Story by Henry Heil

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Article from Marathon Newspaper (no date): Came to County by Ox team in 1858 with his Parents - Henry Heil Tells of Experiences Before Outbreak of the Civil War - Lived in a Log Cabin - Tells of Other Early Settlers When Neighbors were Few and Far Between: Henry Heil, a resident of Marathon County since 1858, and therefore one of its oldest settlers, writes of his recollections of early days in and around Marathon Village, and of incidents in the lives of other pioneers, for the benefit of the Home Coming celebration. He writes: Came in 1858: We are very interested in your pioneer correspondence which brings back memories of my early days in Marathon County.

I migrated to Marathon, Wisconsin at the age of five years in April, 1858, with my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Heil and grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Heil, and one brother, Peter Heil, now deceased. We came from Pittsburgh, Penn. to Berlin, WI. by train. From there we drove with a borrowed ox team to a farm in the town of Cassel, now owned by Hugo Vetter. We camped until we had a two room log cabin with open fire place built. In this we lived twelve years and many other settlers stayed with us until they had their own built.

We didn't bring much household material along so grandfather made most of the furniture by hand; beds, table, benches, chairs, even a washtub of pine wood. We had one cow.

Our first clearing we planted with garden stuff among the stumps. We sowed some rye, peas and potatoes. The rye we threshed with a flail and ground with a coffee mill to make our first bread. The peas we roasted and ground for coffee. Sugar we made ourselves from maple sap and sold at nine cents a pound. From this we made our vinegar. Our meat was mostly from game we hunted or trapped. I shot my first deer when I was thirteen years old, watching for him from a hemlock tree near a runway.

The first settlers in that community were George Vetter, Herman Seliger, Peter Heil, John Lemmer, Robert and Anton Schilling, Eberhard Osterbrink, Peter Schields, George Lang, Levi and Herman Hall.

I worked on my father's farm until I was twenty years. Then I worked for Sebastian Kronenwetter where I did logging in winter and in a sawmill at Keelerville, now called town of Kronenwetter.

The Wisconsin Valley railway was built through from Tomah top Wausau, and I had my first train ride to Wausau in 1874. After that I drove team in the woods for different lumber companies, some up on the Rib River.

Peter Werner and his family arrived in 1873 from West Bend, WI and settled on a farm in the town of Cassel, now owned by Peter Karlen. I bought the eighty acres west of that at the same time for $200.00 which I had earned and paid my father, who had bought it from the county. My first taxes on that property were $22.00. Later I bought forty acres more.

I was married in 1881 to Gertrude Werner and we lived on our farm thirty-two years. We sold this farm in 1912 and since have lived In the Village of Marathon.

I was town treasurer of the town of Marathon for four years, elected in 1887. It then was comprised of what now is both the towns of Marathon and Cassel. Since 1918 have been on the village board as trustee. Also have been financial secretary-treasurer of the Catholic Knights of Wisconsin for the local branch since September 1, 1914.

Marathon only had a few shanties when we came. A little later a frame building at the corner of Fifth and Main Streets was built for a store and post office, conducted by John Blume. Down the hill Anton Kester had a saloon and at the present location of the "Ches" building there was a block building owned by Mr. Haesle, and further on down, Sebastian Kerstein had a saloon hotel and shoe shop.

The first Catholic church was built on the North West corner of Fifth and Main streets and the resident priest was Reverend Hengen. Down in the flat there was a regular pond and had to be crossed on a corduroy bridge.

George Vetter, Herman Seliger and my father, Peter Heil, who were stone masons helped build many of the old buildings mentioned in some of the articles of Wausau's Third ST.

The two oldest settlers still living here are Andrew Lang, living in the village, and Yours Truly, Henry Heil.

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