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

Stratford centennial

I remember when,   pp. 79-82

Page 82

"They'd go into the forest and cut down the trees, then
hitch the logs to horses and pull them out of the forest. Then
they'd load the logs on to a wagon and haul them to the mill.
If it was winter, they'd flood the road with ice and carve ruts
in it and haul the logs by sleigh. Sometimes they'd float the
logs down the river, but they could only do that with softwood
the hardwood would sink."
Harry Metzke
From Marathon County Library Oral History Project.
Interview with Harry Metzke by Pat Krause 1976
"My father worked for the R. Connor Company as an
engineer in the heading mill to see that all the machinery was
working all right. Of course, that thing burned down at one
time. I can still recall the terrible fire they had when that
heading mill burned down there. They used to call it Shanty
Town - the south part of the town there. A lot of people lived
there and they called it Shanty Town and they were all around
this building.
We had a twenty acre farm and we kept seven or eight
cows. I used to haul the milk there after I got a little older and
I was going to school. I used to haul the milk for ourselves
there and all along Shanty Town where those houses were.
The fellows worked in the mills and they'd have one or two
cows and I picked up all their milk on a buggy - Schmidts,
Bauers, Drexlers, Eisners, and Jake Drexlers - and haul the
milk down where Ott Cheese Factory was- Where Equity is
now in that building that was there - that used to be Ott's
Cheese Factory. I hauled that milk down there before I went
to school in the morning.
Then when I graduated from high school I got a job - they
called it the square shed. I piled squares in this shed. They
were different lengths. They maybe were 2 by 2 - some 4 feet,
some 6 feet, some 8 feet - and then that fall when the sawmill
started, I got a job in the shed. We took lumber off from the
chains and put it on carts which would run on rails. Now, that
lumber was taken out into the yards and piled - green lumber.
They had two fellows that had horses. They would go along
what they called tramways. They were elevated platforms -
not really a platform but they were built like a platform but
they ran quite a distance. These fellows would take the horses,
hitch them to these little cars - the rails were maybe 11/2
inches wide is all they were - but they were nailed down on
these tramways and the horses would pull the lumber out in the
yard and we had to pile the lumber then. I remember I was
working in the shed first but I couldn't stand that account of
my wrists - my wrists would get real stiff, so Albert was our
boss there and he ran the lumber piling and stuff and I asked
him if I couldn't go out and pile lumber. It was out in the cold
winter but you didn't seem to mind it. You were dressed for
it and I can never forget it. I piled lumber for about a week and
then a lot of these fellows - transients - would come in - a lot
of them from Minneapolis at that time - looking for jobs. They
would give them a job and send them out to pile lumber. I got
quite a kick out of that because I had only piled lumber for
about a week myself but Albert would send all these new guys
to me to teach them how to pile lumber and I had only been out
there a week myself.
The mill had a regular barn there and everything and they
had a fellow that took care of the horses, fed them and bedded
them and everything else. These fellows that used their horses
on the tramway there, they had to clean them and curry them
and stuff like that themselves.
August Warnke was boss of the dry yard. They dried the
lumber - they had a regular kiln there and they would dry the
lumber and then ship it out to these different areas that they
could use for building. This other stuff that we piled was
green. We piled those on piles and then they would leave them
there until about the next year or as they sold the lumber. They
had a chance to dry. You had to pile them so there was air
spaces in between so the air could get in and they dried them."
Frank Hughes
The following story appeared in the Wausau Record-
Herald in 1935.
"Frank Hughes came to this area in 1852 with his parents,
the late Mr. and Mrs. Garret Hughes. They were the first
settlers in what is now the Town of Cleveland. Their nearest
neighbor was Timothy Kennedy. The timber in that section
was mostly hardwood, for which there was no market in that
early day. The early settlers found it necessary to burn the
logs, a laborious task. Garrett Hughes brushed out a trail to his
homestead. He cleared the land as rapidly as possible and
started to grow some wheat to feed his household. There was
no logging during the first years of their residence there, but
soon afterwards, the John Weeks Lumber company of Ste-
vens Point started logging operations and had camps along the
Big Eau Pleine. This gave the Hughes family and other
settlers an opportunity to sell hay, straw and beef for which
there was a big demand.
Frank stayed on the farm until he was sixteen years old,
when he went to work on the river. Once, he made a trip on
a raft to Alton, Ill. and the rest of the time, until he was past the
age of fifty-three years, he drove logs on the Big Eau Pleine
and the Wisconsin rivers.
Log driving had its perils. Life was endangered often, but
Mr. Hughes had only one companion drown. This was on the
Big Eau Pleine while they were employed by the John Weeks
Lumber Company. Peeled hemlock was easy to drive,
whereas green logs with the bark entact were the hardest
because they would jam easier and the logways were more
difficult to release."

Go up to Top of Page