July 2, 1997



By Georgia Calvo



There is a camp on Waupaca's Chain O' Lakes that is celebrating its hundredth year of continuous operation during the summer of 1997. Boys' camp? Girls' camp? Scout camp? Church camp? None of the above. For 100 years, Camp Cleghorn has been a temperance camp!


Perhaps seeming an anachronism in 1997 - out of place in time - Camp Cleghorn is still a temperance camp, but very different from the camp of 1898 when it first opened.


The decision to purchase land in Central Wisconsin was made in 1897 by a Wisconsin lodge of the International Order of Good Templars headquartered in Mukwonago, in Waukesha County. They had held their assemblies on nearby Phantom Lake, but the temperance movement was steamrolling the county, and the Good Templars had outgrown their space.


Their purpose was to teach the cause of temperance, brotherhood, and peace. The international fraternal organization had been formed in 1851 in Utica, New York. It still has lodges and groups in the U.S. and 40 other countries.


It still, as in the pre-Civil War days of 1851, is open to everyone regardless of race, creed, color, age, or national origin. Its U.S. headquarters are in Minneapolis; another is in Cambridge, England, and a youth organization is headquartered in Oslo, Norway.


(Another and perhaps better-known temperance group is the Woman's Christian Temperance Union or WCTU. Founded in 1874, it, too, continues to exist today).


Captain John G. Cleghorn, a leader of the Good Templars in Wisconsin, found a suitable tract of land on Waupaca's Chain O' Lakes, "the Killarneys of America," and arranged for the purchase of land from R. P. Dake. The Dake family were prominent in the Waupaca area and were large land holders in Dayton township.


Via the Soo and Green Bay lines, the Waupaca site offered rail transportation to a wide population as well as the lake activities and the natural beauty of the area.


The tax rolls of Dayton Township show 10 acres of land on the south shore of Columbia Lake, owned by R. P. Dake and valued at $200, transferred to the Good Templars between 1897 and 1898. Shares were sold at $1 apiece to fund the effort, and a Business Men's Association of Waupaca also contributed $100 to the purchase.


Camp Cleghorn opened for their first assembly in the summer of 1898. What was it like at the turn of the century?


Many families came from Wisconsin Rapids, Stevens Point, and Appleton. Others came from around the state and from adjacent states.


If you lived in the Milwaukee area (or Oshkosh, Fond du Lac, Waukesha, etc.), you brought your family up on the Soo Line. You took the electric rail from Waupaca to King, and had all your gear and your family boarded onto a steamer owned by Captain Justin S. Wood, a camp founder, and piloted by his son George. The steamer brought you to the Camp Cleghorn dock on Columbia Lake.


If you were a lady, you wore ankle-length flouncy dresses with long sleeves and choker necklines, long, black stockings, high-button shoes, gloves and a hat while traveling - probably broad-brimmed and straw for summer. Your daughters wore pantaloons, petticoats, and had big ribbons in their hair. This was, after all, the Victorian era.


You probably rented a tent, perhaps with floors and several rooms, and set it up at an assigned tent site. You hauled water from a hand pump at one of the several different wells and used the privy nearest your campsite. You cooked your meals over a fire, ate in your dining tent (breakfast and dinner could be had in the camp dining hall), and lit your rooms by kerosene lamp. You hung mosquito netting and burned citronella candles to discourage the bugs.


You might have rented a canoe from Woods's boat livery at the camp, with a "lazy back" and cushions for mother and the children, and made day-trips around the lakes. You might have gone fishing in a rented rowboat. Your children might have gone out collecting frogs, tadpoles or turtles, butterflies or lightning bugs, mud puppies or clam shells.


The children used the pennies they earned from chores or good behavior to buy penny candies, ice cream cones, and soda pop at the camp store, which also sold matches, kerosene, firewood, first aid supplies and staple foods.


Of course you went swimming at the camp swimming pier, after a hard game of lawn tennis or a team game of lawn bowling or croquet. You wore a full-bodied, knee-length woolen swimming suit.


You attended classes in the assembly tent (later in the Lodge or Tabernacle), learning leadership skills, tolerance, brotherhood, and how to spread the cause of temperance. You attended nondenominational "devotions" and Bible classes.


In the evenings you attended plays, concerts and lectures provided by Chautauquas.


And you attended the annual meeting of the Grand Lodge.


You perhaps had singing lessons and joined the chorus led by Captain Cleghorn - later by faculty from the Lawrence Conservatory of Music. If you did, you took part in a concert presented on the closing Saturday night.


Gas lights were installed very early in the camp's existence. The dining hall was built. A Tabernacle replaced the huge assembly tent. A Grand Lodge was built, later becoming the "boys' dorm," and the dining hall was enlarged with bedrooms above, to be called the "girls dorm."


Lots were leased and private cottages were built, which were then rented out during the Assembly, providing another source of income for the camp.


Ice was cut out of the lakes in the winter and stored under sawdust in a pit beneath the ice shed. In the summer it was delivered to the dining hall kitchen and to campers and cottagers who had iceboxes. In the 1920s and '30s, a Mr. Webster drove a model T truck as an ice wagon.


Like a pied piper, he and his truck were followed by gaggles of children, who stopped, to snatch shards of ice for sucking as he used his long ice pick to cut pieces to fit the particular icebox.


His giant tongs, with which he carried the big blocks, were the stuff of nightmares - appealing, exciting, and at the same time terrifying to little children.


Young and old, singles and families came to Camp Cleghorn from all over the state and adjacent states for two-week assemblies. After more people had cars, families from nearby communities came for Sunday church services and stayed for Sunday dinner in the dining hall. They also came to hear the Chautauqua performances and lectures.


Prominent speakers were featured, such as noted orator and attorney William Jennings Bryan, Senator George Norris of Nebraska (who also owned a cottage on the Chain), Dr. C. M. B. Mason, an influential black leader, and Robert La Follette (leader of the Progressive Party, Senator, and then Governor of Wisconsin).


Temperance was a very popular cause. The movement had swept the country and the Western world. After all, by the 1830s, the average person in the U.S. was consuming the equivalent of seven gallons of pure alcohol per year.


That is equal to 70 gallons of beer, 39 gallons of wine, or 15-1/2 gallons of whiskey, per person, per year.


Alcohol was seen as a serious cause of poverty, violence, crime, health problems, and destruction of the family. Churches, women's groups, and political parties joined forces.


Many states and other nations passed laws prohibiting the production and sales of alcoholic beverages.


When the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, most Americans considered prohibition a worthy patriotic sacrifice, and Congress approved the 18th Amendment to the Constitution that year. The states ratified; the Volstead Act was adopted providing enforcement; and the amendment went into effect in 1920, prohibiting the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcoholic beverages.


Temperance work was not finished, however. Drinking wine, beer, and other alcoholic beverages had been a traditional part of the cultures of many immigrant groups, and a social, sophisticated activity in the urban middle- and upper-class groups.


Speakeasies quickly abounded; bootlegging and smuggling became widespread; physicians prescribed "medicinal" wine and brandy; violent gangs erupted; and with the Great Depression, prohibition was seen as costing jobs and tax revenues.


So Prohibition was repealed in 1933, and Camp Cleghorn continued.


Over time, all the original campsites were replaced by permanent cottage. Good Templar assemblies were replaced by leadership training schools for Methodist children, the Girl Scouts, Boys Brigade, Walther League Youth Camps, and others.


Tents also gave way to "trailers," and eventually to a permanent installation of privately owned "mobile homes," nestled in the woods alongside "Lost Lake" on camp grounds.


The Chautauquas faded out. But the camp organization continued as the Good Templar Training School, still operating today under its original charter.


Initially, people all over the country bought stock in the corporation, not for dividends, but to support the temperance cause. Eventually the bylaws were revised, the stock was recalled, and new (nondividend) stock was issued to those with leased lots and cottages owned on those leased lots.


Today as initially, directors are elected at an annual meeting of the stockholders - now the owners of the 42 cottages in Camp Cleghorn.


Cottage owners pay an annual assessment to the camp, much like condominium owners, to cover the costs of taxes and maintenance of roads, public lighting, water supply, sanitary sewers, garbage collection, recreation facilities and other common property, as well as erosion control at the shoreline. Additional income comes from the rental of sites for the mobile homes.


What is it like now? Who are the residents of Camp Cleghorn today, and why does it still claim to be a temperance camp?


Time has taken its toll on historic buildings in Camp Cleghorn. The old wooden buildings eventually became unsafe, and only the "Tabernacle" remains today, as the Chapel where nondenominational church services are still held throughout the summer.


Gone are the dining room, dorms, and Grand Lodge. No more can children buy penny candies, ice cream and soda pop at the camp store. The bath house at the swimming area is no more, and the boat livery and landing pier are gone. The ice shed and outhouses are a thing of the past.


In the old Tabernacle, electric lights have replaced gas lights; real church pews have replaced the split log benches, and asphalt paving has replaced the sand floor. But the stage that supported traveling dramatic troupes and Chautauqua lecturers such as William Jennings Bryan and Robert La Follette, still stands. The Camp Cleghorn Chapel, as it is now called, is shored up and spruced up and its Fellowship Hall has replaced the dining room/girls' dorm.


A modern tennis court, children's playground equipment, basketball practice court, and baseball field replace the old trailer court, and 18 permanently installed mobile homes are snug in the woods.


And the frogs still sing in "Lost Lake," which will never be developed, but maintained as important wetland.


The residents today included a number of descendants of the founders of Camp Cleghorn. Sue Clark and Nan Woodburn own the very first cottage built in Camp.


Now living in Madison and Minneapolis, respectively, they grew up as Bakers in Wisconsin Rapids. Their mother, Hazel, was a daughter of George Wood, son of Captain Justin S. Wood, a founder of the camp and owner of the first boat livery to operate steamers between King and the Camp pier and to lease canoes and rowboats to campers.


He built the first two cottages ("Killarney" and "Bide-a-Wee") and a fishing shack, later converted to a small cottage called "Kamp Kozy," and their children and grandchildren also enjoy the family cottage, making six generations to continuously occupy the first cottage in Camp Cleghorn.


Another founder, Albert Bonesteel, is traced by present owner Ted Newkumet through his mother, Florence McCune Newkumet, and his grandfather, Walter McCune, who was a cousin to Albert Bonesteel. Again, there are two more generations of this family who vacation at the family cottage.


Several Methodist ministers built cottages in Camp Cleghorn. One, Rev. Andrew Arthur Bennett, was an amateur carpenter. With money provided by his mother-in-law to buy materials, and with help from his young sons, he used all hand tools and how-to books to build his own cottage called "Hatetoquitit."


His mother, his sister, and his four children enjoyed Camp Cleghorn. His widow, Mabel, remarried another Methodist minister (Sid Lewis, originally from Weyauwega), and after retirement they lived in the Camp Cleghorn cottage year-round until his death. At the age of 89, Mabel sold the cottage to her granddaughter (this writer), who lives there now in retirement.


Mabel lived to the age of 99, and her great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren also enjoy the cottage - once again making six generations represented.


Another Methodist minister, a Rev. Root, built a cottage now owned by Sally Anderson, the Roots' daughter, Eleanor, known as "Toots," so loved Camp Cleghorn that she and her husband honeymooned there, frequently vacationed there in rented cottage, and now, in their 80s, go out of their way on travels from Oklahoma City to visit every year, just to see the place.


Sally (Sporleder) Anderson bought the Roots' cottage when she was an enterprising young woman in her early 20s. Her grandfather Sporleder owned the point at the end of Long Cove Road, and Sally was known for her 1927 Model T truck that she and her friends gallivanted around in.


Sally and her husband, Bill, made the cottage a permanent home, raised their three daughters there, and Sally lives there now in retirement.


She and Betty (Charlesworth) Prell and Mae (Farmer) Shabino were childhood and teenage pals in Camp Cleghorn, the Farmers living just across the channel to Dake Lake.


Of the Charlesworth kids, Betty married Norm Prell, who had the boat livery for many years, and they live in camp year-round; Ora Mae married a local plumber, Jack Thompson, and they had a cottage for many years, now owned by their daughter, Donna Wilson; Artie married Doris Whitman, who still has their cottage, and their daughter has the "old" Charlesworth cottage.


While not everyone in camp today has roots back to the early history of Camp Cleghorn, it certainly is a family affair. Different cottages are in some cases owned by brothers, sisters, parents, cousins of one family.


About two-thirds of the mobile homes are owned by people with family connections, some had initially tented, had trailers, or rented camp cottages, loved it, and bought when something became available. Or they visited friends in Camp Cleghorn, or learned about it from friends.


They learned that they couldn't buy the property - only the cottage on a tiny leased lot. They learned there were stringent restrictions on building because of the small lots, and that their front yards (towards the lake) were common property, not private. They learned that they couldn't even cut a tree without permission, and couldn't put in fences.


They learned of "quiet hours" and noise restrictions, and that you couldn't enjoy a cold beer or a highball outdoors, even on your own lot - at least if it looked like what it was - and that you couldn't take alcoholic beverages to the swimming area, the tennis court, or the all field - and "public" place.


They also learned that the lack of loud night parties and blaring hi-fis was a blessing, and that it was a safe and friendly place for families. They found a swimming pier where families look after each other's children, a ball field available for spontaneous games, and for croquet and volleyball.


The tennis court is maintained, and a well-equipped playground for small children is inviting. The private road through camp is one-way during the summer, to make it safer for walkers and bikers.


A sense of community abides, with potluck dinners to open and close the season. Weddings and anniversaries and lives are celebrated there: recently a memorial service was held for a cottager who had passed away, and residents provided a buffet lunch for over 100 people as well as loving support for the family.


Almost one-third of the cottages are now owned by retirees who call Camp Cleghorn home - except for a few snowbirds who winter in warmer climates. Their cottages have been insulated and heated, basements dug, some have been completely rebuilt, and winter or summer, their location makes visiting grandma and grandpa a very special privilege.


Is it still a temperance camp? Without question.


There are no more classes on temperance, but there is at least one temperance sermon each summer at the nondenominational Christian church services, and there is no public drinking in Camp Cleghorn. Also, from church collections a donation is given each year to CADAC, the Community Alcohol-Drug Abuse Center, Temperance, after all, means moderation.


The camp, incidentally, takes no income from church collections; those gifts pay for the costs of the services and the maintenance of the church; the remainder is donated. Other recipients have been Habitat for Humanity and the Waupaca Area Food Bank.


With rising land costs around the lake, it might occur to someone, sometime, that Camp Cleghorn might be bought out and developed at great profit. They would soon discover, however, that as a nonprofit corporation in the state of Wisconsin, any profit from the sale of Camp Cleghorn assets would go to another charity, not a penny to any of the "owners." Since they love it so much, and no one in Camp Cleghorn could profit, why would anyone in Camp Cleghorn ever want to dispose of the camp?


Chances are very good that the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of the present residents will be celebrating the bicentennial of Camp Cleghorn in the year 2097. That's worth a celebration!





A widespread myth about Camp Cleghorn and its residents is that they pay no taxes.


Camp Cleghorn pays property taxes (including school taxes) to Dayton Township.


Three areas are taxed differently:

The shoreline.

The "Lost Lake" - wetlands area, and

The developed land.


Only the church (the old Tabernacle) and the church fellowship hall are tax free.


Last year (1996) Camp Cleghorn paid $18,733 in property taxes on the land and, in addition, each individual cottage owner and mobile home owner paid personal property tax on their dwellings, with the same valuation assessment criteria as any other building for which property is levied.





How will Camp Cleghorn celebrate its hundred years of continuous operation? The banners have been up since the start of the summer season, and two major days of celebration are planned.


Independence Day weekend normally fills up Camp Cleghorn, both in the cottages and in the mobile homes, with extended families and guests. The traditional Grenadiers concert and "Pie and Ice Cream Social" will be held this Sunday, July 6. These are popular events that are open to the public.


The acclaimed Stevens Point German band will once again perform in the Camp Cleghorn Chapel at 2 p.m.; there is no admission fee. Following the concert, the "Social" will be held in the Fellowship Hall.


Fresh, homemade pies, dessert bars, ice cream, and beverages will be sold and served in the dining hall overlooking Columbia Lake.


At 4 p.m. a Camp Cleghorn Centennial parade of decorated float-boats will set out from the waterfront bearing centennial banners and following a boat carrying the Grenadiers. The parade will circle Columbia, Beasley and Long lakes, with occasional serenades from the Grenadiers.


July 27 has been named "Temperance Sunday" for 1997. Traditionally, one Sunday each year is set aside to focus on temperance, the cause for which Camp Cleghorn was founded. The preacher, who this year will be the Rev. Barry Shaw, is asked to focus his sermon on the topic of temperance, and each minister over the years has taken it from a different perspective.


In honor of this year's centennial celebration, Rev. Shaw promises something unique. In addition there will be special music including a re-creation of the temperance zeal typical of the 1890s and the early 1900s.


Following the "temperance" service in the chapel, Camp Cleghorn residents will share in a pig roast. People attending church services in Camp Cleghorn have been invited to make reservations if they wish to join the residents and stay for the picnic. Croquet games for adults and activities for children will be set up in the ball field.