Wisconsin's Lumberjacks

Pioneer Lumberman

Fred Smith - Paul Bunyan

The Oshkosh Northwestern
Oshkosh, Wisconsin
March 21, 1938

Thompson Honored By Bunyan Knights

Waupaca Giant Given No. 1 Seat at Rites in Feldmier's Woodlot

The Mystic Knights of the Blue Ox, 500 strong, gave the No. 1 seat to Paul Bunyan Jr., as they met in Feldmier's woodlot yesterday to honor the original Paul, mythical demigod of the lumberjack.

"Junior" was Cliff Thompson of Waupaca, Wis., whose eight feet, seven inches dent the scales to 406 pounds. Junior, for an entree, consumed a dozen Bunyan portions of the baked beans, mulligan stew, potatoes and raisin pie, and then called for the main course.

Residents of Bayfield, Washburn, Superior, Cornucopia, Minong and other communities of upper Wisconsin filled the highways with cars. Appetites were whetted by the sunny last day of winter and the fresh breezes blowing off the frozen stretches of Lake Superior.

Yorkson Is Speaker

The meal was served from an outdoor kitchen. Afterward, there was a program presided over by Capt. Bill Miller of Bayfield, prominent marine authority, who acted as "Johnny Inkslinger," Paul's scribe, and recorded the names of all who passed the gates into the festival grounds.

Speakers included Lee Yorkson of Waupaca, manager of Paul Jr., Thompson, Barney Poilers, 22, of Superior, Paul's miniature opposite, Mayor F. Bigelow of Bayfield, J.H. Carroll of Glidden, and several pioneer lumberman who knew the area when logging was new and Paul Bunyan's name was one to use with awe and reverence.

Accordion selections, typical camp music, and stories in Swedish dialect supplemented by Bunyan yarns provided the entertainment.

Great Eaters

Mayor F. Bigelow surveyed the battered remains of what had been a gigantic dining table today and concluded that Wisconsin's lumberjacks "still know how to put on the feed bag."

The mayor was just a bit dismayed, though, by the table manners of the brawny wielders of broad axe and pike pole who stormed the town yesterday to pay tribute to Paul Bunyan, legendary hero of the woods, at the annual banquet of the "Mystic Knights of the Blue Ox."

"We made stew in three large horse tanks," the mayor explained. "We used five big Wisconsin steers, 500 bushels of potatoes, 100 bushels of carrots and a whole carload of beans.

"And what do you think?" the mayor inquired. "Those lumberjacks ate straight through from noon until 9 p.m. when the food gave out. Then they started banging on the table and yelling for the second course.

"Several lowland farmers thought the noise was the thunder of spring rains and moved their families to higher ground."

Recipe For Stew

Sven Carlson, a birler who claimed to be a direct descendant of Sour Dough Pete, Paul Bunyan's chief cook in the days when the mighty Paul was digging Wisconsin's lakes, attempted to explain.

"That wasn't stew you served," he explained. "That was thin soup.

"Now Sour Dough Pete could always fill the jacks with his special rabbit stew."

Mayor Bigelow was interested.

"Better give me the recipe to keep on file for next year," he said.

Carlson agreed.

"Well," he said, "first you have to have a boiling lake, that's why Paul built the mammoth hot springs in Yellowstone park. Then you take 100,000 rabbits. And beans, 200 tons is about right.

"Of course," Carlson explained, "the rabbits were only used to give the stew flavor. It was made from half and half, horse meat and rabbit, one horse to every rabbit.

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