By Amorin Mello

The Ashland Weekly Press became the Ashland Daily Press.

January 5, 1878.

The Survey of the Penoka Range and Incidents Connected with its Early History.

Number VII.

The “great commercial storm” was the Panic of 1857; a precursor to the American Civil War.  It had dramatic impacts across the United States including Milwaukee and the south shore of Lake Superior.
“Cream City” refers to Milwaukee and its manufacturing of bricks made with light yellow-colored clay from the Menomonie River Valley.

Upon the arrival of Gen. Cutler and myself at Milwaukee, December 25th, 1857, we found that the affairs of the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Company were in a very different condition, financially, from what they were when we left home, nearly eight months before. The great commercial storm, that, like a tidal wave, had swept over the country that year from Maine to California, had left its mark in wrecking many of the best business men of the “Cream City,” as well as elsewhere. Among these were some of the original stock holders of our company, who, unable to stand their assessments any longer, had, previous to our arrival, given place to others as green as they were originally themselves. Even some of the new stock holders were also subsequently compelled to sell out to other parties, not being any better able to respond when the call for more money was made upon them, than had their illustrious predecessors, thereby losing not only all they had invested, but what they had in prospect to make, as well.

Dr. Henry Harrison Button’s wife was a distant cousin of Thomas A. Greene.  The two men signed a partnership agreement on October 1, 1848 to operate a wholesale and retail drug business in Milwaukee and remained in business together for the rest of their lives. Greene was an amateur geologist who collected 75,000 specimens of fossils and minerals.
John W. Pixley was a merchant and land speculator in Milwaukee.
Simeon N. Small and John B.D. Coggswell were introduced in Numbers III and IV of this series.
R.B. Bell & Co. was a wholesale merchant of alcohol and tobacco in Milwaukee.

Among those who stepped into the trap at this time and who remained in to the end were Messrs. Green & Button, who yet hold stock, John W. Pixley, Simeon N. Small, J.B.D. Coggswell and R.B. Bell, a one-horse banker who came to our city about that time. The outs being John Lockwood, who, in imagination, had been a large capitalist, and worth at least two hundred thousand dollars; but whose liabilities so far exceeded his ability to pay when brought to the front as to make him a hopeless bankrupt, was, with Palmer, Greves and Cummings, compelled to retire.

The amount of money expended up to this time, in order to obtain possession of this imaginary bonanza had not only floored these gentlemen, leaving them high and dry upon the shoals of commercial bankruptcy, but had so far exceeded the amount originally contemplated, as to make those of us who remained fear the wrath to come in view of the stringency of the money market, as well as the general stagnation of business, particularly, as from past experience, it was not possible to calculate with certainty what further amounts would be required, in order to insure success. A large force was still upon the Range, neither could it be withdrawn until the lands were entered, except at the risk of losing all that had been done. These men were to be paid as well as fed during the winter, which would of itself, require no inconsiderable sum; besides we must pay the Government for the land. Money must be raised, consequently, to go back was impossible; to go forward, equally so. But to go ahead was our motto, and the amount necessary for these purposes was at once raised by assessment upon those of us who were yet solvent, and the “pot kept a boiling.”

Wheelock townsite claim at Ballou Gap in the Iron Range with sugar maples, springs, and useless compasses. (Detail of Stuntz survey from May of 1858)

Wheelock’s unmarked townsite claim at Ballou Gap in the Iron Range with sugar bushes, artesian springs, and useless compasses. (Detail of Stuntz’s survey during September of 1857)

According to the July 8th, 1871 issue of the Bayfield Press, only “a few hundred pounds” were ever extracted by the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Company.  This means they extracted more maple sugar than iron from the Penokee Mountains.

During the winter the improvements upon the Range spoken of as contemplated were pushed steadily forward under the skillful management of A.B. Wheelock, who was in every way, the man for the place, as in addition to completing the two block houses in good shape, twelve hundred pounds of sugar and forty gallons of molasses were made under his direction during the spring. The tubs for holding the sugar and syrup were all made during the winter at Penoka, by that Jack of all trades, Steve Sanborn, who could do almost as good work with a hatchet, knife, saw, auger and draw shave, as half the coopers and carpenters in the country, with a full set of tools.

Perhaps a short sketch of this singular mortal, so well known to many of Ashland’s early men, may not be uninteresting to your readers.

Steven Sanborn was introduced in the Number VI of this series.
Pike’s Peak is located among the copper ranges south of Superior City.  However, this Pike’s Peak could be a reference to Mount Ashwabay in the Pikes Creek watershed southwest of Bayfield.

In height he was about five feet six inches, broad shoulders, arms long and sinewy, head large and wide; dark complexion, long, dark brown hair, blue eyes, face smooth and beardless, high cheek bones, long, wide, projecting chin, that was always getting up a muss with his nose, which was also long, and slightly hooked. He walked heavily, his knees usually about six inches in advance of his toes, giving his legs, which were bowed, the shape of an obtuse angle. Such was his personale. His conversational powers were not of the highest order – in fact he seldom spoke to any one; was fond of hunting and trapping, a vocation he usually followed every winter, remaining out alone for weeks together, at the Marengo, living upon mink, martin, muskrat, or any other kind of rat. He was always restless and uneasy, and could get outside of more bean soup and shanty bread at a sitting than any two men upon the Range. Such are my recollections of Stephen Sanborn. The last known of him was at Pike’s Peak, where, if living, he is no doubt following the same hermit life he loved so well upon Lake Superior.

The General Land Office in Superior City was the epicenter of scandals that received nationwide media coverage.  The topics of the Superior office and the boys’ “little affidavits” will be featured on this blog in the future.
Abandoning the Gogebic Iron Range with implies that the company obtained fraudulent preemption claims.

At length, after a winter of unusual mildness, similar to what the present one promises to be, gentle spring once more showed her smiling face, a signal to us to hurry up and complete our work; and as the returns of the survey were now all made, and the lands subject to entry, the necessary funds for entering them were placed in my hands, with which I returned to the Range, took the boys to Superior City, where they made their little affidavits, got their duplicates, and returned with me to La Pointe, where we met the General, who had followed me from Milwaukee, where the work of transferring the titles to the company was at once commenced and completed successfully with all except A.S. Stacy, who traitor-like, (to use a commercial term), “laid down” on us, refusing to convey, unless paid a bonus of one thousand dollars, which, if my memory is correct, and I’ll bet it is, he never got. The duplicates once in our possession, the patents were soon forthcoming, through influence brought to bear at Washington, after which, there being no prospect of doing anything with the lands at present, owing to the financial condition of the country, as well as the almost total prostration of the iron interest. The personal property was placed in store at Sibley’s and other points, until again wanted, and the Range abandoned about July 1, 1858. This abandonment, however, which was at the time supposed to be only temporary, proved in the end, to us at least, eternal. The fruits of our labors are not enjoyed by others. “We shook the bush and they caught the bird.” Notwithstanding that a railroad,- the Ashland and Iron Mountain, of which I, with others, was a corporator, was chartered in 1859, it was, as is well known, never built. We were finally compelled, after all, to see this whole thing, upon which we had spent so much money, and suffered so many hardships, slip from our grasp, and pass into the hands of those who had not labored for it. But so it is ever; one planeth, and another gathereth.

Such, Mr. Editor, is the history in brief, of the way, as well as by whom, the Penoka Range was first surveyed and located, and although we underwent much hardship and privation, yet I look back today upon that summer, as the pleasantest, in many respects, that I ever spent in Wisconsin. Neither would I hesitate, even now, to undertake the same again, and would like very much to see the old cabin at Penoka, which I am told is yet standing, in which I spent so many happy days in 1857.

The history of the Range from that time to the present is as well known to you as to me, and need not be dwelt upon further than to say that its possession did not make millionaires of any of us.

Increase A. Lapham surveyed the Penokee Iron Range on behalf of the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Company during 1858.

Increase A. Lapham surveyed the Penokee Iron Range on behalf of the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Company during 1858.

But what a change have these twenty years brought to the members, as well as the employees of the old company! Of the company, Palmer, Gen. Cutler, H. Hill, Sidebotham, Pixley, J.B.D. Cogswell, Small and Ripley have passed from earth. Lockwood and Harris are in New Orleans; J.F. Hill, J. Cummings and myself in Milwaukee, and Greves in California. Of the others I have no knowledge. Of the employees, Wheelock is upon a farm in Dakota; J.C. Cutler, at his home in Dexter, Maine; Whitcomb is in Milwaukee; Valliant, Stevens and Chase were killed in the late unpleasantness, and H.C. Palmer died in Milwaukee. Of the others I know not.

The “late unpleasantness” is a folk name for the American Civil War.
Asaph Whittlesey’s spiel about Augustus Barber’s death was featured in Numbers III and V.

There are, however, many yet living with whom I became acquainted at that time, in Ashland and vicinity, for whom I have ever cherished the warmest personal friendship. If these sketches and reminiscences of long long ago have interested or amused them, I am glad. The writing of them has brought to mind many scenes and faces, that were almost forgotten, but which are as vivid now as though occurring yesterday. I hope, the coming season to see you all, and talk over old times, and make a trip to the Range over the old trail, every foot of which is accurately mapped in my eye. And now, as my task is done, at least for the present, I will bid the Press readers good-bye, and

Let Brother Whittlesey “spiel” it a while.
About that wonderful siege of Barlile.

J.S. Buck
Milwaukee, Dec. 18, 1877.

By Amorin Mello

The Ashland Weekly Press became the Ashland Daily Press.

December 8, 1877.

The Survey of the Penoka Range and Incidents Connected with its Early History
Number IV.
 Friend Fifield:- As no doubt many of your readers are acquainted with the form and location of the Penoka Range, I have concluded to give in this number a short sketch of its main topographical features, in order that a better understanding may be had of the work done upon and in connection with it, by the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Company, in 1856, ’57 and ’58.
Increase A. Lapham surveyed the Penokee Iron Range on behalf of the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Company during 1858.

Increase Allen Lapham surveyed the Penokee Iron Range in September of 1858 for the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Company. Years later, Lapham’s experience was published as Mountain of Iron Ore: The buried wealth of Northern Wisconsin in the Milwaukee Evening Wisconsin newspaper on February 21, 1887. (Image courtesy of the University of Wisconsin Geography Department)

Water gaps are valuable locations in mountain ranges for transportation routes and geological study.
The Gogebic iron range is crossed by the Bad River, City Creek, Ballou Creek, Tyler Forks River and the Potatoe River. Each forms a valley termed a ‘gap’ in the range.
~ 1978 Marsden Report for US Steel.
Penokee Gap, 1000 feet above Lake Superior, is a break in the rough country, a regular gap where the Bad River breaks through the Iron Range Hills on its way to Lake Superior. The Gap is an historic pathway through which the copper workers from Mexico and South America came to Lake Superior centuries ago enroute to the copper deposits on Isle Royal in Lake Superior.
~ Railroad History, Issues 54-58, pg. 26
Palmer’s station, aka Penoka, was near Bad River Gap, aka Penokee Gap.
Lockwood’s station was not mapped.  City Creek and Ballou Creek are the two water gaps on either side of Mount Whittlesey (midway between the Bad River and Tyler’s Fork).
Sidebotham’s station, aka “The Gorge,” was near Tyler Forks Gap and the Lac Courte Oreilles Harvest & Education Learning Project.
S.R. Marston’s treachery to the company was revealed in Penokee Survey Incidents: Number III.
George W. Chase and Dr. Enoch Chase were cofounders of the Old Settlers’ Club of Milwaukee along with Horace Chase.  The father of the Chase brothers was a Freemason in Vermont.
John B.D. Cogswell was the brother-in-law of Simeon M. Small.

The Penoka Iron Range consists, as is well known, of a sharp ridge, some fifteen miles in length, by from one to one and one half in breadth, with a mean elevation of 700 feet above Lake Superior, from which is a distance about twenty-two miles, as the crow flies, its general trend being nearly east and west, it is densely covered with timber consisting of sugar maple, (of which nearly every tree is birdseye or curly) elm, red cedar, black, or yellow birch, some of which are of an enormous girth, among which are intermixed a few white pine and balsams, for it is traversed from north to south at three different points, by running streams, upon each of which the company had a station, the western being known in the vernacular of the company, as Palmer’s, (now Penoka); the center, as Lockwood’s, in honor of John Lockwood, who was at the time a prominent member of the Company, and upon its executive board; and the eastern, as Sidebotham’s, or The Gorge.”  These were the principal stations or centers, where supplies and men were always kept, and as which, as before stated, more or less work had been done the previous year.  Penoka, as which the most work had been done, being considered by far the most valuable.  This post was, at the time of my first visit, by charge of S.R. Marston, of whom mention was made in my last, and two young boys from Portsmouth, N.H., who had come west on exhibition, I should say, from the way they acted.  They soon left, however, too many mosquitoes for them.  “Lockwood’s,” as previously stated, was garrisoned by one man, whose name I have forgotten, and although a great amount of work had been done here as yet, it was nevertheless considered a very valuable claim, on account of the feasibility with which it could be reached by the rail Mr. Herbert had in contemplation to build from Ironton, and which would, in passing along the north side of the Range, come in close proximity to this station; besides, it had the additional advantages of a fine water power.  At the east end were two half-breeds employed by the company, and George Chase, a young man from Derby, Vermont, a nephew of ex-Mayor Horace, and Dr. Enoch Chase, of Milwaukee, an employee of Stuntz, who, with James Stephenson, was awaiting the return of Gen. Cutler with reinforcements, in order to continue the survey.  Chase subsequently made a claim which he was successful in securing – selling it finally to the Mr. Cogswell, of Milwaukee.

Palmer's station aka Penoka, near the Bad River Gap.

Penoka, aka Penokee, is Palmer’s station near the Bad River Gap.

No record found for Samuel Champner. He may have been a resident of Whittlesey’s settlement near Equadon within the Town of Bayport.
Wiiwkwedong (Ojibwemowin for “bay”) aka “Equadon” was the name of an ancient Indian settlement at the artesian springs of Prentice Park and Maslowski Beach.  Wiikwedong was accessible by Lake Superior as well as footpaths from Bad River Gap, Odanah, Lac Courte Oreilles, St. Croix, and Fond du Lac.
Lysander Cutler abandoned the Ironton trail between Saxon Harbor and Tyler’s Fork Gap before it became a road.  Cutler favored the Old Penokee trail between Wiikwedong and Bad River Gap.

It is also proper to state in addition to what has been already mentioned, that at, or about this time, a road was opened by Mr. Herbert’s order, from the Hay Marsh, six miles out from Ironton, to which point one had been previously opened, to the Range, which it struck about midway between Sidebotham’s and Lockwood’s Stations, over which, I suppose, the 50,000 tons as previously mentioned, was to find its way to Ironton, (in a horn).  For this work, however, the Company refused to pay, as they had not authorized it; neither had Mr. Herbert, at that time, any authority to contract for it, except at his own risk; his appointment as agent having already been revoked; although his accounts had not, as yet, been fully settled.  This work, which was without doubt, intended to commit the company still further in favor of Ironton as an outlet for the iron, was done by Samuel Champner, a then resident of Ashland and who if living is probably that much out of pocket today.  No use was ever made of this road by the Company, not one of their employees, to my knowledge, ever passing over it.

There are two significant gaps in the between Sidebotham's and Palmer's. Lockwood's station may have been located at Mount Whittlesey or at Ballou Creek.

The location of Lockwood’s station was not mapped by Lapham or by Stuntz. City Creek and Ballou Creek are the two water gaps on either side of Mount Whittlesey, midway between the gaps of Bad River and Tyler’s Fork.

William Herbert was a resident of Superior City in 1855 and moved back to Bayfield by 1859 where he and his family were prominent settlers.

This description will, I think, give your readers a very good understanding of the condition as well as the true inwardness of the affairs of the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Co., in the month of June, 1857.

Arthur R. Wheelock, Julius O. Smith, and Alfred A. Stevens secured land patents for Lockwood’s station through the General Land Office.
No record found for Joel P. McClellan.

At length, after remaining on the Range nearly three weeks, awaiting, Micawber like, for something to turn up, a change came with the arrival of Gen. Cutler from Milwaukee with the expected reinforcements.  Mr. Herbert at once left the Range, went to Milwaukee and settled up with the Company, after which, to use a scriptural expression, “he walked no more with us.”

Among those who came at this time was Arthur R. Wheelock, Joel P. McClellan and Julius O. Smith, of Milwaukee, for the Company, and Alvin Stevens, (from Maine), with a number of others whose names I have forgotten, for Stuntz – thus enabling him to again commence work.
Springdale is John Sidebotham's townsite claim at The Gorge of Tyler Fork's River.

Springdale is Sidebotham’s station at The Gorge of Tyler Fork’s River.

No record found for John Cummings.
A.S. Stacy was from Franklin, Quebec, and started a family in Milwaukee.
James Smith Buck alludes to Freemasonry influences in the Penokees.  Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni and Sir Christopher Wren are famous Freemasons.  The Forty-seventh Problem of Euclid and fifteen degrees to the Ecliptic are traditional Freemason concepts. “Fearfully and wonderfully made,” Ancient Milesianand  Modern Milesian were cited in American Freemason publications during the 1850s and 1860s.
Sixteen rocks and iron ores from the Penokie Range were featured at the United States Centennial.  These mineral specimens are detailed in the Catalogue of the Wisconsin State Mineral Exhibit at Phialephia, 1876.
Non Est Factum (“not his deed”):
A special defense in contract law to allow a person to avoid having to respect a contract that she or he signed because of certain reasons such as a mistake as to the kind of contract.
~ Duhaime.org

Wheelock, Smith, and McClellan were at once placed upon claims – McClellan in the interest of John Cummings, (whose name by an oversight was also omitted from the list of stockholders, given in my first paper), and Wheelock and Smith for the Company generally.  Subsequently, A.S. Stacy, of Canada, was also employed to hold a claim.  How well he performed this duty, will be seen further on.  This done, the improvements necessary to be made in order to entitle us to the benefits of the preemption law were at once commenced.  These improvements consisted of log cabins, principally, of which some twenty in all were erected upon the different claims.  These cabins would have been a study for Michel Angelo, or Sir Christopher Wren.  They had more angles than the Forty-seventh Problem of Euclid, with an average inclination of fifteen degrees to the Ecliptic.  O, but they were fearfully and wonderfully made,” were these cabins.  Their construction embodied all the principle points of architecture in the Ancient as well as ModernMilesian-Greek, mixed with the “hoop skirt” and Heathen Chimee.  Probably ten dollars a month would have been considered a high rent for any of them.  No such cabins as those were in exhibition at the Centennial, no sir.  Rome was not built in a day, but most of these cabins were.  I built four myself near the Gorge, in a day, with the assistance of two halfbreeds, but was not able to find them a week afterwards.  This is not only a mystery but a conundrum.  I think some traveling showman must have stolen them; but although they were non est we could swear that we had built them, and did.

Enemies included the La Pointe Iron Company, the Town of Bayport, the Bayfield Land Company, and other land speculators.
Meanwhile our enemies, who had begun to show themselves occasionally – not idle, and from fear of yet loosing a part of our lands on account of not being able to hold all by preemption, we decided to adopt what was known at that time as the townsite plan,’ in part.  This townsite fever was then in full blast from Maine to California, in fact.  The whole Lake shore was dotted with them from the Sault to Superior City.  Every man had one and as they were supposed to be ‘sure fire’ they were of course just what we wanted.
Springdale townsite (John Sidebotham's Claim), the Ironton Trail, and the Iron Range at The Gorge of Tyler's Fork River. (Detail of Albert Stuntz's 1857 PLSS survey map)

Springdale townsite plan at Sidebotham’s station by The Gorge of Tyler’s Fork in close proximity to the Ironton Trail and Iron Range. (Detail of Stuntz’s survey during August of 1857.) 

Land patents for Sidebotham’s station at The Gorge were secured at the General Land Office by Lysander Cutler with Sioux Scrip.

Three were accordingly platted — one at Penoka, one at Lockwood‘s and one at the Gorge.  And in order that it might be done without interfering with the regular survey, Gen. Cutler decided to place S.R. Marston who, in addition to his other accomplishments, claimed to be a full-fledged surveyor, in charge of the work, assisted by Wheelock, Smith and myself.  He commenced at the Gorge, run three lines and quit, fully satisfied that he had greatly overestimated his abilities.  We were certainly satisfied that he had.  A drunken man could have reeled it off in the dark and come nearer the corner than he did.  He was a complete failure in every thing he undertook.  He left in the fall after the failure of the Sioux Scrip plot.  Where he went I never knew.  George E. Stuntz was subsequently put upon the work, which he was not long in doing, after which he rejoined Albert on the main work.  This main work, however, for the completion of which we were all so anxious, was very much delayed, the cause for which we did not at the time fully understand, but we did afterwards.       J.S.B.