The word Waubeek came from the Ojibwa Indian language and mean "big rock hill". This are played a part in Native American History, thousands of years before the Europeans came.
The Village of Waubeek was located on the west side of the Chippewa River, north of the Durand Rod and Gun Club. The village, plotted in 18954 served as a center for the early lumbering in the area.
In 1855, Cadwallader Washburn bought 12,000 acres of pine land along the Chippewa River. C.C. Washburn went on to serve as brigadier general in the Civil War, 3 terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1855-1861), Governor of Wisconsin (1872-1874), and started the General Mills Company in St. Paul/Minneapolis, Minnesota. He hired Burrage Downs, founder of Downsville, to build a boom and sawmill at Waubeek. The mill was the largest steam operated mill in Wisconsin prior to the Civil War and it employed up to 100 men. The mill burned in 1871 and was never rebuilt. The Village of Waubeek, during its prime, consisted of a hotel big enough for 50 people, livery stable, store, Baptist Church, and houses both in the river bottoms and on the hill. After the mill burned, Waubeek because more dependent on the river boat, the “Phil Sheckel” for existence. Phil Sheckel design the steamboat for shallow river to take lumber rafts down the Chippewa River to Readings Landsing and bring supplies and lumbermen bac k to Waubeek. The supplies were then taken to Menomonie mills by wagon. Sheckel, born in Luxemburg, General in 1834, because known as the “Mark Twain” of the Chippewa River. The steamboat made its last trip down the Chippewa River in 1896. It went down the Mississippi and was used to haul supplies in the Florida Keys. The anchor and bronze marker are in the park in Pepin, Wisconsin. A flood around 1900 brought an end to what remain of Waubeek. The 13 streets and Public Square today consist of trees, brush, rocks, and pilings.
Truman Curtis first settled in the township in 1849. The township officially formed in 1857, but also included the Township of Waterville. Waterville separated in March 1860 and the first Waubeek Township election was held April 1860 on the Holbrook property.
The Burke School was organized in 1861 and 15 year old Alice Drake was the first teacher. The school was located just north of the present day Pepin County Recycling Center. Some of the family names that attended were Burkes, Bradshaw, Kirke, Goodrich, Fish, Abels, Thompson, and Buchanan. Children used slate boards for all their written work until tablets came in 1875.
At the corner of State highway 25 and County Road D, across the road from Konsela’s Auto Shop[, lived a well-known and respected pioneer woman named Mate Fish. She taught in the school at the age of 15, but also wrote articles for the local newspaper for 32 years.
After her husband, George, died in 1942, she continued to live in her little house win no electricity or running water. Mate was known as the “flag lady” by many locals because she always had her flag out. People would often stop and salute the flag. She was also known as the “Annie Oakley” of the area since she was known to be an excellent shot. Dick Schlosser recalls, “I remember visiting Mate with my dad as a child and I thought Mate was such a special person”.
The Durand Rod and Gun Club was established in 1925. Throughout the years it has played a large part in the social functions of the area including trap shooting, weddings, reunions, parties, business gathers, town board meetings, election voting site, and Jack Harmon chicken dinners.
Kirk’s Dance Pavilion was started by Jack Kirk, and sons Harry and Russel, in the 1`930’s about 100 yards south of the intersection of highway 10 and South Kirk road. The pavilion provided entertainment for the area as a dance hall with music by bands from all over, even the famous Whoopee John’s Polka Band. The closing of this landmark came in the mid 1950’s.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp was built in the 1933 along highway 25, east of the present day Eau Galle Cheese Factory, providing young men between the ages of 18 and 26 work during the depression era. The workers were paid $#30 per month, but were only allowed to keep $5 while $25 was sent home to their families providing income to local communities all over the county. Their work consisted of conservation work such as erosion control structures, dams, flumes, diversions, terraces, and tree planting. We still enjoy the benefits from much of their hard work today in Waubeek Township and all over the county. The camp closed at the onset of World War ll.
Clarence Schlosser established the Schlosser Airport in 1945 at the corner of highway 25 and county road C. Clarence was a civilian flight instructor during WWll in Texas. After that, he returned to the township where he continued giving flight training to local residents. He held occasional air shows and later sky diving at his airport. In 1978, Clarence, and his wife Irene, moved to Tainter Lake near Menomonie, Wisconsin and the airport was closed. The hangers are being used today for farm machine storage.
The Waubeek Willing Worker 4-H Club was started and lead by Mildred Thompson in 1950-. Mrs. Hazel (Art) Schlosser became the leader later on. Roberta Stuart and Dick Schlosser were early members and still live in the township today. The 4-H Club still continue in township today under the leadership of Dave and Laurie Klein.
The Town Hall was located across the road from the cemetery on county road D, but later sold and moved. Town board meetings were held for a time at the Rod and Gun Clu7b on highway 25, but now are held at the Pepin County Government Center in Durand.
It is fitting to conclude this history with Waubeek Cemetery which was established in 1881 on County Road D. A walk through the cemetery is a walk through our past history. Many of the early settlers will be found there. Thereare 30 Civil War veterans buried in the cemetery plus many later vets. There is a Potter’s Field are in the back.
Waubeek Township Population
1870 - 360
1880 - 197
1890 - 164
1895 - 160
1900 - 168
1905 - 145
1910 - 150
1920 - 146
1930 - 125
1940 - 130
1950 - 115
1960 - 149
1970 - 217
1980 - 239
1990 - 316
2000 - 364
2005 - 404
2019 - 431