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Off the Editor’s Desk – 10-8-2014

Two weeks ago I talked about a Roman Coin found near Glenwood City. No one has come forward with more information about it. But I am still interested. However, people related a couple of items about what this area was like as the first settlers moved in.

Alice Marie Ford reminded me of an item in the Downing history book about her grandfather shooting a deer in the thick woods near which is now the corner of Second and Pine Streets in Glenwood City.

Another item that came to my mind was a story related to me years ago by a couple of ladies that lived in Springfield Township. Apparently when their family members settled there, the lady of the house was baking bread and some Native Americans came calling and tasted the homemade bread and liked it so much they traded a deer for some bread.

In 1960, William L. Clark, Jr., wrote a history of Boyceville called, “Panorama of Progress.” In the opening page he relates what the area looked like in 1860 as the first settlers moved into the Boyceville area. Clark wrote, “One hundred years ago the site which is now Boyceville was nothing but a vast wilderness. The land was covered by a stand of virgin pine. Its forests were traversed only by the rippling streams and the friendly Chippewa who inhabited the small clearings. Into the area came trappers who set their lines and took the fur of the beaver and the fox. They carried on a small amount of trade with the Indians in the area, who, as the village began to spring up, came to have their knives sharpened and receive some of the settlers’ goods.”

The Knapp Stout Company out of Menomonie was the biggest lumbering company in the area if not in the nation. By 1841 a sawmill and dam had been constructed on the Red Cedar River at Menomonie. In 1846, David Black owned that mill. The book “Historical and Biographical Album of the Chippewa Valley” published in 1892 says this about the area and the beginning of that company:

“Capt. William Wilson, of Fort Madison, Iowa, made an exploring tour through the valley, in 1846, in search of a location for a sawmill. Acting on the suggestion of a Mr. Branham, they came up to the Menomonie (Red Cedar) together on foot. Finding that an interest in Black’s Mill was in the market he explored the river in a canoe, with an Indian for a guide, going fifty miles to ascertain if here was a good supply of pine.” This was the beginning of the Knapp Stout Company, which operated for more than the next half century.

It makes me wonder how many public hearings, local and state government permits were need for those lumberjacks to harvest the big woods? Did the DNR control the daily activities of the lumbermen? I think not, but they did their job and opened up the land for settlements and farming and today we all have a very nice place to live.

In another matter, I would like to offer my congratulations to the students, teachers, administrators and School Board at Glenwood City.

If you looked over the back page of last week’s Tribune Press Reporter you noticed the improvements in test scores over the past four years at the local schools. It appears to me that this was accomplished with a very tight budget and declining revenues. It has long been my belief that throwing more money at public schools in the state does not improve the education that students receive. Thanks for your effort.

Thanks for reading! — Carlton