Lee Balek




HomeAboutContactPeople Index1600s1700-17591759-18201820s1830s1840s1850sPost 1860Chief Buffalo Picture SearchLt. Allen 1832 Brule ExpeditionSandy Lake Tragedy and Ojibwe RemovalReisen in NordamerikaWheeler Papers1855 Annuity PaymentJoseph Austrian MemoirPenokee MountainsPenokee Survey Incidents: Number IFebruary 8, 2015The Ashland Weekly Press is now the Ashland Daily Press.November 10, 1877
For the Ashland Press
The Survey of the Penoka Iron Range and Incidents Connected With Its Early History.Samuel S. Fifield served on the Wisconsin State Assembly (1874-6) and the State Senate (1876-81); and was the 14th Lieutenant Governor (1882-5).James Smith Buck (1812-92) “For 19 years, Buck was a building contractor, erecting many of the city’s earliest structures. He is best known for his writings on early Milwaukee history. From 1876 to 1886, he published a four-volume History of Milwaukee, filled with pioneer biographies and reminiscences.” (Forest Home Cemetery)Friend Fifield:- Being one of the patrons and readers of your valuable paper, and having within the past year noticed several very interesting and well written articles entitled “Early Recollections of Ashland” in its columns, and more particularly one from a Milwaukee correspondent, in a recent number, in which my name, with others, was mentioned as having done some pioneer work in connection with your young city, I thought that a few lines in the way of a “Reminiscence” from me as to how and by whom the Penoka Range was first surveyed and located, might be interesting to some of your readers,- if you think so, please give this a place in your paper and oblige.
Truly Yours,
J.S. Buck.
Edwin Palmer was a master carpenter at Palmer & Bingham in Milwaukee.Horatio Hill and James F. Hill were brothers from Maine and commission merchants in Milwaukee.Dr. James P. Greves “investigated animal magnetism” and “was a bad egg“.John Lockwood later became a Postmaster in Milwaukee.John L. Harris may have been a builder or realtor in Milwaukee.John Sidebotham was an Englishman and cabinet maker in Milwaukee.Franklin J. Ripley was an investor from Massachusetts.No record found for William Herbert.  Was he the employee found murdered in the Penokees and replaced by Lysander “Gray Devil” Cutler?I first visited Lake Superior in the month of May, 1857, in the interest of the Wisconsin and Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Co., a charter for the organization of which had been procured the previous winter.– This company was composed of the following gentlemen: Edwin PalmerGen. L
ysander CutlerHoratio HillJas. F. HillDr. E.P. GrevesJohn LockwoodJohn L. HarrisJohn Sidebotham, Franklin J. Ripley and myself. Elwin Palmer, President, J. F. Hill, Secretary – with a capital of (I think) $60,000. Our first agent was Mr. Milliam Herbert, with headquarters at Ironton, where some five thousand dollars of the company’s money was invested in the erection of a block-house and a couple of cribs intended as a nucleus for a pier – and in other ways – all of which was subsequently abandoned and lost – the place having no natural advantages, or unnatural either, for that matter.– But so it is ever with the first and often with the second installments that such greenies as we were, invest in a new country; for so little did we know of the way work was done in that country that we actually supposed the whole thing would be completed in three monthsand the lands in our possession. But what we lacked in wisdom, we made up in pluck — neither did we “lay down the shubble and de hoe,” until the goal was reached and the Penoka Iron Range secured – costing us over two years time and $25,000 in money.The company not being satisfied with Mr. Herbert as agent, he was removed and Gen. Cutler appointed in his place, who quickly selected Ashland as headquarters, to which place all the personal property, consisting of merchandise principally, was removed during the summer by myself upon Gen. C.’s order – and Ironton abandoned to its fate.“I remember very distinctly that the first stake was driven in the town of Bayfield by Major McABoy who was employed by the Bayfield Townsite Company to make a survey and plat same, (the original plat being recorded at our county seat.) This Bayfield Townsite Company was organized with Hon. Henry M. Rice of St. Paul at the head and some very enterprising men from Washington D.C. Major McABoy arrived here about the first of March [1856] and made his headquarters with Julius Austrian of LaPointe. Julius Austrian in those days being the Governor General of all that part of the country west of Ontonagon to Superior; Ashland and Duluth being too small to count.  The major spent probably two weeks at LaPointe going back and forth to Bayfield with a team of large bay horses owned by Julius Austrian, being the only team of horses in the country.”
~ Captain Robinson Derling Pike (Bayfield 50th anniversary celebrations)
The company at this time having become not only aware of the magnitude of the work they had undertaken, but were also satisfied that Ashland was the most feasible point from which to reach the Range, as well as the place where the future Metropolis of the Lake Superior country must surely be — notwithstanding the “and to Bayfield” clause in that wonderful charter of H.M. Rice.The cost of getting provisions to the Range was enormous – it being for the first season all carried by packers – every pound transported from Ashland to the Range costing from five to eight cents as freight.Samuel Stuart Vaughn was an early businessman in the Chequamegon Bay area.This was my first experience at surveying as well as Mr. Sidebotham’s, and although I took to it easily and enjoyed it, he never could. He was no woodsman; could not travel easily, while on the other hand I could outwalk any white man except S.S. Vaughn in the country. He was then in his prime and one of the most vigorous and muscular men I ever met; but I think he will tell you that in me he found his match.Albert C. Stuntz kept diaries of his government land surveys between Bayfield and St. Paul.No record found for Frank Gale or Matthew Ward.  If you know what they were notorious for, please let us know in a comment below.By our contract with Albert Stuntz we were not only to pay him a bonus equal to what he received per mile from Government, but we were also to furnish men for the work and see him through. In accordance with this agreement some eighteen men and boys, to be used as axemen and chainmen, were brought up from Milwaukee who were as “green as gaugers” and as the sequel proved, about as honest. A nice looking lot they were, when landed upon the dock at La Pointe, out of which to make woodsmen. I think I see them now, shining boots,– plug hats, with plug ugly heads in them, (at least some of them had), the notorious Frank GaleMat. Ward and one or two other noted characters being of the number. Their pranks astonished the good people of La Pointe not a little, but they astonished Stuntz more. One half day in the woods satisfied them – they were afraid of getting lost. In less than two weeks they had nearly all deserted and the work had to be delayed until a new squad could be obtained from below.But I must close. In my next I will give you an account of my life on the Range.      J.S.B.