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Discovering Your Roots

Researching history has never been easier. A countless number of well written historical books are available in libraries and bookstores detailing the lives, joys and daily struggles of the early settlers.

In this day and age, the internet also has a vast collection of information online that one can easily access with just the click of a mouse.

The books and articles written about early Wisconsin have intriguingly described its beauty and settlings in various ways. The many authors are essentially saying just about the same thing. The lands in Wisconsin were pristine and virtually untouched, with beautifully landscaped features abundantly blooming in some places and baron in others.

The land was all un-broken, untilled and very fertile.  The tranquil attractiveness of its rolling hills, meadows, lakes, prairies and rivers are usually described as breathtaking. This in turn provided a well formed eco-system with an ample supply of lush vegetation for an unlimited species of habitat.

In January of 1847, A. G. Tuttle wrote a letter to his family back in Connecticut about the land and his feelings of injustice as to how the land was taken. His interesting letter can be found on the State Historical Society’s site
on the internet.

Tuttle’s letter reads; “The natural resources of Wisconsin are almost unlimited and nothing is wanted but the hand of cultivation to make it the garden of the world”.

Sadly, as soon as everyone began to arrive to this picturesque land named Wisconsin, its natural resources began to be depleted. Not a thought was given to that aspect of life until much later years. It wasn’t until 1867 the Legislature established a Forestry Commission to study the destruction of the beautiful forests of Wisconsin.

The dwellers in the heavily populated New England States were the first to join the movement to relocate on the Wisconsin frontier. After a short time, immigrants began arriving from various countries that were in some type of distress or upheaval.

Hardly any land beyond the Mississippi was settled by 1850. For those making the dismal trek, Wisconsin was only a stop before moving on. A great number settled and made a life for their families. Others took some time to accumulate that little nest egg, and then continued onward in their meandering path to prosperity.

For many of those who ardently traveled here to Wisconsin and namely the Town of Stockton, establishing their homesteads was their priority. They were the first to experience a new life in this mix of beauty and baron land. A deep beauty that resonated onward through the years leading many of their offspring to remain here and continue   enjoying it to this day. Here, the beauty of the seasons remains boundless.

Submitted by Sue Stremkowski 3.12.2020

William F. Collins

One of the best recorders of early history with ties to the Town of Stockton was William F. Collins. The Stevens Point Journal on Wednesday, September 22, 1937 stated that he was a native of Stevens Point. He was born April 14, 1869, the son of and the oldest child born to Patrick and Elizabeth Collins who located in Stevens Point in 1868.

Collins attended schools in Stevens Point and then taught school for a year after graduating. He entered the law school of the University of Wisconsin graduating in 1894, opened a law office in Stevens Point in partnership with E. J. Diecks and continued in that partnership until 1901. He was elected to the assembly and served a four-year term and remained active in numerous opportunities, causes and political endeavors throughout his lifetime.

After his marriage to Mary Ghoca in 1903, they moved to Portland Oregon for about five years and they returned to Wisconsin where Collins was associated with a lumber company in northern Wisconsin for several years. He then was engaged in the insurance business while working in a bank in Wisconsin Rapids for a few more years.

The activities that are of particular interest to the Town of Stockton are minute when they are weaved into the spectrum of his lifetime story.

It was in 1918 that William F. Collins then came to the Town of Stockton. He became a cashier at the Arnott State Bank in the little community of Arnott. George DeClark of Stockton was the Notary Public at the bank. John A. Werachowski of Stockton and Andrew Yokers of Buena Vista were the Directors of the Bank.

Collins was well liked by everyone and quickly became involved in town affairs. He was a leader in the community who could give direction, easily manage and guide people in matters of concern to the community as well as work right along side his friends and neighbors getting a job done. He fearlessly appeared before commissions dealing with road work or had loudly protested the railroad service cuts at the Arnott Depot, eagerly joining the area residents in opposition.

An editorial in The Stevens Point Daily Journal on September 19, 1919 compliments his activism. An excerpt reads; “Arnott is one of the smaller Portage county villages, but one of the most active and promising.” It also states, “His townspeople and the farmers thereabouts also owe a great deal of appreciation to Arnott’s wide-awake banker, Mr. Collins, who has the vision to know what the village and district need and the courage to go after it hard”.

The Journal goes on to state, “Mr. Collins was an active member of any organization to which he belonged. He was a member of the Old Settlers union and served as its president”.

One of the many notable projects Collins worked on is as valuable as a cache of jewels to anyone seeking history of the early years in this area of Wisconsin.

An historical series was published from 1927 to approximately 1932 about many of the earliest happenings around the area. These articles appeared in The Stevens Point Journals as well as newspapers in some of the neighboring cities.

The Stevens Point Daily Journal also informed readers that “Mr. Collins was author of a series of articles which appeared in the Journal under the name of ‘Tap Snilloc’ the name by which he was known to nearly all who knew him. His series ‘Reminiscences by Tap Snilloc’ at times also appeared under the heading ‘By Tap Snilloc.’ They dealt mainly with Portage county history. Mr. Collins was a daily visitor at the Journal office at that time and his wide knowledge of Portage county, past and present, made him a valuable source of information.” Tap Snilloc is Pat Collins backwards. He was known to everyone as “Pat.”

The articles related to many of the issues of the early days. They contained a wide variety of information with each being equally interesting. To give an idea as to what he covered while recording some of that earliest history, here in no special order are some of the subjects he wrote about; schools, McGuffey readers, the old fair grounds, McCuloch’s Hall, the early Polish settlers, stockholders, songs, businessmen, war, politics, pioneers, cobblers, tailors, places, parents, voters. lumbering, people, lumberjacks, river pilots, towns and villages, legislators, driving logs, congressman, the city banks, horseracing, stage lines and more.

At times some paragraphs of those articles found within the Newspaper Archives are barely readable but hold much information on the early past and are worth the effort while searching for history.

Submitted by Sue Stremkowski 3.12.2020