Bayfield County Press

Compiler's Note: Currie G. Bell, my great-grandfather, became the editor and publisher of the Bayfield, Wisconsin weekly newspaper, the BAYFIELD COUNTY PRESS, in the fall of 1882. The paper remained in the Bell family until July 1927. In addition to the usual birth, marriage and death announcements, THE PRESS printed local "chit-chat" columns that provided snippets of information on the residents of Bayfield and the surrounding towns. On a time-available and experimental basis, we have decided to post some of this data in the hopes it may be of use to family historians researching their Bayfield county ancestors. --John Griener

Drummond, Pratt and Mason, Bayfield County's Thriving Sawmill Towns -- November 1885

[The following article is taken from the November 28, 1885 issue of the Bayfield County Press]

A representative of the PRESS spent a few hours at Drummond the first of this week and through the courtesy of Mr. Frank DRUMMOND, general manager of the Rust-Owen Lumber Company's plant at that place, was made to feel that he was a welcome visitor.

To attempt a detailed description of the town, its mills and various institutions at this time is not the purpose of the writer. To do the subject justice would require more space than can be devoted in one issue. A few facts, however, will give the reader a faint idea of the magnitude of the operation at that point:

The mill cut during the past season was in round numbers nineteen million feet, ten million shingles and five million lath. The yards now contain in round numbers seventeen million feet of lumber. The principal points of shipment are Nebraska and Kansas. The company have five logging camps now in operation and have about seven million feet on skids. They employ an average of two hundred and seventy-five men, and average wages paid in the woods is $22 per month. The mill, yard, and all its appurtances are a monument of credit to the company in general and in particular to the skill, energy and undefatigable efforts of Mr. DRUMMOND who, although young in years, is old in all that pertains to the lumbering and milling business.

The village site, being owned by the company, is a model of neatness. The cottages occupied by the employees are comfortable, homelike appearing structures. A large, well-lighted well ventilated and well-warmed school building, containing two departments presided over by our efficient county superintendent, Miss ROSENKRANS, and an able lady assistant, furnishes facilities for "teaching the yound idea" equalled by few communities older and much larger than this cozy little hamlet in the woods.

Willard Hotel, Drummond's own and public house, presided over by that jolly landlord John WILLARD, is a model structure, well patronized at all seasons of the year.

On the brow of the hill, overlooking the company's entire plant is a handsome new residence now almost completed, owned and to be occupied by Mr. RIGGS, one of the company. The residence is a model of comfort and convenience and would be a credit to the best town in North Wisconsin. Whether Mr. DRUMMOND will erect a mate to it and dwell therein with a better half, which by the way is something he ought to do as he is altogether too good timber to be wasted in old bachelorhood -- deponent sayeth not.

Another season will see many improvements made at this point. The company will erect a very large store building and offices; the mill will be furnished with a band saw and large gang; much of the town sight will be cleared of unsightly stumps and where but three short years ago roamed undisturbed the denizens of the forest will be found pleasant homes, grassy lawns, and a happy, contented, prosperous people.


At Pratt, nine miles north of Drummond, the writer spent the night in the home of Mr. [Arthur H.]SOEKLAND, general storekeeper and superintendent of the Neil and Pratt lumber company. Pratt is the "sightliest" place on the line and from the windows of Mr. SOEKLAND's home "on the hill" the eye takes in a wonderful scope of country. The view at this season of the year is pleasing to the eye and in midsummer must be doubly so.

Pratt and much of the surrounding country is owned by the Neil & Pratt Lumber Co. They have a saw mill at this point with a capacity of forty thousand feet per day of eleven hours; they give employment to eighty men the year round and this winter will bank about five million feet of logs. The town contains a good school building and enjoys all the benefits of a well conducted institution of this character. Pratt is also the base of supplies for the Bayfield silver and copper mine and here large quantities of the ore are on exhibition. The surrounding country is said to be the finest for agricultural purposes on the line of the railway in this county and is fast settling up with a hardy, energetic class of men and Pratt bids fair to become a flourishing town. It most certanly will be if the efforts put forth by Mr. SOEKLAND to attract settlers thitherward bear such fruit as they are entitled for certainly none have done or are doing more to make known its splendid advantages than Mr. SOEKLAND. The past season this gentleman has erected a large and comfortable residence which is nicely furnished and presided over by a helpmate who, like himself, is hospitality personified. Here where a few season's since was naught but a "howling wilderness" one now finds a happy, prosperous settlement much of which is due to the efforts of Mr. SOEKLAND who is justice of the peace, clerk of the school board and superintendent of the Sunday school, an institution that can not help but be a power for good in all new communities.


The writer's stop at Mason, the next town north was very brief. Here is the wonderful plant of the White River Lumber Company. To attempt a full description of the community's works at this point would require what at this time the writer was unable to give, viz., a personal examination of mills and yards, and they are of such magnitude that this could not be done in a few hours' time.

On alighting from the up freight, the writer was taken under the protecting care of G. DAHLBY, chairman of the town board. Mr. DAHLBY is a fair sample of what this country will do for its adopted citizens who make proper use of its advantages. Assisted by his son, he presides over a general store that for the size of building, furnish and variety of stock would be a credit to any town in the country. Adjoining his store is his home, a large and tasty residence, and here amid the towering pines he is reaping a rich reward for his labor.

Dropping into the lumber company's office we there found Mr. H. A. Hunt, postmaster, town clerk and the company's right-hand man from whom we gleaned the following: The past season the company turned out of their mill in round numbers nineteen million feet of lumber; they have now in the yard between eighteen and twenty million feet; have in five logging camps with two hundred and twenty five men on the pay roll; the average wages paid are $22 per month. During the past month they shipped seventy five carloads of lumber and would have shipped double that amount if their could have had the necessary cars. This present winter they will increase the capacity of their mill by the addition of another gang saw; this mill will give them two gangs and two circulars and bring the capacity of the mill up to two hundred and twenty-five thousand feet per day of eleven hours!

Mason has an excellent hotel presided over by Mr. John HINES and while the writer did not have the pleasure of meeting him he did have the pleasure of hearing all speak well of him and his excellent quarters.

The town has already outgrown its present school facilities and this coming winter a new school building similar to the one at Drummond will be erected.

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