The Farming Era in the Northwoods
In many parts of the country, clearing the land of forest was a necessary prerequisite for farming. Many people considered the logging of the northern Midwest to be the first step in the same pattern: Farming would follow the loggers and the country would continue to prosper.
The Extension Service of the University of Wisconsin was an enthusiastic booster of the farming possibilities of the region. Land developers were equally eager to encourage new settlers to come to the area as farmers.
The very thin layer of topsoil left after the cutover, as well as the poor sandy soil, coupled with a growing season which was too short for successful farming combined to make farming unprofitable.
The farming era didn't last long. Farmers, mostly immigrants, headed into the area following the loggers, which for the Star Lake region meant that began arriving fairly early in the new century. It took very few years for their farms to fail. Not much evidence of farming in the Star Lake area remains: a few fields, and road names such as the Mykelby Farm Road.
The idea didn't die easily, however. The "Backward Glances" column in the Vilas County News Review of September 17, 2008, contains "80 Years Ago ... A survey conducted by a bank indicated that farming in the North Woods was becoming increasingly more profitable." (Tobacco companies were also telling us that smoking was sophisticated and healthy.)Charles P. ForbesSeptember 24, 2008
Comprehensive ReferencesApps, Jerry, Old Farm, Madison, 2008. View Full EntryBogue, Allan, Review: Gough, Farming the Cutover, Wisconsin Magazine of History Vol.82, #1, Autumn, 1998., Madison, 1998. View Full EntryDelwiche, E. J., First Aid to the Settler, Bulletin 200, October 1915, Madison, 1915. View Full EntryDunn and Lewis, Eds., We Were Children Then, Volume II: Stories from the Yarns of Yesteryear Project, Madison, 1982. View Full EntryGard, et al., We Were Children Then: Stories from the Yarns of Yesteryear Project, Madison, 1976. View Full EntryGoc, Michael, Wisconsin Dust Bowl, Wisconsin Magazine of History, Vol. 73, Spring, 1990., 1990. View Full EntryGough, Robert, Farming the Cutover, Lawrence, 1997. View Full EntryHenry, W. A., Agricultural Advantages and Possibilities of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, 1903. View Full EntryKane, Lucile, Settling the Wisconsin Cutovers, Wisconsin Magazine of History, Vol. 400, #2, Winter, 1956-57, pp. 91-98, Madison, 1956. View Full EntryKanetzke, Howard, Ed., Dairying in Wisconsin, Badger History, XXIV, #3, Jan. 1971, Madison, 1971. View Full EntryKanetzke, Howard, Ed., Wisconsin Agriculture, Badger History, 1966, Madison, 1966. View Full EntryKeeler and Bubanovich, Memories of Croation Settlers of Eagle River, Lac du Flambeau, 1984. View Full EntryMcKerrow, Geo., Ed., Wisconsin Farmers' Institutes: A Handbook of Agriculture, Bulletin No. 20, 1906, Madison, 1906. View Full EntryMcKerrow, George, Wisconsin Farmers' Institute: A Hand-Book of Agriculture, Bulletin No. 11, 1897, Madison, 1897. View Full EntryPohlman, et al. (ed.), Wisconsin Land Legacy Report, Madison, 2006. View Full Entry
Major ReferencesFour of the Northern Wisconsin [...], Minocqua Times, Sept. 11, 1895, reprinted from the Superior Inland Ocean (n.d.), Minocqua, 1895. View Full EntryCarstensen, Vernon, Farms or Forests, Madison, 1958. View Full EntryClark, James, Cutover Problems, Chronicles of Wisconsin, Madison, 1956. View Full EntryClark, James, Farming the Cutover, The Settlement of Northern Wisconsin, Chronicles of Wisconsin, Madison, 1956. View Full EntryEllis, A. G., Upper Wisconsin Country, Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 3, pp. 435-452., Madison, 1857. View Full EntryGard, Robert and Maryo, My Land, My Home, My Wisconsin, Milwaukee, 1978. View Full EntryHelgeson, Arlan, Farms in the Cutover, Agricultural Settlement in Northern Wisconsin, Madison, 1962. View Full EntryJanik, Erika, Made to Order Farms, Wisconsin Magazine of History, Vol. 90, #4, Summer, 2007, pp. 40-49., Madison, 2007. View Full EntryKates, James, Planning a Wilderness, Published in cooperation with the Center for American Places, Santa Fe, NM, and Harrisonburg, VA, Minneapolis, 2001. View Full EntryKoch, John, Touching Every Forty, John Bordner and the Wisconsin Land Economic Inventory, Wisconsin Magazine of History, Vol. 89, #4, Summer, 2006, pp. 14 ff., Madison, 2006. View Full EntryMarquart, LaVerne, Wisconsin's Agricultural Heritage: The Grange - 1871-1971, Lake Mills, Wisconsin, 1972. View Full EntryMiazga, Vicki, Potato & Dairy Farms Were Most Profitable, The First 100 Years, 1888-1988, Centennial Edition, p.135, Minocqua, 1988. View Full EntryPope, et al., Beef, Sheep and Forage Production in Northern Wisconsin, Final Report of the Hayward Agricultural Research Station Project, 1985-1990 , Madison, 1992. View Full EntrySchafer, Joseph, History of Agriculture in Wisconsin, Wisconsin Domesday Book, General Studies Vol. 1, Madison, 1922. View Full EntryWausau Regional Writers, Wausau Regional Writers Anthology, Volume 1, Stevens Point, 1974. View Full EntryWilson, Fred G., Zoning for Forestry and Recreation: Wisconsin's Pioneer Role, Wisconsin Magazine of History, 41:2, 1957-1958, Madison, 1957. View Full Entry
Minor References[Future of Northern Wisconsin], Milwaukee Sentinel, December 30, 1900. Reprinted in Stevens: Yesterday's Future, Madison, 1999., M, 1999. View Full EntryVilas County Fair, Manual and Rules for Exhibits & Entries, 4-H & Open Class Exhibits, August 12-15, 2010, Eagle River, 2010. View Full Entry
- Beef, Sheep and Forage Production in Northern Wisconsin, The Economics of Operating a Framily-sized Farm
- Four of the Northern Wisconsin [...]
- My Land, My Home, My Wisconsin: The Epic Story of the Wisconsin Farm and Farm Family from Settlement Days to the Present
- Planning a Wilderness: Regenerating the Great Lakes Cutover Region
- Settling the Wisconsin Cutovers
- Upper Wisconsin Country, The
- Wausau Regional Writers Anthology
- Zoning for Forestry and Recreation: Wisconsin's Pioneer Role
- [Future of Northern Wisconsin]
Backward Glances in the //Vilas County News Review// on January 20, 2010, for 80 Years Ago (1930) says "Census numbers showed vilas County gained 34 farms the previous year [decade?], with Oneida County gaining 46 and Iron County gaining 26."