"Twilight Era for Wisconsin Town"
Evening Telegram, Superior, Wis., Friday, 26 Jul 1974
Written by Vince Plesko
by Faith Yeager
Across the asphalt pavement
from an old school, about 50 Indians and settlers lay buried in
graves. They are the only “residents” remaining in this once
little community in the Township of Frog Creek in Washburn County.
Chittamo didn’t die from
lack of natural provisions. On the contrary, the soil is
and well aerated and white and norway pine still reach majestically to
The town, which
served the needs of about 120 people, began to fall into ruin during
after World War II when it’s young people were siphoned into the armed
forces or deserting the soil and flocking to the city where humming
provided better lifestyles. Returning GI’s also found that big
factories were offering more than they could ever realize on the home
--- and, they too, sought life in the bigger cities.
At it’s peak,
Chittamo boasted the only store in the township. The locality
had a school with 60 pupils, a town hall where dances were held
Saturday night, a church with a community cemetery, and a
landing where lumberjacks loaded logs and where passengers disembarked
or boarded the train.
The first settler,
Jack Goodwin, arrived in 1888. After
erecting a log cabin, he began the difficult task of clearing the
land. Trees had to be felled, trimmed and removed and their
stumps blasted by powder or pulled out by oxen or horses. Goodwin
had neither. Grubbing the stumps out by hand, he first
enough land for a small garden. Winter found him supplies with
harvest. The surrounding forest afforded a plentiful supply of
game and the nearby Wolfe River provided a variety of fish.
Other settlers and
their families arrived to expand the settlement. Several years
a general store opened, followed by the building of a one-room
house. The railroad came through in 1890. It plunked down
rails right through an Indian village whose chief was named Chittimo.
Chief Chittimo balked
strongly at this invasion of what he considered his land. In
he put up such a violent display of hostility that he and his tribesman
were subsequently rounded up and hustled off to a reservation
however, needed the railroad and to soothe the chief’s anger --
named the budding new village “Chittimo” in his honor. It is
that several years later the elderly chieftain left the reservation and
walked to Chittimo to “see his village.” The rumor has it that
chief died there during this visit and was buried in the church
Others say that the chief died on the reservation and never did see the
town that was named for him.
Bolstered by the railroad,
the town grew to serve the needs of the surrounding dairy farmers until
World War II began it’s drain on the younger generation.
Adding to it’s war-time
woes, Chittamo’s general store burned to the ground in 1951.
in 1952, following consolidation of the village school, the
building was closed and the pupils were bused to Minong.
In succeeding years,
Chittamo’s decline was swift. The church was hauled away,
only the toppled tombstones of the graveyard. Several years later
the last of the five families that lived near the town proper moved
Today, the winds
of change blow through the abandoned buildings decaying beside County
Highway G several miles north of State Highway 77, a main
between Minong and Hayward. Although the weathering process has
in and the lonely winds rattle the windows and creak the timbers of the
resided log cabins, farmers in the area still prosper in timber
beef and the train still stops at the Chittamo landing to load timber
like it did back in those rousing days when Chittamo was young.
PIONEER SETTLER AND
INDIAN BURIAL GROUND
NEARLY 50 SETTLERS AND
WHO DWELT IN THE
AREA JUST BEFORE 1900
THE FOLLOWING ARE KNOW
BEEN BURIED IN THE
HEENAN, JR. 1895
La PRAIRIE, SR.* 1895
JOHN HEENAN, SR. 1897
HEENAN, SR. 1898
LAXIUS La PRAIRIE, SR. 1900
La PRAIRIE 1900
La PRAIRIE, JR. 1901
*denotes Civil War