As White Lake celebrates its Centennial, we need to look back at the decade of 1926-1935 to review the happenings during this period in its history.
White Lake was governed by the Town of Wolf River for its first 10 years. It was precinct No. 2. The Town Board of Wolf River had built a jail with two cells in White Lake at the east end of Mill Street. With the centralized population in the White Lake area, there were problems from time to time needing to be addressed by law enforcement. The jail was razed in 1926.
On March 13, 1926, a referendum election was held at the Club House for the purpose of voting on the incorporation of the Village of White Lake. The vote was 138 for and 4 against. Incorporation proceedings took place. White Lake became a village and elected Village Board officers, trustees, treasurer, constables and justice of the peace. The village board held their meetings in the high school.
A number of other buildings were built in this decade in the community. Yawkey-Bissell expanded and built a flooring mill and dry kiln next to the Sawmill. The flooring mill produced hardwood flooring sold all around the country. W.W. Gamble Jr. was the sales manager. The Presbyterian Church and a filling station with attached service building were built in this decade.
Also in 1926, the ranger station was built in White Lake. The White Lake Ranger Station was the headquarters for District 9, which included Langlade and Oconto Counties and parts of Forest and Shawano Counties. In 1934, the Nicolet National Forest was established. Fire towers were erected at several area locations: Nine Mile, Kent and Ada Lake, amongst others.
The school and community became very interested and involved in sports. There wasn’t a ballpark, but one person in the community saw a ball field in a vacant lot with trees and a deep ravine. He, with help from other young men, cleared the lot, filled in the ravine, and built a ball field where the first ballgames were played. Today, the same area is the White Lake Ball Diamond and many games are played there each year.
Basketball was another sport and the high school had their first teams in this decade. Many early players for years after graduation attended the White Lake ball games: baseball, basketball and football, which still continue as a tradition today.
In 1929, the Great Depression and the stock market crash affected the community greatly. The State Bank of White Lake was forced to close in 1931. The bank building was vacated and sat vacant until the next decade.
The mill was closed for about a year in 1932 due to the Depression. It was a very hard times for the White Lake community. During this period, Yawkey-Bissell issued paper script valued at so many dollars to the employees and they were able to use this script at the store to purchase supplies.
The club hall continued as the community’s main social center. White Lake had a very active men’s club and a women’s club which helped the community during the tough times.
The telephone switchboard was moved to a room above the barber shop from the store. The Langlade Telephone Company of Antigo purchased the telephone exchange in 1930. Few White Lake area residents had telephone service during this decade and if they did, there were long distance charges to Antigo and beyond.
A library was started in 1925 and continued as a community project. The first 200 books were donated to the library by members of the community. Books were ordered from the traveling library at Madison. One of the club rooms in the Club House was used for library purposes and was open two nights a week.
Watch for the next article on the 1936-1945 decade in White Lake’s history.