Bayfield County Journal
Bayfield County Journal Yesteryear Column
Zoe von Ende Lappin, granddaughter of P.J. Savage, editor of the Iron River
PIONEER from 1898 to 1952, has obtained permission for us to post the
Memories and Yesteryear columns that are printed weekly in the Bayfield
COUNTY JOURNAL, successor to the PIONEER and other newspapers in the
county. The COUNTY JOURNAL announced the upcoming Web postings in its Dec.
3O, 1999, edition with the headline, "Genealogy columns to appear on the
County Journal, Oct. 14, 1999. Yesteryear (from Washburn).
I would like to thank Eric Sharp, Editor of the Bayfield County Journal for his willingness to work with us in our genealogical search. We look forward to the wonderful articles that will appear here. Thank you also to Zoe von Ende Lappin for all her work and the hours of typing.
From the Washburn Bee, March 14 1885
(For probably the first time in Yesteryear’s history, a column has been
taken out of a Washburn Bee, the town’s second newspaper after the Washburn
Itemizer. Our historical society doesn’t have any Bees, so I would like to
thank my friend, Kurt Larson,
who copied the first edition of the Bee from the Wisconsin State Historical
Society in Madison. The following is some early Washburn history from that
When the Omaha Railroad Company graded the road bed to Bayfield in the fall
of 1882, the secret of the Town of Washburn was hidden in the deep foliage
of the trees, which mysteriously sighed when tossed by the winds, for the
time was coming when their
majestic heads would be laid low.
The town was laid out by the Bay Land & Improvement Company, comprising of
(sic) 366 acres and divided into 2,230 lots. The location of Washburn was
happily chosen, being entirely free of ravines and low, swampy ground. The
land rises from the bay at a gentle incline, having a rise of from two to
three feet to the hundred, affording to (sic) the town natural facilities
for a perfect system of sewage.
On May 12th, 1883, the steamer City of Ashland landed at the small wharf
down by the old mill (McCellan’s, near Memorial Park), having aboard Messrs.
(Dan) Corning, (John) Anderson, (Jack) Walker and (Fred) Swain. These
gentlemen were Washburn’s first arrivals. The steamer returned to Ashland,
while the above named gentlemen remained to look the new field over. (They
were) like Pilgrim Fathers,landing on the shore still dense with primeval
forests, and although the hardships experienced were not severe, they were
assailed by hunger, but the natives came not to relieve their sufferings.
Dan stumbled across one native that had the essentials to bless man’s
existence on the lake shore, viz: tea, whiskey, crackers and little tobacco.
Dan said, “The boys don’t know how good a meal of just whiskey and crackers
Next week I will give you more early history, plus the 50, 25 and 10 year
columns will be back. The following is what I’ve been up to:
I am almost done with the Homecoming Book, “Yesteryear 2000.” Right now the
book is over 400 pages, without any photos. I have Yesteryear from 1882,
before Washburn was even founded, and give or take a year or two here and
there, right up to 1922. This will be like a family tree for many early
Washburn families. Then I have
Walker and Washburn High School photographs, trivia and so on. The book also
has well over 1,200 nicknames, from the 1880s to now. Plus, I’ve interviewed
dozens of people, wandered through graveyards, went through thousands of old
newspapers and burned the midnight oil since March (1999), trying to get the
A few things I discovered about Washburn’s past which may surprise you...
The first graduating class was not 1891 but 1889. The town was actually dark
for over two years because Washburn couldn’t afford to pay for the lighting
of the streets. The book cannot only give you the person with the town’s
first automobile, but the next seven or eight as well. Around 1916, there
was a “mad dog” scare, and a youngster by the name of Gordy Fraser was
bitten as were many folks in town. Jack Walker (John Elder) was one of our
forefathers. He worked on the Mississippi River and lived to be 100. He
met Abraham Lincoln and U.S. Grant before they became world figures in
early 1860. He also was friends with another riverboat captain, by the name
of Samuel Clemons (Mark Twain).