PLOVER’S GREEK TEMPLE: Part 2: Some Mysteries
By Wendell Nelson
The earlier the history we study, the less information we find, and the more mysteries we encounter, whether the history is of Ancient Egypt or 19th-century Wisconsin. For example, the very early construction year (apparently 1848, as we saw in the previous article in this series) of Charles and Mary Rice’s house in Plover Village, brings up some mysteries.
The first mystery is the materials it was built with: where did Charles and Mary Rice get them? Portage County had several sawmills already by that year, according to Malcolm Rosholt’s 1959 history of Portage County, Our County Our Story. The first that can be verified before 1840, he writes, was the mill of “Conant & Campbell on the right [west] bank of Shaurette Rapids,” about where the Clark Street bridge crosses the Wisconsin River, in Stevens Point. That appears to be the closest sawmill to Plover Village in 1848.
But that would have been a long way to haul lumber by horse and wagon. On the other hand, the boards could have been floated downriver. An article in the December 29, 1883, Stevens Point Journal suggests this possibility. Jesse Anson, “who came to the pinery in 1840,” reminisced about the early-day lumber industry with Edward McGlachlin, the editor of the Journal. After listing the names and locations of the first sawmills along the Wisconsin River, Anson recalled that the “lumber for the Empire House, Plover…was rafted at Mosinee and run down the river to the Yellow Banks near Plover….”
To read the rest of the story, pick up a copy of the Portage County Gazette at one of the many newsstands in the area, including gas stations and grocery stores. Or subscribe at www.shopmmclocal.com/product/portage-county-gazette to have weekly copies delivered by mail.
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