The Town of Stockton has a rich and varied history. Fortunately, because of the efforts of people who thought forward enough to appreciate and record the past, we can catch a glimpse of what it must have been like to live here 100 or even 150 years ago.
If you have pictures, stories or documents you'd like to share on our site, please contact the Town Clerk. We would like to thank Sue Stremkowski and Malcolm Rosholt, as well as the many others who have been played a role in recording and publishing our past.
Please spend some time at the Portage County Historical Society, for a wealth of information about our local heritage.
History of Churches
The Churches in Stockton
When new settlers came to Portage County, they also brought along their deep religious roots and strong values. Traveling for miles to share their beliefs with others was the usual standard for many of those early pioneers. The harsh existence forced upon them in their daily struggles made the enjoyment of common interests, including faith, necessary to survive.
As stated before, early census indicate the first settlers to this area were mostly Yankees coming from New England States with a few coming from other areas. In the beginning years of Stockton, the town boundaries held thirty-six sections established by Congress. That northern Congressional Boundary is near today's RR tracks alone Old Highway 18 Road and on to the east toward Amherst Junction. The Yankee settlers, who were Methodist Episcopal mostly, occupied much of this area.
This and the following information was provided by Sue Stremkowski, March 2005.
Newman Methodist Episcopal Church
Where the Englanders gathered for church in 1855, that is not known. Alma Washburn, former Stockton town clerk, J.R. Patties daughter, wrote a book entitled Letters to My Children. In it, she refers to a school called Richmond school that stood where today's Stockton Municipal Building is, being used for church activities in the 1870's with the "baptizings" in Lake Thomas attracting large crowds. Around 1890, this congregation subsequently built a small wooden church near that school. The Stevens Point Journal of January 3, 1891 states: "the Newman M.E. church which is just being finished at Arnott station, will be dedicated next Thursday, January 8th. The Rev. J.D. Miller and Presiding Elder J.D. Cole will be present to assist the pastor, Rev. Sanborn in services."
Not much has been found in writing about this church. The Portage County Historical Society has a picture of it that was included in Michael Goc's book Lands and Lumber. Stockton senior resident Maurice Groshek tells us in his history, "my brother attended Arnott School seven years before me. The church was standing, although was no longer in use. My brother said the kids used to sneak into the church and play with the organ. The church was burned down by the time I started to attend school. I recall the kids playing in the ashes that first year, but the next year everything was cleared away." *(I estimate about 1924 plus or minus a year according to his birth date) An obituary found in the October 17, 1896 Stevens Point Daily Journal states that the ten-year-old daughter of Herman Krohn "was buried in the cemetery connected with the Newman church". That cemetery is today called Arnott Cemetery located across from Lion's Park.
Immaculate Conception of Mary - St. Mary's, Custer
Irish immigrants began arriving in the 1840s, settling around the area known today as Custer. This area was originally the Town of Sharon until 1871 when 18 southern sections of town 24 were detached from Sharon and added to Stockton. The Irish also brought with them their firm beliefs and deep Catholic faith. The Stevens Point Daily Journal on September 16, 1936 gives a brief history of St. Mary's beginnings. The priest serving St. Stephen's congregation, a German Catholic Church built at Stevens Point in 1853, visited the people of Custer quite regularly having mass in homes or in the school house about a mile northeast of the present site. St. Martin's in Ellis was built in 1856 – 57 and many settlers traveled there for services. Early pioneer Timothy Leary donated land for the church, rectory and cemetery.
The church and rectory were built in 1875 under the supervision of the contractor Michael Herbert with parishioners doing much of the work themselves. The original church with rectory and the cemetery are located on a hillside 1/2 mile north of the small community of Custer. On November 16, 1875 Bishop F. X. Krautbaur of the Green Bay Diocese dedicated the church. The parish was transferred to the La Crosse Diocese in January 7, 1946. Since that time the parish has undergone many changes, and has an active pastoral/finance Council: Sacred Worship, Education, Family Life and Justice and Peace Committees: which all serve the parishioners in various needs. (Source: Parish Centennial book)
St. Mary of Mount Carmel - St. Mary's Fancher
In the book Native Realm, Michael Goc states the Polish settlement in Portage County spread south on the glacial moraine. These devout Catholics from the Stockton area traveled to St. Stephen's in Stevens point, or to Polonia church for Mass. In 1884, high on the hill not far from the rail tracks known as Smokey Spur, the Polish Catholics bought land and founded St. Mary of Mount Carmel Parish. The original church was built in 1885 and was located east of the present church. It was known as the Amherst Junction Church, later it became known as the Fancher Church because of the Fancher Post Office that was established nearby in 1891.
Growth continued in the area and the need for a larger church was realized. A new wooden church building was completed in the fall of 1893. It was dedicated on July 16, 1894 in magnificent pageantry. The story in the Amherst Advocate reported: "the day was made a great holiday for all the people in that neighborhood. A crowd assembled at Amherst Junction where Bishop Messmer arrived by train at 11 o'clock in the morning. The people then formed a procession to follow him the 3 miles to the church. The bishops carriage and those of the six other priests who were on hand to participate in the dedication ceremonies headed the procession. Also included in the procession were the Central City Band of Stevens Point; 50 girls dressed in white, riding black horses; 50 boys dressed in black, riding white horses; and about 160 other conveyances carrying area residents," estimating over 700 people in attendance.
On March 19, 1904 tragedy stuck struck and this church was totally destroyed by fire. Following the fire, the original church building was once again put to use for mass and other worship services. Building a new church began slowly in 1906. This church was built with brick and stone brought by rail and hauled from the Smokey Spur sidetrack, with construction of the church done mostly with parish labor and horsepower. On July 16, 1906 the Rt. Rev. J. J. Fox, Bishop of Green Bay blessed and dedicated the recently completed church.
The highest part of the church roof measure 64 feet above the ground. The steeple rises 93 feet above the roof, for a total steeple height of 157 feet. The church was built to hold about 900 persons. As lovely as the church is from the outside, there is even more breathtaking beauty inside which some say resemble the old Polish cathedrals of the homeland. (Source: Church Centennial book)
The Early Years
In the 1860 Stockton Census most every head of household is listed as a farmer. Malcom Rosholt in his book Our Country Our Story states "The majority of the earliest Yankee settlers as well as some of the newcomers from Europe were not farmers by profession, but by choice, who were to learn the art of farming by experiment." Turning the soil for the first time was difficult. Many of the settlers from the East were not accustomed to such hard labor and in time had moved on. As the migration continued others took up residence in their place.
The natural terrain in Stockton alternates between flat prairie fields, hilly ranges known as the east and west bluffs as well as other, at time breathtaking, glacial remains scattered throughout the town. Rosholt further states, "The main crop across the southern townships in the 1850's and into the mid 1860's was wheat followed by oats, barley and corn, but little rye." Although most farmers had a few cows, grew some potatoes along with a scant supply of turnips and beans for their personal use, dairy farming and selling potatoes as a cash crop did not happen until much later.
Some farmers raised sheep and were able to sell the wool for cash. But after the civil war the demand for wool decreased some. Rosholt found the Waupaca Woolen Mill's advertisement in the Pinery Newspaper for purchasing wool as well as making specific items for customers on request.
One interesting crop grown by numerous farmers during those years was Hops. Hops are the dried ripe flower cluster of the hop vine, used to flavor beer and other malt drinks. The vine was trained to wind around a pole as it grew. Rosholt writes "The development of the hop industry spread rapidly throughout most of the country and farmers hurried to build hop houses where the green flower of the hop vine could be dried. The hop house was actually a form of kiln."
The Stevens Point Journal also informs us as to how the hops were harvested. An article found in the September 12, 1874 newspaper reads:
"Did you ever see them pick hops? No? Well this is the way it is done. A large box, divided into four apartments is made. Each apartment holds seven bushels. The pickers are usually divided into gangs of four. A man or stout boy cuts vines a short distance from the ground, pulls the poles out and caries them to the boxes. Here they are stripped by the pickers, each one of whom has his or her apartment in the big box. The poles are then stacked. The price being paid this year for filling one of those boxes, or picking seven bushels of hops is twenty cents and board, or thirty cents is the picker boards herself. When the hops yield well, a fair picker can probably average three or four boxes per day. An extra good one can do some better. There are about forty pickers at work in Mr. Clements' yard, who are probably averaging fifty cents per day each, and board. The work is light and gives remunerative employment to a large number of children who are not able to do much else, as well as grown up firls. The latter usualy prefer hop picking to housework, as they get better pay for it and do not have to woek so many hours. Besides, the opportunity to trip the "light fantastic toe" which is given them each evening by the proprietors of many of the yards, is something that is never lost sight of the to feminine hop-picker."
The writer of this article is referring to D.R. Clements farm of Stockton. The farm, consisting of a total of 480 acres, was visited during the harvesting season. The D.R. Clements farm was located in Sections 30 and 31 along today's Highway 10 (south side) and County J (west side) a little south of the town's northern boundary.
Rosholt writes, "Many hop houses were built with a lean-to on the side where a dance floor was provided and here every night, the young people gathered and danced, usually to the tune of a fiddle or two. This was the famed hop dance: actually a form of the square dance, and apparently out of this developed the "hop waltz" favored by the Polish people of Sharon.
In the early 1870's the hop louse, active in the western states in the 1860's, finally made its way into southern Wisconsin and spread northward. As there was no insecticide to combat this insect, which made the flower of the vine wither, hop raising declined rapidly after 1880."
Material provided by Sue Stremkowski - 2005
Early Town Board Members
The Early Pioneers at that First Town Meeting in May 1885
As the minutes of the first recorded meeting for the town of Stockton read "the meeting was held at the house of John Shannon in the Town of Stockton, County of Portage, State of Wisconsin on the 28th day of May, 1855." Malcolm Rosholt found John Shannon listed in the 1858 Stockton tax roll, but he is not listed in the 1860 Census. He either moved from Stockton or had died sometime between those years.
In Stockton's early years terms of office were one year. J. C. Maxfield was elected Chairman of that first meeting and also was elected justice of the peace. Years later, he was elected to the positions of Supervisor in 1865 and Assessor in '66 & '67. Jonathan C. Maxfield was born in New Hampshire and his wife Anne was born in Pennsylvania. He farmed in the southwest quarter of Sec. 31 Tn 23 of Stockton. The County Plat of 1876 shows his property being south of Morril Cemetery.
Amasa Yease was elected inspector that evening. Only one man with the given name Amasa is recorded in portage County around that time and not with the surname Yease. The surname could have been incorrectly recorded, incorrectly transcribed from those original hard to read records, or he might have been a lumberman that had soon moved on.
Also elected Inspector of the meeting that was Jeremiah Bennett. Bennett was a farmer. He was born in New York and his wife Emaline was born in New Hampshire. The 1860 Census records four children but his name seems not to appear in the 1870 Census.
The Stevens Point Journal writes, "O. H. Lamoreaux came to Wisconsin in 1849 prospecting." He left briefly and returned with his wife Elizabeth in 1851. They settled in Stockton and lived in the town until 1859 when they move to Plover. His interests were law and farming. He is noted as the First Elected Chairman, organizing the Town of Stockton in 1855, and again being elected as Chairman in 1858.
Elected Supervisor was Evelon H. Crosby. Wisconsin Land Records hold the only documentation found us far for Evelon H. Crosby. Recorded in his name at Stevens Point's land office on December 15, 1855, was a land parcel of 40 acres in Section 12 Town 23 of Stockton. This was one of the six Sections of Stockton that were annexed to Amherst i
Also elected Supervisor was William Bremmer. Records indicate he was born in Vermont. The 1860 Census lists him as a farmer. Information found shows he served both his town and his country. Besides being elected to the first town board in 1855, he was elected Treasurer in 1857, '58 and '59, and elected as Assessor in 1861. As Captain in the 18th Regiment of the Wisconsin Infantry, he fought in the Battle of Shiloh in 1862. Elected Supervisor in 1864, he was again called into service. He served as captain in the 5th Regiment of the Wisconsin Infantry and was wounded in the Battle of Petersburg.
Geo. W. Morrill was born in New York and his wife Sylvia was born in Maine. The Stevens Point Journal reports "they came to Wisconsin and took up a claim on the unsurveyed Indian land in 1851." He served two years as Town Superintendent of Schools and had been a resident of Stockton for 43 years. Their home was near the Morrill School House located on the corner of today's Kennedy Avenue and 2nd Street on the town's western boundary.
Wm. B. Wadsworth attended that first meeting but did not receive enough votes to serve as Justice of the Piece; however, no other information on his life in Stockton or Portage County has been found.
Peter McMillan was elected as Town Assessor. The Stevens Point Journal of February 15, 1908 sums up information neatly. "Peter McMillan was born at all Alburg, Vermont on September 20, 1824, and spent his youth in his native state. He came to Wisconsin among the pioneers of 49 and soon afterwards took up a homestead in the south part of the town of Stockton. In 1850 he married Miss Miranda Diamond and for nearly 50 years they continued to make their home on the old farm." He was Assessor in 1855 and '56 brought in a tie vote for Assessor between McMillan and W. H. Sherwin. Beginning in November 1861, he served nine months as a Corporal in E Company in the 18th Regiment of the Wisconsin Infantry.
Not getting enough votes for town assessor was Daniel Baker. Town assessment rolls record Daniel Baker as a sheep farmer living in Sec. 30 Tn. 23. That property is midway on Stockton's 2nd Street between J and Kennedy. Baker, who was born in New York, was elected Supervisor in 1862 and 63 and elected Town Chairman from 1867 to 1870.
Also elected Justice of the Peace was Wm. Richmond. He and his family had lived across County J south of the Municipal Building. One parcel was along J and another parcel of property was on the south side of the road just east of Lion's Park in Sec. 20 Tn 23. He had been a resident in this area for 32 years settling here in approximately 1852. The 1860 Census states he was a farmer, 60 years of age, and was born in Canada.
Wm. Noble(s) was also one of the first Justices of the Peace 1855 and in 1856 he was elected Supervisor. Later, according to the 1860 Census, he and his family are living in the city of Stevens Point.
A young man in his late 20s at the time, Horace (Harry) Richmond did not receive enough votes that day in May to serve as Justice of the Peace, however his name is in the . Town records reveal his property was where the Lion's Park is today. He stopped in Census of 1860 is not list him because he died at an early age of 33 years and is at rest in the Arnott Cemetery. This cemetery was also referred to as the Richmond Cemetery in years past, and is located near the Lion's Park.
James E. Lytle came to Wisconsin at age 6, two years before it was admitted to statehood. He was elected town Treasurer in 1855 and re-elected in '58. He also was elected town Assessor in 1858 and '62. The 1860 Census states he was a forty-four year old farmer. He was born in (Richmond) Virginia, and his wife Frances (Diamond), forty-three, was born in Canada. At that time they had five children ranging from eight months to nine years of age.
Nelson Blodgett, elected Constable that day, was born in Ohio and was 40 years of age in 1860. The Census also notes his occupation asTavern Keeper. The Stevens Point Paper writes his wife Sarah was born in Orange County, New York. Malcolm Rosholt found that in the early years of Stockton, Blodgett had operated a hotel called Stockton House where he also served as Postmaster. His tavern house was located in the southwest corner of section 31 pound 23, along Shady Drive to the south western boundary of Stockton, southeast of Morrill Cemetery.
Also according to the 1860 Census, five years after meeting, Calvin Richmond's age was 33, and he and his wife were both born in New York. The 1876 County Plat shows his property on the northwest side of Arnett's County B and J intersection. Besides being elected to the positions of Constable and Sealer of Weights and Measures in 1855, Richmond was also Chairman in 1866 and Supervisor in '68, '69, and '70. The 1870 Census lists four children ranging from three to twenty-one years of age.
Henry Benson, elected Constable, owned property in the west half of Sec. 18 Tn. 23. That location is west (Bluff Road) of the Town Municipal Building. In 1860 he was 34 years old and he and his wife Marion were both born in New York. He is listed as a farmer with three children. Beginning in August 1864 he served nine months as a Private in F Company in the 5th Regiment of the Wisconsin Infantry.
(Sources: Town Historical Records, Malcom Rosholt s Our Country Our Story, Stevens Point s Journal & Gazette, UWSP Archives, U.S. Census Records, Ancestry.com)
Material provided by Sue Stremkowski - 2005
The Town of Stockton officially began in 1855. Malcolm Rosholt, noted Portage County Historian, eloquently relates a little of the County’s and the Town’s beginnings in his book “Our County Our Story”.
The Yankee’s were the first group of settler’s to come and take up residence in Portage County. The 1850 County Census is filled with birthplaces from the east. New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Canada and more.
The census also shows that the immigrants began to arrive from Ireland, Nova Scotia, England, Scotland, Norway and Germany. The land was appealing and abundant. In those days it was selling at $1.25 cents an acre. Land speculators from the east were buying numerous parcels and then selling it to the newcomer’s.
Those who settled in Stockton took a very active role in establishing the town. Some of the most notable settlers were: Oliver H. Lamoreux, the town’s very first Chairman and also a Justice of the Peace, William Arnott whom the community of Arnott is named after, Michael Dawson, who originally settled in Sharon but became resident of the town when the boundaries changed in 1871, Nelson Blodgett, from whom we possibly got the community name of Stockton, and Orson Fancher with whom the little community of Fancher shares its
Oliver H. Lamoreux was born at Clocksville, town of Lenox, Madison County, New York on April 22, 1824. In 1849 he came to Wisconsin prospecting and shortly after returned to the east. He was admitted to the bar in the state of New York in 1851 and to practice in the Supreme Court of Wisconsin in 1858. It was on October 22, 1851 he again came west and settled in this county. Lamoreax help organize the Town of Stockton and became the first elected chairman of the Town Board on May 28, 1855. He resided in Stockton until January
1859 when he moved to Plover. (Source-Stevens Point Journal)
The Green Bay & Western laid tracks through the area known today as Arnott around 1872. William Arnott moved his family to Portage County from New York. The 1876 County plat shows they settled in the southern part of Stockton. Sometime before September of 1882, Arnott and several other town residents went around the area collecting money, a required $500 and, also secured one and one half acres of land for a Station. The Station and the Post Office were named after Arnott. The little community then prospered and grew, and the name Arnott still applies. (Source-Stevens Point Daily Journal)
Michael Dawson successfully petitioned the Railroad for a Station in Dawson. As the story goes, the community was called Dawson, named so after the landowner Michael Dawson from Bangor, Maine. “Two prominent residents of Stockton petitioned for a station there. ”(Source- Stevens Point Journals 8/19&26/1876) But only one could be chosen. One article implies the Railroad named the new Station Custer. (Possibly named so after George Armstrong Custer who recently had been defeated in battle.) The area soon became known as Custer. Although the Station or Post Office were not named after Dawson, the Community of Custer probably survives because of his generous gifts of money and land for the station, which in turn also helped that community prosper and grow. In the early years, Strong’s Landing, also known as Berlin, Wisconsin was a busy place for those arriving. From there they would travel by stagecoach, horse & buggy or wagons to other areas of the State. Along the route primarily used by the travelers coming this way was Stockton House. It was owned and operated by Nelson Blodgett who came to Wisconsin in the early 1850’s from Ohio. Malcolm Rosholt describes the building as a “tavern-house.” This structure was located along what we know today as Shady Drive, a short distance southeast of the Morrill Cemetery. Since this was a primary route, a post office was also located in that same establishment named Stockton and mail came in by stagecoach or horse and rider.
Two occurrences happened that might have changed this. In 1871 the Railroad came through the area and Stockton’s northern boundary was moved even farther north taking some of the town of Sharon’s Sections. The trains were now delivering the mail, and possibly Stockton House could no longer be the post office because it was not along a railroad line or because of the increased distance between Stockton’s boundaries. Whatever the reason, in August of 1874, about nine years after Blodgett’s death, the Stockton Post Office replaced the Grant Post Office, which had been established in December 1864 near the area of the rail lines of today’s community of Stockton. Whether that area was called Stockton at the time is not known, but it has been called Stockton since.
For years after the Railroads arrival to Wisconsin and Portage County, post offices were named along the lines. Orson Fancher, born in Niagara Falls, New York, came to Wisconsin with his parents about 1852. Their family settled on a farm at Lake Thomas. (Source-Stevens Point Journal) St. Mary of Mount Carmel Parish was founded in 1884 and the area around it quickly became the second largest rural settlement in the county. (Source-Michael Goc’s book – Native Realm) In 1891, the Fancher farmhouse became the Fancher Post Office with Orson Fancher named as Postmaster. The surrounding area soon became known as Fancher, a named still used at times in reference to that region of Portage County.
Material provided by Sue Stremkowski - 2004
Photo: Portage Co Historical Society
History of Stockton Schools
District # 3 Morrill School
This school was located on the corner of 2nd Street and Kennedy Ave. Brief records found at the UWSP Archives date back to 1860. It was a joint district with the Town of Plover. School clerk J.C. Maxfield provided information in 1860 that describes the school as a frame schoolhouse valued at $75. It was located on a half acre of land with poor out-houses and was not enclosed. There were two teachers during that year with 20 pupils. J.M. Lee taught for 4 months receiving a $13 salary per month and Amos Merril for 3 months receiving a $11 salary per month. The 1871 report lists the school year as being 142 days. There were 44 pupils, the school was built of wood and listed in good condition on an acre of land. Information as to the exact time the school closed has not been found. After the school closed, the Town of Stockton used it as a storage building for town school supplies until the Stevens Point School District acquired it in the 1960's. It was then sold, renovated, and lived in for a number of years. In the early 1990's, it was donated to Habitat for Humanity and remodeled again. Presently, (1998) L. Higgins is living there.
District # 4 Prairie School
This school was located on the Corner of 2nd Street and County Road J south of Arnott. It is one of the Town of Stockton's earliest school districts. Records found date back to 1857. No information has been found as to exactly when this district was formed. In the 1857 records it states, there were 27 pupils and the school year was 4 months. At one time, records describe the schoolhouse as made of "wood" and another time a "frame building" valued at $450. No information has been found as to whether this is the same building that is on that site today. Presently, (1998) the Prairie School building has been renovated and is being used by Ernest Kuffel as a workshop.
District # 5 Arnott School
This school was located on the corner of 4th Street and County Road J, north of Arnott. This was one of the earliest districts established in the Town of Stockton. No information has been found as to exactly when it was formed. Records found date back to 1857. That year there were 31 pupils and the teacher was paid a $12 salary per month for teaching. District #5 actually had three different buildings throughout the years. Records describe the first school building as a "log cabin" valued at $50. For a time it was referred to as "The Shannon School," named so after the Shannon family, neighboring land owners. The first Stockton town meeting was recorded held in the John Shannon house. After that, records state town meetings were held at times in the "Shannon School." After the Shannon family moved out of the Town of Stockton, the school was referred to as "Richmond School," named so after the Richmond family who were nearby landowners. The building was also used for religious services, Sunday school and Grange meetings in the 1880's. C. H Pearce built the second district # 5 school in 1906. Money to build this school building was borrowed from Patrick Leonard and M. O'Keefe, residents of the Town of Stockton. The third district #5 school building was built in 1936 by local craftsmen left unemployed during the Great Depression as part of the Works Progress Administration. (WPA) It is still in use today as a community center. Presently,(1998) Town of Stockton meetings are held there. The town began using the building in the 1970's, after buying it from the Stevens Point School District for $1.00.
District # 13 Harper School
This school was located on County Road KQ. Plats show it in the middle of the north side of Section 35 Town 24. Records indicate District # 13 was formed in April 1879. Brief records of 1887 give a little information. They describe the school as being on one-half acre of land with both male and female out-houses. There were 60 pupils and they had no books. The district clerk was Abraham Sitzer. Jean Dodge, a Town of Stockton resident recalled that back in the 1950's, Nick Pliska owned property around it. It was often referred to as "the Nick Pliska School." The district # 13 school building is still at that location today in 1998. It is not known if that is the original building. It has been renovated into a home and is presently (1998) lived in by Debbie and Al Kozelek Jr. and their son Kevin.
District # 12 Oakland School
This school was located on the north side of County Road I in Section 23 Town 24, in the northeast corner of the Town of Stockton. It was a short distance past the Sharon and James Kurszewski farm. This school district was a joint district with the Town of Sharon. Earliest records found go back to 1874. They indicate there was one teacher and school was held for 60 days. The 1887 records also indicate there were 30 pupils, the school was located on 1/4 acre of land, there were no books, and the school was not graded. The exact year it closed is not known. The building still exists today in 1998. It is owned by Steve VanHorn and has been moved and renovated. It is being used as a storage garage.
District # 2 Fancher School
This school was located on the corner of 4th Street and County Road K southeast of Fancher. This district was formed in April 1857. The teacher that year was Cynthia Stone, and there were 13 pupils. Records of June 1877 show it became a joint district with the Town of Amherst. At one time, it was described as a "one-room school 12 rods x 12 rods built of pine lumber". Another report describes it as a "slab," located on a half-acre of land. Information as to when the brick schoolhouse was built has not been found. Presently, in 1998, the building is owned by Jerry Krupka and is being used as storage shed for cattle.
District # 7 Heffron School
This school was located on County road J. The Portage County Plat of 1876 shows it near a farm right in the center of the eastern boundary of Section 30 Town 24. Patrick Maslowski, a lifetime Town of Stockton resident and neighbor, recalled going there to school for 8 years and graduating in 1948, the same year the school closed. There were 13 pupils that year. He recalled the year of 1945 as having the largest attendance of 23 pupils while he went there. Former Town of Stockton resident, Casimir Yenter, moved the schoolhouse closer to his neighboring farm, intending to renovate it. He said it was 30' long and 18' wide in size. Before he had renovated, it was destroyed during a storm. The wind had blown it down because it wasn't properly anchored yet. Sharon Bauman presently owns this farm in 1998. We have not found any pictures of Heffron School. Historical school records indicate there were two District # 7 locations. It is not known when the first District #7 school was formed. The earliest records found were dated 1857 and the first district # 7 school building was recorded as a 12’ x 16’ leaky shanty with 31 pupils attending. In 1861, the size is recorded as 16’ x 24’ with 18 pupils attending. Records indicate Sections 11 and 12 used the school. That would put it in the Fancher area. Also indicated was that it was a joint district with Buena Vista and the first District # 7 school was disposed of in 1869 by the Town Board. The County J Heffron School is the second district # 7 location. Records for the year 1876 for the second district # 7 state that there were 31 pupils attending. In 1885 there were 25 pupils attending. The name "Clements School " has also appeared in these records. A conclusion is that before this school became known as Heffron School, it was known as Clements School. Both are names of neighboring landowners around the time this school existed in that area.
District # 14 Paderewski School
This school was located on the corner of County Road B and Tower Road on the southeast side of the town. Not much information has been found as yet in past records. A long time Town of Stockton resident, Victor Rzentkowski, recalls going to Paderewski School. He attended in 1934 and graduated in 1942. The school had been built in the early 1900's and it is rumored to have been named after a famous Polish pianist, Ignatiaus Jan Paderewski, who lived from 1860 to 1941. It was in 1947, that former Custer resident, Mary Hickey, recalled teaching there for 9 months. The school closed in 1955. For a few years, it remained at that location and was lived in by migrants that worked for area farmers. Later, Frank Stuczynski moved it to his farm on Standing Rocks Road. Today (1998) the building is being used as a garage.
District # 10 Stockton School
Located on Old Highway 18 Road west of the small community of Stockton. It is not known when this school district was formed. The earliest records found date back to 1868. The records state, in 1868 it was a joint district with the Town of Hull. Several years later, it was also a joint district with the Town of Sharon for a while. Brief records from 1884 state, there were 24 pupils, it was not a graded school, and the board adopted textbooks that were sold to the pupils. The school also had maps, charts, blackboards and a dictionary and it could accommodate 45 pupils. Wesley Gumney was the district clerk for a period of time. It is not known when the school closed. Presently, (1998) the district # 10 building is still on that location. It is owned by Hubert Mocadlo, and is being used as storage shed.
District # 9 (have found no name)
Enough information has not been found on this school district to give an exact location, and we have not found a picture of this school. It was listed as a town school in the early years of the Town of Stockton. It is not known when district # 9 was disposed of. What is known that it was a joint-district with the Town of Amherst, and later, also the Town of Buena Vista. Our research on this school has only gone up to 1875. The first records found go back to 1860. This record states that there were 16 pupils taught by Miss Topping. She taught for 3 months and was paid $8 pay per month. District clerk Thomas Harkness made this report. Early plats show Thomas Harkness lived on the east side toward the southeast corner of the Town of Stockton. There are also several schools located in the Town of Amherst, a short distance from the Stockton/Amherst boundary line, suggesting that this school was located outside of the Town of Stockton.
District #1 J. Hosmer Felch School
Located on the corner of 6th Street and County Road K on the east side of the Town of Stockton. This school district was formed in July 1855, and became a joint district with the Town of Amherst in April of 1856. Early brief records of 1857 describe it as a 12'x 16' "leaky shanty" made of wood and listing its value at $25. The teacher was Miss Darling. She taught for 4 months and was paid $100. There were 19 pupils and the district clerk was B. F. Felch. By 1887, there were 56 pupils attending. Some reports state the school could accommodate 40 pupils and some say 50. We have found no information as to whether this is the same building on that site today. After the school closed, the building was remodeled and lived in for a number of years by Clifford Skibba. Recently, it has again been remodeled. Presently, (1998) Lynn Winn and Sara Dunham are living there.
District # 8 Town Hall School
Located on the corner of 6th Street and Custer Road, right across from this Town Hall. We have not found the date this school district was formed. Records found date back to 1857. That brief report states, there were 23 pupils, school was for 6 months, and there were no blackboards or maps. In 1860, a report lists the school as a "log" school valued at $80. It was on a 1/2 acre of land, was not enclosed, it had 1 blackboard and no maps. There were 18 pupils, taught by Mr. Ellis for 2 1/3 months receiving $15 pay per month, and by Miss Winslow for 2 2/3 months receiving $8 pay per month. It also lists the books used. Clerk H.C. Sherwin prepared this report. In early town records, this school was referred to as Conniff School. Town meetings were often held there. There was a neighboring landowner named John Conniff around that time. An 1875 report states, the school could accommodate 40 pupils, school was for 154 days, and the building was in "good condition." A 1887 report states there were 40 pupils, it was not graded, there was no outhouse, no textbooks, and no library. The school closed in 1964. Town of Stockton resident Adolph Somers, was the teacher at that time. Later, the school was sold to Jack and Romona Huff. It has been renovated into a home and presently they are living there.
District # 11 Custer School
It was located on County Road KK, a short distance north of the small community of Custer. The school was built in 1908 and was a State Graded School. This school became known as Custer School. The building is still at that location. The school closed in the 1960's, and the Stevens Point School District sold it to Al Kline. He donated it to St. Mary's Catholic Church near Custer. The parish remodeled it, and it is presently, in 1998, being used as an education center. We do not know when school district # 11 was formed. Previous to this school, records state a school was built in 1875 for district # 11. It was known as Custer School and was located about 2 miles northeast on KQ. Plats show it to be in the middle of section 28 Tn 24, which is presently the Shave farm, formerly owned for a number of years by Phyllis and Ernest Bluma. That school was also referred to as "Laughlin School," named so after Patrick Laughlin, an early settler. He owned the east half of section 28 in the late 1800's. We do not know the date the first district #11 moved to KK, and believe this first school building no longer exists.
District # 6 Hillcrest School
Hillcrest School was located on the corner of County Roads I and K, near the northern boundary of the Town of Stockton. District # 6 Hillcrest was formed in 1904. It became a joint district with the Town of Sharon in 1905. It is not known exactly when the school closed. In 1949, the building was purchased by Robert and Adeline Brunner and moved to its present location on the corner of Highway 10 and County Road KK, just north of Custer. They renovated it into a home and lived in it for more than 40 years, selling it in the mid 1990's. Shelly and Michael Stremkowski purchased it and they are living in it with their son Jacob. Early town records of 1860 list another district # 6 school. The records do not mention a name. It was a joint district with the Town of Plover, and records also state it was dissolved by the town board in December of 1898.
Source – Town Historical Records and UWSP Archives
Material provided by Sue Stremkowski - 2005
Town Officials From 1855 to Today
Over the years, the Town of Stockton has benefited from a tremendous variety of skill and talent brought to bear on the Town's needs through it's elected officials. Below, you will find a list of our Town Officials for the first 5 years after the town of Stockton was formed. Helping to maintain this unbroken chain of leadership and service to our community are our current (2012) elected officials.
Please find a complete list of Town of Stockton Elected Officials from 1855 to 2004 here.
- Mike Bronk, Chairman
- Jeanne Dodge, Supervisor
- Jerry Piesik, Supervisor
- Bonnie Bouwer, Clerk
- Sandra M. Walters, Treasurer
Material provided by Marie Helminiak, 2004
First Town Meeting Minutes - 1855
(This is the first recorded meeting for the Town of Stockton.)
Minutes of a town meeting at the house of John Shannon in the Town of Stockton, County of Portage, State of Wisconsin, on the twenty-eight day of May, 1855.
J.C. Maxfield was elected chairman. Amasa Yease and Jeremiah Bennett were elected inspectors. O.H. Lamoreux was elected clerk of the meeting.
The whole number of votes polled was fifty-six for the office of chairman of the board of supervisors of which O. H. Lamoreux received fifty-six votes. For supervisor Evelon H. Crosby received fifty-six votes and William Bremmer received fifty-six votes.O. H. Lamoreux was declared duly elected Chairman of the board of Supervisors. Evelon H. Crosby and William Bremmer were declared duly elected Supervisors.
The whole number of votes polled for the office of town clerk was fifty-six of which Geo. W. Morrill received thirty-four votes and Wm. B. Wadsworth received twenty-two votes. Geo. W. Morrill was declared duly elected town clerk.
The whole number of votes cast for the office of town superintendent of schools was fifty-six of which Geo. W. Morrill received twenty-nine votes and Wm. B. Wadsworth received twenty-seven. Geo. W. Morrill was declared duly elected Town Superintendent of Schools.
The whole number of votes cast for the office of Assessor was fifty-six of which Peter McMillan received twenty-eight votes and Daniel Baker received eighteen votes. Peter McMillan was declared duly elected Assessor.
The whole number of votes cast for Office of Justice of the Peace was fifty-five votes of which O. H. Lamoreux received fifty-five votes. J.C. Maxfield received fifty-five votes. Wm. Richmond received twenty-two votes. Wm. H. Nobles received fifty-three votes. Wm. Wadsworth received fourteen votes. Horace Richmond received seventeen votes. O. H. Lamoreux, J.C. Maxfield, Wm. Richmond, Wm. Noble were declared duly elected to the Office of the Justice of the Peace.
The whole number of votes received for the office of town treasurer was fifty-five votes of which James E. Lytle received fifty-five votes.
The whole number of votes cast for the office of Constable was fifty-six of which Nelson Blodgett received forty-six votes. Calvin Richmond received fifty-two votes. Henry Benson received fifty-five. Nelson Blodgett, Calvin Richmond and Henry Benson were declared duly elected Constables.
The whole number of votes received for Sealer of Weights and Measures was twenty-eight of which C.D. Richmond received twenty-eight votes. C. D. Richmond was declared duly elected Sealer of Weights and Measurers.
We the undersigned inspectors of election do certify that the forgoing is a true statement of the votes cast and of the proceedings of a town meeting held at the house of John Shannon in the town of Stockton in the County of Portage on the twenty-eight day of May A. D. 1855.
J.C. Maxfield, Chairman
Jeremiah Bennett, Inspectors
(Source-Transcribed from the Town Records-UWSP Archives)
First Town Hall
On the 7th day of April in 1869 Stockton residents voted to build a Town House. Until then, meetings had been held in school houses or other places in the area. Numerous disagreements were taking place between towns and residents alike. But, a motion to build was made and town supervisors continued with a plan.
Board members soon enlisted the help of Caleb Lammon to draw up a plan for the proposed Town House. Lammon was originally from New York. He came to Wisconsin in 1868 and spent two years on a farm in Stockton. He was a carpenter by trade and followed that line of work most of his life. Shortly after the town house plan was made for Stockton, he moved to the city of Stevens Point.
Possibly because of the turmoil at that time, during the April 5th town meeting in 1870, a motion was made by prominent town citizen J. C. Maxfield, which changed those plans to build. Maxfield motioned to postpone the building of the Town House. It was seconded and the motion carried.
It was not until seven years later, at the annual meeting on April 3rd, the chairman announced a proposition would be submitted to the Board for the building of a Town House. A motion followed by J. H. Felch that instructed the town board as to the size of which to build the town house. Its dimensions were to be 22’x 40’. The motion carried.
Looking through an old town receipt book, there are several entries naming Caleb Lammon in the form of cancelled checks listed for payment of services. The first check issued in November of 1869, was in the amount of $5 for making a ballot box. The second was a $2 payment in April 1870 for making a plan for a Town House. A search did not find any other expense paid for any other plan for the Town House built in 1877. It is possible that the plan used was the original plan drawn up years before by Caleb Lammon.
A thorough search through town records has not brought forward any other entry or receipt for a ballot box, so it is also possible that the old ballot box in the Town Hall was made by Caleb Lammon in 1869.
The half acre lot for the Town House was acquired from John and Bridget Conniff. That location was chosen because of its centrality in the town. The property was given to the town by the Conniffs for the cost of $1.00 with the stipulation that if the town ceased to use the land for town hall purposes, it would revert back to the original owners or their heirs.
On the 24th day of September of 1877, the contract between the builder and the town was signed. The builder chosen was Michael Herbert, an experienced carpenter and town resident. The agreement stated that town would provide all the building materials and Herbert had forty days to “erect, build, set up and finish one town house according to plan and specifications”. Payment was to happen after the building was “examined, approved of, and accepted” with an inspection by town representatives. To insure “the performance of all and every one of the articles and agreements” in the contract, there was $500 penalty clause included at the end of it.
The date of this inspection was not found noted anywhere. The building must have been completed according to contract because on December 8, 1877, the amount of $73.08 was issued to Michael Herbert by the Town of Stockton as payment for the building of the Town House.
Original Stockton Town Hall
Photo courtesy of Portage County Historical Society
Material provided by Sue Stremkowski - 2008
Little Big Horn Memorialized at Custer
From the Stevens Point Journal May 19, 1992
Very little history has been written about Custer, the small unincorporated community off of Highway 10 in the town of Stockton. But on an afternoon in one of the community’s three taverns, theories abound.
One longtime resident of the community said he believes the community was named after Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, who was defeated during the battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876. “I think this community was called something else and when Custer lost at Little Big Horn, people decided to rename this community Custer,” said Mark Skibba from his seat at Custer’s Last Stand, a Custer tavern that derives its name from that event.
In his book “Our County Our Story,” Malcolm Rosholt agrees. The Custer post office was established in December 1876, just six months after Little Big Horn and was probably named after Lt. Col. Custer, Rosholt wrote. Other theories include that Custer visited the community before his death or that early Indian settlers named it Custer for reasons unknown.
Custer’s original name was Dawson, an Irish name given to what was then a predominantly Irish community, said Jim Bannach, whose family came to the area from Prussia in the late 1870s. Bannach says he remembers his father, Florian Joseph Bannach, telling him stories about Dawson, although no one in his family knew of the community’s namesake. One clue may come from documents owned by St. Mary’s Church on Highway Q in Custer, which was established in 1875.
One document, dated Aug. 8, 1854, is a land deed marking the sale of a large chunk of land in the area near the church to Michael Dawson from the United States. There is no biographical information about him in St. Mary’s documents, but Rosholt tells of a Michael Dawson that was elected to the town of Hull Board in 1859 and to the town of Sharon Board in 1860.
In Dawson’s will dated 1897, he gave his entire estate to his son, John. To his wife, Catherine, he bequeathed a cow named “Big Red Cow,” and to seven of his children he left $1 each. To his daughter, Bridget, he left $100, payable within 10 years of his death.
On Oct. 26, 1904, John Dawson and his wife, Gussie, sold about 1/2 acre of land for $150 to the town of Stockton, presumably near where the church is now. The Custer school was probably built the next year, says Deacon Dutch Hirsch of St. Mary’s.
Skibba’s father, 76 year-old Raphael Skibba, was born and raised in the area and he remembers Custer as a thriving community in the 1920s and 1930s. There were four taverns, two service stations, a blacksmith shop, a post office, a creamery, a ballroom and four potato warehouses, Raphael Skibba says. In the 1960s, Custer featured three grocery stores, Mark Skibba says. One of them was owned and operated by his aunt.
Life was good back then, although money was tight, the elder Skibba says. “This town was so poor. When a crow flew from Stevens Point to Waupaca and stopped here, it had to carry a lunch,” he jokes. At age 16, Raphael Skibba said he used to haul potatoes into town and sell them. The price was 30 cents for 100 pounds.
Railroad tracks were laid in the town of Stockton in 1871, Rosholt writes, and the community of Custer must have began shortly after that. “Custer came along when the railroad came along,” the Raphael Skibba says. “People would ship their potatoes and cattle all over.” From the Stevens Point Journal May 19, 1992 The community also featured a passenger depot, which no longer exists, and a two-room school house for grades one through eight, which is now owned and operated by St. Mary’s for their religion classes.
But hauling potatoes wasn’t Raphael Skibba’s first job. At age 9, he started making moonshine, he says. He still remembers the recipe 67 years later and doesn’t mind reciting it, if given the opportunity. And at Custer’s Last Stand, he gets plenty of opportunity.
By SUSAN ALLEN
An Historical Discovery
Shortly after Al Gavin was elected as supervisor in the early 1990's to serve on the Stockton town board, he accidentally discovered some forgotten treasures that are of unlimited value to the town. One day, slowly and curiously, he began looking over information stored in a very old roll top desk which was located in an office at the town garage. It was stuffed to the brim with old papers, maps and books. After skimming through some of this material he realize this couldn't be all there was. There had to be more, but where?
After thinking about it for a few minutes, he decided to make a quick visit to the old town hall. This hall was Stockton's original Town All and was built in the late 1870s. Town officials had closed the building in 1976 for various reasons, and the town's people began to use the Community Center near Arnott for election voting with board meetings held in the town garage.
As Supervisor Gavin entered the silent old building, he was pleasantly surprised. The building was still in pretty good shape, considering its age. He could see that the rodents had taken over throughout the years. The hall needed cleaning and a few improvements, but amazingly it looked the same as he remembered. Memories of voting and attending meetings in this building in his younger years filled his mind.
Slowly glancing around the one room hall, he almost couldn't believe what he saw. His eyes quickly focused on an overstuffed desk and cabinet standing in the corner with numerous maps and road plans rolled up and stored on top. This was exactly what he was hoping to find. It was a real treasure that possibly held the key to unlocking some of the past history of Stockton. He and Clerk Steve Haka moved the most current records to the clerk's office. The rest were stored in a basement room of the now called Stockton Municipal Building.
In 1997, at the supervisor's suggestion, a committee was formed to evaluate all town property and also review this wealth of information. Approximately 7 large storage containers and several plastic bags of materials plus, had to be looked through. This process was extremely slow. Just about everything was completely filthy with dust and debris.
First of all, the material was inventoried. It included contracts, blueprints, correspondence, poll lists, licenses, school reports, surveys, assignment roles, statistical reports, canceled checks, different studies and plans, tax records, registrations, birth records, death records, marriage records, easements, deeds, maps, petitions, town plats, and much, much more. Some of each year's information was folded and bound together with strips of fabric twine or string. Straight pins were used to attach papers together and a few reports were hand sewn with ribbon or thread.
After this material was inventoried, the process of cleanup began. This too went very slowly and because much of it was very old and brittle, special care had to be taken it was then categorized by year, and each year was carefully wrapped protect the papers from any further damage in handling or storage. A large fireproof file cabinet was purchased, and most of the material put safely away. A number of books found lying around in the old hall were cleaned up and are now stored in a cabinet at the municipal building. The earliest records found, dated back to the 1850s.
During this cleanup process, word got around that information on Stockton's early years was stored away at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point Archives. A visit to the archives led committee members to another surprising fact unknown by many. Someone had already sent the archives some of those early town records. But who had done this and why only some records and not all? The answer as to who and why has not yet been found and continues to be a mystery, although, through all the tedious research a suspect has begun to emerge.
All this led the community to the next stage of their project. Now that the information was found, they wanted to share it and inform all the town's people of their history. The question was, just how could that be accomplished?
While the committee was doing all this discovering, the Town Board received information from Portage County's Wisconsin Sesquicentennial Steering Committee. They gave a synopsis of what was being planned countywide during Portage County's Sesquicentennial Year 1998. One plan was a sesquicentennial parade in which they encouraged all municipalities in Portage County to participate.
Town supervisors met with the committee and options were discussed. One idea presented was reopening the old town hall as the town's response to the sesquicentennial celebration. There, the committee could present some of this information for anyone who might be interested. Mr. Gavin also informed the committee of the 1961 antique truck/plow the town still had, and the possibility of entering that in the parade. The truck needed some work and had to be restored. Also mentioned was the old desk and possibly restoring that. He thought both projects were feasible. The committee agreed to hold an open house at the old town hall, restoring the roll top desk and truck, and entering this truck in the parade.
A decision was made to go to the town board, ask for funds to do a few improvements on the old building, and to try to restore the 1961 FWD Clintonville truck/plow with the antique grader, as well as restoring the old desk. The board agreed with the plans and granted the committee's request.
Supervisor Gavin found someone who would do the restoration of the desk and also wrote to the company from which the truck was purchased, for recommendations on the proper way to restore the Clintonville. Even though the truck was still an active part of the town's fleet, employees got it running in top shape and worked diligently on restoring it to its former beauty. When the tasks were complete, both the desk and the truck looked awesome.
The truck was entered in the Sesquicentennial Parade held on June 6, 1998 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Later that fall, it was entered in the University homecoming parade where it one an award. The town received a second-place award for originality and a prize of $25. The roll top desk now sits in the Old Town Hall Museum. In town records the desk was traced back to 1918, however it is older than that because in that year it was only moved from one location to another.
As those restorations progressed, Supervisor Gavin oversaw that the roof of the old hall was restored, the rodents were eradicated, and the front steps were repaired. Supervisor Jeannie Dodge helped committee members research and prepare information that was to be shown at the hall opening. The weekend before the event, both supervisors and the clerk, along with committee members and their spouses spent hours cleaning up the inside of the old building, washing floors and windows, doing minor repairs and setting things in place for the reopening of the old town house (as it was referred to in town records in those early years). The open house was held Sunday afternoon July 12, 1998.
The main focus for that first opening were town hall beginnings and elected officials. A listing of all elected officials who serve the town from 1855 to 1998 was compiled and put on display. At the UWSP Archives and in town records researchers uncovered more information on how the town hall came to be built on that precise location, contracts and plans for construction, and who actually did the construction. Within the mound of information discovered, also found were the actual bid process, check stubs and canceled checks for the building project done in 1877. Also included were old pictures as well as copies of other interesting information found, all put out for visitors to review.
To publicize this community event, Supervisor Gavin contacted the area newspaper. An article covering the town hall opening was printed just before it was held. Invitational notices were posted in various locations of the town inviting everyone. Specifically invited were past elected officials and most were invited attended. Guests of honor were the family of deceased former town chairman, Stanley Kirshling. He held the position of supervisor for four years, and town chairman to 38 years. Also in attendance were Frank Somers, supervisor for 32 years, Richard Gosh, treasurer for 10 years, Jerome Groshek, supervisor for 10 years, Prosper (Perky) Gosh, supervisor for eight years, Lyle Halberslaben who served four years as supervisor and two years as chairman, and also former supervisor John O'Keefe. Approximately 275 other interested area residents also attended that they and all involved in the project were well pleased with the turnout.
Shortly after this special community event, an open house was again held in the fall. While most of the information shown at the first opening remained at theTown House, an effort was made to add more. Requests were made for old pictures of anything pertaining to the Town of Stockton or its residents. Supervisor Gavin gathered a number of pictures of the old town schools with town residents supplying others as well as pictures of students in class and their teachers. That quickly became the theme of the second open house. Information was found in every rural school located in the town throughout the years and it was put on display for town residents, who sometimes saw themselves in the pictures and remembered the day it was taken. Though the number attending the second opening was smaller, most agreed it was well worth the effort, and without the cooperation of our supervisors, neither event would of happened.
The process of searching through this historical treasure is not complete and much information is yet to be gleaned. Most of this history will eventually go to the State Historical Society, however, some will remain in the town historical files.
Material provided by Sue Stremkowski - 2005