Stratford History

The Stratford area was once a lush forest of pristine hardwood and pine trees.  The western portion of Marathon County was unsettled and wild in the years before 1871.  What settlement there was, was due to logging operations utilizing the Big Eau Pleine and Little Eau Pleine Rivers. 

The announcement of a proposed railroad route from Wausau to Marshfield caught the attention of Robert Connor, one of three brothers from Stratford, Ontario, Canada, operating a successful lumber operation in Auburndale.  When the lumber in the Auburndale area was depleted, two of the Connor brothers left the company.  Robert remained and called on his son, William Duncan Connor to help him run the business.  

Better known as W.D. Connor, the young man took on more responsibility when his father entered the Wisconsin State Legislature in 1888, and became president of the company in 1890.  The Connors then built a band saw mill in the wilderness of southwestern Marathon County, bringing workers from the Auburndale location.  In 1891, Robert and W.D. Connor chose to name the new settlement after their hometown -- Stratford! 

The first shipment of lumber left Stratford in the fall of 1892 from three camp locations.  To supply the needs of the mill workers, Connor built a general store with a post office.  After about three years, a planing mill and dry kiln were added.  In 1893, there were just two roads leading from Stratford.  One went west to Webertown and the other south and east to Rozellville.  People living in the other directions traveled by foot or horseback.  

The Stratford Area Historical Society continues to research and celebrate the history and heritage of the Stratford area through museum exhibits and special events.  The Historical Museum, located in Klemme Park, is the former home to the Stratford American Legion Clubhouse.   

For more information contact:  Stratford Area Historical Society 
                                                 PO Box 306   
                                                 Stratford, WI 54484


Phone: 715-391-9494


Stratford Centennial 1891-1991 - This 300 page book celebrates the history of Stratford.  Stratford's 150th (Sesquicentennial) anniversary will be 2041 - Please contact us if you're interested in contributing additional photos, stories, items, etc...