Robert Wakeley

This article was assembled by the members of:
Historic Point Basse
P.O. Box 295
Nekoosa, WI 54457

The Wakeleys
and other
Early Settlers of the Wisconsin River Valley

Coat of Arms

Wakeley, Wakelee (English)  One who came from Wakerly (willow grove), in Northamptonshire; dweller at the soft or wet meadow.


1808 April 15 Robert Wakely is born near Lake George, NY just one year before Abe Lincoln is born.
1812 May 4, Mary O’Dell (Wakely) is born in Canada or “N.Y.? was raised by some General and his family.” Quote written by her grandson. Newey Lesley Wakeley in 1951.
1830 May 19. Robert and Mary are wedded at Batavia, Genessee County, NY
1832 Feb. 21. Robert and Mary’s First child is born somewhere in New York state. His name is Chauncy S. Wakely.

Daniel Whitney builds first non-military sawmill on Wisconsin River just north of present Nekoosa bridge. Alhira Sampson assists in the construction of the sawmill. Sampson, David Whitney (Daniel’s nephew), and Nelson Strong operate the mill.

1830-1837 Robert and Mary “Lived five years in that County, (Genessee), moved to Ohio for two years. Then by boat down Ohio, up Mississippi, up Wisconsin to Portage. There built keelboat and poled 100 miles up river to foot of Rapids. Arriving June 2. 1837.” Quote by Newey Lesley Wakeley.
1834 Dec. 25. Robert Wakely Jr. is born. His birthplace isn’t certain.
1836 Cedar Point Treaty is signed with Indians granting whites permission to settle along the Wisconsin River from Port Edwards north to Wausau. Three miles wide on both sides of the river.
1836 Two sawmills are built at Grand Rapids and one at Grignon’s Rapids (Port Edwards).
1837 June 2. Wakely family arrives at Pointe Basse. George Wood described their travel route as follows:
“Mr. and Mrs. Robert Wakeley came to Pointe Basse in June 1837 from the state of New York. They came down the Susquehanna River on a raft of lumber.” (Probably meant Allegheny River since the Susquehanna River flows into Chesapeake Bay). “Wakeley sold his lumber at Cincinnati Ohio. They went from Cincinnati by steam to Prairie du Chien and thence to Portage Wisconsin by boat. They poled up the Wisconsin from Portage to Pointe Basse in a keelboat owned by Daniel Whitney.”
Mary Wakely was said to be the second white woman to settle in this area, according to Jane Sampson (Alhira’s wife) who was the third. David Whitney’s wife, Maria, claimed the honor of being the first.

Dec. 28. Martha Jane the third Wakely child, is born. One source claims she was born in Wisconsin and another says New York: although Wisconsin was most probably her birth place.

1838 Robert Wakely meets George Stevens at St. Louis while both men are there on lumber business--Wakely with lumber from Whitney’ mill at Pointe Basse, and Stevens with lumber from the Allegheny River. Wakely tells Stevens about the immense stands of white pines along the upper Wisconsin River. Stevens doubted Wakely’s stories, but he came to investigate anyway. Stevens had recently lost a small fortune in NY.

From lumberman Simon Sherman’s journal information based on interview with Mrs. Alhira Sampson,

“Mr. A. B. Sampson was born at Keysville, New York in 1813. He came to Green Bay in 1834 and hired out to Daniel Whitney as a carpenter who sent him to Helena on the Wisconsin River to build a shot tower. After the shot tower was built Whitney sent him and David Whitney, his nephew to build a sawmill at Whitney Rapids on the Wisconsin River near Point Basse which was the first mill built on the Wisconsin River. About this time Mr. Sampson became acquainted with Miss Jane Teal who was living with General Taylor at Fort Winnebago.

After they were married they lived at the shot tower for several years and David Whitney moved to the sawmill. He had a wife and three children and a hired girl, Amanda Cook and a clerk, Charles Coteral who married the girl at Mr. Sampson’s at the shot tower. She was the first girl who came into the pinery and the first one married which was on February 4. 1838. After they got the mill running and a fleet of lumber sawed and rafted they started down the river. When they came to the Little Dells they look so frightful they dared not remain on the lumber but uncoupled it and turned it loose and caught it five miles below at the foot of the dells. After fitting the lumber up again they started on and before they came to the shot tower Mr. Whitney was taken sick with the bloody flux and was taken to Mr. Sampson at the shot tower. Mr. and Mrs. Sampson wanted to send word up to his wife at the mill, but he thought it not best as there was no roads nor doctors and a wilderness and no settlements and with mosquitoes and flies so terrible bad and he might be better soon. But he continued to get worse when Mr. Sampson sent the Frenchman up to the mill to let her know he was sick. The Frenchman got a man by the name of Beryman to inform Mrs. Whitney when she went to Robert Wakely’s and got her to take care of her three children. She then got an Indian and a Frenchman with a birchbark canoe 12’ long and started down the river that night. They were all that night and the next day until 9:00 at night before they reached the shot tower and he died the next morning at 8:00 on the 16th of August, 1838. This being the first fleet of lumber run on the Wisconsin River. When she left home the oldest, Harriet, lay at the point of death. The other two children were Isaac and Dwight. About this time Daniel Whitney from Green Bay arrived and informed them that Harriet had died. He arrived at Mr. Sampson’s half an hour after his nephew had died. Daniel Whitney came to Green Bay in 1819 and the shot tower was built in 1834, and the sawmill was built in 1836 and 1837. In 1838 Mr. Sampson moved to the sawmill and ran it for several years."

Another source says that upon Mrs. Whitney’s return to Point Basse her daughter Harriet believed to have died rushed out to greet her mother to Mrs. Whitney’s great joy.
1839 After visiting Wausau, Stevens is so impressed with the prospects of lumbering at Wausau that Stevens, Wakely and three other lumbering associates at St. Louis all sign a contract which details the plans for construction of the mills at Wausau. For some reason unknown to us that contract is nullified. As far as we know, Wakely had no part in the financing of the sawmills at Wausau nor did he share in the profits. He played another important role in that project, however and that was to transport supplies from Portage (the head of steamboat navigation) to Big Bull Falls (Wausau) or at least half way to a warehouse at a location which first was called Stevens Landing and then Stevens Point (named after George Stevens).

George Stevens is at work building several sawmills at Big Bull Falls (Wausau). The following was entered in Stevens business ledger: “Aug. Cash sent to R. Wakely to Boat goods from Portage, $20.”

Sept. 29, in a letter to George Morton, a lumber merchant at St. Louis, George Stevens complains that. “Hands are very scarce, and wages $25 per month and impossible to get half as many as we need.” “Kline might have worked for me at $3 per day, but I could not get him.”

1839-41 George Wood states, “in the winter of 1839 he (Wakely) went to Wausau with George Kline and a Mr. Draper and he moved back to Pointe Basse in 1840 or 1841 and lived there ever since.”
1839 May 12. Mary Jane Wakely, daughter of Robert and Mary is born.

First wedding in Wood County was held at the house of Alhira and Jane Sampson (Wakely’s neighbors). George Kline Jr. and Maria Whitney (David’s widow) were united, S. R. Merrill, justice of the peace, presiding.

1840 Alhira and Jane Sampson move to Grand Rapids to help run a sawmill that Sampson and Nelson Strong built there in 1838.
1840-1860 In later years Levi Flemming, an early settler of Wausau, lists Bob Wakely as living in Wausau in these years. He also indicates that Bob didn't bring his family. This information supports the above-mentioned George Wood quote concerning 1839-1841. Kline, Draper and Wakely all possessed sawmill building skills. This might suggest that they went there to help build the Stevens mill, since he needed help.
1840 U.S. Government surveys township lines on land gained from Menominee Indians at 1836 treaty, three miles on both sides of the river from Port Edwards to Wausau.

Jan. 1, petition from citizens of the pineries to the Senate and House of Representatives to establish “a new Post Route from Fort Winnebago, Wisconsin Territory, to Plover Portage Mills in the Pineries aforesaid.” “..there are now established and in operation not less than twelve lumber mills and five others in progress of construction." "..and not less than three hundred souls.” The petition was signed by 135 men, including Robert Wakely. George Stevens (post master of Almond, NY), Pierre Choirette and Deputy Surveyor, Joshua Hathaway.

1841 Nov. 20 Petition for postal route similar to the one drafted Jan. 1. 1840 was sent to Congress.

In the spring of 1841, an event occurred in the settlement of Point Basse which set in motion a celebration that lasted for 5 days. The first white child was born safely in this remote settlement. His name was Henry Sampson. Mr. Sampson later became a resident of Wisconsin Rapids and lived to be close to 100 years old.

1841-1842 Celia Burr, in a June 18, 1896 Wood County Reporter article states. “In 1841-42 steamboats plied up and down the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers from Galena, Illinois to Point Basse. The reason that steamboats plied between these two places lies in the fact that parties were located in both places who were interested in the development of the lumber trade for which Galena furnished a good market. There were three boats plying between these places, the Science, Enterprise, and Onyotho. These boats carried passengers and freight only during the summer seasons of 1841-42”
1842 Jan. 11, Soloman Story hires Robert Wakely to move his family which consists of his wife, three sons, and three daughters, from Fort Winnebago, near Portage, to Conants Mill (Stevens Point).

April. Robert Wakely is appointed as Judge of Elections for Grand Rapids precinct of Portage County and George Stevens of Big Bull Falls precinct, same county.

The following entry is recorded in George Stevens’ sawmill business ledger. “April 1842. 7,000 ft. 1/4 clear Wakely $56.” apparently referring to lumber sold to Wakely 1/4 clear of knots.

Nov. 7, Otis D. Wakely is born. Years later, his obituary claims that he is the first white male born in Wood County.

1842 or ‘44 Robert Wakely, Jr. drowns at Edwards Dam at age 8 or 10. Family records claim that he was on board a raft of lumber at the time of the accident and his body was never recovered.
1843 April 3. Robert Wakely is listed as being the Judge of Elections for his precinct, according to the Proceedings of the Portage County Board of Supervisors.
1844-1850 Excerpt from Richard Durbin’s book, The Wisconsin River - An Odyssey Through Time and Space. In 1835 the (steamboat) Frontier was taken up as far as the Narrows at the Dells, but the honor of first passing through this slender channel went nine years later to Captain Kingsbury’s Maid of Iowa out of Galena. Tickets on it from Galena to Helena were priced at $4.50; to Sac Prairie, $4.75; to Fort Winnebago, $5.00; and if you wanted to go as far as Pointe Basse (near what was to become Nekoosa), $8.50. Freight charges were .50 per hundredweight to Helena and $1.50 to Pointe Basse. Unhappily, the steamboat company’s hoped-for profits never materialized for on her second trip the steamer hit an obstruction in the Mississippi and sank.

The next attempt to reach Pointe Basse then considered the head of navigation on the river, was by the 100-ton Enterprise in the fall of 1850. Laden with supplies for lumbermen, it attained its goal but returned only with the greatest difficulty. Nonetheless, it continued for a number of years to make trips, sometimes twice weekly, from its home base in Galena to Portage. Although the line’s advertisements still said it would go to Pointe Basse “whenever business will warrant”, it’s doubtful if it ever made more than a few trips there.

1844 Jan. 3, Portage County Commissioners direct their attorney. C. (Chauncy) Abbott, to commence suit upon the bond of Robert Wakely, assessor, and his surety, Wm. Stomman.

The same Wm. Stomman mentioned in the last account sells Robert Wakely a Lot of Real Estate located on the extreme north end of Wisconsin Rapids on the East bank of the Wisconsin River. In recent history (1990’s) a log cabin was removed from this Lot of land and relocated at HISTORIC POINT BASSE.

1845 May 29. Portage County Commissioners appoint Abraham Brawly and Clark Whitney as assessors to fill the places of Clark Smith and Robert Wakely, who neglected to qualify.

Postal route is established to Plover, and Robert Wakely is named as post master of Pointe Basse. As such, he is compensated $1.54 for the last 3 months of 1845, $6.16 for all of 1847, and $3.56 for all of 1849. In 1850 the Pointe Basse post office is eliminated since the Grand Rapids post office was doing two or three times as much business. ‘The earliest mails consisted of not more than thirty letters and twelve newspapers. The letters were not placed in envelopes, but merely folded and sealed with sealing wax, and as there were no stamps then, the price of postage, ten cents, was written on the outside.”

Aug. 8, William Stuben Wakely is born to Bob and Mary.

In 1845 Mr. Anson took some cattle into the pinery for logging purposes and Mrs. Anson soon followed. She started from Bogus Prairie in the spring with Hiram Stow and John Q. A. Rollins. She was now 20 years old and rode with Stow who had a horse team. They arrived at Portage and stopped for the night with Richard Veeder. This appeared to be the end of the road and of white settlements and civilization.

The next day they reached Jered Walsworths who had married a squaw and lived in a log house that was the first house north after leaving Portage at Fort Winnebago. The next day they started on their journey and reached Greenoes, a half-breed traveling through a heavy snowstorm. They had to stop two nights and one day to make a sled and change the loads from the wagon to the sled. From here they started for the next settlement which was Robert Wakely’s at Pointe Basse, now Nekoosa. They had not gone many miles when they broke down.

There they were in uninhabited country in a severe snowstorm, the road blocked and almost unpassable and what to do. They did not know whither to turn around and try to go back or go ahead. And Mr. Stow told her he would do as she thought best, and they finally concluded to fix up and go on and reached Wakely’s if possible, which they did. Here she met Mrs. Wakely, the first white woman she had seen and could talk with since they had left Portage for the others used French and Indian language. And she said she remembers to this day how happy she was when she saw a white woman who could talk with her.”

1846 circa A millwright by the name of Ira Purdy arrives at Pointe Basse. Letters written by him years later disclose that Robert Wakely owned 12 to 14 buildings when Purdy arrived.
1846 William Sylvester, a tavern owner, is asked to leave the Indian Lands. He defends himself by saying that Mr. Walsworth, Mr. Grignon, and Mr. Wakely are also operating taverns in "the same neighborhood." In the end, Governor Dodge is directed to authorize the Indian Sub Agent to grant a license to Sylvester. Sylvester's "large and valuable house" cost him $900 in cash.

Joseph L. Cotey had this to say about this area in 1846: “Thc next station was Robert Weakley’s place at Pointe Basse, 30 miles. He kept the “Devils Eve Water,” and a general good time was had. The next station was Jerry Walsworth, 16 miles. Jerry would never forget to say before going to supper, “Come boys, take an appetizer, I have some of Goodhue’s damndest.” and on rctiring. “Come, boys, take a nightcap and bid Goodhue goodnight; and in the morning, would say. “Come, boys, take an eye opener. I have some of the Devil’s Eye Water mixed with Goodhue’s damndest.”

“This Goodhue’s was rot gut whiskey obtained front Mr. Goodhue’s distillery on Rock River...”

“Our currency consisted mostly of gold. It was in the time of the genuine Gold Democrats, and the currency was mostly of quarter, half, and full Eagle U.S. Gold coins.” For more details concerning moneys used in 1846, consult page 132 in History of Wood County.

1847 July 30, Newbold Leroy Wakely is born, he is most commonly referred to as “Lewey”.

(excerpt from S.A. Sherman’s notebook) “Curran had made several trips to the Pinery as a peddler previous to his moving up. At one time while stopping at Robert Wakely’s, Walt D. Mclndoe, being there with a fleet of lumber, met Curran with a load of goods, and among other things, he had 2 or 3 barrels of Whiskey. To protect his goods, he, Curran, slept in his wagon with a pistol and other weapons to protect himself and his goods. After all was quiet and Curran asleep, some of the Raftsmen crawled under the wagon and board a hole up through the bottom into the Whiskey barrel and drawd their camp kettles and other vessels full of liquor and retired to a convenient place and got gloriously drunk.

 In the morning Curren discovered what had been done, and looking around, found the Raftsmen nearly all drunk. He accused them of stealing his Whiskey, which they stoutly denied, but as there was no other liquor to be had about there, they could not clear themselves from the charge and had to pay for it. In those early times with no law nor order, the few pioneers were very rough and uncontrollable.”

1848 March 13. Constitution for state of Wisconsin is adopted. Portage County voters totaled 266; 208 in favor of adoption, and 58 against it

Oct. 18, last of Indian claimed land in Wisconsin is ceded.

Wakely’s Tavern had another celebration. This time the joy was brought about by news that President Polk had granted Wisconsin its wish for statehood, making Wisconsin the 30th state.

1849 Jan. 5, Alice Wakely is born in the extant Wakely dwelling at Pointe Basse. according to Leonard Christian, Bob and Mary’s great grandson.

 Rcverend Cutting Marsh has a chance meeting with Robert Wakely at the city of Portage. According to Rev. Marsh, Wakely’s face is red and bloated from liquor, and he is using profane language. Marsh enters in his journal “Oh! What a life, to live to have no reference to that what is to come.”

Reverend Cutting Marsh notes in his journal. “One mile below Merrell’s mill is Wakeley’s mills, contain(ing) two saws. A double mill and a lath machine attached.”

1850-60 William Stuben Wakely dies at Pointe Basse at age 5-15. Cause of death is unknown at this time.
1850 1850 U.S. census lists Robert Wakely as a lumberman owning $3000 of “Capital invested in Real and Personal Estate in the Business.” and 1,500 logs valued at $900. Average number of hands employed by Wakely is 5 males and 1 female. Average wages paid to employees, $30 for males and $20 for females monthly. Annual production 300,000 feet of lumber valued at $1,800.
1851 April 13, Ella Wakely was born to Bob and Mary. She later had her name legally changed to Harriet Ellen. Family records state she was born in Wakely's Tavern.

 Land on which Robert Wakely lives is sub divided. The surveyor mentions in his written notes that “A West line from (1/4 Section) post runs between Wakely’s house & barn at Point du Bois. At 70 or 80 rods distant West.” While surveying the “Meanders” of the land fronting the Wisconsin River he notes “At 5.00 pass Warehouse at Pt. Bausse” and further north “Wakely’s Tavern, Pt. Bausse East 2 rods”. The Cartographer's map derived from these written notes depicting only two buildings. ..a warehouse south of present day Wakely Road and a Tavern north of it.

1852 March 29. Wisconsin Senate and Assembly approves an act allowing Robert Wakely to keep and maintain a ferry boat on Sec. 15., Town 21, Range 5, for a period of ten years. He is allowed two years from this time to “put in complete operation a good and commodious ferry boat at said place or forfeit all rights under this act.” No one else is permitted to operate a ferry within one mile of Wakely’s. Toll for crossing is as follows: any vehicle drawn by 2 horses or 1 yoke of oxen, 50 cents: for 1 horse & wagon, 30 cents; for each additional horse or ox, 15 cents: for man and horse, 25 cents; for cattle and horses in droves, 5 cents each -- provided that hogs and sheep shall not be charged more than 3 cents each: and foot passengers, 10 cents each.
1852-56 In these years Robert Wakely, Chauncy Wakely, Daniel Whitney, Moses Strong, Fred Femling and Esabelle Fay are investing in real estate in the State of Washington. Wisconsin Central R.R. Co. follows Strong’s and Whitnev’s names. All lands are purchased in the same Towns and Ranges. This suggests land speculation for lumber, railroads and/or mining.
1854 Robert Wakely, while under the influence of spirituous liquors, rides his horse into the Portage County Courthouse located at Plover, tips his hat to Judge David Erwin, and proceeds to sing “Hush my baby, lie still and slumber”. Judge Erwin, who is substituting for Judge George Cate, has Wakely held overnight in a locked hotel room for his misdeed. The next day, Judge Cate returns and orders Wakelv’s release. Cate describes Wakely as “a man of high social qualities, whose good nature never forsook him even when drunk.” It should also be mentioned that the “courthouse” of the time is actually a warehouse, since the county seat has just been relocated from Portage, and no formal courthouse has been constructed yet. Wakely is well acquainted with Judge Cate, as he is with most of the early settlers, so Wakely might be thinking that he is merely entering a warehouse on business, or just stopping by to pay his respects to a friend.
1857-62 Dec. 7. Moses M. Strong, a prominent lawyer and statesman from Mineral Point, purchases a half interest in the Pointe Basse sawmill (formerly operated by Nelson Strong, A. B. Sampson, and David Whitney) and water power rights from Daniel Whitney. In August of 1857, Strong buys the remaining half from Daniel Whitney. Strong and John Slothower intend to build a new sawmill on the same site. A plat for a proposed village of Nekoosa, located on the bluff on the east bank of the river, is drawn up, and the idea of building a steamboat for operation between Kilbourn and Pointe Basse is mentioned. Neither of these plans materialize. The coffer dam and main dam are completed for the mill, but high water in the spring of 1861 takes out a 50-foot section of the dam. Stephen J. Carpenter, the chief millwright of this project, is mustered into service for the Union Army, and there is no one else to oversee the repairs. Up river, lumbermen widen the gap in the dam to allow their rafts of lumber to pass through. Carpenter is killed at Murfreesboro, Tenn.. NEKOOSA LUMBER COMPANY goes bankrupt, and no further improvements are made until 1893 when Thomas E. Nash forums the NEKOOSA PAPER COMPANY.
1857-59 Chauncey Wakely marries his first wife, Lucy. No further details are known about their union at this time.
1858 The Wood County Board of Supervisors complain among themselves that George Neeves and “Robert Wakely at Point Boss is conducting a ferry also outside of the control of the Board of Supervisors which in our estimation should be attended to” and the “rates have been irregular to suit times and convenience of the man that attends the ferry..” But no legal action is taken at this time.
1861  Sept. 30, Lucy L. Wakely, wife of Chauncy S. Wakely, dies at Pointe Basse at age 27, according to obituary in Wood County Reporter. Cause of death is not known to us.
1863 Thursday, Feb. 19. Wood County Reporter prints this article announcing that Robert Wakely intends to “have a jubilation at his hotel at Point Basse on Thursday, the 12th of February. Bob says he is bound to have a good old time, if he knows how to originate one, and he thinks he does, Of course his house will be filled if his friends attend, as undoubtedly they will.”

1863  Thursday, Feb. 19, Wood County Reporter prints this review: “Last Thursday night we celebrated at Old Bob Quality’s the High--cockalorum of Point Bassc, where a social cotillion party had assembled. - We went in the company with Elliott and two other Dutchmen, and went in on our individual responsibility, after the beasts were duly cared for. Everybody became familiar; the girls got our feet in their pockets; one managed to rest our right foot on her shoulder while dancing; they laid our cap carefully away, and then forgot where it was deposited; our skirts were lifted, and fun was had generally. Fun! that’s no word for it. It was everlasting enjoyment. “Fun" was written on the forehead of everybody, from the nigger boy in the cellar to the chambermaid in the garret. The horses in the barn whinnied “Fun;” the hogs grunted it; the dogs barked it, and the hens cackled it. Uncle Robert seemed excessively delighted --to see others so jovial. He shook all over, like an agitated barrel of soap. He was as lively and spruce as a young schoolmaster.

 Well, we had a jolly old time, a splendid supper, mid an undisturbed snooze on the fiddler’s stand. After all had departed except our fellow Dutchmen, we sat down to a cock-royal breakfast. The cock was a young chicken and nicely cooked. At the table all were chuck full of fun, wit and ‘wittles.” It took us one hour and a quarter to eat. We are full yet--too full to say more. We say, Old Bob, when you have another dance, send us word, and set us down for nine chances.”

1864  Thursday, Feb. 4, Wood County Reporter prints this notice: A DANCE -- Our venerable friend Robert Wakely is to give a dance at his hotel in Point Bausse next Monday evening. --Robert always attends handsomely to his guests, and his lady will certainly furnish a rich supper. A good time is anticipated.
1865 Oct. 30, Chauncey Wakely marries Susan W. Hurd at Grand Rapids. Rev. J. W. Harris presiding.
1866 July 15. Otis D. Wakely marries Susan Turley at Pointe Basse.
1867 June 2. Ella Wakely marries her first cousin, Daniel Wakeley at Grand Rapids.
1870 circa The “leading store” at Pointe Basse, which is of Greek Revival, post and beam construction is disassembled, rafted down river to Lone Rock, and reassembled by Albert M. Woodbury, a raftsman. At first it is called the Commercial House there and operated as a hotel by A. B. Hill. By 1885 Albert Woodburv was operating it as the Cleveland House. Through the years it changes hands and burns down at 1:15 AM, Oct. 15. 1925. “When the fire was at it’s height the light could be seen in the sky for many miles.” Several local papers wrote of the event, and those that mentioned the history of the building stated that it served as a hotel here, but there is no mention of a store.
1875 Chauncey and Susan Wakely are listed in separate households in Grand Rapids on the Wis. Census. Their daughter, Luna Bell, is shown living with Susan.
1876 Chauncey. Susan and daughter Luna Bell Wakely move to Cherokee, Iowa where they operate a restaurant.
1877 Sept. 22. Chauncey Wakely dies at home in Cherokee, Iowa, and is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery. His widow Susan remarries to Jacob Lepper, a German farmer, in 1895.
1883 The following article appears in the Wood County Reporter Thursday. November 22: “About two weeks since Mr. Robert Wakely lost his dwelling and most of it’s contents by fire. It originated from a defective chimney. Mr. Wakely believes that the late cyclone had something to do with injuring the safety of his chimney. He has only $375 insurance. Several old friends went to work and raised about $60 by subscription which they presented him and for which he returns his grateful thanks. The loss is a serious blow to one of our most honest pioneer settlers.
1887 Dec. 24, Mary O’Dell Wakely dies at home, age 75.

Another quote from Bob and Mary’s grandson, Newey Lesley Wakely: “they (Bob and Mary) had a large Tavern there for many years, where I lived on the old farm, it could care for two hundred, it was either one or two stories, and covered about an acre, can only vaguely remember it as it burned in 1887 and she (Mary) died Dec. 24, 1887.."   Newey would have been 9 years 11 months old in 1887. He was 74 when he wrote the above.

1893 Feb. 18, Robert Wakely dies at home, age 85.
Although this subject isn’t mentioned in the foregoing history of the Wakely family and the upper Wisconsin River valley, I think that it is most important that this be highlighted here and now.

Although Robert, Chauncey, Otis and Newbolds names appear most often in the written record, there is yet another Wakely who played a VERY IMPORTANT part in the growth and well being of the communities of Grand Rapids, Nekoosa and Pointe Basse. That is MARY WAKELY’!!! One obscure, dusty old record tells us that Mary Wakely served as a midwife for many new lives that our pioneer families were blessed with. A great many times she aided in curing them when they took ill as well. When we read an account of Robert being at Portage, Plover or Big Bull Falls, we should remember who really was running the inn at Pointe Basse, while taking care of the neighbors, bearing nine children of her own, and seeing to it that seven of the nine reached adulthood. Likewise, when we read the words “Keeping House” behind Mary’s name on the census returns. I think she is being slighted, as well as all others that fall into that category. Instead, I suggest the phrase “helping to Build America” should be entered in that space!!?

(Return to top)      

See our Permissions page for use and copyright information.