What's in a Name?

the people behind the monikers you see around Chippewa Falls

The Chippewa County Historical Society

William Irvine

Where you’ve seen his name: Irvine Park

William Irvine was born in Mount Carroll, Illinois, in 1851. When he was only 15 he moved to Chippewa Falls and was employed by the sawmill. At age 22 he married Adelaide Beardsley in Mount Carroll and the two made their home at Chippewa Falls. They had one adopted daughter.

His career continued in the lumber industry where he became a lumber expert. In 1881 Frederick Weyerhaeuser bought the Big Mill in downtown Chippewa Falls and Irvine became manager. He served in that capacity until the mill closed in 1911. In 1886 the mill was destroyed by fire but was immediately rebuilt as the largest in the world under one roof.

Beyond his business successes, he had a dream that there should be in the midst of Chippewa Falls a park where people could get away from the noise and stress of city life. As manager of the Chippewa Lumber and Boom Co., he was instrumental in arranging for the donation of property from the company to the city, making this dream a reality. He personally donated property adding to the size of the park and gave thousands of dollars for improvements to the park.

Edward Rutledge

Where you’ve seen his name: Rutledge Home, Rutledge Charity Building, Cook-Rutledge Mansion

Edward Rutledge was born in 1834 in Ireland, and his family emigrated to Canada when he was 11 years old. As a teenager he and two brothers left home to work in the woods of Michigan. When he moved on to the Chippewa Valley he was first employed by Daniel Shaw and later as a timber cruiser for Ezra Cornell.

When Edward was around 37 he found summer lodging at a boarding house owned by Hannah Gregg. When he returned the next summer he and Hannah fell in love and were married.

Edward Rutledge’s skills in the lumber industry came to the attention of Frederick Weyerhaeuser and they became officially associated in 1873. When Weyerhaeuser bought the Chippewa Lumber and Boom Co., Rutledge served as chief officer. This was just the beginning of a very successful partnership. Together they were involved in some of the largest most successful pine deals in the country.

After his wife died in 1910, Edward created the Hannah M. Rutledge Home For the Aged, which was to be used as a home for the worthy aged and poor. When Edward died the following year he left $1 million in a charitable trust. Though Edward died more than 100 years ago, Chippewa Falls residents continue to benefit from his generosity.

Hiram Storrs Allen

Where you’ve seen his name: Allen Park

Hiram Allen was born in Vermont in 1806. He moved to the Chippewa Valley about 1834 and married his wife, Marie Desmarie, daughter of Angeline and Louis, in 1838. They were married almost 50 years and had 11 children.
Over the years Hiram contributed much to the prosperity of Chippewa Falls. In 1848 he rebuilt the mill at the falls after it had been destroyed by a flood. He built the first hotel, a flour mill, and a water-powered sawmill on Duncan Creek. He was the first postmaster, the first jail was in his root house, and the village was first surveyed and platted under his direction. In recognition of Allen’s many accomplishments, when he passed away in 1886, Mayor T.J. Cunningham made a proclamation closing all businesses during the funeral while William Irvine lowered the flag on the Big Mill to half-staff.


historical groups plan new building in Chippewa Falls

The Chippewa County Historical Society, established in 1969, and the Chippewa County Genealogical Society, formed in 1980, work together to provide a glimpse of the area’s rich history and its impact on past and current generations.

The current Area History Center houses the two societies in the former convent of the Notre Dame Catholic Church at 123 Allen St. By 2006, the center was experiencing increased interest and attendance in the ever-growing museum and the extensive library of the genealogical society.

In December 2015, an ideal location for the proposed History Center became available next to Irvine Park’s south entrance. The historical society secured donations to buy the property at 12 Bridgewater Ave. A capital campaign executive committee has been formed and an architect hired to provide a concept design for the Chippewa Area History Center. The capital campaign is scheduled to begin this fall with completion of the center in 2020.

Learn more about the historical society at chippewacountywihistoricalsociety.org.