|For My Cousins||Juneau County, Wisconsin
Maps and Written History (as of 1878)
From: Illustrated Historical Atlas of Wisconsin
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History of Juneau County
(as written in 1878)
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|The following transcription was taken verbatim from the above-referenced 1878 atlas (starting at page 216). I have broken the lengthy paragraphs into shorter paragraphs to make it easier to read, but otherwise have tried to be true to the spelling, text and punctuation of the original document. Although I've done my best to be accurate, there may be transcription errors that I failed to catch.|
JUNEAU COUNTY (as of 1878):
Up to 1857, the territory now known as Juneau county, was embraced in Adams county. By an act of the legislature, passed March 8, 1855, the question of dividing Adams county, and setting off that part lying west of the Wisconsin river, was submitted to the people at the annual election in November, 1855. The county was organized, with full powers, in January, 1857.
The first county officers were elected the 1st Monday in February, 1857. The county seat was established at New Lisbon. At the first election about 1,100 votes were polled, the new county being then divided into eleven towns. The county officers were: Daniel Schermerhorn, county judge; M. F. Lyons, clerk of court; Fernando Windsor, district attorney; G. R. Nichols, sheriff; C. F. Cutler, clerk of board; Horace Croswell, register of deeds; George McCafferty, treasurer; E. D. Rogers, surveyor; R. R. Coombs, coroner.
Upon the 2d day of March the board of supervisors held their first meeting in the village of New Lisbon. The representation was from Plymouth, M. M. Baker; Fountain, J. P. Moulton; Lisbon, E. G. Little; Lindina, J. Cotter; Lemonweir, E. G. Shute; Seven Mile Creek, Wm. Taylor; Lyndon, James Hevey; Waucedah (afterward included in Necedah) J. Towles; Summit, John Chadwick; Germantown, I. B. B. Hale; Necedah, Thomas Western.
The first point occupied by the whites on the upper Wisconsin is now within the limits of this county, its site being on the bank of the Wisconsin, in the northeast corner of the county, in township twenty, range five east. Here, some time previous to 1827, one of the Grignons opened a trading post and farming establishment, carrying on business with the Winnebago and Menomonee Indians, and, in subsequent years, feeding the lumbermen on their way to the pineries above.
One Provonsel, of Canadian French extraction, had, at a quite early date, a trading post, which he occupied for some considerable time, about two miles north of Pete-en-well Rock, in the present town of Armenia. Here his son Frank was born. This Frank Provonsel, whose mother is supposed to have been a squaw, was probably the first child of white paternity born in this county. He lived afterwards with his father at a trading post, which was established about 1836, some three miles from the mouth of the Lemonweir river, and on that stream. After his father's death he lived a roving life, though making his home near the present village of Necedah, until the year 1871, when he was shot in a quarrel with Bill Dandy, at that time a chief of the Winnebagoes.
In the winter of 1835-6, Alva Culver, a man by the name of Barnette, and one or two others from Galena, Illinois, got out a raft of square timber near the mouth of the Lemonweir river for the government buildings at Fort Winnebago. In December, 1838, Amasa Wilson, C. B. Smith and R. V. Allen came up the river from Galena, and made the first permanent location that was made in the county.
Finding a supply of timber near the dells they built there a shanty, had commenced getting out square timber for the market. Their shanty stood upon the site now occupied by the residence of Allen, who remained in the county, and has continued to reside there to the present time, and who may justly claim, with Amasa Wilson, now of New Lisbon, the honor of being the first settlers in the county.
After the supply of pine timber was exhausted in his immediate vicinity, Allen gave his attention to piloting rafts through the "Dells" in high water; and for years his house was the only sign of civilization on the river between Point Bass and Portage City, a distance of seventy-five miles.
In the winter of 1838-9, John de la Ronde and Judge Walworth, both at that time engaged in trading with the Indians, and living at or near Fort Winnebago, hired a small crew of men and proceeded to get out square timber on the Lemonweir river, a few miles above its mouth. Before the following spring, La Ronde established a trading post farther up the river in the present village of Mauston. After its completion, he placed in charge a young Canadian by the name of Norbert St. Germaine. This was the only settlement made at this point until the summer of 1842, when J. B. McNeil and one Elmore, after making an exploration of the river and finding sufficient pine timber thereon to justify them in so doing, entered into partnership for the purpose of carrying on the lumber trade from this point.
Having procured the necessary crew of men and a supply of provisions, they began the erection of a mill and dam, which they completed early the following season. After running the mill for two years, McNeil sold out his interest to Joseph Hewlett, and Elmore, dying of camp fever shortly afterward, Hewlett became the sole proprietor. He continued to carry on the business until his death in 1849. He had, however, prior to this time, become connected in business with M. M. Maughs, of Galena, who came, in consequence to his death, into full possession of the mill property and its improvements. He subsequently became proprietor of the village, which afterward sprang up around him and which honored him by taking his name. The saw mill, now owned by B. Boorman, stands upon the original site of this mill.
After taking possession of the mill and premises, Maughs left his brother, Nicholas Maughs, in charge until 1851, when the former moved up from Galena with his family, and personally carried on the business until his death in 1863.
In the fall of 1843, Esquire Rice and John T. Kingston, while on a hunting tour, first explored the Yellow river from its mouth to the site of the present village of Necedah. In the winter of 1844-5, Thomas Western and John Warner, Jr., at that time residents of Grand Rapids, penetrated the wilderness as far as the present village of Dexterville, Wood county, but as the country on the Yellow river belonged to the Indians, they could not take advantage of their discoveries.
On the 23d day of September, 1848, (after the treaty by which all the lands east of Wolf river were ceded to the government by the Indians), Thos. Western and J. T. Kingston went to the present site of Necedah, and laid up a few rounds of a log shanty, blazed a tree upon either bank of the Yellow river, wrote their names thereon and the date of their claims, and took formal possession according to the claim laws of those early days.
A day or two subsequently Andrew Dunn and Hugh McFarlane reached the same locality, but finding the land already occupied, returned home. Western and Kingston returned to Grand Rapids, and formed a company shortly afterward to operate the Yellow river under the name of T. Western & Company, consisting of Thomas Western, of Vermont; John Warner, Jr., of New York; Thomas Miner, of New York; and John T. Kingston, of Illinois.
Arrangements were made to immediately commence operations, and Uriah Hill and Usal V. Jeffreys were hired to run a small raft of logs down to the mouth of the Yellow river, with instructions to put up a shanty about eighty rods below the mouth on the west side of the Wisconsin river. In the summer of 1849 the first settlement was made at Necedah. The log house, commenced the previous fall, was completed and a mill erected.
In May, 1850, Mr. Miner removed here with his family and erected a frame house, which now forms a part of the Bently house. This was the first frame house built in the county north of the Lemonweir. In the fall of this year, Ella Eliza, daughter of Mr. Miner, was born, and, in the latter part of July of the same year, Robert Thompson settled here with his family.
In 1842, Amasa Wilson penetrated the wilderness to a point about ten miles north of the present village of New Lisbon and on the Lemonweir river, and engaged in logging. The next spring he erected a mill on or near the site occupied by the present saw mill in New Lisbon, now owned by Messrs. Smart. In 1846, he sold the mill to one Joseph H. Finley and William Armstrong, the latter from Portage City, Finley being from Baraboo. Mr. Wilson went back for a time to Portage City, but in 1849 returned and built a saw mill about thirty miles north of New Lisbon, on the valley river.
In 1849, Byjah Ayers made a claim on the land now owned by Joel Bogard and built a log cabin thereon in order to hold his claim, it being the first one made in this section of the valley. In 1850, this claim was purchased by Mr. Bogard.
In the spring of 1851, Peter Webster made a claim and built a house upon the land now owned by Ira Bonham. Martin Tower located, with his family, upon the land where Joseph Nuttal now resides. John Parks built a house and opened up a farm on the land now owned by a Mr. Clark, in the southwest part of the town. The same time R. J. Clark and Clark Heffron located some five miles west on Fountain creek. Richard Webster and George Hernenian arrived during the summer with a few others. About the same time Samuel Crosby removed from Portage City and began operating in lumber at what is now known as Scott & Buckley's mill.
The years 1851 and 1852 were quite prosperous for the little settlement in witnessing large reinforcements to their numbers. It was then, also, that the first shadow of death that we find to have occurred in the limits of the present county visited these early pioneers: A child of Clark Heffron wandered away from home and was lost in the woods, and though every man, woman and child gave diligent search for days, no trace of her was ever found. About the same time one George Strickland, an employee of the mill, was struck by the "dog" and instantly killed.
M. C. Kenyon about this time received a commission as justice of the peace, and for a time did a thriving business in uniting in holy wedlock the young people who up to this time had been anxiously waiting for either a parson or an esquire who could perform that desirable service for them. Joseph Bonham and Miss Mary Parker were the first who availed themselves of the authority of this new dignitary in their midst, being made happy at the house of Captain Findley, who gave a bounteous reception, winding up with the first dance of the county.
As early as 1842, George Willard made an excursion from Baraboo into the southeastern part of the county as far as the present village of Wonewoc. In the winter of 1842-3, he engaged in lumbering in company with J. C. Chrystie, and Arch. Barker, and cutting a logging road through to the pine grove, made an encampment upon the present site of Rathborn's mill. In September, 1851, he built a log cabin on the place now owned by Samuel Veeder, in what is known as Plum valley. He, also, in the following summer, built what is now known as the Rock house, and moved his family hither. In the fall of the same year, he erected the first mill built in this section of the county.
In 1857, Ross Phillips and his two sons, Sanford Phillips, and Joseph Phillips, moved up from Baraboo, entered claims, and became the first settlers in the section. About the same time, a Mr. Hill settled about three miles south, on what is now known as Hill's prairie. During the ensuing year, Warren Kimball, Benjamin Cole, the Hutchinsons, John and Joseph, settled in the immediate neighborhood. From that time on, the growth of the settlement was rapid.
Until the incorporation of the village of Mauston, that territory was included within the town of Lindina. John C. Webster, at present a resident of the town of Lemonweir was one of its earliest settlers, together with William Stuart, who now resides about four miles from the village, and Martin Gray, who died some years since, and who was the proprietor of a very important addition to the village of Mauston.
The first settlement in the present town of Lemonweir was made by John Gregory, August 8, 1849, upon Spring creek, in the west part of the town. Later in the same year, Paul Mooney, made a location in the southeast part of the town.
The year following (1850), John McNoon, John Smith, William McCallum, E. G. Shute, William Crane and Charles Minchian, made settlements in the town. After the settlement of R. V. Allen, at the foot of the Dells, in the fall of 1838, Charles Clemence appears to have been the next settler in Lyndon, locating in that town in 1850.
Immediately following Clemence was Ephraim Kingsbury, who came in 1852. The town of Marion was first settled by John Mason, who came in 1857. This settlement was made on the Lemonweir prairie.
In 1849, Henry Carpenter and a man named Randall, engaged in logging, and commenced the erection of a saw-mill on the stream in the present town of Kildare. The mill was completed in the following year. In 1856, shortly after its completion, they sold out the mill and their claim to Jacob Rogers, who continued to operate the mill for some years thereafter.
The first permanent settlement in the town of Seven-Mile Creek, was made in 1851 by William Taylor, Chauncey B. Strong, David Henry, Adam Stultz and Alonzo Andrews, all these parties coming about the same time. To Elias Kingsley, C. Blish and Alex. Noble, is due the credit of being the first settlers in the town of Summit, they dating their residence in the county from 1852.
The first district school in the county, outside of village limits, was organized here in 1854, now known as district number three. Miss Sterling, daughter of Peter Sterling (now Mrs. Charles Huff, of Wonewoc), being the teacher at the salary of one dollar a week, she to "find herself."
In 1848, Urial Hill and Usal V. Jeffreys erected shanties upon the site of the present village of Germantown. Some two years afterward, Walter B. Gage and Jacob Gandlach moved to the place and, in 1852, laid out and platted the village. The same year (1852) Phillip Runkle located here.
In March, 1856, John Werner, Jr., removed from Necedah, and located the present village of Werner, erecting a mill and platting out the village, which was to bear his name.
In the spring of 1857, Mike Banfield and Frank Callen made the first settlement in the town of Armenia. They opened a hotel but soon sold out to Dr. Bronson, who, a year afterwards, sold out to Nathaniel Crosby. James Johnson settled in the town in 1853. Jesse D. Sarles and Joseph Hewitt came in 1855, and E. C. Bullis and A. P. Richer, the year following.
In 1847, Andrew Dunn built a saw-mill on the Lemonweir four miles from the present village of New Lisbon, and was the first settler of the town of Clearfield. The next year, Hugh McFarlane, in company with Dunn, built a second mill called the Shore mill on the same dam. Both of these mills were operated by Messrs. Scales & Ward, who, after running them some four years, abandoned them on account of the scarcity of timber in that vicinity.
Abijah Ayers, in 1844, first settled in the town of Fountain and established a claim which, four years later (1848), he sold to Joel Bryant.
TOPOGRAPHY AND GEOLOGY
Juneau county is bounded on the north by Wood county; east, by the Wisconsin river; south, by Sauk county, and west, by Vernon, Monroe, and Jackson. It is forty miles from southern to extreme northern limit, and in its narrowest part, from the Wisconsin river near Pete-en-will rock, to western limit, is only 14 and a half miles wide. Its area is about 850 square miles.
The county, in the southern part, is very hilly. The hills range generally northwest and southeast, and are, in some instances, over two or three hundred feet in height. The valleys generally are narrow in the extreme southern part, but wider in the north. The soil is generally good, consisting of clay upon the south and west, but is quite sandy in the north and east. The territory, originally, was nearly all timbered with scrub-oak, maple, and walnut, south, and pine and kinds north of the Lemonweir.
The natural features of this county show that this section has been particularly affected by volcanic eruptions, causing upheavals and depressions of the earth's crust in this locality, leaving in some instances towering bluffs standing alone as monuments of the history of a past age. Without doubt, large portions of the county were a considerable time covered by deep lakes.
In the northern portions of the county there are extensive marshes, which are covered with a natural growth of the cranberry. In the southeastern part, bordering on the Wisconsin, are the celebrated Dells of that river which are both the wonder and pride of the state, and which present such wonderful and marvelous grandeur to the beholder that they are becoming justly celebrated over the nation, and are drawing hither every season troops of excursionists and pleasure-seekers.
The Yellow, Lemonweir, Baraboo and Little Yellow, are the principal water courses, though there are a number of small streams coursing through the county and finally emptying into one or the other of these larger streams.
There are 38,055 acres at the present time under cultivation for the cereals; wheat, oats, corn, barley, and rye, while the raising of hops is becoming quite an extensive feature of farm labor. Fruit is becoming an article of export, especially in the northern townships. The county is well adapted to stock raising and dairy purposes. It has fine cheese factories in active operation. The agricultural society which was formed May 10, 1866, has done much to stimulate the farming industries of the county, and has created a healthy spirit of emulation upon the part of its inhabitants in vieing [as spelled in the original text] with the neighboring counties.
Joseph Langworthy was the first president of the society, and William H. Davis, secretary. Their meetings were held at Mauston, where they now have large and ample fair ground, and appropriate buildings for their exhibits. Mr. Langworthy introduced into the county the first blooded stock; and the county has now as fine breeds as can be found in any part of the state.
In the middle of the eighteenth century, the Sacs occupied this section as a portion of their territory. In the early part of the nineteenth century, the Winnebagoes had possession of it, and were recognized by the United States as the rightful owners. This region was part of land ceded by them to the general government in 1838. At the same time, they agreed to remove beyond the Mississippi, inside of eight months. This they failed to do, but remained here until 1840, when they were taken to Turkey river, Iowa.
Many of them returned soon after their removal, and are now on their old hunting grounds along the Wisconsin. They live a careless and lazy existence, and give but little trouble to the settlers. Within the limits of this county, at the Dells of the Wisconsin, Black Hawk was captured, in 1832, while fleeing from his pursuers. His capture was the closing scene of the Black Hawk war.
The original village of Mauston was surveyed and platted by M. M. Maughs, A. G. Williams and Martin Gray, July 14, 1854, and was incorporated in April, 1860. The first location of the county seat was at the village of New Lisbon, but after some considerable wrangling between the two villages, it was finally, on the month of March, 1864 by a vote of the citizens of the county, located at Mauston, where it now remains. A beautiful county building has been erected in the center of a square and the people of the village, who furnished five thousand dollars towards its costs, are justly proud of it.
The village has some 1,100 inhabitants. It has thirteen stores, a bank, carriage factory, elevator, four churches, a saw mill and the best flouring mill upon the Lemonweir, which flows through the center of this place. It has also two hotels and a number of fine residences. The Mauston Star a weekly paper, is published here by John Turner. The village is peopled with enterprising men, who are actively engaged in building up its business interests. The Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad passes through the place.
This village was originally platted and laid out by Amasa Wilson and L. R. George, in 1855, and incorporated in 1870. It was for eight years the county seat of the county. The first church organized in the county was formed here in 1856, Rev. John Bean, a Methodist divine, being pastor. In 1853, L. R. George opened the first store in a building which had been used as a blacksmith shop. W. R. Mitchell opened a saloon about the same time, in a building which had been erected by the mill company for a barn. The present Crosby House was erected by Amos Harris in 1856, and was the first building erected for a hotel in the county. Up to 1868 the village grew quite rapidly and has now about 1,150 inhabitants.
The Lemonweir river, which divides the town, furnishes good water power which is improved by flouring and saw mills. The town has some very attractive residences, fine public schools, two good hotels and some fourteen stores, a carriage factory and five churches. There is a weekly newspaper, the Juneau County Argus, published here under the supervision of M. F. Carney.
This place was laid out by T. Western and Company, and platted in 1856. It was incorporated in 1870. The principal business of the town is lumbering. The founders of the town have a fine commercial trade here, and two of the most elegant residences in the county. It is situated upon the south bank of the Yellow river, and is one of the most beautiful places in central Wisconsin. Three churches, six stores and a fine public school building bear evidence of the thrift and enterprise of the citizens.
This town, at the junction of the Northwestern and the West Wisconsin railroads, is a little village which has sprung up since 1873 and now has some 600 inhabitants. There are three mills located here, all doing a thriving business. The railroad companies also have their machine shops here. The Elroy Seminary was first organized in 1872 by a quarterly conference of the United Brethren church, held on Millard's prairie, in the town of Wonewoc. In the fall of 1873 a substantial building was erected at Elroy, at the cost of $3,000. The school is under the charge of Rev. F. M. Washburn and has from 40 to 85 students. It is a first-class institution, the only one of the kind in the county, and is situated in a beautiful and healthy locality.
The inhabitants of Juneau county are about one half foreigners: Irish, Norwegians and Germans. The first post-office was established at Seven-Mile creek, at a private house. The first stage line was established in 1850, from LaCrosse to Portage City.
F. Windsor, L. VanSlack and John Turner were the first lawyers in the county, settling about 1856 -- the first and last at Mauston, the second at New Lisbon. The first term of the circuit court was held in the spring of 1860, presided over by J. W. Cate.
The county was well represented during the late war, and sent out, among many others, John A. Kellogg, who afterward distinguished himself as a brigadier general, commanding the "Iron Brigade," and Rufus R. Dawes, who rose from a captaincy the same rank as Kellogg.
The first newspaper was established at New Lisbon in 1856, by R. B. Rice; called the New Lisbon Republican. In 1858 a Mauston Star (republican) was established by D. McBride. After a year, McBride sold out to B. E. Stevens, who took John Turner as a partner, and the paper was managed by them for a short time, until finally it passed entirely into the hands of Turner, the present proprietor.
The New Lisbon Republican had a very short life; and, in 1862, the Juneau County Argus (democratic) was started at New Lisbon, and was managed by Edward Miller until purchased by its present proprietor, Mr. Carney.
In 1873, the Elroy Union was born, and after a brief existence died. Its proprietors, Messrs. Richards & Powers, finding that it could not be made to pay, Messrs. Stokey & Carn, in 1874, undertook the publication of the Elroy Headlight, which lived under different and various managements until May, 1876, when it was numbered with the past. In September, 1876, E. C. Kibbie commenced the publication of the Elroy Plain-Talker. T. K. Dunn has published the Wonewoc Reporter since January, 1876.
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