A History of Plover to 1984

A History of Plover
by
Michael Riley
May 4, 1984

INTRODUCTION

This paper is a brief history of the Village of Plover. Plover is located in Portage County which is found in Central Wisconsin. The Village of Plover is today a rapidly growing community, but it has not always been that way. The Village has undergone incorporation and dissolution twice in its history. The present day Village of Plover was incorporated in 1971.

This paper will look at the Village of Plover as it underwent changes throughout the years from the time it was the county seat of Portage County to the present situation.

A Brief History of Portage County, Wisconsin

The Village of Plover is located in Portage County, Wisconsin. To understand the Village, one needs to look briefly at the history of Portage County. On October 26, 1818, Governor Lewis Cass of the Michigan Territory, organized two counties in what is the State of Wisconsin today. Those two counties were Brown and Crawford.

Brown County was bounded on the north and east by the present day state line of Michigan and south by the states of Indiana and Illinois. Its western boundary ran through the middle of the portage between the Fox and Wisconsin rivers to the Michigan border. Green Bay served as the county seat for Brown County. Crawford County, with Prairie du Chien as its seat, covered the rest of the state. The present day Portage County was thus split between the two counties. 

In 1836 the Wisconsin Territory was created.  The first Wisconsin Territorial Legislature met at Belmont and created "a separate county . . . to be called Portage.”  In 1838 the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature enlarged Portage County.  In 1840 Sauk County was created and Portage County lost some of its territory.  The legislature once again increased the borders of Portage County in 1841 so that it was 57 miles wide and ran from the Wisconsin River near Fort Winnebago north to the Michigan border.

From that time on, Portage County lost portions of land to newly formed counties. The last boundary change occurred in March 29, 1856, when Wood County was created. From 1856 until the present, Portage County has remained the same, except for fluctuating township lines.

Origin of the Name Portage

The way in which Portage County acquired its name deserves some explanation. "The county took its name originally from the portage between the Wisconsin and Fox Rivers." A portage is defined as a place where "a carrying or transporting of boats and supplies overland between navigable rivers, lakes, etc., during a canoe trip . . . . “ occurs.  After Columbia County was created in 1846, the northern part of the county kept the name " . . . to keep the record books, and thereby save a few dollars in the purchase of new ones . . . . "

      The origin of the name Portage also is related to the northern part of the county which was referred to as Plover Portage. The Plover Portage area was once part of an electoral precinct established in 1840. It was made up of present day Wood and Portage Counties.

Although there were no permanent Indian settlements in Plover Portage, the Chippewa and Menominee lands ran through the area and both tribes used it as a staging ground for portaging canoes between the Wisconsin and Wolf Rivers via the Tomorrow-Waupaca.

The Chippewa tribe referred to the area as wah-bau-gao-ning-ah-ming, which meant "eastern Portage." The Algonkian word for the area, waband-onigon, meant "east trail from the river" referring to the portage route from the Wisconsin River east to the Tomorrow-Waupaca River.

The term Plover Portage was also used in the Indian "Strip" Treaty of 1836 and by Joshua Hathaway, the man who first surveyed a part of Portage County in 1839.

Plover Became the County Seat

The Village of Plover first came into prominence when an election was held in 1844 to chose a county seat. When first established in 1836, the seat of Justice was at Winnebago City, near the present City of  Portage, Wisconsin. On January 12, 1838, the seat was  moved to Kentucky City (Village of DeKora) until the 1844  election .

The race for the county seat was between Plover and Portage City. The 1844 election was probably not a fair one. One legend contends that on the election day, Thomas McDill "rounded up the lumberjacks from the north country around Little Bull and Big Bull which together with the voters around Plover and Mill Creek . . “ swung the election to Plover. The Village of Plover was not plotted until 1845, and during this time the small community of Rushville served as the meeting place for the county commissioners.

Origin of the Word Plover

It is not exactly clear where the word Plover comes from. Malcolm Rosholt feels that the village probably takes its name "from the Semipalmated Ring Plover, a shore-bird with long pointed wings and short tail... which prefers mud flats and beaches." The birds were attracted to the mouth of the Plover River during their northern migration. Rosholt also mentions that the word Plover was used to describe the area in the Indian "Strip" Treaty of 1836 and the Hathaway survey of 1839. Another explanation is that the village is named after the "Plover River which was called the River of Flags.” The Chippewa's referred to the area as Mush-ku-da-ny, which meant ''Prairie.'' The Chippewa word was very appropriate since Plover is surrounded by a prairie.

Plover Changes Its Name

As mentioned earlier, Plover was not plotted until 1845. In that year, George Wyatt, acting as attorney for Moses M. Strong and Francis Dunn, filed an affidavit at Mineral Point  for the original Town of Plover. The original deed stated:

All streets are 60 ft. wide. Alleys 20 ft. wide. Full lots are 66 ft. front by 125 feet depth. The Public Square is 32 rods 14 ft., 2 inches, from North to South and 23 rods 10 feet 6 inches from East to West.

The Green Bay and Western tracks were plotted to run through the middle of the village, thereby dividing the village equally north and south. The Public Square lay in the center of the plot.

The village was originally called Plover Portage. On January 14, 1850, George Wyatt, the postmaster changed the post office's name to Plover. The village underwent another name change in 1857 when State Senator Luther Hanchett, who was from Plover, introduced Bill No. 255 S which would have changed Plover into the incorporated Village of Clayton. The reason is not clear, but on February 23, 1857, Senator Hanchett amended the bill to change the name from Clayton to Algernon. On March 6, 1857, Bill No. 255 S was signed by Governor Coles Bashford and Plover was now known as Algernon. The only mention of this is found in the local papers appeared in the March 19 edition of the Plover Herald in which the Herald wrote:  "The villages of Plover, Springville, Young's and Rikers additions to the Village of Plover, are incorporated into one village, by the name of Algernon. Let us organize at once .”

Malcolm Rosholt wrote that the Village of Algernon was named after Algernon B. Crosby, but I have not been successful in finding out anything about this individual.

The residents of Algernon decided to change the name of the village again and on May 4, 1858, Governor Alexander W. Randall signed the bill which amended the name to the Village of Stanton. Some felt the Village of Stanton was named in honor of Edwin Stanton who was President Lincoln's Secretary of War. Rosholt points out that this is very unlikely since in 1858 Edwin Stanton was not yet that prominent. The village was probably honoring Elizabeth Cady Stanton who was an early women's rights leader from New York. Since many of Plover's pioneer settlers originated from the New England states, and in particular from New York, this explanation seems the most likely.

Not satisfied with this change, the Village once again changed the name on March 21, 1864, to the Village of Plover. The reason for the change is not clear, but the name was never again changed.

Early Plover

What was early Plover like? One description comes from the Wisconsin Pinery, the first newspaper published in Portage County:

“The site is a level plain of burr oak openings . . . about half a mile from the East bank of the Wisconsin River. On the Central road it is the first village of any note that meets the eye of the traveler north of Portage City. The farm land in the immediate vicinity . . . are of the choicest kind and are settled with a first class population. The county seat is permanently located in the village, a county Jail is being erected this season to cost some $6000, the court house being already up . . . the population 500 . . . . "

The Pinery also mentions that there were 120 dwellings, five of which were stores, three taverns, two blacksmiths, a livery stable, a carpenter shop, one shoemaker, a school, offices of four lawyers, and two doctors. A. G. Ellis also provides a description of Plover in his Hand-Book, which was published in 1857:

The Village contains 112 buildings, 70 of which are used as dwellings; many families also live in the upper stories . . . it being impossible to rent dwellings of any kind.  There are 5 stores, 2 taverns, 1 printing office (the Plover Herald), 1 shoe shop, 1 wagon do, 2 blacksmiths, 1 gunsmith, 2 saloons, a post office, County Register's Office, a Court House, a Jail, a town hall, and School House. It is in contemplation to build a church the present season. There are five Lawyers, 2 Physicians, and 2 Clergymen. The whole population is estimated at 500 . . . some 40 new buildings are already in progress this summer  - -

The October 9, 1856 issue of the Plover Herald noted that there was also a bakery under construction, a plow factory, a Freemasons Lodge, the Lodge of the L. O. of Odd Fellows, the Society of the Sons of Temperance and a Plover race track.  Horse racing was one of the early amusements and "the road from Plover to the George Smart farm was the early day racetrack . . . . " The racetrack, known as the Plover Union Race Track, provided entertainment for many years until 1872 when it was sold and "torn up and part of the field plowed. "

The first buildings in the Village of Plover were located below Union Street along the east side of modern Highway 51 near the intersection of Highway 54 and County Trunk B. There was a store, owned by H. Stow & Co., and a tavern house owned by G. W. Mitchell and his brother John R. One of the best known hotels in the area was the Rice Hotel built by A. L. Sherman in 1847. A description of the Rice Hotel was provided by Simon Augustus Sherman who moved to Plover in 1848 from the state of Massachusetts:

“it was supposed to be the best hotel north of the Fox & Wisconsin Rivers in the state.  It was the only house in the pinery (north) from Fort Winnebago to Lake Superior that was plastered, painted or had a brick chimney. The house was two stories and about 20 x 40 feet, and had a lean-to on the backside about 14 x 40. The brick for the chimney they brought from Milwaukee, 150 miles, the chimney extending down through the roof about two feet below the chamber ceiling . . . They named the hotel the 'Empire.’ “

The Village had its own newspaper, the Plover Herald, which was a weekly newspaper of four pages. Its first issue was on Thursday, August 7, 1856. James S. Alban and Jervis W. Carter were the publishers and editors. H. G. Ingersoll was the printer. Over the years, the Plover Herald, later known as the Plover Times, ran ads for many of Plover's businesses. Among the businesses there were the following: a tavern house run by Charles P. Price; the Eagle Saloon; Morgan and Brother Dry Goods Store; Hanchett and Raymond, attorneys; James S. Alban, attorney; Minor Strope, attorney; the American House; J. D. Roger's general merchandise store; the Northern Stage Line run by J. L. Myers; and the Morgan Stage Line. Both stage lines made trips between Stevens Point, Plover, and Berlin.

The geography of Plover was one of a flat surface with a very sandy soil which had openings of black oak. Between 1839-1853, black oak represented the most common type of tree in Portage County. The Plover area was sandy because it was formed as part of a glacial outwash plain. Portage County is located in a tension zone which separates two distinct floristic provinces, and the southwest half, of which Plover is part, contains a prairie forest province. Within this area there was a mixture of coniferous and deciduous forests along with prairie grasses and wetland vegetation in the Plover area.

The first county government in Plover was made up of the following offices and officers. The county commissioners were Mathias Mitchell, Benjamin F. Berry and Luther Houghton. The sheriff was Nelson Strong and his deputy sheriff was George W. Mitchell. The offices of clerk of the court, clerk of the county board, and register of deeds were all held by George Wyatt. The county treasurer was John Battan.

The First County Buildings

The first building committee drew up plans "for a Court House and Jail." The building was to be “24 feet square, 1 1/2 stories high, square roof and finished in a good substantial plain manner." In February 1841, William Dunton was given a contract to build the County Court House for $1950. Until that time, the county board meetings were held in local tavern-houses.  The court house was completed in 1849, and by 1856 there was already a move to improve the court house. A letter to the Plover Herald urged that money be appropriated to build a new court house because:

There is not a plastered room in the house. The rooms below, where the county offices by right ought to be kept, are so open and cold that they are improper for offices; they are ceiled and unpainted and present the dingy appearance of some ancient habitation...

A new court house in Plover was never built, and the court house was eventually sold to the Masonic Lodge in 1870 and moved.  The lodge was destroyed by fire in 1872.

The Jail house must have undergone some changes because the one built in the 1840's was described as being belt with pine logs of fourteen inches thick and the door was of heavy white oak with a lock which was 6" X 12" in size and the key weighed one pound. In 1868, when Plover was battling Stevens Point over the county seat, Stevens Point claimed that the Jail needed replacing because it was an inadequate structure from which escape was easy. The Plover Times argued that the Jail was a stone building from which only two escapes had occurred in the last eight years. I could not discover when and if the Jail changed. Overall, Plover as the county seat of Portage County thrived both as a political and economic center in the area.

Plover's Role in the Civil War

Plover was settled heavily by New England settlers and their liberal views were revealed on the issue or slavery. The Plover Herald, published and edited by James S. Alban and Jervis W. Carter, was a strong abolitionist paper. The editors also supported the Republican Party from its beginning. The very first issue of the Plover Herald contained an editorial in favor of the Republican candidate for the Presidency, John C. Fremont. The editorial also went on to blast the institution of slavery and its supporters.

During the 1860 and 1864 Presidential elections, Plover and Portage County went heavily Republican. In 1860 Portage County gave Lincoln 64 percent of the vote and Plover gave him 76 percent; in the 1864 election, Portage County gave Lincoln 69 percent and Plover gave him 84 percent of the vote.

When the Civil War began, Alban and the Plover Herald urged the citizens to enlist in the Army and Alban was one of the first to do so. On April 19, 1861, there was a meeting held in Plover to form a company. Plover also had the distinction of being the first unit to fill their quota in Portage County when the Stanton Company (Plover) did so. Plover’s patriotism is further demonstrated by the number of men who volunteered for the armed forces. Plover's population in 1860 was 898 and out of that population 150 men joined the Union Army. In proportion to its population, Plover sent the largest number of soldiers to the front of any community in the county .

There were twenty-one commissioned officers from Plover. The best known was James S. Alban who was commissioned a colonel and subsequently commanded the 18th Regiment.  Alban died on April 7, 1862, from wounds he received at the Battle of Pittsburg Landing.

Plover men served in many regiments and companies too numerous to mention here. One of the first regiments formed was the Pinery Rifles which was commanded by Captain James O. Raymond. As could be expected, Plover men suffered heavy casualties during the Civil War. Plover lost more casualties during the Civil War than it did during World War II.

After the war ended, Plover Post No. 149 of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR ), was chartered and it was an extremely active organization in Portage County for many years. There were numerous celebrations held in Plover over the years by the GAR to remember their dead. Plover can look back with pride on its efforts toward keeping the Union together.

The County Seat Battle

One of the most important events to occur in Plover's history was when it lost the county seat to the City of Stevens Point. The battle was a bitter one which led to bad feelings between the two communities. While Plover was the county seat, the "Plover Regency" an unofficial organization of leading citizens and politicians from Plover, had wide influence in political affairs.

Stevens Point had continued to grow and by the late 1860s had become the center of the lumbering industry for the county and its population was much larger than Plover's. On October 22, 1867, a meeting was held in Stevens Point where it was resolved:

“That we, the citizens of Stevens Point, do hereby pledge the good faith and Credit of the city to appropriate the sum of 10 thousand dollars for the use of the County of Portage, in building a courthouse and County buildings at Stevens Point, in case a removal of the county seat is voted to this place.”

The battle between the two Communities centered briefly on the 1868 election for the State Assembly. Thomas McDill, a member of the "Plover Regeney" and a four-time member of the Assembly, ran as the Plover candidate. If elected, he would refuse to introduce legislation calling for an election on the county seat removal. Stevens Point ran the Democrat Benamin Burr, who backed the move of the county seat to Stevens Point. Burr won by over one hundred votes.

Upon taking office, Burr introduced a bill in the Assembly to call for an election on the county seat issue. The bill passed both houses, only to vanish before it could be signed into law. The Wisconsin Pinery, a Stevens Point newspaper, charged fraud had been committed and blamed the Plover lobby for the bill's disappearance. This was quickly corrected when the bill was reintroduced, passed and signed by the Governor. The date for the election was set for August 1, 1868.

Between the passage of the bill and the August election, the Plover Times and the Wisconsin Pinery exchanged vicious verbal volleys.  In an editorial, the Plover Times wrote, " . . . we disclaim any hostility to Stevens Point and its inhabitants . . . . " From this reassuring statement, the editor went on to brush aside arguments made by the Pinery that Stevens Point was larger and better located for future expansion.  The Times editor claimed that Stevens Point " . . . never can grow another inch. The fact is it has long since reached its maximum growth . . ." The paper went on further to argue that the future railroad main line would miss Stevens Point, while Plover would have two railroads which would make it a point of trade.

Another issue of the Plover Times challenged the figures of the Pinery that it would only cost $12,000 to build new county office buildings. The Times maintained that the real figures would be around $25,000. In response to the Pinery's claim that the present county buildings were in poor condition, the Times argued that they had just been repaired and they were good for another twenty-five years. Besides it asked, why increase the tax burden for the county residents by constructing new buildings when the old ones were still good?

The two newspapers continued to lambast each other. The Plover Times responded to a charge by the Pinery that Plover had given a free public dinner to the "Polanders and Norwegians” in order to secure their votes. The Times stated that, "Plover has not been, nor will not be guilty of so transparent an insult upon the manhood of our fellow citizens of foreign birth."

The July 25 issue of the Plover Times went even further and stated:

The saloon keepers, broken down politicians and corner lot speculators of the City of Stevens Point are endeavoring to make you believe that the City of Stevens Point intends in good faith to present to the county the sum of $10,000 in case you vote to locate the county seat at the place, on the first or August next.

The editor went on to suggest that the City of Stevens Point would not honor their pledge and the result would be that the taxpayers of Portage County would end up having to pay up to $30,000 for new county buildings. In the issue before the election, the Times editor wrote:

The central position of Plover makes it the most desirable location . . . If Point is successful, it will be a fraudulent success . . . Stevens Point cannot be the county seat for any great length or time . . . Time will Justify our prediction if the change today is made.

The election was held on August 1, 1868, and the results were 1,116 for the removal and 786 against. The Times reaction was one of outrage. The editor wrote:

There is scarcely a doubt, if the illegal and fraudulent votes were all counted out, the majority for removal would be very small. There are men, who if their conduct in this matter was aired, would have the opportunity of testing the strength of the Portage County Jail.

Plover made several unsuccessful attempts to retain the county seat. The county government delayed moving to Stevens Point until the city acquired a writ or mandamus from the state Supreme Court. The Plover district attorney began action to prove fraud during the election, but he dropped the suit before it reached trial.  Fred Huntley of Buena Vista suit before it reached trial. Fred Huntley of Lena Vista introduced a bill in the State Assembly to move the county seat back to Plover, but it failed to pass.

The impact of Plover losing the county seat was great on the village because within a very short time, the Village of Plover dissolved.  The exact date and reason for the dissolution of Plover as a village was not found, but according to Malcolm Rosholt, it was " . . . dissolved on or before 1870.”

Plover From 1870 to 1912

From 1870 until 1912, there technically was no Village of Plover. Plover during these years was governed by the Town of Plover's board.  Plover, however, never really ceased to exist, as the community continued to publish a newspaper and do business.  A map published in 1895 still showed the Village of Plover.

The descriptions of Plover after 1870 which I could find creates mixed perceptions of just what really happened to Plover. The community definitely had a period of decline, but it was not one of total decline.

In 1872, the Green Bay & Lake Pepin Railroad was finally completed. The Plover Times editorial stated, "Ring the bells fire the guns, bring out the firecrackers . . . For sixteen long years Plover has waited for a railroad. Many times our hopes have been raised . . . only to be dashed to the earth . . . but now we've got a railroad . . . “ The arrival of the railroad to Plover could not have hurt the community.

In the next issue or the Plover Times, the editor reprinted parts of a letter from the editor of the Green Bay Advocate who had visited Plover.  The editor listed many of the businesses found in Plover; among them were two general stores, a grocery store, a drug store, a confectionery and barber shop, the Empire House, several attorneys, the Congregational and Methodist churches, and two physicians. The population of Plover was given at 500.

During the centennial in 1876, several descriptions of Plover appear. Albert G. Ellis gave a speech for the July 4 celebration in Stevens Point and in it he also gave a description of Plover. He said that the population of Plover was 500. Two railroads, the Stevens Point & Portage Railroad, and the Green Bay & Minnesota, formed a Junction at Plover. There was a large public school house, two churches and a grist and flour mill. Ellis went on to list several hotels, two blacksmith's shops, and other buildings. He also listed the various lawyers and physicians.

A Plover Times issue listed the businesses:

the Village of Plover consists of three general merchandise stores . . . It has two grocery stores, . . . it has two hotels, a blacksmith shop, a wagon shop, one printing office, one drug store, a meat market. a barber shop, a cabinet shop, two millinery shops, two railroads, one physician, 3 lawyers, one minister of the gospel.  Intoxicating liquor is not lawfully sold in the village at this time .

These obviously are not descriptions of a community which was dying. During the early 1870s the Plover Times repeatedly mentioned that the community was short on housing and that more would be very beneficial.

It appears though that by the 1580s and after, Plover began to decline somewhat. Plover's population in 1880 was 412, which was a decline from the almost consistent 500 inhabitants during the 1860s and 18709. A description from the same source described Plover as an ex-village which, "is now a collection of old buildings." It went on to say that there were a "dozen or more stores and 2 or 3 hotels," with two churches, one a Methodist erected in 1861, and the other a Presbyterian built in 1862.

There were a number of fires through the 1870s and 1880s which destroyed some Plover businesses and the school. The Plover Times suggests that these buildings were all replaced. A publication in 1881 described Plover:

With the removal of the county business, it began to decline, but with the building of the railroads, and the filling up or the country with farms, it is again coming up.

The author went on to describe how the two railroads which passed through Plover, the Wisconsin Central and the Green Bay, Winona & St. Paul, were a promising note for the future or Plover. The Green Bay line was constructing a branch road to Stevens Point to better accommodate the public.

One of the more interesting establishments in Plover at this time was the sorghum plant run by S. D. Clark. Clark began the plant in 1980 to manufacture syrup from sorghum. In the first year he produced 700 gallons, by 1881 his production had increased to 3000 gallons. The farmers came from miles around to Clark's sorghum plant and the most commonly grown sorghum was Minnesota early amber.  The yield varied from 75 to 200 gallons per acre and the farmers could gross $37.50 per acre for their crop.

The next description of Plover I could find, came from memoirs written by Mary D. Bradford, who was a teacher in Portage County around the turn of the century. Mary and several friends were new to the county and they drove out to see Plover, which "so we had learned, had once been the county seat or Portage County.”

Our vehicle plowed through deep sand, and we were smothered with dust. The county all about was flat and sandy, seemingly to me . . . like a veritable desert . . . Then came Plover, showing all the signs of an abandoned place . . . as we saw it that day, Plover was a depressing sight. Plover was an unfortunate choice for that first excursion.

Plover may have been a depressing sight to Mary Bradford, but it never died. Plover continued to exist within the Town or Plover. Even though it was not a village, the sense of community was still there.

The Second Village of Plover

In the early 1900’s a movement began to incorporate Plover as a village once again. According to the Village of Plover's Ordinance Record from 1912-1931, a petition was introduced in the Circuit Court of Portage County on February 3, 1912, "In the matter of the incorporation of the Village of Plover." The petitioners were E. H. Rossier, Geo. Yorton, H. N. Warner, M. C. Skinner, and F. E. Halladay.

Judge Byran B. Park gave orders to hold an election on March 5, 1912, at the GAR Hall in Plover. There were 71 votes cast that day with 48 votes in favor of incorporation and 23 against. The population of the new Village of Plover was 330 people .

The Village Board then began to set up the framework for government. From 1912 until 1931 the Village of Plover once again existed. During the majority of these years, Salter Barnsdale served as the Village President. From the board's minutes, it appears as if  the village had begun to feel the effects of the Great Depression. The board began to lay aside the payment of certain bills in early 1930. In a November 3, 1930  meeting, the Village Board voted to borrow $203.00 from Walter Barnsdale and $115.00 from Felix Lila.

At the March 2, 1931. meeting, "The clerk read petition asking for question of dissolution of village be submitted to ballot. Motion made and seconded that petition be granted. Motion carried."

Other board meetings took action to extend the payment of taxes on real estate and to take action on the non-residential poor. The election was held and the vote was in favor of dissolution. The September 26, 1931, meeting, authorized President David Lila to "transfer certificate of title of fire truck to Town of Plover according to their agreement.'' He was also authorized to transfer by deed, Lot 6 block 16 to the Town of Plover.

The last board meeting of the Village was held on October 5, 1931. At the final meeting the Village turned over to the Town of Plover its snow plow, school, balance left over of $59.81, and "anything left that belongs to the Village of Plover to be turned over to the Town of Plover."

Money problems appear to have been the principle reason for the dissolution of the Village of Plover in 1931. This view is reinforced by an article from a booklet published in 1965 when there was another move to incorporate the village. The article emphasized that what hurt Plover in 1931 was that the potato was king and because of thin soil, lack of fertilizer and a drought coupled with disease and insects the four potato warehouses in the village were left empty.

The Third Village of Plover

Between the years 1931 to 1971, the Village of Plover was once again governed by the Town of Plover. In 1965 there was another strong movement to incorporate Plover into a village, but it was met by an equally strong movement to resist it.

The forces for incorporation published a booklet entitled, The Village View, in which they presented their arguments for incorporation. They stressed that there would be tax advantages in being a village and that a village could better meet the needs or a growing municipality. They further argued that the newly proposed village would not be facing another dissolution since the villagers wealth was based on a number of different industries and not Just potatoes.

The opponents published a pamphlet countering the incorporation arguments. They argued that the Town government had not failed and that it could better meet the needs of the community. They further argued that a village would lead to a duplication in services, such as firs engines, halls, police protection, etc. and this would lead to an increase in taxes. In addition to this, they further claimed that fifty percent of the business people opposed incorporation and many would leave if incorporation occurred. The opponents further contended that incorporation would destroy a sense of community and pride in what had become known as Plover.

The election turned into a decisive victory for the forces opposing incorporation.  The vote was 339 against incorporation and 168 for. The Stevens Point Daily Journal stated that the debate had been heated and sometimes bitter.

The land that the proposed village would have covered was basically the old Village before the last dissolution. The village would have covered about 3.5 square miles with an estimated population of 1000.

Those favoring incorporation began pushing hard for a new village again in early 1971. A petition to incorporate a 12.5 square mile area as the Village of Plover was reflected by A. J. Karetski, the State Director of Local and Regional Planning, because it took in too much territory. Mr. Karetski stated that there were good reasons for incorporation and he recommended that the supporters for incorporation should resubmit a plan which would cover approximately half of the area.

The incorporation forces took Mr. Karetski's advice and they resubmitted a plan for a proposed village which was 6.5 square miles with an estimated population of 2600. The July 1 issue of the Stevens Point Daily Journal reported that A. J. Karetski ruled that "the proposed village is in the public interest" and he ordered a referendum to be held. Judge James H. Levi set the election date for August 19, 1971.

Out of a possible 1700 voters, only 600 voted. The results this time were 311 for incorporation and 289 against. This struggle did not provoke the bitterness and hard feelings that the 1965 incorporation battle had. In fact, the Town of Plover lost most of its board members to the Village of Plover since they lived in the new village.

Plover Today

When Plover was incorporated in 1971, it had a population of approximately 2,618 with a total land area of 6.74 square miles. A special census was conducted on December 8, 1975, and the population was 3,408. The total land area was increased in May of 1981 to 7.23 square miles with an annexation.

Plover is governed by a seven member Village board. It functions largely by a committee system. The Planning Commission and the Public Works Committee are the two advisory bodies which most directly deal with the physical growth of Plover.  The Village Board makes the final decision on actions taken by the committees.

The Village of Plover organized a police force in 1975 which is made up of three officers, a Chief, and a secretary. Plover also has a 32 member paid-on-the-call fire department which provides services to Plover and five other townships.

Plover is located in the center of the state in a geological province known as the "central sand plain." The area is mostly flat, unglaciated lands composed of glacial outwash sands called ''Friendship” sands. "Friendship" sands are known for being very porous. The topography of the village is relatively flat with the greatest relief being the approximately 100-foot bluff forming the east bank of the Wisconsin River. The Little Plover River is the only other stream found in the village. Scattered woodlands are found throughout Plover and these provide a habitat for small wildlife species and for white-tailed deer.

A dominant concern facing Plover is what to do about the possibility of contamination to the ground water supply. With the very porous "Friendship" sand and the closeness of the groundwater to the surface, Plover finds itself facing a very real nitrate infiltration problem. The problem is attributed to the use of fertilizer in the surrounding agricultural areas.

As mentioned earlier, Plover's population in 1980 was 5,310. Population projections show an annual village growth rate for 1980 to the year 2000 to be 11.35 percent. The population projections for the year 2000 ranges from a low or 15,000 to a high of 19,715.

Reasons for Plover's rapid growth are varied. Around 1975 Plover became a popular suburban center to people who work in Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids. In addition to this, there have been a number of Corporations which have located in Plover in the 1970s. There were approximately 2000 jobs created in the Plover area during this period of time.

The Plover economy is centered around industries, trucking, agri-businesses, and service businesses. Retail businesses have just begun to emerge with several small shopping centers along with the Manufacturer's Direct Mall and Outlet Center. The largest employers within Plover include the Del Monte canning factory, Foremost Foods, Acorn Equipment Company, Roberts Irrigation, Okray Produce, Worzella Potatoes, Lila's Supermarket, Great American Basic Commodities, and the Stevens Point District Schools.

The rapid economic growth is attributable to a number or factors. The accessibility to highways and the railroad is one factor. The availability or large tracts or land with an ample groundwater supply is another factor. The potential for development as a result of the growth generated from the City of Stevens Point must also be considered. Plover's proximity to educational facilities such as the UW-Stevens Point and the vocational schools at Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids also play an important role.

The commercial and industrial growth in Plover have followed the transportation Facilities. The general trend has been for commercial businesses to follow a north-south orientation by following Business Highway 51 (Post Road). The industrial areas have followed an east-west pattern by following the Green Bay & Western Railroad and County Highway B.

Plover provides a number of community facilities and services to its population. The Community Center houses the municipal offices, an activity center and the public protection agencies. There are over 100 acres of land which has been set aside as public parks. There are both "neighborhood' and "community-wide" parks in the village.

The Plover/Whiting Lions Club runs a vary popular youth baseball and softball program for the youth. The Lions also own and run Lake Pacawa, which is the major recreational area for swimming.

Within Plover there are five churches, two cemeteries, and two elementary schools. It should also be mentioned that the Portage County Historical Society is developing a historical park in the Village which includes the Old Methodist Church which will serve as a museum. There is also the old Catkins House on the square which is one of the oldest houses built in the county still standing today. The lot owned by the Portage County Historical Society is part of the original Plover Public Square.

Plover’s Future

The future of Plover appears to be one of continued growth in terms of population, industries and commercial businesses. Plover faces problems in the future with ground-water contamination as well as controlled, planned growth. The Village Board must use strict guidelines in regulating the growth of Plover in order to preserve some of' the beauty of the area. One of Plover's greatest challenges will be to maintain a high quality of life for those who chose to live there.


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