Joyce I. Bant, a native of Knox Mills,
conducted extensive research on Knox Mills and the surrounding area that
resulted in a manuscript in June 1985 documenting the settlement and history
entitled, Culture and Continuity of Knox Mills, Wisconsin (1864 – 1931).
Joyce has graciously given permission to share excerpts from her research
project in this Price County GenWeb site.
Although Joyce’s manuscript is specific to
Knox Mills, some information was about the Town of Brannan and has been
included on this page. All of the following quotes
are directly from her manuscript and MAY NOT be reproduced in any form or by
any means without her written permission. For more information on her
complete manuscript, please contact her at:
email@example.com. A special thanks to Ms. Bant for sharing some of her
first settlers that arrived in the Town of Brannan came up along Military
Road from Jenny (Merrill) to Spirit, which is located in the extreme
southeastern part of Price County. Several families located there, along the
Spirit River, in the vicinity of Major Isaac Stone, the first white settler
in the territory. Here they formed what was known as the Spirit River
Settlement.” [pg 17]
is how the Spirit River community looked [when] Knox bought the land: In
1878 there were 3 settlers (Price County wasn’t formed until March 1, 1879).
On March 8, 1879, a Phillips newspaper reported. “K. A. Ostergren, the
leading representative of the Swedish colony in the Town of Brannan, the
settlement of which he is the founder, is increasing in numbers and wealth
and in a few more years will be a place of no little consequence.” It should
also be noted that K. A. Ostergren was the agent for the railroad lands and
most likely did much of his advertising in Sweden.”
Swedes had immigrated to the area because of the promise of a chance to make
a living for themselves whereby they could build a home and farm and join
the larger community and educate their children.”
“The July 6 and 13, 1881,
issues of the Phillips Badger, in the “Ogema-Brannan” column, noted that
“settlers are coming in almost daily…nearly all of them direct from Sweden.
Many of them bring considerable sums of money, and are thus able to make
themselves comfortable for a short time. The most of them at present are
settling in Towns 34 and 35, 1 and 2 east…Brannan. The government land in
these towns is nearly all taken up, and last week Mr. K. A. Ostergren, sold
nine forties. Thirty-two forties of government land (homestead) were
pre-empted by A. P. Morner for new settlers during last week. “Mrs. A.
Andrae has 6 acres this spring making a total clearing of 24 acres and is
building a new house and is going to put up a new barn 30 x 50. F. Marheine
has cleared 6 acres this spring making a total clearing of 20 acres; John
Peterson has cleared 3 acres, a total of 18; John Freund has cleared 6; E.
Andrews – 6; H. John – 4; A. Adams is building a new house and Fred Anderson
a new barn. About 20 acres of wheat and 10 acres of corn have been planted.
There are between 80 and 100 head of cattle in the settlement. D. Kline has
40 men at work building a dam on the south branch of the Spirit River.”
Types and quantities of crops raised by the
above mentioned settlers in 1881 are also noted in the manuscript. Crops
noted were winter wheat, potatoes, turnips, rye, oats and corn.
1881 contracts were let for three new schools in the Town of Brannan. The
price of these three schools was $299. The schools measured 18 feet by 28
feet, with a 10-foot clearing around the building. M. M. Byrnes was the
successful bidder for the one in the Herman John District, John Norlan for
the other two. Until then there were only two schools operating in the Town
of Brannan. The first school had been held in the Village of Ogema in a
frame shanty. A schoolhouse was built there in 1877. The following summer of
1878 a school was built ten miles east of Ogema in the Peterson district,
which was located on the present Sprit Town Hall site.”
the summer of 1885 The Phillips Times reported in the Brannan Items section
that John Peterson had completed “a splendid” residence costing about
$1,000.00. John Pierson had a house in course of construction and when
completed would be a “commodious and comfortable” residence. Fred Marheine,
Senator of the N. Y. Zouaves moved into a new house he had completed lately
costing $700. Thus one by one the pioneer houses were removed to make room
for more larger and better structures.”
“…the population of the
Town of Brannan had increased from 278 people in 1880 to 587 (minus Ogema)
in 1885.” [pg 21].