|For My Cousins
|Waupaca County, Wisconsin
Maps and Written History (as of 1878)
From: Illustrated Historical Atlas of Wisconsin
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History of Waupaca County
(as written in 1878)
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|The following transcription was taken verbatim from the above-referenced 1878 atlas (starting at page 246). 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.
WAUPACA COUNTY (as of 1878):
Waupaca ("Pale Water") county lies directly east of Portage county, and contains twenty-one townships, embraced in twenty civil towns, with a population of twenty thousand.
ORGANIZATION AND FIRST SETTLEMENTS
The county was created by an act, approved February 17, 1851, with boundaries the same as at present, except in the northeast corner. Township twenty-five, in range fifteen -- the town of Matteson -- is divided by the Wolf river, and only that portion west of Wolf was included; but subsequently the county was made to embrace this entire township. Since then it has experienced no farther change, although an attempt was made, by an authorized vote, which was taken on the first Tuesday in August, 1855, of the legal voters in townships twenty-one to twenty-five inclusive, in range ten east, to decide whether they would remain attached to Portage or be joined to Waupaca; returns to be made to the county clerk of Portage county. The result was nearly unanimous for Waupaca, but, for some reason, the official returns have never been declared, and the townships, therefore, still remain a part of Portage.
By the act of organization the county-seat was temporarily located at Mukwa, and the voters were authorized to choose a permanent county-seat two years from the next annual election, though no place to be voted for was named in the act. Many voters understood that the organic act authorized the vote to be taken at the spring elections of 1853, consequently at that date a portion of the county voted on the question, and the result was a majority in favor of "Waupaca Falls."
The county board, met at Waupaca, April 15, 1853, and by a vote of three against two, ordered all county officers to immediately remove their offices to Waupaca, and designated "Gothic Hall" in that village as the place for holding county and circuit courts. The county-seat was declared "permanently located at Waupaca." This action was resisted. Several of the old officers refused to give up their official documents, and were arrested and some were lodged in jail, but were promptly relieved by writ of habeas corpus. Two sets of county officers, some elected, others appointed, strove valiantly for the honor of serving the county and having exclusive possession of the county records.
In November, 1853, another vote was taken and sixty majority obtained for Waupaca. The county board, on the 16th of November, 1853, "Resolve, That the vote taken for the permanent location of the county-seat at the general election last past, was illegal, as no point had been designated by the legislature to be voted for, and no notice given to the different towns in said county that such vote would be taken at that time."
Also it was "Resolved, That Mukwa is the county-seat, and all county officers are hereby notified and required to hold their offices at that place." The action of the board, on the 15th of April, was rescinded, and characterized as "hasty and without due consideration."
In November, 1854, another vote was taken on the question of removing the county-seat from Mukwa, resulting in 338 for removal and 19 against. This did not give quiet; all the technical points were not satisfactorily settled, so Waupaca and Mukwa continued the contest, until the legislature, by special act, authorized a vote to be taken November 6, 1855, which resulted in 946 majority in favor of Waupaca. Since that time it has enjoyed the undisputed honors and emoluments of a shire town.
The county was attached to Winnebago for judicial purposes. The entire county, when first created, was formed into one town, and named Waupaca. The first election of county officers was at the tavern of H. Rolph, the in the village of Mukwa, on the first Tuesday of April, 1851. This resulted in the choice of: James Smiley, clerk of board of supervisors; C. E. P. Hobart, treasurer; John M. Vaughn, sheriff; Wm. G. Cooper, register of deeds; G. W. Taggart, surveyor, and John Boyd, coroner.
The first meeting of the board of supervisors was held May 6, 1851, at the house of H. Rolph, in Mukwa. Peter Meikeljohn and Tyler Caldwell were the only supervisors present. They organized, with Peter Meikeljohn as chairman and the first official act, after canvassing the recent county vote, was to offer a bounty of five dollars for wolf scalps. G. W. Taggart was appointed town treasurer.
By legislative act of February, 1853, the county was organized for judicial purposes, and attached to the third circuit. The same act ordered an election, to be held on the first Tuesday of April, 1853, to elect a sheriff, clerk of the court and register of deeds, who were to hold office until January 1, 1855, and a county judge, to hold office until January 1, 1854.
The following is the entire list of county officers then elected: W. G. Thompson, sheriff; James Smiley, register of deeds; J. J. Jones, circuit clerk; John Fordyce, district attorney; S. C. Dow, county clerk; G. W. Taggart, county treasurer; A. V. Balch, county surveyor; R. Luce, coroner; S. F. Ware, county judge.
In 1848, there were settlers in each of the towns of Mukwa, Little Wolf and Weyauwega, but the earliest permanent settlement in the county was on the Little Wolf river, in the town of Mukwa, in the spring of 1848. It is impossible to name the first white man who made his home in Waupaca county, but Robert Grignon is remembered as the most prominent settler in 1848, the first year of the county's history. Early in this year he built the first saw-mill in the county, and around it clustered the first permanent settlement.
Among the stalwart living pioneers is Joseph B. Hibbard. He has the honor of being the first white settler within several miles of the present county seat, at which place he staked a claim in June, 1849. John M. Vaughn, the first sheriff of the county, came the same season as Mr. Hibbard, and, after many wanderings, he is now "at home" in Waupaca. F. Dana Dewey, ever since the autumn of 1849, has lived in his bachelor home in Waupaca township. Though Wm. G. Cooper, a lawyer, located at Waupaca in 1849, there were no law suits until 1851, the date of the county organization, at which time the legal profession received several accessions.
The first settlers in the town of Lind were J. W. Chandler and S. C. Dow, in May, 1849, and the first school-house was built in that town in 1851, though Miss Chandler taught the first school of the county in a shanty at Weyauwega, in 1850. The first post-office was near the first school, both in time and place. At Weyauwega, in 1850, Ben Birdsall received his commission as first postmaster in Waupaca county. The first to represent this county in the state assembly was Dudley C. Blodgett, who was elected in 1851.
The first marriage in the county occurred at Fremont in June, 1851, whereby Frank Millett and Betsey Eaton were made one by Rev. Silas Miller, who, as a Methodist circuit rider, in 1850, had preached the first sermons in the county in the towns of Waupaca, Lind and Little Wolf. To supply the growing needs of the settlers, a store was opened at Fremont in 1850, by the enterprising firm of Brickley & Bergstresser.
G. W. Taggart, the first county treasurer and surveyor, is an old and honored pioneer; so, also, is W. J. Chamberlain, the present county treasurer. Winfield Scott, the present county judge, has been a resident for twenty-seven years, and prominently identified with the growth of the county. C. S. Ogden, who came in 1854, served twelve years as county judge, and was the founder of Ogdensburg, in the central part of the county. W. C. and G. L. Lord have been in the milling business at Waupaca ever since 1852. M. R. Baldwin and J. M. Dewey, prominent millers, together with several other active business men, located at the county seat during 1851, the first year of the county's existence. Doctor Linde tarried a few months in Waupaca in 1849, but the first permanent physician was Cutting Marsh, who came to Waupaca the year of county organization, and remained until his death. He was a gentleman of broad culture, and had formerly been a Presbyterian clergyman.
E. L. Brown, a leading attorney of the county, established his office at Waupaca, in 1852, and has since been actively known in law and politics. He has served twice as state senator, and often in other public capacities. Alva Rich, in 1851, was a pioneer farmer in Royalston. The county was divided into townships in 1852, and on the 7th of September, of the same year, was made the first entry of government land, which was within the present city limits of Waupaca.
The first white children who began life in Waupaca county were Mary Hibbard and a child of H. Sexton; both were born in the spring of 1850. At that date, the surrounding forest was the home of numerous children of the unhonored Red Men. H. Tourtelotte buried a child at Weyauwega in 1849, and this was undoubtedly the first death of a white person in the county.
The first grist-mill in the county was built in 1851, by Robert Parfrey, at a village named after him in the town of Dayton. Holt & Lord the same year built a mill on the site of their present "Waupaca Star Mills," but the little mill at Parfreyville has the honor of grinding the first grist; in fact, the mill-site was donated on condition that the mill erected should "grind a bushel of corn before the one at Waupaca grinds a kernel." The grinding of the first grist in their own county was quite an event in the estimation of a people accustomed to go many miles to mill. The first flour was distributed by the miller on Sabbath after the sermon.
The Methodist society at Waupaca built the first church edifice in 1853; it has recently been replaced by their elegant edifice, and the pioneer church is now the blacksmith shop of Samuel Silverthorne. By this date, various clusters of settlers, sustained by the lumbering interests, marked the future villages and cities of the county.
The officers of the Old Settlers' association are representative veterans in the county. They are: Louis Bostedo, president, G. E. More, vice-president; A. V. Balch, secretary; Evan Townsend, treasurer; Josephus Wakefield, historian. The latter has been a resident since 1855, and has held the offices of district attorney, court commissioner and other important positions. R. N. Roberts, in 1856, was a pioneer merchant of Waupaca, and the business then founded is still continued in connection with other industries. Doctor G. H. Calkins and several others from New York settled the same year at Waupaca. Henry C. Mumbrue, a resident of the state since 1849, established himself at Waupaca in 1855, and has since been a marked man as mechanic, farmer, merchant and assemblyman. He is the present state senator. Before the hard times of 1857, this county had passed the most trying period of its history, and had become the home of many substantial business and professional men.
The north portion of Waupaca county is comprised in the Azoic and Metamorphic formations; the south is Potsdam sandstone; the southeast corner has a small deposit of magnesian limestone; at the county set there is an outcrop of Azoic rocks. The general slope of the land is toward the southeast. Three-fourths of the county is timber land; the remainder is oak openings, prairie and marsh.
The leading woods are pine, oak and maple. Waupaca county lies within the southern limits of the pine region. The pine timber is mainly in the northern part of the county, but groves and belts are found in the eastern and northeastern sections. There are several fine maple orchards, and hard wood predominates.
On the north and northwest, the surface is broken, soil stony, and pine abounds. The east is undulating; the southeast is marshy, with some timber. Both clay sub-soil and sand ridges can be found in every section. The drainage is generally good, yet small lakes abound, together with river enlargements, also called lakes. The central and southern are good farming lands, yet perhaps one-fourth of the county is waste land. Nearly every variety of soil and surface can be seen in the county -- level prairies, rich valleys, sandy ridges, rocky bluffs, oak openings and pine-covered river margins.
The county is well watered in every part. The Wolf on the east is the main navigable stream. It has many large tributaries, which afford abundant and reliable water-powers. In the north and northeast, are the Little Wolf, Embarrass, Pigeon and others; in the south and west are the Waupaca, Pearl, Crystal, and their branches. These excellent water privileges are partially improved. Scattered throughout the county are thirteen grist-mills with thirty-six run of stone, supplied mainly by grain raised in the county. There is ready market for all products. The land is cheap, water good, air pure, wood plenty and soil generally fertile.
About three hundred million feet of logs are annually taken from this county, most of which pass down the Wolf river. Some seasons, navigation is obstructed, and the river completed jammed for miles by this forest product. Of the 34,000 acres cultivated in 1876, nearly one-half was wheat. Winter wheat seldom kills out, and is of excellent quality. Potatoes are a leading export. In every marsh is found the wild cranberry, and it is no being cultivated, proving a sure and profitable crop. Fruit orchards in sheltered regions are becoming remunerative.
Buckwheat is a prominent crop. The season is short, but vegetation rapidly matures. Dent corn is raised by free use of fertilizers, especially plaster. Clover is largely raised, both for stock and as a fertilizer. Waupaca county is a prominent hop-raiser, and her annual shipment of hops is exceeded by few counties in the state.
Much lime is shipped from the southeast part of the county, and the abundant clay of excellent quality supplies the brickyards which constitute an important industry. The clear waters furnish more fish than needed for home consumption. Wild grasses are luxuriant and nutritious. A wild bean grows abundantly in the woods, and also a wild pea on the uplands and in the meadows; both making excellent hay. Fine blooded stock is being introduced. The county has proven well adapted to sheep raising. Many tons of wool and mutton are annually exported. Dairying is popular and remunerative, and its magnitude indicates that dairy products will soon become a leading export.
This place, the county seat, is a city of two thousand inhabitants, and is situated in the central part of the county on both sides of the Waupaca river, thirteen miles from its mouth. This was one of the first settled placed in the county. In 1852, the number of families was sufficient to sustain a school, which was opened by Miss Theodora Thompson, now Mrs. Le Gro. The burnt district of 1877 covers the site of this first school.
The first white man who died at Waupaca was Joel Deiter. He was the victim of consumption, in the spring of 1852. Mr. Billington and Emma Baxter were the first to enter matrimonial bonds within the city limits. They were united in 1852, by the bride's father. The city is peopled mainly from New England and the Middle states. It is prettily located, contains many fine residences, six churches, and the best school buildings in the county. It has two planing mills, two flouring mills with eight run of stone, two foundries, two tanneries, two furniture manufactories, one woolen factory, one saw-mill, one brewery, one wagon shop, one barrel factory, two hotels, and one newspaper.
This city is the chief commercial center for a large extend of country, therefore the mercantile establishments are numerous, and of high grade. The beautiful site for county buildings is occupied by a plain court-house, of which the people are not proud.
This village has a population of 1,700, and lies upon the eastern border, on the Wolf, at the head of steamboat navigation. The Green Bay & Minnesota railroad passes through it; and it is a place of much business and increasing importance. The Milwaukee, Lakeshore and Western railroad also touches at this place.
This is a thriving little city of nine hundred souls, located on the Waupaca, three miles from its mouth. The people are enterprising, and the excellent water-power is well improved. Weyauwega has a pottery for the manufacture of light-colored crockery ware.
The early inhabitants of this village will long remember the winter of 1855. Snow held late, and the stock of provisions was low. The annual visitation of the suckers in the river was delayed. The ice went out in April. The people rushed for the dam; they waited one, two three days, and not a sucker. A week passed, and still they came not. Ten days, and not a sucker yet. Saturday arrived and found the people fasting. Sentinels watched all that night. On Sunday morning they gathered in a long house on the hill. The preacher prayed for the Lord to succor (sucker) them, and the people echoed his words. At eleven o'clock, Cole Rector, a long-haired, illiterate old sinner, came flying up the street shouting, "Suckers has come," whereupon preacher and hearers all broke for the dame, and days of fasting and fear were changed to those of eating an rejoicing.
Fremont on the Wolf, in the southeast, is attaining importance as a manufacturing and commercial town. There are several other villages, some of which are of recent and rapid growth. They are Iola, Clintonville, East Royalton, Ogdensburg, Rural, Parfreyville, Manawa, Scandanavia, Evanswood, Embarrass, and Northport.
The first newspaper in the county was started at Waupaca in 1852, by the Redfield Brothers, and was christened The Criterion. Several newspaper enterprises have been undertaken and abandoned, or consolidated. The official organ, and only newspaper at the county seat, is the Waupaca County Republican, which has been published for nearly a quarter of a century. It is a seven-column folio, republican in politics. C. M. Bright is editor and proprietor. The only other paper is the New London Times, founded in 1869, by J. Ogden. It is also a seven-column folio, and republican. Gordon & Walker now own and edit the Times.
COUNTY OFFICERS AND SOCIETIES
The county officials of 1877 are either veteran settlers or those who have literally grown up with the county. They are: Winfield Scott, county judge; A. J. Perkins, county clerk; W. J. Chamberlain, county treasurer; Charles Churchill, circuit clerk; Ole O. Hole, register of deeds; Frank Dorr, county surveyor; C. M. Bright, county superintendent of schools; A. J. Van Epps, sheriff; E. Goodrich, district attorney.
The increasing dairy interest finds intelligent expression in a well sustained "Dairymen's Association," of which E. W. Brown is president and W. Woods is secretary. There is also a "Horticultural and Pomological Society," which is one of the fruits of a healthy public spirit. A. V. Balch is president, and J. Wakefield, secretary. The county seat is the headquarters of "The Waupaca Agricultural and Mechanical Association." The president is A. Gordon; the secretary, C. Caldwell.
A large portion of the county is tributary to a vigorous organization, which centers at Weyauwega, called "The Waupaca County Agricultural Society;" John Baxter, president; W. Woods, secretary; L. L. Post, treasurer.
Waupaca county for the past twenty years has been in the seventh judicial circuit. G. L. Park is the presiding judge.
The county doubled in population from 1865 to 1875. Nearly three-fourths of the inhabitants are Americans, though in some towns the foreign element is rapidly gaining. The northwestern and western parts are mainly Norwegian. In the northeast and southeast the Germans predominate, while in the central eastern there are Irish settlements.
The Menomonees, who once occupied this territory, have passed peacefully away, though red men are still seen occasionally. In the south and west are found mounds of acknowledged pre-historic origin.
The whistle of the iron horse was first heard in Waupaca on the 28th of September, 1872, upon the Wisconsin Central railroad. In the fall of 1873, the Green Bay & Minnesota railroad was completed through this county. The various cities and towns have an aggregate railroad debt of two hundred thousand dollars. The 105 free public schools afford all classes the desired educational advantages. With its sober, intelligent, and enterprising people, this county presents the elements of substantial prosperity.
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