Richard J Harney.

History of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest online

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who, at the expiration of six months, resigned
in favor of H. C. Janes, and he, in turn, gave
place to H. C. Finch in 1848, when the office
was removed to the store of J. R. and H. L.
Kimberly, the latter and Earl P. Finch (now
residing at Oshkosh, but at that time a clerk
in the store), served as deputies. The next
office, and the only one within the present lim-
its of the town, was established at Snell's, a
station on the Northwestern Railroad, May 4,
1876, and called Snell's Station. David Reed
was appointed postmaster.




The track of the Chicago & NDrthwestern
Railroad was laid through the town in i860,
and passing through the hardwood belt in the
eastern portion of the town, afforded an excel-
lent market for wood.

Soon after the completion of the road, an
establishment for the manufacture of barrel
stock was erected, and a side-track laid for con-
venience of shipping.

After running for a year or two, this manu-
facturing establishment was blown up, and so
far destroyed that no attempt was made to
rebuild, but the place became a railroad sta-
tion, situated on the northwest quarter of the
northeast quarter of Section Eight.

A comparative statement of population,
schools and valuation, would be oflittle impor-
tance here, in consequence of the frequent
changes of boundaries prior to 1862.

The present town officers are, Geo. Hailow,
chairman; George ZemlockandA. W. Collins,
supervisors; C. A. Tuller, clerk; G. P. Vin-
ing, assessor; Frank Heigel, treasurer;
G. H. Mansur, David Doyle and David W.
Thomas, justices.



The Early History of Menasha — Purchase of Site — Com-
mencement of Improvemen Is — First House Built — First
School, and First Religious Services — First Birth —
Rivalry between Menasha and Neenah for the Location of
the State Canal — Menasha Secures the Prize — Store
Opened — Post Office Established — Dam Completed —
First Saw-mill in Operation — First (irist Mill — More
Manufactories Established — Steamboat Built — Plank
Road and Bridge Constructed — Government Land Office
Established at Menasha — The Village Incorporated —
Distinguished Residents — Captain McKinnon's Blooded
Stock — Increased Transportation Facilities — Completion of

iHE soil upon which the City of Menasha
now stands, was first offered for sale
by the United States, August 31, 1835,
and was bid off at prices ranging from
five to ten dollars per acre, evincing an
unusual confidence in the future import-
ance of this locality.

The Hon. James Duane Doty, long
acquainted with this section, became the
owner of a large portion of the present site.

By an act approved February 8th, 1847, the
Legislature granted authority for the construc-

tion of a dam across each channel of the Fox
River from the Island to the mainland. This
authority was obtained through the efforts of
Gov. Doty, who had long foreseen the import-
tance and value of this immense water power,
associating with himself Harvey Jones and
Harrison Reed, who had become owners of
the property on the south side, and Curtis
Reed who was particularly identified with Doty
on the north side. Disagreements soon
sprang up between the two interests, in
consequence of which Doty and Reed, through
Mr. Reed, procured a new charter, March 10,
1848, and the repeal of the old charter, so far
as it related to the dam on the north side.


In June 1848, Mr. Reed came here for the
purpose of improving the water power, and
locating a village thereon. He at once com-
menced the erection of a log house, near the
head of the present canal, which when com-
pleted was occupied by Clark Knight as a
tavern and boarding house. About this time
the place was named by the wife of Governor
Doty, "Menasha," signifying " an island.
At this time that portion of the present town,
lying north and east of the lake and river,
was an unbroken wilderness, untouched by the
hand of man, except that two months prev-
iously Mr. Cornelius Northrup had erected
a slab house, by placing two vertical courses
of slabs with their flat sides together, and was
occupying it. This stood in the center of
what is now known as Milwaukee street, at
the southwest corner of the southeast quarter
of the northeast quarter of section fifteen,
within Reed's addition to the city of Menasha.
The same year Mr. Reed put up a log building
which he occupied-as a store, and commenced
the construction of the present dam.

Before the close of the year, Philo Hine,
George Stickles, Thomas and William Brother-
hood, Henry C. Tate, I. M. Naricong, Wil-
liam Geer, J. H. Trude, Uriah Clinton, Henry
Alden, John B. Lajest and Jeremiah Hunt,
had settled here. The latter, and some of the
others had brought their families. Elbridge
Smith also came in October, and immediately
commenced the erection of the first frame
building, situated on Canal Street, and which
was so far completed at Christmas, that a
dance was held within its walls.

The first frame building was also the first
devoted to the practice of the legal profession;
in it was ,also, taught the first school within




the present limits of the town. This was a
private school, taught by Miss Hettie Frost,
the pupils, "as in duty bound," each bringing
their mite to the extent of one shilling per
week as tuition fee. This building has a long
unwritten historical record of the early day
which we are compelled to omit for want of

The first divine services was conducted during
the fall, in the log tavern, by Rev. O. P.
Clinton, the bar and sitting room being
thrown open for the occasion. During the
services several persons came into the bar
room for spiritual consolation of a different
order; such as they had heretofore sought
every day in the week, and probably had
never been so disappointed. Mr. Clinton
noticing their an.xiety, gave them a lesson of
patience and self-denial, by extending his
discourse to an unusual length.

A Lyceum was organized during the winter,
at what has ever since been known as the
Menasha House, commenced in the fall of
1848, by H. C. Tate, occupied during the
winter and completed in the spring of 1849,
the first frame hotel in the place. At this first
meeting of the Lyceum, Jeremiah Hunt was
elected President. This, so far as now known,
was the initial point of Jeremiah's political

During the fall of 1848, the Rev. O. P.
Clinton moved to his present residence on the


In 1849, the census of Menasha was increased
by the arrival of A. D. Page, S. L. Hart, Ed
O'Connell, Wm. Hughes, Henry Axtel, Abel
Keyes, L. A. Donaldson, Lyman Fargo, Jos.
W. Thombs, J A. Sanford, W. P. Rounds,
and Ed. Decker. This year the first mill was
commenced, a sawmill on the north side of the
dam, built by Cornelius Northrop and Harri-
son Reed, completed 1850.

The village having been surveyed and
platted, the first plat recorded was on the 28th
day of May, 1849, Charles Doty, proprietor.

The hotel now standing on the north side of
the public square, was commenced this year
by Ed. Decker and Henry Axtel, completed
the ne.Kt year, and called the Decker House.


The first birth within the little settlement
was that of Lydia M. Hunt, a daughter of
Jeremiah Hunt, February 22, 1849.

The following July, a family by the name of
McCoUum, was increased in numbers by the
birth of a daugher, who was named Menasha.

The first death also occurred in the same fam-
ily, in May, 1849, that of Fannie McCollum.


During this year occurred the memorable
strife between the proprietors of the north and
south sides for the location ol the State canal,
which was to connect the navigable waters of
Lake Winnebago and Buttes des Morts. Har-
vey Jones, as one of the proprietors of Nee-
nah, offering to complete the work without
expense to the State in consideration of its
location on that side, while Curtis Reed, in
behalf of the proprietors of the Menasha inter-
est, made the same offer with the further
inducement of $5,000 to be expended in
repairs of canal, locks and dams, as it became

During the year Mr. Reed's offer was
accepted, and the work commenced. It has
been stated as a matter of "history and inter-
est, fully appreciated by early settlers, that
Mr. Reed not only failed to pay the $5,000,
but by some sharp management, afterward
received pay for the work done, all of which
had been offered as a free gift. "

This is unqualifiedly false, as the records
fully show. In i 853, the entire improvement
was turned over by the State to a company, as
is well known. At the request of the company,
Mr. Reed's contract was relinquished. Mr.
Reed had originally contracted with the State
to construct a canal sixty feet wide on the bot-
tom, and a lock thirty five feet wide by one
hundred and thirty feet in length. At a later
date the State enlarged the plan of the canal to
one hundred feet width on the bottom, and
the lock to one hundred and sixty feet in length.
Much of this additional excavation had been
completed by Mr. Reed, which was to be
deducted from the $5,000, or paid for. And
now comes the Improvement Company to set-
tle with Mr. Reed, in place of the State. In
lieu of the balance of the labor and the $5 ,000,
Mr. Reed and his associates conveyed the right
of way for the canal, which had before only
been conveyed by implication, and transferred
the dam, reserving the right to all surplus
water for hydraulic purposes which thqy had
never parted with, and the right to which had
never been disputed by the State or the com-


John McCune engaged in trade this sea-
son, 1849, with a stock of general merchandise.




In the fall of 1849, a post-office was estab-
lished, and James R. Lush appointed post-
master. The office was carried in Jimmy's
hat, and it wasn't a large hat, either.

In the winter of 1849-50, was instituted the
first public school, taught by Mrs. Henry

In 1850. the dam was completed, and the
Reed and Northrop mill placed in successful

H. A. Burts, having, on the first of Febru-
ary, removed from Neenah to his present resi-
dence, soon interested himself with H. Reed,
built an addition to the mill, and starting on
foot for Milwaukee, one hundred miles, con-
tracted for machinery for a grist-mill, and
returned as he went (on foot), the only method
of travel at the time, making the journey in
one week. This was the first grist-mill built

Lyman Fargo and J. W. Thombs com-
menced the erection of a foundry and machine
shop this year.

The Slocum saw-mill was completed within
the year, and Potter and Duchman commenced
their saw-mill, which was completed the next
season ;this, in 1877, gave place to the paper-
mill at the south end of the dam. The old pio-
neer saw-mill of Reed & Northrop, and grist-
mill of Reed & Burts, have long since passed
away, and on the same ground stands the com-
modious three-story flouring mill of A. Symes,
containing eight runs of stones, while the
Slocum mill having fulfilled its mission, is only
known among the things that were, the site
being occupied by the planing-mill of Rohrer
& Co.


In the spring of 1850, S. S. Roby made his
advent, following mercantile pursuits almost
continuously to the present time.

Soon after the organization of the town, Mr.
Roby was elected its treasurer, a position
which he filled acceptably until honors became
a burden.

A large dredge-boat built here during the
past spring and winter was put in commission
early in the season by the State, and engaged
in dredging the Upper Fox River.

June 25, of this year, the Hon. John
Potter became a resident and hung out his
shingle as attorney and counselor, where he
resided until the time of his death, which
occurred in January, 1879. Honors were
lavishly bestowed upon him, having filled the
office of Justice of the Peace continuously
since 1851 with the exception of one term.

that of village clerk many years, supervisor
of the town, chairman of the Town Board of
Supervisors andby virtue of which he became a
member of the County Board. He was also
twice elected Member of Assembly, from the
Second District of Winnebago County.

Charles Roeser opened a grocery store this
this year on Tayco Street, near the canal.

The steamboat John Mitchel was built here
this year, by Captain James Harris, and was
the first steamboat to make the passage of the
Upper Fox River to Fort Winnebago, which
she accomplished in the spring of 1851-

Ira C. Eldridge also, located here and at
once, with his sons, established the first furni-
ture factory, and after a long and laborious
life, has at last yielded to nature's call, even
while these lines are being penned.

Late in the fall, E. D. Smith and J. B.
Doane opened a general store a short distance
West of Tayco Street, fronting on the street
running along the north bank of the canal.

A pail and tub factory commenced the past
winter, was put in operation by Beckwith,
Sanford and IBillings, and, connected with this
enterprise, we find a relic which we quote here

Menasha, June 19, 1850.

For value on demand, we jointly and severally promise to
pay Marsena Temple, or bearer, one hundred and fifty dollars,
to be paid in one year from date, with interest aX.fif(y per cent.
per annum, until paid. [Signed] Nathan Beckwith.
Joseph A. Sanford.
C. W. Billings.

And this was secured by a mortgage on the
pail factory property, and the residence of one
of the signers.

Joseph Keyes, with his son Abel, erected a
saw-mill, now owned and occupied by Web-
ster & Lawson, after changing hands many

Carlton and Cleveland B. Bachelder located
here, and commenced the construction of a
kiln for burning potter's ware, which they put
in full blast in 1850, obtaining clay from Ohio.

In March 1850, George Cameron, now
residing in Oshkosh, and L. M. Taylor,
engaged in some kind of mercantile enterprise,
whether dry goods, groceries or hardware, we
are not informed, but probably as was usual
in those days, a general stock.

William Smith, better known as " Billy
Smith," came here May ist, and opened a
large stock of clothing, the first establishment
of that kind. In 1852, he had two very good
frame buildings, one of which he occupied as
a store, when some drunken men in an adjoin-
ing building carelessly set it on fire, and Smith's
worldly effects were all involved in the general




destruction. He was the second German
that settled here, Joseph Dudler having pre-
ceded him bj' about two weeks. He has
always been active in politics, though never
seeking honors for himself.

And still another: Melancthon Burroughs,
after officiating in the Winnebago Hotel at
Neenah one year, and getting out the frame
for a warehouse in the meantime, took up his
residence here, in the Decker House, June
15, 1850, and with that frame erected the first
warehouse in Menasha. It was burned in the
summer of 1852.

Adler & St. John, erected the house soon
after purchased by Mr. Burroughs, and by
him long occupied as a hotel, and to this
time as a residence.

Water communication was up to this time the
only connection with the outside world during
the summer, with the exception of an occa-
sional fording of the two channels near the
upper end of Doty Island, and even this at
times had a very strong resemblance to water
communication. A skiff was run around the
foot of the Island, serving as a ferry between
Menasha and Neenah. This was conducted
by Edward Lull, who has since passed through
successive promotions until he is now a cap-
tain in the United States Navy. This ferry
was continued through the season of 185 1.

In 1 85 I, Thomas Price built a cabinet fac-
tory, about three hundred feet west of the
lower bridge, leading to the Island.

An attempt was made in the spring to con-
struct a bridge across the Neenah channel, just
above Governor Doty's residence. Cribs were
placed in position and stringers laid, but the
ice soon demolished the whole fabric.

The same year, Thomas Armstrong and
George Stickles erected a saw mill, long since
passed away. The site is now occupied by a
turning shop.

The steamer Menasha was built here during
the past winter and spring, by Doty, the
Reeds and others, for the e.xpress benefit of
this locality. The Peytona, running, the sea-
son previous, to Neenah, with an occasional
trip to Menasha, as suited the captain; but the
building of the Menasha soon brought about a
different state of things, the Peytona run-
ning regularly to both places, and this
again created a competition in the Menasha
trade, in consequence of which. Reed and
James Doty constructed a dock and warehouse
during the fall.

History can never do justice to these old
relics of by-gone days. Where, now, are
O'Connell, Decker, Roby, H. Smith, E. Smith,
and others, of that day?

During this season the mails were trans-
ported between Menasha and Appleton by
sailboat, under the command of Gabe Capron,
and this was the only means of conveyance for

. From and after about August i st, the steamer
Van Ness Barlow was put in commission, and
run the balance of the season between
Menasha and Grand Chute, in connection with
the steamer Menasha; the distance from Grand
Chute to Kaukauna, eleven miles, was made by
stage, and from thence to Green Bay by

The Fargo flouring mill, on the bank of
Lake Buttes des Morts, was commenced this
year by Lyman Fargo and J. W. Thombs.
This mill was completed in 1853, but was not
supplied with water until 1854, when it was
run until 1865 or 1866, and abandoned.

In 1852, Elisha D. Smith purchased the pail
factory, before mentioned, built around it and
over it, supplied new machinery and added
largely to its capacity.


Captain L. B. McKinnon, of the Royal
English Navy, came here this year, and pur-
chased largely of Menasha property, also, a
farm, near Clifton, at the north end of Lake
Winnebago, and made arrangements for build-
ing a plank-road to Appleton, and furnished
the means with which it was completed this

A bridge was also constructed across the
Menasha channel, from Tayco Street to the
Island, the Neenah people having built across
their channel, on the present site, the year

A road had also been cut through the woods,
across the Island, in 1851.


October, 1852, the United States Land
Office was removed from Green Bay to this
place. Alex. Spaulding was the register, and
Edgar Conklin, the receiver of the office, at
this time.

An act of the Legislature, dated July 5,
1853, incorporated the Village of Menasha,
dividing it into two wards.

The first election for village officers was held
the same month, of which no record is found,
but, on the twenty-fifth of the month, the first
meeting of the trustees was held, at which we
find officiating: Curtis Reed, president; Leon-
ard Williams, Isaac Hough and Urial Clinton,
trustees of the First Ward; Lyman Fargo, Wal-
ter Cranston and Carlton Bachelder, trustees
of the Second Ward. At this meeting J. W,
Thombs was elected clerk.




Being too late in the season for the collec-
tion of taxes by village authority, there seems
to have been no assessors or treasurer elected
this year.

The succeeding officers were as follows:

7<?5/ — Curtis Reed, president; John Potter,
Jr., clerk; J. L. Bishop, treasurer; Edward
Freeman, S. S. Roby, J. Hough, trustees
First Ward; H. A. Burts, R. Hampson, N.
Clinton, trustees Second Ward.

iS^j — Josesph Turner, president; John
Potter, Jr., clerk; J. L. Bishop, treasurer;
Curtis Reed, J. Hough, Chas. Doty, trustees
First Ward; Cleveland Bachelder, H. A. Burts,
G. W. Stickles, trustees Second Ward.

18^6 — Joseph Turner, president; Elbridge
Smith, clerk; C. Bachelder, treasurer; Isaac
Hough, Chas. Doty, O. J. Hall, trustees First
Ward; H. A. Burts, Wm. Fuss, Calvin Bach-
elder, trustees Second Ward.

iS^y — Joseph Turner, president; Henry
Decker, clerk; G. W. Fay, treasurer; O. J.
Hall, G. H. Clark, W. R. Ellis, trustees First
Ward; H. Hewitt, W. F. Bauer, Abel Keyes,
trustees Second Ward.

18^8 — Curtis Reed, president; Geo. B.
Goodwin, clerk; G. W. Fay, treasurer; E.

D. Smith, Elbridge Smith, John H. Fuss,
trustees First Ward, Able Keyes, Michael
Hogan, Pat O'Malley, trustees Second Ward.

i8jp — John A. Bryan, president, Geo. B.
Goodwin, clerk; G. W. Fay, treasurer; S. M.
Bronson, E. Ward, John H. F"uss, trustees
First Ward; Abel Keyes, F. Loscher, B. G.
Mathewson, trustees Second Ward.

i860 — Jobn A. Bryan, president; A. N.
Lincoln, clerk; G. W. Fay, treasurer; E. D.
Smith, John Potter, Jr., Ignatz Trilling, trus-
tees First Ward; Abel Keyes, F. Loscher,
Chas. Colborne, trustees Second Ward.

1861 — Charles Doty, president; Charles
Gercher, clerk; G. W P"ay, treasurer; E. D.
Smith, Curtis Reed, I. W. Fisher, trustees
First Ward; M. Hogan, Abel Keyes, Phillip
Sensenbrenner, trustees Second Ward.

1862 — Charles Doty, president; G. H.
Clark, clerk; H. B. Eldridge, treasurer; E. D.
Smith, O. J.. Hall, Julius Fieweger, trustees
First Ward; Thomas Mitchell, P. V. Lawson,
A. Nuesbecker, trustees Second Ward.

186 J — E. D. Smith, president; G. H. Clark,
clerk; S. S. Roby, treasurer; R. M. Scott,

E. Ward, Ignatz Trilling, trustees First Ward;
P. V. Lawson, T. Mitchell, Wm. Rabb, trus-
tees Second Ward.

186^ — E. D. Smith, president; Elbridge
Smith, clerk; H. B. Eldridge, treasurer; R. M.
Scott, I. W. Fisher, W. N. Webster, trustees

First Ward; J. A. Sanford, T.Mitchell, P.
Sensenbrenner, trustees Second Ward.

i86j — Curtis Reed, president; Jos. Turner,
clerk, H. B. Eldridge, treasurer; Wm. Fuss,
Norman Thatcher, I. W. Fisher, trustees First
Ward; T. Mitchell, H. A. Burts, P. Sensen-
brenner, trustees Second Ward.

1866 — Curtis Reed, president; L. P. Boyd,
clerk; Chas. May, treasurer. No record of
election and none of any action, except by
John FitzGibbon, trustee First Ward; P. Sen-
senbrenner, trustee Second Ward.

i86j — No record of election, but same
officers continued to act.

1868 — John Potter, Jr., president; L. P.
Boyd, clerk, F. Schuellen, trustee First
Ward; John FitzGibbon, trustee Second

i86g — No record of election. Clerk at
each meeting merely announcing "full board
present. "

i8yo — A. E. Bates, president; D. J. Ryan,
clerk; John Potter, Jr., trustee First Ward;
Henry Trilling, trustee Second Ward.

i8ji — Fred Schuellen, president; D. J. Ryan,
clerk; A. D. Page, trustee First Ward; P.
Fogherty, trustee Second Ward.

i8j2 — Fred Schuellen, president; E. G.Bell,
clerk; A. E. Bates, trustee First Ward; Pat
McFadden, trustee Second Ward.

187J — O. J. Hall, president; G. N. Sanford,
clerk; H. Merz, trustee First Ward; Pat
McFadden, trustee Second Ward.

In 1853, the first bridge across Lake Buttes
des Morts was built, giving direct communica-
tion with the farming country to the west.

This bridge was replaced by a float bridge
with draw, in 1856, and in 1861, a pile bridge
was constructed, which is still standing, but
for the past two or three years has been


G. P. R. James, the well known novelist,
H. B. M. Consul at Norfolk, Virginia, visited
the place and made quite an investment in
real estate, and his two sons, Walter and
Courtney, took up their residence here.

In the winter following, Walter, as chief
engineer, with a party of men, run a prelimin-
ary survey, for the Manitowoc & Mississippi
Railroad, from Menasha to Manitowoc.

Congress having appropriated the means for
a light-house, at the head of this channel, a
substantial stone building was erected on a

Online LibraryRichard J HarneyHistory of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest → online text (page 45 of 71)