Family had Canadian land lease on Nipogon River for trapping and hunting which provided moose meat for winter
Billy’s great-uncle, Elmer Caskey, was oldest of Sylvester’s children and the first non-Indian born at the lake. At age six months he was officially adopted into the Lac Vieux Desert Chippewa Indian Tribe. This honor was bestowed mainly in recognition of his father, an intimate friend of the Indians who lived in the village near Indian Bay.
Beginning as a boy, Elmer trapped during the winter months, selling the pelts of beaver, mink, skunk and muskrat.
From spring through fall he offered guide services to fishermen and hunters, a vocation he continued through most of his life. A number of his clients were celebrated, such as President Eisenhower and his brother Milton. Others included the notorious Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. These highly intelligent teenagers from wealthy Chicago families were convicted in the following year, 1924, for the “joy killing” of young Bobby Franks. Elmer, a teenager then too, had brought the young fishermen back to shore early because of their incessant arguing with each other. Elmer also guided their famed attorney, Clarence Darrow, better known for his defense in the Scopes trial.
With the onset of depression in the 1930s, tourism in northern Wisconsin slowed and the guiding business suffered severely. On occasion, Elmer said they were forced to make a meal of red squirrels.
Resort guests with their fish
Another of Billy’s great uncles, John, joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) after high school – fighting forest fires, erecting lookout towers and planting trees. For recreation, he played on the camp basketball team, which competed against other camp and area teams. At the end of the season in April 1934, the team planned a fish fry. No fish fry is complete without a beer, so after “passing the hat,” five of the men went to Little Bohemia, a resort near Manitowish Waters, to purchase the beer. Johnny and the others stayed behind to clean up camp. When the 5 men didn’t return, the other team members thought their friends were having a night out with the beer money. The next day they learned four of the five had been killed in a shootout between the FBI and members of the John Dillinger gang. It was later determined that the FBI operatives had sprayed the CCC men’s car with twenty-one machine gun bullets, thinking they were gangsters attempting to escape a closing trap.