Spring Valley and Vicinity History
The Sun (newspaper), Spring Valley, Wisconsin
14 Feb 1896, page 1, col. 3 & 4
The first time I ever passed through what is now Spring Valley was in the driving season of 1858. We were driving logs down the river. The following winter the Eau Galle Co. logged from Sections 22, 23, 26 and 27 in what is now the town of Cady, joining Spring Lake on the North. We banked the logs and shingle bolts from the point of rocks above Lousey Creek, down the river to the campground. If it had not been for the logging on this stream the bottom lands would not have [been] habitable, because the stream was quite narrow; there was more than double the water then than at present. Every high water over-flowed nearly all the bottom land. It cost thousands of dollars to keep the river in shape to drive.
In the summer of 1861, I cooked for an outfit of 16 to 20 men cleaning the river, for teams we had eight yokes of oxen. We commenced in the spring about two miles above Spring Valley and worked down to back water, then worked back and repaired the tote road and bridges. Snow caught us before we got to the camp, 1½ miles above Brookville. The Company at that time made all the roads and bridges and continued to do so for several years after the war, in fact until they quit operating on the stream.
The first person to settle in what is now Spring Valley was a Mr. Gilmore, in the year 1859. He had no family. He took a claim in East ½ of South East ¼ of Sec. 6. His cabin stood about where the residence of W.G. Spence is located. In1863, he sold his claim to Mr. Alf Wilcox for a rifle and $30 in money.
Mr. George Wilcox took the 80 where the smelter is now located. His first house just above the smelter is now used for a barn. About 1878 he built the house that the Eagle Iron Co. used for an office.
The first settler in the township with a family was Ole Gardner [Gaarden]. He came in the summer of 1861 and took the West ½ of the North West ¼ of Sec. 22; the place always went by the name of the Robber’s Roost. It formerly was a logging camp.
In early days almost everything along the Eau Galle River had a name.
Some of the names were: the Tendenell, Bradly Claim, Bald Point, Irish Town, Pole Bridge, Burnt Shanties, Robber’s Roost, Elk Tree, and others.
Shortly after the Wilcoxes came, John Franscisco moved in and took the land that is now called the East side. His old residence still stands, owned by Frank Curtis.
Mr. Ephraim Moore, an old employee of the Eau Galle Co., since about 1850, settled on what is now the Peter Loohn farm in the fall of 1866. About this time Christ Johnson and Knudt Olson took land up the Creek west of the Valley.
Settlers were now getting quite thick, or at least they thought so, and they began talking school; the outcome was that the people hired a young lady from Hudson to teach. The first term was held in Mr. Alf Wilcox’s hop house. But the settlers thought that they must have a school house, so they built the log building Mr. H.H. Gaarden is now using for a barn. Mrs. George Wilcox was appointed post mistress and kept the P.O.
Wm. Preston, father of the writer, kept the first store in the Valley and was Deputy P.M. [Post Master]. He remained only about a year selling out to Mr. Alf Wilcox, Wilcox having sold his farm to Mr. Adams. Mrs. Wilcox resigned as P.M. and Alf Wilcox was appointed.
In the spring of 1875 he moved to Clayton, resigning as P.M. and W. D. Akers was appointed, holding the office until some two years ago, when sickness and old age coming on, he was unable to attend to the duties longer.
Mr. Tio, F. Tio, S. Sanders, E. Holcomb and a host of others came shortly after the war.
I should have stated that W.D. Akers came, I think in 1864, and took a homestead on section 18.
Charles King and writer, in 1874 built the water mill, securing the site of Mr. Francisco; it was the first mill to run by water in the township. About the year 1878 King sold his interest to M. Tio. About seven years ago the property was sold to Mr. Fleming.
Mr. H.H. Gaarden came here about fifteen years ago, and put in a small stock of goods which has increased from time to time.
G.A. Lawernce(sic), a few years after Mr. Gaarden came, built the store on the corner of Akers and Sabin Ave’s; kept a stock of goods in it for some two years when D.L. White rented the building and put in a stock of hardware,
In 1881, the frame school house now occupied by the grammar department was built.
The result of the iron business has built up quite a village, so that our school has three departments. The census shows some over 200 children in the district, of school age.
The dozens of other places of business in Spring Valley are given in The Sun’s book, published a short time ago.
I sometimes look back and see the Valley as it used to be before it was cleared up. The timber was principally elm with a thick undergrowth of wild plum, haws, alder brush, etc.
There were some patches of wild hay meadows as they were called.
There was quite a large meadow south and west of Mr. Spence’s residence and some on the Francisco place. As you went down the river they were more numerous.
I don’t reside in the village limits, but just outside; the City Fathers cut off one string of 40s and by doing so left my place out. But the latch string is always out for old settlers and as many of the new as feel like calling.