|For My Cousins
|Sauk County, Wisconsin
Maps and Written History (as of 1878)
From: Illustrated Historical Atlas of Wisconsin
View Maps of Individual Townships
(see list/index below)
and read the
History of Sauk County
(as written in 1878)
Maps and Histories of other Wisconsin counties on this website:
Adams * Columbia * Fond du Lac * Green Lake * Juneau * Marquette * Portage * Waupaca * Waushara * Winnebago * Wood
View Maps of Individual Townships
Match the township map numbers below with their location on the county index map (above)
Baraboo (10) -- includes Kirkwood Station, Devils Lake and Peck's Prairie
|The following transcription was taken verbatim from the above-referenced 1878 atlas (starting at page 239). 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.
SAUK COUNTY (as of 1878):
Sauk county comprises twenty full congressional townships and eight parts of townships, containing in all about 840 square miles. It is situated within the great bend of the Wisconsin, which forms its northeastern, southeastern, and southern boundary, and is the third county from the west and south lines of the state. Geologically, the south half of the county shows an outcrop of magnesian limestone, through which, however, the streams have in many places cut their way to the underlying strata of Potsdam sandstone, which is the only rock that appears in the north part, with a single exception.
A belt of territory, six to eight miles wide, along both sides of Baraboo river, but chiefly upon the south, extending from Abelman eastward about eighteen miles, reveals primitive rock, which has here been raised, by some upheaval of nature, far about its ordinary level. The center of this exceptional region is two or three miles south of Baraboo, where the uplift has rent the solid rock by a chasm several miles long, nearly a mile wide, and more than five hundred feet in depth, in which is embosomed a beautiful expanse of water, known as Devil's lake, while upon either side the Titanic struggle by which the gap was torn asunder is wonderfully portrayed in majestic cliffs, battlement crowned, and penciled with curious archways, needles, and grotesque towers of detached rock, from whose feet the loose and shattered fragments, of cubical form, and covered with a curious greenish-gray moss, lie where they were cast in headlong disorder down the precipitous sides to the water's edge. The upland plain which is thus broken is the highest in the country. Another picturesque appearance of this interesting region is known as the Narrows of Baraboo river. These places are favorite summer resorts for tourists.
The surface formation of the county is drift of the glacial period in the first and part of the second tier of townships upon the east, and consequently the boulders of that period are here visible. West of this limit, however, there are no indications of drift. The general appearance and contour of the county is diversified by hill and bluff, undulating and rolling upland surfaces, ridgy in places adjacent to the valley of the Wisconsin, and by wide valleys along the latter and Baraboo rivers, forking off among the neighboring bluffs, frequently in narrow interstices or arms, of peculiar beauty.
Formerly this diversity was enhanced and enriched by interspersed timber and prairie tracts, commingled with brushwood openings. Portions of the Baraboo region were heavily timbered, both with pine and ordinary varieties, but this distribution has undergone many changes. The prairies are all cultivated, many of the heavily timbered tracts have been cut off, and reduced to a fine state of cultivation, but some portions of the openings have become good timber of second growth, while others have yielded to the plow.
The soil of the county is excellent, being rich and durable. In some portions in the vicinity of Wisconsin river it is more or less sandy; elsewhere clay predominates. Good building stone is abundant, also materials for brick and lime.
Excellent water-power is afforded by Baraboo river, Honey creek, Dell creek, and one or two tributaries of the former. The only known mineral deposit is an extensive bed of iron ore at Ironton, in the northwestern part of the county. The ore was first noticed by Philip Babb, of Reedsburg, and the land on which it was found was entered by D. C. Reed. It was purchased of him by Jonas Tower, an experienced iron founder, in the spring of 1855, who erected a quarter-blast furnace on the premises in 1856, which he has kept steadily in operation ever since. The ore bed is nearly forty feet in thickness, and consists of brown hematite, yielding about fifty per cent, of iron.
The leading productions of the county are wheat, corn, and other small grains. Much of the land is well adapted to tame hay, which is extensively cultivated. Hop raising is one of its important industries. While this branch of cultivation was at its height in Wisconsin, Sauk was the leading county in the state in that respect, and shipped great quantities of that commodity. Considerable attention is still devoted to its culture, but not nearly as much as formerly. Stock raising receives considerable attention, and has proved very successful. The small fruits thrive abundantly; apples are not quite so successful, but are raised with fair success.
Besides what advantages Wisconsin river affords for transportation, the county is traversed from southwest to northeast by the St. Paul line of the Chicago & Northwestern railway. Two principal lines of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul road also touch the county, one passing for seven or eight miles through its southern extremity, the other barely touching its northeast corner.
The earliest known occupants of the territory of this county were the Sac or Sauk tribe of Indians, from whom its name is derived. They established themselves here toward the middle of the last century. In 1766 their principal village was upon the beautiful prairie that bears their name. Toward the beginning of the present century they withdrew southward, and were succeeded in the occupancy of this region by the Winnebago tribe. The latter ceded the land to the United States in the fall of 1837, which treaty was ratified the following spring, reserving the right to remain until 1840, when their removal began, and was effected gradually, much against their will, until now there is only a family of the tribe now and then seen in this region.
Early in the spring of 1838, Berry Haney, who was then engaged in staging between Mineral Point and Fort Winnebago, now Portage City, received from George W. Jones, delegate in congress, private information of the ratification of the treaty with the Winnebago Indians for the purchase of their lands in this region in advance of its public announcement, and on his next trip to the fort took with him Jonathan Taylor and Solomon Shore, for the purpose of making a claim on Sauk prairie. Taylor was left opposite the prairie, while Shore accompanied Haney to the fort, and returned to him with a skiff, in which they crossed over the river. They marked out a claim for Haney on the present site of Sauk City. Taylor made a claim on an adjoining tract above, and Shore took a third claim still farther up on the Wisconsin river. In the month of June, 1838, Haney employed James Ensminger and Thomas Sanser to break ten acres. When these men came to perform their work the Indians threatened burning their camp. They therefore dug a pit, walled it with logs, and protected it with a covering of earth, as a fire-proof building.
These were the first permanent locations and improvements made by the white men on the soil of Sauk county. There had been an attempt made in June, 1837, by Archibald Barker to establish a trading house at the Winnebago cornfields near Baraboo, but the Indians destroyed his shanty, and compelled him to leave the country. He subsequently returned and became a permanent resident.
James S. Alban, December 10, 2838, moved with his family to the south end of Sauk prairie, where he built a cabin in the midst of a small cluster of trees. His was the first white family in the county. Mrs. Alban survived but a few years; she died, lamented by all who knew her. Alban afterward engaged in the practice of law at Sauk City, and removed thence to Portage county. During the war of the rebellion, he entered the Union army as colonel of the Eighteenth regiment, Wisconsin infantry, and was killed on the field of Shiloh.
The beauty and fertility of Sauk prairie soon attracted others hither. In December, 1838, Albert Jameson, accompanied by Andrew Hodgett, Alexander Bills and Nelson Lathrop, came and located claims on the prairie, father back from the Wisconsin, near the present southern boundary of the town of Sumpter. William Johnson arrived soon afterward, from Belmont, crossing the Wisconsin river on the ice, and established himself near Jameson in the valley of Honey creek; erected a cabin and engaged, during the winter, in getting out rails to fence an enclosure. Jameson and Johnson brought their families about a year later. The Indians who still lodged in the vicinity, now to longer molested the settlers.
Early in April, 1839, Charles O. Baxter came to the prairie and purchased the claim of Solomon Shore. A short time previously, the site of Prairie du Sac village was claimed and occupied by David P. Cocker; and about the same time, Albert Skinner and John Wilson brought the second and third families into the county. Other claims were occupied during the spring by H. F. Crossman, Burke Fairchild, William Billings, William May, E. B. Harner, a person by the name of Hunter and another named Parks, with his family.
In the course of the spring, also, Berry Haney moved in with his family and occupied his claim. His son Charles B. Haney, was born here November 30, 1839, he being the first white child born in the county. The fourth of July was this year celebrated at the site of Prairie du Sac, by twenty-five persons, among whom were four females: Mrs. Alban, Mrs. Skinner, Mrs. Parks, and Mrs. Haney. Jonathan Hatch, Cyrus Leland and George Cargel, with families, became residents of the prairie during the summer.
The German settlement at Sauk prairie, was founded in 1840, by Count Augustine Haraszthy, and his cousin, Charles Hallasz, who set out from Hamburg, in March, 1840, accompanied by a considerable number of German and Hungarian followers. Haraszthy, the representative of a long line of Hungarian nobility, was lured from a home of luxury by glowing accounts of Florida, which excited his love of adventure, and determined him to become a citizen of republican America. On board the packet, a vivid description, in one of Maryatt's novels, of a journey across Wisconsin, by the famous Portage route of the early voyageurs, changed their destination, and they landed at Milwaukee. The cousins were young, rich, and full of poetic ardor, but entirely inexperienced in wild, frontier life, and unacquainted with the language and customs of the country. Accordingly, their adventures, in the course of their wanderings in search of a location answering the expectations of their imaginations, were strangely interwoven with ludicrous vexations and romantic incidents which would fill a volume. They halted at Lake Koshkonong, with a view of settlement, but disgusted by mishaps soon abandoned it, and traveled on by new roads and circuitous trails "with their cup continually full of greenhorn experiences;" until, about the middle of July, they found themselves upon the bluff of the Wisconsin, opposite Sauk prairie. Here, as the beautiful landscape opened before their delighted eyes, the count was enchanted, exclaiming, "Eureka! Eureka! Italia! Italia!"
They found the most desirable portion of the prairie occupied by the Americans, but here they decided to establish themselves. The count bargained with Fairchild for a portion of his claim, thirty rods in width upon the river, and extending a mile into the interior, for the sum of four hundred dollars. He then made a trip to Milwaukee for supplies. While visiting Milwaukee again in the fall, he made the acquaintance of an Englishman of rank and wealth, by the name of Robert Bryant. A partnership was formed between them and together they purchased Haney's claim. Upon this tract of land, in the summer of 1841, they laid out a village which was at first named Haraszthy, subsequently Westfield, and, still later, Sauk City.
The court drew hither the nucleus of the present German settlement in this portion of the county. He re-visited his native land in 1841, returning in 1842, with his wife, a beautiful and accomplished lady of Polish origin, and his father, a gentleman of great scientific attainments, who afterward became assayer in the United States mint at San Francisco. But the count did not long remain settled. His versatile mind and mercurial temperament continually impelled him to adventure: now farmer, then, successively, merchant at Baraboo; owner and captain of a steamboat; lumberman upon the upper Wisconsin; and, after the removal of the family to California, owner of an extensive vineyard, and member of the legislature. His restless spirit was quenched in the waters of Central America, where he was swallowed by alligators. Hallasz remained in the county. In the fall of 1840, Edmond Rendtorf, a prominent citizen of German birth, became a resident of Sauk City.
The village of Prairie du Sac was laid out by David B. Crocker, Calvin Frink, and John La Messuere in 1840, two miles above Sauk City. This village was settled chiefly by Americans, and when Crocker came here, in 1839, he brought with him a stock of goods, and opened here the first store in the county. The location of these two villages so near together engendered a spirit of rivalry, which was maintained for many years.
The first saw-mill in the county was erected by Robert Bryant, on the site of the present Sauk City mills, on Homey creek, in 1842. William H. Clark, the first lawyer in the county, took up his residence at Sauk City in the spring of 1842. The first physician was Dr. J. B. Woodruff, who located at Prairie du Sac in 1843. Rev. John Cramer, an itenerant [word as spelled in the atlas] Methodist minister, preached the first sermon in the county, at the house of Henry Teel, in May, 1840. The first wedding ceremony occurred at the same place, August 15, 1841, in the union of Rev. James G. Whitford and Mrs. Sarah Sayles, a widowed daughter of Mr. Teel. In January, 1841, a Presbyterian society of nine members was organized at Prairie du Sac by Rev. S. Chafee and about the same time a Methodist class was formed at Teel's house by Rev. James G. Whitford.
John Wilson, who has already been mentioned, came with his family from Helena, Iowa county, and located by the creek which bears his name, near the line between the present towns of Troy and Spring Green. A little later, a man by the name of Turner located still farther down the Wisconsin river valley, near the site of Spring Green village. They were the pioneer settlers in this portion of the county.
From Sauk prairie the settlement of the county extended in radiating lines up the labyrinthian valleys of the Honey creek region, and over the hills into the broad basin of Baraboo river. In the summer of 1839, Alban, while reconnoitering the highlands north of Sauk prairie, came suddenly upon a singular miniature lake cradled far below his feet between precipices, against whose wild, towering rocks tall, clinging pines appeared like mere dwarfs. The Indians called this beautiful lake Minne-Wauken, a name which is variously interpreted, signifying "cursed water," according to some authorities, or "holy water," as others maintain, believing it to be the abode of a "manitou" or spirit. Whether this spirit was supposed to be good or evil, is undecided; but the early white settlers, adopting the latter idea, embodied it in the name "Devil's" lake.
The opening through its lofty barriers upon the north side disclosed to Alban a glimpse of the Baraboo valley. While at Madison, soon afterward, he related what he had seen to Eben Peck, at whose suggestion the two immediately set out to explore the country. Arriving near the present site of Baraboo village, they found upon the north side of the river, near the lower part of the rapids, the village and corn fields of the Winnebago chief, Caliminee. Here Peck proceeded to mark out a claim, including the fine water-power at the lower ox-bow, or great bend of the stream, at which the Indians manifested strong displeasure, and obliged the intruders to re-cross the river. In the fall, Peck visited his claim, accompanied by his wife, Roseline, on horseback, and while here they met Abraham Wood and Wallace Rowan coming up the valley from Fort Winnebago, who immediately laid claim to the water-power at the upper great bend of the river, in the western outskirts of the Baraboo village.
There was a second Indian village at the time near Wood and Rowan's claim, at the site of the village of Lyons; but there were no longer any hostile demonstrations from their occupants. Wood was living with a Winnebago woman, said to be a daughter of the chief, Dekaury, and remained during the winter, making preparations to build a dam and saw-mill; their mill was completed during the winter of 1841-2.
About a month later, James Van Slyke came to the Rapids, concluded to "jump" Peck's claim, and likewise engaged during the winter in constructing a dam. He enlisted in his enterprise James A. Maxwell, of Walworth county, who furnished teams, provisions, mill-irons, and means to pay the men. Thus equipped, Van Slyke, early in the spring of 1840, commenced vigorously prosecuting the work. In the month of June, however, high water carried away the greater portion of his dam. Meanwhile, Peck had commenced proceedings in court at Madison to maintain his right to the claim, resulting in a decision in his favor. Van Slyke thus doubly discouraged, sold his mill-irons to Wood and Rowan, returned Maxwell the remainder of his outfit, and abandoned his undertaking for the time being. In the early part of the fall of 1840, Peck moved on with his family, but for want of means never undertook to improve the water-power.
Joseph H. Finley was the first man to ascend farther up the Baraboo valley and select a location. He began opening a farm in 1839, about six miles about the Rapids, within the present town of Excelsior, near the village of the Winnebago chief, Dandy. Though the Indians were in general hostile to such intrusion, Finley was not molested. They were removed out of the country by United States troops early in 1840; and, in March of that year, the site of their village was claimed by James Christie, a Scotch-man, who became a prominent and much respected citizen. He removed from the county in 1852. When he came, two lodges were all that remained of the deserted Indian village, one of which he occupied as a dwelling for his family until a better could be constructed. It was several years from that time before this part of the county began to be rapidly settled. Prominent among the early settlers of Excelsior were General A. W. Stark, a descendant of General Stark of Revolutionary fame, who came to the town in 1850, and Stephen V. R. Ableman, after whom the village of Ableman was named, who came in 1848.
In the fall of 1844, Don Carlos Barry, who then resided at the Rapids, in inspecting the country farther up the valley, discovered a lode of copper in section one of the present town of Reedsburg. He occupied the place the following spring and, with the assistance of two miners from the lead region, proceeded to test the value of his discovery. It was quickly exhausted, however, yielding only about two tons of ore. In May, 1845, James W. Babb settled upon the prairie which bears his name, a mile or two west of the site of Reedsburg village. He erected a hewn log house, and in the fall, leaving his house and chattles in charge of some Indians, returned to his family in Ohio. His son, John Babb, and family accompanied him hither the following spring. His own family and a son-in-law, Stern Baker, joined him in 1847.
The settlement of the county extended up Wisconsin river to the northeast part of the county in 1841. In the spring of that year, John Mean, J. B. McNeil, and Samuel Bradley located at, or near, the mouth of Dell creek, where the village of Newport was laid out. In 1852, Edward Norris and a man by the name of Marshall, built here a saw-mill and laid out the village. It had a rapid growth; nearly a dozen large stores were erected and heavily stocked; in 1854, lots were held as high as a thousand dollars apiece; and in 1856, the place numbered at least a thousand inhabitants. The La Cross line of the line of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad was located through this point, but afterward re-located through the point where Kilbourn City now stands; consequently, Mr. Norris and eight or ten other families are all that remain of that once flourishing village.
In 1841, the Dell house was built, in this section of the county by Robert Allen, who still resides there, a bachelor; it was first occupied by J. B. McCuen and family. The present site of the village of Delton was selected, in an early day, by Edward Norris. In 1847, he associated with himself Jared Fox and Henry Topping, and commenced the erection of a fine flouring mill, which was completed in 1849. During the latter year, Fox & Topping brought here a large stock of goods for sale, and the following year erected a fine block of stores.
Immigration, following close upon the steps of the pioneers, spread rapidly over the adjacent country, and, in a brief time, every township in the county received a thrifty and enterprising population.
Sauk county was a part of Crawford until 1840. In 1839, an election precinct was established at Sauk Prairie by the commissioners of Crawford county, and election was there held in the fall of the same year, at which fourteen votes were cast, returns being made to Prairie du Chien. Owing to the inconvenience of communicating with that distant point, the citizens petitioned to the legislature to be set off. Accordingly, by act of January 11, 1840, the county of Sauk was formed, comprising the same territory as at present, with the exception of township 13, range 2, the present town of Woodland, which was added in 1849.
The new county was attached to Dane for county and judicial purposes until 1844, when, by act of January 10, of that year, it was made an organized county from and after the first Monday in March following. An election was accordingly held March 11, 1844, to fill county offices. At this time it was comprised in two voting precincts; Sauk Prairie and Baraboo. The former polled forty-six votes; the later, twenty-three. John Hoover, William G. Simons, and Levi Moore were chosen county commissioners; Prescott Brigham was elected judge of probate; Joshua E. Abbott, sheriff; E. M. Hart, register of deeds; James I. Waterbury, collector; Nathan Kellogg, treasurer; Burke Fairchild, county clerk; William H. Canfield, surveyor, and John C. Kellogg, coroner.
The county was assigned to the second judicial district, and the first term of court was held at the lower Sauk village, in September, 1844, by David Irwin, associate justice of the supreme court of Wisconsin territory, and presiding judge over the courts of that district. Some time during this session two bears were seen on the island, in the river, whereupon the court adjourned, and everybody in attendance proceeded to secure the game.
By the act under which the county was organized, Noah Phelps, of Green county, Charles Hart, of Milwaukee, and Dr. John Morrison, of Jefferson, were appointed commissioners, to locate its seat of justice. They met in the month of March, 1844, and decided to make the location at one of the Sauk villages -- the one which would give the largest donation. The lower village offered the Bryant-Haraszthy building, worth $3,000; Prairie du Sac, the upper village, and accordingly obtained the county seat. The commissioners visited Baraboo Rapids, and while there, Dr. Morrison, after partaking freely of warm maple sugar, died of apoplexy, and the business in which they were engaged was completed by the others.
When the Prairie due Sac people made over the deeds of the promised lots, they were found to embody a reversion of the title to the donors, in case of a removal of the county seat, whereat [word as appears in the atlas] the people of the lower village, and of Baraboo Rapids, were considerably excited. The legislature was appealed to, and at the session of 1845-6, authorized a re-location of the county seat, by vote of the people, on the seventh of April, 1846. By this election it was taken to Baraboo Rapids. The county board thereupon appointed twelve commissioners, and charged them with the duty of selecting a definite point upon the rapids for that purpose. They decided upon the southeast quarter of section 35. The school district, which had a claim upon the tract, relinquished it to the county. A short time afterward, when the land was brought into market, there being no money in the county treasury, Prescott Brigham, one of the board, entered and held the quarter in his own name, until the county was able to reimburse him and take the title. In the spring of 1847, it was surveyed into village lots, and platted by the name of Adams, no Baraboo. The lots were sold mostly at public sales, bringing into the county treasury about $4,000.
Baraboo was not long permitted to wear its county-seat laurels in tranquility. As the upper portion of the valley became peopled, a young and ardent rival appeared in the village of Reedsburg. For several years this spirit was the all-absorbing topic in local politics. In order to obtain a more central position, Reedsburg, in 1849, succeeded in getting a portion of Adams county, but Sauk received in lieu thereof territory upon the northwest, embracing the present town of Woodland, the south half of Wonewoc, in the present county of Juneau. In 1853, Baraboo turned the tables in the legislature, by getting the tier of half townships upon the north restored to Adams county, thus establishing the county with its present boundaries, which have since remained unchanged. This virtually settled the county-seat question, as Reedsburg never pressed it to a vote of the people. One of the episodes of this rivalry, is remembered as the "saw-log war." Reedsburg refused to provide a way for fleets of pine logs to pass over its dam to the mills of its adversary, consequently in May, 1851, the Baraboo people proceeded to the spot and cut away a sufficient portion of the dam to enable to logs to pass.
A court-house was erected in 1847-8, with the funds realized from the sale of lots. It was a fair sized, two-story frame building. A jail was also erected, consisting of a wooden building, surrounded by a plant fence, fringed at the top with iron spikes. The main or hexagonal portion of the present jail was erected in 1864. The present court-house was erected in 1856. It is a two-story brick building, forty by sixty feet upon the ground, and two stories high, situated upon a beautiful square, in the hear of the village. The interior was remodeled and improved in 1867.
The United States survey of public lands, in this county, was commenced in 1842, and completed in 1845, the territory contiguous to Wisconsin river being first subdivided. The lands were offered in market in 1846. Thus it will be seen that the first settlers occupied claims and made improvements considerably in advance of the time of the survey. When the lands were brought into market, the settlers were generally poor, and money was very scarce. Many of them were therefore unprepared to purchase these lands, and an association was formed to protect each other, and prevent non-residents from dispossessing them of the fruits of their labor, by entering their claims from under them. Harvey Canfield was president of the association, and John B. Crawford, secretary. Some contests took place, in which the settlers were generally successful. The county is subdivided into twenty-two civil towns.
The first newspaper established in the county was the Sauk County Standard, founded at Baraboo in June, 1850, by A. McFadden. Its publication was suspended in 1856. The Baraboo Republic, published every Wednesday, by Weirich & Woodman, is a large, thirty-two column folio sheet; republican in politics. It was established in 1855, by D. K. & S. Noyes. The Reedsburg Free Press, is a large, thirty-six column folio, published on the co-operative plan, by N. V. Chandler, republican politically, and issued Thursdays. It was first established by the present proprietor, in June, 1860, but at the end of a year its publication was suspended until March, 1872, when it was by him re-established. The Pioneer am Wisconsin is a twenty-four column folio newspaper, printed at Sauk City, in the German language. It was founded in 1853, by C. Durr. The Sauk County Courier, by A. De Lacy Wood, was established at Reedsburg, in October, 1876. It is a thirty-two column folio, democratic in politics, published on the cooperative plan. The Sauk County Herald is a twenty-eight column newspaper, printed in the German language, at Reedsburg; democratic in politics. It was established in December, 1876, by Porsch & Roetzmann.
The rapids of Baraboo river, which gave this place the name by which it was designated in early days -- Baraboo Rapids -- have, within a distance of three miles, a fall of between forty and fifty feet. The valuable water-power thus afforded attracted the first settlement of the place, and is now one of the most important sources of its business prosperity. Wood and Rowan were the first to complete a saw-mill here. Their location was at the upper great bend, as elsewhere stated. In 1843, Rowan sold his interest in the mill to Levi Moore, who came to the Rapids in 1840. In July, 1844, high water carried away a boom of logs, and precipitated them on the mill, destroying it and a portion of the dam. A new mill was completed in 1845, but was not operated successfully. After lying idle for years, undergoing several changes in ownership, the property was purchased in 1859 by M. J. Drown, who converted it to a woolen factory. It is now the seat of the works of the Island Woolen Manufacturing company and the Baraboo Furniture Manufacturing company, both very extensive establishments. The latter commenced operations in 1867.
The upper water-power, a short distance above the last mentioned, was claimed in 1843, by E. and G. Willard and Don C. Barry. They erected a saw-mill, which was completed in November, 1844. In 1855, a shop for the manufacture of furniture was erected here by Ryan & Hollinbeck, but in 1867 its machinery was transferred to the Baraboo company's works. In 1868, Thomas, Claude & Thomas furnished the shop with machinery for the manufacture of hubs, spokes, and other wagon gearing, which is now operating in connection with the saw-mill by foreign owners.
The middle water-power was surveyed out, and claimed in June, 1844, by George W. Brown, who, in company with his brother-in-law, Marvin Blake, here erected a saw-mill, which was completed in December, 1845. In 1846, shops were built here for the manufacture of shingles and chairs, but were operated only a few years. Several other manufacturing enterprises were attempted, and abandoned likewise. The water-power is now the seat of a saw-mill, a large flour-mill, erected in 1853, and a foundry and iron works built in 1866.
The lower water-power was pre-empted in 1845 upon completion of the United States survey by Van Slyke, who as has been stated, attempted the erection of a mill here in 1840. This revived the old contest between him and Peck. The latter started in 1844 across the plains for California, but was murdered on the road by Indians. his widow, Mrs. Roseline Peck, after a vain struggle to maintain her right to the property, saw it entirely wrested from her, and purchased eighty acres adjoining the plat of Adams, where she made her home and still resides. She was the first white woman in Baraboo and also in Madison. Many incidents are related of her kindness and heroism during the hardships of those pioneer days.
The water-power in question was entered by Van Slyke in 1846. Maxwell, who furnished the money, soon afterward became sole proprietor, and in 1847 proceeded to erect a saw-mill. In 1848 he sold an interest to J. F. Flanders and Benjamin McVicar, who speedily erected a four-mill. Some woolen manufacturing machinery was set up here in 1856. In 1858 the property changed hands, and the flour-mill was converted into a woolen factory. A flour-mill is now the only establishment on this water-power.
The principal plat of Baraboo was that of Adams, laid out, as previously mentioned, by the county commissioners in April, 1847. The original name was platted by George W. Brown; also in April, 1847, under the name of Baraboo. The middle mill-seat and the railroad depot are upon the Brown village. A village charter was obtained in 1866, and in April of the following year a full corporate organization was completed by the election of officers: President, S. M. Burdick; trustees, B. F. Mills, A. Andrews, T. D. Long, J. B. Hall, B. L. Purdy and C. C. Remington.
The first school in Baraboo was taught by E. M. Hart, whom Eben Peck induced to come for that purpose in 1844. The school was maintained by private subscription. Before the end of his term Hart married Miss Evelein Gibson, one of his pupils. This was the first wedding in Baraboo. Not long after this school a district was formed, and a rude log school-house was provided. In 1850 a frame building was erected for the purpose, and occupied until 1869, when the present elegant brick edifice was constructed at a cost of $33,000. It is a three-story building, with mansard roof. It is seated for eight hundred and seventy pupils, and furnishes ample facilities for the excellent schools of the village, now organized upon eight grades in nine departments.
The Baraboo Collegiate Institute, or select school, was opened in 1854, and continued until the graded schools were organized in 1870. In 1856, the Baraboo Female Seminary was chartered, opened, and continued under the auspices of the Presbyterian denomination for eight or nine years, when it was discontinued. The first religious services in Baraboo were held by Reverend Thomas Fullerton, at the house of Valentine B. Hill, in October, 1841. In February following, the same minister organized here a Methodist class of three members. The society of that denomination commenced the erection of the first church in the place in 1849. Its present edifice was erected in 1864. The Baptist, Presbyterian, Unitarian, Episcopal, and Catholic churches have also good houses of worship. Cyrus C. Remington became, in 1846, the first lawyer in Baraboo, and Dr. Charles Cowles, who came the same year, the first physician. In 1844, Levi Moore opened here the first store. The second was opened about a year later by "Count" Haraszthy. In 1847, the western hotel, still standing, was erected by C. H. Sumner.
Among the early settlers of the valley is William H. Canfield, who came to the county in 1842, and done much toward compiling and preserving its local history. Baraboo now numbers a population of about two thousand. It is situated upon a beautiful portion of the river valley, and is handsomely built. Beside its manufacturing enterprises, it has a large commercial business, and is one of the most prosperous villages in the interior of the state.
The present site of Reedsburg was occupied by D. C. Reed, in 1847. It is said that he was brought hither by a reported discovery of iron ore. Although he found no iron, the excellent water-power then unoccupied, induced him to remain. He entered two hundred acres of land, including the water-power and in June, 1847, commenced the construction of a dam and saw-mill. There is now an excellent flour mill upon this seat. The next comers were Seeley, in January, 1849, and John W. Rork, in February of the same year. The village was platted in 1852, and incorporated in 1868. For a time, it had high hopes of obtaining the county seat, but after these were dissipated its growth was very slow until the advent of the Chicago & Northwestern railroad in 1872, when it took a fresh start and has since grown quite rapidly. It now has a population of about twelve hundred, and a flourishing local business, being quite an important shipping point for the produce of the rich surrounding country. It has good schools and churches, and wears an air of thrift and enterprise. It unfortunately suffered the devastation of a row of buildings in the heart of its business, by fire, in May, 1877.
Sauk City Prairie du Sac, Spring Green, Delton, Ableman, La Valle, Ironton, and Merrimac, are pleasantly situated, and prosperous villages of the county.
(c) 2007-2012 - All rights reserved; however, personal use is permitted
Home Page * What's New * Photo Index * Surnames * My Ancestors
Last update of this page - Feb. 20, 2012