Richard J Harney.

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

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in operation the same fall or early winter.

Religious exercises were first observed by-
Rev. Hiram McKee, in the summer or fall of


The first birth in the town occurred at Wau-
kau, in June, 1846, a son in the family of John

In the spring of 1847, the population
increased rapidly, and, being fourteen miles
from a post office (at Ceresco), the settlers
began to devise means for obtaining a regular
mail, and it was accordingly arranged that they
should make a trip to Ceresco once a week,
each in turn performing the service.

During the summer of 1847, Messrs. Elliott
and White built the first store in the place,
and James Deyoe erected the first frame

In October, of that year, occurred the first
death among their number, that of Samuel R.
Manning, a twin brother of Elder William R.
Manning, and in November, following, that of
Mr. Pinrow; funeral service by Elder Pills-

In the winter of 1847 and 1848, the first
marriage "eremony was performed by Elder
William R. Manning, the candidates being
Mr. Henry Bixby and Miss Mary Palfrey.

During the fall of 1847, a log school-house
was built, and the first school taught by Elder
Manning, the following winter.

In 1848, the Elder was elected school super-
indendent, and held the position for several

In the fall of 1847, Mr. O. E. Loper made a
claim on the north side of the river, then known
as the "Indian Land." This was the first set-
tlement on that side, if we except the trading
post of Luke Laborde, a Frenchman, who had
been here some time, engaged in trade with
the Indians.

July I, 1848, a postoffice was established at
Waukau, and William H. Elliott appointed

The same year, Lester Rounds opened
a general store, and W. L. F. Talbot engaged
in the business of blacksmithing, which he still

A plat of the Village of Waukau was laid
out and recorded December 30, 1848; S. W.
White and G W. Woodworth, proprietors.


In 1849, Mr. Parsons commenced the con-
struction of a grist-mill, which was completed
in 1850. A settlement having been made at
Delhi, a license to maintain a ferry across Fox
River was obtained from the County Board of
Supervisors, in November, 1849.

In 1850, Mr. Lester Rounds removed his
stock of goods to the present site of the Village
of Eureka, and was joined by Walton C. Dick-
erson, from Nepeuskun, the first settlers and
founders of that village, a plat of which was
recorded July 24, 1850, Rounds, Dickerson
and Starr, proprietors.

A ferry was also established across Fox
River, at this point, during the season, and,
July 16, the Eureka postoffice was located,
Lester Rounds, first postmaster.

January 14, 1851, a plat of the village of
Delhi ^vas recorded "under the proprietorship
of Luke Laborde.

A dock and warehouse were also constructed
at Eureka, by Walton C. Dickerson, for the
accommodation of a daily line of steamboats,
established that season, between Oshkosh and

A bridge across the river at Eureka, was
substituted for the old ferry, in 1854, and
Eureka, had become an important village.

Saw-mills at various points along Fox River
(Omro, Delhi, Eureka and Berlin) were sup-
plied with logs from Wolf River, and towed up
the Fox, by the slow and tedious movements
of horseboats.


The Town of Rushford was organized by
an act of the Legislature, approved February
II, 1847, comprising, in addition to the present
town, Township 17, Range 14, (now Nepeus-
kun), and Township 17, Range 15, (now

The first election was held at the house
of L. M. Parsons, Waukau, April 5, 1847.
Erasmus D. Hall was chosen chairman, L.
K. Stone and Armine Pickett, inspectors,
Silas M. White and George S. Barnum,
clerks; resulting in the election of E. D. Hall,
chairman; E. P. Foote and Nathan Ripley,
supervisors; Ebenezer Martin, town clerk; J. M.
Hall, treasurer; Geo S. Barnum, assessor;
Lyman B. Johnson, Asahel B. Foster and
Armine Pickett, justices.

March 11, 1848, Township 17, Range 15,
(Utica, which see), was set off.

At the annual town election, held April 4,
1848, at the house of Elisha P. Foote, the suc-
cessful candidates were, Lucius B. Townsend,




chairman; George Havvley and Lyman B.
Johnson, supervisors; Silas M. White, clerk;
J. M. Hall, treasurer; George S. Barnum,
assessor; Lyman B. Johnson, Asahel B. Foster,
and Erasmus D. Hall, justices.

Mr. Uriah Hall has a tax certificate for taxes
on southwest quarter of Section 35, Town 18,
Range 14, dated December 22, 1846, signed,
"J. H. Smalley, collector of Winnebago
County. "

Annual election, April, 1849, at the school-
house, Section 8, Town 17, Range 14, elected
Lucius B. Townsend, chairman; George Clark
and J. P. Wakefield, supervisors, Lester
Rounds, clerk, J. U. Mallory, James M.
Garlic and R. B. Vanmeter, justices; Jonathan
Foote, treasurer; J. M. Hall, constable.

In November, 1849, Nepeuskun (which see)
was set off and Township 18, Range 14, con-
stituted the Town of Rushford.

At the annual town election in April,
1850, the town officers met at the same
school-house. Section 8, Nepeuskun, and
adjourned to the school-house in the Vil-
lage of Waukan, where the voting took
place, which resulted in the election of
E. D. Hall, chairman; L. K. Stone and
Alexander McPherson, supervisors, Silas
M. White, clerk; John M. Hall, treasurer;
Lester Rounds, J. U. Mallory and Edward
Manning, justices. Lots were drawn for
the respective terms of the justices, when
Rounds drew for one year. Manning, for two
years and Mallory, for three years. Walton C.
Dickerson was elected constable.

At the election in April, 1851, the following
officers were elected: J. A. C. Steele, chair-
man; Lester Rounds and Leonard J. Cassman,
supervisors; A. S. Bolster, clerk; J. W. Becker,
treasurer; E. D. Huntley, justice, (Mallory
and Manning holding over).

The election of April 6, 1852: J. A. C.Steele,
chairman; Lester Rounds and L. K. Stone,
supervisors; A. S. Bolster, clerk; W. H. Hyatt,
assessor; Justus Showers, treasurer; J. A. C.
Steele and J. U. Mallory, justices.

The present officers are, Alson Wood, chair-
man; G. F. Williams and Geo. Bradt, super-
visors; J. D. Chamberlain, clerk; Chancey
Bromley, assessor; R. M. Lincoln, treasurer.

January 8, 1850, by action of the county
board, the south half of Section 31, in Town
of Bloomingdale (Omro), the north half of
Section 6, in Utica, and the north half of Sec-
tion I, in Nepeuskun, were all set off and
attached to the Town of Rushford, and Novem-
ber 13, 1856, the north half of Section 31, in
Omro, was in like manner attached to Rush-

ford, Subsequently, Sections i, 12. and the
north half of 13, in Rushford, were attached
to the Town of Omro.


In 1849, there were, in the town, two hun-
dred and twenty-one scholars between the age
of four and twenty years; in 1855, six hun-
dred and twelve, and at the present time,
seven hundred and ninety. There were 1207
inhabitants in 1855, and 2,083 in 1875. There
are now nine school-houses, and twelve teach-
ers are employed.


Lester Rounds was born May 11, 1805,
resided in Berkshire, Franklin County, Ver-
mont, Niles, Cayuga County, New York, and
in 1839, emigrated to Southport (Kenosha),
Racine County, Wisconsin. In 1844, having
been enrolled in the "Wisconsin Phalanx of
the Fourier Association," he removed to Cer-
esco with the first company that encamped at
that place. Warren Chase was their tempo-
rary president, and Mr. Rounds temporary
secretary. In the following winter a charter
was obtained, and under it the association
was fully incorporated, and Messrs. Chase and
Rounds were re-elected as permanent officers.
In 1844, a post-office was established at Cer-
esco, and Mr. Rounds was appointed post-
master. At the annual election, April, 1845,
he was elected chairman of the Board of Sup-
ervisors, which office he held for two years,
and by virtue of which he was a member of
the County Board of Fond du Lac County;
and he was also elected chairman of that board.
While acting in that capacity, he signed the
contract for the erection of the present court-
house in that county In 1848, Mr. Rounds
settled in Waukau, as previously stated.
Since that time, he has held the office of Town
Clerk, Justice of the Peace, and Supervisor,
several terms; notary for many years, and
was the first postmaster at Eureka. Mr.
Rounds is still engaged in mercantile pursuits
at Eureka.

Mr. O. E. Lopcr was born in Schoharie
County, New York, January 17, 18 18, .residing
there until 1844, when he placed himself under
the standard of the Fourier Association, and
emigrated to Ceresco, Wisconsin. In the fall
of 1847, he located a claim on the north side
of Fox River, within the present Town of
Rushford, then known as the "Indian Land,"
and his family were the first to settle on that
side of the river, where he still resides.

Mr. Chester Gilmore was born in Williams-
town, Orange County, Vermont, in i8o7,'
removed to Lamoille County, thence to Wash-

1 846 79-]



ington County, and in 1849, emigrated to the
Town of Rushford, where he selected his
future home, on the north side of Fox River;
the title of the Menomonee Indians having
been acquired by the Government at the Poy-
gan treaty, the year previous. Mr. Gilmore
was among the first settlers in this part of the

Mr. J. R. Hall, born in Rochester, Windsor
County, Vermont, November 8, 181 5, antici-
pating the advice of Horace Greeley, "Go
West, young man!" came to Illinois in 1844,
and in the spring of 1846, settled at Waukau,
about two weeks later than Mr. Parsons, who
was the pioneer. For many of the incidents
in the early history of the town we are
indebted to Mr. Hall, who is still a resident of
that place, and relates that upon his first arri-
val he was entertained for the night at the
house (shanty) of L. M. Parsons (the only one
in the vicinity), where he found a large num-
ber of strangers, who, like himself, required
accommodations. At that time it would not
do for a man to say, "my house is full; you
can find accommodations at the next;" but
every applicant must be fed and lodged, in
some manner; the latter, as in this case, often
proving the more difficult. In the absence of
a sufficient supply of bed-clothes, they placed
two beds side by side, which were occupied by
eight persons, with ample covering for all.

Mr. L. M. Parsons, who is still a resident of
Waukau, and was the first in the town, was
born at Goshen, Massachusetts, in 1795;
removed to Vermont while quite young, sub-
sequently to Ohio, and in the fall of 1844, to
Fox Lake, in Dodge County, Wisconsin; or,
as he more forcibly expresses it, he passed
childhood in Massachusetts, his boyhood in
Vermont, his manhood in Ohio, and his dotage
in Wisconsin. Remaining at Fox Lake about
one year, he came to Ceresco in 1845, and in
the spring of 1846, commenced improvements
and made a permanent settlement at Waukau,
which is more fully explained in its appropri-
ate place, the Early History of the Town of
Rushford. Mr. Parsons' ambition has never
run in political channels; but, in building up a
town, making improvements of public neces-
sity, and for the general welfare of the com-
munity, he has labored incessantly.

Mr. W. L. F. Talbot, born in Piersons
County, Ohio, October 19, 1828, removed,
with his parents, to Michigan Territory, in
1836, and settled at Waukau in July, 1848,
where he has since resided, engaged in the
business of blacksmithing.

Mr. Walton C. Dickerson was born on Prov-
idence Island, Massachusetts, June 9, 1809,

where he resided until 1837, when he emi-
grated to Salem, Racine County, Wisconsin.
In September, 1846, he removed his family to
the present Town of Nepeuskun, and in the
spring of 1850, with Mr. Lester Rounds, he
settled at Eureka. Mr. Dickerson was

appointed Justice of the Peace at Salem, by
Governor Dodge, the commission dated Min-
eral Point, November 4, 1840. He also holds
numerous commissions as Notary Public, dat-
ing from 185 1 to 1864; also authority from
Governor Lewis to recruit volunteers for the
Fifth, Forty-second and Forty-fourth Wiscon-
sin Regiments; was appointed post-master at
Eureka, June 15, 1853, and has been an active
participant in the early events of the settle-
ment ot this portion of the county. A silver-
leaf poplar tree, which he set out in 1852,
measures nine feet and five inches in circum-
ference, at the ground, and, six feet above the
ground, seven feet and three inches. Verily,
there is some virtue in sand.

Mr. E. B. Thrall, born in St. Lawrence
County, New York, in 1825, removed to
Crawford, Pennylsvania, where he remained
about eighteen months, and from there to the
present Town of Utica, where he arrived June
9, 1846, selecting a location adjoining Armine
Pickett's, who had arrived a short time previ-
ously. The journey was made from Pennsyl-
vania to Wisconsin in wagons, the family con-
sisting of nine persons, the father, John Thrall,
five brothers and three sisters. Taking the
covers from their wagons, they set them
against the log house of Mr. Nash, and, going
to the woods for the logs, they built a house;
hewing logs (puncheons) for floors, splitting
oak shakes for the roof; and, unable to procure
lumber for door or window, they occupied the
domicile until fall without, when they obtained
a small amount of oak lumber, at Dartford,
some twenty miles away. March 21, 1866,
Mr. Thrall, having sold his farm, purchased
the one he now occupies, in Rushford, and
moved into the log house erected at an early
day, and which Mr. Thrall has replaced with a
handsome, modern residence, and has added
commodious and substantial barns, out-build-
ings, and all conveniences of a prosperous

John G. Palfrey, of the firm of Bean & Pal-
frey, proprietors of the Waukau flouring-mills,
is one of the well known early settlers of the
town. Mr. Palfrey, with his brothers, Richard
and Thomas, and their parents, moved from
the State of New York, and settled in Waukau,
in the fall of 1846, and took an active part in
pioneer life, and in reclaiming the county from
a wilderness, into the abodes of civilization.




George Hawkes, station agent at Waukau,
is an early western settler, although not an
early resident of this county. His life has been
a varied and eventful one; and a large experi-
ence in the wider channels of social life
and extensive travel, has given him a fund
of interesting information. Mrs. Geo. Hawkes
moved, when a child, with her parents, from
New York City to Rockford, Illinois, in 1840,
where they settled on a farm. The country, at
the time, was so unsettled, that the nearest
house, in a western direction, was twenty miles
distant. She remembers seeing the remains of
Big Thunder on an elevated scaffold, at

Warren Leach settled in Waukau, in 1849,
and opened the first tavern in that place. Mrs.
Lucy L. Leach, the pioneer landlad}', will be
held in kindly remembrance by the old settlers.
Her house was a home for the weary way-farer,
where he was sure to find a hearty welcome
and the kindest treatment.

D. W, Safford, miller in Waukau Mills for the
last twelve years, moved from Vermont, and
fir'st settled in the now Town of Poygun, in

Alson Wood, chairman of the Town Board,
moved to Waukau, in 1858, and is now
with V. H. Wood and R. M. Lincoln, the
proprietors of the Empire FlouringMills. This
mill was constructed in 1857, by Bean &
Becker, and has a capacity of one hundred
barrels of flour per day.


Among the illustrations in this work will be
found that of the Waukau Flouring Mill, Bean
& Palfrey, proprietors. The mill occupies the
site of the old Waukau Mill, built by L. M.
Parsons, in 1848, and which was the first grist-
mill in the county, except the old Government
mill at Neenah. Its construction was hailed as
a happy event, for it supplied a need which
had been keenly felt.

In 1874, the present Waukau mill was built.
Its capacity is one hundred and tw'enty-five
barrels per day, and its flour takes high rank
in the market.


D. R. Bean moved from Vermont to Wau-
kau, in 1856, and purchased an interest in
the water-power. He immediately commenced
improvements, and, in the following year,
built the Empire Mills, and, in 1874, as above
stated, built the Waukau Mills.

Mr. Bean is one of those energetic enter-
prising men, who infuse business vigor and
activity into a community, and has proved a
valuable accession to Waukau. He is very

popular, and is widely known as a man of
ability and of kind hearted, generous impulses.
He was elected to represent his district in the
State Legislature in 1861, and re-elected in
1862, and has been again elected this fall. He
is one of those who will make his influence
felt wherever he is, and will follow his convic-
tions of ricfht without fear or favor.



Situation — Topographical Description — Lovely Face of the
Country — The Young Growth of Timber which has Sprung
up since the settlement of the Country — Soil and Water —
Farms and Buildings — Railroad Stations, Pickett's and
Fisk's — Social and Educational Advantages — First Set-
tlements in the Town — Early Settlers — Erection of the Houses — Organization of Town Government — First
Town Officers — First Bivlh — First Marriage — First Death
— Recollections of the Early Day in Utica, by James O.
Pickett — Illustrations and Personal Notices.

jHE Town of Utica, situated on the
southern boundary of the county, and
one township east of the west line of
the county, is one of the most beau-
tiful and picturesque tracts of country
to be found in the State. Its surface
is high and rolling — not broken; but rising
and falling in graceful undulations. It was
originally what is called rolling prairie, skirted
with openings. In a state of nature it was a
scene over which the eye could sweep for
miles — its vision only intercepted, in some
directions, by the encircling horizon; while
prairie and grove, and scattering trees, formed
a landscape of indescribable loveliness.

Since the settlement of the town, the annual
fires, that used to sweep over the country, des-
troying the incipient undergrowth, have been
checked; and the consequence is, a luxuriant
growth of forest trees have sprung up in many
places, forming, in some instances, large
groves, in which many of the trees have
attained a large size. The country, therefore,
does not present so open and prairie-like an
appearance as in the day of its early settle-
ment. The old settlers of Utica can now
point out tracts of dense forest, where, in the
early day, they could drive a wagon without
meeting any obstruction.

The soil is a deep, rich loam, with a clay
subsoil, mixed with lime-stone gravel. Its
base is lime-stone, which in places crops out
at the surface; and occasionally gravel-beds
and lime-stone knolls are found. These fur-
nish the best of material for making roads, and














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are largely utilized. The town is traversed by
a small stream called Fisk's Creek; and in
many places copious springs are found. Excel-
lent water is obtained at various depths, by
digging, and, in some localities, by drilling
through the rock.

The farms in this town are generally on a
large scale, and in a high state of cultivation,
with fine dwellings, barns and out-buildings,
as the several views of Utica places in this
work give evidence.

The population of this town is composed
principally of people from the Eastern States,
and their descendants. In the southeastern
part of the town the inhabitants are chiefly
Welsh, and the location forms a part of what
is called the Welsh Settlement, which also
embraces a large part of the western portion
of the Town of Nekimi. These are also
thrifty and fore-handed farmers, and very gen-
erally with fine dwellings and large barns.
This town, in fact, presents in every direction
an appearance of thrift and prosperity, in its
handsome, well-painted dwellings, barns and
well-cultivated fields.

The Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad trav-
erses the town. There are two railroad sta-
tions — one at Fisk's Corners, and one called
Pickett's Station, at both of which places
depots are established, that make large ship-
ments of wheat and other farm produce.

Pickett's Station is quite a business center,
with a store well-stocked with mixed merchan-
dise, and which does a large business. It is
also the location of Pickett's cheese-factory,
and has a feed-mill.

The town has good social and educational
facilities — its several localities being from six
to nine miles distant, respectively, from the
cities of Ripon and Oshkosh; while good
school-houses are found at convenient dis-

At Utica Center is a very feat church
edifice and fine parsonage, of the Methodist
Episcopal denomination. The resident pastor
is the Rev. Mr. Wanless; a gentleman of much
ability and of liberal education. He was for
some years in the missionary service in Turkey,
and is very zealous, devoted and energetic in
promoting the interests of the church.

Here is also a store, post-office, town hall
and mechanic shops.

There are four post-offices in the town, viz:
Elo, at Utica Center, Pickett's Station, Fisk's
Corners, and Ring.

There are seven school-houses, and three
hundred and seventy-one children between the
ages of four and twenty years.

The population of the town was given in the
State census of 1875, as 1,078.

The presenttown officers are as follows: T. J.
Bowles, chairman; Albert Sanders and O. R.
Jones, supervisors; F. L. Newell, clerk; James
Walker, treasurer; L.J. Miller, assessor; James
G. Pickett and T. J. Bowles, justices.


The first settlers in the town were Ervvin
Heath, Armine Pickett, David H. Nash, Seth
Harris, and their families, who located near
what is now Pickett's Station, April, 1846; and
E. B. Fisk and George Ransom, and their
families, who settled in the same month, near
Fisk's Corners.

In February, 1846, Mr. Heath selected a
claim and built a log house on the same, and,
on the first of April, following, started from
Jefferson County, where he had been living,
for his new home, with four yoke of oxen and
a wagon loaded with household goods, provis-
ions, farming tools, ete. ; and, also, drove a lot
of live-stock. He was compelled to ford
streams, there being no bridges this side of
Beaver Dam, and no road cut out for a long
portion of the distance.

Arriving at his place on the tenth day of
April, he found himself monarch of all he sur-
veyed; there being no house nearer than
Ceresco, eight miles distant.

On the night of his arrival, snow fell to the
depth of ten inches, but in less than two days
it all disappeared, and the cattle found feed on
the Rush Lake marshes.

Messrs. Pickett, Nash and Harris, with their
families, immediately joined Mr. Heath, who
was Mr. Nash's son-in-law. The log houses of
Mr. Heath and Mr. Harris were the first com-
pleted, and these were soon followed by the
erection of the dwellings of Mr. Pickett and
Mr. Nash.

While this little colony was getting fixed in
their new homes, another settlement was being
made in the northeastern part of the town by
E. B. Fisk, who commenced the erection of a
log house in the same month.

He was soon followed Mr. Geo. Ransom,
and family, who settled near Mr. Fisk.

The Rev. Hiram McKee, John Thrall and
others, settled here the same season. Mr.
McKee was the first settled minister in the
town, and was quite noted for his energetic

Online LibraryRichard J HarneyHistory of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest → online text (page 52 of 71)