These historical notes were gleamed from Malcolm Rosholt’s “Our County, Our Story”, from Michael Riley’s article “A History of Plover to 1984”, a list of historical notes found in the Town of Plover safe, historical newspapers and various family histories.
1836: The Wisconsin Territory was created and, at that time, a county to be called “Portage” was established. By 1841, Portage County had been enlarged to 57 miles wide and extended from the south – at the Wisconsin River near Fort Winnebago to Lake Superior and the Michigan border in the north; in 1849, the County Board split the county into three parts – the Middleton, Bull Falls and Plover townships. From then on, Portage County lost portions of its land as new counties were formed until when the last boundary change occurred in 1856 to create Wood County - Portage County has remained the same size since.
1844: During this year, the Village of Plover Portage came into prominence when an election made it the county seat – an election that was contended as not being fair since a lumber man brought in lumberjacks from the north to support the voters around Plover and Mill Creek. In 1845, the Village of Plover was first platted. Then in 1847 the federal government offered a mail route contract to Jacob L. Myers to run a stage line through the prairie and forestland in the area between Plover and Portage. According to author Malcolm Rosholt, Myers raised horses for his operation on a farm in Buena Vista.
1850: The building of the Buena Vista House, which became a popular stopping point on the stagecoach route in the 1850’s, permitted stagecoach travelers and others to take a breather before continuing their ride to Plover or on to Portage. Unique, even by today’s standards, this building featured a “rocking dance floor,” which may have been the only one of that type in the county, according to Rosholt. The special floor was built on levers that permitted it to sway up to 18 inches. “It was no doubt a popular place for teenagers of the period whirling about in the traditional cotillion, better known as the square dance,” Rosholt wrote. Jacob Myers son, Lon, a local auctioneer by day was frequently the square dance caller at the Buena Vista House.
As more and more people settled down in Plover, it didn’t take long before the Town began to gain a reputation as a heavy agricultural area. Large areas of land in Buena Vista and Almond were already in agricultural production by 1851. Cropland had begun to open up in the Town of Plover and surrounding areas.
1854: 130 voters elected their first Town Chairman, Thomas H. McDill, with 116 votes cast at the election held on April 4th. (The Poll List for 1854 is displayed in the Town Hall of the Town of Plover.)
1855: This era brought another notable structure to the Town of Plover - the Moore Barn, which was built near what was once known as Buena Vista Road. The barn survived into the 1920s, but when demolished, legend has it - several skeletons were found in the barn’s floor. These rumors may have circulated because, reportedly, bandits had routinely held up the stage as it passed through the pineries along the Buena Vista Road, according to Rosholt.
1857-58: A bill was introduced in the state legislature which changed the town’s name to the incorporated Village of Clayton but later in 1857, the Governor signed a bill and Plover became known as Algernon. Then, in 1858, residents requested another change and a new governor amended the name to the Village of Stanton.
1860: $25.00 was received from James Isherwood to license the Isherwood Hotel to serve liquor, according to Rosholt; another respite along the road in what is now the Town of Plover, the Isherwood Hotel was about two miles west of the infamous Moore Barn featuring a tavern house, dance hall and guest rooms. This structure remained until in the 1960-70’s when it was torn down.
1863: Indians invaded the area - between 5,000 and 6,000 - held a dance and passed a peace pipe; due to this excitement, a Civil War draft was postponed and, unfortunately in this same year, the Buena Vista House and its rocking dance floor were destroyed by tornado.
1864: Still not satisfied, the name was once again changed back to the Village of Plover; in that year, several cattle drives passed through Plover and Stevens Point on their way to Superior, and daily stage runs were occurring to Eau Pleine, Knowlton, Mosinee, Berlin, Almond and Wautoma.
1868: Thomas Mc Dill lost an election by over 100 votes to Raymond Burr who backed the highly contended move of the county seat to Stevens Point which lead to the demise of the Village of Plover; according to Malcolm Rosholt’s “Our County Our Story”. The village dissolved on or before 1870 with a population of 500 and the Town of Plover was later partitioned off to form what are now the Towns of Buena Vista, Grant, Stockton, and Linwood.
In 1874, Indians had killed 25 bears in the area. But as new roads were built, other establishments sprouted up in the Town of Plover - like Mathias Mitchell’s tavern house about a mile southeast of the Plover Town Square – known originally as Mitchell’s Tavern and later may have been renamed. In 1876 two railroads were beginning to serve the area.
1912: Votes were cast to decide on incorporation: 48 in favor and 23 against – a new Village of Plover was incorporated with 330 residents. However, in 1931 – the village was struggling and began borrowing money from residents to continue in operation until holdings of the village were transferred to the Town of Plover and the village again stood dissolved.
1948: The Town of Plover built the “Town Center” just south of the old “Plover Town Square”; this building, while providing space to administer the town’s business, also provided a basketball floor for area youth and functioned as a dance floor for weddings and March of Dimes events, and later, as a roller-skate rink.
In 1950 boundaries of the Town of Plover represent the township in its entirety following that first effort at incorporation in 1912 which failed in 1931. Due to the Great Depression and World War II, municipal development remained stagnant.
1965: Another attempt to incorporate again failed with 339 against incorporation and 168 in favor – that proposal involved 3.5 square miles with an estimated population of 1000. In 1971 another petition emerged to incorporate 12.5 square miles which failed again – this time because the State Director of Local and Regional Planning deemed it took in too much territory – supporters were told to resubmit a petition for half as much area.
1971-72: Supporters of incorporation quickly came back with a proposal to incorporate 6.5 square miles with an estimated population of 2600 and a referendum was ordered. Out of 1700 possible voters, only 600 voted and the Village of Plover was reestablished.
1980: When incorporated, the Village of Plover had absorbed a population of 2,618 with total land area of 6.74 square miles; a special census conducted in 1975 found the village population at 3,408. Consolidation didn’t impact just population, but had a major geographic impact as well on the Town of Plover.
By 1981, the Village land mass had increased to 7.23 square miles due to annexations. The incorporation left the Town of Plover in need of a town hall so a parcel was purchased from Gilbert and Ellen Higgins on which the town built the Town of Plover Municipal Building which functioned as the town office, the town hall and the town garage until in 1999, when the current town hall was constructed to the southern side of the same lot.
2000: Here and there a scattering of annexations were petitioned as property owners desired village utilities. In 1996 and again in 1997 two subdivisions were annexed to the City of Stevens Point; the related boundary agreement extended utilities to these two areas in the Town of Plover for a period of ten years after which these areas moved into the tax base of the City of Stevens Point.
In 2006 and again in 2007, population statistics reflect the impact of these two annexations to the City of Stevens Point. At about this time, a developer recognized the potential of the existing 27-hole Tree Acres Golf Course in the Town of Plover, and convinced the Village of Plover to undertake a TIF district to finance the development of this large tract of land. There were plans for man-made lakes, water-ski competitions, a condominium complex built around an 18-hole golf course and more. Another 160 acres were annexed at about the same time in anticipation of the needs this development would drive. Eisenhower Avenue, which had been a Town of Plover road now became County Road R; Village utilities were extended in anticipation of supporting this project but yet in 2012 nothing has materialized beyond that point.
BY 2010, the Town:of Plover was now the 9th largest of the towns in Portage County in terms of geographic size, encompassing an area of approximately 26,300 acres or 41.1 square miles. It is also the 9th largst town in terms of population, with approximately 1710 residents.
SIZE OF THE TOWN OF PLOVER
IMPACTS OF ANNEXATION
Source: Maps provided to the Town of Plover by Portage County Planning & Zoning
As the preceding table records, by 2010 annexations have absorbed 24.1% of the Town’s acreage and since 1970, taken 55.5% of its population. Annexations totally changed the complexion of the Town of Plover – and have provided a drastic influence on the ways in which the Town of Plover will develop.
In 2012, the Town of Plover, located on the urban fringe of Stevens Point, shares common boundaries with the City, and the Villages of Whiting and Plover. The Wisconsin River and the Village of Plover form much of the Town's northern boundary, with the Towns of Buena Vista and Grant bordering on the south. The Township of Plover extends eastward to the Town of Stockton and westward along Highway 54 to the Portage/Wood County border. And, in 2012, the City of Stevens Point annexed 200+ acres from the Town of Plover plus acreage from the Towns of Hull and Stockton to amass 700 acres for future development of an industrial park.
2013: As expected, although unwanted, the trend for annexations has continued. At the time of this writing, the Town of Plover with 1715 residents now measures 40.6 square miles involving 26,000 acres.
It is this history and the changing attitudes toward development - and in the town of Plover, the commercial and residential development needs on agricultural acres - that makes consideration of land use changes of immediate concern.