Blaine is in Portage County, about ten miles south of Amherst on CH A. Blaine is at the inter section of CHs A and D. Back in the day this intersection was called “Blaine Corners.”
The widespread view is the town was named after James G. Blaine, (1830-1893). He was an American statesman and Republican politician who was a Pennsylvania native and ultimately represented Maine in the US Senate and House of Representatives.
The linkage between Blaine and Wisconsin is interesting. A summary about this will be at the close of this article.
Blaine, Wisconsin, in Portage County, was established in 1856. It was once an energetic community. The post office, called Blaine, operated for 25 years. There was a blacksmith shop, a general store, a creamery, a Methodist church, a Grange Hall and several homes.
Before I start, I want to say I found two terrific, detailed histories of Blaine. They are the ”Histories and Memories of the Town of Belmont,” two volumes, dated 1981 and 1984. Both were researched and written by Wayne A. Guyant, a highly respected historian of the area. It filled in a lot of blanks for me, some of which I share here.
There are some remnants of the town still standing.
This building once served as the town’s general store. It was built in 1901 and was operational by year’s end. The store sold all kinds of stuff. Living quarters were added upstairs in 1922. In the late 1920s a storage area was added for feeds, electrical supplies and some implement parts such as nuts, bolts, and machinery parts. The store once had two hand operated gasoline pumps. One kerosene pump is still there, left of the front door. Later in the timeline this general store served as a grocery store, and later would become a restaurant serving Friday fish fry and Sunday dinner.
This is the Old Methodist Church, once known as the Blaine Community Methodist Church. It was built in 1875. Services stopped in 1961. It was deeded to the East Wisconsin Conference Board of Trustees of the Methodist Church. It was intended to be used by people in the Blaine community for worship services, funerals etc. It is very well kept.
This is the home and barn of the Turner Homestead, John Turner bought it in 1863. It has been in the family since then. I talked about the town’s history with a marvelous lady, a Turner I expect, who lives in the house.
This building was across CH D from the Turner Homestead. a family is living in it . I do not know when it was built or its original purpose.
I left Blaine heading north on CH A to Amherst. I spotted this old decaying building down the road a bit, on the right, and scouted it out.
I have learned this building served as a blacksmith shop in the day. It made and sold Bob-Sleighs and did welding.
This is Blaine Hall, on the corner of CH A and Pickerel Lake Dr. I think it once served as the town hall, and have read it still does but only for elections. It was built in 1902 and was used for a wide range of community functions until WWII.
The matter of the relationship between the Town of Blaine, WI and James G. Blaine.
This is a curious relationship.
Blaine was from Pennsylvania and settled in Maine. He was quite the political figure, serving as Speaker of the House of Representatives , US Senator, and Secretary of State. He unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination as president in 1876 and 1880. He won his party’s nomination in 1884 and ran against Grover Cleveland, but lost by a narrow electoral margin.
At the time, many saw the US divided between Eastern and Western states. Blaine lost the election because New York went for Grover Cleveland.
many felt Blaine was the only candidate who could carry the western states, and the “only man that can carry Wisconsin.” Part of his popularity was due to his close association with agriculture.
Blaine was a popular figure in Wisconsin. Gail Hamilton wrote the “Biography of James G. Blaine” published in 1895. In a letter to his mother in November 1880, Blaine’s son, Walker, traveled from St. Paul, Minnesota to Hudson, Wisconsin and then on to River Falls and Eau Claire speaking to large crowds promoting his father’s candidacy as president. Walker wrote:
“They are all great admirers of Father in this part of Wisconsin, and everybody desired to send regards to him … I was pleased with my reception in Wisconsin … mostly indicative of the tremendous strength that father evidently has in the real hearts of the people in the Northwest.”
It is worth mentioning that aside from the Indians who first settled in this region, a large number of Anglo-Saxons from the New England states, Canada, the Ohio Valley and British Isles settled here as well, perhaps in part explaining the popularity of Mr. Blaine, a New Englander from Maine.