For My Cousins Waushara County, Wisconsin
Maps and Written History (as of 1878)

From: Illustrated Historical Atlas of Wisconsin
Compiled and published by Synder, Van Vechten & Co., Milwaukee (Wisconsin) 1878

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History of Waushara County
(as written in 1878)
View Maps of Individual Townships
Match the township map numbers below with their location on the county index map (above)

Aurora (18) -- includes Auroraville
Bloomfield (6) -- includes West Bloomfield, Brushville and Tustin
Coloma (13)
Dakota (15)
Deerfield (8)
Hancock -- includes Pine Lake and Fish Lake
Leon (11) -- includes Pine River, Terrills Corners
Marion (16) -- includes Spring Lake P.O., Fish Lake, Spring Lake and Silver or Wolf Lake
Mt. Morris (10) -- includes Colebrook, Fairburn Lake, Hills Lake and Sauks Lake
Oasis (2) -- includes Oasis and East Oasis
Plainfield (1) -- includes Plainfield, West Plainfield and Sand Lake
Poysippi (12) -- includes Lake Poygan and Pine River
Richford (14) -- includes Mecan River
Rose (3) -- includes Wild Rose
Saxville (5) -- Spring Water P.O. and Long Lake
Springwater (4) -- includes Wild Rose, Cedar Lake P.O., Gilbert Lake, Pine Lake, Lewis Lake, Rusk Lake, Round Lake and Silver Lake
Warren (17) -- includes Hamilton Mill P.O., Willow Creek and Jordans lake
Wautoma (9)
    Village of Wautoma - Image 1
    Village of Wautoma - Image 2 (cropped - zoomed in)
    Village of Wautoma - Image 3 (west side)
    Village of Wautoma - Image 4 (central/east side)

The following transcription was taken verbatim from the above-referenced 1878 atlas (starting at page 247). 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.

WAUSHARA COUNTY (as of 1878):

By an act of the legislature of Wisconsin, approved February 15, 1851, all that region circumscribed by a line beginning at the southeast corner of township eighteen, of range thirteen east, thence running due north on the range line to the northeast corner of township twenty, thence west on the township line to the range line dividing ranges seven and eight, thence south on that line to the southwest corner of township eighteen, and thence east to the place of beginning, was set apart and incorporated as the county of Waushara, having the county seat temporarily located at the village of Sacramento.

By the same act, the voters of Waushara were authorized to elect county officers at the first general election. The county was organized into one town, bearing the same name as the county. The people were also required to elect the necessary town officers at the same election, and the first town meeting was to be held at the house of Cyrus Langworthy, in the village of Sacramento.

The county remained attached to Marquette, for judicial purposes, until February 15, 1852. The first election, which occurred in November, 1851, selected Thomas H. Walker, county judge; Joseph Garland, clerk of the board; Allyn Bourdman, clerk of the court; George Babcock, district attorney; Vernon Evans, sheriff; James Saunders, treasurer; J. S. Bugh, register of deeds; Charles N. Shumway, surveyor; and A. B. Foster, coroner.

The vote was canvassed by E. W. Daniels, D. H. Robinson, justices, and I. R. Rogers, clerk, pro tem. The board of supervisors -- C. N. Shumway, Matthew Devoe, and I. R. Rogers -- had their first meeting on the 11th of November, at the house of C. Langworthy, as designated by the act of organization.

By an act approved February 21, 1854, the legal voters of Waushara were allowed, on the second day of September following, to vote on the removal of the county seat from Sacramento to the village of Wautoma. At this election, seven hundred and forty votes were cast, of which three hundred and ninety-seven were for removal. At this time the canvassing board was formed of N. P. Noyes, clerk, Orvil Herrick and Warren Rosenkrans, justices of the peace.

When the business was first moved to Wautoma, the courts were held over Marble & Curtis' store, free of charge to the county. C. N. Shumway furnished rooms for the treasurer and clerk of the board of supervisors, Alvah Nash for the register and clerk of the court, and W. C. Webb the office for the sheriff, while the school-house was used for the grand jury room. All the officers were at the new county seat within one month after the election. Since that time Wautoma has remained the capital of the county.

The first building owned by the county for court-house purposes was bought of G. W. Smith, in 1857, for $1,237, the deed being given April 20. This building was bought by the town of Wautoma, and given to the county, to belong to the county as long as the seat of government remains at that place, but in case of removal of the county seat, the court-house property again reverts to the town of Wautoma.

The building is a two-story frame, having a court room above and offices below. A fire-proof vault has recently been built, in which the county papers are secured. The county has no jail building. All criminals are taken to Waupaca, Oshkosh, and Stevens Point. The county has never undergone but one change in its boundary. At that time, about two sections in the southeast corner, south of the Fox river, were added to Green Lake county. By this cut off, the old county seat - Sacramento - was set off from Waushara into Green Lake.


The county of Waushara contains about 414,000 acres of land. Of this, a near estimate will be five per cent, prairie; fifteen per cent, timber; fifty per cent, openings; and thirty per cent, marsh. The prairies are level and beautiful, but the soil is so sandy as to bring it below the average for agriculture. The timber is of oak, ash, and basswood, with some hickory and maple, though the quality is not first-class.

The soil in the openings is better than in the prairie, but is also quite sandy. The marsh regions are adapted to cranberry culture and hay growing; of the former, immense crops have been realized by the cultivators in the southeastern part. The soil in the eastern portion is the best in the county, and this region is the home of many well-to-do farmers.

The general character of the surface is level, but there are some bluffs in the central and northern portions. Of its rivers, the Fox, which crosses the southeast corner in a northeasterly direction, is the largest. Pine river, that drains the northern part, and enters Lake Poygan, is a good stream affording fair water-powers, and furnishing water and drainage to a considerable region.

Besides these, there are other smaller streams, the principal being Willow creek, that drains the central part and pours its waters into Lake Poygan; White river and Pine creek, tributaries of the Fox, drain the southern portion of the county. All of these have good water-powers and sites for manufacturing purposes.

Over a considerable area, artesian wells can be obtained at a depth of from fifty to one hundred feet. There are twenty or thirty small lakes in the county, each covering from one acre to one section of land. They are profusely scattered over the entire county. The western end of Lake Poygan encroaches on Waushara on the east, and covers about four sections of its territory. These lakes all abound in the common kinds of fish.

There is a great abundance of wild fruits; attempts at raising cultivated kinds are reasonably successful. Large deposits of marl are found, of great value as a fertilizer; also good beds of clay, which produce the cream-colored brick. This clay is also adapted to the manufacture of stoneware.

The principal crops of the region are: wheat (of which about 15,000 acres are sown annually), rye, oats, corn, and hops, in the order of enumeration.

The schools in the county are of a fair average, and the attendance good. The buildings are generally comfortable frame structures, of which there are eighty-nine in the county.

The county is crossed by one railroad -- the Wisconsin Central. This road passes from north to south through the western tier of town. A daily stage line connects Plainfield on this railroad and Berlin on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul; the distance is about forty miles, and crosses the county from northwest to southeast, passing through Wautoma, the county seat.


The first settlement within the present limits of Waushara was made September 24, 1848. At this time, Isaac and William Warwick, two brothers, who had just been discharged from the Mexican war, made a claim to a piece of land, now section two in the town of Marion. They built a log shanty, 8x10; and, in the fall, taking two yoke of oxen, Isaac made a trip to Stevens Point, and secured lumber for the erection of a more substantial house.

This settlement was made on the Indian lands, and though they were ordered, by both the Indians and by the Indian agent, to leave, they in various ways appeased their wrath and remained, and became the nucleus of the present settlement of Waushara.

In 1849, a new road was opened from Berlin to what is now Wautoma. At the latter place, Philip Green had built a shanty during the winter of 1849-9. This claim was afterward, in 1849, sold to Mr. Atkins, who kept a tavern during the winter season for the accommodation of the lumbermen going into the woods above. During this year and the succeeding one, settlers began to gather in and make settlements in many parts of the present history.

In 1849, John C. Williams, William F. Chipman and family, John H. Dedrick and family arrived, followed soon by Lewis H. Bagg and Mr. Shepard. These all settled in the southeast part, in the present town of Warren. A school, the first in the county, was started in this town in 1849; tuition was paid for membership, and instruction was given by Mrs. Diana Carr, who lived with Mr. Bagg's people at the time.

The first claim made in the town of Leon, in the eastern part of the county, was in 1849, by a bee-hunter the name of Worden. He remained only a short time, and returned to Neenah. The claim was made on what is now Van Aernam's prairie. In the same year, E. W. Alvord and William Tibbett settled in Mount Morris, in the central part of the county.

The first settlement in the west end of the county was made in 1849, by Thomas Kelly and his son, William N. Kelley, who settled in the town of Plainfield; following him were W. W. Beach and Leonard Wilcox in the latter part in the same year, who located in the second tier of town from the western end of the county.

William Lord came about the same time, and settled in the same region. He kept a tavern in the town of Oasis. The Shaws came about the same time; C. E. Waterman and Charles Hamilton came in winter of 1849-'50, and located at the site of the present village of Plainfield. All these early comers began farming, and most of them brought with them families. So, at the beginning of 1850, several settlements had been started at different points.

During this year, numerous others joined the new settlements, a few of such being Rev. Bassinger, who was their first preacher; John and Charles Shumway, Dr. Moses Barrett, the first physician in the county; Martin Becker, John Howell, Solomon Mundinger, Joel Howard, M. Aman, Cartwright, Firman, and many others, so that neighbors were not far removed from each other. Many of the original settlers are still living, and occupying the places on which they located on their arrival. Such as have remained are well-to-do, and possessed of a fair competence of this world's goods.

The population of the county now (1877) is about 12,000, the majority of whom are engaged in agricultural pursuits. Several small villages have sprung up at convenient points, the principal one being the county seat.


This village is situated about the center of the county, near the source of White river. It is a place of five hundred inhabitants, who are engaged in the various industries of an agricultural region; having two hotels, several churches, a good school-house, and the county court-house as the principal public buildings. It has one good flouring mill and numerous storehouses.

The first improvements made at this place were by Atkins, who built a log house, in which he kept tavern. The Shumway brothers bought him out in 1850, and began vigorously to make improvements. They enlarged Atkins' tavern, and improved the water power; the next fall they built a mill and a store-house. In this building the first store in Wautoma was kept in 1852 by F. B. Munson.

This was the third store in the county, the first being opened at Dacotah [NOTE BY TRANSCRIPTIONIST: this is how it was spelled in the atlas] in 1851, by Seeley and Dakin, and the second at Plainfield. F. H. Walker was the first lawyer in the county; he located at Wautoma, and was made County Judge at the first election. The first postmaster at the county seat was John Shumway, the office being kept in his tavern, and opened in 1851. It was afterward moved into the store, and kept by Munson. The oldest resident now living in this vicinity is Gardner Stratton, whom came in 1851.


This village is the second in size in Waushara county. It has a population of about 450. The village is situated on the Wisconsin Central railroad, toward the northwest corner of the county. It was began by E. C. Waterman, who built the first hotel. The first store was kept by E. M. Chester, in 1851. E. C. Waterman who she first postmaster; the office being kept in his house. It now has two hotels, numerous good stores, a flouring mill, and all the minor industries of an inland rural region.


The first newspaper published in this county was the Waushara Argus, first issued in March, 1859, at Pine River village, by Pulcifer and Barker. In May of the same year, it moved to Wautoma. D. H. Pulcifer & Co. had control of it at this time, with W. C. Webb, editor. This paper has been owned successively, since that time, by J. W. Rest & Co., last part of 1859; W. C. Webb, in 1860; Hall and Stowers, in 1861; A. F. Lockerly and Stowers, in 1862; W. S. Munroe bought in 1865, and in 1867, sold to R. S. D. Poller; Munroe again bought the concern in 1872, and still continues to issue the Argus weekly. This is the only paper now published in the county. The Wautoma Journal was started in 1855, by Allen and Burnside, and continued to live till the year 1860, when its hold on life failed, and the Argus bought the machinery and appurtenances. Another paper, the Wautoma Republican, was started in 1860, but expired in less than a year.


On the 2d day of March, 1857, this society was organized at a meeting of the citizens in the court-house, James H. Hosford being elected president, and G. H. Gile, secretary. This was discontinued in 1861, and again re-organized in 1875, with J. N. P. Bird, president, and W. S. Munroe, secretary. The society has now twenty-five acres, inclosed [as spelled in the atlas] by an eight-feet board fence, good buildings, an half-mile race-track, in good condition, and a prosperous organization. The fair is liberally supported by all parts of the county.

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