History Unbound History Unbound Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse La Crosse Library 2005 WLA/Highsmith Award Winner History Unbound Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse La Crosse Library 2005 WLA/Highsmith Award Winner Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse La Crosse Library 2005 WLA/Highsmith Award Winner History Unbound Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse La Crosse Library 2005 WLA/Highsmith Award Winner Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse La Crosse Library 2005 WLA/Highsmith Award Winner

Town Histories


Around the Coulees / Estella Bryhn, 1954.

This book consists of newspaper articles written between 1952 and 1973 and excerpted from the West Salem Journal, later the La Crosse County Countryman. Estella Bryhn was a news editor for these weekly, rural newspapers in the Coulee Region who especially liked to collect and write articles of local, historical interest. This compilation includes her favorite articles as well as copies of her regular weekly feature, “Coulee Echoes.” Subjects include: the Mindoro Cut; Cemeteries; Churches; Schools; Hamlin Garland; storms, fires and other natural disasters; and many other local topics. Format resembles a scrapbook with newspaper clippings and accompanying photographs. There is a table of contents but no index.

Early Schools of La Crosse County / Estella Bryhn, 1985.

This comprehensive work provides for brief histories of all rural schools in La Crosse County in existence circa 1938. It includes newspaper clippings and photographs of the schools and students. The coverage includes all public schools in the townships of Bangor, Barre, Burns, Campbell, Farmington, Greenfield, Hamilton, Holland, Medary, Onalaska, Shelby, and Washington. Other schools in La Crosse County, such as State Graded Schools and Parochial and Religious, are also included. It does not include City of La Crosse Schools, a list of which is compiled in a “Checklist of La Crosse Schools from the Beginning to 1980.” See online version of this Checklist.

A Half Century of Wheat and Tares in Bostwick Valley/James Tauscher (Wisconsin: J. Tauscher), 1976.

A 28 page senior church history paper about secularism and the German Freethinkers organization of Barre Mills and the Bostwick Valley area of La Crosse County, Wisconsin.

History of La Crosse, Wisconsin, 1881/ Butterfield, Consul Willshire. Chicago : Western Historical Co., 1881, 862 p

  • Farmington
  • Hamilton
  • Neschnoc
  • West Salem
  • Holland
  • Barre
  • Burns
  • Onalaska
  • Town of Bangor
  • Village of Bangor
  • Greenfield
  • Washington

History of Irish Coulee / Vivian Manke, 1994.

La Crosse County Historical Maps

Historical descriptions & map images of La Crosse County.

Memoirs of La Crosse County / Benjamin Bryant; 1907.

This work, along with History of La Crosse County, 1881, are the preeminent published sources for 19th century La Crosse history. Bryant’s Memoirs, as it is commonly called, is a wide-ranging work that covers the early history of La Crosse as well as the social, education, government, religious, and business institutions. The book is divided into 22 chapters and also includes brief histories of the smaller towns of La Crosse County. An alphabetical name index to Bryant’s Memoirs was prepared and digitized in 2004 and is available for searching at the “name index” button.

Palisades and Coulees; the Scenic Mississippi Valley from Prairie du Chien to Red Wing / Alvin Petersen, 1948.

Towns of La Crosse County - Bangor, Barre, Burns, Campbell, Farmington, Greenfield, Hamiliton, Holland, Onalaska (City and Town), Shelby, and Washington


Investigation of the Melting Pot Theory: To what Extent is it Applicable to Welsh Immigrants in Bangor, Wisconsin, U.S.A.? / Rachel Forrester-Jones, 1989.

La Crosse County Historical Sketches, 1931-1955

The Beginnings of Bangor / Anna M. Jenkins

Wisconsin Domesday Book Vol. 1: Town Studies: Bangor / State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

This digitized resource is a five page town history of Bangor, Wisconsin, in La Crosse County. It is an excerpt from the first volume of “Town Studies” of the Wisconsin Domesday Book published in 1923, a series of historical volumes published by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (Wisconsin Historical Society). The series included both “General Studies,” such as the History of Agriculture, and “Town Studies.” The Bangor Town Study includes an 1860 land plat map of the township, a geographic description, agricultural and manufacturing information, population changes, and a social history of the town. The “Social History of Bangor” by Anna M. Jenkins is also included in this history.

Town of Campbell:

History Repeats Itself, Annexation of the Town of Campbell

The Town of Campbell was created at the time La Crosse County was organized in 1851.Campbell lost land mass when dams were constructed on the Mississippi River in the 1930s.  By 1954 the Town of Campbell had been split in two by the southern growth of the city of Onalaska and the northern growth of the city of La Crosse.   As a result, the town of Medary was formed west of Oak St., leaving the borders of the Town of Campbell largely to French Island and its environs.

This grouping of articles highlights the ongoing discussion between the Town of Campbell and the City of La Crosse regarding annexation, boundaries, efforts to cooperate, and public services such as water.   Since 1983 the city has tried to actively encourage Campbell residents to annex to the city. A court decision in 2002 over annexation led to a split: the city of La Crosse gained some properties on Hiawatha Island, a small island east of French Island, while ruling that annexation into French Island itself was invalid.  Also several moves to incorporate as a village began as early as 1966 and with the most recent effort as late as 2002.

Town of Hamilton:

La Crosse County Historical Sketches, 1931-1955

The Settlement of the Town of Hamilton / Guy C. Ellis


Holmen Area Centennial, 1862-1962.

Origin of the Holmen High School, 1912 / William Henry Stevenson, 1970

This seven page history of the founding and early years of the high school in Holmen, WI includes the names of the students from the first graduating class and was written in 1970 by “The Professor,” William H. Stevenson, who was selected as the first principal in 1912 just after graduating from the La Crosse Normal School.

La Crosse:

Echoes of our Past: Vignettes of Historic La Crosse/Myer Katz (La Crosse, Wis. : The La Crosse Foundation : The Washburn Foundation), 1985.

A series of narratives serve to tell the story of some of La Crosse's more interesting history that is not intended to be scholarly but more popular reading for local history enthusiasts.

The Washburn Tapestry: Weaving a Sense of Place: Washburn Neighborhood, La Crosse, Wisconsin / UW--La Crosse public history class, Fall 2003

Oral history interviews with 9 families of the Washburn neighborhood in La Crosse.

What Do You Remember: Memories of a Neighborhood / compiled by Terri Boesel ... [et al.]

Oral history interviews with families of the Hood/Powell Park/Hamilton neighborhood in La Crosse.


La Crosse County Historical Sketches, 1931-1955

Historic Homes of Neshonoc and West Salem / Mrs. Rachel Gullickson

Neshonoc: A Place Like No Other / Eldora Schober Larson, 1994


The Good Old Days / by Mildred Allen, 1991.

Reminiscence of life in early Mindoro by the Pfaff family.

Memoirs of Mindoro and Area, 1846-1969: 123 Years, 1969?

This 23 page history was sponsored by the Mindoro Community Club.  It features brief biographies of early pioneers of the Town of Farmington in La Crosse County; a history of Mindoro, WI; and a reminiscence from nearby Lewis Valley.


From Sawmills to Sunfish: A History of Onalaska, Wisconsin / John and Joan Dolbier, 1985.

This is the first comprehensive history of the City of Onalaska. It also includes biographies of individuals and families from Onalaska. Chapters include: Native Americans, Lumber Industry, Early Settlers, Farms and Coulees, Government, Schools, Business, Churches, Clubs and Organizations, and more. Numerous photographs are included, as well as an alphabetical name index.

The History of Onalaska, Wisconsin, 1840-1976 / Olga A. Tolvstad, 1976.

La Crosse County Historical Sketches, 1931-1955

Early Days in Onalaska / Carrie Saunders

The Name Onalaska

Lumbering on the Black River at Onalaska, Wisconsin, 1852-1902 / Dorothy Sagen Johnson, 1974.

This 45 page seminar paper was written for a University of Wisconsin - La Crosse graduate history class. The paper tracks the rise and decline of the lumber industry of lumbering along the lower Black River and describes its effect upon Onalaska, Wisconsin from 1852-1902. It includes one chapter that describes lumbering methods and logging operations. Also includes a bibliography, maps, charts, and statistics documenting the local lumber industry.

Onalaska Centennial, 1852-1952, 1952.

This commemorative publication was produced in honor of Onalaska’s centennial in 1952. It contains a program of the celebration activities that took place July 3-6, 1952; members of the steering committee; a history of the early days of Onalaska; and a history of the Black River Lumber Boom written by Hannibal Plain. It also includes photographs of local scenes and people and numerous advertisements by local businesses.


The History of Rockland: Greetings from Rockland, Wis. / Linda Young, 2010


Town of Shelby History / Dukkin, Patricia

Town of Washington:

Economic and Political History of the Township of Washington, La Crosse County, 1853-1900 / Paul A. Hundt, 1988.


Westby, Wisconsin - An Early Social History / Charles John Miller, 1975

UW-L seminar paper.

West Salem:

Hamlin Garland: His West Salem Years, 1893-1915 / Rodney Hugh Oppriecht, 1971

This 45 page thesis paper was written for partial fulfillment of a masters’ degree from Wisconsin State University- La Crosse. The Pulitzer prize winning author Hamlin Garland (1860 - 1940) spent four or five months a year in his hometown of West Salem, Wisconsin from 1893-1915 yet struggled to fit in with the community. This thesis explores the uneasy relationship between Garland and West Salem and its purpose was to “present a new image and better understanding of Hamlin Garland.”

La Crosse County Historical Sketches, 1931-1955

Historic Homes of Neshonoc and West Salem / Mrs. Rachel Gullickson

Leonard's Dream: A History of West Salem / Errol Kindschy, 1981.

This 1981 history of the village of West Salem in La Crosse County is a revised and improved edition of the original effort, written by the same author in 1960. Arrangement of the new version is chronological. There are numerous photographs and appendices that include lists of West Salem deceased veterans, volunteer firemen, and village election results. There is also an alphabetical name index at the end.

West Salem: The Story of its Development / Errol Kindschy, 1960.

This 60 page typescript was the first history of the village of West Salem in La Crosse County. It contains no photographs, maps, or index. It was written by Errol Kindschy, who later wrote a comprehensive revision, Leonard’s Dream: A History of West Salem, available online at: http://digitalcollections.uwlax.edu/jsp/RcWebImageViewer.jsp?doc_id=1298ae3f-6c3d-4c25-957b-b15f914e0060/wlacu000/00000010/00000062

Other Areas:

Along the Waterloo Road / Hazel Rahn Heider, 1981.

This is a well-done and thorough local history of the Waterloo community, which lies in central La Crosse County along a two mile long valley, bounded on the west by Nathan Hill and on the east by the La Crosse River and the adjacent Veterans Memorial Park, on the outskirts of West Salem. U.S. Highway 16, running east-west, divides the valley. Chapters include: Settlement Along the Waterloo Road; Roads, Bridges, and Hills; Farming and Industry; Schools; Social Life; Families; and Neighbors. It includes clear and informative charts, maps, and photographs

Chipmunk Coulee Pioneers and their Early German Methodist Church, 2002/ Compiled by Robert Lorenz, 2002.

George F. Brice / George F. Brice, 199?

Autobiography of George F. Brice who was born in Midway (on Brice’ Prairie) where his parents were early settlers.

History of Smith Valley School / Irene Radcliffe, 1987.

This 70 page pamphlet was written in 1987 for the centennial history of the Smith Valley School. The School was originally known as District #4, Town of Campbell, La Crosse County. This history was written by a member of the Smith Valley Restoration Committee, who used original school board records, and other primary sources. It includes photographs, a list of pupils who attended the school from 1879-1977, and reminiscences of former students and teachers.

Humbug Coulee: Diary of a Census Enumerator / Estella K. Bryhn, 1976.

This is a 100 page work of fiction “based on facts of the Federal Decennial Census.” The story is of a young census taker and her interactions with the rural residents of a coulee of western Wisconsin in the spring of 1950.

La Crosse County Historical Sketches, 1931-1955

The Swiss Settlers of Mormon Coulee / George Zielke

Pioneering in Wisconsin and Minnesota / Louis Larson

The Mormons of Mormon Coulee / Albert H. Sanford

Lewis Valley / O.S. Sisson

Pioneer Stories Retold, The Dow Family / Evelyn McClintock, Pioneer Days in Holland Township / Arnold Black, A Pioneer Days / R. and Mildred Meyer, Pioneer Days / R. and Mildred Hulberg, Grandfather's Memories of Indians / Wayne C. Bradley, Their First Christmas in America / Calverna Schams, A Bohemian Family on St. Joseph's Ridge / Frances Clements

A Survey of Halfway Creek, La Crosse County, Wisconsin to Determine Temperatures, Nitrate-Nitrogen, Nitrite-Nitrogen, Ortho Phosphate, and Sediment Present in the Creek / Robert R. Hoffman, 1972.

UW-L Seminar Paper.

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Welcome to La Crosse History Unbound. Learn more about La Crosse County, history through these digitized collections from La Crosse Public Library and Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.