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Janet Schwarze

School in the early 80’s was held in the home of Dave Douphner. In 1887 the first Frenchtown School was built. This building burned. Old timers recalled this as a year when much of the north woods was ablaze with forest fires. Mr. Murray (father of the late Mrs. Floyd Sample) had water wagons and many- men guarding his home from fire. Miss C. Folsome was the first teacher and received wages of $23.00 per month.

The two room brick school was built in 1916 to replace the frame building. The frame building became a German school on the Ernest Petke farm.

From l910 to 1959 school was held in one room. Consolidation with Owen-Withee took place in 1957. Since 1959 there have been two teachers with grades 1 to 6.

Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Miller report that his parents, the Jens Millers, came from Iowa in l89I and pin’- chased the Murray farm. The large timber had been cut and sent down river to Black River Falls. The road ended at their farm with a tote road going north. The Helms family (see Maplehurst) used this tote road.  Mrs. Helms often stayed over night as she carried supplies from Withee to Maplehurst. Many others stopped too.

Indians lived on the hill north of the Millers. They dug ginseng, gathered herbs and berries. Some winters they stayed to trap. They came to the Miller farm to trade baskets for eggs. John Larson from Dakota, Ike Preston and Ole Ryberg were other early neighbors.
Children attended Frenchtown school until the first school was built on the present Vernon Miller farm. After a year this school was moved by Andrew Hansen to its new location in the more central part of the district. It became known as the Munson School until officiallynainedWillow Dale.

Hans Nielsen started a cheese factory- on this same corner in 1910. Milk was hauled here from as far away as west of Munson’s Bridge. Neighbors took turns hauling the neighborhood load of milk cans. Necessities of life came from the farm. Meat was butchered and cured at home. Wheat and rye were ground at Hemlock and Greenwood. Much corn meal was used--especially during the World War I. Before the cheese factory, all milk was hand skimmed and churned. The butter was sold at the Owen Boarding house. Wood was carded, spun, dyed and knit into sweaters, scarves, socks and mittens. Bolts of cloth were purchased and boys suits and overalls were made at home.

Among the Danish settlers may had the same name. To distinguish them, they were called by the town from which they came. Superior Hansen, Chicago Hansen, Neenah Hansen, Fiddler Hansen, Blacksmith and Fireman Hansens and Brick maker Pederson were examples.
In our schools the annual Christmas Program and school picnic were two events to which the whole district came and enjoyed themselves. These events are disappearing. Other early settlers who moved in this area about 1902 were: L. Scherfs, W. J. Scherfs, Henry Ruderick, M. F. Miller, Paul Jensens and Bill Bufton.

Early German families who followed the French were Edward Neimags in 1897 on the present Bert Miller farm, Frank Heideinan in 1901 started Walter Heidemans, August Bruchert bought the Montcalm farm (now Rambergs) in 1891.

Early Danes who followed the French were: Peter Sorensen (Sig’s Father) in 1900 to the present Norman Andreasen farm, Lars Olson on the former Robert Johnson place and Christ Nielsens, parents of Jule Frietag, Jens Hansen, “Locker” Emil’s parents on the former Big Sorensen home. Jorgen Nielsen’s and Peter Frosts were also pioneers in this district.

Mrs. Jenxiie (Hilsteadt) Miller taught at Frenchtown with Eva Barker in 1916, the first year the new brick school was in operation. Andrew Miller is 75 years of age as he recalls these events.



Mrs. Elba Neff supplies the following items. She is in her 92nd year and has failing eyesight. She arrived in this community in 1899, a week before the Wolter’s family. August Welter came from Fall River, Wis. He bought a farm and built on the corner of O and N. Across the corner was a skimming station arid farther south the school. Mrs. Neff comments on how things have changed from those days of no mail delivery, no phone service, and no electricity. Mrs. Neff has been writing news of her community to the Owen Enterprise for many years.
In 1957 when Poppe School closed and consolidated with Longwood, women of the P.T.A. went through old school records and collected facts which may be interesting to those who knew the school.

The first school meeting dated 1890 bought one acre of ground and raised $150.00 to build a log school. On July 7, 1890 officers elected were: Clerk, Henry Calbaum; Treasurer, Ernst Poppe; Director, Andrew Irish. Voted for: Female teacher, six months of school in 2 terms of ii. fall months and 2 months in the spring; 8 cords of hardwood and 2 cords of pine at 85 a cord; teachers salary $25.00 per month.
July 5, 1898--Raised $20.00 for library, 8 months of school with $200.00 raised for teachers yearly Salary.



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