The ROSS FAMILY has taken pride in our hospitality as innkeepers at Teal Lake Lodge since 1921. We believe that the Ross family have been innkeepers longer than any other family in the United States over 5 generations with the sixth, Victoria Ross, gradually taking over management.
A hundred years earlier, in 1823, our ancestor, Major Ossian M. Ross opened the first inn in Illinois territory, in Lewiston, Ill. (House rules included "no more than 4 to a bed" and "gentlemen will please remove your spurs".) He then built Illinois' first hotel and multistoried building in Havanna, IL in 1827. Abraham Lincoln stayed with us during his time riding the legal circuit with the judge and other lawyers.
Historically they did share beds in the hotels (perhaps the origination of the phrase "in bed with the judge"?) As a matter of local history Lincoln's first trials as a lawyer took place in that hotel before any courthouse was built.
Ossian's descendants moved north, running hotels, until Walter Ross became a partner in Pike Lake Lodge near Fifield, WI about 1910.
Teal Lake Lodge was started as a branch fishing camp for Cornick's resort on Spider Lake. The first permenent structures on Teal Lake were built that winter of 1903-04. When Walter & Virginia Ross bought the Lodge in 1921 there were three log guest cabins (two remain), a main lodge (kitchen & dining room are both still part of today's main lodge), a guide shack, a barn and an ice house (all long gone). All plumbing was outside (except for a chamber pot "thunder mug" under each wash stand), water was hand pumped, heat was wood stoves (hand spliting logs was one employee's full time job). Refrigeration was with ice cut from Teal Lake.
Walter & Virginia ran the lodge and kept building thru the roaring 20"s, the great depression, and WW II. Their guest list was composed of families, and groups of fishermen or hunters. Stays were much longer then and life was certainly simpler and slower paced. Fishing remained the main outdoor activity with five to six guides on staff, living on the resort.
The Lodge was run strictly on the American Plan and all three meals a day (included in the basic rate), were served in the dining room. (Kitchens in the guest cabins came in the 60"s.) Virginia Ross ran the the kitchen, founding the Lodge's tradition of superb food, all prepared from scratch including all baking. Many of her recipes are still on our menu today. With a huge nine foot iron wood range that ate half a stove cord of wood a day, that kitchen was a delight in the winter and you could bake bread on a shelf on the wall in the summer.
Ice was still cut by hand into 150 to 200 lb. cakes (1500 of them) and stored in the big ice house insulated with lots of redwood sawdust. Every day one or more cakes were tipped out, washed clean, divided up into smaller pieces with an ice chisel, and delivered to each cabin by cocktail hour. (continued until the late 60's) Prohibition was both unknown and ignored in the North country.
When their son Nelson Ross and his wife Mary took over in 1948, Teal Lake Lodge continued the glorious tradition you find today. Of all aspects of hospitality and travel, we prefer the vacationer, and it is our family's pleasure to invite you to share with us the joys and beauties of our Northwoods retreat.
Tim and his wife Prudence are the third generation and run Teal Lake Lodge today. The fourth generation (now in their twenties and thirties) are often around to reassure you they will be ready to take over when the time comes. Victoria, our youngest daughter, is currently very active in the management of the Lodge.
Visit the "ROSS' TEAL LAKE LODGE COLLECTION AT THE WISCONSIN STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Also see the "ROSS' TEAL LAKE LODGE - OUR 1923 BROCHURE
Wisconsin Innkeepers of the Year, 1998, awarded to Tim and Prudence, renewed the family pride and determination to continue this glorious tradition.
TEAL LAKE TIDINGS
Nelson Ross (2nd generation of Ross at Teal Lake) started a wonderful tradition of writing a newsletter to guests about the "happenings at Teal Lake" back in the 1950's. It became so popular, that the tradition has continued for 60 years. The Ross family loves to share the stories and news of "up north" and it allows guests to dream of their next escape to the Teal Lake and keep tabs on us. Come read what we have thought to be "news worthy" over the years.
FRESH OFF THE PRESS: Teal Lake Tidings "Tickler" April 2009