Barron, Wisconsin history dates back to the establishment date of 1860. However, long before 1860, what is now Wisconsin and Barron County was the home of many thousands of Native Americans. Hundreds of lakes provided excellent fishing, and forest lands offered the best in hunting. In 1860, John Quarderer came from the Stout Lumber Co. to what is now the City of Barron.
The land was a vast wilderness of giant white pine and hardwood forests that had been growing undisturbed for years. Mr. Quarderer built a logging camp on the south bank of what is now known as Quarderer's Creek. He built a small company store to supply his workers, and in 1874 he also built a hotel. He acquired title to much land along the creek and the Yellow River, and his name probably appears on nearly all the early abstracts involving real estate in the City of Barron.
Court House Square & Railroad
In 1876, John Quarderer gave the block now called "Court House Square" to be used for the location of a Courthouse; and in 1878, the jail was built across the street from the court house. In November of 1880 he had the settlement surveyed and platted as a village. In 1881, a dam was built, where the lower dam is now located, across the Yellow River. This gave sufficient water power to run the nearby flour mill and woolen mill. By 1891, three large saw and stave mills were built. Scores of men found employment in these various industries during their many years of operation. By 1884, the Soo Line Railroad gave Barron rail connections to Saint Paul, Minneapolis, and Chicago. By 1908, the Soo Line Depot, which still stands along the track east of North Third Street, was built.
Fire Engine & Newspaper
In 1887, the City of Barron was incorporated and a fire engine was purchased at Beloit, Wisconsin for $275. By 1890, a volunteer fire department was established. The first newspaper printed in Barron was the Barron County Gazette in 1874. By 1876, a newspaper, the Barron County Shield, was being published. The first telephone company was started in 1896. A men's club of Barron established the first public library in 1909; and in 1913, $6,500 was received by Andrew Carnegie to build a fine prairie style brick building which still stands at the corner of Third Street and Division Avenue.
In early days, settlers availed themselves of every opportunity to hold religious meetings and as soon as resources would permit, each denomination built a church. The first school house was built in 1877 on Division Avenue, but was struck by lightning and burned in 1881. A new school was soon built, and by 1895, Barron also had a four-year high school course.
On October 16, 1908, Barron suffered its greatest disaster by a fire that started in the Gordon Bakery. By the time of discovery, it was burning fiercely and thirteen families lost their homes and five businesses, including the hotel, were destroyed.
Barron Cooperative Creamery
By 1902, the Barron Cooperative Creamery was organized and a modern brick plant was built by 1907. Over the years, visitors came to study and observe this successful plant in operation. Jerome Foods, Barron's largest industry, was founded in 1922, when 13-year-old Wallace Jerome placed 14 turkey eggs under two of his parent's chicken hens. The boy's idea grew into one of the nations largest, fully-integrated turkey operations.
Jennie-O Turkey Store
Today, this poultry processing plant is one of the state-of-the-art turkey processors in the United States, doing business as Jennie-O Turkey Store, Inc. One of the most important community projects undertaken in Barron was the Barron Community Memorial Hospital with construction starting in 1958. Today, it is an ultramodern facility, more recently with a name change to Luther Midelfort Northland.
The City of Barron, through the labor of love of those who settled here long ago and the residents who over the years continued their tradition, we celebrate a community that is a great place to live and to work, and has the edge of excellence. Happy 150th Birthday, Barron!
To search family history, please check out the Barron Public Library Website and search the genealogy section.