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Stratford centennial

Logging and early settlements,   pp. 8-20

Page 19

A New County?
The distance from the county seat at Wausau has been
viewed an inconvenience for many years and was even more
difficult in the early years when transportation was limited to
horses, oxen and later the railroad. Townships in the area
were feeling distanced from their seats of government as
Theproximity of Stratford area townships to Marshfield in
Wood County made it natural for the settlers in the area to go
there for their supplies and entertainment. A trip to Wausau
was a large undertaking which had to be done for the transfer
of any land or registrations of births, deaths and marriages.
As the population of Western Marathon County increased,
movements to establish a new county were introduced.
One would include the western portion of Marathon
County, the northwest portion of Wood County and the
eastern portion of Clark County. The movement began in
1877 and died about 1898. It was introduced to the Wiscon-
sin legislature in 1877.
There was no opposition to the creation of a new county,
and a bill for the organization of one was ready to be
favorably reported to both houses of the legislature and
would have passed without doubt, had not the question of the
location of the county seat cropped up as a disturbing factor
at the most inopportune time for the scheme. Colby wanted
the county seat. It had the most settlers east and west for
twelve miles.
Spencer and Unity objected saying that the place of the
county seat should be left to a vote of the people. If so left to
the voters there was great danger that Colby would not be
selected because Spencer, Mannville and other areas had
large numbers of floating population due to the saw mills in
those areas.
When this dispute arose, the legislature postponed the
whole project to the next session. The project was kept alive
for many years, but it never advanced so far as in the first
attempt, and although bills were introduced in nearly every
session thereafter, they never were favorably reported and
died in the committee room.
In the first bill, it was sought to take ranges 2 & 3 from
Marathon only. At that time, they were very sparsely settled;
nearly all the land in that territory was either government or
railroad land and yielded to taxes, the railroad lands being
exempt from taxation. It was supposed that the territory was
unprofitable to Marathon county. The members representing
the counties of Marathon and Clark were of the opinion that
expenses for roads, schools, and courts would be more than
the territory would bring in taxes, and it would be good policy
to let this territory go.
Later, opposition to the division set in and the project was
doomed to failure.
Source: Marchetti, History of Marathon County
The following article was published in the Marshfield
News-Herald, Wood County Centennial Edition, Aug. 5 - 11,
Rivers County Organization Turned Down
"In February of 1895 there was a movement to create a new
county to be comprised of territory withdrawn from Wood,
Clark and Marathon counties.
The tentative name chosen for the proposed new unit of
government by its advocates was "Rivers county."
The plan, as reported in early newspapers, was to take
Marshfield, Lincoln and Auburndale townships, the village of
Auburndale and the city of Marshfield away from Wood
county and link them with 10 townships, including the town
of McMillan, from Marathon and six from Clark.
The proponents sent a delegation of 18 representatives to
a meeting in Grand Rapids on Feb. 15 to present their case to
the Businessmen's Assn. of Grand Rapids and Centralia.*
Speaking on behalf of the proposal for creating the new
county were B.W Pulling, John F. Cole, and John P. Hume and
H. A. Lathrop of Marshfield and B. R. Salter and Samuel
Shafer of Colby.
The Grand Rapids and Centralia spokesmen argued
strongly against what they termed the "secession" movement.
They pointed out that the territory proposed to be withdrawn
from Wood county had a valuation (for tax purposes) of
$490,000, or approximately 24.5 per cent of the total valu-
ation of the county, and a population comprising roughly one-
fourth of the county's total populace..."
*Grand Rapids and Centralia are now known as Wisconsin
At the same time that Rivers County was being considered,
two other proposals were also being presented. The proposed
County of Wall and the Proposed County of Colby.
The County of Wall would include the Wood County
townships of Lincoln and Marshfield, the Clark County
townships of Mayville, Colby, Unity and Sherman, and the
Marathon County Townships of Halsey, Holton, Johnson,
Reitbrock, Hull, Wein, Brighton, Eau Pleine, Cleveland,
Spencer, McMillan and Day.
The County of Colby would include the Clark County
Townships of Thorp, Withee, Hison, Mayville, Green Grove,
Colby and Unity and the Marathon County Townships of
Halsey, Holton, Johnson, Reitbrock, Hull, Wein, Brighton,
Eau Pleine, Cleveland, Spencer, McMillan and Day.
Obviously neither of these proposals passed either.

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