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Stratford centennial
(1891-1991)

Before Stratford,   pp. 1-7


Page 2

"Here he lived the life of his forefathers, employing his
time in hunting and fishing and occasionally giving battle to
other Indians who trespassed on his lands, though he was
generally peaceable.
"One of the legends of this band, which is related by a
remnant of the tribe, is that when the Great Spirit summoned
one of their number to the Happy Hunting Grounds, they laid
him away with tribal rites in a shallow grave, which was
covered with cordwood-like sticks. There was a large burying
ground on the Saunders farm just east of the house which was
plowed over about fifteen years ago.
"Thirty odd years ago, (1870's) Otto Saunders purchased
the land where this large Indian camping ground was located
and while the Indians had no legal title, he paid them $200 for
their clearing."
Another article, from the Marshfield Times, August 5,
1887 tells of the beginning of the end for a Potowatomi band
in the area.
"The Pottowatomie [sic] delegation of Indians com-
manded by Capt. John Young, who have for about fifteen
years, lived in the N 1/2 NW and Se NW of section 1, Town
26, range 3, east in Marathon County*, have received notice
that they must purchase the property at$1,000, $500 of which
must be cash, by the 13th of August or be removed by the
sheriff. Accompanying the notice is a further notice that they
must not remove any of the crops as it is claimed by the owner.
Capt. Young's band have held peaceable possession of the
farm during fifteen years and have cleared about forty acres.
The band number about two hundred and fifty people. They
are making every effort possible to protect the improvements
they have made by purchasing the property, but it is doubtful
if they will be successful in raising the $500 necessary for a
cash payment."
The Indians are reported to have left the area, not being able
to meet the cash payment.
*The township reported is in error, unless this was the
designation of the town of Day in 1887.
Mrs. Adella Cline of March Rapids related the following
story to Pat Krause in an oral history interview on June 24,
1975. The complete transcript of the oral history is available
at the Marathon County Library and is part of the Marathon
County Heritage Program.
"The Indians would travel along the Little and Big Eau
Pleine rivers in the spring of the year. They would gather bark
from the slippery elm trees, which was much in demand for
medicinal purposes. The bark was stripped by cutting it along
in a strip about 20 feet or so straight up and then the bark was
folded and strapped onto each side of a pony.
"Mr. Weber at Webertown tells many times when the
weather was bad, they would shelter the Indians. They slept
on the floor, sometimes as many as 15 women with their
children. They would ask for some medicine and maybe some
warm clothing. They would offer to make hand mittens or
shoes for the help they were given. The Indians paid for eve-
rything in beaded leather articles. Before they left the area for
warmer climates they repaid the people for any help that was
given to them.
"Mr. Herbert Weiland who lived in the area on a farm with
his family tells of the time when the Indians were coming
through. The Indians came to the log house and asked if they
could set their tent up nearby and his father said yes. While
they were talking, the Indian noticed the 11 year old boy. He
looked very ill and had been in bed for some time. The Indian
inquired, "What is the matter with that boy?" Mr. Weiland
told the Indian that he had rheumatism in the joints and the
Indian asked permission to treat him. The Indian told him to
dig a jar of angleworms and hang them in the hot sun so they
bake out all of their fat or oil. The Indian prepared a tea of
spruce balsam tips, red maple bark and angleworms. The oil
from the angleworms was applied to the boy's joints and with
this treatment he recouperated fast."
The Coming of the White Men
The first white men to walk on the soil of what is now
known as the Village of Stratford were probably French fur
traders in the 1600's. They spent months and sometimes years
at a time, following the rivers, trapping the abundant game.
The territory of Wisconsin had a settlement near the sight
of Green Bay as early as 1634. Later French fur traders came
to make their fortune as well as missionaries to spread Chris-
tianity to the "savages". In the 1820's lead miners started
villages in the southern part of the state.
Settlement began in earnest in the 1830's and the pine
forests which covered the northern two thirds of the state
became an important resource of building material and fuel.
Wisconsin's lumber industry was born.
The lumber industry, which was responsible for the settle-
ment of Wisconsin forest lands, by necessity followed the
rivers. The rivers were needed to transport the logs to mills to
be sawed into lumber to meet the demands for building
materials in the growing nation. Central Wisconsin was
ignored for many years as areas along the larger rivers were
settled to the East and West. Logging operations followed the
Wisconsin River in the East and eventually spread into the
smaller tributaries, eventually reaching the Little and Big Eau
Pleine Rivers.
As the lumber companies swept through an area, they
cleared the forests of pine as quickly as they could and moved
on in the search for more. Hardwoods were ignored or burned


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