corner header home search engine what's new
sidebar USGenWeb Project photos tools histories databases archives about us WIGenWeb Project
Histories:  Trempealeau County Historical Accounts:

"History of Trempealeau County Wisconsin, 1917":

Chapter 11:


-As transcribed from pages 225 - 232

Arcadia is the metropolis of Trempealeau County.  It is situated in the western part of the county on the banks of Trempealeau River.  Railroad facilities are furnished by the Green Bay & Western.  The flats east and west of the river furnish a well-shaded and well-laid-out residence section in which are many beautiful buildings.  The business section is situated on the flats east of the river.  Circling this section is a plateau with handsome residences.  The street from the business section to Old Arcadia is also lined with sightly homes.  The commanding churches, the new high school, the Carnegie Library, the macadamized streets, the spreading lawns and magnificent shrubbery all go to make up as pretty a village as is to be found in Western Wisconsin.

The village has two banks, a newspaper, two creameries, a brewery, two mills, three elevators and a stock yard.  The principal shipments are cattle, hogs, sheep and grain.

There are six churches in Arcadia - the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. Stanislaus church, St. John's German Evangelical Lutheran, St. John's Christ German Evangelical Lutheran, the Methodist Episcopal, and the Evangelical Association.  The little church on the hill, first the Baptist church, then a People's church, and then a Unitarian church, is now unoccupied.

Arcadia was platted Jan. 27, 1874, on land owned by H. Ketchum, D. M. Kelly, George Hiles and I. A. Briggs.

Late in the fall of 1878 a movement was started looking to the incorporation and organization of the village.  A census was taken therein by D. B. Stitt on Oct. 30 and 31, and the proposed limits were found to contain 710 people.  A survey of the territory was made Oct. 31, 1878, by Hiram B. Merchant, who was a practical surveyor and who made a map thereof.  On Dec. 9, 1878, E. A. Morgan, A. F. Hensel, J. P. Mallinger, Otto Gazal and J. C. Muir petitioned the court that an order be made incorporating the village of Arcadia.  The order was duly issued Dec. 17, 1878, by Hon. A. W. Newman, judge.  On Feb. 18, 1879, an election resulted int he choice of E. C. Higbee as president, W. W. Barnes, Seth Putnam, Otto Gazal, J. C. Muir, John Maurer and J. Martin Fertig as trustees; John N. Stariha as clerk; A. F. Hensel as Treasurer; Dr. F. L. Lewis as supervisor;  Math Danuser as marshal; George Schneller as constable; Douglas Arnold as justice of the peace, and C. M. Mercer as police justice, all for three months.  The first annual village election was held May 6, 1879.  Mr. Higbee was elected president; Messrs. Barnes, Fertig, Mueller, Mergerner, Putnam and Jacob Schneller were elected trustees; John N. Stariha, clerk; A. F. Hensel, treasurer; C. M. Mercer, police justice; Douglas Arnold, justice; Math Danuser, marshal; George Schneller, constable; Dr. F. L. Lewis, supervisor. 

The present officers of Arcadia are:  President, John Roesch; trustees, E. G. Bigham, A. C. Foster, William Knoop, J. F. Muir, F. Steinhauser and George Weisenberger; clerk, Robert Barlow; assessor, J. K. Cysweski; justice, John F. Beon; supervisor, Dr. J. A. Palmer; marshal, William Hogan; health officer, Dr. G. N. Hidershide.

The municipal improvements of Arcadia consist of an electric light plant, a waterworks system, a fire department, a village hall, a village clock, a Carnegie Library, a high school, a public park, macadamized roads, and several bridges.

Street lighting had its beginning Oct. 9, 1891, when the village council voted to purchase twelve oil street lamps, and made arrangements for their lighting and care.  Electric lighting had its inception June 19, 1893, when W. R. Wolfe was given a franchise to erect an electric light plant and place poles in the streets.  After consideration discussion of the question, the Arcadia Electric Light Plant, with John Grover (president), W. R. Wolfe (treasurer) and Louis Hohnmann as owners, was given a contract to supply the streets with arc lights for four years.  But, owing to restrictions placed upon the company, the streets were never lighted under this contract.  Mr. Wolfe, however, put in a plant and furnished the leading business houses with electricity for some six months before he sold to Benton & Son, who removed the plant.  The next move made toward street lighting was on Jan. 10, 1896, when a franchise was granted the Arcadia Milling Company.  A contract for street lighting was made Jan. 17, 1896, and several months later the first street lights were installed.  The village purchased the plant Oct. 16, 1903, practically renewed the system, and connected it with the power plant at the waterworks.

Fire protection in the early days was furnished by a volunteer bucket company and a hand pump.  May 20, 1891, it was voted to buy a fire engine and bell.  In the fall the engine arrived, wells were dug, and additional equipment was purchased.  On Oct. 30, 1891, the fire ordinance was passed and a few days later, on Nov. 3, 1891, the fire company was organized with the following officers:  Secretary, Charles J. Larson; treasurer, Archie Hunter; chief, John Durisch; trustees, C. Wohlgenant, C. W. Lubs, J. P. Runkel and Joseph Hild.  The company now consists of forty-two volunteers, and is well equipped with modern apparatus.  The village bell is in the village hall, and the fire whistle is at the village power plant.  The village clock is in the belfry of the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and was installed in the spring of 1903, under a contract signed May 15 of that year.

The village hall was erected in 1893-94 at a cost of about $4,000.  The lot was purchased from the Board of Trade Feb. 10, 1893, a special election to vote bonds was held June 9, 1893, and work was stared in the fall.  It was occupied in the spring, being officially accepted April 20, 1894.  the lower floor is devoted to the fire department, jail, council chambers and clerk's office, while the upper floor is used for lodge purposes.

The first macadamizing in Arcadia was done in 1895, bonds of $5,000 for that purpose being voted on March 22 of that year.  A stone crusher was purchased and operations commenced on an extensive scale.  The village now has a macadamized street extending from the Buffalo County line through the village to the "Two Mile Corner," so called, beyond the mill.  The road to the Arcadia Mineral Spring is also macadamized, as are several of the cross streets.

The waterworks plant consists of an artesian well, a pumping station at which is also located the electric light plant, and the reservoir on Barnes Bluff.  The mains cover the principal streets of the village.  Bonds of $15,000 were voted Dec. 17, 1901, the ordinance was passed Dec. 19, 1902, and the residences of the village were supplied with water the following spring.

The village park was purchased from J. R. P. Hiles Feb. 20, 1909, and consists of sixteen acres of land.  It has been improved by voluntary work, and is used largely as a ball ground, the young men of the village having erected a grand stand thereon.  One of the beauty spots of the village is a private park owned by J. M. Fertig.  This park, located along the river front, is kept in its natural condition, and is stocked with a number of native deer, the admiration of travelers from near and far.

The iron bridge across the Trempealeau at Arcadia was built in 1899, the vote being passed March 10.  This replaced a wooden bridge, on the same site, the wooden bridge, in turn, taking the place of the ford a little further down the river.  In the early days there were two other fords further up the river, and the "Three Mile Bridge" was built as a wooden structure some years before the railroad came through.

A school district comprising the whole town of Arcadia was organized May 24, 1857, and a meeting held at the home of David Bishop in May.  School was opened soon thereafter in a log building, with Sarah Bishop McMasters as first teacher.  In June, 1860, a frame structure was erected on the same site.  After the railroad came through the building was moved to the near village, where in time it became the county courthouse. The graded brick school on the hill was built with four departments in 1875, and later two more departments were added.  The present sightly high school structure was erected in 1915.  The new building, which was erected at a cost of nearly $45,000, is regarded as a model of its kind. It has a large and beautiful auditorium, with stage.  There are English, mathematics, history, foreign language, commercial, teachers' training, domestic science, manual training, agriculture and library rooms, besides the large gymnasium in the basement.  The lighting and ventilation are perfect, the heating is the most modern system of direct and indirect radiation, and the temperature is regulated automatically.  The equipment is good and is being constantly improved.

The beautiful Carnegie Library was erected in 1906.  March 29, 1905, the village council voted an annual appropriation of $500 for this library.  That sum has also been given annually to support the public library for some years previous.

The Arcadia Board of Trade was organized Aug. 11, 1885, among those interested being R. L. Dickens, O. O. Peterson, Nic. Lehrbach, Stephen Richmond, J. M. Fertig, George N. Hidershide, F. F. Morgan, John  Maurer, W. P. Massuere, Emil Maurer, J. D. Rainey and R. W. Wheeler.  After a time the association went into the grain buying business in order to establish equitable rates for the farmers.  Business was suspended in the summer of 1898.  The land owned by the board was sold to the village and is now used as a village hall.

The Arcadia Brewery has long occupied a leading position in Arcadia business life.  It was established in 1874 or 1875 by Nick Mergner.  In 1876 Bion & Co. erected an imposing structure which is part of the present establishment.

The woolen industry was at one time numbered among the industries of the village.  In the early '70s Philander Allen started a woolen mill.  He sold to Dr. Isaac A. Briggs.  The Arcadia Woolen Mills were built in 1876 by Dyke, Allen & Co. and were in operation for several years.  The production of wool has increased in volume and importance, but the raw wool is now shipped to other places.

The Arcadia Mineral Springs are among the pleasant features of Arcadia Life.  In 1878 a hotel was built at the springs by George Hiles, a race track was laid out,a nd preparations made for an extensive summer resort. But the hotel burned before it was completed in 1879, and the place abandoned.  The spring is now permanently arched with cement, and presents an inviting appearance to the traveler, but is not now used for commercial purposes.  The water has highly medicinal qualities, and constitutes one of the natural resources of the village yet to be developed and exploited.

Arcadia had its beginning with the settlement of Old Arcadia in 1855.

The first store in Old Arcadia was opened in 1857 by George Shelly, in his residence on the present site of the home of George Schmidt.  The house was a crude pioneer structure, boarded roughly up and down.  The next was opened in a lean-to addition to the home of Daniel C. Dewey by Mr. Dewey and Dr. Isaac A. Briggs.  The next store was that of Gay D. Storm.  Before long quite a settlement sprang up at the "Corners."

When the railroad came through in the fall of 1873, Old Arcadia was the scene of busy activity.  At the northeast corner of the crossroads was the hotel and store of George Dewey.  North of this was the home of P. H. Varney, justice of the peace, and north of him lived Gus Quinn and his aged father.

At the northwest corner of the crossroads was the store of Campbell & Geislin, afterward owned by Ole Peterson and Thom Thompson.  West of Campbell & Geislin's store was the brick store and residence of John D. Rainey.  West of the Rainey store was the harness shop of Ed. DeLay.  Between the Rainey and DeLay locations there had early stood the Quinn cabin in which the postoffice had been opened.  Then came the residence of Daniel C. Dewey, in the lean-to of which one of the earliest stores had been kept.  Next came the brick residence of Ervin J. Gorton, and next the residence of Ed Gorton.  West of this Isaac Ball had at one time kept a blacksmith shop.  Then came the postoffice in the residence of Charles Mercer, in the upper story of which was a public hall, in which justice court was sometimes held.  Mrs. Mercer was the widow of David Bishop, the pioneer, who had been killed by lightning.  Then came the old schoolhouse.  West of the schoolhouse had once lived Albro Matterson.  His straw barn was a conspicuous landmark.  Further along were the residences of John Penny, J. R. Penny and Benjamin F. Holcomb.

At the southwest corner of the crossroads was an empty lot.  Previously on the site there had stood a log house originally used as a schoolhouse, and moved from the school lot to this location to be used as a drug store by Dr. George.  Next west of this vacant corner was the drug store and residence of Dr. Frank L. Lewis. West of this store was a hotel and saloon on the place originally occupied by George Dewey.  When Mr. Dewey moved, John P. Mallinger, better known as "Hans Pete," conducted a hotel and saloon there, followed by George Motchenbacker, who was there when the railroad came.  Next to the west was the blacksmith shop of Edward Nichols, in the upper story of which was a hall, the scene of many a famous gathering. Next was the blacksmith shop of Albro Matterson.  West of this was a vacant building put up and used as a store by Charles Mercer, who had previously clerked for Gay T. Storm.  It passed into other hand and was opened as a saloon.  Under the operation of a man named Williams, the place became so obnoxious that the good ladies of the community wrecked the place and destroyed the intoxicants.  West of this was the furniture store of E. J. Tracy.  Next came the brick store of E. J. Gorton.  This was the famous Storm store.  Early settlers tell of the gatherings of Winnebago Indians held near this place, and the famous pow-wows in which they participated.  The brick for the Storm store, the Rainey store and the E. J. Gorton residence were made nearby, probably at the brick kiln of  Dr. I. A. Briggs, which flourished for some years thereafter.  The arrival of the itinerant tintype photographer was also an important event for several seasons, and in their tents they did a flourishing business. Next to the Gorton store was a building which had been occupied by Michael Mochenbacher as a shoe shop.  This had been built as a shoe shop by John D. Rainey.  Mochenbacher made and repaired boots and shoes, sometimes using his own leather, but sometimes taking a piece of cowhide furnished by a settler, and making it into fitted boots for the whole family.  Next to the shop was the Mochenbacher residence.

East of the southeast corner of the crossroads was the residence of Henry Dewey, in which George Shelly had opened the first store.  The corner lot was vacant.

East of Old Arcadia was the residence of Joseph Kellogg and his sister Jane.  With them also lived another sister and Joseph Farber, an itinerant evangelist and school teacher.  Next east was the residence of James Broughton south of the road, and Broughton's Mill north of the road.  At the pond of this mill, in 1857, Eugene Broughton, a son of James Broughton, was drowned while swimming.  Further east the road branched to North Creek, and still further east to American, Thompson and Newcomb valleys.

To the north of Old Arcadia, the first house was that of David L. Holcombe, on the west side of the road leading across the river bridge to Independence.

To the south of Old Arcadia, the first house was Charles Fisher and his father, the Elder.

The road leading along the highlands east and south of the present village was well occupied.  West was the Benjamin F. Holcombe place, already mentioned in connection with Old Arcadia.  Then came the Alonzo Kenyon residence.  From across the street from the Kenyon residence, a foot-path led southwest toward the Gaveney residence, skirting a natural pond which then stood in a depression in the fields, but which has since been drained.  West of the Kenyon residence was the Henry Proctor residence.  West of this was the road which led north to the mill pond and mill owned by David Massuere, and thence across the ford to the Independence road.  Near the mill was the residence of Louis Massuere.  From the mill a track led westward to the home of Elliott Van Valkenberg.  At the Briggs' Corners lived Dr. I. A. Briggs in a brick house still standing. Dr. Briggs was a self-educated homeopath.  Being the only physician in the locality, his practice extended from Fountain City to Coral City.  From Briggs' Corners, on the line between sections 32 and 33, a trail led north to the home of David Masseure, beyond which was a river ford.  From the Corners, a trail also led through a gate down through the present village, following the high land formed by the sand thrown up by the creek, and crossing the river at a ford a few rods down the river from the present bridge.  Across the ford on the south side of the road was the house of Simon Wojczik, while Peter case lived on the north side.  Further up the river toward Independence were _____ Bragg, William Bennett, David Bennett and Charles Richardson.  In the other direction, over the line in Buffalo County, Glencoe was well settled.  At Glencoe village, Thomas Courtney had a tavern and store, and George Cowie kept the post office.

The main road led south from Briggs' Corners, following a zig-zag line.  The first house along the road southwest of Dr. Briggs' was the residence of James Gaveney, over the line in township 20, range 9.  South of the next turn in the road was the house built by Noah Comstock, but occupied by Ole B. Canutson.  the next house on the west side of the road was that of Noah Comstock, and west of this stood the pioneer cheese factory owned by Noah Comstock and James Gaveney.  Further along the road, this same farm several years later was the scene of the pioneer sorghum operators in the county.

At the center of section 6, a branch road led west.  On the north side of this road lived A. L. Robinson, while south of it lived Daniel Bigham, and west of him John Bigham.

East of where the road turned was the home built by John Dennis.  Further south, at the point where the main road met the south line of section 6, stood the schoolhouse and the Catholic church, the church being east of the road and the schoolhouse west.  There the road branched east and west to Meyers Valley and Bill's Valley.  On the road to Bill's Valley the first house was that of J. P. Hartman.

With the coming of the railroad, the village of Old Arcadia gradually dwindled away.  The drug store of Dr. F. L. Lewis, the blacksmith shop of Ed. Nichols, the schoolhouse, and later the mill, were moved to the newer village, other buildings were moved to other locations and converted to other uses, some of the structures were left on the same locaiton and converted into residences.  The famous Gay T. Storm store was vacated and is still standing, a notable relic of the past.  The only store now at Old Arcadia is that of James Brownlie, who occupies the old John D. Rainey store.  Mr. Brownlie is the town clerk, and a wooden addition has been built to the building for the purposes of a town hall.

The railroad reached Arcadia in the fall of 1873, and the depot was constructed on the present location. Southwest of it along the right of way, in the rear of the present village hall, Canterbury & Smith built a warehouse, and still further along Elmore & Kelley, of Green Bay, built a warehouse.  The Elmore & Kelley warehouse was a unique structure, with high sloping runways, up which teams were driven to enable the pouring of grain into the flathouse.

Considerable bitterness followed the building of the railroad, and it was not until the following spring that a village was platted.  The people of Old Arcadia, who had believed that the railroad would pass through their village, were determined to keep the business at the old site, regardless of the railroad.  Others were reconciled to the site of the depot, as one large village at the depot seemed better than two small villages.

Consequently, in 1874, after the village was started, the business houses began to spring up.  The land was a swamp, no grades had been established, the houses were built on piles, and the sidewalks on stilts, while the customers wallowed through mire and pools.

Probably the first business house to go up was the hotel of James Alexander, afterward operated by John Eckel, the saloon being conducted by John Gaugler.  Many business houses followed, and the sound of building was heard on every side.

Two Fountain City concerns, realizing that much of the Waumandee, Glencoe and Montana trade would be turned in the new direction, established branch stores here, Bohri Brothers & Hensel, with Charles Hensel as manager, moving into a building erected by A. F. Hensel, and Fugina Brothers & Fertig, with J. M. Fertig as manager, moving into a store erected by Edson A. Morgan, who had previously lived at Old Arcadia and vended patent medicines throughout the region.  The W. P. Massuere Company had its beginning the same year in a building erected by John D. Rainey, who had been a merchant of the old town.  For a time E. J. Geislin and Milo Campbell, also merchants at Old Arcadia, were interested with Mr. Massuere in the venture.  The Bryan drug store, with a stock of drugs, paints and oils and notions, was also opened.

J. C. Muir, from Glencoe, who had assisted in building the bridge across the river that spring, formed a partnership with G. H. Krumdick and erected a flathouse for the buying of grain.  He also dealt in hides and farm produce.  C. N. Paine & Co., of Oshkosh, with C. E. Hollenbeck as manager, opened a lumber yard.  A year later they erected an office building on Main Street.

Several saloons were opened, the first being that of Matt Danuser.

A number of residences went up the same year.

The village grew in 1875, and when the flood came in the spring of 1875, the flats already contained a village of considerable size, the business houses being scattered along Main Street both sides of the track, and down Commercial (Grant) Street.

The WIGenWeb Project logo was designed and provided by Debbie Barrett.

DISCLAIMER:   No claim is made to the copyrights of the individual submitters.   The contents of this website may be used for personal use only by individuals researching their own ancestry.   Commercial use of this information for profit is strictly prohibited without prior permission of the owners.  Other genealogical websites may link to this website; however, permission is not granted to duplicate any of the contents.  Anyone contributing material for posting does so in recognition of its free, non-commercial distribution, as well as the responsibility  to assure that no copyright is violated by the submission.  This website and its coordinator are not responsible for donations of copyrighted material where explicit written permission has not been granted for use.
Copyright © 2000 - 2012
All Rights Reserved
This website was established on 31 Oct 2000