New Book Chronicles Plover’s History in Photos
By Jacob Mathias
A recently-published book chronicles the early history of the Village of Plover in a series of photographs.
The book, Copies of Images of America: Plover, part of the Images of America series published by South Carolina-based Arcadia Publishing, was compiled and researched by local residents Brad Casselberry and Diane Lang.
The series “celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns and cities across the country,” and has printed books about hundreds of cities across the U.S.
“Plover keeps getting blocked out of the research. They’re kind of their separate own thing,” said Casselberry. “But at the same time, people lump them in with Stevens Point and we felt they needed their own focus.”
Both authors are graduates of the UW-Stevens Point Department of History. Casselberry is an assistant archivist at UWSP; Lang works in the reference department of the Portage Co. Public Library, and also serves on the Portage County Historical Society board.
They are also engaged to be married.
Plover, rather than Stevens Point, was chosen by the authors because of its unique history and lack of historical coverage. Once the Portage County seat, Plover has fluctuated in and out of incorporated status three times before its most recent reincorporation in 1971.
“There’s a couple points where it could have just died off,” said Lang. “They kept resurging.”
Much of Plover is now unrecognizable from its past — due to multiple highway projects — so it proved difficult for the geography of some of the photos to be determined. That pattern can be seen today, Casselberry said, with the widening of Post Rd./Business 51.
“I’ve never come across a town that’s been so almost scratched clean and rebuilt,” he added.
The book is divided into seven chapters, categorized by street scenes, people and residences, daily life, where a community comes together, businesses, the river and mills and aerial views.
The oldest picture in the book, estimated to be from the 1860s, is a tintype photograph of the Meehan Mill, founded by Patrick and James Linwood in what is now the Town of Linwood. The actual Meehan settlement was founded further south in what is now the Town of Plover.
The book took about a year to research and publish. Casselberry and Lang used newspaper archives, obituaries, plot maps and tax rolls to cross reference the images in the photos with the facts.
“The goal of a lot of people who write history or research history is that in hopes of doing something like this, people see the value in it and it won’t get chucked in the trash,” said Lang.
Copies of Images of America: Plover can be purchased at local bookstores or through the Portage Co. Historical Society.