New sign marks ghost town
Memories of Cobbtown
By James Card
Near the intersection of Cobbtown Road and Foley Road is a new wooden sign that marks what used to be a thriving rural community.
Larry Durrant, who lives across the road from the sign, built it out of some scrap wood, two treated posts and bottle caps provided by Mark’s Sheridan Country Club. Durrant owns the land where the sign is posted.
“I got this dream idea,” said Durrant. “We’ve got to have a Cobbtown sign again. At one time we had three signs but they disappeared over the years. Some were nailed to trees and storms got them or were knocked down by county workers trimming back trees along the road. On one of them we had ‘Population: 38’, because that’s all there was living here for a long time.”
The Cobbtown area in the town of Farmington was settled before the Civil War. The area was originally called Sheridan Mills and later, Sherman, according the book, “Ghost Towns of Waupaca County,”
Cobbtown got its name from a mill on the Waupaca River that made cornmeal that was used as a breakfast cereal: “The corn cobs were piled up like haystacks, right up to the eaves. Some were used to fill in around the mill and fill potholes in the road. Because of the big pile of cobs, the people said the area should be called ‘Cobbtown’ instead of Sherman.”
Published by the Waupaca Historical Society, the book notes that Cobbtown once had a dam (chunk of it still exists), a sawmill, a tin shop, a grist mill, a millinery, post office, grocery store, a cheese factory, a blacksmith shop, and a schoolhouse that doubled as a church.
All of the buildings are gone except for a garage that is privately owned.
Despite the ghost town status, this crossroads area still has a lot of activity. The bridge over the Waupaca River is a favorite put-in/take-out spot for kayakers and it also doubles as an access point for trout anglers.
For hikers, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail runs through Cobbtown. Just up the road from there is the Waupaca River State Fishery Area that is open to hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.