Town of Dewey
From the Stevens Point Journal May 19, 1992
The town of Dewey is the baby of the county, but the area is older than its years. Remnants of Dewey’s ties to the past still remain in the Indian arrow-heads, forgotten graves, abandoned mill sites and old roads running to former logging camps, according to Malcolm Rosholt’s book “Our County Our Story".
Though the town of Dewey was created in November 1898, white man first stepped foot in the area more than 100 years earlier. Dewey was the place where John DuBay spent the winter of 1790 trading with the Indians. DuBay’s Trading Post was located near Dewey just 12 miles north of Stevens Point. His father, Louis DuBay, traded with the Indians at the site in even earlier years.
Everyone in the area was familiar with the trading post, from the first Portage County settlers to lumbermen all along the Wisconsin River, according to “A Standard History of Portage County, Wisconsin, Volume I.” The town finally was settled in March 1853. Its development probably was delayed because of its minimal contact with the river, ‘Our County Our Story” relates.
A prominent feature of the town of Dewey is the Dewey Marsh State Wildlife Area. Owned by the Department of Natural Resources since 1973, the marsh encompasses about 5,100 acres. The DNR hopes to eventually acquire 7,800 acres in that area, according to Forest Ranger Paul Lochner.
The marsh fell victim to fire in 1976, but quickly began its re-growth by the following year. The marsh now is re-generating and many aspen have come back. The area is mainly used as a hunting ground, Lochner said. Deer hunting, with both bow and gun, along with trapping of beaver, otter and fox are popular activities there, he said. Some squirrel and grouse hunting also is done there, he said.
Both the town and marsh were named after Admiral George Dewey, who destroyed the Spanish fleet at Manila Bay and became a national hero overnight.
The town’s first election engaged many voters. By 1919, apathy marked the town residents. A referendum, probably on women’s suffrage, brought only 25 voters to the polls, compared to 124 in the general election the year before. Fewer voters continued to turn out at the polls. Even in 1992, 170 people, about one-seventh of the population, voted in the primary election, according to Maurice King, town chairman.
Interest in town politics waned over the years as the county and state governments took over the responsibilities of the local government, according to “Our County Our Story.” Dewey still has a lack of interest in politics, King said.
The town is beginning to see more inhabitants, though, he said. More subdivisions are beginning to pop up around Dewey, bringing the total number of residents to 853 in 1992, he said.