Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

 March 30, 1994, Page 32

 Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Good Old Days" Articles 



Good Old Days   


By Dee Zimmerman




The Granton community was started many years ago by early settlers who experienced the similar trials of neighboring settlements.  The pioneers had to wrestle with many hardships and problems as they established their homesteads, carving them out of the forested wilderness.  Most of us today wouldn’t know how to survive under those circumstances.


In the fall of 1855, John D. Wage with his wife and family of four children and his neighbor, Levi Marsh, left their comfortable homes in Bradford County, Penn., and started west to build new homes in a part of Clark County, Wis., that had been formed and named the town of Lynn, part of which later became Town of Grant.


The reached Sparta in late fall and remained there until the spring of 1856 when the trails to Neillsville were thought to be passable.  Wage, 74 years then, had been advised to trade his horses for a yoke of oxen, as oxen were better able to stand the rigors of travel through the forests.


Heeding the advice, Wage traded his horses for oxen.  A few miles out of Sparta, they came upon the Geo. William’s family bogged down in swampy land.  Wage’s team of oxen, were hooked on to the William’s wagon and able to move it to the higher dry ground.  Comparing notes, they found their destinations were to be in the same part of the county, so they joined forces in completing their journey. Their only other trying incident happened as they were fording a sizable stream; the William’s hog broke out of its crate and went down the stream, not to be seen again.


After reaching Neillsville, the Wage, Marsh and William’s caravan made their way along the Pleasant Ridge trail going through the forest looking for the Wage holding, which is now the Gale Batterton property.  The men worked together building a log house for the women and children.  They then erected similar dwellings for Levi Marsh (which was the lot of the Walter Trimberger home) and then to the William’s land.  Williams purchased 320 acres for 10 shillings, located one mile east of Granton on the north side of Hwy 10.  Those three families formed a bond of friendship working together all the work on their new homesteads.  They reached their land in June of 1856, felled some large trees and planted gardens among the stumps for food supply that year.


A few years later, Nelson Marsh, a brother of Levi, joined the settlers.  Having a large family, Nelson devoted his first years to clearing enough land to support his family.  Then, he joined the army and served several months.  Shortly before being discharged, he became gravely ill, being hospitalized upon returning home in 1865, he was unable to do hard labor.  The farm work was left to his sons, and he devoted his time to developing the community.  He established the post office at Maple Works.  Originally, the name Maple Wood was chosen, but Marsh’s penmanship was deciphered as Maple Works by the officials at Washington, D.C., and it held that name for years.  Marsh became the first postmaster, holding that position until the service there was discontinued in 1890.


The Kemnieter Mill was an early business of the Maple Works/Granton area


Marsh enlarged his farm home so as to accommodate the new settlers, land buyers and surveyors coming to the area after the end of the Civil War.  Marsh served as town chairman for many years and as justice of the peace for 30 years, a job very much to his liking, as he officiated all of the weddings.


The weddings were big social events, all held in the homes followed by big dinners and then a dance.  He was also a fiddler, so he played for many of the dances, fiddling away until the wee hours of the morning.  If they wore out their shoe soles, Marsh could repair them in his shoe shop in a corner of the post office building.  Also, he pulled teeth for those who needed that service, using an old style turnkey to do the job.  Mrs. Marsh was an amiable woman, so the Marsh home was like a community center with people dropping by to socialize throughout the days and evenings.


Nelson Marsh and his wife were influential in Maple Works growth as a pioneering Community.  Both were good neighbors, willingly helping whoever was in need.  Marsh served as postmaster; he repaired shoes in a corner of the post office; he pulled teeth with an old style turnkey for people needing that service.  As justice of peace, he performed many marriages in the area.


Maple Works grew with the Eastern State’s settlers arriving, steadily.


There were six Davis brothers who came from New York; Damon, Whiston, Sidney, Theodore, Bushrod, and Solon.  The first two settled in Fremont, Sidney and Theodore in Grant and the other two in York.  All of the men worked hard and diligently, quickly clearing their land holdings to start farming.


Sidney, interested in dairying, developed a milking herd of native cows and established the first cheese factory in the community.


Three Lee brothers from the same part of New York State also came to the area in 1965-66, accompanied by two sisters and their husbands.  One of the Lees was instrumental in starting a school district with John J. Wright (a son-in-law), and a man named Renne who laid out and established the Windfall School district-Joint District #4, Towns of Grant and York, now Granton School District.


Fred Davis, a relative of the other Davis family, became a cattle buyer who became well-known throughout the area.  Through his efforts, the railroad being built from Neillsville to Marshfield, in 1889-1890, established their depot, named Granton.  The depot site was on land owned by Thos. D. Wage, who sold out his land to S. L. Marsh (son of Nelson Marsh), who platted the village of Granton and became its first postmaster.


The arrival of he railroad and the Granton depot sped up the area’s development.  (To be continued next week.)


A view of Granton in its earlier years, received its name when the railroad depot was built on its site by the C & NW Railroad.  The first village was named Maple Works and was located one-half mile south east of the present village of Granton.



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