Step Into the Past in Tug Hollow

February 15, 2016 by Eric Frydenlund

Editor’s Note: Guest blogger and author Nancy Schroeder writes about her family’s history in the Driftless area, which she made into a book.

Step Into the Past in Tug Hollow, by Nancy Schroeder

Tug Hollow.  A strange name?  It was not at all peculiar to the immigrants who brought their families and possessions in ox-drawn wagons to this part of Driftless Wisconsin in the last half of the 19th century.  In their view, it was straight to the point.

It was difficult pulling their wagons over the steep hills near the hollow, or valley, that attracted them, and they broke a lot of tugs.  The tug, or tug pole, was fastened to the bottom of the yoke that rested on the necks of the oxen.  Depending on its length, the tug had a hook or a chain at the other end for hauling.

The soil was rich, woods and water were plentiful, and the people were ready to settle down to farming in America after their long journey from Europe, across the Atlantic, and finally to Wisconsin.  They had to shelter their families and livestock, clear the land, and establish crops.

By late October 1867, the new community was ready to open a school, and 22 pupils enrolled.  The demand for education grew quickly, and by 1870 a new building was needed to accommodate an enrollment of 49 pupils ranging in age from 4 to 18.  The third and last schoolhouse was built in 1897; Tug Hollow children were educated in it until 1964.

Four generations of our family walked down the road from our 80-acre farm to the Tug Hollow School.  My siblings and I were the third generation, and our mother had been one of the teachers.

In 1970, Amish men bought the schoolhouse, took it apart, and reassembled it in their own community nearby.  On our old farm, the house and barn built in 1875 still stand, in use and surrounded by such Driftless Area features as a creek, a cave, ancient soil, prolific woods and other natural vegetation, valleys, springs, forested hills, Indian Ridge, and rock formations in the Mill Bluff Park area.

The community is still known as Tug Hollow.  Lying within Monroe County, it honors the boundaries of the former Tug Hollow School District.