The Rock Elm Old Settlers group will not be holding its annual meeting this year. It is traditionally held the first Thursday of November. This group was formed way back on Feb. 15, 1886. This year will be the fourth year in the group’s long history that an annual meeting was not held.
The first time they cancelled the meeting was in 1918, during the “Spanish flu” epidemic and then again in 1934 when the Methodist Church in Rock Elm burned down. Then, last year and this year’s meetings were both cancelled due to COVID.
In lieu of the 2021 annual meeting, I wanted to share a bit of Rock Elm Township history. The Pierce County Historical Association has in their archives a large collection of local photos taken in the 1880’s by Charles Smith of Rock Elm Township. They even have the original, handwritten index that lists the family in each photo. These photos are primarily of the families posing in front of their homes, several of them log cabins.
Pictured here are Joseph and Barbara (Biberger) Wild and likely their oldest daughters Mary (b. 1881) and Anna (b. 1883). They would have a total of five daughters with their youngest being: Tressie (b. 1888), Emma (b. 1893), and Elizabeth (b. 1898). Based on the children’s ages, the photo is likely from about 1887. Joseph and Barbara were both from Dodge County, Wis. and were born to German immigrants. They married April 5, 1880 in LeRoy, Wis. and moved to Rock Elm Township soon after. Joseph seems to be a first cousin of John and Frank Wild, who also settled in Rock Elm Township. The cousins had a threshing business in the Rock Elm area. There is a photo of their threshing operations in the Smith Photo Collection.
A selection of photos from the Charles Smith Collection will be on display at the Elmwood Public Library from Nov. 8-Nov. 30. The display will be viewable during the library’s regularly scheduled hours: Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday from 3-7 p.m., and Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If you wish to learn more about Rock Elm Township history or get involved with future projects, you can set up an appointment to visit the Pierce County Historical Association’s History Center that is located at W6321 E. Main St. in Bay City. For additional information, email Julie Huebel at [email protected] org, call 715-594-3118, or visit the PCHA website at www.piercecountyhistorical.org. Follow us on Facebook!
Submitted by Julie Huebel, Secretary/Treasurer, Rock Elm Old Settlers