13989 195th Street
The history of the present Jim Falls Church and parish would be empty indeed if we failed to realize the profound task and overwhelming hardship that must have faced the early priests and settlers. To them were assigned the first tasks, to those that followed, the secondary tasks, and so on up the line to the point that finds us reading about the past, forming and acting out the present, and in some way hoping to mould a better future.
Long before the white man explored the virgin forest of Wisconsin, and long before the red man crept through those same woodlands, lived a race of people whom history has kept no records or accounts. We know nothing of them beyond the fact that at one time they existed. Historians call them “Mound Builders”, and they probably belonged to the Stone Age.
Great glaciers had swept over the country leaving in its wake, deep valleys, fertile and beautiful. All this was the hunting ground of the Indians. The high hills which became covered with a rich growth of timer, swift streams, later to furnish power for mills and picturesque lakes, were the setting for the aborigines.
The village of Jim Falls had its beginning as a trading post with the Indians. It was a fur trading point and eventually derived its name from James Ermatinger. Mr. Ermatinger was of Swiss descent, born in La Pointe, Bayfield County, Wisconsin (approximately a century and a half ago.) He paddled his canoe down the Chippewa River which forced its way between high banks, covered with pines, cedars and hemlocks. It dashed over rocky beds in a succession of cascades which began at Brunet Falls, Cornell. He stopped at a spot called Vermillion Falls, so named because of its red clay and there he established his post on the west side of the river, directly across from the present site of the church. The town was first named Vermillion Falls, then Ermatinger Falls, Jim’s Falls, Davis Falls and finally, the present Jim Falls. Mr. Ermatinger married the widow of Truman Warren, mother of three small children. She was the daughter of Michel Cadott and White Crain’s daughter (a prominent Indian Chief).
In 1862 when the Homestead Law was passed, the influx of many of our outstanding pioneers came from far away places. French Canadians, Germans, Czechs, Norwegians, Irish as well as native Americans of English descent arrived. These men, mostly had an eye for a good stand of pine and farming was only a side line. They worked in the lumber camps in winter and on the drives on the river in spring, and only worked their farms when no other work was available. A yoke of oxen, a team of horses, one or two cows, a few pigs and chickens usually made up their livestock. Cows roamed the unfenced woods and were usually milked by women and children. Their homes and barns were of logs, roofed with basswood “scoops” or pine “shakes”.