Richard J Harney.

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

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clay sub-soil, and a lime-stone base, producing
a fine growth of wheat, oats, rye, or barley,
and is particularly adapted to grazing. Nat-
ural meadows are abundant, and, in fact, all
varieties of grasses seem natural.

Little Buttes des Morts Lake and Fox River
running north, through the town, divide it
nearly equally, and with several small streams,
afford an abundance of water.

Along the shores of Buttes des Morts, an
'unlimited amount of clay, of the finest quality,
for brick-making, is found, and this branch of
industry is extensively followed, producing
annually, immense quantities of brick, which
are now used extensively in the vicinity and
shipped abroad. Good lime-stone is also

In 1849, Mr. James Ladd constructed a
lime-kiln on his present farm (west side of
Lake Buttes des Morts), from which he supplied
this entire section of country, including that
used at Lawrence University, which he deliv-
ered on the ground, at fifteen cents per

The stone being generally located below the
surface it was found much less expensive to
obtain the raw material from the immense

range on the east shore of Lake Winnebago,
which is much lighter in color and has almost
entirely taken the place of stone from local

Buttes des Morts, literally "Hills of the
Dead," — this name designates two points
within the county of great historical interest.

The Grand Buttes des Morts is situated nine
miles above Oshkosh, upon a delightful eleva-
tion, where the village of the same name now

Commanding an extensive view, including
the junction of the Fox and Wolf Rivers,
which, mingling their waters at its foot, spread
over a surface some two miles in width and
about seven in length, called. Big Buttes des
Morts Lake.

The other. Little Buttes des Morts, below
Lake Winnebago, and directly west of the City
of Menasha, across a smaller expansion of Fox
River, called Little Buttes des Morts Lake. The
ground here, rising high above the lake, was
surmounted by several large mounds, which,
within the past few years, have been almost
entirely removed, and on the same spot we
now find the tracks, depot and crossing of the
Chicago & Northwestern and Wisconsin Cen-
tral railroads. In excavating for these tracks,
quantities of human bones, implements of iron
and copper were unearthed.

Some two hundred years ago, these two
points were the headquarters of powerful
Indian tribes, the location of their principal
villages, their theatre of action, the scene of
desperate conflicts between different tribes,
their final destruction by the French, and
finally their last resting-place.

The Town of Neenah, of which this was once
a part, was divided January 6, 1855, by order
of the County Board of Supervisors, and the
Town of Menasha organized.

Previous to this division, a rivalry had sprung
up, very naturally, between the two sides of
the river.

The place of holding town elections had, long
prior to this date, been established, by act of
the Legislature, at Neenah.

The Village of Menasha had for some time
agitated the subject and claimed that the elec-
tion should be held alternately at that place,
and, until April 5, 1853, the question was to be
contested at the polls, but Neenah out-voted
the Town of Menasha. The question being
upon the place of holding the next election,
and of dividing the town, one hundred and
eighty-two votes were cast for holding the next
election at the Winnebago Exchange, in Nee-
nah, and the same number against a division,




and one hundred and sixty votes for the other

April 2, 1854, at the next annual town meet-
ing, a vote was again taken to decide where
the general election of 1854 and the annual
town meeting of 1855, should be held. Two
hundred and thirty-nine votes were cast for
the Decker House, in Menasha, and one hun-
dred and forty-seven votes for R. C. Weeden's
brick hotel, in Neenah.

Neenah, expecting no mercy from the other
side, made application to the County Board
for a division and Menasha as strongly opposed
it, but the town was divided conformable to
the application.

On the 3rd of April, 1853, Menasha held
an organic election at the Decker House.
Cornelius Northrup was elected moderator;
Elias Bates and George W. Fay, inspectors;
L. S. Fisher, clerk. The first business before
the meeting, seems to have been the adoption
of a preamble and resolution, setting forth
the illegality of the division of tlie Town of
Neenah, and organization of the Town of
Menasha, contrary to the expressed wishes of
three-fourths of the voters of the old town and of
every voter in the new town, and protesting
against such division. They then proceeded
to the election of town officers, resulting in
the election of Jeremiah Hunt, chairman; Isaac
Hough, and Wells E. Blair, supervisors;
Elbridge Smith, clerk; Geo. W. Fay, treasurer^
Charles Whipple, superintendent of schools;
A. K. Sperry, Samuel Neff" and Edmon F'ree-
man, assessors; Elias Bates, Israel Naricong
and George Watson, justices.

Wells E. Blair, failing to qualify as super-
visor, the board met on May 5th, and appointed
Cleveland Bacheider to fill the vacancy.

The first occurring within the present
limits of the Town of Menasha, was that of
Delos Haight, son of Moses Haight, in the
spring of 1847.

The first marriage was that ol Mr. L. S.
Wheatley and Miss Caroline Northrup, Octo-
ber 27, 1848. Miss Northrup was a daughter
of Mr. Cornelius Northrup, a pioneer in both
Neenah and Menasha.

The first death was that of one Jenson, a
Dane, who died September 5, 1846, in one of
the Government block-houses, on the vilest
side of Lake Buttes des Morts, and was buried
near the mounds. The funeral services were
conducted by Elder O. P. Clinton.

The first permanent settler with the present
limits of the town, was Mr. James Ladd, who,
with his family, located near his present resi-
dence in the fall of 1846, occupying one of the
block-houses erected by the Government.

Born at Sudbury, Vermont, the i6th of May,
1799, he, with his .parents, removed to the
State of New York, at an early age, where he
resided until 1845, when he emigrated with
his family to Beaver Dam, in Wisconsin.

In March, 1846, Mr. Ladd made a claim of
his present possessions, and leaving his son
Christopher to hold the claim, returned to his
family at Beaver Dam, and in the fall moved
his family to one of the Government block-
houses, near his present residence.

Mr. Ladd relates that in the spring of 1847,
one of his family was taken sick, and it
became necessary to send across Lake Winne-
bago to Stockbridge, for a physician. The
only way to get there was in a skiff. Mr. Cory-
don Northrup made the trip, and returned
with Dr. Marsh,

Thomas Jourdain was born at Green Bay in
1823, the youngest of a family of eight. In
1837, his father was employed by the Gov-
ernment, as blacksmith for the Indians, at
Winnebago Rapids, and Thomas was appointed
assistant; here he worked six years. In 1848,
he purchased a farm on the west shore of Lake
Butte des Morts, which, in 1855, became a
part of the Town of Menasha, where he resided
until 1 87 I , and is now a resident of the City of

Mary H. Jourdain, his sister, became the
wife of Rev. Eleazer Williams, in 1823.

Asahel Jenkins and family settled within
the town, in 1846.

Wells E. Blair came to Neenah in the fall of
1845, but only remained some two weeks, and
returned again, in 1848. In 1850, he pur-
chased a farm on the west side of Lake Buttes
des Morts, within the present limits of the
Town of Menasha, where he has since resided.


Chairman, P. Verbeck; Supervisors, A. D.
Page, Michael Lockbaum; Clerk, George H.
Keyes; Treasurer, M. J. Creedon; Assessor,
John Fitzgibbon; Justices, Waldo Kittel,
Lewis Neff.






Situaiion, Soil and Face of Co'imry — Productions — Organi-
zation and First Election of Town and County Officers —
Early Settlers — First Roads in the County — Incidents in
the Early Settlement— Changes in Boundaiies — Northern
Hospital fur the Insane —County Poor Farm.

jHE Town of Oshkosh is bounded north
by the Town of Vinland, east by Lake
Winnebago, south by the City of Osh-
kosh and Lake Buttes des Morts, and
west by Lake Buttes des Morts, and
comprises about si.\ sections in the
northern portion of Township 18, north, of
Range 16, east, a fraction of.Town 18, Range
17, of about one section, a fraction of Town
19, Range 17, of about three sections, and
some five sections of the southern portion of
Town 19, Range 16, making a total of not far
from twenty sections.

The surface is well elevated above the lakes,
and, in the southern part, quite level, slightly
undulating through the middle, and more
rolling and broken in the north; but no promi-
nent elevation.

The soil is also varied; in the south-east is a
deep clay, generally covered with a rich vege-
table mold; in the south and west, clay and
loam predominate with small areas of loam
and sand. Ridges and knolls of gravel are
frequent, as indicated by a thorough system
of hard gravel roads in all parts of the town.

The crops are, wheat, oats, corn, barley,
some rye, potatoes, and the various grasses, all
of which are successfully raised.

Horses, cattle and sheep are also important
items in the list of productions.

Many large farms are devoted to dairying,
and the cheese factories annually produce
great quantities of cheese of the best quality.

At the time of the early settlement, the tim-
ber was burr-oak, in the form of "openings,"
which had attained an enormous size, and, as
is common with burr-oak "openings," forming
a landscape unrivaled for beauty in the west-
ern world. The shores of Lake Winnebago
were fringed with a narrow strip of forest, of
the usual varieties of hardwood timber. Since
the settlement and the consequent prevention
of annual fires, other varieties of timber have
sprung up and now occupy the place made
vacant by the general destruction of those old
monarchs that had withstood the storms and
the elements for centuries. Black and white
oak, hickory and many smaller kinds are now
found in small groves or belts.


March 8, 1839, the Territorial Legislature
passed an act as follows: "Townships Eighteen
and Nineteen, Ranges Fifteen and Sixteen,
and fractional Eighteen and Nineteen, in
Range Seventeen, shall be a separate town by
the name of Buttes des Morts, and the election
in said town shall be holden at the house of
Webster Stanley. "

The present Town of Oshkosh is within those

We find no record of any further organiza-
tion, no election or town meeting until the fol-
lowing, viz:

First me'eting in Town of Buttes des Morts,
April 4, 1842. On motion, Chester Ford was
chosen chairman, and sworn by T. Lee, coro-
ner, and Jason Wikins, clerk, and sworn by the
same. On motion, all candidates shall be
by elected by ballot; there shall be two
assessprs, two constables, and three fence-
viewers; the supervisors and commissioners
of highways'shall have one dollar per day, for
actual service, and no more. The chairman
adjourned until one o'clock on the fifth of
April. Signed by Jason VVilkins, clerk.

Tuesday, April 5, 1842. Met according to
adjournment, and the clerk, Jason Williams,
declining to serve, Clark Dickinson was
appointed and sworn in. Attested by Clark
Dickinson, clerk, signed by Chester Ford,

The result of the election on the fifth was
declared as follows: Chester Ford, chairman;
Chester Gallup and Wm. C. Isbell, supervis-
ors; John Gallup, town clerk; Thomas Lee
and Louis B. Porlier, assessors; Webster
Stanley, treasurer; Thomas Evans, collector;
Robert Grignon, Ira F. Aiken and Shipley A.
Gallup, commissioners of highways; John P.
Gallup and Clark Dickinson, school commis-
sioners; Henry A. Gallup and Louis B. Por-
lier, constables; Jason Wilkins, sealer of
Wrights and measures; Ira F. Aiken, Henry
Moore and Archibald Caldwell, overseers of
highways; Robert, Grignon, Chester Ford and
Chester Gallup, fence viewers. David Johnson,
Wm. Powell, James Knaggs, Augustine Grig-
non, William W. Wright and Wm. A. Boyd,
were also candidates, or, at least, received
some votes for these offices.

At this election there were twenty-three
votes polled, or that number of voters
present, who voted; there were twenty-one
offices distributed, and yet six got away with-
out any office; probably they did not adhere
to strict party lines.

Minutes of town meeting of Buttes des
Morts, April 4, 1843: On motion, W. C.


1840-45 •]



Isbell was chosen chairman, and sworn in by
W. A. Boyd, clerk. (Query: By whom was
the clerk sworn?) On motion, that a committee
of three be appointed, S. Brooks, Ira F.
Aiken and C. Dickinson, said committee to
examine the current expenses for the ensuing
year, and we jointly approve of the first and
third appropriations of the current expenses,
and also the contingent expenses for the ensu-
ing year, amounting to fifty dollars. On
motion, the compensation of officers the
ensuing year be fifty cents per day, not other-
wise provided by law; that there shall be two
constables and two assessors. On motion,
that a lawful fence shall be tour and a half feet

The result of the election was declared as
follows: W. C. Isbell, chairman; L. B. Por-
lier and Chester Ford, supervisors; John P.
Gallup, D. Allen and Clark Dickinson, school
commissioners; Shipley A. Gallup, Stephen
Brooks and Milan Ford, commissioners of
highways; G. F. Wright, town clerk; Wm. A.
Boyd and J. Wilkins, assessors; H. A. Gal-
lup, collector; Wm. W. Wright, town treas-
urer; Thomas Evans, sealer; Webster Stanley,
overseer of highways; James Knaggs, J. P.
Gallup and W. Stanley, fence-viewers; Milan
Ford and H. A. Gallup, constables; C. J.
Coon was also a candidate voted for. High-
est miinber of votes cast, eighteen; number of
offices to be filled, twenty-one.

At the date of the setting off of this town
in 1839, it was included in Brown County.

July 6, 1840, an act of the Legislature was
approved, setting off Winnebago County.

February 18, 1842, by an act of the Legis-
lature, the counties of Winnebago and Calu-
met, were organized for the purpose of county
government; but to remain attached to Brown
County for judicial purposes. This act to
take effect from and after the first Monday in
April, 1843, the first election to beheld at the
school-house in Manchester, Calumet County.
An election was, however, held on the first
Tuesday, April 5, 1842, (which see) which,
being contrary to this act, and in fact, wholly
unauthorized ( as this act did not take effect
until a year later), was legalized by the Legis-
lature, March 29, 1843.

The first legislature of the territory of Wis-
consin passed an act, amendatory of certain
acts passed by the Territorial Legislature of
Michigan, dated April 17-22, and March 6,
1833, which was approved, December 6, 1836,
as follows:

Be it enacted, by the Council and House of Represeniatives
of the Territory of Wisconsin, That each county within this
erritory, now organized, or that may hereafter be organized,

and the same is hereby declared one township; for all purposes
of raising taxes and providing for defraying the public, and
neccessary expenses in the respective counties, and to regulate
highways, and that there shall be elected, at the annual town
meeting, in each county, three supervisors, who shall perform,
in addition to the duties assigned them as a county board, the
duties heretofore performed by the township board.

It also provides that the clerk shall act as
both town and county clerk. In conformity
with that law, the Legislature passed an act,
which was approved April i, 1843, as follows:

The Town of Buttes des Morts shall hereafter be known by
the name of Winnebago, and said town shall embrace all terri-
tory within the limits of Winnebago County. All future elec-
tions shall be held at the house of Webster Stanley.

As already shown, an election was held for
the Town of Buttes des Morts, on the 4th, of
April, at which William C. Isbell was elected
chairman; L. B. Porlier and Chester Ford,
supervisors; George F. Wright, clerk, who by
virtue of the act of December 6, 1836, were
constituted the county board, in which capacity
they acted, as will be seen by reference to the
organization of Winnebago County.

April 2, 1844, the annual town meeting for
the Town of Winnebago was held at the
house of Webster Stanley, when Harrison
Reed was elected chairman; Wm. C. Isbell
and C. Luce, supervisors; C. Ford, G. F.
Wright, Jason Wilkins and W. C. Isbell,

December 13, 1845, it was voted unani-
mously, that the place of holding town meet-
ings for the Town of Winnebago at the house
of Webster Stanley be discontinued, and here-
after be held at the house of Augustine Grig-

August 7, 1848, at a special town meeting,
at the school-house in the Village of Oshkosh,
a tax of two hundred dollars was voted, for
the completion of the Town House.

August 28, 1849, a special town meeting
was held in the Town House.

At a meeting of the Town Board of Super-
visors, convened January 27, 1846, at the
house of J. Jackson, present, Joseph Jackson,
chairman; Chas. and W. C. Isbell, supervisors;
ordered that there be a poll opened for the
reception of votes, at the next annual town
election, to be held on the first Monday in
September, 1846, at the following places, to
wit: At the house of H. Gifford, section 22,
Town 18, Range 15 (present Town of Omro),
at the house of Ira Baird, Section 20, Town
20, Range 17 (nowNeenah), also at the house
of Webster Stanley.

The last meeting of the Board of Supervis-
ors of the Town of Buttes des Morts, under the
law of 1839, was held April 3, 1845, and May




6, 1843, the same board met as the town board
of the Town of Winnebago, in pursuance of
the act of April 1, i843-

February 11, 1847, by an act of the Legisla-
ture, five towns were set off. (See Winnebago
County.) The Town of Winnebago comprising
Township 19, Range 15, north of Fox River,
the south half of Township 19, Ranges 16 and
17, and fractional Towns 18, Ranges 16 and
17; the first town meeting to be held at the
house of L. M. Miller, "and for temporary
township purposes, Township 20, Ranges 14
and 15, be attached to the Town of Winne-

At the first election in pursuance of this act,
held April 6, 1847, Edward Eastman was
elected chairman; James H. Ward and Wil-
liam N. Davis, supervisors; J. H. Smalley,
clerk, and Greenberry Wright and Wm. C.
Isbell, justices.

By an act dated March 11, 1848, the Town
of Winneconne was set off from the Town of
Winnebago, and temporarily organized, by
which the fractional parts of Township 18,
Ranges 16 and 17, lying north of Fox River,
fractional Town 19, Range 17, Sections 21 , 22,
23, 24, 25, 26,27, 28,33,34, 35 and 36, Town
19, Range 16, comprised the Town of Winne-
bago. G. W. Washburn was elected chairman;
Wm. C. Isbell and J. L. Brooks, supervisors;
H. A. Gallup, clerk

By act of March 22, 1849, Township 18,
north, Range 16, east, constituted the Town of
Winnebago, the first election to be held in the
Village of Oshkosh the first Tuesday in April,
1849. (Fractional Town 18, Range 17, seems
to have been overlooked.)

February 5, 1850, it was ordered by the
County Board of Supervisors, (in pursuance
of an act of August 21, 1848, authorizing
county boards to set off, organize and change
the names of towns), that all of Township 18,
Range 16, lying south of Fox River and west
of the west line of Sections 24, 25 and 36,
shall be organized as the Town of Algoma,
leaving to the Town of Oshkosh all of Town-
ship 18, Ranges 16 and 17, lying north of Fox
River, and fractional Sections 24, 25 and 36,
Township 18, Range i6, south of the river.

November 10, 1852, by order of the County
Board, the name of the Town of Winnebago
was changed to Oshkosh.

By resolution of the County Board, dated
February 8, 1856, all that part of Township 19,
Ranges 16 and 17, lying south of the south
line of Sections 19, 20, 21 , 22, 23 and 24, was
taken from the Town of Vinland and attached
to the Town of Oshkosh, establishing the boun-
daries of the latter as they now exist, except

such changes as may have resulted from the
various limits assigned to the city.

The officers of the town in 1878 were, C. L.
Rich, chairman, (and by virtue of that office a
member of the County Board); Nelson Allen
and John Ryf, supervisors; J. B. Alcott,
clerk; Thomas Grundy, assessor; Isaac S.
Cox, treasurer.

The first white settler in the town was Mr.
J. L. Schooley, who located on Section i,
Township 18, Range 16, in the fall of 1839,
that is, within the present limits. Ira F. Aiken
located the same fall near the present Asylum

The earliest permanent settlements in the
county were made in this vicinity, but not
within the boundaries of the present town. Mr.
Schooley is now a resident of Neenah.

In 1840, or 1 841. Wm. C. Isbell settled on
fractional Section 6, Township 18, Range 17,
and was for many years quite prominent in the
official circles of the town and county, and we
are informed is now residing at Fremont, on
the Wolf River.

Dr. Christian Linde, now a resident of the
City of Oshkosh, a native of Denmark, emi-
grated to the United States in 1842, and came
directly to this town. A brother, named Carl,
had accompanied him from their home, and on
the 17th of July they purchased from Colonel
Charles Tuller two hundred and eighty acres
of land, now occupied by the Northern Insane
Asylum, and built a log house very nearly
where the Asylum now stands. Section 31,
Township 19, Range 17-

Samuel Brooks, who became a resident in
1842, locating a farm on Section Twenty-five,
Town Nineteen, Range Sixteen, which he
retained until 1846, making improvement, but
erecting no buildings. In 1846, disposing of
this place, he purchased his present residence.
Mr. Brooks states that, on the fifteenth of
April, 1843, he crossed the lake to Stock-
bridge, on the ice, with a team, and that the
team returned again the same day, and making
another like trip on the sixteenth; but, when
within about six rods of the western shore, on
their return, the team broke through, but the
water being shallow, they were rescued with
little difficulty. Gilbert Brooks and Jason
Wilkins were with the team. Mr. Brooks was
a land surveyor, and as such, had unequalled
opportunities of acquainting himself with the
surrounding country.

In 1843, Jacob and Fredrich Heinson settled
on Section Thirty, Town Nineteen, Range
Seventeen, where Fredrich still remains, his
brother having died.

Mr. Jefferson Eaton was born in Herkimer

i839 49]



County, New York, in 1820, where he resided
until 1843, when, with the prevailing fever of
emigration he came to Milwaukee, thence to
Fond du Lac, by team, over a road just cut
through that season. Leaving his family at
the first hotel built at that place, and kept by
Thomas Green, he started on the trail for Osh-
kosh. Directed to keep the main trail, he was
led far to the west, which he discovered too
late to reach either place, but, returning to
where he had left his course, he laid down
beside a log until morning, when he resumed
the direct trail which led him to Chester Ford's
(present residence of Wm. Wright), where he
stopped a short time, after which he crossed
Fox River, at Stanley's ferry, and proceeded
on his way, to the neighborhood where he has
since resided; removing his family onto a tract
of eighty acres, that fall. Adding one hundred
and forty acres to his farm, he subsequently
sold one hundred acres for the Northern Insane

In December, 1843, Mr. Eaton, with Amos
Gallup and Stephen Brooks, as commissioners,
and Samuel Brooks, as surveyor, laid out the
first road in the county — being from Stanley's
ferry to Neenah, and called Road Number

In 1844, the second road was laid out on
Town line, between Townships Eighteen and
Nineteen, from Lake Winnebago to Lake
Buttes des Morts; Road Number Two.

About 1846, he assisted in laying a road
from Oshkosh, via present Algoma Street, to
Winneconne; Road Number Three. Also,

Online LibraryRichard J HarneyHistory of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest → online text (page 48 of 71)