Washburn Co. WIGenWeb

Community Histories


by W. H. C. Folsom

Washburn County

(-As transcribed from Chapter 8, pages 240 - 242)

Washburn county was organized in 1883, and embraces townships 37 to 42, inclusive, and ranges 10 to 13, inclusive, a total of 24 townships.  It is drained by St. Croix waters with the exception of the southeast corner, which is drained by a branch of the Chippewa river.  It has been a rich timbered region and large forest of pine still remain.  The greater part of the county is adapted to agriculture, and is settling rapidly.  Two lines of railway traverse the county, one from the south to north, and the other from southwest to northeast, giving the county excellent facilities for transportation and marketing of products.  The county is divided into two towns, Bashaw in the south and Veasie in the north.  These towns were organized in 1877, while Washburn was a part of Burnett county.  The first supervisors of Bashaw were:  L. E. Thomas, chairman; John Arbuckle and John McMullen.  The town of Bashaw was the first settled.  John McMullen settled in township 38, range 13, in 1872, in Bashaw valley. He married a member of the Hart family, old settlers of the town.  He died in 1878.  L. E. Thomas was the second settler in Bashaw and in Washburn county, and has been officially connected with the town and county organization.  He is a native of Michigan, and has followed lumbering and farming.  L. E. Thomas built the first house.  Nellie Raberge taught the first school in Bashaw, in 1881.  Miss Raberge has since become the wife of Milton Stratton.  The first post office was established in 1880, Mrs. Malcolm Dobie, postmistress.  The first sermon was preached by Rev. Ellingwood.  G. P. Pearly was the first physician; A. L. Bugbee, the first lawyer.  Messrs. Hart, Baker, Gardner and others have large farms in Bashaw valley.  By the act of organizing the county,


was made the county seat.  It is beautifully located on the shores of Summit lake.  It has a court house, built at a cost of $11,000, in 1885, one of the most tasteful buildings of the kind in the St. Croix valley.  The town is built on railroad lands, purchased by the Shell Lake Lumber Company, and by them surveyed into lots.  The streets are from sixty-six to eighty feet wide. A restriction in the deeds to the lots and lands against the sale of alcoholic drinks has been continuously violated.  In 1883 the town board fixed license at five hundred dollars, a plain violation of the original agreement.

A fine school building with four apartments was built in 1885, at a cost of $5,000.  Prof. Halphyde is principal of the schools.  The Episcopalians and Catholics have church buildings.  The Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans and Presbyterians have church organizations.  The Masons, Good Templars and Knights of Labor have organizations.

Summit lake, on the west bank of which the town is situated, is about two and a half miles broad by three and a half long.  It has bold, gravelly shores.  The water is deep, clear and pure.  The slopes surrounding it are covered with evergreen, and hardwood timber.  One small steamer floats upon its waters.

The first board of county officers was as follows:  Treasurer, Leander E. Thomas; clerk, Frank B. Nelson; sheriff, James Wynne; attorney, Frank Gudette; register of deeds, Albert L. Bugbee; judge, L. H. Mead; clerk of court, A. Gibson; superintendent of schools, Clara Stratton; surveyor, Patrick Kelly.  The first circuit court was held in June, 1883, Hon. S. S. Clough, presiding.  The county has two court terms for the year, in June and December.

The Shell Lake Lumber Company was organized in 1880, under Iowa laws.  It is composed of C. Lamb and David Joice and sons, of Clinton, Iowa; Laird, Norton & Co., of Winona; Weyerhauser & Dinkeman, of Rock Island, Illinois; S. T. McKnight, of Hannibal, Missouri; D. R. Moore, Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  Their mills are located on the northwest side of Summit lake.  They have a capacity of 50,000,000 feet per year.  The capital stock amounts to $500,000.  Employment is furnished to 250 men.  In 1880 the hour system of labor was adopted.  A narrow gauge railroad, twelve miles long, supplied with two locomotives and fifty cars, is used for bringing logs to mill.  This road has a steel track and 3,000 feet of piling.  The refuse burner of the mill is 20 feet in diameter and 102 in height.  There are 63 tenement houses to accommodate the laborers.  A. H. Earle superintends this vast concern.

Sawyer creek obtained its name from Seth M. Sawyer, of Stillwater.  This stream flows into Yellow river, five miles from Summit lake.  It rises from springs three hundred feet from the lake, and one hundred feet lower down, and may be considered its subterranean outlet, as visible outlet there is none.  The lake, literally a summit lake, the receding and descending slopes, the springs uniting to form a larger stream, form a peculiar landscape, quite park-like in some of its features, and worthy of being converted into a park.


In the township of Veazie, on the north branch of the Yellow river, township 39, range 12, is a dinner station on the North Wisconsin railroad.  The railroad company have fitted up an elegant eating house, and a few neat buildings, the nucleus of a much larger village, cluster around it.


Is in township 41, range 10, and has a post office.  The town of Veazie, occupying the northern part of the county, was organized in 1877.  Millions of feet of pine timber have been gathered and marketed from this town, and it is estimated that 150,000,600 feet still remain.  Ames and Sinnot station are in the township of Veazie.


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