. It was called the "Rescue Hook and
Ladder Company" and was located in the same building with the Alert
Hose Company.

Eventually two separate fire stations were built, one on down-


town Rives Street, the other on Thayer Street on Rhinelander's north side,
significantly close to the sawmills and lumber stacks.5 In August 1893,
the acquisition of a hose wagon and horses improved fire protection.
Three yeaTs later a team-drawn combination hose wagon equipped with
ladders, hose and chemical fire-dampers was installed in Station Number
2 on the north side. Horsedrawn firewagons, ladder wagons, and sleds
prevailed for approximately 20 years in Rhinelander and were a colorful
sight as they clanged along local streets behind a team of galloping hors-
es. In 1914 the fire depa1tment purchased its' first motor driven truck, a
Seagrave chemical tank. The fire department's horses were still used for
another 15 years until 1929 when a Peter Pirsch truck was bought and
firemen ceased using the horses. 6

Rhinelander Fires: 1900-1947

It wouldn't be too many more years before the two stations had
an opportunity to use their new equipment. On Sunday, September 28,
1900, Saint Mary's Catholic Church burned to the ground in an early
morning fire. Saint Mary's had been first organized in 1883 by the
Reverend Father N. Buschle of Antigo, who conducted the first Catholic
mass in the village of Rhinelander.7 The struchlre was built in 1888. The
cause of the fire was unknown. According to a historic account in the
November 19, 1960 Rhinelander Daily News, nothing was saved in the
fire. The building was valued at $10,000.00. New pews had been placed
in the church the day before the fire. Accounts of the catastrophe men-
tion that the entire neighborhood might have been destroyed by the fire if
Major fires in Rhinelander History 49

a heavy rain had not fallen the night before and if the firefighters had not
been aided by the absence of any noticeable wind. Rebuilding of Saint
Mary's began immediately after the fire. The new church was dedicated
on May 5, 1901, amid great rejoicing. Half a year before, with the church
still under construction, the bell for the steeple was consecrated at the
same time the parish 's first school was dedicated.

The bell was the same one which had been used for the original
church and had been donated by A.O. Daniels. It had been recast and
upon it was inscribed, in Latin, "I lost my voice falling from the burning
steeple; reborn, l call again the faithful people."8

Perhaps the two most damaging fires in Rhinelander occurred


only fom and five years later. On July 19, 1904, a fire turned
Rh inelander 's north side into flames destroying 20 homes, numerous
business places, and burning several million board feet of lumber.9 The
cause of the fire was believed to have been sparks from a mill burner or
from a passing switch engine at the Johnson-Hinman Planing Mill where
the fire originated. An account of the fire in the July 20, 1904
Rhinelander Vindicator reads

"shortly after the noon hour Tuesday, a fire was discovered upon
the shingle roof of the Johnson-Hinman Co's planing mill, and
although prompt effort was made to quench the blaze which had
just started, the fire spread, fanned by a stiff wind. In a few min-
utes the entire roof was in flames and the planing mill destined
to ruins. The hose companies were called out at about 11 :30
o'clock for a small blaze near the mill, and had hardly returned
to headquarters when the second alarm was turned in. Both
companies were promptly on the grounds and as rapidly as pos-
sible hose was strung to every available hydrant in that locality.
Stream after stream of water was poured upon the buildings
adjoining the mill in an effort to prevent the spread of the flames,
but high winds blowing at the time carried the sparks and burn-
ing embers out into the lumber yards of J.H. Queal & Co., and
soon clouds of smoke issuing from several lumber piles in vari-
ous parts of the yard told that the fire was scattering and gradu-
ally getting beyond control. Every effort was made by the fire-
fighters and citizens to stop the sweep of the flames tmtil it
50 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
became a rmu-ing billow of fire sweeping everything before it to
destruction. Beyond the lumber yard and dfrectly in the path of
the fire were a large number of residences and as soon as it was
realized that the fire was beyond control, the residents, assisted
by hundreds of willing neighbors and citizens, began the
removal of their household effects to a safe distance. Several
times these piles of furniture , bedding, clothing, etc. were
moved further from the flames, which they eventually escaped,
although scattered in all directions. The other mills closed down
and allowed their crews to go to the relief of the residents and
mill teams were utili zed to cart away the household goods to
places of safety. It was only a short time from the starting of the
fire in the lumber piles until it had traversed the yard and the ter-
rific heat was firing the buildings along the street on the other
side. There was no such thing as checking it. lt ran wild and
licked up everything in its path. The strong w ind blowing car-
ried bmning brands rods ahead of the main fire and started other
fires where ever they fell. Houses standing rods apa11 caught
fire and burned and in many instances the residents ran danger-
ous risks in attempting to save their goods. For a time it looked
as though the poor house was in danger, so rapidly did the
flames work in that direction. By five o'clock the fire had swept
a clean path, and having nothing more to feed upon soon began
to die out, leaving a desolate stretch with piles of ashes to mark
its work and rows of foundat ion walls showing where a few
hours before had stood comfortable homes. Families without
shelter huddled by the roadsides, with the few belongings saved
from the fire, while frightened children cried and the faces of
despondent parents told the story of their loss. Several families
lost everything they owned in the world and were left with
scarcely clothing enough to cover them. Others saved a portion
of their household goods, but so scattered was it in all directions
that to recover it is almost impossible."10

Damage from the fire was severe. In addition to the total loss of
20 homes and significant damage to numerous more, the J.H. Queal Co.
lost $75,000.00 of 1904 money in the blaze that destroyed its' lumber
yard located on the east side of the "Soo" tracks. I I While losses ran
high, the fire apparently caused no deaths or serious injuries. It is remem-
Major fires in Rhinelander History 51

bered as the worst fire of an era that was marked by frequent saw mill and
lumber yard fires. 12

Only fifteen months later another lumber yard fire caused some
of the most severe property damage to the Rhinelander area in its young
history. On October 4, 1905 at about one thirty p.m. a fire began at the
Brown Brothers sawmill that wou ld cause a total loss of about
$600,000.00.13 The lumber yards of the Brown Brothers sawmill and the
Robbins Co. sawmill were entirely wiped out by the fire. A good accou nt
of this fire is found in the October 4, 1905 edition of the Rhinelander
Vindicator. TI1e account written at the exact time the fire was bwning
states that

"a fierce fire is raging at the north side of the city th is afternoon
that promises destruction to the entire north end, and with heavy
wind now blowing from the southwest it must evidently bw11
itself out, sweeping everything before it, as there is nothing now
which can be done to stay the ravages of the destroying element.
The fire started shortly after one o'clock in the dry sheds of the
Brown Brothers Lumber Co., near their planing mi ll , and fa nned
by the high wind, within an hour had tired nea rl y every pi le of
lumber in the big yards, and was spreading to the thick ly settled
residence section east. It is claimed that the tire started from
sparks blown from the mill refuse burner. With the first alan11 the
mills were shut down and all available fire apparatus at the mills
was brought into play by the mi ll crews, and with the assistance
of the two hose companies a fierce and persistent fi ght was com-
menced in an effort to check the flames which were !raveling at
a fearful rate over the high pi les of lum ber. ln a short time it was
seen to be beyond all control and !he residents directly in its path
were warned to save their valuables and desert their homes which
tbe greedy flames were already reaching out to destroy.

"Every dray, wagon, carriage, and buggy in the city was


brought into use to assist in convey ing the household goods of
the doomed homes to places of safety. Women and children
crazed with fear, ncd from their homes, weeping and wringing
their hands, in many cases saving on ly the few clothes they wore.
Thayer Street which runs parallel with the lumber yard was soon
52 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
impassable from the terrific heat and the long line of dwellings
on the east side fed the flames and spread the fire on to Mason
Street where house after house was reduced to embers, despite
eve1y effort to check it. During the afternoon the wind shifted
slightly to the west. This practically saved the m ill of the
Robbins Lumber Co., as well as their office and that of .l.I-1.
Queal & Co., both of which had been deserted. After taking
everything in its path, the fire in the Brown Brothers yard backed
against the wind until eve1y pile of wood clear to the lake shore
was left a smoldering pile of ashes. In Robbins' yard the condi-
tions were the same and from pi le to pile the fire worked its way
until not a stick remained. The lumber loss in the Brown
Brothers yard is said to be about 18,000,000 feet and in Robbins
yard 14,000,000 feet.

"As soon as Mayor Stapleton learned the nature of the fire,


he wired Antigo, Ironwood, Ashland, and Wausau for assistance,
and during the afternoon special trains arrived with thousands of
feet of hose which was used to good advantage. Wausau sent
their fire engine, but it arrived too late to be of service, as the fire
was under control by six o'clock. The fire burned its way east to
the Soo tracks where it was checked after burning several resi-
dences and the Norwegian Lutheran church. It was only after the
hardest kind of a fight that the flames were kept from spreading
to North Brown Street. The wind carried flaming embers long
distances. Consequently, hundreds of fires started on roofs and
in wood piles. Fo1tw1ately the firefighters kept the nearby hous-
es wet down, and citizens on guard at nearly every house were
anned with pails of water and sand.

"For blocks from the fire, people moved out of their homes,
canying as best they could, their effects to places of safety. The
whole no11h side of the city is strewn with household furniture ,
bedding and clothing, and the local militia bas been ordered out
to keep guard tonight. Every effort is being made by the citizens
to aid the sufferers tonight. Provisions are being huniedly pre-
pared and taken to the no11h side and every home in the city is
open to afford shelter to the homeless.
Major fires in Rhinelander History 53

"The big armory of Co. L is prepared to house and fur-


nish food to at least a hundred, and churches and public buildings
are at the service of the unfortunates seeking shelter. It is by far
the worst fire in the city's history, and the total loss as near as can
be estimated w ill be close to $600,000. The Myron McCord
school and McCord Annex, were totally destroyed, and arrange-
ments must be made at once for the accommodation of the three
hundred pupils. Thfa will be a di fficult matter as one recently
destroyed by fire is now in course of construction, leavi ng but
one ward building and the High school, both of which are already
overcrowded. The correct list of the buildings burned is given
out today as fifty-one dwellings, two stores, two stores and
dwellings, two churches, two school houses and the hose house.
It is impossible at this time to give an entire list of the losers in
the fi re or to secure an accurate estimate of the valuation of
dwellings destroyed."14

Rhinelander Fires: 1948-Present

While the 1904 and 1905 north side fires were probably the most
destructive fires in Rhinelander history, there have been other well-
known fires throughout the 20th century including the Robbins Flooring
Company plant in 1948 and the Marplex plant in 1956, both a lso occur-
ring on the city 's north side. The Robbins Flooring Company plant
burned to the ground on August 27, 1948, causing an estimated
$750,000.00 of damage and sending six persons to Saint Mary's Hospital.
That fire saw the short evacuation of 25 homes on the city's north side.
This fire was considered the city's worst fire in 44 years according to the
August 28, 1948 Rhinelander Dailv Newsl5 and in another Daily News
account the worst fire since the big fire of October 4, 1905.16 The fire
apparently started in the plant's large elevator shaft. Fed by the tinder-
dry hardwood flooring in the main pl.ant and the warehouse, the flames
created a terrific beat which forced firemen to fight the blaze from a dis-
tance of 50 to 100 feet. Most of the company's 1,500,000 feet of dry
hardwood lumber in the yards was saved, but about 500,000 feet of fin-
ished flooring in the mill, warehouse, and adjoining yards was destroyed.
According to the August 28, 1948 Rhinelander Daily News, the fire
brought an estimated l 0,000 spectators to the scene. The manager of the
54 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport flew over the fire scene during the
height of the blaze and reported that the column of smoke was at least
1,000 feet in the air; he was flying at 800 feet and the smoke column was
at least 200 feet over bis plane. At times the fire threatened to rage out of
control, however a strong fi refi ghting effort and a solid breeze from the
southwest prevented the flames from spreading to homes on Mason Street
and Mi ll Road whjch faced the Robbins plant. Firefighters from Merrill,
Minocqua, Eagle River, Conover, and Camp American Legion at Lake
Tomahawk assisted the Rhinelander Fire Department in containing the
blaze. Most of these units pumped water onto the blaze directly from
Boom Lake. Three firefighters were hospitalized during the fire: John
Vancos, who suffered second degree bums of the left shoulder and heat
congestion in the lungs, William Schulstrom who suffered second degree
burns of the right arm, first degree burns of the shoulders, and heat con-
gestion in the lungs, and Erwin Luedke who suffered bruised ribs and a
chest injury when be fell on a rai lroad track at the fu-e scene. 17

The city's other large fire on the North Side occurred on January
17, 1956. A fire started in the Marplex plant at 1103 T hayer Screet when
a lighted electric light bulb fell into a tank of lacquer. The fire continued
through the office and souvenir plant of Marplex burning out the interior
and destroying equipment and articles in the process of manufacture.
Estimates of damage ranged from $50,000 to as high as $75,000.
Firefighters battled the blaze for over 7 hours. One of the most d ifficu lt
challenges in fighting the fire was that the fl ames were feel by lacquer,
paint, and thinner used in the manufacturing process. Apparently no fire-
fighters were hurt 18 in battling the blaze.

One other well-known local fire that occurred in the l 950's hap-
pened on October 26, l 953 when a large warehouse owned by Starks
Farms located about 12 miles east of the c ity of Rhinelander burnt to the
ground. The fire broke out shortly before 7:00 a.m. in a series of explo-
sions. Within minutes the building was enveloped in flames and firefight-
ers were powerless to save the structure . An account of the fire in the
October 27, 1953 Rhinelander Daily News reads : "First indication that
something was amiss came when residents of Starks heard a 'mu ffled
explosion.' Melvin Rominsky, manager of Starks Fam1s, said he rushed
to the warehouse and found the roof in flames. He said he attempted to
open the door of the warehouse in hopes of getting out the grading equip-
Major fires in Rhinelander History 55

ment, but the heat of the flames forced him back. A series of explosions
came from within the burning structure. Units of the conservation depaii-
ment and the Rhinelander Fire Department rushed out of the city sho1tly
after 7 p.m. The fire department sent its four-wheel drive. The conser-
vation department called out four units- a 1,000 gallon tanker, a 600 gal-
lon power wagon, a tractor and plow unit, and another trunk-water tank
unit. In addition, Starks farmers responded with water tanks. However,
the building was too far gone for the fire equipment to be of any use. Fire
Chief James Hamilton said the roof of the building had already collapsed
when equipment arrived on the scene. The firefighters confined their
effo1is in preventing the fire from spreading to neighboring buildings and
the surrounding fields, tinder dry from lack of rain. Firefighters also kept
a wary eye on the sparks from the blaze that settled down over the com-
munity of Starks. The fire, burning briskly for several hours, drew hun-
dreds of area residents to the scene. The walls of the warehouse crum-
bled within two hours after the blaze staited and the ruins still were smok-
ing profusely the next morning." 19 The origin of the fire could not be
determined according to newspaper accounts of the fire. The total loss
was estimated at between $250,000 and $300,000. In addition to the
warehouse, 110,000 bushels of potatoes were also destroyed in the fire.

It would be four more years before the city of Rhinelander saw


another major fire. 1960 brought two major fires to the city. On Febmary
8, 1960 a combination garage warehouse at the Red Dot Foods, Inc. pota-
to chip plant on the city's north side was destroyed by fire. The loss was
estimated at more than $250,000. The 80 by 100 foot garage warehouse
was gutted and flames caused considerable damage to the connecting
office-plant building, which was 65 by 150 feet in size. Machinery and
potatoes stored in the office-plant building were damaged by fire and
water. Firefighters saved a third 100 x 250 foot building with only a
slight scorching of one end. Wind swept the flames toward the office-
plant, however firefighters were able to keep the flames from engulfing
more strnctures. Four firefighters were butt fighting the blaze. Fire chief
James Hamilton fell on an icy spot and was hospitalized with a possible
mpture, Donald Manning injured his elbow, Malcolm Guidan stepped on
a nail, and Wallace Ritchie burned his arm and stepped on a nail which
pierced his boot and foot. A maintenance person who happened to be vis-
iting the building first noticed the fire near an oil space heater in the
garage warehouse building shortly before 5:00 a.m. Employees initially
56 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
thought they could handle the fire with hand extinguishers, but a s udden
explosion caused the flames to burst out of control and left the employ-
ees realizing they needed more help. Unfortunately, the companies tele-
phone lines had been knocked out and there was no way to notify the fire
department except by hav ing an employee drive a mile and half to the fire
station. Firefighters received the call at 5:03 a.m. and responded wi th two
trucks and full crews. All 15 members of the Rhinelander Fire
Depatiment were engaged in the work during the morning. Several mem-
bers of the public works department filled in at the fire station to handle
any other calls that may have come in during the morning. This fire was
considered the worst in Rhinel ander since the Robbins Flooring Co. plant
fire in 1948. Rhinelander police officers and county trnffic officers
helped detour traffic on Eagle Street to keep cars from running over hose
lines. Later in the morning a wooden "bridge" was erected over the hoses
to allow traffic to proceed.20

Only nine months later, on November 19, l 960, another power-


ful fire would destroy a local structure. Saint Mary's Catho lic Church
was again leveled by fire on November 19, 1960. T his bui lding was the
same one built in 190 I to replace the original Saint Maiy's Church that
burnt to the ground in 1900. At approximately 2:45 p.m. local resident
Mrs. Charles Sackett went into the church to pray, smel led and saw
smoke, and notified Father John Spanjers who immediately called the fire
department. Before firefighters arrived, Father Spanjers and Father Ca1y
removed the Blessed Sacrament from the a ltar tabernacle, and, along with
Father Himmelsbach and other volunteers, began to carry vestments, altar
furnishings, and statues fro m the church to places of safety. During this
time there had been no flames in the church itself. Upon arrival, firefight-
ers quickly extinguished flames in the basement and at the rear wall
behind the altar. Heavy smoke, however, was roll ing out from under the
church's roof. The scene then progressed from bad to terrible as an
accou11t in the November 19, l 960 R hi nelander Dai ly News states:

"For more than half an hour, no flames were visible. Then,


with an explosive roar, the roof burst into flames. Within min-
utes, the entire interior of the church was ablaze, with flames
pouring out the windows and doors and shooting 50 to 60 feet
into the air. Dark smoke billowed hundreds of feet s kyward as
the intense heat forced firefighters back. It quickly became
Major fires in Rhinelander History 57

apparent that no part of the building could be saved. Firefighters


concentrated their efforts on preventing the flames from Leaping
to the nearby two-story rectory and to o ther bui ldings in the
neighborhood.

"On one occasion, a fiery particle landed on the roof of the


Lloyd Gross residence, 122 S. Oneida Ave., and ignited the roof.
Firefighters quickly put out those flames. The flames and smoke
from the church shot nearly stra ight up as there was only a slight
wi nd blowi ng from the south, away from the rectory. Church
records, as well as clothing and personal possessions of the
priests, were removed from the rectory and taken into the school.
City fi remen, aided by dozens of volunteers who helped hold the
hoses, poured water on the fl ames from every available hydrant.
Water cascaded down the front steps of the church like water over
a waterfa ll. The steeple never d id tumble as a unit, but fell piece
by piece. Hours atler the fire had been detected, the burning tim-
bers of the steeple lit up the night air with an orange glow. The
church bell, s upported by heavy metal cables, finally fell to the
ground at about 7:00 p. 111. A ll avail able firemen were called on
duty and fire equi pment fro m Tomahawk and T hree Lakes was
summoned to stand by. The Merrill fi re department also was
alerted to be ready in case of an emergency. The spectact1lar fire
attracted a crowd of thousands, many of whom were deer bunters
in the area for the start of the season. Smoke from the blaze was
v isible for mil es around. T he entire Rhine lander police depart-
ment was on hand to direct tra ffi c and control the crowd. Streets
were quickly blocked off and ropes were used to keep the crowds
back and o ut of danger from a possible collapse of the steeple and
falling wires. None of the city firemen or dozens of volunteers
were hurt in fighting the blaze. Water pressure from a broken
hose, however, lifted fi reman Fred Wells from his post at the
truck in the m idd le of King Street and carried him to the sidewalk
across the street. During the evening, a deluge gun broke and
sprayed water over dozens of spectators. Ch ief Hamilton said
more than 400.000 gallons of water were pumped onto the
church. A total of 3,300 feet of 21 /2 inch hose were used, along
with 150 feet of ladders. The loss was estimated at $125,000 by
Father Himmelsbach. About 525 students were in the parish
58 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
school at the time fire was detected. They remained in their
classrooms unti l the regular dismissal tirne."21

It would only be a little over two montbs before another major


blaze would destroy a Rhinelander structure. During tbe evening of
January 31, 1961 a fire of undetected origin completely destroyed the
upper floor of the Rhinelander Marine Manufacturing Co., a manufactur-
er of :fiberglass boats, which was located at 212 Rives Street. This build-
ing had fonnerly been occupied by the Rhinelander Vocational School
and, prior to this, the converting division of the Rhinelander Paper Co.
Firefighters were notified of the blaze shortly after 11 :00 p.m. on Janua1y
31st. All 13 members of the fire department fought the blaze along with
three trucks. It took several hours to get the fire under contro l and most
firefighters were at the scene until 5:45 a.m. on February l. These fire-
fighters worked throughout the njght in what was probably the coldest
place in the United States that evening. The temperature dropped to 22
degrees below zero, yet firefighters found the biting cold to be no great
handicap except for the numbing of their hands and feet. Fortunately, no
hydrants or lines froze and they were able to be operated smoothly.
Between 50 and 75 boats were in the building at the time of the fire
according to infomrntion given to the fire chief The cause of the fire was
undetennined; however, because a break-in had been discovered before
the fire swept through the upper floor of the building, state and national
authorities were called in to assist in the investigation of the fire. Loss in
the fire was estimated at between $80,000 and $100,000 .22

Nearly two years to the day after the Rhinelander Marine fire, fire
destroyed one of Rhinelander's oldest business blocks. At 12:40 p.m. on
the afternoon of Februa1y 1, 1963, firefighters recei ved a call that two
buildings on the southeast corner of Stevens and Davenport Streets were
on fire. The fire department arrived to 15 degree temperatures, freezing
rain, and a fire that was already going strong. The fire proved difficult to
fight due to heavy clouds of dark smoke which completely filled the
block. One aid that helped in fighting the fire was a south wind which
helped keep the blaze from spreading to other buildings on the block.
Firefighters had the fire under control sho1ily after 3 p. m. and the fire was
completely out by 5:30 p.m. During the fire both Stevens and Davenport
StTeets were closed and hundreds of spectators gathered to watch the fire-
fighters battle the fire. The two buildings had been built in the late 1870s
Major fires in Rhinelander History 59

or early 1880s. The Hyland building occupjed by Schoepke's Liquor


Store and the King Koin Launderette was considered a total loss and
received the majority of the damage of the two buildings. The other
building was badly damaged by smoke and water, but few flames reached
it. Damage to the two structures was estimated at approximately $75,000.
The cause of the fire was identified as a faulty clothes dryer in the laun-
derette. The fire apparently swept up to the second floor and attic through
an opening in the first floor ceilings behind a partition in back of a ro\11' of
dryers.23

Nearly two years later another fire struck downtown Rhinelander.


The 80-room Fenlon Hotel had been widely known in Wisconsin as the
headquarters for numerous conventions over the years. The four-story
hotel known originally as the Oneida Hotel received water damage on all
four floors. Structural damage was primarily limited to the fourth floor
where several guest rooms were gutted. Firefighters arrived at the scene
at 7:30 p.m. and had the fire under control by 8:30 p.m., an hour after they
atTived. A maze of hoses was strung into the building from fire hydrants
on Brown and Stevens Streets. Firefighters also utilized hoses and noz-
zles located on the walls inside the hotel. At one point, 13 firefighters
were battling the blaze with help from some volunteers from the crowd of
several hundred who watched the operations from the street. Four fire-
men were hospitalized for smoke inhalation and exhaustion: Herny
Letellier, Clarence Jewell, Donald Williams, and Arthur Riley. The fire
started in Room 408 around a kitchen range. The occupant of the apart-
ment apparently put food on the range to cook, then left the quarters to go
downstairs. Estimates of the financial cost of damage to the hotel are not
apparent from newspaper accounts of the fire. 24

Another major fire in Rhinelander's downtown business district


occurred on Friday, December 22, 1968. The fire , of undetermined ori-
gin, destroyed six business places and caused severe damage to a seventh
business. The six businesses completely destroyed were the Gamble's
store at 34 S. Brown St. , Hodag Pharmacy at 32 S. Brown St., Leo's Lair
at 26 S. Brown St. , Leuthold-Bahr clothing store at 20 S. Brown St.,
Happiness Card and Party Shop at 16 S. Brown St., and Mcisaac Book
and Gift Shop at 12 S. Brown St. The Hildebrand Furniture Co. Store at
44 S. Brown St. suffered heavy smoke and water damage, although its
brick fire wall kept flames from getting into the building. The fire depart-
60 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
ment was notified of the fire shortly after l 0:00 p.m. on Friday evening.
When firefighters first arrived at the scene they fow1d flames shooting out
of both the front and rear doors of Gamble's Store where the fire started.
Firefighters had difficulty fighting the fire due to the heavy, thick smoke
and the extraordinary heat which built up in each building successively as
the fire moved northward. Fire Chief Donald Manning noted that the
attics of the old frame buildings above the businesses were all connected
and there were no fire walls to help stop the spreading of the flames.
Numerous firemen were on hand to battle the blaze including 19
Rhinelander firefighters and volunteer departments from the towns of
Pelican and Sugar Camp as well as the city of Merrill. Fire departments
from Crandon, Minocqua, and Tomahawk were asked to stand by in the
event the fire got out of control. The fire was brought under contrnl by
2:00 a.m., but firemen remained at the scene all night to pour water on the
ruins. T hree firemen were temporarily knocked out of action when they
were blown backward 10 feet after a smoke explosion occurred while
they battled the blaze in the Gamble's store. 25

Another fire that would completely destroy a well-known local


business was the November 7, 1969 fire that destroyed the Pied Piper
supper club. Firefighters were notified of the fire at 3 :47 a. m. on Friday
morning when an Illinois couple driving by the business noticed smoke
coming out of windows and from under the eaves and called the fire
department. Within minutes, the first firemen reached the scene to find
flames bursting through a hole in the roof over the kitchen area. By 4:00
a.m., the Pelican fire department had been called to assist and two tank
trucks supplied by the Department of Conservation were added to the
firefighting equipment at the scene. The hole in the roof quickly grew in
size and eventually the whole roof collapsed piece by piece. The two tank
trucks shuttled between a nearby fire hydrant and the fire, supply ing
water for the pumpers. There was plenty of water available to fight the
fire, but unfoitunately the fire was beyond control by the time the fire
depa1tment was notified. The fire was under control by about 6:30 a.m.,
but firemen remained on the scene to monitor the smoldering property.
The cause of the fire was unknown at the time; however, it was believed
to be from one of three sources: an electric coffee maker, a bun warmer,
or a gas-operated dishwasher. Estimates of property damage were
approximately $70,ooo.26
Major fires in Rhinelander History 61

The 1970s would not be without their share of major fires in


Rhinelander and some would say .it was the last decade in which fires
with major commercial property damage occurred in the Rhinelander
area. The main lodge at Holiday Acres Resort in the town of Pelican was
completely destroyed on January 17, 197 1. The fire apparently originat-
ed in the hood over the kitchen range. An automatic fire extinguisher
checked that paii of the flames, but the fire already had gone into the
ducts through the ceiling and roof and had broken out in the attic. This
second fire was not discovered until employees heard and investigated a
crackling noise. By that time, the entire attic and roof were in flames.
The Rhinelander fire department and town of Pelican fire department
arrived at the scene and quickly realized that the main building was not
savable. Efforts were successfully concentrated on protecting other
buildings in the resort complex. The fire was under control within an
hour and a half of the aITival of the Rhinelander Fire Department. None
of the firemen fighting the blaze received any injuries and no one in
Holiday Acres was banned. Estimates of the loss of the main lodge var-
ied from $200,000 to $500,000 at the time of the fire.27

Two other highly destructive fires in the Rhinelander area


occurred on January 14, 1977 and February 24, 1979. The 1977 fire
destroyed the Whispering Pines Resort which was located on the Moens
Lake chain in the town of Pelican. Firefighters from Rhinelander,
Pelican, Newbold, and Stella were called shortly after 7:00 a.m., but
found the building already engulfed in flames when they arrived. A
Department of Natural Resources tank trnck was also brought to the scene
to furnish water and additional assistance was provided by five people
from the Triumph Twist Drill Fire Bligade. The cause of the blaze was
not determinable from media accounts of the time and no estimates of
loss were available for the fire.28

The 1979 fire destroyed the Wonder Hotel. The blaze was con-
sidered the worst in the city in more than a decade. At 5:20 a.m., a hotel
guest called the Rhinelander Fire Depaitment and said there was a fire on
the first floor of the building. Within minutes, the firefighters were there
with two trucks; however, within 25 minutes the hotel was all in flames.
Once firefighters realized the nearly 80-year old hotel couldn't be saved,
they concentrated efforts on saving the nearby Social Security building on
Stevens Street and Employers Insurance of Wausau building on Anderson
62 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
Street. At the peak of the fire, more than 100 firemen from the city and
area towns were at the scene shooting streams of water into the hotel and
onto su1rnunding buildings. The fire cracked window glass at the nearby
Labor Temple and melted a plastic sign at Duane's Standard Service
Station on Anderson Street. A Pelican volunteer firefighter said ashes
from the blaze drifted as far as Lake Julia in a light easterly breeze. Four
firefighters received minor injuries. Phil Hazelquist had second degree
bums to his ears and wrists, Clarence Puza and Gordon Gilman both
stepped on a nail, and James Smoczyk of the Pine Lake department
sprained his right thumb. The police were also very busy exercising con-
trol over the crowd of several hundred which had gathered around the his-
toric hotel. Tbe estimated loss was placed at $130,000.29

Many Rhinelander residents can attest to memories of major fires


within their lifetime, whether from first-hand observation or stories told
to them by friends and family who observed fires or knew someone close-
ly associated with firefighting. Fortunately, we live in an era with excel-
lent firefighting technology and highly skilled firefighting professionals.
Firefighting gear has advanced since the tmn of the century to include
fire-resistant coats and pants, helmets, boots, gloves, self-contained
Breathing Apparatuses, and Personal Alert Safety Systems.30 These fac-
tors along with more advanced fire engines or pumpers, nozzles, hose
equipment, ladder trucks, smashing and prying tools, 31 and other equip-
ment allow firefighters to respond to fires more quickly and allow th.em
to fight fires with more safety protection for themselves than was ever
available when the Rhinelander Fire Depa1tment first organized in 1887.
The fact that we rarely hear of complete property destruction due to a fire
is a testament to the ability and skill of local firefighters, their timely
reaction to emergency calls, and their knowledge of tire prevention, con-
trol, and eradication.

Right, Above: Early Rhinelander firefighters,


1892; Courtesy o.f Rhinelander Fire Department.

Right, Below: Oct. 4, 1905 Brown Brothers


sawmill and Robbins Co. sawmill fire
caused much damage to the north side of
town. CourteSJ' o(Rhinelander Fire Department.
Major fires in Rhinelander History 63
64 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2

Above: Muffler's Unl imited . This is where the first firestation in


Rhinelander was located; February 2004. A111hor 's Cul/ectio11.

Below: Devastation on north side of town caused by fire, Oct 4, 1905.


Courtesy of Rhinelander Fire D epartm ent.
Major fires in Rhinelander History 65

Above: The January 19, 1923 fire on the 10th block of Brown Street
South, according to back of this post card . Courtesy of Rhinelander
Fire Department.

Below: October 21 , 1925, M.S. State Bank block fire. Courtesy of


66 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2

Above: Saint Mary's Catholic Church fire, November 19, 1960. Courtesy of
Rhinelander Fire Department.

Be/olV: After the Robbins Flooring Company plant fire, August 27, 1948.
9!_urtesx..oL Rhi11elander Fire Department
Major fires in Rhinelander History 67

Above: Saint Mary's Catholic Church fire, November 19, 1960. Courtesy of
Rhinelander Fire Department .
68 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2

Above: Saint Mary's Catholic Church fire, November 19, 1960. Courtesy of'
Rhine~andel· Fire Departme111.
Major fires in Rhinelander History 69

Right: Firefighter
Fred Wells
working on the
St. Mary's
Catholic Church
steeple. Date
unknown.
Counesyof
Rhinelander Fire
Department.

Below: After the


Red Dot Food ,
Inc. fire.
February 8,
1960. Courtesy o.f 11-::;;....-"""r<
Rhinelander Fire
Department.
70 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2

Above: December 22, 1968 fire outside of Gamble's store. Courtesy of


Rhinelander Fire Depar1me11t.

Below: Firefighters battling a blaze outside of Leo's Lair, December 22 ,


1968. Courtesyg[_{?liine/_and~r Fire Q_cp_q.r_e!w111 .._ _ _ __
Major fires in Rhinelander History 71

Notes Chapter 3

1 T.V. Olsen, Our First Hundred Years, A History of' Rhinelander, Pineview
Publishing, Rhinelander, Wisconsin, I 981 , 35.

2 "Here and There: City Fire Department Observes 65th Birthday; Founded by
25 Volunteers," Rhinelander Daily Neivs, 30 October 1952; Mangerson, Judson
W. Rhinelande1; Wisconsin, Unpublished Recollections, Rhine lander, Wis., 3
November 1991, 8.

3 T.V. Olsen, Our First Hundred Years, A Histol)' of Rhinelander, 36.

4 "Here and There: City Fire Department Observes 65th Birthday. Founded by
25 Volunteers."

5 Jack Cory, "Old Fire Stations Were Social Centers," Rhinelander Daily News,
31 March 1976, I, 4; "Herc and There: City Fire Department Observes 65th
Birthday, founded by 25 Volunteers.''

6 "Here and There: City Fire Department Observes 65th Birthday, Founded by
25 Volunteers."

7 "Father July Was First Priest Here," Specia l Edition of Rhinelander Daily
News, "Commemorating Fifty Years of Service By The SI. Mary's Hospital. The
Sisters of The Sorrowful Mother. ln appreciation of their efficient and merciful
aid to suffering humanity," Rhinelander Daily News, 3 June 1943, 7.

8 "Fire Also Destroyed First St. Ma1y 's Church in 1900," Rhinelander Daily
News, 19 November 1960, 1.

9 "How Many Remember? July 19, 1904 Brought Big Fire to RJ1inelander,"
Rhinelander Daily Neivs. 18 July 1961 ; "20 Homes Destroyed: Fire Devastates
Fifteen Acres of Mill and Residence Property Causing a Loss of S 125,000 on
Mill, Lumber, Homes, and Household Goods-Insurance Will Exceed Half of the
Total Loss," The New North, 21 July 1904, I .

10 " Worst Fire in the History of Rhinelander. 20 Families Homeless," The


Vindicator, 20 July 1904. I.

I I "Worst Fire in the History of Rhinelander. 20 Families Homeless," I ; "20


Major fires in Rhinelander History 72

Homes Deslrnyed: Fire Devastates Fifteen Acres of Mill and Residence Property
Causing a Loss of $ 125 ,000 on Mill, Lumber, Homes, and Household Goods-
Tnsurance Will Exceed Half of the Total Loss," l .

12 " How Many Remember? July 19, 1904 Brought Big Fire to Rhinelander," I .

13 "FIRE! Rh.inelander Suffers the Worst Fire in Its History This Afternoon:
Total Loss About $600,000.00, About Seventy Homes in Ruins, Yards of Brown
Bros. And Robbins Co. Entirely Wiped Out By the Flames," The Vindicator, 4
October 1905, I; "Terrible Conflagration: Brown Bros.' Yards, Also Robbins'
Destroyed by Fire Yesterday. One Hundred Homes on the North Side Bum.
Families Left Homeless- Estimated Loss nearly $1,000,000.00. Prompt
Assistance From Nearby Cities," The New North, 5 October 1905, 1.

14 "FlRE! RJ1inelander Suffers the Worst F ire iJ1 its History This Afternoon:
Total Loss About $600,000.00, About Seventy Homes in Ruins, Yards of Brown
Bros. And Robbins Co. Entirely Wiped Out by the Flames," 1.

15 "Fire Levels Robbins Flooring Plant. Wind Saves Nearby Homes; Six
Persons are Hospitalized," Rhinelander Daily News, 28 August 1948, 1,2 .

l 6 "Interior of Marplex Plant Gutted by Fire Early Today; Damage May Total
$75,000, Light Bulb Falling Into Lacquer Timk Blamed For Blaze," Rhinelander
Daily News, 17 January 1956, I.

17 "Fire Levels Robbins Flooring Plant. Wind Saves Nearby Homes; Six
Persons are Hospitalized," 1,2.

18 "Interior of Marplex Plant G utted by Fire Early Today; Damage May Total
$75,000, Light Bulb Falling Jnto Lacquer Tank Blamed For Blaze," 1.

19 "Big Starks Warehouse Burns; $250,000 Loss Estimated: 110,000 Bushels of


Potatoes Destroyed; 1-hmdrecls See Fire," Rhinelander Daily News, 27 October
1953, I.

20 "Early Morning Fire Causes $250,000 Loss At Red Dot Plant; Four Firemen
Hurt. Garage-Warehouse Building Gutted; New Addition Saved," Rhinelander
Daily News, 8 February 1960, 1,2.

21 "Spectacular Blaze Destrnys St. Mary's Church; Pastor Plans for Quick
Major fires in Rhinelander History 73

Rebuilding. Loss Estimated at $125,000; Cause ofFire Unknown," Rhinelander


Daily News, 19 November 1960, 1,2.

22 " Boat Plant Gutted by Fire With Loss Nearly $100,000. Building Owned by
City Once Was Vocational School," Rhinelander Daily News, 2 February 1961,
1,2.

23 "City Landmark Destroyed Friday In $75,000 Fi re," Rhinelander Daily


News, 2 Febrnary l963 , I.

24 "Thursday Evening Fire Heavily Damages Fenlon Hotel, Sends N ine Persons
To Hospital Herc, Elderly Residents Carried to Safety By fire Chief,"
Rhinelander Daily News, 22 January 1965, 1,2.

25 "Fire Wipes Out Rhinelander Stores. Six Places are Destroyed; Three
f irefighters Hurt," Rhinelander Daily News, 23 December 1968, 1-3.

26 "Pied Piper Is Gutted by Fire,'' Rhinelander Daily News, 7 November 1969,


I.

27 "Holiday Acres Lodge Destroyed By flames,'' Rhinelander Daily News, 18


January 197 I , 1.

28 "Resort Bums," Rhinelander Daily News, 14 January 1977, I.

29 Leslie Satran and Tom Michele, "Fire Destroys Wonder Hotel," Rhinelander
Daily News, 26 February 1979, 1,4.

30 Jack Gottschalk, Firefighting, DK Publishing, Inc., New York, New York,


2002, l 34; Caroline Paul, Fighting Fire: A Personal StOfJ' , Saint Martin's Press,
New York, New York, 1998, 59.

3 1 Gottschalk, Firefighting, 136, 138, 139, 140.


Rhinelander as Ancient Site of Ojibway Sioux Battle 75

Chapter 4

Rhinelander as Ancient Site of


Ojibway-Sioux Battle

One piece of human history that dates the Rbjnelander area to the
I 7th and 18th centuri es is evidence of a Sioux-Ojibway tribal battle that
li kely took place near the confluence of the Pelican and Wisconsin rivers.
According to longtime his torian T. V. O lsen, when the foundation for St.
Mary's Hospital was excavated on the Pelican River 's notih bank in
1895, a great mass of human bones was unearthed. Their disordered con-
dition indicated quick and hasty interment. The Dakota or Sioux band of
Indians often gave their dead quick burial after an important battle or a
severe epidemic. I T here is li ttle recorded of this discovery io the 1893-
1896 R hinelander newspapers, however the excavation of the si te and the
bui lding of St. Mary's Hospita l are referenced frequently during the years
of 1893-1 895. 2 The area near the confluence of two rivers was a com-
mon site for Tnd ian battles during the 17th and 18th centuries3 and the
northern Wisconsin ri ver va lleys of the St. Croix, Chippewa, and
Wisconsin were frequent sites fo r battles between many tribes, but prutic-
ularly between the Sioux and the Oj ibway. 4 For centuries, the northeast-
ern part of Minnesota and much of northern Wisconsin was occupied by
Sioux Indians. 5 The Santee Sioux were well-established in northern
Wisconsin when explorer Etienne Brule fast encountered them around
1618.6 In the late 17th century, probably starting around the year 1660
the Oj ibway Indians began to push the Sioux out of northeastern
Minnesota. 7 Around that same time, bands of Ojibway were migrating
westward from the eastern end of Lake Superior around Sault Ste. Marie,
Ontario.8 This migration upon traditional Sioux lands in Wisconsin led
to a period of warfare that would centuries later result in the Sioux being
76 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
disp laced westward toward the areas of Western Minnesota and North
and South Dakota.9 This period of warfare lasted until the early 1670s
when the S ioux and Ojibway formed a mutual alliance. The period of
warfare would resume in l 736 and last into the l 850s. 10 Although his-
torical accounts differ as to exact dates, it is fairly certain that by 1795
and 1823 hostilities had moved westward away from the Wisconsin River
valley and toward the mouth of tbe Chippewa River and into the
Mississippi River waterway. 11

These events place the Sioux-Oj ibway battle in the Rhinelander


country at sometime between 1660 and 1795. Tirnt the Rhinelander area
was the si te of a tribal battle that left a mass grave behind St. Mary's
Hospital is supported by an interv iew done by Isabel J. Ebert with Tom
St. Germain, a descendant of a French-Indian interpreter and fur trader
named Leon St. Germain who li ved among the Ojibway in the early
l 800s. 12 According to the T. V. Olsen account of the interview, the
Rhinelander area was one of the last Sioux strongholds in the north. Leon
St. Ge1main worked for the American Fur Company at their fur-trading
station in Lac du Flambeau. St. Gennain married into the Ojibway t1ibe
in Lac du Flambeau and he passed many stories along to his descendants
who in turn passed them on through the generations to Torn St. Germain.
The latter St. Gennain tells of a Sioux-Ojibway war in the Rl1inelander
country. Portions of that account as told by T. V. Olsen include the fo l-
lowing: " Above its confluence with the Wisconsin, a great cast-west gla-
cial ridge runs for a mile or so along the south bank of the Pe lican; gen-
erations of Rhinelander people referred to this ridge as ' The Hogsback'.
The name barely applies any longer. for prominent sections of the forma-
tion have been eaten away by large gravel quarries. But in the clays when
the Chippewa (Ojibway) were invading Sioux lands from the north, the
tall promontory made a natural stronghold and lookout for the Sioux who
had a seasonal camp by the river junction. Sentinels were stationed on
the ridgetop. lt commanded a wide view of all approaches from the north,
south, and east by land or water, including both ri vers and the Ontonagon
Trai l. Finally the Sioux were forced to abandon this strategic position
after battles with the Ojibway. but the two tribes continued to contest the
region for many years. His grandfather told Tom St. Gennain that once
when he was a boy, he and his father were hunting in the neighborhood
of Pelican Rapids (today Rhinelander) and made camp for the night.
Rhinelander as Ancient Site of Ojibway Sioux Battle 77

Suddenly the boy discovered a Sioux brave crouching in the underbrush.


He seized upon bis musket, but his father prevented him from firing it.
His father told him 'That is only a scout. He 's trying to determine
whether we have frie nds nearby, but a shot would surely bring his friend s
on us. We must leave this place at once. ">13 This oral account of histo-
ry indicates that the Rhinelander area was indeed one of the last Sioux
strongholds in Northern Wisconsin since Sioux were still living in the
area in the mid l 800's even after many others of the Sioux nation had
drifted to Western Wisconsin, Minnesota Territory, and the Dakota
Territories.

The Olsen account indicates that the mass burial behind the site
of St. Mary's Hospital may have been the result of one major battle, but
that there may have been other battles in the Rhinelander area as well.
Marshfield, Wisconsin social sciences teacher James K. Bokern wrote a
lengthy and well -researched master 's thesis at the University of
Wisconsin at Stevens Point. This thesis entitled History and the Primary
Canoe Routes of the Six Bands of Chippewa from the Lac Du Flambeau
District states that fighting between the Ojibway and the Sioux lasted
into tbe 1850s. 14 The Olsen and Bokcm accounts force speculation that
the mass burial may have been the result of a battle that took place as
recently as the 1850s. Bokem also states that there had been an Ojibway-
Sioux alliance from 1670- 1736 which supported the tribes mutual inter-
est in the fur trade and helped protect each tribe from the powerful Fox,
Mascouten, and Miami nations. In 1736 the Ojibway-Sioux alliance
ended, starting immediate hostilities between these nations. The upper
Wisconsin River basin was a focus of much of these hostilities between
the years of 1737 to 1783 and fighting behveen the Ojibway and Sioux in
Wisconsin would last continuously in Wisconsin until the 1850s. These
battles occurred most frequently during the summer and fa ll , usually cen-
tering on valuable resources such as elk, deer, and other game animals of
importance whose fur was traded in market places and whose meat was
used to sustain families. One famous battle that took place not far from
Rhinelander during that period was the battle of Strawberry Island on
Lake Flambeau. 15 When exactly did the major battle on the Pelican
River take place? Was it between the years of 1660 and 1670 when the
1101th country was wild and relatively unexplored and French-Jesuit mis-
sionaries were first laying their eyes on the major waterways of
Wisconsin? Was it between the years of 1737 and 1783 when Oj ibway-
78 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
Sioux hostilities were at their peak in the Upper Wisconsin River valley
at the same time that American colonies were continuing to grow, the
Revolutionary War was fought, and the Declaration of Independence
signed? Or was it between the years of 1783 and as recently as the I 850's
when men like John Cun-an were seekfog better livelihoods in the slowly
developing areas north of Stevens Point? While the answer for the most
part is unknown, it does provide some interesting specu lation about the
history of the region so many of us love and affectionately call the land
of the hodag.
Rhinelander as Ancient Site of Ojibway Sioux Battle 79

Below: Pelican River not far from where it leaves Shepard Park.
March 2003. Author':; Collectio11.
80 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2

Above: Base of Hogsback Hill on the site of where the 17th century battle
likely took place. April 2003. Authors Collection.

Below: View of Pelican River from Hogsback Hill. The opposite bank is
where builders discovered a mass burial site in 1893 when the St.
Mary's Hospital foundation was being built. March 2003.
Author's Collection.
Rhinelander as Ancient Site of Ojibway Sioux Battle 81

Abo1·e: Hogsback Hill as it meets the Pelican River; March 2003.


A111hor :S Collectio11.

Below.· Pelican River behind St. Mary's Hospital; April 2003.


s
Awhor Collectio11.
82 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
Notes to Chapter 4

T.V. Olsen, Roots of the North. The Rhinelander Coun/1)1, Volume One,
Pineview Publishing, Rhinelander, Wisconsin, 1979, 22.

2 Review of all RJ1inelander newspapers by author for the years 1893 to 1896;
"New Hospital," Oneida Co11111y Herald. 8 April 1893, 3: "The Hospital
Building," Rhinelander Herald, 24 November 1894, l ; "Back Broken,"
Rhinelander Herald, October 1895, 3; "Dedication of tbe new addition to St.
Mary's Church," Rhinelander Herald, February 1896, 3.

3 William W. Warren, Histo1y Of The Ojibll'ay People, Minnesota Historical


Society Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota, 1984, 305

4 Ibid. at 126-27, 190-93, 305-08; Bokern . .James K, "History and the Primary
Canoe Routes of the Six Bands of Chippewa fro m the Lac Du Flambeau District"
(Master's Thesis, University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, l 987 , Chapter 9, 17,
31, Chapter 2, 5.)

5 Grace Lee Nute, The Voyageur :I' Highway, Minnesota Historical Society Press,
Saint Paul, Minnesota. 1969, 97; Olsen, Roots of the North, The Rhinelander
Co111111y, Vo/11111e One 19, 20.

6 Olsen, Roots o.f the North, 20; United States ForeslTy Service Heritage
Resources Assessment of the Chequamcgon-Nicolet National Forest. March 3,
1998, page I0 at www.r.... fed.us/r9/cnn f/natres/plan/ res=assess/herit.pdf current
as of February 9, 2004.

7 Nute. The Voyageur '.I' Highll'ay . 97.

8 Leslie E. Eisenberg and Robert A. Birmingham, Indian Mounds of Wisconsin,


The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wisconsin, 2000, 174; Bokem,
"History and the Primary Canoe Routes of tile Six Bands of Chippewa from the
Lac Du Flambeau Districr, Chapter 2, I.

9 Eisenberg and Birmingham, /11dia11 Mounds of Wisconsin, 174.

10 Bokcm, Chapter 3, 2,3; Chapter 2, 5.

11 Warren, Hist01y Of The Ojibway People, 305; Timothy Seve1in, Explorers of


Rhinelander as Ancient Site of Ojibway Sioux Battle 83

the Mississippi, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1967,


268.

l 2 Olsen, Roots of the North, 66; "Leon St. Germain-Wisconsin Fur Trader" al
www.jcnforum.om/germain/messagcs on www.genealogy.com current as of
February 9, 2004.

13 Olsen, Roots of the North, 66-68.

14 Bokem, Chapter 2, 5; Chapter 3, 3.

15 Bokem, Chapter 9, 17,21,3 1; Chapter 3, 3; Chapter 2,5.


Rhinelander and the Green Bay Packers 85

Chapter 5

Rhinelander and the Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers are the real America's team of profes-
sional football. They are a team that symbolizes the state of Wisconsin
as much as anything else and a team that represents the underdog in
sports. While Rhinelander may seem like a long way from Green Bay
and Titletown, U.S.A., the Packer teams have made many visi ts to the
land of the hodag. This chapter attempts to chronicle the most well-
known of these team visits.

As early as the l 930's Packer athletes fielded a traveling basket-


ball team. The first well-known Packer visit occurred on March 22, 193 1
when the traveling Packer basketball squad took on Rhinelander's formi-
dable Company B team in Rhinelander's Memorial Bu ilding. I The
Packers were coming off a 193 1 season which saw them win their third
straight NFL league championship. 2 The 193 1 team was coached by
Packer founder Curly Lambeau. The Packers compiled a record of 11-2-
0 that season scoring 318 points wh ile giving up only 94 points. Their
schedule that season included games against the Cleveland Indians,
Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, Chicago Cardinals, Frankford
Yellow Jackets, Providence Steam Rollers, Chicago Bears, and Staten
Island Stapletons. There were I 0 teams in the NFL that season, the tenth
team being the Portsmouth Spartans.3

1931 Green Bay Packers Season

Win/Loss Score
Cleveland Indians w 26-0
Brooklyn Dodgers w 32-6
New York Giants w 27-7
86 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
New York Giants w 27-7
Chicago Cardinals w 26-7
Frankford Yellow Jackets w 15-0
Providence Stearn Rollers w 48-20
Chicago Bears w 6-2
Staten Island Stapletons w 26-0
Chicago Cardinals L 13-21
New York Giants w 14-0
Providence Steam Rollers w 38-7
Chicago Bears L 6-7

The Packers were the 1931 NFL Champions. Second place was
the Po1tsmouth Spartans at 10-3.

One colorful member of the 193 1 Packer team that played at the
Memorial Building was Johnny Blood McNally. Born in New
Richmond, Wisconsin, he was nicknamed the Vagabond Halfback and the
Magnificent Screwball. He played college football at Saint John's
University in Collegeville, Minnesota. During his college years, many
college players also played professional football under assumed names.
When McNally had approximately one year of college playing eligibility
left, he decided to mix in some professional play with the East 26th St.
Liberties of Minneapolis. McNally and his friend Ralph Hanson spotted
a theater marquee billing Rudolph Valentino in the film "Blood aJ1d
Sand." Johnny immediately picked Blood as his assumed professional
name and convinced Hanson to switch his name to Sand. From that day
forward , Johnny signed all documents Johnny Blood.4 McNally was a
very impressive athlete who had scored 13 touchdowns for Green Bay
that season: I 0 receiving, 2 rushing, and one on a kick return. 5 His sto-
ried career would earn him a spot as a charter member in the Pro Football
Hall of Fame in 1963.6

Despite Blood McNally and the Packers' collective athleticism,


they were confidently defeated by Rh inelander's Company B team by a
score of 20-15. The win before a sold-out Memorial Building crowd of
400 was the 12th straight for Company B. The first half of the game saw
Green Bay leading 8-5 after two quarters of play in which Company B
passed the ball wildly and did not play well together. In the second half,
Company B played a smoother and stronger brand of basketball against
Rhinelander and the Green Bay Packers 87

their caller and heavier opponents outscori ng the Packers 7-2 in the third
quarter to take a 12- 10 lead into the fourth quarter. Company B's Dada
Terzynski and Art Barlow helped maintain the lead and secure a victory
with strong fourth quarter perfomiances. Company B outscored the
Packers by a score of 8-5 in the fourth quarter. Penny Schultz was the
leading scorer for Company 8 with 8 points while Blood McNally led the
Packer effort with 6 points. 7

COMPANYB (20)

Field Goals Free Throws Fouls

Penny Schultz, F 3 2 2
Eddie Peterson, F 0 0 0
Art Barlow, F 0 0 3
Denny Maloney, C 3 1 4
,.,
Pat Johnson, G I 0 .)

Esden Fortier, G 0 0
Dada Terzynski, G

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Free Throws

Johnny Blood, F 2 2 3
Arnie Herber, F I 3 0
Wue1t Engelmann , C 0 2 I
Mike Michalski, G 0 l 2
Dave Zuidmulder, G 0 1 2

Officials: James Williams and H.D. Sansburn

Green Bay Packer Football Training Camp in Rhinelander

The next well-publicized Packer visit and probably the best known
was when Green Bay trained in RJ1inelander in 1935, the first year they left
Green Bay for their pre-season practices.8 This was considered their first
official training camp. During the first 16 years of their existence, the
Packers held pre-season workouts in Green Bay, but never considered the
88 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
drills to be a training camp.9 Impetus for having training camp take place
in or near Rhinelander began when the Rhinelander Junior Chamber of
Commerce Sports Committee contacted the management of the Green Bay
Packers and the Chicago Cardinals urging both teams to train in the
Rhinel.ander area in 1935. 10 T he Packers initially platrned to open a train-
ing camp near Elcho using the high school football field . The dangerous
condition of the field prompted Packers officials to search for a new camp.
Packer coach Curly Lambeau paid a visit to Rhinelander on Ju ly 30, 1935
where he inspected the Rhinelander High School Bowl-field and viewed
other facilities in the area. Permission to use the fiel d was granted by
Rhinelander school officials on July 29, 1935. Under the proposed agree-
ment, the Packers were expected to pay the regular usage fee for the field
and assure upkeep of it. The Junior Chamber of Commerce was expected
to provide proper policing of the grounds. 11 It did not take Lam beau long
to make up his mind as he decided the same day as he inspected the bowl
that Rhinelander would be home to the Green Bay Packers training camp
that summer. After an inspection of the field in Rhinelander (today's
Sarocka field), Lambeau said that no changes would be necessary in the
grounds, but gave a few suggestions for the use of the swface. Dandelions,
be pointed out, were causing considerable damage.12

Lambeau and the 1935 Packers came to Rhinelander by bus on


August 24, 1935, stopping at the Muskie Inn in Elcho for lunch . T he
rules set by Coach Lam beau were few in number, but effectively outlined :

• Curfew was set at 11 p.m.


• T here was to be no smoking while in unifonn.
• Players were expected to eat breakfast at 8 a.m.
• No drinking of alcoholic beverages at any time.
• Football pants were to be worn at every practice.
• All injuries, regardless of how small, were to be reported
to the team physician.13

Lambeau had a captive audience for his ftrst official tra111111g


camp. Players did not have access to automobiles and, because the play-
ers stayed at Pinewood Lodge on l ake Thompson four miles east of
Rhinelander, players would have to walk four miles into town and back
again in order to get a drink. Lambeau scheduled camp in this manner in
Rhinelander and the Green Bay Packers 89

order to keep a watchfu l eye on his players and, he hoped, to improve


team chemistry. I 4

Upon arriving in Rhinelander, the Packers were greeted by large


banners welcoming them to the city. Hundreds of spectators were on
hand to watch the Packers first workout held on August 24th at the
Rhinelander Bowl shortly after the Packers' arrival. The Packers held one
workout a day for their first two days in Rhinelander and then two a day
for most of the week before one final workout the following Saturday
morning, August 3 I st before an evening game against tbe Merrill Foxes
in Merrill. One of the highlights oft.raining camp was a Packer line (most
people did not distinguish offensive from defensive line in those days as
most players played both ways) that averaged 233 pounds per player.
This was the heavi est line in Packer history.15 During the first weekend
of workouts, the line was kept busy as the team spent a great deal of time
working on pass patterns and trick plays.16 The rest of the week was
spent running offensive and defensive drills at the high school bowl while
also preparing for "pre- season" games against Wisconsin city teams from
Me1Till, Chippewa Fal ls, and Stevens Point.17

Packer players stayed in four cabins at Pinewood Lodge with s ix


players to a cabin. Married players were allowed to stay in private rooms
with their wives. Confined to the lodge whenever they weren't practic-
ing, the players spent their free hours fishing, playing horseshoes and
shuffleboard, and engaging in card games. Some went swimming, but the
weather was unseasonably cold most of the week. The Packers were
accustomed to working out in light cotton jerseys in Green Bay. While in
Rhinelander, they practiced in old wool jerseys and hooded sweatshirts
during a week when the low temperature reached 39 degrees.18 The last
day of workouts for the Packers was on Saturday, August 31, 1935. After
leaving Rhinelander that afternoon, the Packers made a trip to Merrill to
play the Men-ill Foxes city football team. l 9 Merrill went out of its way
to strengthen its team for the game, bringing in the better players from
several nearby c ities.20 Two Rhinelander players recruited to play for
Menill in that game were Denny Maloney and Wayne Schellenger, each
of whom bad played the line for previous Rhinelander city football
teams.21 The Packers soundly defeated the Merrill Foxes 34-0. After
leaving Merrill, the Packers played three other practice games in
90 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
Wisconsin- defeating the Chippewa Falls Marines 22-0, the Wisconsin
All-Stars at Stevens Point 40-0, and the LaCrosse Lagers 49-0.22

Packer Basketball Visits I 950- l 970's

The 1950's saw Green Bay Packer team basketball v1s1ts to


Rhinelander on at least two occasions. The Packers had lost to the
Rhinelander Sho1ty Legionaires in 1950 by a score of 53-4623 and
returned to Rhinelander for another match against the Legionaires in
January of 1951. The day of the Legionaire-Packer tilt was a busy one for
the Legionaires. They spent the afternoon at Tomahawk defeating the
Tomahawk squad 64-44 before retuming to Rhinelander to play the Packers
in an evening game at the Memorial Building. The Packer team that
evening included forwards Tim O'Brien and Ted Fritsch, centers Charlie
Brock and Jug Girard, and guards Andy Uram and Walt SchJinkman.24
The Legionaires defeated the Packers 6 1-44 in an entertaining affair well-
described in the following Rhinelander Daily News account:

"A lot of folks hereabouts think Ted Fritsch should tum to a


career of stage comedy when he hangs up his spikes for the pro
football Green Bay Packers. The burly fullback's running com-
ments and antics during the exhibition here last night with the
Rh inelander Sho1ty Legionaires produced laughter all around but
the Shortys stopped g iggling long enough to grab a 61 to 44 deci-
sion. fn the afternoon, the Rhinelander team measured
Tomahawk's All-Stars 64 to 44 in a Wisconsin Valley League
game. The pair of wins ups the Shorty season record to 7-3.

"Fritsch, who had 12 fouls called on him at Waupun Saturday


night, found more sympathy here from officials H.D. Sansburn
and Red Marquardt, who graciously stopped at the five Limit.
The fun sta1ted early, with the Packers' stocky back coming out
in gaudy shorts. Thundering drives down court and "fancy" pass-
ing by Fritsch added to the fun. Once, after Fritsch had fouled
Coach Terzynski, the referee called out "one shot". "One shot?"
asked Fritsch. When the referee nodded, big Ted hustled to the
bench, brought out a glass and bottle and poured the coach a
drink. The coach took it down and then missed the free throw.
Rhinelander and the Green Bay Packers 91

There should be no cause for alarm, dismay or horror at the inci-


dent, the "shot" coach took from Ted was coffee. T he boys
brought out the foo tball after the final whistle and whistled pass-
es all around the place. It was good entertainment."25

RHINELANDER

Field Goals Free Throws Fouls

O'Malley, F l 0 0
D. Chariton, F 6 0 2
B. Chariton, F 4 0 0
Warren, C 4 2 0
Bloomquist, C I 0 0
Lenheiser, G 6 1 2
R. Terzynski , G 0 0
Jueten, G 4 0 1
P. Terzynski, G 2 0 0

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Field Goals Free Throws Fouls

O'B rien, F 2 0 0
Fritsch, F 2 4 5
Girard, C 12 2 0
Brock, C 2
Uram, G 1 0 I
Schl inkman, G 0 0 0

There have been other Packer team visits to Rhinelander since


l 951. Most notably in the author's memory was a visit by the Packers to
play members of the Rhinelander community including several high
school faculty members. That game was played on the floor of the
Rhinelander High School gymnasium in the early part of 1977 or 1978.
Rising player salaries, marketing opportunities, and an effective player's
union have made ofT-season basketball visits and other work less neces-
sary than in the 1930's-1960's when off-season work was often necessary
to give players and their families a good s tandard of li ving.
92 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2

Above: 1936 Green Bay Packer team; Johnny "Blood" McNally is number
55 in the middle row, 4th from right. Lambeau is to the far left in the
middle row. Awhor s Co/lec1io11.

Below: 1929 Packer Team ; Johnny "Blood" McNally is in the top row, 4th
from the right. Lam beau is in the bottom row, 1st one on the left,
number 20. Reprint of 1929 Wisco11si1111e111s paper photo: circa 1970.
Rhinelander and the Green Bay Packers 93

Top and Bottom:


Author receiving
Johnnie Gray's
autograph.
Rhinelander High
School, late
1970's. Henry L.
Miazga Collectio11.

Middle: Packer
wide receiver
Aundra
Thompson
shaking hands
with the author.
Rhinelander High
School. Late
1970's. 1-femy L.
Miazga Collection.
94 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2

Above: John "Blood" McNally, Green Bay Packer halfback from 1929-33,
s
1935-36. Auihor Collectio11.

Below: Cartoon lampooning the pace of news during winter in Wisconsin,


1929. Reprint of 1929 Wisco11sin newspaper; circa 1970.

BEFORE THE 6AME wrrw T/.IE


6/ANTS,NEW YORK WRIT£R5
HAD !=UN OESCRtBIN6 61U:EN
8AY AS A NORTH WOOOS STOP
WHERE LUMBER;f'ACl<S SAi
AROUNO A P0/8ELL y s-rovE
WAtrlN6 FOR PLAY-8'1-PLA'I
AaOUNIS OF THE GAME ro
• ClJMG IN 8Y 006 SLFD ......
Rhinelander and the Green Bay Packers 95

ARNIE HERBER
Q~ARTERDACK
(5.WRL't
~
Earl "Curl~· .. l.mnhcau $WELL·
Hll' S l>Hl lC OAl'll

Above, Lefi: Arnie Herber,


Green Bay Packer quarter-
back from 1930-1940.
A utlior ~· Colfectio11.

Above, Right: Earl "Curly"


Lambeau, Founder of the
Green Bay Packers and
head coach for 31 years .
A111/ior s Co flectio11.

Right: Mike Michalske, Green


Bay Packer guard from
1929-1935 and 1937.
Awlior s Collec1io11. ~# ~----- _ _..

HAL~KE
RD
SWELL
96 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
Notes to Chapter 5

"Gridiron Aces to see action with visitors: Game starts at 3p.m. tomorrow
here," Rhinelander Daily News, 21 March 1931, 6.

2 See the official Green Bay Packers website at W\¥W.packers.com/ history/


record book/team championships current as of February 9, 2004.

3 www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/gnb 1931.htm current as of Febniary 9,


2004.

4 Jack Henry, "Johnny Blood: The Vagabond Halfback," Pit1sb11rgh Steelers


Weekly, date unknown; www.footballresearch.com/articlcs/ frpageofM?
topjc=blood current as of February 9, 2004.

5 ww>v.packers.com/ history/record book/touchdown leaders current as of


February 9, 2004.

6 Henry, "Johnny Blood: The Vagabond Halfback."

7 "Company B defeats Green Bay Packers 20- I5: Over 400 see Gridiron Aces
Lose Net Tilt: Sportsmanship of visiting team draws praise; Guards stage struck
at first," Rhinelander Daily News, 23 March 193 1, 4.

8 C liff Christi, "Years Ago, Wisconsin was truly the 'big cheese': State was sum-
mer home of several pro footba ll teams in ' 30s and ' 40's," Milwaukee Journal,
29 July 2000.

9 ClifT Christi, "Camp Curly Kept Players in Check, Mostly: Lambcau got
Packers' attention with trip," Milwaukee Joumal Sentinel, 14 August 2001.

10 "JCC to invite pro gridders here in fall: Packers and Cardinals urged to train
in Rhinelander this year," Rhinelander Daily News, 12 July 1935, 3.

I I "Packers may establish training quarters here: Lambeau to inspect bowl, other
facilities in visit here tomorrow," Rhinelander Daily News, 29 July J935, 6.

12 "Lambeau approves training quarters here, plans to use school bowl: To bring
squad of35 men here for practice sessions August 24," Rhi11ela11der Daily News,
Rhinelander and the Green Bay Packers 97

31July1935, 6 .

13 Christ!, "Camp Curly Kept Players in check, Mostly: Lambeau got Packers'
attention with trip."

14 Ibid.

15 "Packers to hold first drills here tomorrow: Packer line could average 233
pounds using big boys: Lambeau to have heaviest team in history of Green Bay
club," Rhinelander Daily News, 23 August 1935, 7.

l 6 "Packers open camp with light drills, players work on pass plays,"
Rhinelander Daily News, 26 August 1935, 6.

17 Christi, "Camp Curly Kept Players in check, Mostly."

18 Ibid.

19 "Packers seek Merrill game, Pro Stars would play practice game under the
lights," Rhinelander Daily News, 6 August 1935, 5; "Green Bay Packers end
camp here today, play Merrill club tonight: get first taste of scrimmage against
Fromm Foxes There," Rhinelander Daily News, 31 August 1935, 6.

20 "Green Bay Packers end camp here today, play Merrill club tonight: get first
taste of scrimmage against Fromm Foxes There," 6.

21 "Rhino players face Packers: Schellenger and Maloney to play with Merrill
outfit against Bays," Rhinelander Daily News, 17 August 1935, 6.

22 Christi, "Camp Curly Kept Players in check, Mostly."

23 "Packers, Shortys to play here on Sunday night," Rhinelander Daily News, 20


March 1950, 6; "Shortys meet Packers, Tomahawk S's Sunday," Rhinelander
Daily News, 20 November 1951, 6.

24 "Shortys win twice, including one from Packer comedians," Rhinelander


Daily News, 22 January 1951, 6.

25 Ibid.
World War II Enemy Prisoners of War in Rhinelander 99

Cha pter 6

World War 11 Enemy Prisoners of War


in Rhinelander

In 1945 , Wisconsin housed roughly 20,000 captured enemy sol-


diers toward the end of World War II. The war with Germany ended on
May 8, 1945. Understanding bow POW 's ended up in Wisconsin takes
us back to 1942. Before the United States' entry into the war, England
had stood alone in Europe against Hitler's Nazi Germany. As a result of
many battles with Gennan soldiers, England had obtained hundreds of
thousands of these German soldiers. Rumor spread that Hitler planned to
air drop weapons to these troops in order to prevent the necessity of an
invasion. So as plans advanced for the allied joint attack on North Africa,
the United States reluctantly agreed to take custody of all prisoners cap-
tured by Great Britain after November, 1942. 1 The U.S. military made
the decision to transport these POW's stateside on returning empty liber-
ty ships. The incoming wave of prisoners is estimated to have been over
5,000 Japanese, 371,000 Germans, 51 ,000 Italians, and smaller numbers
of Koreans, Russians, and other nationalities. Ultimately the U.S. mili-
tary designated 156 sites throughout the U.S. as "base camps," In
September, 1942, the military selected the abandoned C ivi lian
Conservation Corps camp in Camp McCoy in Monroe County, Wisconsin
as one of the first locations to house these prisoners for the duration of the
war. Other base camps included Fort Sheridan, Illinois, Camp Ellis,
Illinois, and Camp Custer, Michigan. With Camp McCoy designated as
one of the first base camps, Wisconsin quickly became home to thousands
of captmed enemy soldiers.2

With all of these base camps nearby Wisconsin gained a unique


opportunity to utilize these prisoners to fill severe labor shortages. PO W 's
became especially useful in the seasonal employment of Wisconsin's ag1i-
100 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
cultural industry. In addition to Wisconsin's base camp at Fort McCoy,
Wisconsin had 38 "branch" camps located across the state. At its peak,
Wisconsin housed nearly 3,500 Japanese, 5,000 Germans, and nearly 500
Koreans. In addition, Fort Sheridan placed nearly 13,000 POW's season-
ally or year round in these 38 branch camps. 3

One of these branch camps was located in Rhinelander.


According to author Betty Cowley's Stalag Wisconsin, Rhinelander's
POW camp was located in an abandoned CCC camp just off of the high-
way two miles west of town. The abandoned CCC camp stood adjacent
to the U.S. Forest Service LobLolly Pine Tree Laboratory. 4 The location
is likely what is today the United States Depa1tment of Agriculture Forest
Service's Forestry Sciences Laboratory, also known as the Hugo Sauer
Nurse1y. The intersection of Highway 8 and 47 is roughly two miles west
of town and the laborato1y-nurse1y is located 1/3 of a mile north and 300-
400 yards west of this intersection . The laborato1y-nursery's exact loca-
tion is 300-400 yards west of the intersection of Highway 4 7 and County
Road Kon County Road K across from Town Line Lake. Local resident
Hal Berndt was the supervisor of the Hugo Sauer Nursery for many years
beginning in Jw1e, 1955. According to Berndt, the nursery was estab-
lished by the U.S. Forestry Service in 1933. A CCC camp was built at
about that time on the south po1tion of the nursery. By 1955 all that was
left of the camp was a kitchen, mess hall building, and a shower building.
These buildings have since been demolished. Berndt also states that dur-
ing his time at the nursery, some fonner U.S. Forestry Service nursery
foremen told stories about the POW's using the CCC camp buildings for
at least pa11 of one year. 5 Bemdt's assertion of a CCC camp having been
located on nurse1y prope1ty, the physical location of today's nurse1y fit-
ting nicely Cowley's account of the location of the POW camp, and
Cowley's assertion that the U.S. Forestry Service's Pine Tree Laboratory
was adjacent to the POW camp all indicate that this was indeed the loca-
tion of the POW camp. According to Cowley, this abandoned CCC camp
hid and housed 190 POW's that arrived in Oneida County. The aban-
doned camp needed only a good cleaning to prepare it for new occupants.
The largest building became sleeping quarters for the POW's. Gennan
speaking Camp Conunander Captain Kunze and his forty or so guards
slept in another dormitory type building.6 Some food arrived from Fort
She1idan, Illinois; however, most of the food was purchased from the
World War II Enemy Prisoners of War in Rhinelander 101

Rhinelander A&P. Captain Kunze negotiated a dea l with the A&P to buy
quality beef and call it "bologna." With no cleared level area large
enough for soccer, there was little recreation available other than cards,
reading, and letter writing. Medical services for the entire camp were
provided by Rhinelander physician Van Komaszynski.

Security at Camp Rhinelander was minimal. There was no fence,


guard station, or tower. One of the guards stationed at Camp Rhinelander
recalled that he had no fear of the PO W's and got along with them well.
Without even a side-arm he would take an English speaking POW with
him on bi-weekly runs to Fort Sheridan fo r supplies . Of the four differ-
ent POW camps to which he was assigned, he found Camp Rhinelander
to be the most lax about security. But he also remembered that the PO W's
had no place to go, terrorized by the sound of wolves howling in the
woods each night.7 POW's were escorted by Army MP 's in j eeps each
morning on their work assignments. These work assignments were pri-
marily on farms in the area around Rhinelander. Although the MP's car-
ried guns, they were for show only as the MP's never worried for their
own safety or about escapes. 8

According to news accounts of 1945, the POW's arrived in


Rhinelander in two groups. The first group of ninety German POW's
arrived on August 29, 1945 on 24 trucks and 2 jeeps supervised by 35
American military personnel. Their an-ival here was chiefly for the pur-
pose of harvesting beans and potatoes for the Oneida County Farm Labor
Association.9 The August 30, 1945 New North reported that the ninety
Gennan POW's worked out of the base camp at Fort Sheridan, Illinois
and were made available in Oneida County because of the reduction of
POW work in the Chicago area. More civil ian help was becoming avail-
able there due to cutbacks in war plants. The POW 's arriving in
Rhinelander, as elsewhere, were not permitted to keep American civilians
from any jobs. If civilian help became avai lable on any project that the
POW's were working on, the POW's would be removed immediately.
POW's across the United States were only assigned to work after the War
Manpower Commission certified that no civilian workers were avai.lable
for a particular type of work in the community. For their labors with
Camp Rhinelander, all POW's assigned there received 55 cents an hour
from the farm association. The POW 's themselves did not receive any
money, but were paid 80 cents a day in coupons. These they could
102 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
redeem in a canteen for such items as tablets, ink, toiletries, sewing kits,
pipe tobacco, and rolling papers for rolling pipe tobacco. POW's were
not allowed any beer, candy, soft drinks, or cigarettes. Their meals, while
nutritious enough to keep up their strength, contained little that was
scarce in civilian markets. They received oleomargarine in limited
amounts, hog fatbacks, hog kidneys, hog hearts, hog livers, fish, maca-
roni, spaghetti, some milk, and sugar.

The additional 100 PO W 's were trucked into Camp Rhinelander


on September 4, 1945.10 It is unclear what nationality or nationalities
these additional 100 POW's were. These 100 men were also put to work
harvesting beans and potatoes for the Oneida County Farm Labor
Association. 11 A typical day for a pow stationed at Camp Rhinelander
began with a school bus or truck picking up some POW's in the morning
after breakfast. They were taken to different farms in the area including
the Lelah Starks seed potato farm west of Rhinelander on County Road
K. After harvesting beans and/or potatoes all morning, the men received
a meal in a sack that had been made at camp that morning or presumably
the day before. Some received good German home cooking if they
worked on the Starks seed potato farm or other home cooking and Lucky
Strike cigarettes if they worked on the Spafford potato farm. After a full
day's work the POW's were usually brought back to camp in a jeep or
truck where they settled in for dinner and cards, reading, and/or letter
writing. 12

While life for the military guards/MP's at Camp Rhinelander was


mostly focused around the PO W's, Sergeant Anthony E. Beres, a former
guard at Camp Rhinelander, states in Stala~ Wisconsin that some did
manage to get away from camp to go bullhead fishing from time to time.
Bullhead fishing is best done after dark. With a lantern in hand, a local
woman, Ms. Dorothy Yurich, led the way to Pine Lake about a half mile
from camp. Fishing was often very good and the MP's sometimes
brought back up to 100 fish. They would then wake the cooks out of bed
to make a meal of the bullheads.13 A review of modem quadrangle maps
of Oneida County shows that there is no Pine Lake with.in a 2-3 mile
radius of County Road Kand Highway 47 today. However, it is likely
that some of these lake names may have changed or that Beres was refer-
ring to Langley Lake or Vicks Lake which are within a 2 mile radius of
World War II Enemy Prisoners of War in Rhinelander 103

the POW camp location and were well known fishing lakes to residents
of Rhinelander's West Side and the vicinity. Langley Lake may be the
best bet as it contains high ground around it that can sustain pine trees
while Vicks Lake is primarily a boggy swamp lake. I 4

An unusual number of poor digging days delayed potato and


bean harvesting in Oneida County between August and October, 1945.
This caused the Oneida County Farm Labor Association to extend its con-
tract with the U.S. military for POW labor from a pe1iod ending October
10, 1945 to October 20, 1945. A small number of men must have been
returned to the base camp in Fort Sheridan after October I oth however as
the October 11, 1945 New North notes that the 10-day contract extension
was for the labor of 150POW's,15 40 fewer than the 190 PO W's who had
resided at Rhinelander's branch camp for much of September and
October. This estimate of 190 comes from newspaper accounts of the
period, however the number of POW's at Camp Rhinelander may have
swelled to as many as 330 as repo1ted by Betty Cowley in Stalag
Wisconsin. 16

Camp Rhinelander closed at the end of October with very little


public knowledge in Rhinelander. Under the heading "Prison Camps
Close'', the November 1, 1945 New North ran this short account:

"Twenty-four Illinois and Wisconsin branch camps supervised by


the base Prisoner of War camp at Fort Sheridan, have been closed
since August 3, according to Brigadier General John T. Piere.

"Still functioning are 26 other branch camps in Illinois,


Wisconsin, and Upper Michigan, but five of those are expected to
close by October 31 so that the prisoners of war who are not
needed in these areas may be transported to sections where labor
shortages exist.

"Camps which closed at the end of the month are Wisconsin


Rapids, Sturgeon Bay, Janesville, Galesville, Antigo, and
Rhinelander, all in Wisconsin." I 7

After the closing of Camp Rhinelander, many German POW's


104 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
still continued working across the state until the 1945 harvest and canning
season ended. On June 14, 1946, Captain Daniel F. Brewer, POW Camp
Commander, finally reported the departure of the last 403 German pris-
oners from base camp at Fort McCoy. The vast majority of POW's in
Wisconsin seemed content with their existence as POW's. For the most
part, they were treated fairly and better fed than in their own armies and
bad a warm, dry place to sleep. In addition, the structured and incidental
exposure of these prisoners to American citizens, geography, culture, and
democracy provided them with a new awareness of what a democratic
country could achieve.18
World War II Enemy Prisoners of War in Rhinelander 105

Above: Hugo Sauer Nursery offices, Rhinelander, WI ; February, 2004 .


A uthor :~
Collection.

Below: Back view of Hugo Sauer Nursery Offices; February, 2004.


Author~-Co/leciion.
106 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2

Left: Trail behind


Hugo Sauer
Nursery offices in
the approximate
area where the
POW camp was in
1945, Rhinelander,
WI; February,
2004. Author s

Belo w: Building
behind Hugo
Sauer Nursery in
the approximate
area where the
POW camp was in
1945, Rhinelander,
WI; February,
2004. Author '.s·
World War II Enemy Prisoners of War in Rhinelander 107

Above: Hugo Sauer Nursery located on County Road K, Rhinelander, WI;


January, 2004. Author's Collection .

Below: Road to Hugo Sauer Nursery. This is the approximate location of


Rhinelander's 1945 WWII POW camp; February, 2004. Author's Collection.
108 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
Notes on Chapter 6

1 Betty Cowley, Stalag Wisconsin, Badger Books Inc., Oregon, Wisconsin, 2002,
6,7,10.

2 Cowley, Stalag Wisconsin, 10, 11.

3 Ibid. at 12.

4 Ibid. at 217.

5 Hal Berndt, correspondence with author, Rhinelander, Wisconsin and Saint


Paul, Minnesota, 13 March, 2004.

6 Ibid. at 217.

7 Ibid. at 220.

8 Ibid. at 217.

9 ''Ninety German Prisoners Here," The New North, 30 August 1945, l .

10 Cowley, Stalag Wisconsin, 217.

ll lbid. at217,218.

12 Ibid. at 2 17, 220, 221.

13 Ibid. at2 19.

14 Peter Miazga, interview/correspondence with author, Rhinelander, Wisconsin


and Saint Paul, Minnesota, 5 February 2004; Peter Miazga, interview with
author as well as infonnation of Joe Jaroski and Don Frederickson, 28 February
2004; Hal Berndt, correspondence with author.

15 "Need Help for Potato Harvest," The New North, l l October 1945, I.

16 Cowley, Stalag Wisconsin , 51.


World War II Enemy Prisoners of War in Rhinelander 109

l 7 "Prison Camps Close," The New North, l November 1945, 1.

18 Cowley, Stalag Wisconsin, 269.


Historic Northwoods Roads 111

Chapter 7

Historic Northwoods Roads

Many travelers pass over highway 17 between Merrill and Eagle


River, however few are likely aware of the highway's history. Another
well-traveled No1thern Wisconsin highway, historically known as the Old
Military Road, is also a significant highway in Wisconsin's history.

Highway 17 and parts of it have been known over the centuries


by many names including the "Old Indian Road," "Old Indian Trail,"
"Old Tote Road," and the "Ontonagon Trail''. l During the early 1850's,
there was no road from Merrill to Rhinelander like what we know today
as highway 17. There was however a rough Indian road/trail leading on
or near much of today's highway 17. In addition, a supply road for lum-
bering had been built from Portage north to Stevens Point. The road was
completed up to Wausau by 1853 and to Merrill, then called Jenny, in
1854. Lumbering interests were still not satisfied with existing roads and
they continued lobbying for an extension of the supply road northward
from present-day Merrill.2

In 1855 the Marathon County Board of Supervisors allocated


$1500.00 in tax certificates toward construction of a "supply" or "tote"
road from Merrill to Lac Vieux Desert, source of the Wisconsin River at
the Wisconsin-Michigan border.3 "Toting" is the term used to describe
the hauling of goods or freight by oxen and wagon. Tote roads were the
roads created in the early history of many Northern Wisconsin counties
which provided a way for these goods or freight to be transported to and
from lumber camps and small settlements. 4 This amount was found to be
insufficient to cover the cost of construction north to Lac Vieux Desert.
Consequently the board authorized Fox and Helms, partners in a Stevens
112 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
Point lumbering firm, to build the road as far north as Eagle River. 5 ln
lieu of money, Marathon County agreed to pay the firm in sizeable tracts
of timberland.

The Fox and Helms work crews widened the old lndian Trail into
a tote road "a width of a wagon wide." T hey completed tbe job in
December, 1858. The new road crossed the Pelican River where the
Highway 17 South bridge now stands. The road itself was rough, fu 11 of
rocks and stumpage. Still, it remained the only useable land route
through the north woods for a quarter of a century before formation of tbe
city of Rhinelander in 1882.

Well-known early Rhinelander resident and promoter of public


education John Curran worked on one of these Fox and Helms work
crews.6 Curran was hired by Fox and Helms in the fall of 1857. He first
worked on the construction of camp buildings since Fox and Helms also
intended to launch logging activities in the coming winter. 7 Next Curran
was assigned to the crew that was widening the Ontonagon Trail into a
tote road, working south from Eagle River to meet a second crew cutting
the road northward from Merrill.

Building this new road was not easy. The Indian Trail crossed
belts of boggy lowland. The Indians bad laid crude bridges of tamarack
and white cedar poles across the wettest places.8 The road-builders
sought to build the new supply road around the swampy areas wherever
possible and they often detoured from the original Indian Trail. This was
very true in the building of the supply road in the RJ1inelander area, then
called Pelican Rapids. The supply road zigzagged through this area well
before it became Highway 17. Construction of the supply road continued
throughout the fall of 1857 and extended into the early winter months of
November and December. By December Curran's crew was plagued by
cold rains and heavy snow. Few bridges had been laid across the many
streams and those crude few were mostly washed out.9 Fortunately, the
increasingly cold weather had iced over most waterways. There was no
bridge at the Pelican River below Rhinelander, but the supply train com-
ing north to meet Cuna.n's crew crossed the ice without difficulty.
Cmran 's crew continued on for three miles to Lake Creek where it met up
with the road crew that was working its way north. Jt was now December
Historic Northwoods Roads 113

of 1858 and for the first time the Wisconsin northwoods was connected
to the southern part of the state by a "modern" road. The terms " modern"
or even "road" may be considered overly optimistic given Curran 's
description of the road. Cun-an reported that the supply road from
Stevens Point to Wausau was fairly good, but that it worsened north of
Wausau, got rougher yet out of Jenny (Merrill), and became nearly
impossible to negotiate as his train of ox-drawn sleds pressed northward.
Most old-timers of the era did not refer to the road as a supply road, rather
most remembered it as a simple ox-trail.

For nearly two decades the Fox and Helms supply road would
remain the only useable land route through Rhinelander 's northwoods.
For a quarter of a century before there was a Rhinelander, timber pirates
and legitimate businesses would convey supplies up to their northern
camps along the east bank of Pelican Rapids. It would be the only road
through the Sugar Camp area until the I 890 's. Even so, it was rarely used
as a supply road except during the w inter months for many years. During
the rest of the year, fleets of large dugout canoes carrying up to a half ton
of goods apiece would service the supply route from Merrill through
Rhinelander up to Eagle River. From the rai lroad head at Berlin,
Wisconsin, supplies would be transported by sled, wagon, and water
some 200 miles north through present-day Rhinelander to Eagle River
logging camps. IO

The need for modernization of the existing Fox and Helms sup-
ply road soon became evident after 1858. Supply trains had been hauling
freight from Berlin, Wisconsin and from Galena, Illinois to Wausau since
1853 and to Jenny (Merrill) since 1854. These roads were sufficiently
well-graded so that regular stage runs provided both mail and passenger
service to Wausau and Merrill. No such facilities were yet available to
Pelican Rapids (Rhinelander). 11

In 1860 the state of Wisconsin appropriated funds for the con-


struction of a road from Merrill to Lac Vieux Desert, via Rhinelander and
Eagle River. 0.B. Smith was contracted by the state to build the road as
far north as present-day Rhinelander. John Curran received the contract
to build the road from Rhinelander to Eagle River. Joshua Fox from
Helms and Fox and A lex Draper were contracted to build the road from
Eagle River to Lac Vieux Desert. The entire route was to be completed
114 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
under direct supervision of officials of Marathon County, which at that
time reached to the southern boundary of Upper Michigan. The county
appropriated and issued $3000.00 in tax certificates to cover its share of
the construction costs. From this sum, Smith, Curran, and Fox and
Draper were expected to pay their employees a wage of 60 cents a day.
The road was to be t\vo rods wide and decently graded down its center.12
Its actual construction commenced in 1861. Upon completion the route
would inclusively be known as the "Wausau and North State Line Road."

It is unclear how much of the "Wausau and North State Line


Road" overlapped with the "Fox and Helms Supply Road". According to
T.V. Olsen's Roots of The No1th,_ even the new state line road was rarely
used and the only teams to traverse it were the supply teams of the work
crews. The new road was constructed during the winter and in a straight
line across lakes and swamps instead of around them as the supply road
had been built.13 According to Merrill historian George R. Gilkey trav-
elers and freighters continued to use the Fox and Helms supply road
instead of the Wausau and North State Line Road. It is not known where
these wo roads overlapped, however given Curran's previous description
of how poor the Fox and Helms supply road was, it seems unlikely that
be would have worked on another road with equally poor results. It
would be another decade before a fairly good road for transporting freight
would be opened up to and through the Eagle River area, however it
would not be built through Rhinelander.

During the next decade, the Civil War would play a role in has-
tening the building of a better road for transporting supplies to Eagle
River and Lac Vieux Desert. ln 1863 President Abraham Lincoln signed
an act of Congress whereby the states of Michigan and Wisconsin should
begin constrnction of a military supply road from Fort Howard at Green
Bay to Fort Wilkins at Copper Harbor, Michigan. The impetus for the
building of this military road can be viewed from either of wo perspec-
tives. On the one hand, there was the view of the United States govern-
ment that England was sympathetic to the Confederacy during the Civil
War. Several English-British troops were stationed in Ontario at the time
and a view existed that these troops could move quickly to fortify the
Canadian side of the narrow straits of Sault Ste. Marie between Lake
Superior and Lake Ontario which would seal off supply routes of the
Union troops mnning to Michigan's northern peninsula and particularly
Historic Northwoods Roads 115

to Fort Wilkins at Copper Harbor. 14 The building of a military supply


road from Fort Howard to Fort Wilkins at the mouth of the Ontonagon
River on Lake Superior at Copper Harbor would thus ensure that sup-
plies, ammunition, and mail could be transported from Green Bay to Lake
Superior in case the route from Sault Ste. Marie was Cllt off by the
Confederate enemy during the Civil War 15

The second reason for the building of the military supply road
bolds that lumber barons during this time wanted a more modem road
built that would allow them to more efficiently transport goods and sup-
plies to customers in the southern part of the state. Lumber barons suc-
cessfully lobbied the Wisconsin and Michigan delegations in Congress to
pass the law that Lincoln signed. Although the law implied that the sup-
ply road would be built to alleviate Union fears of a Confederate invasion
from Ontario, the real goal was to get a better, more efficient road built to
benefit the logging industry at the expense of the federal govenunent.16

Whichever view is true, tbe Military Road was finally built on


February 20, 1870, five years after the Civil War had ended. 17 The mil-
itary road went from Green Bay through Shawano and Keshena, follow-
ing the Wolf River to Rice Lake. It then crossed the Hiles district and
wound past Virgin Lake in the present-day Nicolet National Forest. It
then passed east of the future site of Three Lakes, skirted Anvil Lake nine
miles east of Eagle River and struck north around the east end of Big
Twin Lake where the town of Phelps would one day stand. From here it
wound past the west shore of Lac Vieux Desert and continued on a fairly
straight line to Watersmeet, Michigan and then northeast to Lake Superior
and Copper Harbor.18

A good description of much of the northerly part of the military


road is contained in a 1938 Jetter from Joseph Bebeau to Wesley White of
Rhinelander, Wisconsin contained in the Wes White Military Road papers
at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin in Madison. According to
this letter, U.S. 45 follows the old Mil itary Road very closely. The first
20 miles out of Rockland, Michigan was the only part of the road that was
turnpiked and ditched and the balance as far down as Shawano was only
cut out like a loggers tote road. The next trading station after Rockland
was located at Drapers, Michigan, 25 miles out of Rockland. The pres-
116 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
ent road left the old Military Road a few miles north of state line road.
From there the old Military Road goes over to the west side of Lac Vieux
Dese1t and then on down to Shawano. I 9

A third account of the route of the old Military Road states that
the road ran northwesterly from Fort Howard on the no1th side of tbe Fox
River at Green Bay, diverging to the northeast comer of the Oneida
Reservation and then to Shawano. From Shawano the road ran I 0 miles
north of Shawano to Keshena where it crossed the Wolf River running
no1th and northwesterly to a station known in 1935 as Langlade where it
again crossed to the easterly bank of the Wolf River. In a general way,
the road followed the east bank of the Wolf River to Pickerel near
Pickerel Lake. From here the road went north to the village of Hiles then
no1th to Phelps, Watersmeet, Michigan, and Copper Harbor, Michigan. 20

As with nearly all roads built by early American settlers, the


Military Road was roughly built along an old Indian Road known as the
"Lake Superior Trail." The Lake Superior Trail was used primarily dur-
ing the winter months to haul mail and drive cattle and supplies to the
large copper mines in Michigan. The trail started at Shawano and fo l-
lowed the west side of the Wolf River north to the Michigan-Wisconsin
border-2 1

Another account of the Lake Superior Trail has it starting at


Green Bay which in the mid to late 1800's was a distributing point for
mail going north and west. This account has the trail running north
through Shawano and Keshena then 35 miles to a trading post on the Wolf
River. From the trading post, the trail wound 9 miles to Mole Lake
through to about 3 miles west of Crandon. From Crandon the trail led 12
miles to Pine Lake now called Hiles. From Hiles the trail wound 7 miles
to Virgin Lake then north to the west end of Lac Vieux Desert, about 30
miles. From Lac Vieux Dese1t the trail led to Paulding, Michigan whicb
in the mid 1800's contained only a hotel. From Paulding the trail led on
through what is now Bruce Crossing. Whether the Lake Superior Trail
continued on to Lake Superior at Copper Harbor like the Military Road is
unknown. This account has the trail going from Bruce Crossing to
L' anse, Michigan on Lake Superior.22
The tie-in between Rhinelander and the Military Road or Lake
Historic Northwoods Roads 117

Superior Trail can be found in the previously mentioned Fox and Helms
supply road built from Merrill through Rhinelander and Eagle River to
Lac Vieux Desert. This same supply road was probably also a part of the
Ontonagon mail trail or Ontonagon Trail. Prior to the time of a govern-
ment survey a mail route between Wausau, Wisconsin and Ontonagon,
Michigan was established.23 Mail was carried by dogs on dog trains in
the winter and by men, including John Cunan, during the summer
months. The Ontonagon Trail started at Wausau and penetrated through
the forests by way of Pelican Rapids, now Rhinelander. It followed the
Wisconsin River much of its way, then along the Eagle River to Gagen
Hill and across the thoroughfare between Otter and Eagle Lakes. From
there it ran north by way of Twin Lakes and Lac Vieux Desert to
Ontonagon. 24

It is likely that while the Fox and Helms supply road ended at Lac
Vieux Dese1t, points north of Lac Vieux Desert were traveled by settlers,
mail-carriers, citizens, and soldiers passing through the Military Road,
Lake Superior Trail, or Ontonagon Trail. It is also likely that some of
these travelers passed through Rhinelander on the Fox and Helms supply
road on their way to destinations including Ontonagon, Copper Harbor,
and L'anse along historic highways.
118 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2

Pel ican River

The Forksx

Curran's Trad ing Post
& Half Way House
Newwood
Creek

.. x
Lynch's
Trading Post

W isconsin
Ri ver

lllus1ra1io11 Mia:gu- llci:el 0 1004


Historic Northwoods Roads 119

ztHUt{°2's 51.,,..~~!U ~a!tUUv /

Copper
Harbor, f .,. Ontonagon, Ml • L'Anse, Ml
Ml ::
rFort Wilkins) ••
_ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ :.:_w~~e~s:n::_t~I- _ __ ___ __ ~.!.'~~,;~-~~h!9~n_ ~rde: __
: ~·
~a_c_ ':'.'.ieux Desert -
\ . - - - • • • • - ~ .Ph elps I Big Twin Lake
./.. ~ •Eagle River " A L k
//./ \ nv1 1 a e
j.1'?,0 Sugar ·Three •
7', / "camp Lak<.'s ~Hiles
~ .,,_. I

if 0
TPickerel
~Virg in Lake
c~t.,:.
.!::
'l': Rhinelander
(Pcl ic~n R~pids) ,
Q)( i: ',
!;{ ~ 1':
>~ "'" ••· Langlade
> ~ ~· M erril (Jenny) ,
~ '
1'! ~Keshena

't~:::~'"
/ I
' Legend
j. Fox & Helms Supply Road
\,h':'""'_ ---.;,;;; '"
(Fort Howard)

~Wausau & North State Line Road .~


Prarie Du Chien a Ontonagon M all Trail g
• - M ilitary Road ~
~~--===========:..._~~~~~--' ~
Fox and Helms Supply Road: From Merrill (Jenny) to Eagle River. John Curran
supervised building of the Rhinelander to Eagle River portion of this road.

Wausau and North State Line Road: North of Stevens Point to Merrill (Jenny) to
Rhinelander (Pelican Rapids) and to Eagle Ri ver.

Ontonagon Mail Trail: Wausau to Merrill (Jem1y) to Rhinelander (Pelican Rapids)


then north along Columbus Lake, north to Gagen Mill, across the Eagle River and
north to Ontonagon, Michigan.

Mllitary Road: U.S. 45 follows the old military road very closely.

Lake Superior Trail: Used during winter months to haul mail and to drive cattle and
supplies to the copper mines in Michigan. This trail preceded the building of the mil-
itary road. The trail started in Green Bay and went north to Shawano, to Kesbena and
the Wolf River area, continued to Mole Lake to Hiles, Virgin Lake, Lac Vieux Desert,
Paulding, Michigan, Bruce Crossing, Michigan, R ockland, Michigan and ended at
L'anse, Michigan on Lake Superior.
120 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2
Notes on Chapter 7

I T.V Olsen, Roots Of The North, The Rhinelander Country, Volume One,
Pineview Publishing, Rhinelander, Wisconsin, 1979, 102.

2 Ibid. at I 00.

3 T.V. Olsen, Our First Hundred Years: A Hist0ty of Rhinelander, Pineview


Publishing, Rhinelander, Wisconsin, 1981 , 11.

4 For a good discussion of tote roads in Wisconsin and in particular Rusk County
see the website www.rootsweb.com/w irusk/ toteroads.htm: for another similar
definition of tote road see Webster :S Third New lntem ational Dictio11my
Unabridged (2002), s.v. " tote road."

5 O lsen, Roots Of The North, The Rhinelander Coun/ly, Volume One, I 00.

6 Ibid. at 101.

7 Ibid. at 101 , 102.

8 Ibid. at 102.

9 Tbid . at I 02.

10 Ibid. at 102, 103.

I I Ibid. at 122.

12 Ibid. at 122,123.

13 Ibid. at 123.

14 Ibid. at 123, 124.

15 George 0 . Jones, Norman S. McVean, et al., History of Lincoln, Oneida, and


ViJas Counties Wisconsin, H.C. Cooper, Jr. & Co., M inneapolis-Winona,
Miru1esota, 1924, 170; Excerpt from H istory of Lincoln, Oneida, and Vilas
Counties Wisconsin, 1,2, Wes White Military Road papers, 1863-1939, State
Historic Northwoods Roads 121

Historical Society of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Madison.

16 Excerpt from Dessereau's History of Langlade County, 38, Wes White


Military Road papers, 1863-1939, State Historical Society of Wisconsin,
University of Wisconsin at Madison, Madison.

17 Olsen, Roots of the North, 124.

18 Ibid. at 125.

19 Letter from Joseph Bebeau to Wesley White, I ,2, 8 April, 1938, Wes White
Military Road papers, 1863-1939, State Historical Society of Wisconsin ,
University of Wisconsin at Madison, Madison.

20 M.B. Rosenberry, Chief Justice of the Supreme Cou.rt, State of Wisconsin,


"The Military Road from Fort Wilkins (Copper Harbor), Onlonagon, Michigan
to Houghton, Portage Lake, Shawano, and thence to Fort Howard (Green Bay),
Wisconsin," 1925, 1-3 , Wes White Mi lita1y Road papers, 1863-1 939, State
Historical Society of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Madison.

21 Excerpt from Dessereau's History of Langlade Coun ty, 37, Wes White
Mi litary Road papers, 1863-1939, State Historical Society of Wisconsin,
U niversity of Wisconsin at Madison, Madison.

22 Letter from Chief Silver Scott written by George A. Cadone to Earle S.


Holman of the Langlade County Historical Society, 2,3 , 6 February 1933, Wes
White Mil itary Road papers, 1863-1939, State Historical Society of Wisconsin,
University of Wisconsin at Madison, Madison.

23 "The Ontonagon Mail Trail" , 1-5, Wes Whjte Military Road papers, L863-
1939, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin at
Madison, Madison.

24 Excerpt from History of Jenny, or Merrill, 1,2,3, a part of "The Ontonagon


Mail Trail", Wes White Military Road papers, 1863- 1939, State Historical
Society of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Madison.
123

Bibliography

Books

Bokern, James K., Hist01y and the Primary Canoe Routes o.f the Six
Bands of Chippewa.from the Lac Du Flambeau District. Master's
Thesis, University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wis.,
1987.

s
Cory, Jack, Jack Co1y Scrapbook. Notihland Historical Society Press,
Lake Tomahawk, Wis., 1985.

Cowley, Betty, Stalag Wisconsin. Badger Books Inc. , Oregon, Wis.,


2002.

Eisenberg, Leslie E. and Birmingham, Robert A. , Indian Mounds of


Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wis., 2000.

Gottschalk, Jack, Firefighting. DK Publishing, Inc., New York.• N. Y.,


2002.

Huber, Norma Matjorie, Hist01y of Rhinelander. A thesis submitted for


the degree of Bachelor of Arts, University of Wisconsin at Madison,
Madison, Wis., 1920.

Jones, George 0., Mcvean, Norman S., et al. History o/Lincoln,


Oneida, and Vilas Counties. H.C. Cooper, JR. Co., Minneapolis and
Winona, Minn., 1924.

N ute, Grace Lee, The Voyageurs Highway. Minnesota Historical


Society Press, Saint Paul, Mill1., 1969.
124 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2

Olsen, TV. , Roots of the North, The Rhinelander Countty, Volume One.
Pineview Publishing, Rhinelander, Wis. , 1979.

Olsen, T.V. , Birth ofa City, The Rhinelander Count1y, Volume Two.
Pineview Publish ing, Rhinelander, Wis., 1983.

Olsen, T.V., Our First Hundred Years: A Hist01y of Rhinelander.


Rh inelander, Wis. , 1981. Also published as Our First Hundred Years:
The Rhinelander Country, Volume Three. Pineview Publishing,
Rhinelander, Wi s., 1983.

Olsen, TV. , et al., Oneida County: 1887-1987: Centennial History


Edition. Rhinelander, Wis., 1987 .

Paul, Caroline, Fighting Fire: A Personal Story. Saint Martin 's Press,
New York, N.Y., L998.

Severin, Timothy, Explorers of the Mississippi. University of


Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, Minn., 1967.

Wa1Ten, William W., Hist01y of The Ojibway People. Minnesota


H istorical Society Press, Saint Paul, Minn., 1984.

Websters Third New lnter11ational Dictionmy, Unabridged. Merriam-


Webster, Inc., Springfield, MA, 2002.

Interviews

Berndt, Hal, former supervisor of the Hugo Sauer Nursery.


CoITespondence with author. March 13, 2004.

Cheslock, Kenneth, Rhine.lander Hornet hockey player and longtime


Rhinelander resident. Interviewed by author. June 14, 2003 .
Correspondence with author. November 10, 2003 and February 26,
2004.

Deau, Delore, Rhinelander Hornet hockey player and longtime


Rhinelander resident. Interviewed by author. June 14, 2003.
Conespondence with author. Febrnary 19, 2004.
Bibliography 125

Mangerson, Judson W., longtime Rhinelander resident. Correspondence


with author. January, 2004.

Miazga, Henry, longtime Rhinelander resident. Interviewed by author.


February 9, 200 I and February 10, 2001.

Miazga, Laura, longtime Rhinelander resident. Interviewed by author.


December 25, 2003.

Miazga, Peter, longtime Rhinelander resident. Interviewed by author.


February 5, 2004 and February 28, 2004. Correspondence with author.
February 7, 2004.

Newspapers

Guelph M ercury. Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Daily. December 29,


2001.

Hamilton Spectator. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Daily. January 10,


2002.

Hodag Shopper. Rhinelander, Wis. Weekly. June 22, I 977.

Milwaukee Journal. Milwaukee, Wis. Daily. July 29, 2000.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Mi lwaukee, Wis. Daily. August 14,


2001.

Ne1-v North. Rhinelander Wis. Weekly. Selected Issues: July 21, 1904
through November 1, I 945.

Oneida County Hera ld. Rhinelander, Wis. Weekly. April 8, 1893.

Pittsburgh Steelers Weekly. Pittsburgh, PA. Weekly. Date unknown.

Rhinelander Daily News. Rhinelander, Wis. Daily. Selected Issues:


March 2, 1931 through July 28, 2003 .
126 Tales of the Northwoods
Vol. 2

Rhinelander Herald. Rhinelander, Wis. Weekly. October, 1895 and


February, 1896.

Rhinelander Vindicator. Rhinelander, Wis. Weekly. Selected Issues:


July 20, 1904 through October 4, 1905.

Toronto Star. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Daily. February 4, 2002.

Winnipeg Free Press. Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Daily. September


20, 1.995 .

On-line Resources

Copper Country Hockey Legends at www. upsh(coml inductees/oast.php.


Current as of June 15, 2004.

Green Bay Packers Official Website at www.packers.com . Current as of


June 15, 2004.

Leon St. Germain-Wisconsin Fur Trader at www.ien[on1m.or(J/'{er-


111ai11/ 111essw?es on www.r:eneatovv.com. Current as of June 15, 2004.

Pro Football Reference Website, www. pro-f'ootbal/-


reference.com/teamslfJnhl 93 J.htm.. Current as of June 15, 2004.

Rusk County Tote Roads Website at


www.rootsweb.com/wirusk/toteroads.htm . Current as of June 15, 2004.

United States Forestry Service Heritage Resources Assessment of the


Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Website at
www.fs.[ed.us/r9/cnnflna treslolan/res_assess/herit.pd{ Current as of
June 15, 2004.

Collections

White, Wes, Militmy Road Papers: 1863-1939. State Historical Society


of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Mad ison, Wis.
About the Author

Mark Miazga was born and raised in Rhinelander, Wi sconsin.


He graduated from Rhinelander High School in 1987, the
University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire in 1991 , and Hamline
University School of Law in I 996. He cun-ently works and resides
in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

The author with his wife, Linda Starr, and their


son, Henry S. Miazga. August, 2004.

Questions, comments or inquiries for additional copies of


Tales of the Northwoods , Volume 1 or 2 should be
directed to the author at:
Mark Miazga
1237 Jesse Street
Saint Paul, MN 55101