Thursday, October 1, 2009

Getting Started
It was a decade ago, when I was working with a committee to plan for La Farge's Centennial celebration, that we discovered that a history of the village had never been written. Several of that group thought that it would be fine for me to take on such a task, but I begged off, citing lack of time and offering many other excuses. Since then, a few members of the group have reminded me periodically that I should attempt to write such a history. They seemed to think that since I had retired from teaching, that lack of time and the other paltry excuses were a thing of the past. It was time for the ex-history teacher to do some research and writing on our local history.
So be it. I have divested myself of some of my accumulated responsibilities over the past years, and I actually have been doing research and jotting down some interesting tidbits from the past for some years now. I have worked with the local history group within the Friends of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve for the past several years. That group has worked on the oral history project that was done on the La Farge Dam Project, continues to research the archives of the Corps of Engineers headquarters for other information, and of course published "The People Remember" book as well as several other local history books. For the past two years, I helped research history for the Town of Stark, of which I serve as chairman, as the township celebrated its 150 years of existence. As long as I'm into so much local history already, why not try to put together a good resource on the history of La Farge?
Actually, it sounds like quite a daunting task. If you want to do this village some justice in discussing its history, you want to be as thorough and factual as you can be, while also adding the local color to make it interesting and readable. Where does one begin? Do you start with those two converging trails used by the Native-Americans who hunted and lived in this valley? Who can tell their story the best? How do you deal with the logging boom that hit the area and established old Seeleyburg as the "first village of La Farge" as some have called it? Who tells that story of one of Wisconsin's ghost towns? Just by looking at those two examples of the earliest history, we have only moved forward chronologically in time to about 1890. Where do we end? The story of the affect of the establishment of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve and the phenomenal growth of Organic Valley and CROPP on this area is still a work in progress. {Have you ever wondered if all of those people driving into La Farge every morning to work at Organic Valley are wondering what this place of La Farge is all about?} That part of the story is still one in evolution. So much to do, so much history to cover.
So let's do this together, shall we?
{This article was originally published in the La Farge Episcope newspaper in the May 1, 2007 issue. The article has been edited for this site.}

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