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

[From book "History of the St. Croix Valley" published by Easton, printed in 1909],   pp. 67-79 PDF (7.4 MB)

Page 68

lakes are fine little bodies of water and furnish desirable resorts
for the tourist.
While the soil is deep, the substrata of limestone crops out
in many places, and has been quarried to a more or less degree
for building purposes. One of the picture places of the county,
aside from the never failing beauty and picturesqueness of Lake
St. Croix and its surroundings, is a remarkable formation in
the southern part of the county in the Kinnickinnic valley.. This
picturesque spot is known as the Monument and consists of a
ledge of pure white sandstone rock, nearly circular and rising
to a height of about sixty feet. It stands on a natural eleva-
tion and thus forms a very conspicuous object. The base is forty
or fifty feet wide and the summit is turret shaped, about fifteen
feet wide. The part upon which the turret rests is dome shaped,
being worn into deep furrows by the rains of many ages. Years
ago a solitary tree grew upon the summit, but after a brave
fight succumbed to the elements. The Monument itself is being
gradually worn away by the action of wind and rain and
Although there are in the county many new settlers who
o       have been attracted by the wealth of the valley and who have
even after short residence here already become loyal sons of
the county, the residents of the county are for the most part
ones whose fathers and grandfathers settled here in the early
days, a few of the old pioneers themselves still remaining to tell
the story of the hardships endured in paving the way for the
present prosperity. The sons of the county are out in the world,
making a success of nearly every vocation in life, some of them
having attained world-wide fame, but for the most part there
have always been one or more sons who have remained upon the
old farms with their parents and taken possession of them upon
the latter's death, and in the majority of cases the farms are
still owned by the descendants of those who first pre-empted
the land or bought it of the government. The people are a
sturdy, honest and hard-working race, ones who know what
hardships are, and who because of this knowledge all the more
appreciate the benefits of modem conveniences. The people
believe in education and the farmers of the county are every day
making sacrifices that their children may be kept in school and
thus acquire a good education. In nationality the Americans
from the east, the Irish, the Norwegians, Swedes, Hollanders,
Danes and Germans predominate. There is also a sprinkling of
English and French with a few Swiss.
The early history of St. Croix county is identical with the
history of the St. Croix valley. For centuries the region was a
wilderness of unbroken solitude save for the crashing of some
HISTORY OF TtlE ST. CROIX VALLEY                701
old monarch of the forest as it fell to the ground, the ripple of
the brooks, the roar of the waterfalls, the sweep of the cyclone
or the war-whoop of the Indians. While the sturdy Puritans,
the gay cavaliers, the grave Quakers, the devout Catholics, the
rigorous Wesleyans   and   the  commercial Hollanders were
peopling the Atlantic coast, the rich land of the St. Croix valley
lay unbroken, and untraversed by white men save for an occa-
sional French explorer or trader or a dark-robed Jesuit going
from Indian camp to Indian camp preaching the gospel to which
his life was devoted. In 1819 the valley was placed under the
jurisdiction of Crawford county, Michigan, although at that
time no limits were definitely defined, and little was known
about the locality. There were no white inhabitants save Indian
traders, these often being of the lowest sort and worse than the
Indians themselves. In 1836 the territory of Wisconsin was or-
ganized, comprising a vast region west of the great lakes, includ-
ing the present states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, a part of Michi-
gan and much of Iowa. St. Croix valley, being included in this
region, thus became a part of Wisconsin instead of Michigan.
About this time, following treaties between the United States
and the Indian tribes, settlement started and a few families
located in the valley, for the most part lumbermen, as the agri-
cultural possibilities of the valley were not then realized. The
real organization of St. Croix county as a county dates from
January 9. 1840, when Joseph R. Brown succeeded in getting
the measure through the legislature, of which he was a member,
sitting as a delegate from the northern part of Crawford county.
It is with this organization that the real history of the St. Croix
Valley starts.
The act was to take effect August 1 of the same year, and
designated the borders of the vast territory which was to be
included within the county limits. The county as designated
embraced a part of Pepin, Dunn and Chippewa counties, and
Bayfield, Douglas, Burnett, Barron, Polk and Pierce counties, as
well as a part of Minnesota, and formed the whole western
boundary of the territory, from what was then called Porcupine
river, on Lake Pepin, on a line running west, and on the north
to Montreal river, and from the Montreal river west into
On the first Monday in August, 1840, an election was
authorized. A vote was to determine the location of the county
seat. Two places struggled for the distinction-- 'Prescott's
Claim," at the lower end of Lake St. Croix, and "Brown's Ware-
house," at the upper end of the lake, the present site of Still-
water. The polls were opened at two points-the Falls of
Chainakan, on the St. Croix, and at La Pointe. Some idea of

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