Rivard, John T. / Triple centennial jubilee souvenir book : Somerset
Chapter IV: Township of Somerset founded, 1856, pp. 16-17
CHAPTER IV TOWNSHIP OF SOMERSET FOUNDED, 1856 As the farms were settled near the mouth of the Apple River new settlers came further inland and up the river. Roads were necessary. There should be a school or two. There should be restrictions so that trouble about roads and lines could be avoided. Some form of government must be formed, as the county seat was too far away. Besides, they argued, we should run our own affairs. By common agreement a petition was circulated among the farmers. This was a formal request to the County Board at Hudson to form a Township with full legal authority under the State law to conduct their own affairs. This petition was pre, sented to the County Board on September i9, 1856. The County Board approved the petition and ordered a meeting of the people in the proposed Township at the house of Thomas J. Chappell on the first Monday of October, 1856. The meet- ing was held however in November and the people voted to ac, cept the bounderies of the Township. They voted to call the Township - Somerset. Elections were held at this meeting. The town consisted of thirtysix sections in Township 3 1 North and Range 19 West, eighteen sections in Township 3o North and Range 1 9 West, plus three sections in Township 3 o North and Range zo West. With its total of 57 sections the Town, ship of Somerset is the largest Township in the County. At the first official meeting in November 1856 the follow, ing officers were elected: Chairman: Thomas J. Chappell, Supervisors: Thomas Parnell and Desire Rivard, Treasurer: Thompson Nelson. The first tax roll was made out and it totalled $1,700.00. It was voted that fifty dollars be raised by tax for general fund and five mills on the dollar for highway tax. The first town road maintained by the Township was from the village to the Apple River bridge below the falls. In the oldest book of records of the Town we find this no, tation on page one. "On the 23 day of March A.D. 1861, the office of the Town Clerk was destroyed by fire (Mr. Stephen Young then being the Clerk of said town) together with all the Books and Documents appertaining to said offices." Under the date of April z, 1861 the following: "At the annual Town Meeting of the year 1861 the following officers were duly elected: Chairman, Alexander Gordon; Board of Supervisors, Thomas Parnell and Edward Grant; John F. Comebacker, Town Clerk; Prescott Getchell, Town Treasurer; William W. Maxwell, Town Sup'd. of Schools; Samuel Berry, Assessor; Stephen Young and Robert Kerr as Justices of the Peace, and Prescott Getchell and Samuel Berry, Constables; Overseers of Roads: Sam Harriman, Win. Maxwell, Joseph Parent and Dennis Veilleux". The Old Iron Bridge With the Church on the Hill The Town Board had been meeting up to 1885 in Harri, man's Store, the Somerset Hotel, the homes of Chappell and Koehler. They voted in November, 1885 to build a Town Hall for a meeting place. Edward E. Mason built the Town Hall, which still stands today, at a cost of $478.50. A new wood bridge was built across the river at the village in 1893 at a cost of $zioo.oo. This was replaced by an iron bridge in 19 1o. SALOONS Isaac Burton, a Jew, had the first and only saloon in Som- erset for many years. He opened it in 1 870. We read in the Board Records that the town voted in 1 89z to restrict licenses to one saloon in the Township and forbid any card playing in the saloon. Stephen Martell received that license. Isaac Bur- ton's Saloon, now Lynn's Cafe, was frequently used for Town Meetings. In the records the writing grows dimmer and shak, ier as the meeting goes on in Isaac's Saloon. Isaac's daughter, Jennie Burton Rosenholtz, wrote a book about the family while they lived in Somerset. The title of the book is "Upon Thy Doorsteps". She ably describes the village, scenery and many characters. In one passage she relates how she was forbidden to take part in any religious ceremonies of the Catholics. But the beautiful white dresses of her chums who were making their First Communion in the Church on the Hill, proved too much for her resistance and she sneaked up to church to have a look. She called the church Our Lady of the Pines. She was roundly punished. "Keep Your Hands on the Table!" Severe Cloutier's Saloon 1910, now Lynn's Cafe. Back row: Harry Taylor, Pete Rivard, Alphone Cloutier, August Roetker. Bartenders: Geoffrey Cote, Joe Cloutier. Playing Cards: Willie Payette, Henry Belisle, Fred Belisle, Calice Roy. BRIDGES There were two bridges in the Township, one across the river West of the falls now called the Landry Flats, and the second in the village South of the present bridge. This bridge in the village was rebuilt in 186x at a cost of $495.oo. There were four school districts in 186 1 in the Township. The bridge at the mouth of the river was a bone of contention for several years. It was voted at a Town Meeting to move the bridge ahead of the falls, its present position, in 1865. But despite the vote a wrangling took place and the bridge was not built at the Falls until 1882 at a cost of $ 6oo.oo with Hubert Germain and August Nehring as supervisors. The bridge was built by Alex Gordon with the help of the Apple River Log Driving Company. The reason the wrangling took place each time there was a bridge to build was because it happened to be the largest expenditure at that time. The citizens wanted to be con- vinced of its necessity before changing or building. The bridge below the falls was reached by steep grades from both sides. It was only a foot bridge. The river had to be forded with team.
© Copyright 1956 by John T. Rivard