Dover Price Wisconsin

 

 

by kind permission of the Dover Mercury, (KMG) 6th March 2009

There are several Dover’s in Wisconsin one of which is in Price County that lies at the northern end of the State. It is a region of forests and lakes. The thinly populated communities grew where railways and lumber companies had forged their way through the thickly wooded forests.

The town of Emery (population in 2000, 325), in Price County, was founded in 1889 along the Little Elk River in the Chequamegon Forest. The Lumber industry was, at the time, the main source of employment but as this started to decline, farming families, mainly from Eastern Europe, moved in. With the growing number of children in the community, it was quickly realised that a school was needed.

 

 

Wisconsin Price Scoof School


Initially a school was held in the old Bark Camp, owned by one of the logging companies. The same building served as a community hall and was where elections were held. Eventually August and Margaretta Schoof came to the community and they set up a 'Schoof' in their own home. This served the children of the community and survived until 1902 when a permanent building was erected. The schoof, as it was still called, was in one room, having double desks, small slates for writing, a bucket and dipper for drinking water, a large iron stove for heating and hangers for the tin buckets in which the children would carry their lunches. Not long before a post office had opened, which the postmaster called 'Dover', thereby giving the name to the surrounding area. The post office was later incorporated into the Phillips Post Office, and the Dover one ceased to exist. Nonetheless, the one room schoof retained the name of Dover school! Further, the school not only served the educational needs of the community but the social, and it is recorded that at least one wedding service was performed in it!

 

 

Wisconsin Price Scoof School before it closed in 1975


Wisconsin Price Scoof School before it closed in 1975

The Dover school term, at this time, was only six months as heavy snows made the roads impassable for the remainder of the year. Further, the catchment area was so large that the children had to travel considerable distances to attend with many of the older children carrying younger ones by 'piggy-back' when they became tired.

As lumbering and forest fires continued to decimate the surrounding area, land was given over to farming and the community grew. The Dover school remained the centre of the community's activities, doubling up for different denomination church services, social functions, Thanksgiving suppers, weddings and also boxing matches that included women!

However, the economic depression of the 1930s meant that many of the farmers could not afford to pay their taxes and they either had to forfeit or abandon their lands and move away. The abandoned farms were taken over by the local governments who, in turn, sold the land to the federal government. They instigated work programmes for the unemployed which included the unemployed planting of millions of trees and the 854,400 acre Chequamegon forest, was reborn.

However, the economic depression of the 1930s meant that many of the farmers could not afford to pay their taxes and they either had to forfeit or abandon their lands and move away. The abandoned farms were taken over by the local governments who, in turn, sold the land to the federal government. They instigated work programmes for the unemployed which included the unemployed planting of millions of trees and the 854,400 acre Chequamegon forest, was reborn.

Over the ensuing years, due to careful stewardship, the Chequamegon forest continued to flourish and is now one of the greatest conservation stories in the world. It is also well known for tourist recreation, including camping, hiking, fishing, cross county skiing and snowmobiling. While the community that grew up around the Dover school has retained its Czech-Slovak connections by holding an annual community festival in June. This is a two-day affair, the highlight of which is the traditional pork and sauerkraut dinner.

 

 

Bev Bray and friend


Bev Bray and friend

Thanks: Bev Brayton, Local Historian, Emery.