University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Somerset, Wisconsin: 125 pioneer families and Canadian connection: 125th year

[Rosalie Parnell's book on Somerset, Wisconsin],   pp. 11-64 PDF (24.6 MB)

Page 20

By the time the church was built in 1856, missionaries were com-
ing almost every month. Rev. C.A. Verwyst was one of the first ones.
As before mentioned, people kept coming from greater distances
right along so additions were added to this little church building
and things went on quite peacefully for several years. Then in 1858
they decided to build a schoolhouse for the education of their
children. The place decided upon was at the corner of the two
roads on land donated by Joseph Parent again. This was across the
road from Deserie Rivard's place (Paul Rivards today - formerly his
father's, Louie Rivard and his grandfather, Deserie Rivard). One
of the roads led towards town, the other to the south. A one-room
schoolhouse, with two long benches along the sides of the building.
What a chance for tricks and such! There were no desks, each pupil
had to carry his own drinking water and lunches too, of course.
Terms consisted of three months in the summertime. This school-
house was in use untill 1907.
Joseph Parent then decided to build a house for himself on top
of the cliff, directly above their landing place about the year of
1858 or 1859. A portion of this same house is still standing on
the very same farm of his (namely Mrs. Louise Parnell - the late
F. J. Parnell's wife).
In the year 1879, Frederick Parnell, son of Thomas, married
Miss Josephine Belisle and purchased this Parent residence and farm.
In the year 1889 he built himself the present brick house and later
sold same to their oldest son, F. J. Parnell. His wife and young-
est son reside there today - Dennis and family.
As mentioned before, traveling to church was not easy. After a
few years a narrow wooden bridge was built across the Apple River.
The name "La Traverse" was referred to once or twice. This
was where the rigs crossed the river before the bridge was built
for them and even after when same was abandoned and replaced for
pedestrians by the foot bridge. This is just below the Falls.
The narrow gorge was hewned for the vehicles to pass through,
then leading beyond to where the people were settled along in the
woods onwards to Osceola Prairie, and further on to the north.
How beneficial and what a beautiful scenic river drive this would
be today. Minnesota possesses such a drive (the old river road).
The Wisconsin Drive would excel it being far more picturesque.
When this wooden bridge was abandoned, a foot bridge was built
in its place, one to the island in the middle of the river and the
other unto the other side of the river. This too, ofter many
years, instead of being repaired was torn down to everyones
regret. It was called "Le Petit pontde la Pomme de Terre" a
must for school children to cross over.
Some years after Joseph Parent moved up on top of the cliff,
in his new house, he returned to Canada or perhaps to Chicago and
brought back his bride. He was a very secretive man. Her name
was Bridget, a relative of the Haggerty's who lived along the St.
Croix River and another family by the name of Dougherty living-a

Go up to Top of Page