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Somerset, Wisconsin: 125 pioneer families and Canadian connection: 125th year
(1990?)

[From book "History of northern Wisconsin" printed in 1881 by Western Historical Company of Chicago],   pp. 5-10 PDF (4.1 MB)


Page 6

HISTORY OF NORTHERN 'WISCONSIN.
vided for by the crafty Chippewas, who had a reserve sta-
tioned there, and the deathly experience of the first attack
was again their lot. Of course, their only safety was in
flight across the river, but the remorseless Chippewlis
swarmed on the bluff, and, few indeed, succeeded in cross-
ing the river to tell the tale.
The place where this occurred is still called Bloody
Run. Long before the garrison at Fort Spaulding arrived,
the Chippewas, loaded with scalps and other trophies of
their prowess, had returned to their own ground to relate
their daring deeds.
The Sioux once had a Chippewa chief-Hole-in-the-
Day-corraled in a tamarack swamp, of about one acre; this
they guarded day and night for three days, to find to their
disgust that he had escaped. They alleged that he had
turned into a snake and thus crawled out.
The Sioux subsequently played a like game on the
Chippewas near the eastern edge of the "bloody ground "
with equal success, leaving the account very evenly balanced.
EARLY HISTORY.
St. Croix Falls was visited by Father Hennepin while
he was held a prisoner by the Sioux Indians in 1680; and
he gave it a naziie from his extensive calendar of Saints.
The peninsula formed by the St. Croix on the east and the
Mississippi on the west was very sharply defined neutral
ground between the Sioux on the west and the Chippewas
on the east, and the early history of the settlement of what
was once Northwestern Wisconsin, but is now Eastern Min-
nesota, was comparatively free from Indian depredations.
Neither tribe deemed it prudent to occupy this territory,
excepting in the most temporary way, and therefore it was
a safe place for settlement, and was early occupied by farm-
ers, scattered widely over the whole domain.
On account of the safety of the location, Laurient
Barth with his family, Jacques Porlier and Charles Reaume
established a trading station here on the St. Croix in 1T93,
returning down the river loaded with furs, in the spring.
In 1839, a company was formed at St. Louis to go into
the lumbering business on the St. Croix. A party was
sent up, and by the spring of the following year were well
under way at the Falls, in charge of Mr. Holcombe. The
firm was called the St. Louis Lumber Co. The mill was
built, and, in a reconstructed form, still stands.
On the 1st of May, 1840, W. H. Crosby came up the
river from below on the Indian Queen, bound for the Falls,
but was grounded on a bar where Stillwater now is, and on
account of a want of knowledge of the channel, was three
days in getting up to the Falls.
In 1841, Capt. Frasure was sent up in charge, instead
of Holcombe. James Perrington came in 1843, and re-
lieved Frasure. He remained two years, when, in 1845,
Holcombe returned and took his former position, which he
retained several years.
Holcombe came up at first in 1839, but was driven off
by the Indians. He, however, returned the same year and
resumed operations.
The very first settler in Hudson was Peter Bouchea, in
the spring of 1841 ; he had a French father and a Chip-
pewa mother, and was a man of character, who often
boasted of being the first white resident.
Soon after came a half-breed of French extraction,
whose real surname is lost, but his nickname was Joe La
Grue, so called from his crane-like form. That is still re-
tained as the family name. These men had been connected
with the Northwestern American Fur Company, at La
Pointe, and found their way down here from there.
The next cabin of which we have any knowledge, lo-
cated within the limits of the present county, was that of
Louis Massa, a French Canadian by birth, who had mar-
ried a sister of Bouchea, named Fransis. Massa had, in
obedience to his nomadic taste, wandered west to the Apos-
tle Islands, where he met his future wife. They came
down with a couple of canoes lashed together when in the
water, with a few household effects, having to make several
portages. The old man and his wife are still living.
Mr. Crosby, above referred to, came down the river,
and located opposite Hudson, at Lakeville, and assisted
Bouchea, La Grue and Uncle Massa (as he was called) in
erecting their log houses.
George Clark, another early comer, also lent a hand to
help build the huts. He was accidentally drowned in the
Kinnickinnic the same fall, and furnished the first case for
the Coroner of the county, who was David Hone. Mr.
Crosby, who is still alive and in active business, lived
at Cottage Grove and on Bole's Creek. Henry S. Crosby
was born on the 18th of June, 1846, on Bole's Creek.
The family came to Hudson to remain, in March, 1868.
After William Holcombe, who is really the earliest pio-
neer, may be mentioned Phineas Lawrence. Joseph Has-
kell, Ph. Prescott, James S. Norris, Joseph R. Brown,
Andrew McKey, M. Moore and Mrs. Hannah Crosby, who
came in the spring of 1844. David Hone, Sam Buckalo,
Orange Walker, William Dibble, Hiram Bucker and others
were a little later.
The founder of Hudson was Joseph Perrington, who
built a dam and saw-mill at the mouth of the Willow River.
Stillwater, which was at first a part of the county, was settled
by John McKorich, Calvin Leach, Elias McKean, Jacob
Fisher, Elam Greeley and Jesse Taylor. A saw-mill was
erected in 1842.
Joseph Haskell was the first farmer. He broke the soil
in 1840. J. S. Norris soon after, but this was on the other
side of the river, which was quite well settled when the
present county began to fill up.
The Territory of Minnesota was organized in 1849, and
included Minnesota and Iowa. Several towns in the St.
Croix Valley, then in the county, will be alluded to.
Afton was settled in 1840, by Andrew McKey and Mr.
McHattees. John and Martin Moore founded Arkola. Mo-
line was started by S. Buckalo, D. Hone, 0. Walker, Will-
iam Dibble and H. Berkley, in 1841.
Christopher Columbus discovered and founded Vassa!
William Kean, William Mahoneyand Alnan D. Heaton
built a saw-mill at Oceola, in 1842.
Taylor's Falls was so called from Jesse Taylor, who, with
Mr. Baker, built a mill, in 1840.
St. Croix Falls, was the scene of ihe early operations of
the St. Louis Lumber Co., under the superintendence of
William Holcombe.
Returning to the limits of the present county : In 1846,
Mr. Page and his family arrived from Nauvoo, Ill., and as-
sisted Mr. Perrington in building his mill the following
year. If Henry F. Crosby was the first white boy born
here, Abigail Page was the first girl. This was in 1846.
The Noble brothers came about this time, followed soon
after by their father, who was a retired clergyman.  He
occasionally had religious service.


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