Marathon County was originally part of a Portage county, which encompassed a much larger area. Lincoln county split off from Marathon. See:
Oneida county was split off from Marathon Co. See:
So you're right. Athens still is in Marathon Co. Rhinelander has changed as the political boundaries changed. Marathon Co. Records should be in Wausau WI.
As for the Athens newspapers, it's been too many years since I lived in the area, and most of the local newspapers have folded. Perhaps the Wausau Daily Herald might have some information.
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