|For My Cousins
|Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin
Maps and Written History (as of 1878)
From: Illustrated Historical Atlas of Wisconsin
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History of Fond du Lac County
(as written in 1878)
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|The following transcription was taken verbatim from the above-referenced 1878 atlas (starting at page 208). 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.
FOND DU LAC COUNTY (as of 1878):
This, one of the most favorably located counties in the state, is in the fourth tier from the southern boundary, and the second west of Lake Michigan. It contains an area of about 744 square miles, of which some twenty-five or thirty are covered by the south end of Lake Winnebago, which protrudes into it about eight miles. Lying as it does on the dividing line between the immense forests of hard-wood and pine which extend northward to Lake Superior, and the vast and boundless expanse of prairie that stretches away to the west and southwest until it meets the Rocky mountains, it happily unites within its own territory the principal characteristics and resources peculiar to both these districts.
While in the north and east it possesses some of those hard-wood forests which have added so much to the prosperity and success of the manufacturing interests of our state, in the south and west it reaches out and embraces a portion of those prairies of inexhaustible agricultural resources, which are the pride of the northwest.
The general surface appearance is attractive, being generally undulating enough to afford good draining without being hilly, presenting a pleasing variety of groves of valuable timber and light openings, interspersed with stretches of prairie, marsh and meadow lands, beautifully undulated with gentle ascents and declivities, which swell away in the distance, forming many truly charming landscapes. But little, if any, is so uneven or hilly as to render it undesirable for agricultural purposes, and a large portion of the flat marshy land which was originally considered worthless, has, at a trifling expense, been transformed into valuable meadow, while there are some 3,000 acres of peat marsh, having an inexhaustible supply of peat of a good quality, varying from six to twenty feet in depth, which will in a few years, when the ready supply of fire wood is exhausted, become a resource of peculiar wealth.
The county possesses several varieties of soil varying from the deep black mold or muck of the marshes, and the warm vigorous loam of the prairie to the deep and exhaustless red clay of the timber, all of which are good, easily cultivated and well adapted to the growth of all the vegetables, cereals and grasses produced in the state. A ledge of limestone rock enters from the northeast and running across the county in a southwest direction affords many valuable and inexhaustible quarries of building and flagging stone, as well as the material for the manufacture of quick lime. This stone is of a good quality, coming out in desirable shape, and is quite extensively manufactured into caps and sills for home use and shipment. Building stone is also found in some other places. An excellent quality of brick clay is abundant, which there is a sufficient quantity of hard-wood timber to supply the home demand for years to come.
The county is well watered, containing a large number of small streams and springs, which are generally durable and well distributed. the Fond du Lac and its branches are the most important, while the Rock, Milwaukee, Sheboygan and Manitowoc rivers all have their sources in this county. Some of them are quite rapid, but the volume of water is so small as to render them of little value as water powers. Good wells are generally obtained at a moderate depth, which at the city of Fond du Lac and in the country surrounding it, and to the southwest for several miles, flowing artesian wells are obtained at an average depth of eighty or ninety feet, while some which have been sunk to the depth of 500 or 600 feet discharge large quantities of water with considerable force.
A county agricultural society, which is one of the best in the state, was organized in 1852 and reorganized in 1874, has held twenty-two annual fairs, which have been generally well attended and successful. The grounds, just south of the city of Fond du Lac contain fifty acres; are well enclosed and contain a good track with many imposing and substantial buildings.
The railroad and transportation facilities enjoyed by Fond du Lac county are excellent, and so distributed that all portions are within convenient distance of one or more shipping points. Three lines traverse the county from north to south, being operated by the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul, and Chicago and Northwestern companies, while the Sheboygan and Fond du Lac road runs from east to west a little north of the center, crossing the Chicago and Northwestern at Fond du Lac, and the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul at Ripon.
At Fond du Lac it has water connection with the extensive pine and hard-wood forests of Northern Wisconsin, and by the lower Fox and the great chain of lakes with the east, while by the upper Fox and Wisconsin rivers, it has water communication with the Mississippi valley, thus affording cheap and convenient transportation in every direction for its various productions and manufactured articles.
In 1670, the village of the Mascoutens was on Fox river west of Fond du Lac county. With them were associated the Miamis, a part of whom dwelt in the same village; but their territory was more particularly on Rock river or its tributaries. The western part of this county was the common hunting ground of these two tribes. Within a score of years, however, changed occurred; the Miamis drew off toward the southeast, the Mascoutens finally disappeared, and the Foxes occupied the country contiguous to Fox river.
After their expulsion, about the middle of the last century, the Menomonees and Winnebagoes, seated at Green bay, gradually spread in this direction; the one down the east side of Winnebago lake, the other along the west shore, each occupying a portion of the county as a hunting ground. The Winnebagoes, fifty years ago, were on each branch of Fond du Lac river, just above the forks, and their corn fields were near by, but their tribal seat of principal settlement was then near the Wisconsin portage.
The southeast portion lay within the territory of the Pottawattamies, whose homes were upon Lake Michigan. A small part of the county was ceded to the United States by the Menomonees; a much larger portion, however, was comprised in the lands sold by the Winnebagoes in 1832; the residue was included in the Pottawattomie cession of 1833. The Indians remained in the country for several years thereafter, in considerable numbers, but gradually passed away as civilization advanced.
Indian traders were early visitors to this region. Fond du Lac, a French term signifying "head of the lake," was applied to the river by them. There was a trading-house at the forks of the river, but when or by whom it was built is not known. No settlement was made. The post was occupied from time to time during winter months for the purpose of trading with the Winnebagoes from the Rock river villages. This tribe also had a small village three or four miles northeast of the post, near where Taycheedah now is. Here the Menomonees, Pottawattamies and other tribes sometimes came to trade.
In the winter of 1787, the place was occupied by Jacques Porlier, as a clerk in the employ of Jacob Franks, of Green bay. Franks afterward sent his nephew, John Lawe, to this point. Laurent Ducharme was one of the earlier traders here. A Spaniard by the name of Ace traded at this place a little later. Ace and his clerk were enticed a short distance from the house by some Indians of the Rock river band and both murdered. The Indians then sought to enter the house, but the wife of Ace, with a gun, kept them at bay until assistance arrived from the friendly Indians of the Taycheedah village, when she was conveyed to Green bay with her family and goods.
Soon afterward, a Canadian trader by the name of Chavodreuil, selected the post for his winter quarters, and engaged a Menomonee hunter to supply him and his men with meat. This Indian, who lived with his wife in a wigwam near by, becoming jealous of the trader, shot and killed him. Augustin Grignon traded at this point one or two winters in the early part of the present century. Michael Brisbois and Joseph Rolette, of Prairie du Chien, were other traders who visited the place occasionally during the same period. Rolette sometimes ascended Fond du Lac river with canoes laden with goods, and thence made a portage of about two miles to Rock river in order to reach the Indian villages upon that stream.
The first permanent white settlement within the territory now embraced in this county, was made by Colwert Pier, who, with his brother Edwin and their wives, and Oscar Pier, left their homes in Vermont, August 25, 1844, and four weeks later landed at Green bay. Leaving their families, the two older brothers made several tours of observation through the surrounding country, for the purpose of selecting their future home, going as far as Mineral Point and Galena, and traversing over a large scope of country.
The following spring they made a more extensive tour, spending most of the season in visiting different sections of the territory now embraced in Wisconsin, and many portions of northern Illinois, without finding the desire spot, although they passed over much of the best agricultural portions of the northwest. Early the next spring they again set out, and on the evening of February 17, 1836, encamped on the east branch of the Fond du Lac river, where they remained several days examining the country, with which they became so favorably impressed that they determined to locate.
Returning to Green Bay, Colwert Pier at once commenced making preparations for removal, and on the evening of June 6, 1836, dismounted from his horse, the only and first white settler in what is now Fond du Lac county, it then being an unbroken wilderness inhabited only by Indians and wild animals, with an occasional half-breed Indian trader. A few days later his wife arrived in company with S. Erwin and Mrs. Roben, an English lady, who afterward settled on the easy side of Winnebago lake.
Prior to this date, in 1835, the Fond du Lac Land Company, composed of James D. Doty, George McWilliams and others, purchased some 4,000 acres of land and laid out that portions of the city of Fond du Lac known as the original plat, and in the spring of 1836, erected a block house, which was afterward known as the "Fond du Lac house," and was occupied by C. Pier and other early settlers free of charge, there being at one time as many as five separate families in it at the time.
During the following December, Edwin Pier started from Green Bay with a load of provisions, and encountered a terrific storm, during which, in crossing a portion of the lake a few miles distant from the present city of Fond du Lac, his horse broke through the ice, and while endeavoring to save the horse, he came near perishing in the lake, and afterward in the storm, reaching his brother's in an almost helpless and freezing condition.
The following March, he came with his family, consisting of a wife and two daughters, one an infant four weeks old, and moved into the same house with his brother. That spring, on the 21st of April, the brothers turned the first furrow in the present county, breaking some sixteen acres about one mile south of the spot where the court house now stands, and six days later sowed wheat, oats and peas. This and future attempts to cultivate a little land were attended with great discouragements, on account of the depredations of the Indians, who not only stole their crops, but their pigs, horse and only milch cow, which were severe losses. As an instance showing the inconvenience under which the early agriculturalist labored, it may not be inappropriate to mention that Edwin Pier walked one hundred and twenty miles in order to get a plow share sharpened, the nearest shop being twenty miles, and before he could get the work done he was compelled to make three journeys.
In June, the population of the county was doubled by the arrival of Norman and Hattie Pier, Albert Kendall and Alonzo Raymond, from Vermont, by the way of Green Bay. A new log house, the second one, was now erected, and on July 4, 1837, although with doors and windows, was occupied by Edwin Pier and family. Calvin Pier and wife, parents of the brothers, with their youngest son, Oliver, a lad of fourteen, arrived from the Green Mountain State in September, and added another family to the small settlement.
Later, the same season, a saw mill was erected by Arnold & Drake on West Branch, which had a capacity of from one to two thousand feet of basswood or oak lumber per day, and was a valuable aquisition [SIC] to the settlement, as it afforded them boards, from which they made doors, windows, benches, tables, and many other rude but necessary articles. This fall, the first winter-wheat was sown by C. Pier. He brought five bushels on his horse from Green Bay. In transporting it he walked by the side of his beast the entire distance. From this wheat he raised enough to furnish his neighbors seed for the next year.
In 1838, a post-office was established at Fond du Lac. The first mail was brought to the place February 5 of that year. The mail was carried for some time once in two weeks from Green Bay by a half-blood Indian on foot. Colwert Pier was the first postmaster, but was succeeded the following year by Dr. Darling.
The settlement was thrown in the deepest gloom by the death of Mrs. Fannie, wife of Colwert and sister of Mrs. Edwin Pier, which occurred March 1, 1838. She was the pioneer woman of the county, and having been sick through the winter, was attended by Dr. David Ward of Green Bay, he being the nearest resident physician. The funeral services took place on the 3rd, and were conducted by Rev. Cutting Marsh, missionary to the Stockbridge Indians, and was a deeply solemn occasion, being the first death and funeral of a white person in the county.
While the friends were at the grave, John Bannister and wife, who had settled in Green Bay as early as 1834, arrived. Bannister had surveyed Fond du Lac county, assisted in building the three first frame houses in Milwaukee, and afterward erected the first one in what is now the city of Fond du Lac. He held the first judicial office in the county; performed the first marriage, by uniting in wedlock Alonzo Raymond and Miss Hattie Pier. His son John A., born June 20, 1839, was the first child born in the county.
A valuable accession was made in June, 1838, by the arrival of the first physician, Dr. M. C. Darling, and family, who were accompanied by Charles Olmstead and a Mrs. May and child. Dr. Darling afterward represented this county in the first territorial legislature, of which body he was a member for several years, occupying positions in both houses. He was the first congressman from this district and first mayor of the city of Fond du Lac. He lived in the county until 1864, when he removed to Chicago, where he died March 11, 1866.
A few days after their arrival, the body of Mrs. May's husband was found on the ledge, some two miles from the present site of Taycheedah, he having died on the way from Green Bay to Fond du Lac. Great sympathy was felt for the widow and orphan, and being mostly New England people they felt the necessity of holding an inquest, but had neither coroner, justice, lawyer or law book. Finally, John Bannister was either appointed or elected a justice of the peace, and making up a jury panel of six, which required all the voters in his jurisdiction -- not leaving one to act as constable -- he held an inquest, which is believed to be the first legal or judicial transaction in the county.
During this season several other additions were made to the population of the county, among which were Gustave DeNeveu -- a thoroughly educated Frenchman, who purchased a large tract of land, surrounding the beautiful lake which has sine borne his name, and where he has since resided, -- Joseph Olmstead and wife, Samuel Bradley, James Page, Oscar Pier, and Seymour Wilcox. The third house was erected this year by James D. Doty, afterward governor of the territory, on what is now known as the Phillip's farm, near the ledge. Other houses were erected in the same season in the order given, by Calvin Pier, Rev. G. White, at Calumet, John Bannister, two miles south of the city of Fond du Lac, Luke Laborde, in Empire township, Gustave DeNeveu, and Seymour Wilcox, making nine in all. As these respective residences -- all of logs -- were raised, the entire male population of the county was assembled to assist.
There were several arrivals in 1839, among which were Reuben, Alonzo, Marcellus and Amasa Simmons, F. D. Carty and family, John Parker and son, and L. Heath, while the next year the county received still larger additions, the following permanent settlers arriving: B. F. and T. L. Charlotte, Elizabeth A., Theodore, Walter, Fannie and Donald Moore, Col. H. Conklin, with his wife and seven children, William Rodgers and wife, R. St. Mary and family, L. Hebert and family, B. G. Smith, R. Tanner, William Shapley, Russell McCarty, wife and two children, John Parsons, wife and seven children, John Case, wife and two children, Patrick Kelley and wife, William Stewart, wife and three children, B. Stebbins, Russell Wilkinson and family, and William Menter and family, a majority of whom built houses that same year. The first meeting for religious services was held by Rev. J. Halstead, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, at the house of Dr. Darling, on November 17, of this year.
The first cheese in this county, which has since acquired quite a reputation in that direction, was made by Mrs. Reuben Simmons in the summer of 1840, when, besides doing all this housework, cutting and making the clothes for a family of seven persons, and assisting in milking, she made a cheese weighing from thirty to fifty pounds each day, only having the assistance of a girl some six weeks.
George McWilliams became a resident of Fond du Lac in 1841, during which year Colonel Calkins built a flouring mill on Doty's creek, some three miles south of the settlement, which event marks an important era in the history of the county, as the inhabitants were previously compelled to go to mill at Brothertown, some twenty miles distant.
Mostly coming from the east, these pioneers sadly felt the loss of school and church privileges. In December, 1842, they sent Edwin Pier to Green Bay to secure a school teacher. Although he could not hold out very flattering social or financial inducements, the settlement then being sixty miles from the near post-office, he at length succeeded in securing the services of Miss Harriet Harnden, a maiden of fifty summers, and a pattern of propriety, who had been raised and educated in Boston. The school was opened one bright morning in January, 1843, with twelve pupils, in a room of the house first built by Edwin Pier. The furniture consisted of a stool for the teacher, and forms for the children. The Indians would frequently enter the school-room, and quietly seat themselves on the floor and watch the exercises. Miss Harnden taught a second term the next summer. During the fall a school house was built, in which a Miss Loveland taught the next winter.
Fond du Lac county was formed from Brown, by an act of the territorial legislature, approved December 7, 1836. It embraced nearly the same territory now included in the county, with the county seat fixed at Fond du Lac. By an act approved January 2, 1838, the entire county was made one township and named Fond du Lac, with the place of holding elections fixed at the house of Mr. Pier. A meeting was held September 10, 1838, to take into consideration steps looking toward the organization of the county, which resulted in procuring the passage of an act for that purpose March 11, 1839, to take effect and be in force from and after the first Monday of April following, at which time an election for county officers was directed to be held. The voting place was the house of M. C. Darling. John Bannister, Edwin Pier and Reuben Simmons, were elected county commissioners; Calvin Pier, treasurer, and John Bannister, register of deeds. The board of commissioners met at the Fond du Lac house, August 7, 1839, and organized by the election of Reuben Simmons chairman, and the appointment of M. C. Darling, clerk. The first assessors were Lyman White, Seymour Wilcox, and Gustave De Neveu, who assessed the real and personal property in the county at $107,280, on which the board levied a tax of seven mills on the dollar. The tax collect in 1840 was $751.
The first road laid by county authority was one from Fond du Lack south toward Milwaukee, which was viewed in November, 1840, by Seymour Wilcox, George White, and M. Collins. The old military road from Green bay to Crawford was the first one in the county, being opened in 1836.
The county was organized for judicial purposes in 1844, and the first term of the territorial district court was begun at the school house in Fond du Lac, June 5 of that year, by Judge Andrew G. Miller. The other officers of the court were Isaac Brown, clerk; George McWilliams and R. Aiken, United States deputy marshals; John I. Driggs, sheriff; Alonzo Raymond, crier; Thomas W. Sutherland, district attorney; and M. C. Darling, foreman of the grand jury. The first case on the docket was Augustin Grignon vs. Henry A. Gallup, which was dismissed upon the motion of the defendant. The second case was an attempt by Sheriff Driggs to obtain a divorce from his wife Susan, which was continued, and at the next ensuing term was dismissed, judgment for costs being entered against that officer.
Upon the admission of Wisconsin as a state, the county was made a part of the fourth judicial circuit.
The court house on Main street, Fond du Lac, is a plain wood building, which has nearly outlived its ability to serve the present requirements of the public, and will soon be replaced by a more elegant and commodious structure. The county officers, except the recorder, who occupies a small stone building in the court house square, have rooms in other parts of the city. The jail and sheriff's residence, in the block south of the court house, is an imposing and substantial stone structure, containing all the modern improvements and conveniences for the security and comfort of the occupants.
CITY OF FOND DU LAC
This city is favorably situated at the head of Winnebago lake. Its regular, wide, well paved and gas-lighted streets, its substantial stone and brick business blocks, public halls and hotels, elegant churches and numerous handsome residences, with its extensive and varied manufactories evince the wisdom and sagacity of those who selected its location and availed themselves of its great natural resources for trade and manufacturing purposes. The constant activity of its crowded thoroughfares, the ceaseless hum of its two score manufactories, all propelled by steam, the frequent arrival and departure of freight and passenger trains of its three trunk lines bearing abroad its manufactured wealth, betoken its prosperity and enterprise.
Situated within easy access of the great lumber and mineral regions of the north, for which the raw material for its manufactories are obtained, and surrounded by a very rich agricultural district, it possesses peculiar advantages. The addition of its railroad facilities to its natural water communication have caused intersecting lines of trade to center here as a natural distributing point. In lumber, lath, shingles, sash, door, blind, mirror and picture frame and seeder works, paper mills, marble, carriage and wagon works, foundries and machine shops, flouring mills, threshing machine, boiler, fire proof shutters, and file works, tanneries, glue, harness and saddlery factories, extract and drug mills, oil works, moulding and stair-building factories and glass works there are upward of twenty-five hundred men employed, receiving about $4,750 daily wages, and producing annually manufactured goods worth upward of $4,500,000.
One shop has a capacity of one thousand threshing machines per annum, while nine saw-mills produce annually about 67,000,000 feet of lumber, worth $1,000,000, and $150,000 worth of lath and pickets; eight shingle mills, 90,000,000 shingles, and four sash, blind and door factories produce $1,000,000 worth of manufactured articles annually.
Besides these there are other manufactories run without steam power, such as boots and shoes, clothing, hats and caps, fur goods, tinware, patent medicines, cigars, etc., which give employment to about one thousand persons, making the total number employed in manufactoring upward of thirty-five hundred, who receive annually about $1,850,000 in wages, and produce goods valued at upward of $5,000,000.
It has a large mercantile trade extending throughout the limits of Fond du Lac and Calumet counties and reaching into portions of Sheboygan, Washington, Dodge, Green Lake and Winnebago. It has three hundred stores, large and small. It is estimated the amount annually expended in building and other improvements, added to the value of the manufactures and amount of merchandise sold, would amount to be between $10,000,000 and $11,000.000.
Twenty churches, many of them costly and elegant edifices, beautify the city, while the public schools occupy sixteen buildings, valued at $120,656, and employ fifty teachers, besides which there are two prosperous private schools, Merrille's institute and the German-English academy. There is also a flourishing literary society owning a large library and public reading-room, and give temperance organizations, besides other benevolent and social societies. The city has a volunteer fire department, equipped with one self-propelling engine and two ordinary steamers, two hand engines, hooks, ladders, etc.
Fond du Lac was incorporated as a village in 1847. The first officers were Mason C. Darling, president; John A. Eastman, W. T. Gibson, T. L. Gillett, Isaac Brown, S. S. N. Fuller and J. J. Driggs, trustees; E. W. Drury, treasurer; W. A. Dewey, clerk, who were elected March 1, 1847.
In 1852 a city charter was obtained and an organization effected under it by an election of officers April 6, of whom Mason C. Darling was mayor; J. M. Taylor, treasurer; W. A. Dewey, clerk; C. N. Snell, marshal, and E. Hodges, superintendent of schools.
The city is bountifully supplied with water from flowing wells or fountains. The first well of this kind was obtained at the Badger hotel in 1848 at a depth of eighty-five feet, and the flow was at the rate of about a thousand gallons an hour. Many other have been obtained since at a depth ranging from fifty to one hundred and twenty feet. Since they have come into general use fevers and ague have disappeared, and the residents of the city are disposed to attribute this fact somewhat to the properties of the water.
The first newspaper that made its appearance in this county was the Fond du Lac Journal, established October 1, 1846, by John O. Hening and Eli Hooker. After passing through several hands, it was, in June 1853, consolidated with the National Democrat, which was started as the Patriot, April 30, 1851, by John D. Hyman, under the name of Fond du Lac Union, Beeson & Thomas, editors. The Journal was again revived in February, 1857, by D. J. Beeson and V. B. Smead, and in May, 1853, was consolidated with the Union under the name of Democratic Press, with Smead Bros. and Strong as proprietors, and was run by various parties until the Fall of 1866, when it exploded, leaving the democrat party without an organ, for the first time since 1846. Phoenix-like, the Journal again arose from the ashes of its buried hopes, in May, 1867, through the instrumentality of E. Beeson, and after a number of changes, September, 1873, came into the hands of Russell & Strong, who, in January, 1875, organized the "Star Printing Company," its present editors and proprietors.
The Fond du Lac Whig was founded December 17, 1846, by J. M. Gillett, and lived one year. The Republican appeared January 6, 1848, under the management of S. Ryan, Jr., and was discontinued in April, 1851.
The Fountain City Herald, with Royal Buck as editor, appeared November 9, 1852, and in the summer of 1856 was consolidated with the Western Freeman, founded by J. A. Smith, October 5, 1854, under the title of Fond du Lac Commonwealth, Smith & Orvis, proprietors. It is republican in politics, publishes both daily and weekly editions, and is a prominent and influential journal.
The Saturday Reporter first appeared August 25, 1860, conducted by John J. Beeson, and in November, 1873, it passed into the hands of J. L. Thwing, who, in January, 1874, took in H. R. Farnum, who in July, 1875, sold to C. D. Pillsbury, the present firm being Thwing & Pillsbury.
The Northwestern Courier is a democratic journal published weekly in the German language.
This city is situated near the center of the township of the same name, in the northwest part of the county, at the point where the Oshkosh branch intersects the main portion of the Horicon division of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad, and where it is crossed by the Sheboygan & Fond du Lac road. It nestles among the hills and valleys of one of nature's parks, being surrounded by a gently undulating prairie, whose smooth though not level surface is desirably broken and varied by the rich groves of native timber which skirt the hillside in the distance.
It is well and regularly laid out, and contains many handsome and even elegant business blocks, churches, public halls, hotels and residences, the private grounds and streets being adorned by many noble specimens of the natural forest, while the generally neat, attractive and tastefully arranged buildings and surroundings indicate the abode of an industrious, educated and refined people.
The city was founded by Captain D. P. Mapes, who, with his sons, struck the first blow in February, 1849. In May, 1844, a colony of some twenty Fourierites came from Southport and located in the west part of the city, and, under the leadership of Warren Chase, organized what was known as the Wisconsin Phalanx, laid out a town which they called Ceresco, and made many permanent improvements, among which was the erection of a saw and grist-mill. They remained until 1850, when the organization was scattered and most of them removed to other parts.
The city now contains a population of 3,500, and was chartered in 1858, Harvey Grant being the first mayor. It is a business point of considerable importance, containing a number of substantial, well-stocked business houses, with two banks, two newspapers and considerable manufacturing, consisting of flouring mils, carriage and wagon shops, wind-mill and pump factory, breweries, foundaries, etc., etc.
There are eight churches having good houses of worship, viz: Congregational organized November 21, 1850; Methodist Episcopal, organized October 15, 1855; Baptist, organized in 1854; Episcopal, organized May 16, 1860; Catholic, in 1858; Evangelical Lutheran (German) in 1864; Lutheran (German) in 1866, and Evangelical in 1870.
The public schools are good and in flourishing condition, while there are five temperance societies and organizations and a number of other benevolent and social societies, a good fire department, etc., etc.
In the winter of 1851, the citizens of Ripon procured the passage of an act incorporating an institution of learning of a high order, embracing also a department for preparatory instruction, under the name of Brockway College. Contributions of material, money and land were made, and, during the summer of 1851, the stone walls of a college building were erected. The roof was then put on. There, the enterprise halted for a time, the available funds having been exhausted.
The next summer, the trustees offered the property of the college, consisting of the unfinished building and one acre of ground, to the Winnebago convention of Presbyterian ministers and churches for the nominal sum of $400, on condition that the work of completing in building should be prosecuted so far as necessary, and a school opened in the summer of 1853.
The churches being at that time weak, the convention did not deem it practicable [NOTE FROM TRANSCRIPTIONIST: this work is transcribed as spelled] to raise the money, but requested Rev. J. W. Walcott, of Menasha, formerly principal of an academy in the state of New York, to buy the property, -- pledging itself to take it as soon as it should be able to pay for it. He accordingly purchased the property, and ten or twelve acres of adjoining land; had some of the upper rooms finished, and opened the school at the time agreed on.
In February, 1855, in accordance with a resolution of the convention, a new charter was obtained; the building and grounds were conveyed to the trustees therein named, by Mr. Walcott, in February, 1857. The same year, the second or middle building, was erected. This outlay exhausted the funds of the board of trustees, and left it deeply in debt.
A period of general financial depression now ensued; the institution was compelled to yield to these difficulties, and at the opening of the rebellion the school was suspended for a year. In 1862, a subscription to pay off its debts was so far successful that the school was reopened in charge of Professor E. H. Merrill; and, meeting with good success, the trustees began, in April, 1863, the organization of a permanent faculty, of which Rev. William E. Merriman, of Green Bay, was president. At the opening of the term in September following, the first college class was formed.
During the ensuing year, the debts of the institution were all paid; its buildings were completed; a library was founded; and amendments to the charter were obtained, which, among other changes, gave it the name of Ripon College. Since that time, it has made steady progress, in increasing the number of students and teachers, adding facilities for instruction and gaining in reputation and popularity.
The first class of four members was graduated in 1867. The number of students now averages more than three hundred annually; those in the college classes varying from sixty to seventy-five a year. By 1867, it had outgrown its accommodations, and third or west building was erected.
The buildings are all of stone, plain and unpretentious in structure, and afford facilities for four hundred and fifty students, one half of whom may reside therein. The east building is fifty feet square, three stories high, and contains four recitation rooms, cabinet, apparatus, and reading-rooms. The middle or ladies' building, is one hundred by forty-four feet, three stories, and has a basement and attic. The college boarding hall occupies the basement. On the main floor are teachers' rooms, parlors and office; in the upper stories apartments for young ladies, a literary hall, and a gymnasium. The west building is eighty by fifty feet, four stories high, and contains the chapel, the library, the general office, recitation rooms, the young men's literary hall and gymnasium, besides students' rooms. The estimated value of the buildings and grounds is $70,000; endowments are funds, $55,000.
The library contains about four thousand volumes. There is no incumbrance [as spelled in the atlas text] of any kind on the property. Since its organization the institution has passed, in a great measure, under the auspices of the Congregational religious denomination, but it is a literary and scientific college -- not a sectarian school. Young persons of both sexes take the same course and enjoy the same privileges.
Waupun is situated partly in Fond du Lac and partly in Dodge county. It is handsomely located on the bank of Rock river, and has considerable local trade and several manufacturing establishments. One of its newspapers, the Waupun Leader, is in Fond du Lac county. It was established in 1866, by Oliver and Short, and is now published by J. W. & R. H. Oliver.
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