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R. D. Pike Obituary -- March 1906

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R. D. Pike Obituary -- March 1906

Posted: 928756800000
Classification: Obituary
Edited: 1006633641000
Surnames: Pike, Knight, Rowley
R. D. Pike died 27 March 1906

One of Bayfield's Oldest and Best Known Citizens Passes Away

The sad, although not wholly unexpected, news of the death of Capt. Robinson D. Pike, on the train on route to Milwaukee Tuesday morning at 6 o'clock, reached Bayfield about noon. Capt. Pike had been confined to his home at Salmo, three miles south of Bayfield, during the past five months and was attended by some of the ablest physicians of this section. Last week at a consultation and at his earliest request, it was decided to send him to a Milwaukee sanitarium for treatment. A sleeping car was sent over from Ashland Monday and that evening, accompanied by his wife and trained nurse, he started on what proved to be his last earthly journey.

The remains were returned to his home Wednesday, being met at Ashland by a delegation of Bayfield Masons of which lodge he was a charter member.

Capt. Pike was born in Meadville, PA, in the year 1838, was twice married and is survived by his wife, five children and a sister who resides at Ashland. He served with distinction throughout the Civil War and for a time was on the western plains, after which he returned to Bayfield and engaged in the lumbering and boating business. He was noted for his remarkable energy and force of character. Was quick to resent an injury and as ready to forgive. During his long residence in Bayfield he was identified with all moves having in view the upbuilding of the town and the development of the surrounding country, and his death is greatly deplored by all citizens having the welfare of the community at heart and their sympathy goes out to the bereaved ones left to mourn the departure of a kind and provident husband and father.

Capt. Pike was a member of Bayfield Lodge F. & A. M. and of Ashland Chapter and Commandry: also of the G. A. R. and of the loyal legion. He was an enthusiastic Republican and entered into the political strife as the war-horse enters the battle. Firm in his convictions and fearless in maintaining the same he still had many warm friends among his political opponents.

The funeral exercises were conducted Thursday afternoon, during which time all business was suspended, the school closed and flags displayed at half -mast. Family services, conducted by Rev. W. Mc N (?) Kitteridge, of the Presbyterian church, were held at the residence at Salmo at one o'clock, after which the remains were brought to town for public services held in the Presbyterian church, after which the Masonic Lodge took charge and accompanied by a large delegation of Washburn Masons and escorted by Ashland Commandry and the Grand Army Post, and followed by the largest procession ever seen here, the remains were taken to Greenwood cemetery and deposited in the family lot. The ceremony throughout was most touching and manifested in a striking manner showing the respect in which the deceased was held. The floral offerings were exceedingly fine.

In this connection, and to show his interest in local affairs, we append the following - (his last communication of a public nature,) article on the early history of Bayfield read at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the village held at the Island View Hotel Friday of the last week:

"I regret very much not being able to be with you at the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the town of Bayfield. As you may be aware, I have been ill for the past few weeks, but am pleased to state at this time I am on the gain and hope to be among you soon. If my health permitted I would take great pleasure in being present with you this evening.

I remember very distinctly that the first stake was driven in the town of Bayfield by Major McAboy who was employed by the Bayfield Townsite company to make a survey and plat same, (the original plat being recorded at our county seat.) This Bayfield Townsite company was organized with Hon. Henry M. Rice of St. Paul, at the head, and some very enterprising men from Washington, D. C. Major McAboy arrived here about the first of March and made his headquarters with Julius Austrian of La Pointe. Julius Austrian in those days being the Governor General of all that part of the country west of Ontonagon to Superior, Ashland and Duluth being too small to count. The Major spent probably two weeks at La Pointe going back and forth to Bayfield with a team of large bay horses owned by Julius Austrian, being the only team of horses in the country. I remember very well being in his office at La Pointe with father, (I being then a mere lad of seventeen,) and I recollect hearing them discuss with Mr. Austrian the question of routing the streets in Bayfield north and south, and avenues east and west, or whether they should run them diagonally due to the topography of the country, but he decided on the plan as the town is now laid out. Mr. Austrian and quite a little party from La Pointe came over here on the 24th of March 1856, when they officially laid out the town, driving the first stake, and deciding on the name Bayfield, named after Lieutenant Bayfield, of the Royal Navy, who was a particular friend of Senator Rice, and it was he who made the first chart for the guidance of boats on Lake Superior.

The summer of 1855 father was in poor health, filled up with malaria from the swamps of Toledo, and he was advised by Mr. Frederick Prentice, now of New York, and known by everybody here as the "Brownstone Man," to come up here and spend the summer as it was a great health resort, so father arrived at La Pointe in June, 1855, on a little steamer that ran from the Soo to the head of the lakes, the canal at that time not being open, but it was opened a little later in the season. Upon arrival at La Pointe father entered in to an agreement with Julius Austrian to come over to Pike's creek and repair the little water mill that was built by the North American Fur Company, which at that time was owned by Julius Austrian. He made the necessary repairs on the little mill, caught plenty of brook trout and fell in love with the country on account of the good water and pure air and wrote home to us at Toledo glowing letters as to this section of the country. Finally he bought the mill and I think the price paid was $350 for the mill and forty acres of land, and that largely on time; however the mill was not a very extensive affair. Nearly everything was made of wood, except the saw and crank-pin, but it cut about two thousand feet of lumber in twelve hours. Some of the old shafting and pulleys can be seen in the debris at the old mill site now. Remember, these were not iron shafts, as we used wood shafts and pulleys in those days. This class of a mill at that time beat whip sawing, that being the usual way of sawing lumber.

Father left La Pointe some time in September 1855, for Toledo to move his family to Pike's creek, which stream was named after we moved up here. Onion river and Sioux river were named before that time. On father's arrival in Toledo from this country, we immediately began to get ready to move. We had a large fine yoke of red oxen and logging trucks. He sold out our farm at Toledo, packed up our effects, and boarded a small steamer which took us to Detroit. Our family then consisted of father, mother, grandma Pike and my sister, now Mrs. Bicksler of Ashland. We stayed in Detroit several days to give father time to buy supplies for the winter; that is, feed for the oxen and cow and groceries for the family to carry us through until the spring. We then boarded the steamer Planet, which was a new boat owned by the Ward line, considered the fastest on the lake. It was about two hundred and fifty tons capacity. We came to Sault Ste. Marie, it being the Planet's first trip through the Soo, the canal as I remember was completed that fall. During this year the Lady Elgin was running from Chicago and the Planet and the North Star running from Detroit, they being about the only boats which were classed better than sailboats of the one hundred and fifty tons.
We arrived at La Pointe the early part of October 1855. On our way up we stopped at Marquette, Eagle Harbor, Eagle River and Ontonagon. We left Ontonagon in the evening expecting to arrive at La Pointe early that morning, but a fearful storm arose and the machinery of the Planet became disabled off Porcupine mountains and it looked for a while as though we were never going to weather the storm, but arrived at La Pointe the next day. There were some parties aboard for Superior who left La Pointe by sail.

We remained at La Pointe for a week or ten days on account of my mother's health and then went to Pike's bay with all our supplies, oxen and cow on what was known as Uncle Robert Morrin's bateau. Uncle Robert and William Morrin, now of Bayfield, and if I remember rightly each of the boys pulled an oar taking us across. We landed in Pike's Bay just before sundown, hitched up the oxen and drove to the old mill. Now, this was all in the fall of 1855.
As I said before, the town was laid out on March 21st, 1856, and record made of same at La Pointe by John W. Bell, who at that time was the "Witte" of all the country between Ontonagon and Superior, Julius Austrian being the "Czar" of those days, and both God's noblemen. The Territory now consisting the town of Bayfield was taken from La Pointe county. There were a number of very prominent men interested in laying out the townsite and naming out avenues and streets, such as Hon. H. M. Rice and men of means from Washington after whom some of our avenues were named. Very soon after this they wished to build a large saw mill in order to furnish lumber necessary for building up the town. The Washington people decided on a man by the name of Caho, an old lumberman of Virginia, so he was employed to come up here and direct the building of the mill. A hotel was built directly across from the courthouse by the Mr. Bicksler who afterward married my sister. The saw mill was built about a block west of where the saw mill now stands. The mill had a capacity of about five or six thousand feet per day and I think the machinery came from Alexandria, Virginia. Joe La Pointe was the only man recognized as being capable of running a mill for the fact that he could do his own filing and sawing. While they were constructing the mill they had a gang of men in the woods getting out hard wood for fuel, not thinking of using any of the sawdust, and they piled the sawdust out with the slabs as useless. Charles Day, whom many of you will remember, was the party who got out the hardwood as fuel for the mill.

Time has wrought many changes in our midst. As far as I know I am the only white man living who was there at the time the town was laid out.

In conclusion I wish to say that at a banquet given in Bayfield same two or three years ago I made the statement that when the last pine tree was cut from the peninsula on which Bayfield is located, the possibility of our town and vicinity will have just commenced. The pine has gone and we are now cutting the hemlock and hardwood which will last ten to fifteen years; and long before this is exhausted the cut over lands will be taken up and farms tilled, as is the history of other sections of the country.

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