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

Doc Hannum's Bayfield of '82

Read almost any issue of The PRESS from the 1880's and 1890's, and it quickly becomes apparent that Henry HANNUM, M.D. was one of the prominent figures in Bayfield during that period. Not only did he administer to the sick of the village and tend to the victims of the numerous logging accidents that took place, he was an active booster of the town.

Henry HANNUM appeared on the Bayfield stage, quite literally, in December 1882. The PRESS made the following announcement in its December 9, 1882 edition:

"Judging from the present appearances the necessities of Bayfield in the way of resident physicians is to be fully supplied. Three weeks ago we had none, now we have two, Drs. LUCE and HANNUM. Dr. HANNUM arrived last Saturday. He is a young man, a graduate of Rush Medical College, Chicago, and comes highly recommended. Governor FIFIELD and Dr. HARRISON of Ashland speak very highly of him, the governor having known him from boyhood up."

Within a fortnight of his arrival, Doc HANNUM wrote about Bayfield in a letter to the newspaper in his former residence, Burr Oak, Kansas. The PRESS reprinted the letter in its December 30, 1882 edition:

To the editors of the Burr Oak Herald:

In fulfillment of a promise made before leaving Burr Oak, I will write you a letter from the pine woods of Northern Wisconsin. I will date this letter at Bayfield because that is the place where I am located, therefore I know more about it than any other locality. It is a small lumbering town of about one thousand inhabitants, situated in almost the extreme northern part of Wisconsin, in the midst of a dense forest of pine and hemlock, on the shore of Lake Superior; well not strictly speaking on the lake. As its name implies, it is on a bay, protected from the gales and rough seas of Lake Superior by Madeline Island, the largest of the Apostle Islands, which stand guard along the shore at this point, affording a natural harbor, the water of which is deep enough to float the largest vessels on the lake, nearly all of which stop at this point on their way to and from Duluth; indeed nearly all the communication with the outside world has been by water. But a railroad, the "Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Paul and Omaha" is building to this place. A large force of men are working upon it now in sight of the town. The advent of the "Iron Horse" is expected early in the Spring. Bayfield is quite an old place for this country. The town was surveyed and laid out in lots in 1856, at which time they expected a railroad. The "Old Timers" have been patiently waiting for it ever since and at last their patience is to be rewarded.

Besides her splendid harbor which the engineers who made the U.S. coast survey said was the easiest of access, the best protected and depth of water, and taken altogether, the best harbor on the chain of lakes, from which fact Bayfield is often called "The Harbor City," it has other attractions not the least of which is the water supply. Nature seems to have lavished her kindness upon Bayfield in this respect as well as many others. Immediately behind the village is a range of hills or what might more properly be called uplands, from which flows a small brook of water as pure and clear as crystal and as pleasant to the taste as any water that I ever drank. This stream has been dammed upon the hill side and the water confined in a large reservoir from which pipes are laid conveying the water down to and all around the town wherever desired. In nearly every yard are fountains, many of which are still playing surrounded by what I can only describe by likening them to inverted icicles, and in the bright sunlight on a cold winter morning, nothing can be prettier.

That was a mistake. I ought not to have said anything about the cold weather, but I see I have committed myself. We do have cold weather here, the mercury ranging from ten above to fifteen and twenty degrees below zero. But we are protected from the wind so that we do not mind it at all. I have suffered more with cold in Kansas. They never have any of our "zephyrs" up here. The snow is about one foot deep and more falling every day. None of it melts here until late in the Spring. Navigation is still open. The water is so deep that it does not freeze until quite late. Cold days the water steams like a tea kettle. The occupation of the people is chiefly lumbering and fishing. I saw one vessel take away two hundred barrels of fish since I have been here.

Of late, Bayfield is becoming quite a favorite summer resort. There are two large well furnished hotels, one of them is used only in the summer for visitors. Besides the hotels, there are a large number of boarding houses, all of which I am told are filled to overflowing by visitors in search of health and pleasure during the hot season. There is excellent hunting and as I said before, no limit to the fish. If you or any of your readers contemplate paying a visit to some summer resort, or wish to take a trip for pleasure, they cannot do better than to come here, and my word for it they will not regret the trip.

Newspaper correspondence being new to me, I do not know how to handle the subject properly, but knowing how truthful and modest I am, you will add the proper amount to all I have said. With best wishes to you and your excellent paper which receives a hearty welcome from me coming as it does brimfull of news from my old home and friends, I remain,

Respectfully yours,

Henry Hannum, M.D.

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