The Town of Keystone founded in 1918, is in Bayfield County, Wisconsin. The town expands 36.1 square miles, 35.8 of which are land, and the remaining 0.27 water. The Town of Keystone was once part of the Town of Pilsen. On December 3, 1918 a judge’s ruling split Pilsen, creating Keystone – so named because it is in the “middle” of the county. The town hall building was once the Dauby School.
The town hall was located on County Hwy F and Town Hall Rd, which is now Klobucher Rd. In the 1940’s the State of Wisconsin deemed there were too many roads in the state of Wisconsin called “Town Hall Road”. It was then decided the road would be called Klobucher Road after John Klobucher who had lived on the land for the longest amount of time – he had also served for many years on the town board. Today the population has grown to nearly 400.
As it still is today, much of the land in the Town of Keystone is farmland and has been used for pasturing cattle and harvesting crops. Over the years we have seen many things evolve, including the way the crops are harvested and the number of animals that graze. Back when the township was first founded, many of the livestock were dairy animals. Located just a few miles from the Town Hall is Benoit, named after Antoine Benoit, a French settler. Benoit is divided by County Hwy F. North side of the road belongs to the Keystone Township and the south side to the Mason Township. Benoit evolved and developed as the township agricultural and dairy industry grew. In the beginning because there was a rail road siding there the town was called Thirty Mile Siding; other names included Peckville, Peck, and Benoitville.
Back in the day, local farmers would finish their chores and load their filled milk cans into their vehicles, if they had one, and bring it to the Benoit Coop Creamery. Here the milk would be made into butter and dried milk. In later years and for a short period of time they manufactured the base for ice cream.
The farmers would bring their milk to town then grab groceries and supplies they needed. The train tracks that run through Benoit were one of the main sources of delivery. When the coop was in need of supplies, the train would drop them off. Farmers also were able to get supplies from the NFO – here they could also bring their cattle to be weighed or picked up for slaughter. To this day the NFO is still used by the 4-H youth and local farmers.
The Massey Harris implement dealer was owned by the Dymesich family (now the Cheese Haus). Back in the thirties there was a small building east of the implement shop that eventually evolved into the Avalon Bar restaurant and dance hall. This too was owned by the Dymesich family and has been the local gathering place for weddings, funerals and general local news and gossip exchange. School Christmas plays were held in the dance hall before the 1952 addition was added to the Benoit School. Today on Friday nights they serve a traditional fish fry. Benoit Cheese has been around since 1973 and is a tourist destination and cheese lover’s paradise. They have a little bit of everything to offer and are the perfect stop for a quick snack.
By 1924 the Benoit School was built which became part of the Ondossagon School District. In 1952 the community added a gym, kitchen and dining room. We now know the school as the Benoit Community Center where many dinners and gatherings are hosted. This tradition started back in 1916 at St. Peter Church, serving many of the early Croatian and Slovak immigrants. The Township has two churches - St. Peters and St. Florian. It also, has four cemeteries (one at St. Peters Church, one at St Florian, one on Kalgren Road and one in Benoit).
The other gathering spot in the township is Ino. At one time it was called the Ino Station given the fact the trains would stop just north of Ino to drop off supplies and passengers. The Ino Bar is another great community gathering spot for locals and travelers to share news, swap hunting stories and solve the world’s most pressing problems. Ino is the jumping off point to the heart of the Chegumegon National forest and the Tri- county corridor with direct access to over 900 miles of ATV/UTV and snowmobile trails. North and East of Ino are three wonderful bicycle loops of 40, 52, and 70 miles leading bicycle traveler into and around 3 different townships (Pilsen, Barksdale, and Washburn). For the more adventurous rider south of Ino is the Delta Cluster of the Chegumegon Area Mountain Bicycle Association (CAMA) trails and the Mt. Ashwabay cluster trail to the north.
A big thanks to local residents Haley Klobucher, George Koval, and Pat Klobucher who helped gather and recall the above stories and events. If other residents have more information to share we welcome their input including any historic pictures.