A Brief History of the Town of Spring Brook
The first evidence of human habitation in Wisconsin dates to 11,000 years ago. Natives shaped the eco-system by using fire to maintain prairie and savanna. Native people hunted deer, black bear, and more than 25 other species of mammals. They also consumed mussels, birds, fish, and nuts and fruits. They appear to have planted orchards, which European explorers described as “planted tree groves,” to provide supplies of food. Chestnuts, locusts, oaks, ash, basswood, beech, cottonwood, maple, pecans, medlars, mulberries, and plums grew in profusion.
Indians also dispersed several plants. The Menomonie spread wild rice wherever they passed. Many of today’s highways were originally roads between native habitations. By the time of European settlement, the region now known as Dunn County was inhabited by the Santee Dakota who feuded with the Ojibwa.This page was updated February 21, 2006
The French coureurs de bois (woods rovers) hunted along the Red Cedar and the Chippewa. Pierre Le Sueur offers the first mention of the Red Cedar, “another river of great length.” Jean Baptiste Perreault established trading posts on the Red Cedar. In 1822 Perkins built the first sawmill there, and by 1829 lumbering was underway. Knapp, Stout, and Company, which began in 1846, became one of the largest lumbering operations in the world
Knapp, Stout owned over one-half million acres of pine land, most of it in the Red Cedar Valley. The company cut over two billion board feet of pine and conducted retail and wholesale merchandising operations, banking, farming, a steam mill, a shingle mill, a water mill, steamboats, and a stage line. Knapp, Stout strongly influenced construction, the railroads, and public opinion. Residents of Dunn County were dependent upon the company for goods, loans, and wages.
The Dunn County Pinery Rifles, later Company K, contributed significantly to the Union victory in the Civil War. Company K fought in the Peninsular Campaign, Second Bull Run, Antietam, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. The military unit was organized in May and June, 1861 and disbanded on July 11, 1865.
In the twentieth century nearly 200 men and women from Dunn County served in World War II. Eleven Dunn County residents gave their lives in the Korean conflict, and eleven more died in Vietnam.
Governments of Spain , France , England , and the United States have held jurisdiction over what is now Dunn County.
On July 13, 1787 the Northwest Territory, including what is now Wisconsin, was established. On April 29, 1836 the Territory of Wisconsin was created.
Dunn County was originally part of St. Croix County, then a part of Chippewa County. On February 19, 1854 Dunn County was set off from Chippewa County.
On August 11, 1856 the Dunn County Board of Supervisors created seven townships: Menomonie, Spring Brook, Eau Galle, Dunn, Rock Creek, Bear Creek, and Pepin. Elk Mound was set off from Spring Brook on December 30, 1865.
The first town law was enacted to stop hogs from running loose. The fine was $5. On April 7, 1857 a town tax of $300 was raised: $100 for bridges, $50 for school, and $150 for incidental expenses. In 1883 the Spring Brook Grange raised $450 to build a town hall.
The early settlers found the land to be “well-timbered,” filled with animals, including wolves. One early account describes the region as “heavily overgrown with oak and populated by bear, wolves, prairie chickens, and a tribe of Ojibwas at nearby Elk Lake.” A large number of the settlers came from Scotland , England , Norway , and Germany . The settlers raised cattle, sheep, hogs, wheat, corn, barley, and alfalfa. Dairying was important.
A post office was located in the Amy settlement and a Baptist church was organized in the locality.
Fall City was settled by members of the Wiggins family in May, 1855. By 1856 H.B. Wiggins had erected a sawmill and was sawing lumber. In the mid-1860s Fall City featured a sawmill, a grist mill, a store, two blacksmith shops, a photograph gallery, a carpenter shop, two hotels, and some dwelling houses.
Rumsey’s Landing was a steamboat landing on the north bank of the Chippewa. Besides a ferry, there was an elevator and a grain warehouse.
Waneka settlement was located on Muddy Creek, in the northern part of the town. In 1852 B. Fowler built a hostelry and a stage station. The stage lost importance after the railroads arrived. Waneka and Waneka Cemetery were named after a young Indian girl.
In 1856 the Waneka School District became the first school outside Menomonie. By 1877 the town of Spring Brook had eight school districts. Shadylawn became the ninth. In 1962 a new elementary school in Spring Brook was built as part of the Elk Mound District. Kindergarten and First Grade were taught there for 30 years. It was closed down after the 1992-1993 school year when a new elementary school was built in Elk Mound. Today almost all of the Spring Brook primary and secondary students are in either the Menomonie or Elk Mound school districts.
The Salem United Methodist Church of Iron Creek began in 1860. It merged with United Methodist in 1868.
The Salem Evangelical Church was created in 1861.
The German Methodist Episcopal Church was established in 1864. The First Quarterly Conference was held in the home of John Quirling (now spelled Quilling) of Spring Brook.
In 1871 the Reverend Amund Johnson organized Spring Brook Evangelical Lutheran Congregation at old Meridean. In 1875 the first church was built at Meridean. A new and larger church was constructed in 1889.
In 1902 the Evangelical Lutheran St. John’s Society (German) was established.
The First Nazarene Church in Wisconsin, the Forest Center Church of the Nazarene was organized on December 14, 1913.
The Spring Brook Norwegian Lutheran Congregation was established in March, 1917 and a church was built two miles northwest of Caryville.
Amy Chapel, now non-denominational, was built by the Free Will Baptists.
Spring Brook Geography and Topography
The central area of the Town of Spring Brook contains broad, mostly flat farm fields. Slightly rolling wooded hills can be found on the eastern and western edges of the township. Old Elk Lake is a large, shallow prairie pothole lake located in the north central part of the township. Muddy Creek Wildlife Area, a portion of which lies on the north central edge of the township, is state owned land used for hunting, recreation and habitat preservation. There are three major streams in the township. Iron Creek flows through the northwestern corner and drains into Muddy Creek. Muddy Creek flows north to south through the center of the township and drains into the Chippewa River. Elk Creek flows north to south along the eastern edge of the township into Elk Creek Lake and from there into the Chippewa River. Elk Creek Lake is a manmade lake that was created to generate electric power for the local residents. The township also has marshes, woodlots, and planted prairie grass that support pheasants, rabbits, squirrels, ducks, deer, muskrats, ruffed grouse, and turkey. A more detailed description of the geology and topography of the township can be found in Appendix X.
Curtis, John C. The Vegetation of Wisconsin. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1959.
Curtiss-Wedge, F, Geo. O. Jones & Others. History of Dunn County, Wisconsin. Minneapolis-Winona: H.C. Cooper, Jr. and Co., 1925.
Dunn County Historical Society. Dunn County History: Dunn County, Wisconsin. Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing Co., 1958.
Lynch, Larry and John M. Russell, eds. Where the Wild Rice Grows: A Sesquicentennial Portrait of Menomonie. Menomonie Sesquicentennial Commission, 1996. P.M. O’Brien.
Spring Brook Saga: The Settlement and Growth of Eastern Dunn County. Bradenton, FL: Printing Professionals and publishers, 1994.