No. 145, September, 2010
Buckbee, Eggleston and the
BY Delores Miller
Buckbee is another of those forgotten villages in Waupaca County, in central Wisconsin. Located midway between Marion and Clintonville, a little west of Highway 45., in the township of Larrabee. Once a thriving community, a village with platted streets with names like Coal, Kiln, Railroad, Central, Wider,Clintonville and Marion Streets. And of course, the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad. The Pigeon River, Pigeon River School and cheese factory. Farms were owned by Herman Wangelin, Frank Westphal, Vollmers, Gust Witt, A Gruenke, John Lang and others.
Albert Eggleston was born in Vermont, married Minna, and according to the 1900 census of Larrabee had the following children: Harry, Frank, Annie, William, Edna, Henry and Lilly. Frank Eggleston born in 1887 and was a very good friend and neighbor to the Wangelin family. Frank's son Lloyd lived in Clintonville, had a large family: Robert, James, Howard, Donald, William, Richard and Joanne. These young lads often came to the Wangelin farm and helped with the farm and field work. Frank had two tractors, a Farmall A and a Farmall C. Both were sold to Lester Wangelin and he farmed with them until he died in 1989 and they were sold at auction.
This hamlet was named after William Buckbee and his family, Gilbert (1897-1978) and Cecil (1905-1983]. Later they moved west to the township of Dupont and dairy farmed.The children attended Sunrise School.
Thriving industry before 1900 included the Buckbee family saw mill, one for sawing logs and one for making broom handles. A saloon run by Frank Gueller with a dance hall above the tavern. Two boarding houses, meat market, blacksmith, a store, and a Methodist Church. A railroad depot. A post office which was discontinued in 1896. Almost all the building were destroyed in two fires. After that Buckbee gradually became a ghost town.
One family that came about 1882 from Germany and settled in Buckbee was Herman and Lena Wangelin with their children: Fred, Edna Passehl, Louisa Wasmundt, Edward, Irving, Harvey, George and August. Named their acreage Blake Brook farm, even though it straddled the Pigeon River. Purchased farm land, built a large home which doubled as a boarding house for the railroad workers.. A barn measuring 30x60, with a partial stone wall. Stanchions for 15 Guernsey cows. A 10x25 stave silo made of Douglas Fir, metal rods surrounding the silo. Stone and concrete foundation, tongue and grooved matched lumber. World War One era. The watery silage sealed the cracks in the boards so the silage did not mold. Ray Arndt dismantled this silo in 1974 and used the lumber in a pole shed. Because the Wangelin farm was north west of the village, their home was not destroyed by fire. These farn buildings are all in good shape now in 2010, and stand as a testament to workmanship one hundred years ago. Herman, a stonemason by trade, left the family and wandered and died in Indiana. Lena, Buckbee's Matriarch, divorced Herman, kept the farm going with the help of her family before she died in 1937.
Harvey Wangelin, born in 1897 married Hildagarde Lembke of Dupont in 1923. (Hilda was a first cousin of my Mother Alma) Hilda was the daughter of William and Hannah Lembke who had six children, Art, Charley, Esther Genskow, Hilda, Clara Pranke and Martha Piotraschke. Clara had married Otto Pranke, and died after giving birth to her daughter Lorraine Dieck. Hilda and Harvey adopted Lorraine and went on to have five more children: Leonard, Frieda Schertz, Edna, Eugene and Lester. Frieda, as a young child contacted scarlet fever and was segregated from the family, she and her mother Hilda lived in the house, while the rest of the family had to live for a time in the chicken coop. Harvey worked as a section hand for railroad. Hilda and her family farmed with Guernsey milk cows, chickens, ducks and large gardens, strawberry and raspberry patches which produced enough food for the family. Huge rows of gladiola flowers each summer.
The old farmstead
but there forever
rooted in the rock.
All these children attended the Pigeon River School before it closed in 1950. Lester Wangelin, the youngest child born in 1931, and when he was nine years old and in 5th grade contacted Infantile Paralysis, or polio. The whole family was in isolation and quarantined. Lester became a paraplegic. Esther Miller, a sister of LaVur Shauger was the teacher at Pigeon River School, and brought home work to the Wangelin house so they could all keep up with their school work. Later Lester attended the Orthopedic School in Madison. He learned to walk with crutches, and went on to Clintonville High School where he graduated in 1951. Esther Miller keen on nature studies, and often took the students on walks pointing out interesting facets. Wintergreen plants, fungus, lichens, trees. She was into local history and had residents of Buckbee expain the small settlement to her students. She stayed good friends with the Wangelins, even after she retired and moved to Arizona.
Lester lived his whole life on the Buckbee farm, spent his life in braces and crutches, farmed with his parents, learning to drive an automobile and tractors. Was custodian of the Township of Larrabee Land Fill and died at the age of 57 in 1989.
Hilda Wangelin was a prolific letter writer, kept a diary for many years. The whole family enjoyed fishing, whether on the Marion Pond, the Pigeon River. Keller's Lake. Cleaned the fish on her kitchen table. Led a very active social life with friends, relatives and neighbors. Birthdays were celebrated with a big party, lots of food, two meals, one at noon another about 4 p.m. before the farmers had to go home to milk the cows. Three kinds of meat, vegetables, potatoes, gravy, lettuce, spaghetti and then the desserts, 3 kinds of pies, cake and cookies. All made on a wood cook stove, all from scratch. No microwave ovens in those pioneer days. Recipes from Hilda include: Dandelion wine, bologna blood sausage, liver sausage, one dish casserole, boiled molassas cookies, tomato catsup, slippery jim pickles and more. Butchered pigs, cut them up on her kitchen table, made headcheese and sausage. Owned a small Kodak camera and took many photographs, some outdoors with family members, and the barn and wood stave silo in the background.
So Hilda, after the parties would call Edna Bork Arndt at the Advertiser and these events were recorded. She kept scrap books full of these clippings. Hilda had heart trouble and osteoporosis, and had a pace maker installed.
Hilda died one August day in 1981, a month after Frank Eggleston, her good neighbor passed away.
OLD HOUSES, OLD BARNS, OLD BONES, OLD STORIES
Out there, old houses and barns shift,
To show and hold the shape of wind,
Brambles, weeds, their slender thorny fingers,
Trembling, search the cracks
between the walls,
Bracken elbows old foundations,
Unfurling green flags where it has won.
Old wood, bones of houses and barns,
Sinks to slumber in the soil where it was born.
Only memories are left.
copyright 2010, Delores and Russell Miller