Bio: Irvine, William Stevens / Stevens (1851 - 1942)

Contact: Stan


----Source: 1918 History of Clark Co., WI, by Franklyn, Curtiss-Wedge, transcribed  on Tue, 13 Feb 2001




William Stevens Irvine, 1851

Mr. & Mrs. William Irvine

WILLIAM STEVENS IRVINE, an early settler in Clark County, and in former years one of its leading public men, holding various offices, and representing his district in the State Assembly, who is now living retired in the village of Loyal, was born in Lona Cona, Md., March 18, 1851, youngest son of John and Katherine (Johnson) Irvine, natives of Scotland, who were there married, and upon coming to America, located first in Nova Scotia, and then in Lona Cona, Md., coming to Trempealeau County in 1852. There were twelve children in the family--Isabella, John, Walter, Margaret, Ellen, Anna, Francis, William S. and four who died in infancy.

At the age of 14. William S. started work on the Mississippi River, running rafts down to Muscatine, Iowa. In the winters he continued to go to school. When 16, he crossed the plains and went through the Rocky Mountains to Salt Lake City looking for gold. The Indians were so bad that the-party turned back and returned home. Then, after a year in Iowa, and a short time in school, he again resumed his river rafting. In 1870, being then a strong, healthy young man of 19, he came to Clark County when the lumber industry was in full swing, in the employ of W. W. Crosby & Co., as logger and lumberman.

After his marriage, in 1873, he settled on his wife's homestead in Beaver Township, their first dwelling on the place being a log cabin. From that time on Mr. Irvine worked on the farm in summer and in the woods during the winter, following the latter occupation as long as the lumber industry was flourishing, and Afterwards giving his whole attention to the old farm, which he cleared, erecting on it good, substantial buildings. His career as a farmer was successful and lasted until 1914, in which year he retired, taking up his residence in Loyal, where he and his wife are now living in the enjoyment of an ample competency. Mr. Irvine's force of character and reliable qualities as a man and citizen brought him into public notice at an early date, and he naturally became identified with the affairs of local government. He was a member of the school board of his district for twenty years, and chairman of the town board for sixteen or eighteen years.

In 1901 he was appointed by Judge James O'Neill to a position on the board of reassessment of taxes of Eau Claire County. In these various offices he made an excellent record. In 1902, being known and respected all over the county, he was elected on the Republican ticket to the State Assembly, and was reelected in 1904. In 1907, 1909 and 1911, 1913 and 1915, he was sergeant-at-arms in the same body. Mr. Irvine was married Aug. 17, 1873, to Eliza Roscoe, widow of Morris Loomis. Mr. and Mrs. Irvine have had four children--Bertram, David, John J. and Caspar. Bertram and Caspar are dead. David lives,in Milwaukee and John J. is county treasurer of Clark County. Eliza Roscoe, later Mrs. William S. Irvine, was born in West Bend Township, Washington County, this state, Dec. 4, 1848, daughter of James and Eliza (Finch) Roscoe. James Roscoe was born in Oswego County, N. Y., of Mohawk Valley-Holland ancestry, and was married in Ohio to Eliza Finch, of Irish descent. In 1848 they came to this state and located on a piece of wild land in West Bend Township, Washington County, moving from there to Farmington, Fond du Lac County, where they died. Their children were James, Celia, Johanna, Fletcher, Martha, Rhoda, Eliza and Rosa. Of his experience as a youthful Wisconsin pioneer, Mr. Irvine has said: "We traveled by rail to Chicago, and from there by team to Galena, Ill., where we took a boat down Fever River and up the Mississippi River to La Crosse, and from there by fast freight overland to Trempealeau County, locating on Decorah Prairie. Father bought a farm and ox team and breaking. In the fall of 1870 1 went into the woods for W. W. & Co., on the East Fork of the Black River.

"In 1871 I came to clear land for the same company. I started from La Crosse April, with a team and gang of men. We got stuck in the swamp in of Loyal, but with ropes the men pulled the team out, and we came the woods and stayed all night with John Graves, who had a small sawmill. Next morning we shouldered our tent and tools, traveled all day at night reached a point six miles northeast of Loyal and stayed all night with Ed Romaine. We had to ford Rock Creek, which was over its banks. Next morning, Romaine, with a four-ox team, started with us for camp. At noon we had traveled just two miles and took dinner at Mr. Loomis.  After dinner we went one mile into the town of Unity, pitched our tent and commenced clearing. We cleared sixty acres that summer. In the fall we built a log house and during the winter followed logging. In the spring of 1873 I left the Crosby company and started clearing a farm for myself in Beaver Township. I followed logging till 1890, farming in the summer. I used to walk seventeen miles from camp after supper, Saturday night, to get home. All supplies were freighted in by wagon from Black River Falls, until the railroad reached Unity in 1873."

Mrs. Irvine was the first white woman to arrive at Unity by railroad. She says: "In 1870 George Barker lived six miles northeast of Loyal in the town of Beaver. He had a log house with a lean-to, where we used to gather by the fifties and dance to music furnished by Frank Cummins and Frank Romaine; and in those days, while there were many hardships, we had good times. On July 4, 1870, we went to George Peterson's homestead in the town of Colby to celebrate the Fourth. We danced at night, and our fiddler walked all the way from Neillsville. Ed. Romaine took us up with his ox team, and his, as well as Frank Romaine's cow, followed the oxen to the picnic. We milked the cows in the morning, had breakfast and started back home." Mrs. Irvine adds that although in those early days she had to endure many hardships, she never suffered from lack of food.


Cheese Factory Memories of the Irvine Farm-By Bill Bart


Bio: Bart, William (31 Aug 1923 - 21 Mar 1986)


Bill Bart, the grandson of William Irvine can recall growing up in Clark County, Wisconsin, in the 1930's, where just about every township had a least one cheese factory in it. His first experience with cheese production was on his grandfather's farm where he witnessed the production of the milk that was the prime ingredient of cheese. There he learned to hand milk the cows that gave that milk for the farmer to sell to the local cheesemaker. Bill recalls getting up early and going to the barn with Grandpa Dave as he was referred to in order to differentiate between he and his father, Grandpa Irvine. Bill would carry the milk pails and Grandpa the lantern, usually through the snow, to do the morning milking. The milk was poured from the milk pails, through a large funnel with a strainer in it into a milk can which held twenty gallons or hundreds of pounds. The cans of milk were kept in an outdoor stock tank of water in the winter to keep them from freezing and in the summer to keep the milk from souring. When one or two cans of milk accumulated a milk hauler with a truck would pick up milk at Grandpa's farm and other farms in the community and haul it to a cheese factory in the township.


Bill had an opportunity later on his uncle Walter's little homestead farm, where he was spending part of the summer, to observe the procedure of cheesemaking. Small is not quite the word for it, perhaps tiny would be more descriptive. Wally had one Jersey cow that gave lots of milk twice a day. The milk was kept in a milk can in a spring of cold water until the can was full and taken to the local cheese factory about five miles away.


Bill fell heir to the job of hauling this can of milk, by horse and buggy, a chore that gave a boy often quite a thrill. Also, it was an opportunity for him to observe some of the process of cheesemaking with his can of milk was being weighed and a sample taken for the butterfat test. He saw the cheesemakers with wooden rakes, the kind that had been used by farmers to rake hay in years past, agitating the milk for the day before in a large vat about thirty feet long and five feet wide. This milk, after a little coloring would be cheddar cheese tomorrow.


Bill found his next opportunity to learn more about the making of cheese by hanging around Henry Mauel's cheese and ice cream factory. He had a crush on Henry's daughter Rosalie, and liked to help her when she was helping her dad by dipping ice cream on a stick in chocolate. Occasionally one of these "Smiles", as the Mauel Sunshine Ice Cream Co. called them would not be perfect, and Bill would get to eat "the cripple," as they called it.


However Bill was very interested in cheesemaking too. He didn't realize it then, but in some instances he was seeing the production of Colby cheese. Henry had developed the process as a cheesemaker in a factory in Colby, Wisconsin before he started his own business in Owen, about fifteen miles north and west of Colby. This process gave us Colby cheese as we know it today. The difference was that Henry had eliminated one step from the cheddar process, which was instead of having the cheese curd congeal before it was put into the cheese drums, cut into cubes and pressed, he put it in at its first stage of curdling. These drums of Colby, as was the cheddar, were steamed and pressed until all the whey was gone from them. Bill also learned that the whey from the cheese was used by farmers producing the milk to feed their pigs.


Bill and Rosalie remained good friends and after graduation from high school went their separate ways. Rosalie's brother, Henry Jr., continued the ice cream business after his father died and Sunshine ice cream is still being made in Owen, Wisconsin.  


William Stevens Irvine died in 1942 and is buried in the Greenwood City Cemetery (I).  Bill Bart passed away 21 Mar 1986 and is also buried in the Greenwood City Cemetery (Bak).


1930 Federal Census, Owen, Clark, Wisconsin, United States


William E Bart
Event Type Census
Event Year 1930
Event Place
Gender Male
Age 7
Marital Status Single
Race White
Race (Original) White
Relationship to Head of Household Great-grandson
Relationship to Head of Household (Original) Great Grandson
Birth Year (Estimated) 1923
Birthplace Wisconsin
Father's Birthplace Wisconsin
Mother's Birthplace Wisconsin

Household Members

William S Irvine Head M 79 Maryland
Eliza V Irvine Wife F 81 Wisconsin
Bernice Bart Granddaughter-in-law F 31 Wisconsin
James W Bart Grandson M 34 Wisconsin
Virginia Bart Granddaughter-in-law F 8 Wisconsin
William E Bart Great-grandson M 7 Wisconsin



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