The bait shop and the Fredrickson home – A Historian’s Dream
Edith and Hazel Fredrickson were two elderly sisters whom sat in their bait shop on the shore of Star Lake for over 70 years selling worms and minnows. These ladies were much celebrated as, year after year, hundreds upon hundreds of visitors would stop by to buy bait, chat or listen to them tell stories of what Star Lake used to be --- in the old days. “The Girls” as they were called, lived their entire lives, of just under 100 years, in Star Lake. They saw Star Lake go from a booming lumber Milltown and largest town in Vilas County of the early 1900’s, to ghost town when the Milltown moved out and eventually to the remote fishing village that it remains today.
The sisters were special. They were good, kind ladies whom lived very simple lives and never wanted for more. Over the years, the sisters became somewhat of a legend and were remarkably featured in George Vukelich's Rustic Road book, subsequent PBS television series plus innumerable times in the Milwaukee Journal. Even today, some 10 years after the last sister passed away, we have hundreds of visitors each year stop by the bait shop and newly restored one-room schoolhouse in Star Lake to reminisce about the girls and Star Lake’s history. When the last sister passed away, William Hintz, owner of the North Star Lodge and Treasurer of Friends of Star Lake, purchased the Fredrickson bait shop and home, the last remaining company house, which was full of antiques collected throughout the sisters lives. At the time he purchased them, he had high hopes of being able to restore these buildings and share them with the community at large. The Fredrickson home is full of amazing treasures as "The Girls" kept and documented everything. Mr. Hintz has cases of photographs, diaries, journals, love letters,schoolbooks,their father's journals from his employment with the railroad, antiques and much, much more.
The items in the Fredrickson house are true treasures and a historian’s dream. At some point in the near future, the Friends of Star Lake plans to contact state and university historians to see if they might be interested in using these historic items in their research. Likewise, the Smithsonian Institution indicated that they would like copies of the historic photographs.
Yes, Star Lake is still stuck in time and that’s the way we like it. Sadly, most northwoods communities have been overly developed to the point that they resemble suburbia more than the quaint northwoods communities they used to be and that made the area so popular. Star Lake is fortunate, although we no longer have the mill, company houses or Fredrickson Bait Shop, we have been fortunate to carve out and preserve a bit of the northwoods - the way it used to be. We hope, that through the "Friends of Star Lake" that we will be able to preserve the area for generations to come.
The bait shop will not be relocated to the Old Milltown Depot- but run by Friends of Star Lake volunteers and registered with appropriate federal and state historical registers. It will be open to the public free of charge and open May – October of each year.