The Ashland Museum

Welcome to Ashland Museum Web Site!

Mission Statement: The Ashland Historical Society, A non-profit volunteer organization promotes the appreciation and pride of community through a visual connection to the past by collecting and preserving memorabilia and artifacts, stories and traditions and by functioning  as an educational resource. The Ashland Museum in Ashland Wisconsin is the repository for all historical memorabilia and artifacts collected by the Ashland Historical Society.This was the museum's website. The current website for the Ashland Historical Society is:‚Äč where you can find more information regarding the Ashland Museum.


Ashland’s Beginnings

By Sharon Manthei

Ashland, Wisconsin is located at the head of Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior. When the Chippewa people came to this area, about the time when Columbus discovered America, they named it Szah-guh-wah-mih-koong, which was later translated as Chequamegon. By breaking down the syllables, translators of the Chippewa tongue say that the word means the “region of shallow water” or “shoal water”. Anyone who has been on Chequamegon Bay knows that description aptly applies to Chequamegon Bay. The Chippewa people lived in the Chequamegon Area only about 120 years, and then moved to the “Soo”. While at the Soo, the Chippewa people often returned for the great hunting and fishing at what they regarded as their Chequamegon Resort. It wasn’t until about 1690 the Chippewa returned to Chequamegon permanently.

The first white men to arrive on Chequamegon Bay were voyagers and missionaries. The French fur traders Radisson and Groseilliers were the first recorded white men to visit the area. They set up a camp at the head of the bay between the mouths of Fish Creek and Whittlesey Creek. They spent the winter of 1659-1660 exploring the area and trapping beaver for their prime pelts. At this time in history; the bay was encircled by several nations of Indians, which included Hurons, three branches of Ottawas, Ousakis or Sauks, Outagamies or Fox and Illinois.  Radisson and Groseilliers camp was between the Hurons and an Ottawas camps. A Brownstone marker was erected at the site in 1929. Because of Highway reconstruction, this marker has been moved to Maslowski Bathing Beach closer to Ashland.

When priest-explorer, Allouez, arrived at Chequamegon with a half dozen other Frenchmen in 1665, they found the Indian nations still in the area. With 4,000 Indians of seven nationalities, Allouez established the mission of the Holy Ghost between two of the larger villages, very near where Radisson and Groseilliers camp had been. Father Marquette followed closely behind Allouez, arriving in 1669 and continuing the Mission of the Holy Ghost. He remained here for two years until the Sioux forced everyone out of the area.

Text or graphics may not be copied, rewritten or distributed in any manner whatsoever unless specifically noted,

and may not be reused, reprinted, or reposted without written permission.



A Short History of the Ashland  Museum

The existence of the Ashland Museum was first noted in 1909 with a letter written by the director of the Historical Museum of the city of Ashland. It was located in the Ashland High School building on Ellis Avenue between tenth and eleventh streets. The letter states that they had valuable donations of historical and archeological material from Beloit College, the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Milwaukee Museum.

The next evidence of efforts in preserving Ashland’s history came from the minutes of the Old Settler’s Club of Ashland, organized in 1924. They were diligent in staging picnics and gatherings where old stories could be told and re-told. They also worked to document the events of early Ashland. In 1925 their meetings were held in the community room of the First National Bank.

In 1954, Miss Cora Angvick put together a historical display in their furniture store in connection with the Centennial of the founding of Ashland. She gathered old photographs, and artifacts to create an exhibit in Anvick's old storefront. When the celebration was over, the exhibit was moved to the new store’s basement to be enjoyed by all who dropped by.

In about 1962, the Museum was moved to the Vaughn Library building, under the advisement of Dr. John Kreher. This proved to be a wise move when the Angvick’s Store burned to the ground in June of 1967. The Museum was housed at the library until the 1980’s, when the Vaughn Library was remodeled. Following the remodeling at the library, the Museum was housed on the second floor until 1993.

The next home for the Ashland Museum was the Wilmarth Mansion at 523 Chapple Avenue. This spacious home with its beautiful woodwork was a wonderful setting for the Museum until problems with the roof and leakage damage caused the Historical Society to once again search out an appropriate and affordable home for its vast collections.

In February of 2000, the Ashland Museum moved to its present spot at 509 West Main Street, housed in the historic business section of Ashland. Due to space restraints, not all the collections are out at one time, but displays are rotated to provide interest throughout the year.



King’s Official Route Guide

By Sharon Manthei

  Today, when planning a trip, we might go to a Travel Agent, check with AAA or surf the internet for the best way to find or travel to our destination. Back in the early days of motor cars, motorists could purchase King‘s Official Route Guide to plan their trip. This interesting book, written for the motorist (the Ashland Museums copy is from 1917) traveling throughout Wisconsin, NE Illinois & Eastern Minnesota, guides you mile by tenths of a mile from city to city noting the types of pavement, R. R. crossings, bridges and buildings, businesses, places of interest, dangerous curves and intersections, crossroads and grades of hills along the way.

.0 Leave the Court House on right on West Second St following trolley on asphalt pavement, to 4 corners (immediately passing Post Office on right), (Public Park on near right corner).

.3 Turn left with one branch of trolley on Seventh Ave. (asphalt pavement), to 4 corners.

.4 Turn right on Third St. (leaving trolley).

.5 Pass fire engine house on left.

1.0 Cross R. R.

1.2 Cross R. R. switch, straight ahead, through cross roads, cross trolley.

1.4 Shortly bear right with road, down easy grade, towards Chequamegon Bay.

            This description of the “Kings” recommended route from Ashland to Bayfield continues bringing you along the Bay Front, passing the road to Iron River, to Nash  station, Barksdale, Washburn, Sioux River, Chequamegon Springs, Pikes Bay and Quarry, passing the road to Cornucopia, Salmo, Pikes Creek, State Fish Hatchery and into Bayfield.

            It is interesting to note that the trip from Ashland to Bayfield begins and ends at the County Court House, yet the trip from Ashland to Mellen begins at the County Courthouse and the return trip brings you either to the County Courthouse or to the Ashland Garage. Maybe the trip to Mellen and back was harder on the motor car and maintenance  was required. The Ashland Garage even had an advertisement on the page.

            Note that in 1917, the County Court House was just two years old and is the Court House that still stands today on Main Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues West, and the Post Office was located at 601 West Main Street, which is now the Ashland City Hall. The Ashland Garage stood on the corner of 2nd Avenue East and Main Street, which is now a part of Zifko Tire and Battery Supply.