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Histories:  Trempealeau County Historical Accounts:

"History of Trempealeau County Wisconsin, 1917":

Chapter 11:

Galesville

-As transcribed from pages 237 - 240


Galesville, situated in the Beaver Creek Valley on the banks of Lake Marinuka, a beautiful artificial body of water, is one of the most picturesque villages in Western Wisconsin.  The site of the village is divided into an upper table, the residence section, and the lower table and flats, which constitute the business section, most of the stores being located about the Public Square or the street immediately adjoining.  An extensive park system adds to the beauty of the village, and numerous mineral springs attract tourists.  The village is equipped with electric lights, waterworks, sewer system, village hall, fire department and high school.  Two telephone systems furnish excellent service.  The two banks reflect the financial stability of the surrounding country.  A public library is well patronized and a moder newspaper chronicles the weekly life of the neighborhood.

The Norwegian Lutherans have two churches, and the Presbyterian, Catholic and Methodist denominations each one.  A band adds to desirability of life here.  The annual celebration of the burns Club and the annual county fair bring visitors from near and far.  The Commercial Club has taken an active interest in the civic department of the village.  The leading industries are the mill, the creamery, the elevators and the stock yards.  Gale College is one of the oldest in the State, having opened its first classes in 1859.  Galesville is connected with the outside world with a branch of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, and by an excellent system of improved highways.

Founded, settled and platted in 1854, Galesville soon assumed substantial proportions as the county seat and the home of Gale College, enjoying its greatest growth from 1856 until the year following the Civil War.  It was not materially affected by the railroad which was built in the southern part of the county in 1870, or by the railroad built through the Trempealeau Valley in 1873.  The loss of the county seat late in 1876 took away some of the hotel and legal business, and possibly a little of the mercantile trade.

With the coming of the railroad in 1883, the village took on new life and soon assumed an importance which it still retains as a shipping and trading center.

In that year efforts were made to incorporate the village.  A census taken on Oct. 16, 1883, having shown a population of 439 persons, an application was presented to the district court asking for the incorporation.  A remonstrance was presented at the same time.  Accordingly on Dec. 16, 1883, Judge A. W. Newman appointed Hugh Cameron, of La Crosse, as a referee to hear the testimony in the matter.  Mr. Cameron failed to act and the application continued in abeyance for several years.  In 1887 the proposition was revived, and on June 13 of that year Judge Newman appointed Isaac Clark, George H. Smith and Moses King inspectors of an election to be held to decide the matter.  July 2, 1887, Gustavus Holmberg was appointed in place of Moses King.  The election held Aug. 1, 1887, with H. L. Bunn and Charles T. Silk as clerks, favored the proposition by a vote of 80 to 32.  The first election was held on Aug. 20, 1887, and resulted as follows:  President, G. Y. Freeman; trustees, C. B. Thrall, O. N. Sagen, A. Kribs, A. H. Czepull, G. F. Myhre and F. Langenohl; clerk, H. L. Bunn; treasurer, A. Tibbitts; supervisor, Wilson Davis; constable, William Raymond; justice, A. Tower.  The first meeting of the council was held Sept. 5, 1887.

The present officers are:  President, A. T. Twesme; trustees, Carl McKeeth, I. G. Herried, R. H. Ashley, R. E. James, W. F. Plummer and J. A. berg; clerk, O. D. Witherbee; treasurer, Nils Lund; assessor, J. A. Kellman; supervisor, Ben W. Davis.

The village government has been most admirably conducted.  Waterworks and a sewer system have been installed and extended, the streets have been improved and excellently cared for, a city hall has been built, a good fire department maintained, the business center has been paved, and considerable attention has been given to the extensive park system and to public health and recreation, in addition to the usual routine village maintenance.

The park system is in charge of a commission which was created in 1915, and now consists of A. T. Twesme, O. D. Witherbee, J. F. Cance, Rev. L. M. Gimmestad, Bert A. Gipple, Emil Francar and Charles Bortle.  City beautiful plans have been prepared by John H. Forrer, of La Crosse, and are being gradually worked out by the commission.  The plans include public and private property and will make the village one of the beauty spots of the Northwest.  The Upper Table Park and the Public Square on the lower table were platted with the village and were donated by George Gale, the founder of the village.  The wide streets which enclose the Public Square were paved in 1912, and soon afterward a cement bandstand erected at a cost of nearly $1,000 raised  by public subscription.  The Upper Table Park is well shaded with old trees and is also supplied with a bandstand.  Reception Park, originally called Riverside Park, was acquired from C. E. Perkins in the summer of 1889.  At once upon its purchase the property was turned over to William C. Pierce, who agreed to pay Mr. Perkins for the property, to keep the park open to the public except when in use for baseball, horse racing or fair purposes, and at the end of ten years to sell to the village at a fair valuation.  Two years after, Mr. Pierce disposed of all his interest to the village.  In 1892 extensive plans were made for the advertising of Galesville as a summer resort.  A landing platform was erected at Reception Park for the convenience of railroad excursionists, a pavilion was built, an excursion steamer was purchased, lights were installed in Reception and High Cliff parks, and the weeds were cleared from the lake.  Efforts were made to have the railroad move its station to the lake front.  But the depot was not moved and in a few years the steamboat was sold, owing to lack of patronage.  In December, 1902, a curling rink was erected in the park by the Galesville Curling and Burns Club.  The park consists of a little over 11 acres lying along the banks of Beaver Creek.  It is well shaded and in addition to the pavilion, curling rink and landing platform already mentioned, has an excellent baseball field and an artesian well 600 feet deep.  The High Cliff Park consists of a narrow strip of land having Beaver Creek on one side and high, perpendicular waterworn cliffs on the other.  It is covered with native foliage and has several springs and caves.  The park is open to the public through the courtesy of Ben W. Davis.  East Side Park is on the lake shore and is made up of groves of native trees.  It is open to the public through the generosity of the heirs of Captain A. A. Arnold.  On the flat above the East Side park are the grounds of the Trempealeau County Agricultural Society, purchased in 1892.  At the head of the lake are the Arctic Springs, which will also soon be surrounded with a park.  The waters of the spring are widely known for their purity and health-giving qualities, and a company has been formed for exploiting and developing this important asset.  In connection with the beauty spots, the public cemetery deserves special mention.  The Association was organized in 1861 with Isaac Clark as president and A. A. Arnold as secretary, and eight acres of land obtained from George Gale.  The Association has continued to be maintained, and the cemetery is being constantly beautified.

The village waterworks were inaugurated in the summer of 1888, when the village contracted with Wilson Davis to extend his mill waterworks to protect all the property on the lower table, to put in hydrants and to furnish hose for the use of the fire company, the hose and hosecart to be kept in repair by the village.  This contract was renewed until the present water and sewer system was put in operation in 1899.  Aug. 5, 1898, the citizens voted bonds of $3,000 which were used to construct a reservoir on the property of Charles Boulin.  Technical difficulties stood in the way of voting sufficient bonds for the construction of the entire system, so a number of citizens organized a temporary firm known as the Galesville Waterworks Co., and engaged John P. Dales, of the Western Engineering & Construction Co., as contractor.  The contract price was $20,000, to be paid by the village at the rate of $1,000 a year under the guise of a hydrant rental. 

The electric light system was installed in the fall of 1889 by T. P. and W. W. Benton under the firm name of T. P. Benton & Co.  Since then the system has been continuous, and is now operated by the Davis Mill Company.

Local telephone service was started in the fall of 1895 by W. P. Veitch and George S. Luce.

The city hall was erected in 1896 and opened Oct. 9 of that year.  It houses the opera house, the fire department, village offices and the jail.

The splendid high school building was erected in 1908, replacing the earlier building erected in 1873-74.  In addition to the usual classical and English courses, work is given in domestic science and manual training, and special attention is paid to music, oratory, debating, athletics and general community endeavor.

The public library is supported by the village, the building having been donated by the will of Ellen Burchard Burdick, who died Oct. 9, 1913.

The Galesville Commercial Club, whose name was changed from the Galesville Business Men's Association on Nov. 18, 1916, was organized Sept. 16, 1899, the first directors being G. O. Gilbertson, L. N. Hammer, E. F. Clark, F. A. Kellman, Ben W. Davis, Henry Yeoman, W. S. Wadleigh, R. H. Robertson and George Rall.  The present officers are:  President, J. A. Berg; vice-president, Carl McKeeth; secretary, Emil Francar, and E. F. Clark.



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