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Town of Vilas, Langlade County, Wisconsin

vilas townhall
Vilas Town Hall
N5697 County Highway I



libertybell school

Vilas District No. 1, (Liberty Bell)
Published in Dessureau's 1922 "History of Langlade County..."

Liberty Bell District is situated in the northeastern part of Vilas township. Its area consists of 5,760 acres of land or one-fourth of the township. The outline of the boundary commences at the northeast corner of section 1, thence running west on the township line between townships 32 and 33, to the west corner of section 3, thence south to the southwest corner of section 15, thence east to the southeast corner of section 13, thence north to the northeast corner of section 1.

District No. 1 is a part of original district No. 5 of Vilas, created May 18, 1887, and also of the second district of this region, District No. 1 of June 26, 1893. District No. 1 of 1893 consisted of all of its present area together with sections 4, 5, 6 and 9 of the present District No. 2.

This district is bounded on the north by a part of Summit township, on the south by Ackley township, on the east by Peck township and on the west by Pine River township in Lincoln County.

The first settlers in Liberty Bell district were Richard Tracy, George Holland, E.I. Whitney, James Spurgeon, Arnold Engles and others.

The 1922-23 teacher was Luella Joles. The school officials for 1922-23 were Martin W. Strandberg, Clerk; A. Engles, Director, and W.W. Scott, Treasurer.

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goodluck school 1
First school building
goodluck school 2
Second school building

Vilas District No. 2 (Good Luck)
Published in the Daily Journal July 29, 1921
Published in the Farmers Journal, August 2, 1921
By Tedmon Bennett

The first settlers here were Jiriks, Tichaceks, Wildfangs, Zemas, Dupeks, and Yindras. The all came with lumbering teams of oxen, over rough paths through the dense forest.

They built rude log cabins hewing the logs by hand and using wooden pegs for nails. There was little furniture, some of it made by hand. Though rude in appearance, these houses were substantial as all of them are still standing.

The only crops raised were hay and a few vegetables. The hay was sown among the stumps and put up by hand.

The settlers earned a living by logging in the winter and working on the road in the summer.

The nearest markets were Antigo and Dudley. To go any where with the slow-moving oxen took a long time. Now provisions can be obtained from small towns like Gleason, Doering, Bloomville. The farms have been improved and new buildings erected. Few modern conveniences are in use as yet, but they are due in the near future.

This is a good potato region. Hay is the most important crop, so dairying is also important.

Improved farm machinery is in use now. No longer do they flail the grain; the threshing machine does that. The haying is also done by machinery. The mowing machine has taken the place of the scythe, and the horse rake is used instead of the hand rake.

Nearly all the farmers have some pure bred stock, and are building up their herds.

Of the old settlers who were pioneers in this district the only ones left are Jiriks and Tichaceks. Tichaceks have always been regarded as part of this district, though they really live in the town of Summit.

At present there are about sixteen partly improved farms in the district.

The district when first organized was called District No. Seven. Mr. Wildfang was clerk and Mr. Jirik was treasurer at that time. Later it was discontinued and added to district one. It was discontinued again and soon after was reorganized as district two. It is probable that the school was built when the district was first organized.

The first school was made of logs and held together by pegs. It was built about thirty years ago. No definite records can be found concerning the old school. The building was located away off in the woods. Water was obtained from a pool near the building and the only roads were narrow paths winding in and out among the trees.

Some of the early teachers were Miss Molzberger, Miss Barr, Miss Gleason and Mrs. Ketner.

Probably there were four or five pupils going to school in the old building. Two people have graduated, although more would have, but Antigo was too far away to go to write. One of the graduates, Miss Anita Yindra, has acquired distinction along educational lines. She is now County Superintendent of Shawano County.

The school term was about three months in the spring and fall.

A new school was built in 1908, a quarter of a mile from the old building. This building is not a modern one, but it is sufficient for the district at the present time. The first teacher who taught here was Anna Matteck.

Recent improvements are better roads, making travel over them a pleasure and not a hardship. A railroad is being built through the district, greatly improving its possibilities.

Vilas District No. 2, (Good Luck)
Published in Dessureau's 1922 "History of Langlade County..."

The boundaries of this district begin at the northeast corner of section 4, thence run west on the township line between townships 32 and 33 to the northwest corner of section 6, thence south to the southwest corner of section 18, thence east to the southeast corner of section 16, thence north to the northeast corner of section 4, embracing an area of nine square miles or 5,760 acres. Good Luck district was organized in May, 1908, and is a part of the old district No. 7 of 1887 and of old districts Nos. 1 and 6 of 1893.

This region once was a part of Pine River township, Lincoln County, of Ackley township and then Vilas.

Early settlers arrived in the district in 1881. George Dufeck, John Zema, and Joseph Zema came into the wilderness and cleared twenty to thirty acres each. Moses Wildfang settled at the same time in the northwestern part of the district on section 5. Joseph Yindra followed, settling section 8. Other pioneers were J. Jirik, settling on section 4; George Dufeck settled on section 6. Dan Hubbard, another early arrival, settled on section 7. B. Tichacek, another early settled, established his farm a mile and a half west of the Jirik farm. The Ourada Farm, section 5, is the former Tichacek property.

Most of the early settlers came over the rough trails and paths with yokes of oxen. They came either from Merrill or Wausau.

In 1883 a road to Gleason was constructed. This opened up an avenue of communication with the outside world, made trade relationship more agreeable and paved the way for the arrival of more settlers.

The first log school was erected in 1891 and was used until 1909 when a frame school house was erected on section 6. The enrollment averaged six to eight pupils in the earliest year. Pioneer teachers in this district were the Misses Molzberger, Gleason and Kettner. The 1921-23 teacher was Blanche Bonnell. The members of the 1922-23 school board were Wm. Anderson, Clerk; John Laughton, Director, and Mrs. M. Jirik, Treasurer.

The first and only store in the district was erected in 1912 on section 3 by Mr. Webster. In the year 1920 he erected a new building on the same location.

Near market places today are Gleason, Dudley, Bloomville and Antigo. Opening of new roads and the automobile make Antigo a convenient trading point, eliminating the disadvantages of distance.

Agriculture and dairying are the principal occupations. Potatoes and grains are the principal products. This district is making noticeable advances in both modern farming and scientific dairying.

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forestview school

Vilas District No. 3 (Forest View)
Published in the Daily Journal, September 20, 1921
By Charles Radke

The first settlement in the district was made in 1872 by Mr. Pratt and his family. They came from Hilton, Wisconsin to Wausau by train and drove the rest of the way with a team and wagon. The road was very rough and it took them two days to get here.

The second settler was Mr. Cone and his family. They came three years after Pratts. Then came Mr. Hubbard and his family.

The first houses were very strange. The scoop roofs were made of hollowed basswood logs split and laid so that all the cracks were closed.

At that time the nearest town was Merrill. The people made two trips to Wausau or Merrill a year for supplies.

The people could not sell the cordwood and logs so they built fences of some and burned the others. The men made their wages by working for the town in the spring, building bridges. In the first few years many times came when the settlers had but a few pennies and knew not where to get more. But in the spring of the year the floods would come again and then they got work again. The wages were very low. The men got a dollar or a dollar and a half a day. So you can see that it was hard living in those days.

As there were no trains, the mail was carried from Merrill by any one who happened to be coming from there. At every house the mail was dumped out on the floor and the people picked out their own and then it was taken to the next house.

At first the land settled was in Pine River town and in Lincoln county. Later the county of Langlade was laid out and the land was in Vilas county. The county was named after Senator Vilas of Manitowoc. The land was bought from the government for a dollar or less an acre. Most of the land is now owned by the Heineman families in Wausau and Merrill and lumbering is still an important occupation. Some of the settlers raised potatoes and grain they used themselves. Other farmers are starting in the dairy business.

In 1875 the first school house was built. There were nine pupils going to school, the Pratt and Hubbard children. The first teacher was Miss Julia Burns. She received twenty-four dollars a month, of which eight dollars were paid for board. The first school house was twenty feet long and sixteen feet wide. There were six windows in it.

Twenty-five years passed before any more settlers came. The first of them was Charles Beyers. In 1902 a railroad was put through at Doering and the people got a place to sell their logs. Then more camps came in and settlers too. There was a new road built from Merrill to Antigo.

There were some animals to bother the settlers, but as some were good for meat it was not so hard. The bears sometimes attacked men and even lynx and wolves were dangerous to the settlers. But as more settlers came in the animals disappeared.

In 1900 the new school house was built. The land was cleared around the school house and a school yard was made. A cemetery was started across the road from the school house.

During the last two years more settlers are coming into the county rapidly and the buildings are improving. The houses are no more made with scoop roof and puncheon floors. The logs are now taken to mills and the people have lumber sawed. Most settlers have their farms improved; others have sold them to new settlers. The towns of Antigo and Merrill have grown to cities. There are two telephones and seven automobiles in the district. The district is improving rapidly.

Vilas District No. 3, (Forest View)
Published in Dessureau's 1922 "History of Langlade County..."

In the southwest part of Vilas township is an area of land containing 5,760 acres and consisting of sections 19, 20, 21, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 and 33, known as the Forest View District. It is well named for the children trudging along to and from their daily tasks at school have a wonderful panorama of nature's are to view. The school is ideally situated on the northeast quarter of the northeast quarter of section 29. It is a model building, erected in 1900 by the settlers, who take especial pride in it. Previously a frame structure was used and before then a log cabin.

The first settlers established themselves in this region as early as 1877. The Edward Pratt family came to the district from Hilton, Wisconsin. The trip from Wausau was made by wagon over rough miry roads. Henry Cone was the second settler who came into the district. He was followed by John Hubbard and family.

Log houses were erected, one by one, as the sturdy pioneers arrived and before long the distances between them lessened. They gradually were followed by frame dwellings. However, many log houses are still found, many of which are the original cabins erected nearly fifty years ago. Hewn logs served as floors in these typical backwoods homes.

The early settlers were frugal to the point of parsimony. Necessity made them thus. During the long winter sieges cord wood was cut, but the market was far away. It did not pay to haul wood such a distance. But logging camps were numerous, affording employment to the settlers. When spring approached the log drives commenced on the Eau Claire river and the men folks received employment on the drives. The Eau Claire river was improved and thousands of logs were driven down it to Schofield. The housewife, anxious to aid her husband, would do much of the garden and field work, planting and cultivating in order that a bountiful harvest might be reaped in the fall. Thus the years passed on.

The children in the schools became young men and women, taking the places of their fathers and mothers. They filled the district and township offices, managed the farms, introduced new ideas into agricultural advancement and by this day the second generation has full command. Many of the pioneers have died or are too advanced in age to actively engage in labor.

The 1922-23 teacher was Leona polar. The 1922-23 school officials were: Clerk, Charles Hubbard; Director, Jack Danburg; Treasurer, John Cockeram.

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elmwood school

Vilas District No. 4, (Elmwood)
Published in Dessureau's 1922 "History of Langlade County..."

The last territorial change in Vilas township school districts occurred April 14, 1908. The Elmwood district since has consisted of sections 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 34, 35 and 36 of the township. It is situated in the southeastern part of Vilas and has an area of 5,760 acres. This district is the southern portion of the original District No. 5, organized in 1887. April 24, 1906, Vilas was re-districted and District No. 3 was eliminated. District No. 4 was enlarged by the addition of sections 28, 32 and 33. This area was not changed until 1908 when District No. 3 was recreated.

Pioneer settlers in Elmwood were Henry Fryer, who cleared a little farm in the wilderness in 1877 after a long and tiresome journey from New London, and Edson Lloyd, who in 1878 brought his family to this district from Oshkosh. With him came Charles Lloyd, his son, who afterwards became prominent in Vilas activities. W.J. Hampton, Mrs. Hayes, A. Space, Frank Locks, William Holland, Ben Miller, M.E. Bessey and Olaf Anderson were early settlers. George Hayes, Edwin Hayes and Al Hayes and John Marlowe are old residents, who came into the district later.

The first school was erected in 1882 on the southeast quarter of the southeast quarter of section 4. It was a one-room log building, which was used advantageously for many years. Early teachers were L. Hermanson, Mrs. M.A. Dexter, Hannah Reader, S. Gunderson, Emma Molzberger, Mary Cadigan, Theresa Wanninger, Ella Rynders, J. Ross, Adell Muscher, Allie Kennedy, Olive M. Space, Alice Casper, Ruth Graves and Irene Marshall. Miss Alfrieda Bruss was the 1921-22 teacher.

On July 5, 1898, the school officials of District No. 4, Charles Lloyd, Clerk; H.O. Johnson, Treasurer, and Alfred Hayes, Director, decided to locate the new proposed school on the quarter post of section 25 and 26. The school was completed by October 15, 1898. It cost approximately $375 and was erected by Justin & Jensen, mill men. The frame school was used until 1921 when a modern brick school was erected at a cost of $8,000 by H. Hoffschmidt. This splendid school is located on section 26. The 1921-22 school officials were Charles Lloyd, Clerk; Fritz Weisshahn, Director, and Leon Merry, Treasurer.

About 1899 George Drake and Justin & Jensen erected a sawmill on section 36 in this district. It was operated by Joseph Weir and John Menting for many years until it was moved away.

Louis Henry erected a cheese factory on section 24 in 1917. It has changed hands frequently and is now under the proprietorship of a co-operative concern organized among the neighboring farmers.

The Vilas township hall, located on section 25 (NW 1/4 of NW 1/4), was completed in the summer of 1922. Its cost was approximately $3,00 and it is one of the best town halls in Langlade County. The first meeting was held in the hall (before its completion) in April 1922. Louis Jacobs was the contractor. Formerly all township meetings were held at the school house in District No. 4.

Elmwood district has many splendid farms. The soil is rolling and level. The roads in the district are well maintained.

Antigo and Merrill are the nearest trading centers of importance.

The 1922-23 teacher was Elfrieda Bruss. The school officials for 1922-23 were: Clerk, Charles Lloyd, who is also Vilas township clerk; Treasurer, A.J. Polar, and Director, Fritz Weisshahn.

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