A Brief History of the Village of Tigerton
The Village of Tigerton was incorporated as a village in 1896 and is located on the banks of the South Branch of the Embarrass River. It has a population of about 750 people.
The Lake Shore Railroad first came through the Tigerton area in 1879-80. At that time, it went as far north as Eland. The railroad stopped service to Tigerton in 1981. The first Post Office was opened in 1880, in conjunction of the coming of the railroad.
In 1881, the first school was built on the lot that is currently the Gazebo park, next to the clinic. After outgrowing the couple school buildings and one burning down, in 1903, a brick grade school was built on the site of the current elementary school playground. That building was razed in 1983, after the current school was built.
A meeting was held authorizing the School Board to apply for a $10,000 loan to build a new high school in 1917. That school, located along the east bank of the Embarrass River, was completed in 1919 at an expense of $16,400. In 1949-50, a new gymnasium was added to the rear of the existing high school. Throughout the years, several additions have been added and in 1995, a new gym, shop classrooms and district office were added to the rear of the building, with extensive remodeling throughout the school. In 2008-09, the 1919 high school building was remodeled and converted into the District offices and classrooms. A Community Fitness Center was also added. The area which had previously housed the District Offices was converted to the Tiger's Den Day Care.
In 1881, the first Catholic settlers in Tigerton held service at a private residence. The pastor was Rev. Father Richard of Wausau. They erected a new church in 1884. That church served the congregation until about 1972, when the current church was built, just to the west of the other church. The old church was then torn down.
On July 2, 1882, Rev. Pumcer of Wittenberg held the first services for the St. John's Lutheran Church. The congregation outgrew their little church and in 1903, built the brick structure they now occupy. An addition of a fellowship hall, kitchen and classrooms were added in 1990-91. At that time, the former parochial school building was sold.
Zion Lutheran Church was organized in May 1891 with twelve charter members. The first Minister was Rev. August Jennrich. Their new church building was dedicated in September 1891. It served until 1964, when a new church was built near the intersection of Hwy 45 and Cty Road M. The old church was torn down in 2000.
The first businesses on record to be established in what is now Tigerton were built in about 1880. In 1885, Mr. Herman Swanke, Sr. came to Tigerton and decided to get into the lumber business. He and three others built a mill at the expense of $3,000. This mill would become Tigerton Lumber Company. At this time Tigerton was still a vast wilderness that had only a few settlers. The mill burned down and was rebuilt at an expense of $10,000. Mr. Swanke owned half-interest in Tigerton Lumber Company at this time. He was also interested in two other mills, one at Whitcomb and one at what was called the "Old Mill Dam." He disposed of these two mills in later years and he also bought out the other interests in Tigerton Lumber Company. In 1910, Tigerton Lumber Company was enlarged and remodeled. It has been since been enlarged, remodeled and updated a couple more times throughout the years. Mr. Swanke owned vast timber and land tracts all over the country. In 1921 he built the beautiful large home on the river but only lived to enjoy it a little over a year. This building has also served as a bar and in 1950. it was converted to the Tigerton Hospital. The hospital served our community until 1975. In 1977, the building was converted to the Tigerton Clinic.
In 1899-1900, the First National Bank was built in the building just to the west of the current bank across Ash Street. This building formerly housed MR. J's Barbershop and the Post office. The current First National Bank building was built in 1921.
The Tigerton Village Hall was erected in 1905. A public library was located within the hall on the second floor and the Fire Department was on the first floor. The building was vacated in about 1980, when the new Community Center was built. The building was in a state of severe disrepair when it was purchased by Tigerton Main Street, Inc. in 2003. After extensive fund-raising efforts and thousands of volunteer hours, the 1905 Village Hall was fully restored in 2006-07. The building currently houses the Tigerton Main Street office and can be rented for parties and other occasions. It is also used for several events throughout the year.
Electric came to parts of Tigerton in 1912, when the Tigerton Lumber Company purchased a generator to supply electricity to the mill, Badger Lumber Company store and Swanke residence. It was later expanded to the entire village. In 1970, the Tigerton Electric Company was sold to Central Wisconsin Electric Coop, who still supplies the village with electricity. Telephone service first came to Tigerton in 1922.
A canning factory was built in 1926. In the first few years, they canned beans and peas. After they found that canning beans was too expensive, they only canned peas.
Water works were installed in the village in 1936-37, with much difficulty, as the village sits on a layer of bedrock. Sewer was put in about 1959-60.
In 1947, Ralph Schroeder opened his first gas station in the village of Tigerton, which was located along Beech Street, behind the former grocery store building. Throughout the years his business grew, and in 1978, he built the main office for Schroder Oil & Excavating, Inc. next to his station in the 300 block of Cedar Street. At its peak, Schroeder Oil owned and operated over 20 convenience stores and bulk plants throughout the central and northern part of the state, with the headquarters right here in Tigerton. In 1998, Schroeder Oil opened the Embarrass River Travel Center on the east side of our village at the intersection of hwy 45 and county M. In 2001, Schroeder Oil was sold to Riiser Energy out of Wausau. They still own and operate the travel center today.
In 1993, Tigerton was named as a "Wisconsin Main Street Community". The goal of this designation was to work to improve our community. At that time, Tigerton was the smallest Main Street Community in the state. Twenty years later in 2013, Tigerton Main Street celebrated their 20th anniversary, still being the smallest Main Street Community in the state.
In 1994-95, a large parcel of land to the east of the village with the Embarrass River running through it was purchased and annexed into the village. This property was developed into the Embarrass River Campground and ATV Park, the "Liberty Estates" neighborhood, and the Tigerton Industrial Park.
In 2000, the Veteran's Memorial was constructed on the bank of the Tiger Creek in the Legion Park. In 2011, a new Legion Hall was constructed on the site of the old log building, which had served many years as the Legion Hall.
Credits: Dennis Konkol (Tigerton High School 1948 Yearbook "Tigerton History"), Virginia Kauffman, Cindy Mueller, Mrs. L.C. Buchsieb (Village of Tigerton History online)