Algernon to Stanton

From the Stevens Point Journal May 19, 1992

When Plover residents voted to permanently incorporate the village in 1971, there was no turning back. For years after the area was settled, the village of Plover had flip-flopped from town to village and village to town. And its name didn’t always stay the same, either.

Plover’s on-again, off-again status as a village began in 1844, when the village was first platted, according to Malcolm Rosholt in “Our County Our Story.” George W. Mitchell is believed to be Plover’s first resident, according to Rosholt. And based on some of Mitchell’s historical accounts, Rosholt concluded that while the area around the elbow of the Wisconsin River was referred to as Plover Portage up to 1844, there was no established community in present day Plover.

There may have been only a few scattered log cabins to the south and southwest of today’s Plover village located in a community known as Rushville, Rosholt wrote. Rushville served as a meeting place for county commissioners, who decided even before the village of Plover was platted to make the municipality the Portage County seat.

By April 1845, plans were made to build a courthouse and jail in the newly-platted village, according to Rosholt. The original village boundaries extended four blocks east of Post Road and extended north from Union Street (now Plover Road) for about eight blocks. The former Green Bay and Western Railroad tracks cut through the middle of the original plat.

The public square once was located between Wisconsin and Main (now Madison) streets north of Willow Drive. (Current location of the Historical Society's Heritage Park) In the pioneer days, Plover was known for its taverns and hotels, patronized by traveling lumbermen.

In 1857, residents incorporated the Plover plat as the village of Algernon, commemorating Algernon B. Crosby, Rosholt wrote. Crosby was a postmaster in the town of Stockton and one of the first Town of Hull settlers. The next year there was a move to change the name of the village to Stanton. Villagers may have wanted to honor Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a leading advocate of women’s rights in New York - the home state of many Plover pioneers, according to Rosholt’s book.

The Stanton name was dropped in 1864 in favor of the old plat name, Plover. The village most likely acquired its name from the Plover bird, a shore bird that was known for migrating to the area.

After the county seat was moved from Plover to Stevens Point in 1868, Plover incorporation was dropped and the municipality converted to a town. Village incorporation came again in 1912 and stayed that way until 1931, when it again reverted to a town.

An agricultural and commercial boom in the 1950s generated interest in village incorporation again. Supporters of incorporation said that growth had divided the town of Plover into two sections - the rural and the urban. The interests of both areas would be better served by two separate governing bodies. But opponents said they wanted to preserve the town by keeping growth within the same boundaries.

Voters soundly defeated village incorporation in a referendum held in 1965. Persistent village supporters raised the issue again in early 1970. And by the following year, Plover was permanently incorporated as a village.

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