History of Southern Sawyer County
Information Presented is Derived from the Wisconsin Historical Society
Southern Sawyer County, like most of the upper Chippewa River Valley, is part of a big plain stretching outwards from the long range of hills that parallel the Upper Chippewa River about five miles westward. This range of hills runs for nearly sixty miles, beginning just a little north of Chippewa Falls. This broad plain is made up for the most part of gently rolling country, not hilly, but just slope enough to drain well. The soil is deep, so deep that in few places has the bedrock been uncovered except near the rivers. Over most of Southern Sawyer County the bedrock is probably two hundred feet deep, and possibly deeper.
Southern Sawyer County, and westward has been the scene of some of the most interesting Wisconsin Native American history of the Midwest. Home to the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa which originally settled in the village of Reserve. This was known to be a hunting party from La Pointe that camped out on the shores of what is known today as Little Lac Courte Oreilles. As time went on, more Ojibwe came and settled which are known today as Lake Chetac, Cedar Lake, Long Lake, and Pakwayawong (where the river bends), also known as The Post. By 1800, there were about 600 Native Americans settled at Lac Courte Oreilles. The 1854 Treaty of La Pointe established the Lac Courte Oreilles reservation and originated in what is present day ‘New Post’. Today, there are 7,275 members of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
The Fur Trade
Before the Ojibwe made their inland settlements, they traded with French fur traders who maintained trading posts on Lake Superior. When the Native people settled away from Lake Superior, French traders sent “Coureurs du Bois” or more commonly known as woodsmen and runners of the forest to trade with the Native people.
Some of the first explorers on record were Pierre-Esprit Radisson and Sieur des Groseilliers, two French explorers under the French government. There is no evidence to support that Radisson is named after Pierre-Esprit Radisson, but it is purely an assumption at this moment in time.
The Lumber Industry
Northern Wisconsin in 1850 was covered with dense forest, consisting of pine, hemlock, birch, basswood, maple, elm, spruce and other varieties of trees. Prior to 1860 lumbering of this region was not introduced. The first timber to be cut in this area was white pine because of the great utility for construction purposes, and because buoyancy of floating down the river. In 1856, the first timber cut was near the town of present-day Couderay and historians indicate they floated down to New Orleans to be used for ship masts. The last big cut of white pine was between the dates of 1899-1903 near the southwest section of Radisson consisting of 160,000,000 feet. It took just four years to cut and haul 160,000,000 feet of logs. This timber was hauled via rail
Political History of Southern Sawyer County
What is now Sawyer County was a part of Chippewa County and Ashland County until 1883 when Sawyer County was first organized. The county was named after Senator Philetus Sawyer. The whole county was run as the Town of Hayward until 1905. In 1905, Southern Sawyer County was set off as a separate town, and the name “Town of Radisson” was given to the whole section. In 1907, the towns of Couderay, Exeland, and Weirgor were organized and established. In 1918 Meadowbrook was formed, and in 1919 both Ojibwa and Meteor were formed.
The Soo railroad came through Southern Sawyer County in 1907, and Exeland was laid out by the Arpin Lumber Company.
Town of Radisson
Radisson is a village in Sawyer County, Wisconsin, United States, along the Couderay River. The population was 241 at the 2010 census. The village is located within the Town of Radisson and was named in honor of the early French explorer, Pierre-Esprit Radisson.
Village of Couderay
Couderay is a village in Sawyer County, Wisconsin, United States, along the Couderay River. The population was 84 at the 2021 census. The village is located within the Town of Couderay.
Village of Exeland
Exeland is a village in Sawyer County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 229 at the 2020 census.
Town of Ojibwa
Ojibwa is a town in Sawyer County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 267 at the 2000 census. The unincorporated community of Ojibwa is located in the town.
Town of Meteor
Meteor is a town in Sawyer County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 170 at the 2000 census.