Richard J Harney.

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

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house was, strictly speaking, in Vinland.

In 1849, a school-house was built in District
number two; Giddings and Roblee neighbor-
hood. This was literally the first public
school-house in the town, and Miss Amanda
Hicks was the first teacher here, in 1850.


By an act of the legislature, approved March*
21 , 1849, Town 20, Range 16, was set off from '

1 847-75-]



Neenah, and organized as the Town of Clay-
ton, the first election to be held at the house
of G. W. Giddings, the first Tuesday in April

The organic election was held in pursuance
of the law, the second Tuesday in April 1849,
George W. Giddings was chosen chairman;
Benjamin Strong and Henry Bashford, inspec-

Thirty-six votes were polled, which resulted
in the election of George W. Giddings, chair-
man; Benjamin Strong and Cyrenus Baldwin,
supervisors; James Balfour, clerk; Lewis H.
Brown, treasurer; Benjamin George, assessor;
James Balfour, superintendent of schools;
Alfred Hubbard, Daniel C. Darrow, Thomas
Conneff and William S. Hubbard, justices,
William T. Beattie, Jerome Bailey and Biley
Bashford, constables.

[These justices and constables were prob-
ably not all elected, but were all voted for,
and the record does not show who or hov\'
many were elected, or to be elected.]

The second town election was held at the
house of William T. Beattie, April 2, 1850.
William M. Stewart was elected chairman;
Henry Bashford and John Lester, supervisors;
Daniel Nugent, clerk; Benjamin Strong, col-
lector and treasurer; Daniel C. Darrow,
assessor; Henry C. Janes, superintendent of
schools; John Halverson, Alfred Hubbard and
William Bailey, justices; William Hubbard,
Truman Thompson and Jerome Bailey, con-


Jacob Howard, chairman; James Brien,
Peter Walter, supervisors; Emanuel Jones,
treasurer; CharlesLudermann, clerk; Harlan P.
Giddings, assessor; Jacob Howard, Benjamin
Strong, justices.

The population of the town in 1855, was
seven hundred and seventy-five; in 1875, one
thousand three hundred.

In 1 879 there were ten schools and five hund-
red and twenty-three scholars.


The illustration here given of the handsome
farm of Mr. L. Hinman, serves to show the
appearance of the better class of farms in this

This beautiful place is located on the south
line of the town, and is about seven miles
from the city of Neenah. It contains three
hundred and fifty acres of handsome, undula-
ting land, formerly openings, now in a high
state of cultivation, with commodious out-
buildings and barns, the largest of which is
fifty by one hundred feet; and the farm is well

provided with the modern conveniences of
agriculture. This farm has produced in some
seasons, among other crops, one thousand
eight hundred bushels of grain, and one hund-
red to one hundred and twenty-five tons of

The residence is a handsome one, and with
its picturesque surroundings, forms a pleasant
rural scene.

Mr. Hinman is one of the earliest settlers
in that part of the county; having settled on
this farm in 1847, and has helped to redeem
the country from a wilderness — experiencing
the hardships and privations incident to pion-
eer life, and now, as one of the influential and
highly respected citizens of this county, is
enjoying the fruits of his earlier years of toil.

Mr. Hinman's house is one where the guest
is received cordially, and with a kindness and
hospitality that reminds one of the generous
manners and customs of pioneer days.



Face and Character of Ihe Country — Soil — Timber — Peculiar
Geological Formation — Character of the Population — Early
Settlement — First Births, Schools and Religious Services —
Town Organization — Organic Election — Change in Bound-
aiies — Churches — Town Officers.

HE town of Winchester, one of the
northern towns, is bounded north by
the Town of Dale, in Outagamie
County, east by Clayton, south by
Winneconne, and west by the Town
of Wolf River. The northern part is
generally low and level, with occasional low
hills and ridges, and frequent marshes, which
in some places produce cedar and tamarack;
but are generally of little value.

Rat River, running through this part of the
town from Section i , in the northeast, a little
south of west, to where it leaves in the north-
ern part of Section 18, is bordered by
extensive meadow lands of inferior quality.
The center part from the east is higher, often
breaking into hills and ridges of considerable
altitude, with smaller marshes and low-grounds
between, while in the south it is somewhat
rolling, but generally low and level.

The soil, principally of clay in the low-
grounds, is frequently covered with a deep
vegetable mold, or in many places with peat
throughout the marshes of the northern part,
while the arable portion of this section is little
else than clay. In the west and south the




clay is overlaid with a sandy loam, and in
some places a black vegetable mold, of the
character usually found in timbered land.
Through the middle and eastern portion is
found a singular formation. In ascending the
ridges and small hills, which here abound,
from the clay of the lower level, a prominent
outcrop of limestone is crossed, the lower
hills formed entirely of yellow sand, and rest-
ing immediately thereon, while the higher
hills are surmounted by a deposite of clay and
gravel overlying the sand. This clay and
gravel makes the finest of carriage roads, when
placed upon the muddy flats or sandy hills.
These sand hills are often conical and quite
small in size, resembling mounds, and although
the sand has in some places washed from above
and concealed the rock from sight, it is seldom
wanting at a certain height. In the western
part of the town, two quarries of sand stone
have been found of very good quality and
have been worked to some extent.

The timber on the sand-hills is of black
or pin-oak; in the low-lands elm, basswood,
popular, etc., with scattering areas of oak

The usual crops are raised here, but the
soil is not as desirable as in other parts of the
county, and the grasses although in great
abundance, are poor in quality. Springs and
small streams are common.

The population is composed largely of Nor-
wegians, with a settlement of Germans in the
west, and a few families of Welch and Ameri-


The first settlement in the town was made
by Jerome Hopkins, in the winter of 1847-8,
followed in the spring by Samuel Rogers and
family; James H. Jones -:ame soon after and
selected the farm where he still resides, also
the one occupied by his father, Charles Jones;
and both moved their families in the same



The first birth occurred in the family of Mr.
Hopkins, the same season.

A school district was set off in 1849, and a
log school-house erected.

The first religious services were held in June,
1850, Rev. Fredrick Partridge officiating, and,
during the year. Rev. Mary became the first
resident clergyman; Mrs. Mary teaching
the first school in the log house mentioned.

The first death was that of Samuel Rogers,
father of the present resident of that name,
September i, 1850, at the age of ninety-two


The Town of Winchester was set off and
organized by the County Board, by an order
dated November 11, 1851, to take effect April
6, 1852, and comprised all of Township 20,
Range 15, and fractional parts of Townships
19 and 20, Range 14, lying east of Wolf

At the organic election, April 6, 1852, S. R.
Hopkins was chosen chait-man; Ole Oleson
and George Hopkins, inspectors. Whole
number of votes cast, forty-seven, electing
John Annunson, chairman; George Ohlcr and
Anders Jergerson, supervisors; S. R. Hopkins,
clerk; Halver Annunson, assessor; Ole Hal-
verson, treasurer; S. R. Hopkins, George
Ohler and John Annunson, justices, William
Hall, Perry Hopkins, and Ole Hanson, con-

The Winchester post-office was established
October, 1852, and Sherman R. Hopkins
appointed postmaster. S. N. Clark is the
present incumbent.

January 4, 1855, the Town of Orihula (Wolf
River, which see,) was *ct off, including the ter-
ritory lying east of Wolf River and west of the
section line, between Sections 22 and 23, Town
20, Range 14.


In 1855, Winchester contained one school
with forty-eight scholars, and a population of
one hundred and eighty-four.

Population in 1875. 1,101.

In 1878, four schools and four hundred and
seventy-seven scholars.

Total valuation of ta.xable property in 1855,
$29,592. In 1877, $290,435-


January 8, 1873, the two tiers of sections
lying west of section line between Sections 22
and 23, were set off and attached to the Towir
of Wolf River, and the present boundaries

On the northwest corner of Section 24, two
comfortable and substantial looking brick
churches have been erected, both belonging to
the same persuasion — Norwegian Evangelical
Lutheran, and in the northern part of Section
19, in the German Settlement, is a church for
tlieir accommodation.

Wesley Mott, chairman; S. Knudson, and
Herman Neihring, supervisors; P. N. Lund,
clerk; Ole H. Uvaas, treasurer; Ole S. Oleson,
assessor, Wesley Mott and Ole S. Oleson,






Situation — Lake Poygan — Wolf River — Boom Bay — Rafting
Logs — Physical Character — Soil — Timber — First Settlers —
First Births, Marriages and Schools — Indian Neighbors — •
Town Organization — Organic Election — Change of Name,
and Boundaries — Churches — Post-office — Schools — Town

jHE Town of Wolf River is the north-
western town in the county; embracing
Township 20, Range 14, and is bounded
on the north by the Town of Caledonia,
in Waupaca County; east by Win-
chester; south by Poygan, and west
by Bloomfield, in Waushara County.

Lake Poygan, extending the entire length
of the town, on the south, occupies nearly
four sections. Wolf River, entering the town
on Section 5, runs some six miles in a south-
easterly direction; thence southwesterly about
four miles, where it empties into Lake Poy-
gan, on the southwest corner of Section 33.
Rat River, rising to the eastward, in the
Town of Clayton, running through the Town
of Winchester, enters the town in the northern
part of Section 13, and making its way to the
south and east, some three miles, empties
into Wolf River in Section 23.

Boom Bay is also situated in the southeast
part of the town, and is connected directly
with the Wolf River by an artificial channel
three-fourths of a mile in length, which leaves
the river some four miles above its outlet to
the lake Upon this bay, and for a distance
of ten miles along the river above, are stored,
sorted and rafted, the immense products of the
pineries of the Wolf River and its tributaries,
including pine, hemlock, bass and oak logs,
cedar logs, telegraph poles, fence posts and
square timber, averaging nearly or quite, two
hundred million feet per annum.

During the rafting season, the surface of
this bay and the river above, is literally cov-
ered with the above named commodities,
almost to the exclusion of steamboat naviga-
tion, and requiring a small army of men for
their care, and to prepare them for distribution;
but no written account can convey an idea of
the magnitude and importance of this busi-
ness. A trip to Boom Bay and up the river
to Fremont, during the rafting season, will
repay any one who has never been there.
The surface of the town is generally low
and level. In some portions sufficiently high
and undulating to afford good cultivation.

The southern portion in the vicinity of Wolf
and Rat Rivers, and from the confluence of
these streams to the north line of the town,
on the east side of the Wolf, is principally
marsh land.

The predominating soil is sand to a depth
as far as explorations have been made, and
some portions are clay soil; and limited tracts
are found of black loam. Small tamarack,
and cranberry marshes are frequent.

The more elevated lands of this town were
originally covered with a dense forest growth,
composed of hard-maple, hickory, ironwood,
various kinds of oak, elm, white-birch, bass-
wood, poplar and a few small bodies of pine,
while scattering pines are quite common. A
large percentage of the original timber is still

The chief products are: Wheat on new
lands, rye, corn in favorable seasons, and
vegetables; good wild hay is cut on some of
the marshes, and small tracts of marsh have
been purchased for raising cranberries ;
although to the present time with but indiffer-
ent success.

An extensive muskrat plantation has for
several years proved as profitable as any
branch of agriculture in the town.

The standard of health would seem to be
fully up to the average of Wisconsin, notwith-
standing the comparatively large amount of
low and marshy land, which has long been
attributed to the fact that the extensive drainage
of Wolf River, is largely from the pine,
tamarack and cedar country of the north.


Mr. Andrew Merton was the first white
settler within the limits of the present town.
Residing at Plymouth, Sheboygan County,
and desirous of locating a home on some
large stream or body of water, he explored
the unbroken wilderness along the Lower
Wolf River, and selected a site on the bank
of that stream, in the northwest quarter of
Section 16, since known as " Merton's Land-
ing," and here he built a shanty and located
his family in the fall of 1849, and was imme-
diately joined by Albert Neuschaeffer and Her-
man Page, who came from the same neighbor-
hood in Sheboygan County.

Charles Boyson and family, also settled in
the southwestern part of the town, in the same

These few persons were for several years,
the only white residents in the town. A long
distance from the habitation of man, without
roads or bridges, cut off from intercourse,
except with each other and their Indian neigh-
bors, unless from some pressing necessity,




some one of their number was compelled to
make the trip to Oshkosh, their privations
and sacrifices must have been in the extreme,
in fact, far greater than under ordinary circum-
stances of pioneer life.

Until 1852, their condition seems to have
met with but little change. Dependent upon
Oshkosh for such necessaries as they could not
raise or produce at home, and upon the
pioneer grist-mill of D. W. Forman & Co., at
Algoma, for convertmg their small crops of
grain into edible form; and these places could
only be reached by a journey of some twenty-
five miles on foot (fifty miles to go and return).
During some six or seven months of the j'ear
that the river and lake were free from ice, a
boat for the transportation of supplies became
a necessity. This being the only means of
obtaining anything too heavy to be carried on
aman'sback, Messrs. Neuschaeffcr and Page set
about the construction of a "dug-out" (canoe)
from a large pine log about eighteen feet long,
but not being familiar with this sort of craft,
their efforts were not crowned with perfect
success; however, such as it was, it was com-
pleted and served many a good turn. On one
trip they were freighted with three thousand
shingles, which they were taking to market, at
Oshkosh, and manned by three men, when a
storm overtook them at the head of Lake
Buttes des Morts, with great difficulty they
reached the point above the foot of the lake,
where they found still greater difiRculty in

In the fall of 1851, the steamer Berlin made
a very few trips up the river. During the
season of 1852, steamboat arrivals at Merton's
Landing were frequent and from that time they
became daily.


The first birth was that of Mary, a daughter
of Charles Boyson, in the early winter of

The first marriage, Mr. Neuschaefferand Miss
Emily Hahn, in October, Ira Sumner, officiat-

The first death, that of Jacob Ketecer, Jr., a
son of Jacob Ketecer, Sr., which occurred in
the fall of 1857.

There being but few settlers in the town and
those considerably scattered, very little atten-
tion was paid to the cause of education, and
no attempt was made in that direction until the
spring of 1858, when Mrs. Mary Hagersopened
a school at her house, and, in 1859, the first
public school-house was erected.

There. are at this time eight school-houses in
the town, and three hundred and ninety-three

scholars enrolled, of which two hundred and
twenty attend school.


Mr. Merton states that for several years his
neighbors were almost entirely Indians, and
that he has never found a more honest or quiet

In the fall of 1862 Mr. Merton was elected
Register of Deeds for Winnebago County, when
he removed to Oshkosh, upon taking the office
in 1863; was re-elected in 1864, and, upon the
expiration of his second term, returned to his
old home, after which he again became a resi-
dent of Oshkosh, where he will doubtless
spend the remainder of his life.


By order of the County Board of Super-
visors, dated January 4, 1855, all that part of
Township 20, Range 14, lying west of Wolf
River, and that lying east of Wolf River and
west of the cut off, and west of the section line,
between Sections 22 and 23, was set off from
the town of Winneconne and Winchester, and
organized as a separate town, to be called
Orihula; the first election to be held at the
house of Andrew Merton.

The organic election was held on Monday,
April 3, 1855. Lyman Pomeroy was chosen
chairman, Lewis Braun and Henry Spindler,
inspectors, and Andrew Merton, clerk. The
total number of votes polled was six, of which
A. Merton and Benj. Brickley each received
(for the office of chairman) three; Lewis Braun
and AqUilla Eastman, for supervisors, each
three votes, and Lyman Pomeroy and Andrew
Merton, each three votes, for the same oflfice.
Thus far a tie. Lyman Pomeroy was elected
clerk; Gottleib Spindler, Sr. , treasurer; Aquilla
Eastman, assessor; Albert Neuschaeffer, consta-
ble; Andrew Merton superintendent of schools.
Thomas Eastman, Lewis Braun, Andrew Mer-
ton and Lyman Pomeroy were all candidates
for the office of justice of the peace; who or
how many were elected is not for me to
decide, and, as the record is silent upon the
subject, we may reasonably conjecture that
they all qualified and acted.

On the succeeding day, April 4th, the
officers of the election again met, and the can-
didates for chairman and supervisors being
present, lots were drawn, which resulted in the
election of Andrew Merton, chairman, Aquilla
Eastman and Lewis Braun, supervisors.

At the election April 5, 1856, the officers
elected were Lyman Pomeroy, chairman; Her-
man Page and Leonard Waterman, super-
visors; C. Hulton, clerk; A. B. Whigtman
and Herman Page, justices; L. Waterman and




Benj. Brickley, assessors; C. Pitt, treasuier;
G. Spindler and John Hickman, constables.
Highest number of votes cast was twenty.

January 9, 1861, the name of Orihula was,
by order of the County Board, changed to
Wolf River, and, January 8, 1873, the two
tiers of sections in the eastern part of Town-
ship 20, Range 14, were detached from Win-
chester and added to this town.


There are at the present, two churches in
the town, both German and Protestant.

September 29, 1865, a post-office was estab-
lished at Merton's Landing, and called Orihula;
George Theby was appointed the first post-

A post-office was also located at Spiegle-
berg's Landing, on Boom Bay, Section 36,
and called Zoar, May 22, 1871, the first post-
master was William Spiegleberg.

In 1875, the population of the town was
eight hundred and seventy-nine.

At the present time the town contains eight
school-houses and three hundred and ninety-
three children between the ages of four and
twenty years.


Joseph Hoffberger, chairman, Charles Dub-
berphul and Dominic Sieger, supervisors;
Albert Neuschaeffer, clerk; John Hoffberger,
treasurer; Gotthelf Metzig, assessor; Frank
Gruenhagen, Carl Dobberphul and Fred Radke,



Situation — Originally Forest Land— Face of the Country — Soil
— Timber — Water — Farms — People — Population — Schools
— Church — Menomonee Pay Ground — First Birth — First
School — Post-office — Organization of the Town — Organic
Election — Present Town Officers.

iHE Town of Poygan, situated on the
western border of the county, and
south of Lake Poygan, which forms
its entire northern border, comprises
Fractional Township 19, Range 14. It
was originally forest land, covered with a fine
growth of oak, maple, hickory, basswood and
other varieties. It formed a portion of what
was once known as the Indian Land, and was
included in the Menominee purchase of 1848.
The face of the country is generally undu-

lating. In some of the western portions of
the town it is more level, and extensive hay
marshes are found in that location.

The town, as a whole, is fine farming land,
the soil of which varies from a rich black loam
to a clay soil, with small areas of sandy soil,
and is generally very fertile; good water and
timber are abundant. The land is generally
cleared, with the exception of wood lots,
which have been preserved, and which add
very much to the handsome appearance of the

The main traveled roads are good, and a
great portion of the cultivated fields are
cleared of stumps. The farms are generally
in a good state of cultivation, with comfort-
able dwellings and large barns, and the people
thrifty, intelligent, and surrounded with the
comforts and conveniences of farm life.

The population is composed principally of
Americans, Irish and Germans; the Irish pre-
dominating, and the people, as a whole, are
as hospitable and courteous a community as
can be found in this county.

The educational interests have been well
looked after. In 1855, there was a popula-
tion of four hundred and one, with five school-
houses and one hundred and eighteen scholars.
In 187s, there were six hundred and eighty-
eight inhabitants; and there are now six school-
houses and three hundred and forty-seven
scholars. There is also a town-hall and a
neat Catholic Church, with a resident priest
and a large congregation.


On the southern shore of the lake, in Sec-
tion 16, is the site of the old Memomonee
" Pay Ground," where annually from 1838 to
1851, about October in each year, were
assembled the rapidly-diminishing bands of
this once formidable tribe. Here they were
met by the Government agents, whose duty
it was to deal out a small quantity of rusty
pork, a few pounds of damaged tobacco,
with blankets, and some money. A company
of soldiers were generally on duty to guard
these treasures from the avarice and cupidity
of the hundreds of white men who congre-
gated here as promptly as the natives them-
selves. White and half-breed traders, who
for the year past, had been scattered over the
country trapping with the Indians for furs,
peltries, maple sugar and cranberries, would
invariably manage to be on the ground at pay
day. Merchants from all parts of the country,
from Green Bay, Appleton, Neenah, Oshkosh,
Milwaukee, Prairie du Chien, Chicago, Detroit
and elsewhere, would each lay in a stock of
Indian goods, which about the appointed



[1849 79-

time were shipped to the pay ground. About
this time, gamblers in flocks, like wild geese
and ducks, were seen flying northward.

Eating-houses were distributed over the
ground in profusion.

The only thing prohibited here was spiritu-
ous liquors, consequently large quantities
were offered for sale upon the outskirts of the ■
forbidden ground, and sub rosa under the very

Online LibraryRichard J HarneyHistory of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest → online text (page 57 of 71)