Withee, Clark Co., WI Begins
----Source: Charles Haas, La Crosse, WI. (Formerly of the Withee area) and extracted from "Withee Memories", published in commemoration of the Withee, WI Centennial, 1901-2001; pg. 5
How Withee Got Its Name
Last fall when the La Crosse County Historical Society had conducted a tour of Oak Grove Cemetery in La Crosse where several Withees and other noted people are buried, I played the role of Levi Withee, and researched the Withee family and particularly its activities in the pineries in Clark and Jackson Counties, and I might have the answer to the question of where Withee got its name.
My investigation points to evidence that the Village of Withee received its name from Nirain Haskell Withee who was the first post master and who established the post office at that site in northern Clark County in 1880. It appears that Niram Withee traveled frequently from La Crosse to Clark County in the early 1870s either to buy pine land and/or to supervise the cutting of timber on land he already owned. His brother Levi owned pine land in partnership with H.A. Bright as early as 1866. Levi and Niram Withee had partnerships with other lumbermen such as Gideon Hixon (after whom the Township of Hixon was named), Nymphus B. Holway (after whom the Township of Holway was named) and others. Apparently Levi stayed in La Crosse to supervise the operation of the saw mill and Niram traveled back and forth to their pine holdings in Clark County to oversee the cutting of the timber and floating the logs down the Black River to La Crosse. When making these trips, Niram carried mail from La Crosse to the Clark County pinery to the lumberjacks and other settlers in the area. It seems that Niram picked a spot in the area where he would distribute the mail. In time the federal postal officials appointed Niram Withee postmaster and had him select a specific spot for the post office. When the officials asked Niram what was the name of the post office, Niram answered "Withee", and the name stuck.
Niram Withee, probably in partnership with his brother, had three farms in northern Clark County; one farm was on the east edge of the old county farm (now the health center). Another farm was located a half mile north of Longwood on Highway 73 and a quarter mile east. This farm was wherethe horses were kept in the summer months, where hay and oats were grown for the teams, and where men who worked in the pinery for the Withees were housed. Until the late 1970s I believe the large, rambling house, an octagon barn, and other out-buildings stood. Sometime after the house was Withee houses in La Crosse, Niram's house is one of them, abandoned the Owen Fire Dept. conducted a controlled burn of the house. One of the last owners was Herman Luraas and his wife Laurene (my cousin). I believe it was later owned by Herman's brother Henry. The third Withee farm was at Hemlock which is southwest of Longwood and on the Black River. There was a flour mill built by Niram Withee and F.A. Limprecht. That flour mill was close to this third farm. A dam was built on the Black River to furnish power for the mill. The dam was washed away by a flood many years ago.
My father and grandfather moved to the Longwood area in 1904. I remember my father telling me that the village was named after Niram Haskell Withee. My father arrived in the area only 24 years after the post office was established. I would assume that details about the naming were still fresh in the minds of the older settlers at that time.
Who was Niram Haskell Withee? I've read stories that the town was started by a Mr. Varney who was married to a Cynthia Withee from Norridgewock, Maine. It just so happens my mother is a Withee, and the family has been rooted in and around Norridgewock for...well for as long as any of us can remember, I myself grew up there. Your town caught my attention based on this and I've been interested in it ever since. I would love to see a picture of Cynthia if one exists. Tory, email@example.com
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