Washburn Co. WIGenWeb


Bill Bloom's Long Lake Memoirs

Donated by Karen Kelsey


(The Blooms settled on a farm on Long Lake, and Bill’s
stepmother ran a rooming house for carpenters who built cabins.)

Long Lake, Washburn County, Wisconsin
Memoirs written in the 1960s about Long Lake in the early years of the century

In mid-April [around 1904?] our family, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Bloom [William Oscar Bloom and Anna Ahlgren Bloom], myself and daughters, Florence and Eda, moved from Rockford, Illinois and stayed at the Hotel Rockford, [while their home was being finished], with Mr. and  Mrs. A. Curtis as hosts.

Our new home on Long Lake was being built by a crew of Norwegians, from Nobleton, who were finishing the building of two-story log houses, one each for Col. A.E. Fisher and for Mr. Wm. Nelson, both of Rockford. The crew was headed by a Mr. Larson, and his daughter served as cook. I arrived in early May, and I also stayed at the hotel.  We made daily visits to our new home.  What a crew of hardy men – and eaters!  Five meals a day!  They also built cabins for Abraham (son), McQueen, Lundberg and the Winnebago Club.

Other cottages on the lakeshore were Lindenaugh, owned by Walters, Schwann and Goethals, from Eau Claire.  The order of the lake shore was Smith’s cottage on the bend, L. Marsh, H. Cutting, Tim Tracy, Tip Holland, Bill Buske, and the Rockford Hotel.  Nelson built a two story frame building, consisting of a store and apartment above.  Next was a small cement shack built by George and Gust Jorgensen, then Harmon’s cottage and store, on up through the Narrows, then the Winnegabo Club.  Across the bay was a colony of Belvidere people – Dysart, Loop, Winne’s and others.

At the head of the lake was an Indian settlement, which contained an old Indian cemetery with wooden covers over the graves.  Pipe and tobacco were placed in a hole near the graves for the departed spirits.  So the story goes.

The main head of the lake was spring-fed, in addition to several small, fast flowing creeks – two at or near what is now Bobby Schmidt’s resort, and one large waterfall of fast flowing cold water on the opposite shore.  In the spring we would catch black suckers with our hands.  The fast flowing creeks had washed the dirt from the roots of the trees, and black suckers would come up to spawn.  We would salt and smoke them for our winter supply.  The large creek on the upper-south shore had cut away the soil, on one section of the shoreline – it was one big land slide!  We would tie to the tops of the pine trees and fish for blue gills.  We lost many hooks and lines, but we had fun.

Hermit Charley Parsons [buried in Madge Evergreen Cemetery] had a shack just across the bay from the Winnebago Club, and old Indian Joe and his family (of 6 or 7) lived on a flat near the entrance to Mud Lake.  A feud developed between Parsons and Indian Joe over trap lines, I believe.  At any rate, first Parsons shack was blown up and later Indian Joe was burned out.  The Indians then moved to Larson’s Point, but where they went from there I do not know.

While I did not see any of the logging operations, I was told by my pal Ernie Weideman [from the Weideman farm at the corner of county highways M & B] that logs were brought to the head of the lake.  A log chute was then used to slide the logs onto the ice and then formed into a boom of one million scaled feet of lumber per boom.  As the ice melted, booms would then float to the Narrows, where the boom was opened and logs shunted through the Narrows, and another boom formed, and then on down the lake.  A steam tug would move the booms out of the bays where they were wind-bound, and start them again on their way down the lake.  The tug was head-quarters for the drivers and crew, and Ernie Weideman said he would often ride the tug.  He remembered the cook on the tug baked the best doughnuts and saw to it that the crew was well fed.

Ingraham Lumber and Knapp-Stout Lumber Company owned the water rights, and had built a dam at Nobleton, which they would open to let the logs down the creek.  As much as 10 to 12 feet of water would be drawn from the lake level, and I could walk out to the low level - 10 or 15 feet from the shoreline.

Later, Wisconsin Light & Power Company somehow acquired the water rights, and would at times open the gates to supply water power for dynamos below the lake.  Residents of Nobleton and others on the lake convinced the State of Wisconsin that control of the water level should rest in the hands of the State.  Since that time the water level has remained nearly constant.

During the summer of 1905 we would see a 40 foot steam launch, owned by Ingraham Lumber Company, pass our way on its way up the lake with a group of friends, headed for the head of the lake, where they would be met by some transportation.  Their destination was Lake Sissabagama for muskie fishing.  Hearsay had it that Mr. Ingraham had that lake cleaned of rough fish and stocked with muskies.

Mention must be made of the 3000 acre peninsula just across the lake from our home and farm.  It was owned and operated by Mr. Elver, a hotel man from Madison, and it was stocked with Black Angus, able to withstand the hard winters.  Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Weideman [buried in the Madge Evergreen Cemetery] were in charge, and they had 7 or 8 ranch hands.  My brother-in-law, Nels Pedersen, was a member of that crew, along with men from around the neighborhood, plus a Finn and a Dane.  To see them cross the lake on the treacherous ice in the spring was a circus.  They carried planks, boards or even small saplings or ladders [to keep them from falling through thin ice].

In the early years, farmers would plow around the pine stumps and plant oats, hay, etc.  Gus Soholt and Ole, Jr., attended the agricultural short course at the University of Wisconsin, and shortly afterward new methods of planting were used.  A person by the name of Ole Holverson (“Dynamite Ole”) and his farmers were soon blowing up stumps.  The farmers were then able to plow whole fields.  Hybrid corn was planted, milch cows supplanted the beef cattle and, as I remember, a creamery or cheese factory was considered.  At least there were big changes in the farming methods.

Mrs. A. Curtis and Mrs. Oscar Bloom were prime movers in organizing a Ladies Aid Society in Madge Township, and with the help of the Aid Society, were able to establish a church and cemetery [the Evergreen church and cemetery].

When I arrived at the lake I was using two crutches and a wire shoe extension – an injury having resulted in a tubercular hip.  It was not long after my arrival that I started on the way up with plenty of fresh air, good food and exercise.  I had chores to do, care of a small garden, chickens, pigs and cows to take care of.  Very soon I was able to discard one crutch and I gained pounds and good health.

My boyhood friend, Francis Croon, of Rockford, was sent up to stay with us, his doctor having pronounced his trouble tuberculosis in the final stages.  He spent two winters and one summer with us at the lake.  After the second winter or late spring he returned to Rockford and, after examination by the family doctor, was pronounced as fully recovered.  In fact, he joined Company K of the National Guard, and was sent overseas in the First World War.  He was gassed and injured and sent home, but lived until the early 1940s.
Before closing I thought it would be of interest to know that Indian Joe’s name, as near as I can spell it, was Joe Navioush.  The spelling, no doubt, is incorrect, but sounded like that.  And the name of “Little Bear Lake” in Indian, as near as I can spell it, is “Bunga Maqua Sa-augen.”

The following were Madge Township neighbors who were most friendly and helpful:

Mr. & Mrs. A. Curtis
Hazel and Ralph  
Mr. & Mrs. Bell
George and Eddie
Mr. & Mrs. Ab Todd   
Mr. & Mrs. Donaldson
Hazel and other children
Mr. & Mrs. Alva Todd 
Mr. & Mrs. Fred Parker
Mr. & Mrs. Monroe Todd
Mr. & Mrs. Parker
Mr. & Mrs. George Todd 
  Roy and Grace
George & Gust Jorgensen
(“almost part of our family”)
Mr. & Mrs. Henry Todd 
  Bercia and sister
Mr. & Mrs. Mullin
Addy, Kate and others
Mr. & Mrs. Ole Soholt 
  Ole, Jr., and Gust
Mr. & Mrs. Schulz
Mr. & Mrs. Oscar Weideman 
  Ernie and others
Mr. & Mrs. Batty

signed,  Uncle Bill [Bloom]

See the Washburn Co. Photo Album for photos associated with many of the above named people.


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