News: Neillsville (First Settlement - 1845)


Surnames: Brockway, O'Neill, Perry, Hill, Shears, Spaulding, Nichols, Sheppard, Valentine, Clancy, Yeatman, Van Ostrand, Graham, Snow, White, Levy, Cameron, Merrick, Miller, Wilcox, Conlan

---------Source: Badger State Banner (Black River Falls, Wis.) 01/08/1886

Mr. Brockway was one of a party of seven who, in June 1845, made the first improvement where the city of Neillsville now stands, the rest of the party being Henry O'Neill, John Perry, Charles Hill, Gentry Shears, and two others. Mr. Brockway is the only one of the eseven still living. Henry O'Neill had been there the winter before and partially constructed a log house of the claim shanty pattern. These seven completed the cabin, got out some mill timber and planted several acres of garden truck. In 1846 a mill was completed, 18 x 24 feet, on the bank of O'Neill Creek.

(An Estimated Census)

At the time spoken of (1845) there were on all Black River about 175 to 200 men. The men having families are easily named - Jacob Spaulding, Jonathan Nichols, Andrew Sheppard, John Valentine, Jsoeph Clancy, Hiram Yeatman, Isaac Van Ostrand and James Graham. The settlers were scattered along the river at variou points - at North Bend, at Nichols', Sheppards', Perry's Creek, Etc., while at the Fall there were perhaps not more than 25 men. There were very few settlers above the Falls. The only men living on La Crosse Prairie at this time were Nathan Merrick and "Skoots" Miller. Merrick kept a steamboat landing and Indian trading house. He claimed to hold a Uniteds State license to trade in furs and sell whisky to Indians, to whom he sold firewater by the jugfull. In "46-47 Doc Snow, Asa White, J.M. Levy and Peter Cameron arrived on the prairie. From '45 to '49 the population increased quite rapidly. In the winter of 1849 there were on the river about 375 to 400 men, 53 married couples, and some 25 unmarried women. Of these 53 married couples, in but three cases are both husband and wife still living. These are S.A. Wilcox and wife of Clark County, and Michael Conlan and wife and E.L. Brockway and wife of Black River Falls.



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