Richard J Harney.

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

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ers, determined to examine for himself, arriv-
ing at Milwaukee about the fifteenth of April,
and at once started westward. At Watertown
he changed his course to Waupun, and thence
to the ferry of Grignon (Buttes des Morts).
Here he made choice of his present farm, and
pre-empted it, but, having no family, he, with
others in like condition, organized a "bachelor's
hall" in a shanty about a mile east of his pres-
ent residence.

Wheat, flour and vegetables, they obtained
in the southern part of the State. Fish they
could help themselves to, or purchase of the
Indians. Indian sugar, common brown sugar,
tea, coffee and tobacco, they could obtain at

In the fall of 1846, Augustine Grignon har-
vested a crop of wheat on the ground now
occupied by the Village of Buttes des Morts.




George Cross assisted at the harvest. George
Bell raised the first crop of wheat raised in the
town by the white settlers, in 1846.

Mr. iVI. Kittell emigrated from Switzerland
to the United States in 1861; resided in the
State of New York for four years, and in 1865
located in the Town of Oshkosh, where with a
Mr. Preuss he rented a farm of Mr A. Rich,
and at once commenced the manufacture of
Limburgher and Switzer cheese, whichhe con
tinued until 1872. In 1873, Mr. Kittell leased
the larm of Julius Ashby, containing 160 acres,
about half a mile north of the Village of Buttes
des Morts, where he continues the same busi-
ness. The product of this factory is about 400
pounds per day during the dairy season, con-
suming the milk of 120 cows, of which Mr.
Kittell owns fifty.

villa(;e ok buttes des morts.

One of the loveliest localities in Wisconsin,
is the site of Buttes des Morts, with its beauti-
ful surroundings of river and lake, and hand-
some undulating prairie and openings. It is
also the scene of famous historical events in
the days of French-Indian occupancy. It was
here that Marquette, while on a visit to the
village of the Mascoutins and Miamis, was told
of the Great River — the Mississippi; and had
pointed out to him the Fox River, which, near
here, forms a junction with the Wolf, as the
channel of travel to the great water; and, it
was here that he conceived the idea of making
the trip, which he afterwards did, for the pur-
pose of discovering the Upper Mississippi.
This was in 1673, more than a century before
the American Revolution.

Marquette describes the place as a most
charming one — a handsome elevation rising
from the river, while adjoining it stretched
away the prairie, as far as the eye could reach,
interspersed with groves of trees (oak open-
ings). Here, also, occurred the famous
seige of Buttes des Morts — one of the encoun-
ters between the French and the Fox Indians,
in the long struggle, which resulted in the
expulsion of the latter from the Fox Valley.*

Just below the present site of the Village of
Buttes des Morts, was the trading-post of
Augustine Grignon, established in 1818. This
place, in the early day, was a business center,
and here was the crossing place on the Fox
River for the travel on the Indian trail, from
Green Bay to Fort Winnebago. In the early
part of the American settlement of this county,
this place first secured the location of the

*NoTE. — See page 34, for Marquette's vi<;it to Buttes des
Morts and Discovery of the Upper Mississippi, and page 50,
for Siege of Buttes des Morts and oflicial account of same.

county seat, and was at first, a formidable ri\al
of Oshkosh — for which see early history of
Winnebago County.

The village now contains two stores and
mechanic shops, a post-office, and a ver\-
handsome church edifice, which, with the
handsome residence of L. W. Hull, adjoining,
forms a lovely rural scene.

P. C. Peterson, dealer in dry goods and
mixed merchandise, and S. L. Odell, in the
same line, do a prosperous business.

The Village of Winneconne is most delight-
fully situated on both sides of the Wolf River,
and at the foot of Lake Winneconne — a beau-
tiful sheet of water, with handsome, bold,
wooded shores. The site rises in fine eleva-
tions from either shore of the river; and the
adjoining country is like that of Buttes des
Morts — lovely prairies and openings of the
richest fertilitv\ now in a high state of cultiva-

Much of the early history of the place will
be found in the foregoing history of the Town
of Winneconne, and will here be but briefly

The first settler on the site of the Village of
Winneconne, was Jeremiah Pritchett, who, in
1847, built a log house very near where his
present residence now stands.

In 1849, C. R. Hamlin, from Ohio, settled
there, and found on his arrival but two primi-
tive log structures, one of which had been
erected by the Government for the residence
of a blacksmith, employed by the Government
for the benefit of the Indians, and which
Mr. Hamlin fitted up and converted into a

In 1849, E. D. Gumaer built the first frame
house, which occupied a site near the
present residence of Captain N. Cobb. While
this was in process of construction, Charles L.
Gumaer and John Atchley were also building
frame structures, which were completed the
same season; and the Mumbrues in the same
year erected a frame building, in w hich they
opened a hotel.

In 1849, John Scott opened a store, which
was the first mercantile establishment in the

H. C. Rogers opened the second store in
the village, during the same season. Mr.
Rogers is now Assistant Internal Revenue
Commissioner at Washington.

In 1850, C. R. Hamlin erected a frame
structure for a hotel, the Winneconne House,
which Mr. Hamlin kept for many years, and
which is still standing.

In this year, a post-office was established,




with Joseph Edwards as postmaster; and the
same year, C. Mumbrue built a chair factory,
and the Hyde Brothers built a saw-mill.

In 1853, a float bridge was built across the
Wolf River by a stock company, under the
management of John D. Rush. This was
located on the site of the present bridge, which
is a fine truss structure, built in 1 871, at a cost
of about $18,000.

In 1855 the village had attained good pro-
portions and contained three stores, a saw-
mill, mechanic shops and two hotels; and
had a population of between three and tour


The original Village of Winneconne, was
platted and recorded October 15, 1849,
Hoel S. Wright and E. Gordon, proprietors.

The plat of what is now known as Williams-
port, was recorded in 1866; and the plats of
Ripon addition and Scott's addition were
platted and recorded in the fall of 1868. The
Ripon addition was platted by a company of
capitalists from Ripon, who purchased .the
land from John L. Williams, and the plat was
recorded in the name of J. Bowen, proprie-
tor. Scott's addition was platted by John
Scott, R. H. WeUington, J. D. Rush and N.

Up to the year 1868, the village was con-
fined to the east side of the river, with the
exception of two savv'-mills on the west side,
one of which was Eric McArthur's, and the
other belonging to a Mr. Cooper.


In the fall of 1868, the Milwaukee & St.
Paul Railroad was extended to the Village of
Winneconne and the first through passenger
train arrived on the first day of September.
The railroad depot was established on the
river-bank, on the west side.


New comers now began to flock in and pur-
chase lots on the west side, which rapidly rose
in value, and sold readily from a hundred to a
thousand dollars each. Buildings were so rap-
idly constructed, that, in the year 1872, forty-
four structures were erected; among others,
several business blocks, and the west side
began to assume the appearance of quite a bus-
iness center.

The place continued to make a rapid growth
up to the year 1875, when the general depres-
sion prevading the whole country, checked its
expansion. In 1874, the population of the
place was something over 1,800, according to
a census taken at the time.


One of the attractions of the place is the
Lake View House, and its handsome surround-
ings — with the beautiful Lake Winneconne.
This is a favorite resort in the summer months,
and is frequented by people from abroad and
especially by those who are fond of boating
and shooting.

Lake Winneconne and the adjoining Lake
Poygan are visited by myriads of wild water
fowl, that feed on the wild rice. Among them
are found, in large numbers, blue and green
winged teal, mallards, wood-duck and other


The place now contains a saw-mill, a saw
and shingle-mill, a cheese-factory, two hotels,
seven stores, dealing in general merchandise,
a drug store, an exchange bank, two millinery
shops, two boot and shoe shops, a meat mar-
ket, two livery stables, and a number of
mechanic shops.

There are five churches — the Baptist, Meth-
odist, Presbyterian, Norwegian Lutheran and
Catholic. The Baptist is a fine brick structure
and the others, handsome frame edifices.

There are two fine school buildings — one
brick, which cost $8,000; the other, frame,
costing $4,000. They are both graded schools
and employ five teachers.



Situation and Description — Farm — Buildings and Roads — Soil,
Timber and Face of the Country — Social and Educational
Facilities — Churches, Schools and Population — Town
Officers — Early Settlers — First Schools — First Religious
Services — Organization of the Town — Organic Election —
The Lost Partridge Child — Interesting Relicts of French
Indian days.

sHE Town of Vinland, lying east of
Winneconne, and with its southeastern
portion bordering on Lake Winne-
bago, comprises the north two-thirds
of Township 19, Range 16, and nearly
five sections in Township 19, Range
17. The western two-thirds of the town was
originally prairie and openings/ its surface
beautifully undulating and entirely free from
waste lands. The soil is a rich, deep black
loam, with limestone clay base, and is remark-
ably productive, and of exhaustible fertility,
with proper tillage. In its present highly
improved state, it is a lovely tract of country;
and it would be difficult to find in the State




any town that can surpass it in the number of
fine farm buildings, highly improved farms,
and good roads.

The eastern part of the town was originally
covered with a heavy growth of maple, oak,
hickory, butternut, elm, basswood and other
varieties of forest trees. The soil of this
portion is a rich vegetable mould, overlying
clay. While the whole town is well adapted
to grain raising, it is also one of the best for
stock raising and dairying. Good well-water
is readily obtainable, in all localities, by digging
or drilling.

The inhabitants of this town are composed
largely of people from the Eastern States, and
their descendants, with some Germans, Irish
and other European nationalities.

The houses, many of which are very fine
residences, and the large barns and tidy appear-
ance of the farms, give every evidence of a
very general thrift and prosperity. Many of
the homes in this town are luxuriously fur-
nished, and the farms are provided with the
modern conveniences of agriculture.

The town has also good social and educa-
tional facilities, being well provided with
school-houses and churches, and is also in
proximity to the cities of Oshkosh and Nee-


There are three churches within the town,
and two joint churches across the highway, in
adjoining towns.

The free-will Baptist church, on Section 8;
another of the same denomination, on Section
13. TheMethodistEpiscopal, at Clemansville,
one of the same denomination across the line
in the Town of Clayton, and one on Section
20, in the eastern part of the town.

There are eight school-houses in the town,
four hundred and five children, between the
ages of four and twenty.

There is one post-office in the Town of

The population, given in the state census of
1875, was one thousand one hundred and forty


The present town officers are: Anthony
Bowers, chairman; James P. Davis, W. S.
Frazier, supervisors; A. T. Cronkhite, Clerk;
L. B. Bemis, treasurer; J. F. Libby, assessor,
A. Bowers, Hiram Miracle, Sr. , S. B. Doty,
G. M. Beardsmore, justices.

The first settlement in the town was made
in the spring of 1846, by N. P. Tuttle, and
immediately after, Horace Clemans located on

Southeast corner of Section 21, (now Clemans-
ville); Jeremiah Vosburg, on Section 15, In
June, William W. Libbey settled on Section
13; about the same time came Charles Scott,
on Section 8; Wakeman Partridge, Section 21 ;
William Swan, Silas M. Allen, Jacob and Wal-
ter H. Weed, William G. Gumaer and Thomas
Knott, also came the same year. In 1847,
the number was largely increased, and among
the arrivals of this year were: Luther and
Henry Robinson, I. W. Mears, Seth Wyman,
George Clark, Charles Libbey, William Mer-
riman, Lorin. B. Bemis and A. T. Cronkhite.

The first school-house was a frame building
erected in 1847, on the northeast corner of the
southeast quarter of Section 9, under the
supervision of Jeremiah Vosburg. Miss Luc)-
Alden was the first teacher in this town, com-
mencing the same fall.

In 1849, a joint school district was set oft'
in the northeastern part of the town, and the
southeastern part of Clayton, and the first
public school-house erected, on the northeast
corner of Section 2 (now known as Gilling-
ham's Corners ) , and here Miss Elizabeth
McLean taught the first public school, in the
.summer of 1849.

The first birth in the town, was a son of N.
P. Tuttle.

At the time of the organization of the town,
in 1849, it included two tiers of sections on
the South, which were subsequently set off to
the Town of Oshkosh. and for this reason the
leading incidents of the two towns were so
intimately connected, that it is found impos-
sible, at the present time, to distinguish
between the two.

Divine services were held in various parts
of the original town, at an early period, by
Rev. O. P. Clinton, then residing at Neenah,
and Rev. Slingerland, from Stockbridge,
probably as early as 1846.


The organization of the town was consum-
mated April 3, 1849, at an election held by
virtue of an act of the legislature, approved
March 15, 1849, Said election was held at
the house of Samuel L. Brooks, now within the
Town of Oshkosh. Horace Clemans was
chosen chairman; Orlando B. Reed, clerk;
Thomas Kimball and Charles Scott, inspectors.
It was voted to raise a tax of twenty-five
dollars, to pay supervisors; twenty dollars to
pay clerk and six dollars to pay school super- ■
intendent. m

There were fifty-seven votes cast, electing

1 846-79-]



Orlando B. Reed, chairman; Corydon L.
Rich and Hiram Wilcox, supervisors; Jacob
Weed, clerk; Isaac W. Mears, treasurer; A. T.
Cronkhite, assessor; Watson Bowron, Dan
Emery and Luther Robinson, justices; Samuel
Brooks, Superintendent; Gilbert Brooks, Jerry
Bemis and J. C. Nutter, constables; Samuel
Brooks, sealer.

At the election April 2, 1850, there were
one hundred and ten votes cast, electing Wat-
son Bowron, chairman; Timothy Allen and
David Murray, supervisors; William T. Merri-
man, clerk; Thomas Kimball, collector and
treasurer; Corydon L. Rich, assessor; Charles
E. Scott, superintendent; Horace Clemans
and Dan Emery, justices; Joel C. Nutter, F.
L. King and Joseph Langley, constables.

Sixty-five votes were cast for the removal of
the county seat to Buttes des Morts, and forty-
three against removal.

This town was the scene of a very exciting
event, in the early day. A little son of Mr.
Alvin Partridge, living in the northern part of
the town, mysteriously disappeared, and was
never found. The poor little fellow wandered
off from a sugar-camp in the woods, where
he was staying with his parents, who were
making maple-sugar. When night came and
the parents had failed to find him, they were
frantic with grief. The whole community
then turned out and scoured the woods; but
their search was fruitless. It is now thought
that he wandered off to the marshes, which
were partly frozen, and escaping observation
perished; for the remains of a small child were
afterwards found in the vicinity. The history
of this occurrence, and the supposed discovery
of the child among the Indians, is fully nar-
rated on pages one hundred and seventeen and
eighteen, of this work.

Mr. D. C. Church is now the owner of the
Partridge farm, on which he resides. It is a
beautiful place, and Mr. Church is the possessor
of several very interesting relics of Indian-
French days, in this section; among them the
pipe of peace, or calumet of Chief Oshkosh;
and the hatchet-pipe of Augustin Grignon.
He also presented to the Lawrence University,
a medal from George the Third to Wildcat,
a Pottawattomie chief, and which Mr. Church
obtained from Louis B. Porlier.

One of the fine farms of Vinland, is that of
Mr. Samuel Pratt, one of the pioneers who
settled there in 1847, and prominent among
the old settlers and prosperous farmers of the
town are, L. B. Beemis, A. B. Devins, J. F.
Libby, Levy P. Worden, William Demhart.
the Vosburgs, J. Whitacre, H. Clemans, C.
Newman, A. Bowers, S. A.March, J. Ihrig,

G. M. and J. B. Beardsmore, William Thayer
and W. H. Scott.

The publisher of this work is indebted to
Mr. A. T. Cronkhite, long prominent in the
town affairs, for kind attentions and generous

Mr. Cronkhite migrated from Saratoga
Springs, New York, in 'l'846, to Wisconsin,
and in June 1847, settled in what subsequently
became the town of Vinland. In 1848 he
moved to the Village of Winnebago Rapids,
now Neenah, and opened the first drug store
in that place. He subsequently became mine
host of the Winnebago Hotel; and among
the recollections of the earlier settlers, and
travelers of Northern Wisconsin, the name of

Dud " Cronkhite will be associated with the
Winnebago Hotel — a hearty welcome and a
generous entertainment. In 1855, he returned
to his much loved occupation, that of farming,
and has been on his farm in Vinland from
that time to the present.

Among the illustrations in this work will be
found a view of the farm of E. L. Bartlett.
This handsome place is most eligibly situated,
and is one of the finest farms in the town,
with good buildings and all the conveniences
of farm life. The publisher of this work is
indebted to Mr. Bartlett for aid and encourage-
ment in its publication.



Situation — Face of the Country — Soil — Timber — Produc-
tions — Early Settlement — First Schools — Town Organi-
zation — Organic Election — Present Town Officers — Pop-
ulation — Schools — L. Hinman's Farm.

f^LAYTON, one of the northern towns of
the county, is bounded north by Green-
ville, in Outagamie County, east by
Menasha and Neenah, south by Vin-
land, and west by Winchester, compris-
ing all of Township 20, Range 16.
The surface is generally undulating and occas-
ionally quite rolling, entirely free from any
prominent elevations, it is high above the
neighboring lakes and is susceptible of easy

The soil is a rich loam, with an admi.xture of
sand, and, in some places along the western
border, the sand predominates. Few towns
present a soil and surface better adapted to all
branches of agriculture than this.

The original timber was, to a great extent,




burr-oak, in the form of "oak openings," but
the northern part, some two miles in width,
was covered with a forest of oak, maple, elm,
basswood and hickory; and along the eastern
portion the same varieties are found to a small

There are no streams of note. Rat River, in
the northwest, is a small stream meandering
through low natural meadows, and, after pass-
ing through the Town of Winchester, empties
into Boom Bay, in the Town of Wolf River.

All the grains, vegetables and grasses of this
latitude are successfully raised in Clayton, and
the usual varieties of fruits are readily pro-
duced. Owing to the topographical formation,
natural meadows are abundant, and stock-
raising and dairying are among the important


The first settlement in the town was made
in the fall of 1846. D. C. Darrow and William
Berry were the first settlers. About the same
time came Alexander Murray and John Axtell,
followed soon after by Benj. George, William
Robinson and Benj. Strong.

In the spring of that year, William M.
Stewart, Salem Holbrook, D. C. Darrow and
Asahel Jenkins made selections of farms in the

In June, L. H. Brown purchased the east
half of the northeast quarter of Section 15.

Geo. W. Giddings, W. H. Scott, J. S. Roblee
and Truman Thompson also made settlements
during that year. Some brought their families
during the fall; the others in the following

Darrow settled on the south side of Section
36, Giddings on the south half of Section 14,
Roblee, northeast of Section 15.

Immediately after their arrival, in the fall.
Berry and Axtell built a shanty, which they
occupied in common, and which, for want of
lumber, they had covered with marsh hay.
They had barely got settled in their new quar-
ters, and, as the saying is, had hardly got "the
hang of the barn," when the treacherous roof
took fire and the entire fabric was consumed
with nearly all its contents. The men were at
work but a short distance away, and discov-
ered the fire when it first issued from the roof,
but could do nothing to extinguish it. Mrs.
Axtell picked up a trunk which had contained
their money, as she was driven from the
shanty, and was, of course, very thankful that
the money was saved; but Mr. Axtell soon
realized the fact that he had put the money in
a pocket of a pair of pants, which were hang-
ing the shanty, and were consumed.

In January, 1847, L. H. Brown drove to the

little settlement of Algoma, where he met C. J.
Coont who offered him twenty dollars if he
would carry him (Coon) to Green Bay, before
the closing of the land office, that day. Twenty
dollars being, at that time, a great inducement,
Mr. Brown accepted the offer, and, sending
word to his wife, by a neighbor, informing her
where he had gone, as she was alone, he
started at about eight o'clock, with the horses
and sleigh he had driven from home.

They arrived at Green Bay, a distance, all
told, of fifty-six miles, with no roads until they
crossed the Fo.x River at Wrightstown, and
struck the military road. Arriving at Green
Bay, a snow-storm set in which detained them
four days.

On Mr. Brown's return home he learned
that his wife had only received his message
from Algoma a few hours before, and had been
entirely ignorant of his whereabouts.

The same spring, 1847, Mr. Brown
brought the boiler for Foreman & Daggett's
saw-mill, at Algoma, from Milwaukee. He
went to Milwaukee with four horses, but find-
ing these insufficient, started on his return
with six, and was often compelled to add two
more. During the summer, Mr. Brown being
at work just out of sight of the house, five
Indians came along, and finding Mrs. Brown
alone, demanded something to eat; being
somewhat timid, she set everything eatable
before them, which they soon devoured and
directed her to make a good fire, as the\-
wished to run some bullets. Stepping outside
the door for wood, she caught sight of her
husband and beckoned him to the house, where
he found they had taken the spider to melt
lead; but he very soon convinced them that
it was not a desirable place to run bullets.

The same year, G. W. Giddings and Mr.
Roblee erected a private school-house, and Miss
Elizabeth McLean was employed as teacher.

In 1849, a joint school district was set oft"
in the southeast of Clayton, and northeast of
Vinland, and a school-house erected at what
is now known as Gillingham's Corners. Miss
McLean here taught the first public school in
the summer of 1849, although the school-

Online LibraryRichard J HarneyHistory of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest → online text (page 56 of 71)