THE HISTORY OF CLARK COUNTY
Chapter I, 3 June 1909 -- Thorp Courier, Clark County, Wisconsin
Written by R. J. MacBride and transcribed by Crystal Wendt.
In an article published in the Quarterly Review in 1887, entitled "History and Biography" the author commences the subject with these words:
"History says Carlyle is the essence of innumerable biographies" an epigrammatic remark which, like most of Carlyle’s saying, though true in one sense, is not so, in the obvious sense. History as it is, and indeed as it must be written, though based on innumerable biographies, is not their essence. Of a few great men Caesar ---Luther -- Napoleon -- their lives cannot be separated, or even distinguished from the history of their times."
From a subsequent part of the same article occurs this statement:
"The more biographical detail we can get into a history, provided it came in naturally, and harmoniously, and aids us in arriving at true conclusions, as to the causes and effects, the more interesting, and instructive is the history."
In writing history of the county, even in the modest way, in which this has been designed, and in which it will be carried out, there are a few striking characters among the pioneers and early settlers, whose lives constitute a part and portion of the history of their times, and cannot be separated from it, and these biographies in that sense are of the essence of a truthful history of their day. Such names as O’Neill, Weston, French (obit), Hewett, Dewhurst, Blakeslee and Dore, are examples of what is meant in that connections.
These names are simply given as types or examples, there are others who come within the same category, but the ones above referred to are the names of men of the class indicated, most familiar to a majority of the residents of the county at the present day.
Unknown Early Clark Co., WI Pioneer Family
In addition however to those who were prominent in the early days, it must be remembered that there were many minor actors in the early days whose deeds, in the sphere of their activity were potent, in the production of results, that helped to advance and forward the interests of the county and its people.
So too is must be remembered, that after the days of the early pioneer, there appeared upon the scene of action from time to time men who were active in the affairs of their day and generations, and who assisted materially in the building up, and advancing the best interests of the county. Thus it will become obvious that in matters of biographical detail, that (with race exception) it will only be possible, to intertwine it, into the narrative, where it will fit in naturally and harmoniously. In other words the object sought to be obtained, is to describe events, rather then to detail family history.
It is interesting to note, that the territory now embraced within the borders of Clark County -- in common with the whole state --- has been governed at times by both Great Britain and France, by the State of Virginia, and by the territorial governments of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.
By an act of Congress approved by President Jackson in the last year of his official life, in April 1836, the territory of Wisconsin was created out of and from the Territory of Michigan.
The new territory embraced all of what is now contained in the State of Wisconsin, together with a vast area lying west of the Mississippi River. It contained six countless in all, two of them, Dubuque and DesMoines, being situated in what is now that State of Iowa.
The four counties of Wisconsin were Brown, Iowa, Crawford and Milwaukee.
Our present county of Clark, was embraced within the territorial limits of Crawford County, and so continued to be a part of that county during the existence of the territorial government.
The State of Wisconsin having been organized and admitted into the Union in 1848, what is now Clark County was then a part of the Assembly District, composed of the counties of Crawford and Chippewa.
Our first Member of Assembly was William T. Sterling of Mt. Sterling, Crawford County.
At the second session of the state legislature in 1849 we were represented in the Assembly, from the same district of Crawford and Chippewa by James O’Neill, whose post-office address was Black River Falls. He was the founder of Neillsville, the county east of Clark County and in honor of whom it was named.
In 1850, we were again represented by William T. Sterling.
In 1851 our Assemblyman was William T. Price of Black River Falls, a name known and honored throughout the entire Black River Valley. He afterwards represented us both in the State Senate, and in the halls of Congress at Washington. He enjoyed the unique distinction of being the only representative who voted against the bill granting a pension to Mrs. General Grant.
In 1852, the county of La Crosse, and Bad Ax (now Vernon County) having therefore been created we were now in an Assembly district composed of La Crosse, Bad Ax, Crawford and Chippewa, and our member to whom we applied for Blue Books, was Andrew Briggs of Bad Ax.
At the next session in 1863, the county of Clark was created by the legislature.
It is of considerable interest to note the names of the many prominent men, who were members of the legislature that year, and who so to speak were the sponsors for the infant county of Clark.
In the Senate among others was Charles Dunn who had theretofore been Chief Justice of the Territory.
Alya Stewart, who afterwards for many years was the presiding Judge of the old 9th Judicial Circuit embracing Dane and Columbia counties.
James T. Lewis, who was Secretary of State in 1862 and 1863, and Governor of Wisconsin in 1864 -1865.
Coles Bashford, afterwards Governor was also a member of the Senate. He is the Wisconsin executive, who brought an action of Quo Warranto in the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, against William A. Barstow and incumbent, and was adjudged by the Court to be entitled to the office of Governor, and Barstow was ousted.
The speaker of the Assembly that year was Henry L. Palmer of Milwaukee who died every recently at his home in that city, at a very advanced age. Mr. Palmer for very many years, and also most up to the time of his death had been the President of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., and was widely known and honored throughout the State.
Among the members of the Assembly of J. Allen Barber afterwards a prominent member of Congress from this State.
Judge. G. W. Cate was also a member, who will be remembered by many of the people of the county now living. He became a Circuit Judge at a very early age, and remained continuously on the bench, in the Marathon, Wood, Portage County's Circuit, until this election to congress in November, 1874.
David Taylor, afterwards Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, was likewise a member that year.
There were many other members quite prominent in both houses. It was a strong body of men, and it many be noted in passing that it was this same legislature, that by is Assembly impeached Judge Levi Hubbel and that by its Senate he was tried and acquitted of the high crimes and misdemeanors with which he was charged.
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