Communities in Langlade County

AntigoBryantDeerbrookElchoEltonKempsterLily ParrishPhloxPickerel/PearsonPost LakeSummit Lake Upham-Long LakeWhite Lake


Antigo was born and lived in the mind of Francis Deleglise years before the first tree was felled to be hewn into a log for a cabin. Mr. Deleglise was a prospector and timber cruiser for Appleton lumber companies. In his travels along the newly made Military Road and all of what lied between that and the Wisconsin River, he marveled at the wealth of the pinery that was standing, waiting for the taking. Virgin forests of Eastern White Pine choked out the undergrowth of the entire upper third of Wisconsin and all of Upper Michigan. In the 1870's, the land was only occupied by Indians and a few traders with horse and foot trails that mostly followed rivers such as the Eau Claire and Wolf. Into this land came two types of men; the Lumber Barons who saw fortunes to be made with the towering Eastern White Pine and men such as Deleglise who envisioned the rich land giving root to generations of families. What followed in the 1870's and 1880's was a frenzied scramble for land grants and patents. The big lumber companies bought most of the better timbered lands, the government gave huge tracts of land to railroad companies in exchange for building lines that would push through the uninhabited frontier, and men like Deleglise bought tracts of land to literally carve out a new life. The Lumber Barons lied, cheated and stole as much timber as they could and when there was no more, moved on. The railroads came through, laid their tracks and kept going north to Lake Superior. Only the hardy and industrious homesteader stayed to raise crops and create towns for families to live in to this day. Deleglise was a surveyor and a civil engineer who was well equipped to create and platt out a future town. Ignoring those who thought him foolish, he bought lands for himself and others who shared his vision and in 1876 the first two families came to what is now the city of Antigo. More families came by foot and, as roads were cleared, by wagon until the railroad pushed through late in the fall of 1881. Once the tracks were spiked, homesteaders and merchants flooded the area so within 3 years the population grew from 200 to 2,000. Deleglise's concept took an immense amount of hard work by all those who shared the dream and kept the faith.


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Charles Larzelere was a prominent pioneer in Langlade County. In 1870 he took up a claim where he conducted one of the first stopping places for trappers, hunters, river drivers, Indians and homesteaders. Mr. Larzelere was instrumental in leading to the organization of Langlade County in 1879. The town was named after Mr. Larzelere's son "Elton" who later became the Chicago & Northwestern Depot agent in Antigo. Elton is located in the Evergreen Township, 16 miles east of Antigo, and 8 miles from White Lake.


Frank Borth came to what is now Kempster in 1898 and would end up spending the rest of his life in and around the area. Frank became a prominent citizen, was interested and involved with local politics and helped make Kempster a growing community. He would, in his lifetime, be one of the few lumbermen to log the great Eastern White Pine and then forty years later, return to cut the hardwood and hemlock from the same location. Early on he worked for the Paine Lumber Company and ran Camp 3, a large logging camp on Dynamite Lake. Later he became a Lumberman himself and had several camps and a mill in the area. Borth Lake, just south of Kempster, was named after him. Frank died February 21, 1945.

Kempster was named after Dr. Kempster from Milwaukee who owned large tracts of land and frequented the area treating loggers at the various camps. The majority of the buildings burned down as was the case when kerosene lamps and wood heat were the norm. The population in 1920 was 50 people but was actually much higher with all the transient workers at the camps. The town had, at one time, two boarding houses, several saloons, several stores, a post office, soft drink parlor, restaurant/dance hall, church, barn & stable, barber shop, cheese factory, gas station, and a school. Logging was the biggest thing early on and everyone either worked in a camp or relied on the revenue produced by those who did. The weekend could be quite wild when the lumberjacks came to town. The railroad had a large presence with a repair round house, but Antigo lured that away in the end.


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Parrish started out as a company boom town with the entire population living in tents and employed by the newly established logging partnership of Brooks and Ross in the mid 1880's; called the Prairie River Lumber Company. As the company grew in size, so did the pains of employees and their housing or lack of. Management hired a superintendent by the name of Jewell Edmond to create a company town for it's employees and families to live in. The settlement was built along the Prairie River and when finished, around 1890, consisted of about 85 buildings. On the north bank there were about 30 houses and on the south, about 60. The mix of settlers and workers were mostly French, German, and Swedes and all seemed to migrate to their ethnic brethern, with the north side called Frenchtown and the south known as Germantown and Swedetown. By 1888-89 there were saw, planing, and shingle mills running the modern equipment producing 90,000 feet of lumber a day, as well as 125,000 shingles and 25,000 lath. In 1888 the railroad extended from Dudley and as materials became easier to transport, other buildings were built including a school, church, a Modern Woodmen lodge, a drygoods store, post office, rail siding, several offices, livery, and various out buildings. One of the very first buildings erected was a saloon put up by a German named Chris Callsen who had bought a 40-acre government lot. There are two different origins for the Parrish name. One is said to come from Judge J.K. Parrish who sat on the 10th Wisconsin Circuit Court in 1889 and the other is thought to be in honor of a Parrish who lived in New York City and had a large part in the railroad that eventually came to that town. Most of the businesses were gone by the time the Post Office closed in 1963. What remains now is mostly wild flowers and stone foundations.


The first early settlers in Phlox were members of the Joseph St. Louis family in 1877. They built a dam and sawmill. They also constructed a wooden railroad between Phlox & Elmherst, the railroad was called "Tram Road". Only one, weeklong, trip on Tram Road was ever made, because the rails and ties settled into the swamp. A section of the rail was found around Mud Lake in 1915 by Charles McClean, it is now on display at the Langlade County Historical Society. The wild flowers were very prevalent in this area so Mr. John Jansen suggested naming the village after the "Phlox" flowers that grew there.


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Post Lake was once the site of one of the biggest Indian settlements. The ruling chief then was Sa-Wa-Ba-She-She meaning "Great Martin". Chief Sa-Wa-Ba-She-She signed the first treaty between the United States Government and the Chippewa Indians of this area. He lived with his band at Post Lake, died there, and was buried on the north bank of the Wolf River. The Post Lake settlement in the time of Great Martin was numbered 700. It was headquarters for all important councils and ceremonies. Post Lake was shortened from "Trading Post Lake".


Summit Lake should not have been. Had it not been for Francis Deleglise using his influence, and probably money under the table, to get the Milwaukee Lake Shore & Western Railroad to divert from it's original intention of leaving New London in a more northerly direction, there would not have been any tracks even close to Summit Lake. But Mr. Deleglise was successful in the betterment of his village of Antigo by luring the railroad there. Once in Antigo, the northerly intention was again continued and tracks laid. The state and federal government gave huge blocks of land to railroad companies in exchange for building the lines. Land was the cheapest currency that governments had and it was spent freely. It was only as the tracks were being laid past the lake, that the wonderful natural beach attracted enough attention to make some want to linger and enjoy the beauty of the lake. Also, the lateness of the year promoted a decision to build a warehouse and siding depot for wintering supplies as the railroad continued to push as far as it could before the winter of 1881. By spring time, homesteading families, following the rails, had begun to arrive as well as merchants to cater to them and the logging industry. Once the apparent desire for a village was realized, it was laid out by Frank Schauer for the Milwaukee Lake Shore & Western Railway, who owned the land. Parcels were sold off and it was platted out as Summit Lake, believing at the time that it was the highest point in the state. There was a small tribe of Chippewa Indians that camped on the lake shore during the spring, summer and fall then moved to an area by the Hunting River where they hunted and lived during the winter. Once the village was established they only stayed for a few years more before moving on. Early settlers were: Frank Schauer, Charles Gehrke, E.S. Koepenick, George Bremer, Elizabeth Kunza, John Miller, Henry Ebner, Peter Loos, Art Nichols, Joseph Helmbrecht, Spencer Cole, Frank Schabel, the Smith Brothers, Charles Kannenberg, W.J. Empey, and John Blotter. Today the village is known for its unending recreational opportunities, clean air, and beautiful surroundings as well as being a sportsman's paradise.


If you've never been to the tavern overlooking the picturesque length of Long Lake on CTH J, in the Upham township, then you probably know someone who has. Sooner of later, everyone stops in and marvels at the extended view of the lake below. Situated high on a hill overlooking the lake gives the patron cause to settle a bit and relax, especially in the heat of the summer. But it wasn't always that way. Where the bar is now used to be the dance hall part and the bar was in the meager backroom that now houses a few video machines and a table next to a big stuffed bear. And for a short time in the 1940's, the bar was in the front living room. Excluding the VA, it's had 15 owners since the first land patent was sold to Michael Fitzgerald and his wife in 1881. The 2 1/2 acres that the taven resides on was part of the orginal Government Lot 1, Section 2 T32N R10E. The acreage was heavily timbered and logged off by Frank & Al Borth between 1908 and 1916 in a very dubious agreement with the neighboring land owner, the Antigo Hoop and Stave Company. The Borth brothers sold several acres to Jack Young on December 9, 1916 to build a house/resort. The building was finished in 1917 and named "Long Lake Resort". It rented rooms and boats, furnished meals, and arranged guide services. The bar moved from the cramped backroom to the large dance hall with the view after the new ownership of Paul & Margaret Masek in 1963. The current owner, "Bear", purchased the business, in partnership with his parents, Leonard & Abbie Bruch, in 1976 and has owned it the longest. The name was changed to "Thirsty Bear Pub" to enchance the new ownership.


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