As described in great detail in the “Historical Notes of the Town of Clayton, Wisconsin” by Carl E Anderson, the Town of Clayton has a diverse history. The following are some captions taken out of that story:
….The first Homestead entries in what is now the Town of Clayton were made in the year 1865 by Peter Bauchea, who was half Indian, and John McKay, a Frenchman. Indian traders established a post at Hay Lake, later called Lake Magnor. The next settlers were Joseph Van Dyke, W.B. Warehouse and C.W. Tanner.
….Early in the spring of 1870, C.W. Tanner, then living near Jamestown, New York, loaded his family and camping utinsels [sic] into a covered wagon and started for the northern pineries [sic] of Wisconsin. On June 5 of the same year, he unloaded all of his belongings in Township 33, Range 15, Section 30 in Polk County. He built a log house near a brook called Bull Brook which ran through his eighty acres.
….The Township of Clayton was organized April 4, 1875. The first Town Chairman was elected in the spring of 1876. The first town meeting was held in a log house on the east side of Hay Lake, (Lake Magnor) to elect officers and name the town. It was settled by ballot that it should be called “Clayton” after Capt. Clayton Rogers, “Who,” says S.M. DeGolier in a history of the town written in 1876 or thereabouts, “is the life of the town—a man who travels thirty miles every day and does more mental and physic al work than any other two men in Polk County.
….The railroad was built to Clayton Village in 1874. Prior to this, supplies were hauled from Stillwater or Osceola and for a couple of years, from the terminals of the railroad at New Richmond. Up until this time, mail was received at Lincoln Center, then called Bear Trap. The first Post Office in Clayton Township was established at Hay Lake and August Frederick was the first Postmaster.
….Before the spring of 1872, Lake Magnor, Barabo and Paulson Lakes were all one, and drained south into Hay Lake. It was called Hay Lake from the great Blue Joint hay marsh south of it. In the winter of 1872, Mr. Elm Greeley of Stillwater, Minnesota, had logged along Beaver Brook and landed about three million feet of pine lumber in logs along its banks. Since there was very little snow melt that spring, he needed a lot more water to float his logs down into Apple River. He took his crew of men up to Hay Lake and dug a ditch from its north bank into the little stream now called Nepadogen Creek which flows northwesterly into Beaver Brook. This drew the water level of Hay Lake down so low that it left three distinct lakes.
….There have been three churches in Clayton Township. Only one, Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, is still operating as the original parish. It was organized on February 29, 1888. The first church was built in 1892 at a total cost of $700. A new church was erected in 1920, on the original site, which still stands. This church was organized entirely by Swedish immigrants. It was sometimes called the “Paulson Church” because so many of the early members were Paulsons. There were however, many others, as the southwest part of the township was largely settled by Swedes.
The “Township of Clayton, Wis. 1875-1975 Centennial” also provides a history of the Town of Clayton. The history of Joel and Richardson are based off stories in the Centennial.
According to Clarence Thompson, the site of Joel used to be covered by mature, virgin white pine forest. Early settlers began moving to the area in the early 1880’s. Most of the settlers bought just forty acres of land and built a house. Most were lumberjacks, farmers, or trappers. The big lumber companies came in and bought up the good pine timber and built saw mills all through the area. They hauled the lumber down to Joel on small bunk cars with just one horse to pull them and loaded the lumber on to flat cars or into box cars.
The saw mill at Joel was built about 1886 when they built the Soo Line through. They called it Barker dam. They had from twenty to twenty-two feet of water above the dam. It made a big lake covering around 2000 to 3000 acres of land. Some of the best fishing around here and also good duck hunting – Clarence Thompson
Wallace Brackee Sr. remembers that Joel had a two room school, lumber yard, grain elevator, potato warehouse, stock yard, general store, saloon, post office, railroad depot, blacksmith shop, cheese factory and house, dance hall, four farm houses and barns, and one living house.
In Carl E. Anderson’s historical notes, he states that in 1912, the farmers around Joel formed the Joel Cheese Company. It thrieved [sic] well for many years, but in the 1930’s the competition became too keen from the larger milk plants from surrounding towns. It closed in 1940.
Continuing with Carl E. Anderson’s historical notes….Around the turn of the century, Richardson developed into an active center. The first store, with adjoining Post Office, was operated by N.P. Swanson. Later, a second store was built and operated by A.D. Ellis, who, after a few years, turned it over to his stepson, Richard Mooney.
….The first Town Hall was located on the South shore of Lake Magnor. Richardson also had a schoolhouse, a hardware store, two boarding houses and stock yards. There were also large hay storage sheds which were located along the railroad tracks. These were owned by Butler Hulbert and Fritz Anderholm. They would buy hay from farmers in the community, bale it with large horse-operated balers and haul the hay into the sheds. By 1915, engine driven balers were being used. From there, the hay was shipped out by rail.
….The creamery at Richardson was moved to Clayton and operated a few years. It was then sold to Stella Cheese Co., who specialized in making Italian Cheese. Blue Cheese was the specialty of the Clayton plant and for many years it was advertised as “The Blue Cheese Capitol of the World.”