"History of Birchwood"
Transcribed from the Washburn County Register,
dated Thursday, 14 September 1939
was located on the present site of the Cheese Factory.
It was operated by a man named Bolden, son-in-law
of the Culbertson family, who lived in the
Foster Soper home (1939), which was
built by Henry Knapmiller. In 1903,
Wise and family came from Linden, Wis., and lived in the present
Robotka, Sr., home. Just to the east of this building, Mable
Wise had a Millinery store, which was greatly appreciated by the
natives. The Saw mill was located about where the Geo.
Edenharter place is. This was built by M.
Wise in 1905. Ten years later a new creamery was built, to
be known as the Birchwood Cooperative Creamery Company.
Oson took this over and then sold to
Fire destroyed this building and Marish sold
to Fred Ludy, the present owner.
came in 1906 and lived in the block where the Matson
Shoe Store is located. The hotel was being built at this
In this same block, John Manteith had a restaurant,
pool hall and shoe repair shop which is now the "Hub
Soper Tavern". The Mikula saloon was located in the building
which is now occupied by the Forward Hardware
store. Mike Skar had a saloon where
Cyr has his tavern. Mr. Newby
bought from Don Morse, who was here only four
months. Mr. Newby sold to W.
Hisenfeldt and he sold to Herman Beil.
The Huss Land Office was located in the present
One of the sad events
in the early history of Birchwood was the drowning of the two Ritchie
children in a pond near the highway joining the Ned
Gould farm. Another tragic event was the amputation of Orville
Soper's limb on January 28, 1907. Dr.
G. F. Andrews performed the operation. Orville was out with
his father cutting logs when the tree was felled catching him beneath
In the early days the
Indians gathered wild rice annually at the rice beds near the Creamery,
and at the end of the harvest they celebrated by having Indian dances
in the clear evening air you could hear their ki-yi-yi for many
Among these Indians, Billy Grant and wife
were annual visitors, also Peter Wotlfe (Big
Indian Chief) and Joe Dandy, Mitchell
Quagen, John Crow, Billy
Boy, etc. Most of these men worked on the pond at the saw
mill. When I came to Birchwood in 1914, some of these Indians
living in Sleepy Hollow. Me Oh My! What trouble was brewing
and many a rumpus before dawn. Knives were in evidence in these
brawls. Charles Williams was the constable
of the day. When Charlie said, "Halt", they made their
These Indians held many pow wows here.
Since 1914 the changes
in the ownership of the stores are as follows:
was sold to L. L. Thayer and in 1914 and he
sold to J. W. DeKeyser who operated the store
for 11 years and then sold the stock to Chas. Loschke
of Mt. Hope. After three years DeKeyser's sold the building to
Boehmer of Rice Lake. Mr. Boehmer sold to Elmer
Petersen who operates the store at the present time. The People's
Cash Store was operated by John Hitner,
Cyr and Frank Cyr. Later Harry
LaPointe formed a partnership and the store is now called by the
same name. The John Telitz store was
operated by J. F. Wermet as a meat market,
who sold to Mr. Horn and after a year bought
back from Mr. Horn. This store is now known as "Jack's
Place". The small building that was next to the Citizen's
State Bank was occupied by L. G. Bemis
as a grocery store. Later by Jas. Morey
for the post office.
The gas stations were
run by Edd Blaha, Leslie
Thayer, Einar Skar, Victor
Walhoyd and Louie Frosli. The
Oil Bulk Station was run by N. F. Catman
for 15 years. Parker Samson is the present
Standard Oil Agent.
On the site, where the
present Skar Garage stands was an old building
placarded with posters and circus bills. This place was an "eye
to the citizens who wanted a city beautiful, so down went the building
and up popped the garage. Another project which was a great
to our village was the grading of the hillside near the Omaha track.
(Story continued in the
Thursday, 26 October 1939 issue of the Washburn Co. Register)
Among the people who
have lived here and have passed on during my time are the following:
and Mrs. Ezra Dakin, Mrs. Max Groth
and daughter Erma, Mr.
F. McCord, Tom Skar, Dr.
Senty, Chas. Senty, Chas
Wilkie, Mr. Dupree and son, Charles,
and Mrs. Chris Olson, H. P. Nelson,
Soper and son, Myron Jake, Mr.
Loomis, Irwin Roen, N.
F. Catman, Mrs. Ed. Evans and daughter,
Joe Garbutt and son, Lyman,
J. W. DeKeyser and daughter, Dorothy,
Antonette Dekeyser, Chas.
Gougner, Elizabeth Evans, Wm.
Hysen, Mrs. S. Keating, Mrs.
Alverson and George Gimble, Irwin
Bemis, Wm. Cary, Mrs.
Clyde Hinman, Mrs. Jacob Lawler (nee
Westphal), Frank Cyr and son Joe,
and Mrs. Hi Santos, Ginnie Newby, Tena
Matson, Emil Matson, Bella
Dona, Mr. Goffin, Mr.
Eastman, Jos. Leary, Mr.
and Mrs. Dewey, Mrs. E. Kirch and daughter
and sons, Bert and Charles,
Beauncamp, Mr. and Mrs. Oram Galvin,
Mrs. John Drnek, Wm.
Kincannon, E. E. Forward, Mrs.
James Morey, Mrs. Jennie Frank and
son, Lloyd, Nellie Soper,
Soper Sexton, Clyde Soper, Mr.
Bacon, Mr. and Mrs. Hans Pinrude, Mrs.
Mrs. Leland Soper, Mrs.
Elwood Soper, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Reinecke,
C. J. Monroe, Anthony
Wise and son, Clarence and wife, Mr.
and Mrs. S. Brown, Dr. Hobart, Mrs.
H. Lockwood, Ben White, and several
others whose names do not come to mind at this time.
We have the following
fraternal organizations: Royal Neighbors,
of the World and the church has its own societies.
In the early copies of
the Birchwood paper, we find the following names listed in the
E. Taylor, druggist; E. M. Buel, stone
mason; Ahnopee Veneer Seating Co., Thayer
and Hedges, doctors; Mrs. Gus Frietag,
dress making and cleaning; L. D. Soper, draying;
Kinconnon, confectionery; W. D. Maxwell,
jewelry; Jos. Garbutt, Evinrude Engines; Chas
Wilbur Loomis was the first white woman to live in Birchwood.
The first girl and boy born in Birchwood was May
Oniel and Myron Soper. Oniel's lived
in the Frances Thomas home. Geo.
M. Huss Land Company donated land to May Oniel. They also
donated the park, cemetery and the M. E. church grounds. Mr. Huss
said, "When the land company tried to move their office building from
garage corner to its new location, stumps had to be blown in Main
In 1903 the Lutheran
church was built. Some of the donors were: Mr.
Funk, Mr. Harms, August
Wagner, Gus. Freitag, Sam
Winuds, Otto Gobbler and brother, Mr.
Huss, Geo. Slocum, Arpin
Lumber Co. Mrs. Wolfe was the
first minister. Other ministers were: Mr. Graves,
and Helke. Today they have a large membership.
Ladies Aid and a good choir.
The first child to be
buried was Bob Smith's daughter, whose death
occurred in 1904. Mr. Smith was the Soo section boss at that
The body was buried near the section house. Mrs.
Windus was the first person to be buried in the present cemetery.
This cemetery has since been platted and improved and placed on a
basis through the efforts of Jos. W. DeKeyser.
We have one of the finest
hotels in the state, Birch Lake Inn, situated
on the bank and overlooking beautiful Birch Lake. Dr.
J. Senty, dentist and hotel keeper passed away in December, 1937.
Mrs. Senty continues the hotel business and the renting of the cottages.
In 1906 a bank was established
known as the Birchwood State Bank. Mr.
Moe was the cashier and Mr. Zimmerman
was president. The building was erected in 1907. Mr.
Lockwood was president, Clarence Wise,
cashier, Frank Newby, vice-president and
Scipio Wise, assistant cashier. Above this building was the
community hall, which was used for all school activities and public
In 1918, the Citizens State Bank received
a charter. Jos. W. DeKeyser, president;
Tweeten, cashier; Patrick White, vice-president.
On June 4, 1938, the Birchwood State Bank sold to the Citizens State
Mr. DeKeyser was president up to the time of his death, September 1,
At the present time,
Mr. Wells is president;
W. Holdridge, vice-president; Melvin Newberg,
cashier and June Kommerstad, assistant cashier.
In 1914 the pickle station
was in operation. It was located east of the Omaha
The event of the early
days was an anniversary of the Loomis wedding.
They had a program, dance and banquet for the community and music was
by the Red Wing, Minnesota orchestra. All those who took part in
the program received a rose. This event was held over the present
hardware store and the banquet was held in the Hitner
building, which the Monteiths occupy at this
Another event was in
1902 when the business men of Birchwood sponsored a Community
Christmas tree. Every child received a gift and candy and
the adults received gifts.
(Story continued in the
Thursday, 21 December 1939 issue of the Washburn Co. Register)
The first band in Birchwood
had Mr. Newby for its leader. Among
the players were Goody Brooks, Jim
Mikula, John Craig and daughter Mary,
Lockwood, Earl Tuttle, Gladys
Bemis, Fred Mikula, Frank
Mikula, Erwin Bemis, Ed
Escherich, Geo. Mikula and Clare
Newby, Herman Kleiman and Mary
The first steamboat which
plied between Birchwood and Edgewater was named the Mabel
B. This boat carried supplies when the Soo railroad was being
built and to tow the logs down the lake to the dam. Tom
Halverson said this boat was hauled in on logging sleds to haul
logs. Tom was here when the log cabins were logging camps and
was at its height as a logging camp.
The early Soo agents
were Ted Sellers, Wm.
Noyees, Bill Martin. Later came
Simson and Kukkola. The Soo road
discontinued service on Friday, November 13, 1936.
Windus had a general store, located where Ed.
Blaha's station is. Windus sold this store to Carl
and Harry Tousley. This store burned on a cold blustery winter
night. The Harry Tousley family lived over the store and were
to escape the fire. Peter Unger had
a print shop where the band stand is now. His paper was known as
the Birchwood Press. Pearson
was the second editor and his paper was called the Birchwood
Independent. Allan Taylor published
a paper known as the Birchwood Bulletin in
1914. Weston's paper was printed in
the building which is now Helga Frisli's woodshed.
Among other editors were Wm. Noyes and N.
F. Weston, 1911-1912.
After the Huss
Land Company left the Village Hall,
the building was occupied by Maxwells and
later by Smiths as jewelry store and still
later by the Geo. Smith Pool Hall.
Another of the early
merchants was Chas. Wilke who had a hardware
store just south of the Catman home.
This building was moved and later remodeled and is now occupied by the
Free Methodist pastor. In 1933 the Free Methodist
church was built on the location of the building formerly used for
worship. The building had been used in the early days as a meat
and living rooms. This meat market was run by a man named
This Becker, I understand, was a "hair cutter" for the neighborhood
Not saying he cut the hair in his market as no hair was found in the
Mrs. Radditz of Rice Lake is a sister of Mr. Becker.
Among the news items
in the paper in 1912, we found the following of interest:
Bacon left her school in Rice Lake.
Ed. Wells had her fingers smashed. A window came down full
force on them on December 1, 1912.
Birchwood baseball team
played Cameron on November 12, 1912 and lost 19 to 10. (It would
be different now.)
Cmeyla moved to Kewannee, August 15, 1912. Wm.
Kyle left about the same time.
H. Lage was the principal of school.
Heavy damage was caused
by a wind storm on August 29, 1912. Two smoke stacks were blown
several roofs torn off and thousands of feet of lumber hurled in all
There was heavy damage at the Ahnapee Veneer and
Seating company and total loss estimated at $7500.
Nels Nelson presents
the following account of Pioneer Days of Birchwood:
Birchwood was platted
in 1900 and was sold by auction in the fall. The Northwestern
was extended into Birchwood from Tuscobia. The railroad was the
communication with the outside world. There was no other roads
could travel over.
A couple of years later
the Wisconsin Land Company built one narrow
road to Long Lake so that they could go out and sell their land.
The site of Birchwood at the time of the sale of lots, was covered with
poplar trees grown up after the pine which had been taken off five
The first Sunday School
was held in the Northwestern depot, conducted by Mrs.
Anthony Wise. The first 4th of July in Birchwood was celebrated
by running an extra train and two coaches from Eau Claire. This
brought many tourists who gave the town the once over. The town
mostly pine stumps at the time. As these were cleared off, I
the stump pile being where Einar Skar's Garage
now stands and it was nearly as large as the garage now. The land
company took the visitors up the lake in the Mable H. to where
is located. The land company built a dance platform where the
Lake Inn now stands and everybody had a good time dancing.
The Northwestern extended
the line to Radisson in 1901, and Winston and Hale
were the contractors from Minneapolis. Their camps were located
the Veneer company now has the boarding house. Birchwood was a
town in those days. At the end of each month when the crew had
pay-day, about 200 or more came into town for a good time.
had five saloons at that time. The first hotel in Birchwood was
old logging camp down by the dam, built by Knapp
Stout & Co.
The first dwelling
built in Birchwood was owned by Mrs. Dupree.
It was built by a Mr. Stearn, a Civil War
Veteran. The house was occupied by the first depot agent on the
the civil engineer had his office where John