Edwin Ellis Incidents: Number II

March 26, 2017

By Amorin Mello

The Ashland press 1877

Originally published in the June 30th, 1877, issue of The Ashland Press. Transcribed with permission from Ashland Narratives by K. Wallin and published in 2013 by Straddle Creek Co.

… continued from Number I.

EARLY RECOLLECTIONS OF ASHLAND.

“OF WHICH I WAS A PART.”

Number II

My Dear Press: – At the close of my last scribblings, we had arrived on the present site of Ashland, near where the railroad dock reaches the shore and were sheltered in a log shanty, built by Lusk, Prentice & Co., a kind of land company who had plans of starting a town here, of building a dock, and who had a small stock of merchandise and provisions to aid in their proposed work.  The members of the firm were David S. Lusk, of New York, Frederick Prentice, of Toledo, Ohio, Capt. J. D. Angus, of Ontonagon, and Geo. R. Stuntz, then of Superior City.

1850s-prentice-addition-to-ashland

1850s survey of Frederick Prentice Addition of Ashland at/near the ancient village site of Gichi-wiikwedong. “It is in this addition, that, the Chippewa River and the St. Croix Indian trails reach the Bay.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Mr. Lusk left the lake in 1856, and I think died some years since in California.

Frederick Prentice

Frederick Prentice
~ History of the Maumee Valley by Horace S Knapp, 1872, pages 560-562.

Mr. Prentice, a man of great energy and business enterprise, now resides in Toledo, and is largely engaged in the production and refining of coal oil, being one of the great operators in that enlightening civilizer.  He has accumulated an ample fortune, and is still largely interested in real estate in our town and country.

01.1.120 capt. angus

Captain John Daniel Angus
~ Madeline Island Museum

Capt. J. D. Angus, and old salt, familiar with all the oceans as well as our inland seas – having circumnavigated the globe; able to build any water craft from a Mackinaw boat to a ship of war; a man with an exhaustless store of anecdotes; who was acquainted with “Sinbad, the Sailor” – having passed through many vicissitudes- is now living in our country, full of life and activity.

george r stuntz

George Riley Stuntz 
~ The Eye of the North-west: First Annual Report of the Statistician of Superior, Wisconsin, by Frank Abial Flower, 1890, page 26.

George R. Stuntz now resides in Duluth, a civil engineer by profession, who came to the west end of the lake thirty year ago; who has done more surveying of government land than any other man on the lake.  He is a descendant from the third generation of a Hessian soldier, hired by George III to fight against the American Colonies in the war of our Revolution; but who after fighting one battle on the side of the Despot, was convinced of the wrong of the British cause, became an active rebel and a sincere defender of American liberty.  He and his children and children’s children have ever been true American patriots, and have done good service to the cause of the Republic.  He is the owner of much real estate on Lake Superior, in both Wisconsin and Minnesota.

These men had also been attracted by the situation of our bay as the outlet of an extensive country, abounding in minerals and timber.  They had perfected no plans for the acquisition of title to the land.  It is true several claims had been made reaching from Fish Creek nearly to the Indian Reserve –  a narrow strip on the bay, but the claimants gained no rights thereby, for the lands had not been surveyed, and we were all in the eye of the law, trespassers.  The Land Office, which was then at Hudson, on the St. Croix river, was not allowed to receive and entertain declaratory pre-emption statements.

Still Lusk, Prentice & Co. were even then engaged in building a dock and clearing off the site of an expected city, to which even then they gave the name of “Bay City” – by which name the larger part of the present site of Ashland was known for many years.  It is now in legal description as “Ellis Division of Ashland.”  The timber was cut into cord wood and piled upon the dock, in anticipation of the wants of the numerous steamboats soon expected to throng the docks of the rising city.

Some twenty acres of land were thus cut over, reaching from near Dr. Ellis’ present residence to the Bay City creek, and from the bay shore nearly back to the Railroad depot.

The dock extended from the low point about a hundred yards east of the Door and Sash Factory of White & Perinier, about five hundred feet into the water, and reaching a depth of about eleven feet.  It was made of cribs of round logs, pinned together with wooden pins.  The cribs were about 25×30 feet, and about 25 feet apart.  They had no filling of any kind.  They were connected with stringers, which served as the foundation of the road-way, made by laying round poles crosswise upon the stringers.

It may seem stranger to us with the results of many years’ observation and experience of the force of waves and currents and ice pressure in the bay, that such a dock should ever have been built.  But hind sight is always clearer than fore sight, and recent dock builders have had the benefit of the costly experience of the pioneers.

The Kakagon Sloughs on the Bad River Reservation is recognized as a Wetland of International Importance.

They labored under the impression that the ice melted in the bay and did not move out in large fields.  They soon had this error corrected.  On the last day of March, 1855, the ice in Ashland bay was broken for two or three hundred feet from shore only the body of the ice had not moved, and gave no signs of moving.  It looked as though it might remain for weeks.  The morning sun of April 1st shone upon the smooth, classy surface of the water.  The ice had disappeared in a single night, and the dock and wood piled upon it – the result of so many hard days’ work – had passed away also.  The remains might be seen for many years scattered along the bay shore and far up the Kau-kau-gon.  The present dwellers here can hardly realize the depressing effect of this loss to the little squad of settlers.

To be continued in Number III

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