Edwin Ellis Incidents: Number III

April 9, 2017

By Amorin Mello

The Ashland press 1877

Originally published in the July 7th, 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 II.

EARLY RECOLLECTIONS OF ASHLAND.

“OF WHICH I WAS A PART.”

Number III

Dear Press: – My last jottings brought us to the sweeping away of the first dock ever attempted in Ashland, April 1, 1855.  Before relating any of the further attempts in the construction of docks, I will recall the names of some of the settlers who came here in 1855 to 1856.

The Connecticut Western Reserve of Lake Erie and Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior were influenced by Colonel Charles W. Whittlesey during the 1840’s.  George Kilbourn was probably associated with the Whittlesey family at the Western Reserve before arriving at Chequamegon Bay.  Western Reserve archives contain interesting articles about Chequamegon Bay history.

1. George Kilbourn was then over fifty years old, from the Western Reserve, Ohio – a man of great energy and iron constitution, whose greatest joy was hard work, (and if we had a few hundred such men in our country now, who were not afraid to dive into our forests and open farms, the success of Ashland would soon be assured), and who was ever battling with the woods in this, his new home.  No one man who ever came to Ashland ever did half as much as he did, with his own strong arm, to clear up our beautiful town site.  His favorite spot is now occupied by the house built by Alex. Livingston, Esq.  Ashland was “Uncle George’s” pet, and he loved it with an undying love, and when stricken down by death a few years since, he was on his way from Ohio to Ashland.  He merits a monument, and his name should always be held in grateful remembrance.

Asaph Whittlesey was Charles Whittlesey’s younger brother.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

2. Asaph Whittlesey, then about thirty years of age, a native of Ohio, but who had for several years been engaged in business in Peoria, Ill., where the fruits of years of toil were swept away by fire in a single hour, was, in 1854, looking for a place to try anew his fortune.  He belonged to one of the oldest and most respectable families of the Buckeye State – an energetic, lively, genial, whole-souled man, whom to know is to esteem.  He was active in all the early years of Ashland; was its first Postmaster, (when the office bore his name) in compliment to his venerable uncle, the Hon. Elisha Whittlesey, for many years connected with the U.S. Treasury.  And though he now resides at Bayfield, his interests are still largely in our town, and his pleasant face still occasionally gladdens our homes.  In his present ill health he has our heartfelt sympathies.  May he soon be well again and may his iter ad coctum be postponed yet many years.

“J. P. T. Haskell was the second settler in Ashland. He came with his wife, Nov. 2, 1854, but did not long remain.”
The Eye of the North-west: First Annual Report of the Statistician of Superior, Wisconsin by Frank Abial Flower, 1890, page 251.

Mrs. Whittlesey, with her mother, Mrs. Haskell, were the first white women who passed the winter on this shore.  Her house, though built of logs, was neat and comfortable, and was the resort of all new confers, where we were all made welcome; and the writer will always remember her singing of “The little tailor with the broadcloth under his arm,” and the dancing of her little Eugenia, a flaxen-haired girl of two year, but who, in later years, matured into a beautiful and accomplished woman, and happily settled in life, was, in 1874, called to the “sweet fields beyond the swelling flood.”  Mrs. Whittlesey endured much privation, but she was brave and full of life.  She is still spared to adorn and cheer her pleasant home at Bayfield.

Her father, Mr. Haskell, who passed the first winter in Mr. Whittlesey’s family, died a few years ago, but Mrs. Haskell still lives in green old age, and in 1875 re-visited the scenes of her pioneer life.

Doctor George Leonhard Brunschweiler was also involved with surveying and platting the town site of Houghton on Chequamegon Bay.  The Brunsweiler River is a State Natural Area , a federal Research Natural Area, and has Wild River designation.

Martin Beaser
~ Western Reserve Historical Society

3. Martin Beaser, though he did not bring his family to Ashland till 1856, he is entitled, nevertheless, to be ranked among the very first settlers of Ashland, for he had chosen this for his home in 1854; had aided by his means and counsel, Messrs. Whittlesey and Kilbourn, and came from Ontonagon several times during the year 1855 to assist in carrying out their plans. He employed and brought with him early in 1855, Dr. Brunschweiler, a Civil Engineer, who surveyed and platted the first site on this bay, which is now known as “Old Ashland” or “Beaser’s Division of Ashland.” Brunschweiler River, twelve miles from Ashland, perpetuates his name.

Mr. Beaser was a native of the State of New York, who, in early life, had passed several years on a whaler in the Pacific Ocean and being an acute observer of men and things, had accumulated a vast amount of useful and entertaining knowledge.  He was familiar with the ports of Central and South American and our Northwest coast, not ours then, for the Star Spangled Banner then floated only over a narrow strip of land near the mouth of the Columbia River.

The vast stretch of coast now embraced in the State of California was then Mexican territory and the Russian Bear was the emblem of power extending over forty degrees of longitude and from the fifty-fifth to the seventy-second degree of latitude, or more than eleven hundred miles, from south to north, and sixteen hundred miles from east to west.  By the diplomacy of Mr. Seward and the payment of seven million dollars in gold, the vast extent of coast came under our flag.

No one could listen to Mr. Beaser’s recital of what he saw and heard on the Pacific coast without being entertained, and receiving much useful knowledge.

Martin Beaser worked with Charles Whittlesey for the Algonquin Company of Detroit during 1845, as featured in Two Months In The Copper Range.

Mr. Beaser came to Ontonagon about 30 years ago, soon after the discovery of copper in that country. Very few settlers had preceded him there; but for several years, from 1858, they came in rapidly.

But here were no regular lines of boats as at present from Lake Erie and Michigan.  All the supplies for the population must be brought by water a thousand miles.  They were brought to the Sault and transferred across the portage, re-loaded on vessels and distributed to the infant settlements along the coast.  As a result of the scanty and uncertain means of conveyance, the early northern winter often found the settlers without their winter’s supply of flour, pork and groceries.  They must be brought to Ontonagon from Copper Harbor or Eagle River in open boats, which in the late fall and early winter was a work of hardship and danger.  Mr. Beaser’s skill and bravery as a sailor was more than once instrumental in saving Ontonagon from starvation and want.

In the fall of 1856, Mr. Beaser brought his family to Ashland.  Here he was closely identified with all enterprises calculated to aid in the opening up of this country.  He had accumulated a competence at Ontonagon which he here freely expended.

He was a man of sound discretion and great good common sense, and was one of Ashland’s most useful citizens.  Through discouragements and long deferred hope he persevered; while nearly all the rest of us were compelled to retreat.  His hope seemed never to forsake him and like the heroes of the Cumberland who went down with their colors flying, he stuck to Ashland in its hours of greatest depression and finally found his grave in the waters of our Bay – while attempting to come from Bayfield to Ashland in an open boat alone during a severe storm in November, 1866.  He rests on the Island of La Pointe, but the home of his life should be the home of his mortal remains and I doubt not they will be transferred hither at an early day.

To be continued in Number IV

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: