Hayward Live Cam

Excellent Central lake location overlooking the famous Chipewa Flowage


Hosted by:
  • Deerfoot Lodge & Resort
  • Chippewa Flowage
  • 8534 N Deerfoot Rd - Hayward
  • Wisconsin 54843 - United States
  • 715-462-3328
  • https://deerfootlodge.com/

Beautiful Lake Hayward is in Sawyer County

The history of the Hayward Lakes area should be simple. Counties in England for example have written and oral histories that go back a thousand years while here in Sawyer County we have only two hundred years of written history to study. That apparent simplicity is deceiving.

This week I received a copy of a document from my neighbors, the Mike Martin family. It is the history of the Amish settlement of Sawyer County and adjacent Rusk County. The first settlers came here from North Dakota in 1909. They settled near Weirgor and Glen Flora. Eli J. Bontrager and several others were charmed by the country and the climate. At the same time Gideon Hochstetler and his son-in-law Jacob R. Miller settled seven miles south of Radisson. It was within a couple of years that other members of their families joined the growing colony which grew to thirty-two Ameishmen and their families. The settlers came from Iowa, Montana, Indiana, Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma.

The land was cheap and fertile but covered with stumps and leftover trees. Levi Bontrager commented in the "Sugarcreek Budget", "We think it is a place for a man of small means. Of course anybody that is afraid of stumps, logs and brush has no business at a place like this. There are lots of places here where you can make yourself nice homes. And it would not take the busy man long to clear up 40 acres."

Many others felt the same way about this area. Reality set in sometimes when the temperatures dropped to thirty-five and forty below and the winter gales whined around rampikes left behind the loggers. Life must have seemed bleak to those hardy souls who struggled through the first few years. Winters in my lifetime fluctuate between the milder ones that hang on and then become mild springs to harshly cold, blustering and miserable. The settler who was not able to put up enough food would have to depend on neighbors or have an empty stomach until spring.

I am still reading "The Birth of the Modern World Society 1815-1830" by Paul Johnson. I am looking for more insight on how world events may have affected population movements in the United States. I just finished a smaller book called "Stitch of Courage" Historical Letters 1861-1865, by Linda K. Hubalek. In this book Maggy writes letters to her sister in Ohio and describes how the "women of Kansas faced the demons of the Civil War, fighting bravely to protect their homes and families while never knowing from one day to the next whether their men were alive or dead on a faraway battlefield."

This tied in conveniently with a PBS special on the Civil War and how the people of Gettysberg struggled to handle the horrors of the battlefield and how the women who were untrained and unprepared became nurses to the fallen soldiers. One young woman wrote in her memoirs that she never knew her strength until it was tested so sorely. she lost most of her family, mother, father, brothers and sisters during the war.

How does this reflect on Sawyer County history? This part of the state was reserved by treaty for the native Americans at that time. The native residents of Reserve, Wisconsin also fought in the Civil War on the side of the Union. The cemetery at St. Francis Solanus has many Civil War, WWI and WWII veterans buried there.

We are busy at the Museum as usual. Thank you to all of those who wrote, called and stopped to chat about the Louis Slimmer question. I have forwarded the information to the Millville Historical Society. We have been lucky enough to find manpower to work at renovating the CCC Camp at Camp Smith Lake. We hope to try to clear away some of the brush and develop a historical marker for the site. Does anyone want to help? I need someone to help write the sign.

I wanted to say "Thanks" to Ray Silack and Bob Vitcenda. We got a complaint last week about erosion and wind damage at the Belille Cemetery near Radisson. I called these two gentlemen who promptly checked out the situation and got back to the Society. I hope we can get some help down there to clean up the site and cover the eroded banks with rocks. Any volunteers? There is a Historic marker on the site erected by the Sawyer County Historical Society many years ago.

The Pine and the Hemlock

Visitors to the Upper Namekagon region and the younger of those who grew up here may look at the countryside as it is now and not realize that the whole aspect of the country has changed at least three times in less than a century--that the forests on the hills they see now are young and new--that beyond the memory of the older of us many of these hills were almost barren--and in the time of the memory of a very few, virgin forests smoothed all of these hills.

The vast forests of the upper Chippewa and Namekagon stretched from horizon to horizon, could you have found a place high enough to see above the trees. Most of this timber was white pine--immense trees three to six feet in diameter at the base, well over a hundred and fifty feet high, and in a stand of such uniformity that a ray of sunlight rarely reached the cool ground; one cound walk for miles in seldom broken shade. Early explorers told of walking "in the clear beneath the trees." David D. Owens at Phipps in 1847 wrote, "in a southwest course, a pine forest bounds the prospect to the horizon."

When the oldtimers tell of the forests of the days before the cutting of the timber, we often get the impression that all the land was a vast white pine forest, each tree immense in size and brushing the skies in height. Many areas such as the level land west of Round Lake were that way, but forest trees, as well as other plants, are strictly adapted to a habitat, their species and vigor affected by soil type and fertility, drainage and water levels, slopes and direction of exposure. Consequently the forests of today mirror their youthful way those of old in kind, if not in size. Where we have well-drained and fertile soils, white pine is the dominant tree, with its attendant aspen and birch and bracken ground cover. The sandy soils of old supported only jackpine--as now--and the poorly drained heavy soils were occupied by hardwood and hemlock. These forests, as today, were dotted with open muskeg marshes and laced with long lines of wetland hardwoods and cedar swamps beside the many streams; these have changed least of all.

Our Northland, now so green and cool with young forests throughout its breadth, has not always been as it appears today. In the days before the rapacious loggers came with their all-powerful tools, when it ws the domain of the timber wolf, the deer, the beaver, and sometimes an elk or bison; home and hunting ground of the Indian; natural forests covered the hills and valleys, forests so grand that we today can hardly imagine their beauty and extent. The catastrophe of their harvest, covering a period of about forty years beginning in 1880, created a new land; denuded, devastated, firescorched; a land of stumps, brush and stark rampikes.

From this era emerged an encouraging phase of change. The settlers came to clean up some of the land, build their homes and extend their pastures and meadows, but with them came more fires, killing the few trees left by the lumbermen, searing off the new growth till only grass and brush remained. Our present beautiful land emerged from the settlement period as a wise State made laws to stop the fires and allow nature to recoup and reseed the land. What we have today may not be the same as it was, but it is no less desirable and though a hundred years must pass before it even resembles what was here before, we again have almost unlimited forests, still sheltering the deer and beaver, and still providing those who seek it a sense of primeval, of quiet and aloneness.

The harvest of the timber with its attendant fires caused the greater change in the pineland. For twenty years the sawyers slashed all before them; what was not cut down was crushed and stripped by the falling giants. Logs were skidded out from the scrambled tops to be loaded on sleighs and hauled to the rivers on their way to the mill and market. Fire, always lurking where there is disorder, kindled by careless man or wilful lightning, enveloped the remains with such heat that all in its path was consumed and the very soil was charred to its mineral portion, often erasing the puny efforts of man as well.

White pine, most prized of the native lumber, was the first to be harvested, and by 1900 the big stands were mostly gone. Pine, because it floats well, could be transported most cheaply by drives on the lakes and streams to the efficient mills far downriver. As the pine became scarce the industry turned to the stands of hardwood and hemlock, which lasted into the twenties. Because of its weight and density, transportation by water was impractical and railroads were built to the stands to replace the old system of waterways. For short hauls to the railroad, horsedrawn sleighs were used but the steam-hauler, an early tractor-type engine, pioneered in the pine stands on Namekagon Lake in 1888 by William Hanson, made the longer hauls, pulling eight to twelve loaded sleighs.

The harvesting of this great wealth began at Marine on the St. Croix in 1838 and leapfrogged up the river to the upper Namekagon and Chippewa Rivers. Some timber was cut along them in the seventies, but the big cuts did not start on the upper Namekagon until 1882-3 when A. J. Hayward and R. L. McCormick built the mill at Hayward, after the construction of the railroad up the valley so that the lumber could be hauled out more cheaply. Their North Wisconsin Lumber Company cut forty to fifty million feet of timber in a year, stripping the surrounding hills and valleys to feed the saws. Within the year Hayward grew from a jackpine flat to a village of over a thousand people; three hundred men were employed in the mill in the summer, hundreds more in the camps back in the hills and up the river past Phipps and Cable to Namekagon Lake during the winters. Angus McDonald bossed his several camps near Cable, Dan McLaughlin had camps on Mosquito Brook, and many other loggers with contracts had operations over the area.

Other loggers used the river to drive their logs downstream past the mills, some being rafted as far down the rivers as St. Louis. Twenty years after the cutting began on the upper Namekagon most of the big timber was gone--cut down, cut up and scattered--and nailed together again to make homes, barns, factories, sheds and palaces. And now the land was desolate, the trees were gone; only hillsides of great pine stumps and leftover trees not good enough for the wasteful loggers were left to become start rampikes after the fires killed them, and tangled tops and wasted understory trees spread as far as the eye could see.

The fires came. The long-needed cleanup job was sudden and complete. All became a ragin holocaust after which nothing but water-soaked swamps and mineral soil remained. The great stumps were roasted and burned out--the litter, live small brush and trees alike went off in pungent smoke--where had stood the giants of the wilderness was now a barren and blackened wasteland.

Aftermath And Recovery

All things change and even here came again life and hope. The rains washed away the soot; birds and winds carried in seeds of grasses and shrubs, and in time the decendants of the once mighty forests reseeded among the blackened stumps and logs. But the logging was not all done. In 1895 the hardwoods and hemlock of the Totogatic and Namekagon were still intact, and much pine that had been overlooked in the first days was now to be scavenged. Again the slashings accumulated and again the fires swept the land. Where so shortly before had stood the mighty giants now was a rolling, rough and rocky snag-studded meadow. Now the start outlines of terrain could be seen; from the top of the hills east of Hayward one could other barren mounds--those north and south of Mosquito Brook, even to Cable Mountian, which is now so well known as Mount Telemark.

The era of the settler followed that of the logger. Homesteads were claimed; land was to be had cheaply by all who had the will for hard work and a pioneer life. Though the settler did not actually cultivate much of the area, his use of fires as an easy way of clearing off the brush and logs and in providing pasture for his free-ranging livestock on nearby land, had a great effect on the land cover. These fires often went uncontrolled and sometimes did not burn out for weeks, leaving little life in their path. Of course, nature reseeded the burned lands--but with grass and brush and trees of inferior species. Vast areas became prairie with blackened stumps and rampikes to show where the forest had been relieved only by a scattered copse of pine in a protected place or young timber on a hardwood ridge where the fire was not so severe.

The settlers, the land-hungry from the cities and overcroweded farming areas, had heard of these "stump farms" and started moving in after the turn of the century. Where the fires had raged, seed hand only to be planted to get a crop of clover and vegetables; the plow and the scythe could easily avoid the stumps which were grubbed out later as time permitted. For twenty years, settlement and fires cleared land until it was hard to believe that this new landscape had once had great forests.

The next change in landcover began in the twenties when a wise State made laws on fire control and provided the means in the Forest Protection Division. From then on all fires were controlled as much as possible. The sparse grass over the hills was replaced with brush; the brush grew into saplings and these into trees, mostly were popple and birch, but with young pines and hardwoods sprouting beneath them to gain the ascendancy as the years passed. The labors of the Civilian Conservation Corps, that great volunteer force of youths during the thirties, reforested large areas and provided roads for a vigilant State Conservation Department to use in protection of new growth. Public and private agencies continued the trend. Again we hae forests, not like those of the past--no one among us will ever see such grandeur--but our hills are now covered with youthful forests which stretch as far as the eye can see.

Expansion of farmland ended with the depression in the thirties. The State made laws before that to control fires, and provided the means with the Conservation Department in the twenties, augmented by the willing aid of the young men of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the thirties. Our rapidly growing forests of today, though not of the supreme quality of the virgin stands, are being developed and protected by governmental and private agencies so that again lands, which are of little other use to man, are assuming their natural estate as forests and recreation areas, refuge for the wild beasts of yore and, occasionally, for man himself.

The French Influence in Sawyer County

The settlement of Sawyer County is a fact long ago accomplished and, if we ever pause to think about it today, probably of not great interest to most of us. Should we actually delve into the history of this settlement, we could find it very complex and very interesting. To trace all of the facts of this migration in time and source would require a large volume so we can only outline some of the more important details in a less than complete treatment of the subject.

Usually we think of the loggers as the ones who opened up the country in the last century, the farmers following them and clearing farms from the cut-over lands. For the modern community that is essentially true. However, the area now known as Sawyer County has been inhabited and known throughout America and even to Europe for several hundred years. Radisson, who so nearly starved to death by Lac Courte Oreilles three hundred years ago, carried his tale back to London. Most of the famous early explorers made at least one trip through the county, traversing the Namekagon or Chippewa waters. Henry R. Schoolcraft, the early Indian agent, whose tales of the Chippewa legends inspired Longefellow to write Hiawatha , came down the Namekagon in 1832 to the portage to Windigo Lake and then met in council with the Chippewas at their village near the outlet of Lac Courte Oreilles. When we think of the Indians as being the first inhabitants here, we think of the Chippewas. Actually, like the rest of us, they are rather recent immigrants, as they and their relatives, the Ottawas, replaced the Sioux a little over two hundred years ago, though the Sioux contested their occupation for another hundred years.

One of the great racial and cultural influences in the settlement of Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin which has been largely ignored has been that of the French, or French-Canadian, people. We have books by the hundreds of the "romance" of the British colonial border settlers from the east coast; their fights with the Indians, their flatboats on the Ohio, the Wilderness Road and Zane's Trace across Ohio, their travial and hardship in the new country while they cleared the land and established new homes and towns. We have almost forgotten that in 1778 when George Rogers Clark marched his tiny army of one hundred and fifty "borderers," mostly Virginia frontiersmen, from the lower Ohio River across the southern tip of Illinois to take Kaskaskia and Cahokia on the Mississippi, these were well established towns of Frenchmen with families, churches, wineshops, farms and orchards, and that when Clark went on the next spring to capture Fort Vincennes (the one act that was probably the key in determining that our part of the country became American instead of British) almost half of his army was made up of these same French towns.

That this French influence was felt in the settlement of Sawyer County, there is no doubt. The people engaged in the early fur trade were Frenchmen, as were most of the later fur traders, though some of the owners, such as Alexander Henry, were British, but he took a Frenchman, Jean Baptiste Cadotte, into partnership. Even the later fur traders like th eWarrens, who married granddaughters of Cadotte, employed the French. The clerks and helpers on the posts and the boatmen who transported the furs, the coureurs de bois , were Quebec farm boys, "engaged" for a season, who made a small stake and enjoyed the adventure of a trip to the far wilderness with the traders. Many of them back for other seasons and, with a better knowledge of the frontier and the intention to settle in this new land, brought their wives and children, or married Indian women and raised metis--mixed--families. Of course, the French were not the only settlers who chose the latter course. Few white frontier families who came from the colonies on the east coast but that can boast of an Indian ancestor, as there are few Indians today who can boast, or not, as they choose, of a similar white ancestor, usually French.

When the loggers reached the Falls of the Chippewa about 1838, they were led by John Brunet, a Frenchman, who had come up the Mississippi to Prairie du Chein, then a town of French "habitants." His crew was recruited from these people and on the way up they passed French settlements on the river; traders, farmers and rivermen. When they arrived at the Falls their neighbor was Louis DeMarais, who had built the first house in Chippewa Falls. His wife was part Cree and her father had been a trader on the north shore of Lake Superior. Their daughters married the first loggers and their descendants are numerous today in northwest Wisconsin. A French-Indian settlement was built up at Chippewa Falls and Eagle Point, the men working in the logging camps and the women minding the cabins and small farms. As00 the loggers cut their way north, these men and their sons followed the timber, along with the 'jacks from Maine, Ireland and Scandinavia. The migration came to a climax in northern Sawyer County as the virgin forests on the Chippewa watershed came to an end. The men had no choice but to settle down and make the best of it as farmers, as scavengers of what was left of the timber, or to move on to where they could find other employment. Many of these families of French ancestry settled in Sawyer County, mostly at Reserve and the Post.

The fur trade brought many more French people into what is now Sawyer County. Jean Baptiste Cadotte had the only house at the Sault when Alexander Henry came through in 1765. He and Henry established their post on Madeline Island. His sone, Michael Cadotte, whose mother was Chippewa, married a Chippewa women and was given the area where we live as a trading territory by his father after he returned from Montreal where he had received his education. He and his sons continued the trade and two of his daughters married the American traders, the Warren brothers, and these people carried on the trade as long as it lasted in northern Wisconsin.

The first white man known to have made his permanent residence int he interior of northwestern Wisconsin was Jean Baptiste Corbin, and educated Frenchman, who came there as a trader for the Northwest Fur Company in 1801 as a young man and later established his own post on the present site of Reserve. He lived the rest of his life here, leaving many descendants; he died in 1886 and is buried in the cemetery of the Catholic church he do so much to establish.

Many French-Canadian families came to Chippewa County, which then included what is now Sawyer County, about 1840, among them the three Bellile brothers. Charles Bellile came up the Chippewa and settled at Bellile Falls a few miles sough of Radisson where he cleared a small farm and probably had a store and stopping place. The first school in Sawyer County was built at his settlement in 1877 and was called the Bellile School. The other two of the Bellile boys married Corbine girls and their grandsons live at Reserve today. William Bellile says they called the grandfather "Grandpa Canada".

The residents of Sawyer county today are prosiac Americans who have almost forgotten their origins, whether Anglo-Saxons fromthe Colonies, German, Scandinavian, or other new immigrants, or Canadians. However, when we scan a census of what is now Wisconsin for 1820 and 1850 and see the names Trepanier, Denome, Gauthier (Gokey), Cadotte, LaRush, Demarais, Bellile, and many others, we need not be amazed that one time French was the European langauage most commonly heard here.