Deleglise Founds Antigo

In the 1870s Deleglise was a timber cruiser who surveyed the forests in the Antigo Flats and saw an area that was flat, with rich soils sweeping for miles; perfect for farming.

“After due consideration of all the whys and wherefores, while in Appleton in the Summer of 1876, I mapped the present plan of Antigo and determined upon it as the point for the Upper Eau Claire Valley.” (Van Goethem, 1979)

From 1876 to 1880, Deleglise spent every daylight hour locating settlers, laying out roads, and planning his village. He brought his family to Antigo in March, 1878, where they found shelter in a small scooped roofed shack with neither door nor window. In May of the same year, Deleglise built the present log cabin with the help of several early settlers. Eight children were born to these pioneering parents, yet only five survived.

Francis Deleglise is unmistakingly the “father of Antigo”. He initially named his settlement Springbrook but later renamed it after “Nequi-Antigo-Seebah”, an Ojibwe Indian phrase meaning “river that flows by the balsam evergreens.

View of 5th Avenue

5th Avenue, Antigo's main east-west road, was originally a path between
Deleglise's cabin and Willard Ackley's cabin to the west.

His efforts soon turned from surveying to real estate, dividing up lots and donating sites to industrial development, churches, and business interests. He was able to convince saw mill owners to relocate to his new settlement and recruit newspaper publishers and retailers to the area. Arguably his greatest contribution was to convince the Milwaukee Lake Shore, and Western Railroad to come through Antigo in its northward expansion. The Chicago and Northwestern took over the Milwaukee, Lake Shore and Western and made Antigo its division headquarters, triggering the growth of Antigo. . By 1886 Antigo had grown from a population of a few dozen to 2,500; and by 1893 the population had reached 5,000. It was incorporated as a city in 1885. Deleglise was elected to the Assembly in 1892, served as Town Chairman, and was the first County Treasurer. His brilliant legislative career demonstrated his intelligence and concern for the welfare of the citizens whom he represented.