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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


May 3, 2003 - Issue 86


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Equadon and the Park of a Hundred Springs
(Part 2)

From The Ashland Daily Press - July 6, 1933 - By Guy M. Burnham
credits: submitted by Timm Severud (Ondamitag)

Here's the History of the Prentice Park

(The following is the address prepared by Guy M. Burnham for delivery at the Old Settler's picnic on July 4th and read by Mrs. Lew Anderson.)

Webb Springs
The Indians title to the head of the bay region was extinguished by President Franklin Pierce, on January 29, 1855. About two years later Joseph Webb entered the land where we now stand. The many springs became known as Webb Springs. The name is so persistent, that during the month of April this spring, when I wrote the story about Ashland, which was broadcast from Cincinnati on April 24, a member of my family, listening to the broadcast at Milwaukee wrote me that he recognized my style in the story, but he wondered where I got the name Webb Springs from, if I wrote it.

When I first saw Ashland in the year 1890, two or three names appeared to be struggling for preeminence; Webb Springs, Mineral Springs and Prentice Springs. A common expression was, Mineral Springs at Prentice Park. Frederick Prentice who had established the brownstone quarries on Hermit Island and Houghton Point, had bought the park, and it was he I think, who build the place up as a park, in fact I think he was the real creator of Prentice Park. He had a hard time of it shaking the name Webb Springs; and so have I. As I have mentioned, Ashland Mineral Springs at Prentice Park was a usual expression. There was a fish hatchery at the right of the sidewalk leading down to the lagoon, and a small fenced in place in the lagoon at the left for the swans, who where the predecessors of the pair of German Mute Swans, that we know have.

The streetcar line was partly laid out to the park. There was a pavilion near the present building, where I came out one evening with a ski club. It was a place of entertainment.

The Mineral Springs
The springs or wells, more properly artesian wells than springs - are part of a great waterworks system, that has it source in the Great Watershed or Great Divide, where we placed a marker last summer, 39 miles south of Ashland, by Highway 13, three miles north of Gordon Lake. This watershed 20 miles wide, receives and stores the waters that flow north into Lake Superior, or southwesterly into the Mississippi River. The surface water comes down to Lake Superior through the Bad River, or southwesterly through the Chippewa River, into the Father of Waters. The greater part of the water sinks into the earth, forming and inexhaustible supply that comes underground some of it emerges into Lake Superior. In some places, the underground supply comes to the surface as it does here in this park. It is as if great pipes from 25 to 40 miles long connected the subterranean water supply of the watershed with Lake Superior. Some of these pipes end here, in this park of a hundred flowing wells. The supply of water will last, as long as rain continues to fall on the Penokee Hills and the watershed of northern Wisconsin.

The pure water that falls on the watershed, take the toll of the things, which they come in contact on this forty-mile trip to this park. The mountainous line of hills of the watershed, are rich in minerals, especially in iron and in copper, but they are full of minerals of many kinds. And so when we take a cup of water from one of these wells, we take a little iron, nearly three tenths of a percent, which is sufficient as to iron. In drinking our cup of water, we also drink 3 and a half parts of sulphate of soda, 18 parts magnesia, nearly one percent alumina, 1 and a half parts silica, 13 parts lime, 1 part sulphate of soda, and a quarter of a percent of sodium.

Now what do these things mean? Mineral water, as fine as you can get anywhere. The figure from which I get this, are from an analysis of the Bethesda Well at Waukesha. They were run I the same column, to show the greater purity and better quality of the water taken from the springs at Prentice Park, which were then called 'Ashland Mineral Springs' and the park 'Mineral Springs Park.'

That's what the analyses shows, but Waukesha's chief source of revenue is still from its baths and its water. I have even seen Waukesha's water on sale in Ashland, and it is sent all over the country. The comparative analyses of water from Waukesha and these flowing wells is published in the Ashland Press Annual for the year 1892. Without any question, the purity of the water from Prentice Park and its hundred wells, bully warrants it being placed on the market just as the waters of Waukesha are. It is all a matter of exploitation and advertising.

I have heard of the yarn of some old medicine man who lived in this place of a Hundred Springs, which he called Ohahkee, which is suppose to mean 'Hope.' I am not strong at all on Indian legends, unless they are backed by some facts or semblances of truth, so I am not featuring this old story. Some future storyteller who wants to use this legend and enlarge on it has my permission. No facts are needed, simply an implicit faith in a legend. However, if we had been smart we could have found out the Chippewa name for 'The Place of a Hundred Medicinal Springs' or wells, and used that in advertising, maybe we could have developed as big a business as Waukesha has.

I hereby delegate the president of the park board as a suitable person to change the words, 'The Place of a Hundred Medicinal Springs' into the Chippewa words and post it beside this pavilion.

Now here is a suggestion. Listen closely, Mr. Dhooge. One of the approved projects for this park is to deepen the lagoon. Begin now. Begin deepening it. Employ the unemployed. Throw up a few board shacks, and advertise the mud baths, and mineral spring water. There is a lot of mud at the bottom of this lagoon. The mud is a dead image of that at the Moor Baths at Waukesha, and our mineral water is better. This will give a lot of people who go away for their bud baths, a chance to stay at home, and bathe here. I wouldn't be surprised if the Park Board could make enough money in return from its mud baths to reopen the banks.

The Various Owners of the Park
The Treaty of 1854 went into effect on January 29, 1854, by the proclamation of Franklin Pierce. Almost exactly two years afterwards, on January 18, 1857, the records of Mr. Knowles office, in the Register of Deeds files show that Joseph Webb of La Pointe County, made entry of the SW ¼ of section 47 4 west, comprising 160 acres. This included the springs, which we know as the Flowing Wells. After a number of changes of ownership the property was sold at sheriff's sale by Ashland County to Fredrick Prentice on December 28, 1887. The next change of ownership of particular interest to us was the deed of December 3, 1921, by which the Prentice Park was given to the City of Ashland by L.N. Boisen and his wife Ingrid, Walter J. Hodkins and his wife Grace M., and Allan T. Pray and his wife Helen Palmer Pray. This deed conveyed the city about 60 acres of land. Additions have been made, by which the acreage has been more than doubled, being now about 130 or 140 acres. It includes the bathing beach, and the lowlands of the bay. It is magnificent heritage for the people of Ashland, who are entitled to a share in the great park. I had intended from the abstracts in the Register of Deeds Office, and in the City Clerk's files, to show the names of those who have owned the lands comprising the park, but there have been a number of purchases, which were added to the park ground proper and as the Park Board doubtless has the abstract on file, or has access to the records, I have omitted the job. I notice a few names however, that I might mention. Webb sold the property to one George Hall and Hall sold it to William Paisley. Webb's patent by the way was issued by President Buchanan. Although Prentice had obtained the title in 1887 as I have said, tow year previous, on September 8, 1885, Edwin H. Abbott sold Prentice an interest in the property. The matter of prior ownership in this park property will be taken up at a future date. Mis Agnes Benoe having promised to prepare the abstracts for the Old Settler's Club, which will be another story.

Phelps Wyman the Architect
The landscape architect, Phelps Wyman of Minneapolis, planned this park. It cost the city $500, and it was worth it. He established a plan, which has been followed, I believe. Although he recommended dredging of the lagoon in some place, he believed I think, that the nature has already done in the space between the railroad tracks and the lagoon, can hardly be improved on. I think there is a clause in the deed covering this property to the city, in which it is provided that no changes shall be made on these grounds until they have been approved by a landscape architect of established reputation, and who is active in the business. Any other system would in time ruin the grounds. The Park Board and the city, will of course zealously follow he selected plan, so that the Park of a Hundred Flowing Wells may be preserved in its natural beauty and continue as a thing of beauty and joy forever.

The Park Nursery
In connection with Prentice Park, is the nursery. This extremely important and interesting addition is owing to the fact that Ashland has a Charles Maslowski, an efficient, enthusiastic and altogether fine type of public official. He established a nursery on these grounds for the purpose of raising trees and shrubbery, not only for Prentice Park, but also for the other parks of Ashland and to beautify the highways were ever needed.

In this nursery, Mr. Maslowski is growing 3,000 evergreens, including spruce with its several varieties such as the blue spruce, Norway spruce, white spruce, ingelmania spruce, and the silver white variety; likewise the Scotch fir, white pine and other trees. He is also raising native Linden or Basswood, which is not an evergreen, but is a native tree, of which specimens are growing within a few feet from where I stand. He is also raising in this wonderful nursery, which is just east or south of the adjacent railroad tracks, hundreds of native elms, and also various kinds of native shrubbery. He goes into the woods and gets many of these native trees and shrubs, having for instance gathered 200 small elms last fall near the head of Chequamegon Bay. For some of his shrubs, he has gone as far south as Mellen. Many of the seeds have been obtained from the state. He plants them in his home garden, lets them grow two years until they are too large for the rabbits to destroy, and then transplants them in the Prentice Park nursery. From this wonderful nursery, many trees have been transplanted I the city parks, and along the highways in Ashland and Bayfield Counties.

This is simply an allusion to a very import adjunct of Prentice Park. Hereafter, it will not be necessary to send to other states or other parts of Wisconsin for trees and shrubs for our parks. We are raising them right here in this park.

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