Brantwood, Wisconsin - History


Francis Palms was the first to purchase acreage in the area and later sold the land to William and Samuel Knox. The Knox brothers were loggers from the Stevens Point, Wisconsin area. They established the small community of Knox Mills a few miles south of Brantwood when they built a mill. The need to transport timber and products resulted in a spur being built from Brantwood to Knox Mills.

J B Engstrom owned a sawmill, planing mill, and a boarding house for the mostly immigrant bachelor workers in Knox Mills. The mill prospered in the 1920s, but the Great Depression shut it down until the late 1930s. Knox Mills, having no post office or main line railroad, began to disappear and the area was absorbed into the Brantwood community and the spur line abandoned.

As the land was stripped of its timber, the Knox brothers began selling it to immigrants for farm land and the community slowly changed from a booming logging industry to a sedate farming and dairy community.

Land advertisements were targeted to Swedish, Norwegian, and Finnish immigrants living in other states. K. A. Ostergen and E. H. Hobe, both agents for the railroad, assisted the railroad company and the Knox brothers in marketing the land sales.

According to the 1900 US Census, there were 411 people living in the Town of Knox which included Brantwood and Knox Mills. By 1910, the population was 1,010 and in 1920 the census counted 1,251 people in the Town of Knox.

The Finns of Brantwood established a cooperative store and cheese factory that prospered well into the 1960s. However with no industry to entice new people to the area or keep young adults there after graduation, Brantwood slowly declined as well. In the 2000 US Census there were only 399 people in the Town of Knox.

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