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Clark County Ghost Communities: The village of Redville

Kris Leonhardt

Clark County Ghost Communities: The village of Redville

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4 min.
April 17, 2022

By Kris Leonhardt

“Redville started with a Heading Mill, boarding house and a store. There were eight dwellings west of the mill…All the buildings were painted red and that is where they derived the name Redville,” recalled Mrs.Art Stewart and Mrs. Anton Sapetta recalled in “Memory Trails.”

The community of Redville was located six miles north of Withee, about one mile inside Taylor County in Section 35 of Maplehurst Township,  but holds a place in memories of many Clark County residents.

“The exact date is not known, but Louie Christensen of Clintonville and John Christopherson of Neenah operated the mill. Herman Buigrin ran the boarding house. Mrs. Lulu Christensen (Mrs. Ole Gilbertson) ran the store which also included the post office. Mail was brought in whenever anyone went to Withee and picked it up.

“First settlers carried groceries from Withee. It was a two-day trip as they traveled by Black River, directly west of Redville. There was only a trail to Stetsonville through thick woods. F. Sapetta Sr. traveled this with horses. Herman Peters had an oxen team and later an ox and a horse for a team.  When Kegel first came there he would carry a sack of flour on his back from Stetsonville. It took a couple of days for the trip.

“A. E. Sapetta went into the lumber business and hauled logs to Amber (Clark) on iced roads. He made about L trips a day and changed teams each trip. Logs were loaded on flat cars and picked up by the “Scoot” In 1920Sapetta started a portable saw mill. He cut and planed lumber in various parts of Clark and Taylor Counties until his death in 1957.”

In 1912, the Heading Mill fell into bankruptcy and slowed business in the community, but things later bounced back and more settlers came to clear land.

A small, one room framed school facility was erected the same year to accommodate a growing number of families.

“Mr. Free,” the first mail carrier, started in 1913.

“In 1914. Anton Stryk of Thorp started a vegetable box factory. This product was shipped to Chicago from Withee. Horses pulled wagons or sleighs and made two trips a day,” the Stewart-Sapetta memoir recalled.

“Alex Royeski operated the store and farm until 1916, then sold it to L. Christensen.  

“Buigrins started an American Cheese factory in the old boarding house. They remodeled the back for living quarters. Christensens lived above the store.

“The store was purchased in 1921 by Mr. Shepski. Mike Stewart and son Arthur T. bought the factory in 1919. Christensens and Buigrins moved to Owen.

“There were no roads beyond Sapetta’s Homestead when Purgetts came in. They made a road and forded the Trapper’s Creek--as there was no bridge. Mail was not delivered any farther than Redville.”

“Arthur Stewart bought the cheese factory in 1920 and produced American cheese,” recalled Mary Humke. “During the 1930s, he became aware of the demand for Italian cheese, especially in the eastern states. He then hired cheese makers from Italy to come teach him their methods and thus became one of the first to produce Italian cheese in the state of Wisconsin.

“Thereafter the main product of the factory was Italian cheese, except for the early summer months when the cows first went out on grass and the milk had too much carotene (yellow color) for the light-colored Italian cheese. During those months cheddar cheese was produced. That pattern continued throughout the years.

“With the outbreak of World War II the men working in the factory were being drafted into military service and there was a severe shortage of help. It was at that time, 1942, that Arthur asked his brother Wilbur, to help out in the factory. By 1945 the business had outgrown its facilities and a search had begun to find larger quarters, preferably on railroad tracks. A vacant pea canning factory was found in Greenwood, Clark County, on railroad siding. It was purchased and remodeled into a cheese factory. In last 1945 the move was made.”

The school building was replaced in 1921, with a stucco structure including a furnace, indoor toilet, library, assembly room, hall,three closets, and a large playroom – modern for its time and providing a source of pride for the community.

In 1957, the Redville School District voted to join the Owen-Withee district. Classes continued at the Redville school until 1964, when they were fully integrated into Owen-Withee.

See more photos of Redville in the April 13 print edition.

The Sentinel is seeking more photos and information on Clark County ghost towns. If you would have anything you would like to share, please reach out to us at kleonhardt@mmclocal.com or Kris Leonhardt, 104 E. Second St., Marshfield, WI, 54449.

This article was orginally reported by
Kris Leonhardt

Kris Leonhardt is a senior editor for Multi Media Channels and serves as general manager for the company's publications in Clark, Portage, and Wood counties.

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