Asaph Whittlesey Incidents: Number IV

April 11, 2017

By Amorin Mello

The Ashland press 1877

Originally published in the March 9th, 1878, 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 III.

Early Recollections of Ashland: Number IV

by Asaph Whittlesey

In our last number we referred to “the most aristocratic house” with lumber floors, etc.  Though it was the third cabin built upon the “town site,” it was in reality the first cabin built, designed as a permanent residence.  The foundation logs of this house were laid Sept. 20th, 1854.  The record made by Martin Beaser, (evidently made from recollection,) calls this the first building erected, (giving the size of it,) whereas we had lived in two buildings previous to the building of this one.

Rev. Leonard Hemenway Wheeler
~ In Unnamed Wisconsin by Silas Chapman, 1895, cover image.

The “Whittlesey Post Office” was kept therein from the date of its establishment, March 12th, 1855 to Nov. 1858.  The first dancing done within the “town site” was in this house in Nov. 1854, and during the winter religious services were held therein by Rev. L. H. Wheeler, of the Odanah Mission.  It was the birthplace of Delia Elizabeth, second daughter to Mr. And Mrs. Asaph Whittlesey, born May 21st, 1856, being the first American child born within the limits of the “town site.”  The first celebration of the Fourth of July was held in this house July 4th, 1855, further reference to which will hereafter be made.  The first general election of county officers in the county of Ashland, was held in this building Nov. 4th, 1856, at which time Samuel S. Vaughn received eleven votes for the office of County Clerk, and M. H. Mandelbaum receive twelve.  Francis McElroy was elected District Attorney and Asaph Whittlesey County Judge.  It was in this house that Robert D. Boyd was shot and instantly killed by Henry Cross, January 10th, 1858, for which a verdict of justifiable homicide was rendered at an inquest, held by Asaph Whittlesey, Justice of the Peace, acting as Coroner.

ARRIVAL OF THE SECOND FEMALE UPON THE TOWN SITE.

Mr. and Mrs. John P. T. Haskell, with their family, parents of Mrs. Whittlesey, made a landing at Ashland, Nov. 2nd, 1854, and made their home with us during the winter following.  In the early spring they made a home of their own in a cabin located upon the site of the present residence of G. M. Willis, Esq., a little to the east of Vaughn’s Dock, in Vaughn’s addition to Ashland, which was originally known as Haskell’s pre-emption claim.  Mr. Haskell and family remained in the country only a single year, when they returned to Illinois, where Mr. Haskell died in 1873.  Mrs. Haskell is still living and is unusually active for one of her age.

I next call your attention to the

FIRST CELEBRATION OF THE 4TH OF JULY

upon the “town site” July 4th, 1855.

Under an understanding had between Mr. and Mrs. Austin Corser and Mr. And Mrs. John Corser, (then living at Fish Creek,) and being the owners of the only cows nearer than Odanah, an agreement was made whereby the Corsers were to furnish milk, while Mrs. Haskell and Mrs. Whittlesey, (then living in the log house still visible on lot 6, of block 6,) were to do the necessary cooking in the celebrated “mud oven” attached thereto, marvelous for its baking capacity and for the quality of its production.

On the day referred to, the Declaration of Independence was read by Asaph Whittlesey, and this with the delivery of an oration by A. W. Burt, with singing and amusements, constituted the first public celebration of the 4th of July in the history of Ashland.  The exercises were had at Whittlesey’s house in the after part of the day, and extended late in the evening, when music and dancing were added to the festivities of the day.  The ladies present were Mrs. Haskell, Mrs. Whittlesey, the two Mrs. Corsers and Mrs. Farley.  The gentlemen present were J. P. T. Haskell, George Kilborn, Lawrence Farley, Austin and John Corser, Asaph Whittlsey, A. W. Burt, A. J. Barckley, Adam Goeltz, John Donaldson, Conrad Goeltz, Andrew Scobie, and Duncan Sinclaire.  The children present were Eugenia E. Whittlesey, (less than three years old,) George, son of Mr. and Mrs. Austin Corser, also a child of Mr. and Mrs. John Corser and William, John Joseph and Hattie Haskell, children and Mr. and Mrs. J. P. T. Haskell.

I shall never forget Mrs. Haskell’s “classic step” on that occasion, discounting many of those present much younger than herself.  At intervals during the night the party were very highly entertained with singing by Conrad and Adam Goeltz.

FIRST POST OFFICE ESTABLISHED AT ASHLAND, MARCH 12TH, 1855.

As there was no opportunity for doubt as to the rapid growth of the city the establishment of a Post Office was the result of our first raid upon the general government, though for nearly one year following no provision whatsoever was made for furnishing this office with mail service, and mails were received by chance from La Pointe up to the opening of semi-monthly service, upon a new route established between La Pointe via Ashland to Chippewa Falls, and was soon after, during the winter months, supplied with weekly service upon the route from Ontonagon, Mich., to Superior, Wis.  On both of these routes the mails were carried by packers and upon dog teams.

Detail of La Pointe County from a map of Wisconsin published by J. H. Colton & Co., New York, 1856.
~ MapofUS.org

It is worth searching United States Post Office archives for correspondences relating to La Pointe County mail service.
See Objections to Mail Route 13780 (May 21st, 1855) for a separate petition against Julius Austrian in his role as the Postmaster at La Pointe.
Searching for the petition that formed Asaph Whittlesey’s post office (March 21st, 1855) may reveal more details.
Ashland County split from La Pointe County on March 27th, 1860.

In the petition forwarded to Washington asking for the establishment of an office at Ashland, La Pointe county, Wisconsin, the request was made that it be given the name of Ashland, and that Asaph Whittlesey be appointed postmaster.  The sequel showed that as there was an office by the name of Ashland within the State, it was not lawful to attach the name to this office and therefore the appointing officers at Washington attached the name of Whittlesey thereto, by which the office was known until July 30th, 1860, when the obstacle to change in the name being removed, it was then given the name of Ashland, and was also designated as being in Ashland County, Wisconsin.  I well remember how difficult a task I found it to be to satisfactorily explain to them how the place could one day be known as Whittlesey, La Pointe county and the next as Ashland, Ashland county.  But they soon admitted it rather than be longer afflicted with my letters upon the subject.

Detail of La Pointe County from a map of Wisconsin by The Milwaukee & Horicon Rail Road, 1857.
~ Library of Congress

The office of Whittlesey was kept in the cabin still in existence on lot 6 of block 6, “original Ashland,” until in Nov. 1857, when it was removed to lot 3 of block 3, into what was known as the Tomkins House, which then became the residence of myself and family until Nov. 1860.  The case in which the books and papers connected with the office were kept, (which was made by myself,) is now in the “farm house” at “Pleasant Valley,” and will be delivered to any public organization in Ashland desiring to preserve the same.  I continued to serve as postmaster until Nov. 21st, 1860, when I resigned the office and Andrew J. Barckley’s was appointed as my successor.  Barckley’s term as postmaster expired Sept. 9th, 1861, by the appointment of Martin Beaser as successor in office to Barckley.  Mr. Beaser served as postmaster until his death in Nov. 1866.

Detail of La Pointe and Ashland Counties from a map of Wisconsin and Michigan by A. J. Johnson and Ward, 1864.
~ Geographicus.org

The post office of Ashland was re-established Dec. 18th, 1871, and James A. Wilson, (the present incumbent,) being appointed postmaster.

The amount of post office money turned over to the Government by me at the close of my term of service was $8.53.  My commissions upon this amount, together with the “franking privilege” vested upon postmasters, laid the foundation for my future fortunes, the balance was taken in waitings upon William Gotzenberg, who made daily inquiries for his mail, though he was aware that no mails were received oftener than once a week.

To be continued in Number V

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