Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

March 13, 1996, Page 32

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 


Good Old Days   

Origin of the Clark County Townships


By Dee Zimmerman


The Town of Sherwood has its fourth name. It was originally called Perkins; then Sherwood Forest; then Forest; then Sherwood.


The first name, Perkins, was given when the town was organized in 1874.  The name came from one Hugh Perkins a resident of town who ran a saw mill.  Perkins was still alive when he was honored by having the town named for him.  Evidently there was a difference of opinion in the town, for a petition was presented to the county board, requesting a change of name.  The name of Perkins does not appear upon that petition.


The county board acted favorably upon the petition, and the name Sherwood Forest was given, reportedly upon the suggestion of Gov. C. C. Washburn, who had lands and logging interests in the town.  The name evidently came out of pure sentiment of love of literature, for it recalled another Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, England, with it’s Robin Hood, Little John, Friar Tuck and Maid Marian.


The change in name came in 1876, or thereabouts.  In 1884 Perkins fell into an altercation at his mill with one Isaac Meddaugh.  The result was the death of Meddaugh.  Perkins was arrested, charge with murder, but he broke jail and escaped.  He was not found until four years later.  Then he was captured at Windsor, Ontario, opposite Detroit.  He was tried in 1889 and was convicted of manslaughter in the first degree.  That verdict was set aside by Judge Newman.  Perkins was tried again in Dec. 1889, and was found guilty of manslaughter in the second degree.  On appeal to the Supreme Court the conviction was reversed and a new trial ordered.  But there as no proceeding and Perkins remained at large.


Meanwhile his old namesake went on its peaceful way for 20 years, bearing the name of Sherwood Forest.  Then the county board was asked to shorten the name, and the result was the name “Forest.”  But that name was colorless, and at once the county board received a petition for a change.  The result was that the name “Sherwood” was chosen, and that name has stuck.


Sherwood was the seventeenth town to be organized in Clark County.  The rest had a less colorful experience in getting their names, but names have stuck better.


First town was Pine Valley.  At the start the Town of Pine Valley was, in effect, identified with the county as a whole.  The town board of Pine Valley was the county board.  The name was appropriate to the setting, the valley of the Black River, with its heavy forest.  The members of the county board were evidently greatly impressed with their natural setting and one of their first acts was to direct the clerk to secure an official seal of the county board, picturing a river with a large pine tree alongside it.  A seal of that description continued to be used as the official insignia of the county board well into the 1940’s, being changed some time after.


In Nov. 1856, the towns of Levis and Weston were created, they being the second and third towns of the county, respectively.  Levis was named for Mahlon Levis and Weston was named for Samuel F. Weston, each a prominent man in his town.


The fourth town was Lynn, created Mar. 21, 1862.  The first town meeting was held at the home of John D. Wage.  The name came from the large member of linden or Lynden trees noted in the town by early surveyors.


Loyal was the fifth, created Feb. 28, 1865.  The name was given in the closing days of the Civil War to attest the Loyalty of the town’s people to the Union.  The first town meeting was held at the home of George Huntzicker.


Mentor was the sixth, created Dec. 17, 1866.  The name came from Mentor, Ohio, home town of President Hayes.  The name was suggested by George W. King, who lived in Mentor and who had come originally from the vicinity of Mentor, Ohio.


Grant was the seventh, organized at a date uncertain, and named for Gen. Ulysses S. Grant of Civil War fame.  The first town meeting was held the first Tuesday of April 1868.


Eaton was eighth, named for Elijah Eaton, an early settler.  The first town meeting was held at the home of S. C. Honeywell, known as Case Honeywell.


Beaver was ninth, created Nov. 5, 1870.  The town took its name from the large number of beaver dams in some parts of the town and there was a highway in the town known as Beaver Dam Road.


Sherman, the tenth town, was organized the first Tuesday of Apr., 1873; the town was named for Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, who had led from Atlanta to the sea some of the men from that town.  The birth of the town came with some pain.  An effort was made to create it in 1870, but some of the citizens filed formal remonstrance with the county board, and secured postponement.


Washburn, the eleventh was named for Gen. C. C. Washburn, who was governor when the town was created in 1873.


In that same year, 1873, the county board created the Towns of York, and Hixon, the twelfth and thirteenth, respectively.  York was named for “York” state, from which a considerable number of settlers of that town had come.  The Town of Hixon was named for Gideon C. Hixon, a wealthy lumberman of La Crosse, who had extensive holdings in the northern part of the county.  Colby and Mayville were also created in 1873.  Colby took its name from a name already given to the railroad station on the Wisconsin Central.  The station had been named for Gardner L. Colby, father of Charles L. Colby, who was long identified with the railroad.  Mayville was named for Summer May, an early settler of the town.


Unity was sixteenth.  The name came from a name already given to the railway station.


Sherwood was seventeenth; Fremont was eighteenth, created by county board Mar. 11, 1874. Presumably the town was named in honor of Gen. John C. Fremont.


Warner was nineteenth, created Nov. 14, 1874.  It was named after Mark B. Warner, one of the county’s oldest settlers.


Hewett was twentieth, originating Nov. 20, 1874.  It was named for James Hewett, who had a saw mill, hotel, store houses, barns and other buildings at Hewettville.  A Wedges Creek dam (now site of Snyder’s dam) powered his saw mill.


Thorp, the twenty-first derived its title Jan. 21, 1876.  The town was named for Joseph G. Thorp, who resided in Eau Claire and who was president of the Eau Claire Lumber Co. a large and successful lumber organization.  The lumber company then had extensive holdings in the town, including a large farm managed by Joseph Sterling.


Withee, the twenty-second town, was created June 11, 1879.  It was named for N. H. Withee, very prominent in the county and that area.  He held various offices, including member of assembly and county treasurer.  As county treasurer he is credited with having brought order out of the chaotic condition of county finances.  In authorizing the Town of Withee, the county board proceeded more slowly than residents of that town preferred.  Some years prior to 1879, 27 residents had petitioned for name of Maple Grove.   Their petition used this urgent language: - “Our geographical position demands it (creation of the town) our ingress and egress demands it; our whole road system demands it; and the harmony of the citizens demands it.”  But somehow this urgency failed to get immediate action from the county board.


Not one of the townships is now exactly the same size as when created.  Following the creation of the Town of Withee, the county board received petitions for the creation of towns to be known as Scott and Herman, but those petitions were not complied with, and it was not until Nov. 1886, that the twenty-third town was created.  This was Green Grove, which took its name from the name of a post office earlier established in that locality.  An early account says that the name was selected by the settlers at a gathering at the house of William Zassenhaus, and that by that house there was a fine grove of green trees.  Zassenhaus was the first town chairman, and also became register of deeds of the county.


Hoard, the twenty-fourth town, was organized in 1889.  It was named for W. D. Hoard, a former governor.


The towns of Reseburg and Worden, twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth, were created in May 13, 1893.  The former was named for Wm. Reseburg, old resident and member of the county board.  The latter was named for Zaphaniah Worden, an early settler; Reseburg was the first town chairman of the town named for him. 


The towns of Mead and Longwood, twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth, were created Nov. 16, 1895.  The Town of Mead was named for W. H. Mead, generally known as “Harry” Mead.  He was a lumberman and farmer, as well as chairman of the county board.  He was candidate for assembly on the Democratic ticket in 1891, and was beaten by four votes by Phillip Rossman.


Longwood was named for the settlement that had long been there under that name.  Presumably the name originated from the long stretch of woods in that immediate vicinity.


The Town of Seif, twenty-ninth in order was created Nov. 15, 1901.  It was named for Judge Richard Dewhurst of Neillsville.  The use of this name was a second thought for the name first given was “Mound”.  Then the county board amended its first action and honored its first action and honored Judge Dewhurst. 


(Transcriber’s note:  It seems that information about naming the Town of Seif is left out and it should read that the thirtieth town was Dewhurst, etc.  Actually the Town of Levis was cut in half and the western half became Dewhurst.)


Hendren was the thirty-first town of the county.  It was created May 27, 1910.  The name first given it was Wilcox.  On May 28 Judge O’Neill appeared before the board and spoke about the name of the new town.  He evidently favored the name Hendren.  The county board then changed the name to Hendren for the Rev. William T. Hendren, who was a pioneer preacher of Clark County, with pastorates in Greenwood and Neillsville.  He was for a time county superintendent of schools; lived out his life in Greenwood.


The thirty-second town was Butler, named for George A. Butler, an early settler.  Butler took title to land in 1881 in what is now northern Foster.  The town was created Nov. 11, 1915.


Last town to be created, the thirty-third, was Foster.  This town was named for N. C. Foster of Fairchild, lumberman and railroad builder.  Foster built the Fairchild and Northeastern railroad which went from Fairchild to Owen.  Stations along the road were Fairchild, Mentor, Tioga, Gorman, Willard, Owego, Greenwood, Van Schilling, Coxie, Van Bright and Owen.  The creation of the town was sometime in 1923.


There are thirty-three townships within Clark County’s boundaries.



H. N. Withee


The township of Withee was named after H. N. Withee, a very prominent county resident who held various offices in local government.


William Zassenhaus


Zassenhaus lived in the northeastern part of Clark County.  A gathering of settlers met at his home to decide upon naming their township, Green Grove, in 1886.


Visit the Clark County, Wisconsin Township Pages


Beaver - Butler - Colby - Dewhurst - Eaton - Foster - Fremont - Grant - Green Grove - Hendren - Hewett - Hixon - Hoard - Levis - Longwood - Loyal - Lynn - Mayville - Mead - Mentor - Pine Valley - Reseburg - Seif - Sherman - Sherwood - Thorp - Unity - Warner - Washburn - Weston - Withee - Worden - York




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