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Rice Lake Wisconsin Welcomes You! Rice Lake Hometown Pages - News and views from Rice Lake Wisconsin Saturday November 22, 2014 email: hometown@ricelake.net

Rice and Rice Lake… the Truth

A sign at the Lumbering Hall of Fame states “Rice Lake, a City Built of Lumber”.

We recently brought to attention an article from the Milwaukee Sentinel which mentioned an “Indian Legend” with regard to why there is no longer rice in Rice Lake. Legend…

Truth… The dam was first built in 1864, and stories have been passed along that there was a threatened Indian outbreak at the time, as the dam that Knapp, Stout company built backed up the waters of Rice Lake and flooded the wild rice beds that the Indians relied on for food. To avoid an outbreak, Knapp, Stout company entered into a treaty with the Indians, and was forced to haul a large amount of supplies to replace the rice the Indians had depended upon.

It’s hard to imagine that the story in the article in the Sentinel was an Indian legend, particularly when you hear of the narrowly avoided outbreak. Still, it was interesting from a few different perspectives. First of all, how many “Indian Legends” are actually the work of a non-Indian creative writer? The famous “Song of Hiawatha” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow puts Hiawatha in the mid-west along the shores of Gitche Gumee, when in reality he was an chief of the Iroquois nation, and likely lived in upstate New York. Secondly, it’s a pretty sure thing that the dam was the actual culprit, and it’s a shame that the rice is gone from Rice Lake, but would the city be here if that had not happened? Probably not, as the city came well after the dam, officially in 1887. And, is the dam and the rice the worst that the logging industry did to the area?

3 Comments

  1. Thanks!

  2. I am interested in the stories of Rice Lake, WI. Some of my Connors ancestors lived there many years ago.
    Shields and Mary (Boltenhouse) Connors. They both died in 1936 and 1937 and are buried in Rice Lake, WI.
    Shields was a brother to my Great Grandfather, John Connors, they were sons of David and Mary (Nelson) Connors. Shields had six children, Mary, David, Anna, Joseph, Ernest and Charles. Shields was a blacksmith. In the 1930 census of Rice Lake, WI. He was living with his son, David Oliver Connors and his wife, Clare (Loveland) Connors. Just wondering if there are any Connors descendants living in the area?? They were orignally from Campbellton, New Brunswick, Canada. I guess it was the lumber jobs that brought them to WI. They also lived in Stillwater, MN at one time. One of Shields brother’s, James Connors settled in Stillwater, MN and remained there. Would appreciate any information about this famiy. Thank You, St. Francis, Maine cpelletier13@gmail.com

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