The proclamation creating this town was in the following words:
"Whereas, It is provided by the ordinance of Congress, for the government of the territory northwest of the river Ohio, which ordinance by several subsequent acts of Congress, has been applied to and now constitutes the fundamental law of said Territory of Michigan, that the governor thereof shall proceed from time to time, as circumstances may require, to lay out the parts of said Territory, in which the Indian title shall have been extinguished, into counties and townships; and, whereas it is deemed promotive of the public good at this time, that the village of Prairie des Chiens, in the county of Crawford, within said Territory, should be erected into a township for the better regulation of the internal public thereof, and for other purposes:
"Now, therefore, I, the above named William Woodbridge, do, by virtue of the power and authority in me vested, constitute the whole of that tract of country comprehending the said village of Prairie des Chiens, which lies within the bounds hereinafter described, into a township to be known and called by the name of the "Borough of Prairie des Chiens," to-wit: All that country which lies within the following boundaries: Beginning at the confluence of the river Ouisconsin with the river Mississippi, thence in a line at right angles with the course of said river at the point aforesaid to the boundaries of the said Territory; thence up the said river along said boundary line to a point opposite from the entrance into said river Mississippi of a small run or creek known by name of Fisher's creek; thence up said creek four miles, or to its source if it should not be found four miles long; thence to the confluence of the river Kickapoo with the river Ouisconsin; thence along said river to the place of beginning.
"Given under my hand and the great seal of said Territory at Detroit this seventeenth day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty-one, and of the independence of the United States of America the forty-sixth.
The borough (township or town) of Prairie du Chien continued in existence until 1828, when it was superseded by the town of St. Anthony, which included, as shown in a previous chapter, the whole of Crawford county, the dimensions of which were very large. The town last mentioned continued until 1849, when the county was divided into four towns, one of which was called the town of Prairie du Chien. It included nearly all of the county as at present circumscribed. Since that date it has been shorn of territory until in 1872 it was reduced to the present limits. It is bounded on the north by the town of Eastman, on the west by the town of Wauzeka, on the south by the town of Bridgeport and the city of Prairie du Chien and on the west by the Mississippi river and comprises parts of town 7, of ranges 6 and 7 west.
The surface of the town is very rough, except the beautiful prairie land between the bluffs and the Mississippi river, which is about one and one-half miles wide. The western part of the town is cut by numerous lagoons, setting back from the main channel of the Mississippi river. The ridges originally had good timber, but has long since given way to the axe of the settler; and where once stately forest trees grew now a second growth has sprung up. The soil is a heavy clay on the ridges, while the valleys, especially that of the Mississippi, contains a mixture of sand.
The first settlement in what is now (1884) known as the town of Prairie du Chien was made at what is called Frenchtown, a suburb of the city of Prairie du Chien, and which is located on the "Prairie" midway between the bluff and the east bank of the Mississippi river two miles north of the city. This settlement dates back nearly a century, and was first called "Popple." The name "Frenchtown" began to be used about 1850.
Dennis Courtois was the first white man who settled at this place. In 1820 he made affidavits showing himself to have been in the country as early as 1792, at which time he and his wife came from Canada.
Claude Gagnier settled on farm lot No. 13, in 1794, and died leaving a family as residents of the place.
Francois Cheneviere came in 1806 and married a half blood Indian woman. In 1810 he erected a two horse sweep power grist mill which was in use till 1838.
Piere Chelofau came from St. Louis and settled here in 1812.
In 1813 a Canadian named Le Blonde came in, married a squaw and raised a family. He died in 1843. About this date came Mr. Gollanan and wife from Canada. He died at Frenchtown in 1867, and his wife died in Missouri in 1880, at the age of 103 years.
Frederick Stram, native of Switzerland came with his family in 1826. They came by way of the Red river of the north, accompanied by Joseph Boothe and a man named Mercheau with their families. The latter remained only three years, but Mr. Boothe remained till the time of his death in 1867. His widow married Modest Corden.
In 1836 Ezekiel Tainter settled on the bluff in the town of Prairie du Chien, on what is now known as the Nickerson farm.
The next to venture out and make settlement on the bluffs, were E. Putnam and John Miller.
The following is a list of the first town officers of the town of Prairie du Chien:
Alfred Brunson, chairman; Joseph Atherton, Aaron Hazen, supervisors; Theodore Bugbee, town clerk; Isaac P. Perrit Gentil, town assessor; Alfred Brunson, town superintendent of schools; Anson B. Cay, Daniel H. Whaley, William E. Keith, constables; Wiram Knowlton, James H. Lockwood, Joseph Atherton, and Aaron Hazen, justices of the peace.
The first annual meeting was held April 3, 1872, when the following officers were elected: John Folsom, Thomas McGrath and Flavien Cherrier, supervisors; M. E. Norris, clerk; Andrew Bosch, assessor; Joseph Pinz, treasurer; M. I. Donnell, Patrick La Vell and M. Lechnier, justices of the peace.
Officers of 1883: Thomas McGrath, chairman; James Norris, Joseph Wilharber, supervisors; D. H. Quilligan, town clerk; Judson Lareviere, assessor; Theodore Bay, treasurer; Thomas J. Quilligan, John H. Folsom, justices.
At the present time (1884) the town is divided into three full and four joint school districts:
District No. 9 has an old frame building, on section 12, town 7, range 7 west. Number of pupils, forty-five.
District No. 10 has a brick house situated on section 10, town 7, range 6 west, valued at $200. Number of pupils, thirty-six.
District No. 11 is provided with a brick building on section 9, town 7, range 6 west, valued at $300. Number of pupils, thirty.
District No. 6, joint with Bridgeport and Wauzeka, has a frame house, in good condition, located on section 23, town 7, range 6 west, valued at $700. Number of pupils, eighty-three.
District No. 4, joint with Wauzeka, in which town the school house is located. Number of pupils, six.
District No. 5, joint with Bridgeport, with building in last named town. Number of pupils, twenty-five.
Sections 29 and 30, town 7, range 6 west, are attached to the city of Prairie du Chien, for school purposes.
The first flouring mill in all this section of the State of Wisconsin, aside from the hand mills and other rude contrivances used before the American settlement proper was effected, was constructed in 1810, by Francois Cheneviere. This was propelled by two horses and a sweep, and was used till 1818, when Col. John Shaw built a water power mill, on what is now known as the Dousman mill farm, which is situated on Mill Coulee creek, on section 6, town 7, range 6 west. It is stated by the old French settlers, that the owner of the "horse power mill" took one-third for grinding.
The mill on Mill Coulee, is the only one in the town; it was rebuilt in 1840, by Joseph Rolette, and in 1883, by George E. Jacobia. An entire new foundation was placed underneath the building, the old time overshot wheel, so moss-covered and water-soaked, taken out and a modern Turbine wheel put in and new machinery throughout, making it a very valuable mill. But little business has ever been transacted in the town, except what was carried on in a small way at Frenchtown.
Louis Stram opened a grocery store and also handled liquors quite extensively, from 1854 to 1872. He kept a hotel there for many years, while Prairie du Chien was yet in its infancy.
This city, which is the county seat of Crawford county, is situated on the east bank of the Mississippi river, in the extreme southwestern part of the county, and is one of the oldest places in the State of Wisconsin, dating from 1781.
Before the whites (who were Canadian French) first located on the Prairie, it was inhabited by the Fox Indians, who chief was named Dog (Chien in French); and it was from this it took its name, which was subsequently given to the village.
Of all the charming city sites in the great and far-famed upper Mississippi valley, perhaps none excels Prairie du Chien in grandeur and beauty. Surrounded as it is by the mountain-like bluffs on either side of the river, which flows on in its ceaseless current toward the far off ocean, the picturesque scenery is ever a feast to the eye.
The prairie on which the city is laid out is a sand and loam plain, about two miles wide at the south end, running north about seven miles, to a point, the whole embracing about seven sections of land. The site of the city stretches along the Mississippi river about two miles; nearly all of which affords a good steamboat landing, and averages about one and a half miles in width.
This place is situated about 300 miles below St. Paul, in Minnesota and seventy miles up the river from Dubuque and Dunlieth; is 600 miles from St. Louis and 1,800 from New Orleans by way of the meanderings of the Mississippi river, and is ninety-eight miles west of Madison and 198 miles from Milwaukee. The platting of the city shows much taste as well as practical design, the streets being laid out at right angles and the blocks of convenient size for both business and resident purposes. The river at this point is a mile and a quarter wide, including islands; the whole valley, from the bluffs on the east to those on the Iowa shore, is about three miles in width. This level plain, walled in as it is by these everlasting hills, which in many places rise into great altitude, their surface covered with a carpeting of green and scattering timber, with here and there a precipitous rock cropping out in bold relief, lends a beauty to the city and its environments, which must be seen in order to be fully appreciated.
Another prominent feature of the city is its artesian wells, which are not only curiosities but also of great utility. One of these fountains is situated within the city park and throws a constant stream of the purest, most health-giving water of any well in the world. This stream, which doubtless has its source in a distant part of the State, furnishes the city with water for domestic use, for fire protection and flows down on either side of the principal business streets, over stone gutters, which are kept clean and white by this never-failing stream, that supplies a cooling draught for both man and beast. This well attracts the attention of the stranger as he visits the city and leads him to exclaim, "A thing of beauty is a joy forever!"
Here and there throughout the city may be seen a very substantial class of business buildings and public edifices. Especially great pride is taken in the schools and church buildings of the place. These, together with the court house, which is a stone structure, situated in a charming public square, the surface of which is shaded by the dark green foliage of the pine and cedar --- have come to be a pride to the people of Prairie du Chien.
This point was made the terminus of the Milwaukee & Mississippi River railroad, in April, 1857; it being the most northern point on the river to which the iron steed had found his way. In 1884, this was known as the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul line.
The various plats of Prairie du Chien were filed for record as follows:
Original plat, Sept. 11, 1837. This plat was purchased of Amable and Lenore Moreau, by Thomas P. Burnett, for $65.
Lockwood's addition, Dec. 26, 1840.
Streets, additions, April 9, 1839.
Power's addition, Sept. 9, 1840.
Beaumont's addition, Oct. 31, 1842.
Dousman's addition, Nov. 16, 1842.
E. Power's addition, April 8, 1843.
Parish's addition, Dec. 5, 1855.
J. Y. Smith's addition Sept. 26, 1856.
McGregor's addition April 27, 1856.
Clark's addition, Dec. 22, 1855.
Marsh's addition, Sept. 1, 1856.
Union plat by H. L. Dousman et al, Sept. 27, 1856.
First addition to Union plat, June 4, 1857.
Beaumont's addition, Aug. 12, 1856.
Lower Prairie du Chien, June 14, 1856.
Extension to Union plat, March 13, 1858.
At the present time, (1884), the principal part of the city is on the high ground in the rear of the old village of St. Feriole. What was known as the "Main Village" at an early date, lay immediately along the east bank of the Mississippi river, and is now occupied by the railroad yards, ware houses, and lumber yards.
"Lower Town" is that part of the city situated about a half mile down the river from old St. Feriole. Here, the railroad shops are located, and other business interests, yet the principal business of the city is done on the old site of St. Feriole, about midway between the two bluffs.
A history of the first settlement of Prairie du Chien, largely by Canadian French, will be found in a previous chapter. We here commence the narrative when the Americans began to settle very rapidly on "the prairie."
Hercules L. Dousman, who was of Canadian French origin, came to the village in 1826 or 1827, in the employ of the American Fur Company, and speedily rose to wealth and distinction. Some men who were stationed here in the military service of the United States made selection of eligible location within a short distance of the prairie, to which they returned after their term of office expired; among whom may be mentioned Edward Hughes, John McClure, J. P. Hall, and Daniel Frost. Between 1830 and 1835, the names of Tainter, Miller, Putnam and Martin, were identified with the history of this place.
In 1832 I. P. Perrit Gentil, afterwards for many years county treasurer, located here. J. F. Mills came in 1834, for the purpose of engaging as tutor in the families of Col. Taylor and Indian agent Street, but entered the quartermaster's office, and subsequently rose to distinction in civil life.
Another arrival of 1836, was Alexander McGregor, who was one of the principal men and, in that year laid out the lower village. He also established that year a ferry across the Mississippi. After laboring assiduously to build up the lower town, he removed in 1847, and became the founder of the city on the Iowa side, which bears his name.
In this year (1836) the fever of speculation, then running rampant over the country, reached this place, and property ran up to fabulous heights. Two land companies were organized, who bought up all they could get of the private land claims below the garrison, and laid it out into city lots. But failing to succeed as they wished, this part of the city remained only on paper for several years.
A man by the name of Van Dorn, from Michigan, full of the idea of Chicago and Milwaukee, came to this place and finding no land in market except the private land claims, bought up some claims on Government land not yet surveyed in the Wisconsin bottoms, which are low and marshy, and subject to annual inundations. This he platted on paper, and went east and put into stock, at $200,000, $100 per share, and imposed on many honest men, who supposed they were buying shares in the city of Prairie du Chien, for so he called his marsh. He paid for his claims in Michigan wild cat money a few days before those banks exploded. He had to leave the country, and the last heard from him he was in Texas.
In this year population began to increase. Many who were bound ultimately for Iowa and Minnesota, made this their stopping place till they could prepare their future homes. Several new houses were put up, and permanent residences made.
Among the number who came to Prairie du Chien in 1837, were Losen and Seth Hill, H. W. and Thomas Savage.
Concerning Prairie du Chien in 1857, and what its future prospects might be, the Rev. Alfred Brunson at that date wrote:
"The town plat lies two miles along the river, and runs back one and a half miles, on an average, covering an area of about three sections. But the present inhabitants, numbering about 3,000, are scattered over the equivalent of seven sections, all of which can, and probably will be occupied for dwellings and business in a few years.
"We have one large steam flouring, and one steam saw mill; we have three lumber yards; five brick yards; four lime kilns, and stone quarries without number. Several millions of brick have been made and laid up during the past season, in dwellings and large stores and ware houses. And by the aid of furnaces brick are being made during the winter at the rate of 3,000 per day, and will be ready to be laid up as soon as the ensuing spring opens.
"Three graceful churches, and one in the course of building, together with two other places of divine worship, honor the morals and religious tastes of the people. A high school and suitable number of district schools supply the wants of our children and youths for educational purposes; and an academy and several more churches are in contemplation.
"We have several lines of daily, tri-weekly and weekly stages, plying in Wisconsin, and the same from McGregor, which may be considered as a part of this place, plying in Iowa and Minnesota, all centering to this place, in view of the railroad and steamboat travel.
"The railroad is at the time of this writing, finished up to a point of twenty miles from this place, and the track is being laid at the rate of half a mile a day. The grading and bridge building keep out of the way of the rail layers, and the cars are expected to reach this place in February next.
"During the past season the steamboat arrivals have averaged ten or twelve a day, none of which were owned at this place. But arrangements are now being made by which four freight boats are to be put on in connection with the railroad, and also four daily boats expressly for passengers, to receive the passengers from the trains, and go at a speed never yet attained on this river, and ply between this place and St. Paul, and the intermediate ports. By this arrangement freight will not be permitted to lie at the depot for weeks before it will be forwarded; and passengers will not be left without beds nor be compelled to hang upon the guards to get a passage, as it has been to some extent the past season or two; one of the boats of the greatest speed is to ply between this place and Dubuque, daily.
"This place offers at this time, the greatest facilities for wholesale dealers, for manufactories, and for all kinds of mechanics and laborers. This may be seen at a glance from our position. The town site is ample for buildings, without the expense of grading, piling or wharfing, and the facilities for receiving and sending out goods, wares and merchandise, are exceeded by no place west or north of Chicago.
"Hundreds of buildings would now have been up and occupied by families and traders, if materials and men could have been at command; and as soon as these can be obtained, building will progress with great rapidity. Hence the opening for mechanics, lumber, and other materials for building.
"A foundry on a large scale is very much needed. Buildings with iron fronts are being put up, and stoves by the hundred are being sold, mill irons are in great demand, for all the country about us, various kinds of machinery are being erected, and for all these and every other kind of castings, we are under the necessity of sending below, while we have within 100 miles of us, at and near the falls of Black river, iron ore enough to supply the entire northwest with that material, which could be easily and cheaply floated down the current to this place, and strong indications of iron ore are abundant within twenty miles of us.
"People of all kinds and descriptions find ample employment; laborers are in great demand and all at the highest wages, say from $1.50 to $3, and in the opening of next spring far greater numbers of them will be required to supply the demand. Several large wholesale and retail stores, commission and forwarding houses, besides numerous dwellings were the last season added to our former stock; and these will be greatly increased in the coming year, together with several new and spacious hotels, and the depot buildings, now partly up.
"The manufacturing of plows, chairs, carriages, furniture, book-binding, etc., would find every encouragement; planing, turning and other useful machinery will find ample employment. An additional printing press is much wanted and would find a good support.
"Enterprising farmers and dairymen are in great requisition, and a better country for them the sun never shone upon. Butter, cheese, eggs, beef, pork, poultry, etc., and all kinds of garden vegetables are in great demand, and in the coming season, will be more so.
"Flouring, grist, and saw-mills are much needed, and good sites, both for water and steam power are abundant; and for a grist mill by water power, near the town, a good millwright and miller, would find good encouragement from the present proprietor.
"It is expected that in the coming season, and to increase as time rolls on, from 500 to 1000 people will arrive and depart daily, but at present, our hotels, though of a good quality could not entertain more than 150 comfortably; hence the call for more accommodations of this kind.
"The health of the place, though it has been greatly misrepresented by those whose interest it was to do so, we affirm to be generally good; fully equal to any other on the river, and far superior to any place below us. We have had no sickness, except what was common to the country, and even at that, not as much as many other places reputed to be healthy. In all the ravages of the cholera, not a single case originated here. Visitors to the place, who were looking for a future home, have been to our cemeteries and finding so few new graves in a population of some 3000 have come to the sage conclusion that comparatively but few die among us, and on inquiry, have found that they were mostly from causes common to human nature, and not from any local cause particularly.
"We deem it prudent to say but little. We do not claim to be prophets, nor possess the attributes of fore-knowledge. The intelligent reader can draw his conclusions from the foregoing facts, as satisfactorally to himself, as if done by ourselves. The growth of the west, though a fixed fact, can hardly be appreciated, except from actual observation. The unprecedented growth of Milwaukee and Chicago, is known to be owing to their position, and local advantages; and the principal purchases of real estate among us are from those places, who, viewing our prospects of rapid growth, from the same cause as theirs, have paid and fixed upon prices for lots corresponding with prices with them when they were about of our present dimensions, and though those who wish to purchase for speculation, as would be natural for them to do, talk as if our prices were too high --- that is too high for them to expect the advance they would like to receive --- yet, if they become owners, relax nothing in their high estimate of the value of their lots. But the fact, that business men from such places, are purchasing, building, and removing their families to settle among us; and the fact that business men of the highest character for enterprise and foresight, from Buffalo, New York, and other eastern cities are also coming, purchasing and settling among us, are favorable omens of the magnitude of our future position, in a commercial point of view. We are at this time ahead of what Milwaukee and Chicago were twenty years ago, and having advantages to start upon that neither of them had at that time, it is not deemed visionary to suppose that in less than twenty years, we shall be equal to what they are now.
"The above was read and adopted by a large and respectable meeting of the business men of the place, held at the Mondell House, Dec. 10, 1856, and is published at their request."
The Courier, of Jan. 8, 1857, says: "A line of steamers is building, to run in connection with the railroad from Prairie du Chien to St. Paul; that during the year past, two new brick hotels have been completed, and two others remodeled; two steam ferry boats, to cross the river to McGregor, have been purchased; one new church, erected; three splendid brick blocks, nineteen stores, two breweries, one steam flouring mill, and about a hundred dwelling houses put up, besides the extensive works of the railroad company. Five brick yards, two stone quarries, three lumber yards and one saw-mill have been inadequate to meet the demands required for improvements."
In 1822 it was enacted by the governor and judges of the territory of Michigan "that all the citizens of this territory, inhabitants of the borough of Prairie du Chien be, and the same are hereby ordained, constituted and declared to be from time to time forever hereafter, one body, corporate and politic, in fact and in name, by the name of the wardens, burgesses and freemen of the borough of Prairie du Chien." Some of the provisions of the law were very curious; among other things a fine of $2 was assessed for allowing a chimney to blaze out at the top; $1 for hitching a horse to a fence; $2 fine for white persons to be seen skulking or sneaking about after ten o'clock at night, and $2 to $5 for "sharriveriers." The borough passed and repealed by-laws for about three years, and stopped business in 1825. The first warden was John W. Johnson; M. Brisbois and Thomas McNair, burgesses --- the last were Joseph Rolette, warden; M. Brisbois and J. H. Lockwood, burgesses.
In 1872, Prairie du Chien became an incorporated city, having never been incorporated as a village, but always being governed by the town authorities, of the towns in which it was situated since the borough government, before spoken of, was done away with. A city charter was granted in April, 1872, since which time the affairs of the city have been managed in a prudent manner as is shown by the finances. Prairie du Chien can now (1884) say what few places in the State can say truthfully, that they "owe no man anything," and have funds on hand.
The following is a list of the city officers from the date of incorporation, to 1884:
1872. --- Benjamin F. Fay, mayor; Nicholas Smith, clerk; Otto Georgii, treasurer; R. G. Mathews, marshal.
1873. --- Same as those of 1872.
1874. --- Benjamin F. Fay, mayor; W. Leclerc, clerk; Otto Georgii, treasurer; R. G. Mathews, marshal.
1875. --- J. F. Williams, mayor; W. W. Seley, clerk; Otto Georgii, treasurer; A. B. Laroque, marshal.
1876. --- Same as those of 1875.
1877. --- Dr. John Conant, mayor; Joseph Zech, Jr., clerk; Otto Georgii, treasurer; D. L. Crawley, marshal.
1878. --- Dr. John Conant, mayor; T. G. Brunson, clerk; Otto Georgii, treasurer; R. G. Mathews, marshal.
1879. --- S. Rosenbaum, mayor; T. G. Brunson, clerk; Otto Georgii, treasurer; R. G. Mathews, marshal.
1880. --- S. Rosenbaum, mayor; T. G. Brunson, clerk; Otto Georgii, treasurer; George E. Harrington, marshal.
1881. --- James Garvey, mayor; T. G. Brunson, clerk; S. Rosenbaum, treasurer; George E. Harrington, marshal.
1882. --- James Garvey, mayor; T. G. Brunson, clerk; S. Rosenbaum, treasurer; R. G. Mathews, marshal.
1883. --- Henry Otto, mayor; J. E. Campbell, clerk; S. Rosenbaum, treasurer; G. E. Harrington, marshal.
A postoffice was established at Prairie du Chien in 1824, with James Duane Doty as the first postmaster; he in about a year was succeeded by James H. Lockwood. In 1838 Thomas P. Street was postmaster and held the position for a number of years. Keeping the office in a little log house on Water street. The following are remembered as having served as postmasters:
John S. Lockwood, Mr. Grace, H. A. Wright, Charles Brisbois, Charles Creal, Ira Brunson, S. N. Lester, W. B. Hunt, who served under James Buchanan's administration, Fred J. Miller, who held the office during the rebellion and was followed by Edward Whaley, a major in the Union army and who lost a limb in the service during the Civil war. Mr. Whaley still (1884) is in office.
This point became a money order office in July, 1865. The first order was issued to Charles W. Clinton, in favor of Shaw & Clark, Biddeford, Maine, for $20, and was dated July 10, 1865.
The first order drawn on this office was remitted by Dragutt Scharff of Milwaukee, Wis., and payable to Julius Eakhardt, who was then in the hospital at Prairie du Chien.
The first postal note was issued to postmaster Whaley's wife at Milwaukee, in October 1883.
Prairie du Chien, which is the second oldest city in the State, justly claims to be the point at which has transpired the first of many important events of the past century, in the great northwest. Long before the introduction of our present system of railways, boats and ferries were employed at this point to transport men and their merchandise to the western shores of the Mississippi, that settlement might be effected on the vast and almost unlimited scope of fertile prairie lands beyond this great water course.
Milwaukee, the metropolis of the State, owes its growth largely to the fact that it is situated at the nearest accessible point on the western shore of Lake Michigan from Prairie du Chien.
Prairie du Chien was for many years the uppermost boat-landing on the Mississippi river, and it was here all the French and Indian traders of the upper Mississippi valley came for their supplies and also to exchange their game, fur and produce, for the necessities of life. Almost the entire frontage of the city is available for boat landing purposes, and prior to 1857 was indeed a busy scene of boats and boatmen. But in the early spring of 1857, a railway was completed from Milwaukee to the Mississippi, at this point, known as the Milwaukee & Mississippi River railway, but later as a part of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul.
The opening of the road was a great cause of rejoicing and every one felt the inspiration. When it is remembered the difficulty was experienced before this time by the residents in going to and fro from Milwaukee and Chicago, and depending, as they were obliged to do, entirely on the Mississippi river for a market, and in the winter season entirely cut off except by land transportation; it will be seen that there was much cause for enthusiasm. Its influence on Prairie du Chien and the states of Iowa and Minnesota was of a marked character, inducing immigration, and benefiting all classes of business enterprise. One newspaper states that three hundred and twenty-seven houses were erected here this year, and besides many other public improvements.
The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul road made Prairie du Chien a division point and has a large shop and round house in that part of the city, known as "Lower Town." Their main yards and depot buildings after 1862, being located just west from the main portion of the city.
This bridge is a part of the "transfer" line of railway spanning the waters of the Mississippi river, and connecting Prairie du Chien with North McGregor, which is situated on the Iowa bank of the stream. This invention is indeed one of the triumphs of the nineteenth century, which has attracted the attention of civil engineers and master workmen the world over, and therefore justly claims a minute description in this connection. It is the invention of John Lawler, of Prairie du Chien. It was patented by him, Aug. 11, 1874, but its construction was fully completed on the 15th of the previous April. The entire length of the bridge is 8,000 feet, crossing both channels of the Mississippi river and an intervening island at Prairie du Chien, thus connecting the Iowa and Wisconsin divisions of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railway. It is constructed in two parts; the pile or stationary part, and the pontoon or movable part, consisting of two floating "draws," one in each channel, which, when closed, form an unbroken track, permitting safe and rapid transfer of trains, and when open affording a clear space of 400 feet in either channel, allowing the widest rafts and largest tows that float the river to pass with ease and safety at all times and in any kind of weather. The pile part of this bridge is of the ordinary construction, used by all railways in crossing low, marshy ground and shallow streams. The "draw" over each channel consists of one pontoon, 408 feet long, twenty-eight feet beam, four feet high and twelve inch draft. It has great buoyancy and strength, being provided with a Howe truss passing through its entire length. When trains are passing over, the draft is increased to eighteen inches. The extreme rise and fall of the river is twenty-one feet, and to overcome the variation in height of the places between the pile bridge and pontoon, aprons or movable tracks are provided, which are adjusted by means of powerful hydraulic jacks and movable blocks, which are operated by the men in charge of the bridge. The connections between the ends of these aprons and the track of the bridge is a simple devise, counterbalanced by equal weights, so that one man clamps and unclamps the end of the pontoon, when swung in or out of its position. The pontoon "draws" are each attached at one end to a pile, placed twenty-eight feet back from the end of the stationary bridge, by an arm as long as the draw is wide. About this pile or pivot the "draw" swings, describing in its course an arc of ninety degrees, and when open lies at right angles to the pile, and entirely out of the channel. The "draw" openings of this bridge, are the only ones on the Mississippi river wide enough to permit a steamer and large raft to pass through in one section.
The closing and opening of each pontoon is effected by an engine of twenty-horse power, situated on the "draw," working a simple winch around which is wound a chain, the extremities of which are secured to a cluster of piles above, and below the pontoon, so fixed as to give a diagonal lead across the stream. The bridge opens with the current in one minute, and closes against the current in about three minutes, without showing any undue strain, or requiring the application of more than five-horse power. In relation to the passage of trains, it has been proved to afford greater security than the old style of draw bridges, for the pontoon is capable of floating a weight equal to six times that of the heaviest trains.
This bridge affords facilities for the passage of 1,000 cars per day, the average being, however, about 300. In speaking of this bridge, Gen. Humphrey, chief of engineers, United States army, says: "The bridge in question is exceptionally free from objection as an obstruction to navigation; it conforms to existing laws regulating the bridging of the Mississippi river, and affords excellent facilities for steamers and rafts to pass through the draw openings."
At this date (1884) the inventor and builder, John Lawler, together with his sons, still owns and operates the bridge and receives a certain amount per car from the railway company, for all freight and passenger trains which pass over the Mississippi river.
The schools and colleges of Prairie du Chien are the pride of its people; and the high type of culture and refinement found among her citizens is but the outgrowth of these educational institutions. While this is a strong Roman Catholic city, both Catholics and Protestants work in harmony in supporting the public schools.
The first school district formed here was what is known as district No. 1. This was created in 1842.
The first school was taught in a private building by Miss Rice, afterward Mrs. Jerrad Warner. A school house was at once erected. This district took in what is now the "Lower Town." About the same date, however, district No. 2 was formed, which embraced old St. Feriole, or the city proper now.
Among the earliest teachers here were Ellen Overton and A. Denio.
In 1857 a project was started by which a new school building for the "Lower Town" was to be built to take the place of the first one erected in the city. At that date there could only be raised about $300 on the "grand list" of taxable property; but the citizens not wishing to build with so small a fund, petitioned the Assembly, through the State superintendent, to allow them to levy a larger tax. The reasons set forth by the petitioners being sufficient this was duly granted them, and soon after the erection of a two-story stone building was commenced, which finally cost $4,000. This building is still (1884) in use. However, before the completion of this building this district run short of funds, but through the public spirit of Samuel A. Clark, who loaned them $2,200, the work of finishing went on.
Mr. Samuel A. Clark was elected as the first school treasurer, whose office it was, then, to collect all school taxes. He held this position for twenty-two years, from 1840 to 1862.
In 1872, when the city of Prairie du Chien became an independent corporation, it also became an independent school district, which was soon provided with its own school board and also school superintendent.
At a regular meeting of the city council of the city of Prairie du Chien held May 3, 1875, under the provisions of the amended city charter, the first board of education was elected. The following persons constituted
The election of the above gentlemen gave general satisfaction and their fitness for the duties imposed can be appreciated from the following endorsement published at the time:
"The city school board of education, elected at the first meeting of the new city council (May 3, 1875) are all men of unimpeachable character, and amply qualified to perform the duties devolving upon them. They are men of responsibility, well educated, and persons of excellent judgment, fully aware of the responsibilities of the positions they occupy, and sincerely desiring to promote the educational interests of this city. Let all good citizens extend to them the co-operation and assistance necessary to ensure the right results.
"The choice of Mr. John Lawler as the representative of the citizens at large upon the board of education, is a fitting evidence of the public confidence in his integrity. His broad, liberal views, and his well-known zeal in promoting the cause of education, need no better index.
"Mr. A. H. Reitemeyer, of the 1st ward is one of our most respected German-American citizens, and he is an educated gentleman of fine address.
"Mr. William Dutcher, of the 2d ward is also distinguished for the interest he manifests in educational matters. He brings years of experience, and a fund of useful knowledge to the aid of the board.
"Prof. J. Sutter, of the German-English Academy, is a talented practical teacher. He understands all the requirements of his profession. He will prove one of the best members of the board.
"John E. Sutton, of the 4th ward, was the choice of every tax-payer in that part of the city. He was formerly a teacher, has a thorough education that will insure effective work.
"Taken as a whole, the first board of education is well constituted, better than had been hoped, and the citizens have a right to congratulate themselves upon this first step in the right direction.
"The board of education will at once organize, elects its president, clerk, and city superintendent, and inform themselves fully upon all points necessary to enter rightly upon the work of organizing the city public schools under the new system.
"We have endeavored to ascertain the views of the school board in relation to the subject of a high school; and without an exception, they are all in favor of a graded high school being established."
The first regular meeting of the board of education in Prairie du Chien was held at the office of Hon. Wm. Dutcher, Monday, July 5, 1875. John Lawler was elected president of the board. Prof. Thomas H. Nyhan, (since deceased) was tendered the position of school superintendent, but declined to accept. At a subsequent meeting of the board, held July 10, 1875, Prof. J. Sutter was elected city school superintendent and clerk of the board, and immediately entered upon the discharge of his duties. He was a most efficient and faithful officer. Mr. Theodore Schuman was elected to take Prof. Sutter's place on the board.
The board of education promptly visited the schools in every ward, and made a careful investigation of all the school property, school houses and modes of management then existing. They were convinced that extensive improvements were absolutely necessary. They determined to have a first-class school with competent teachers in every ward. They made known to the city council the result of their deliberations from time to time.
At a meeting of the city council held July 19, 1875. John Lawler, president of the board of education, read the following communication relative to the school question:
"Gentlemen: The writer upon further examination into the school affairs of this city, desires to add to what he has already stated in a former communication recommending certain improvements in school district No. 2, that the school building of that district is not, in his opinion, at all adequate or suitable for the large number of children in attendance there. The building itself, besides being too small, its ceilings being too low, and its ventilation bad, is in every other respect, far behind the essential requirements of education. The building, with its appurtenances of grounds, fences, water closets, furniture, etc., are such as tend to deprave and corrupt the tastes and morals of the young who attend there instead of tending, as the surroundings of youth always should tend, to refinement in taste and purity in morals. To remedy this evil the only true way is to erect, as soon as practicable, a suitable new building, and to supply such other reasonable and necessary wants as the welfare of the children require.
"A good beginning might be made in this direction the present year, and that, too, without increase of taxation. For we already have, as the property of the city, ample and desirable grounds for the site of a school building and sufficient funds --- those known as the college funds --- on hand to put the necessary new school building well under way. This much, once done, the city could probably obtain from the State, according to the provisions of chapter 42 of the general laws of 1870 such additional sum as would complete the undertaking. In this way we may almost without perceptible increase of our taxes, provide, as far as it is possible, for the wants of those children who are to depend upon the public schools of the city for instruction. These are the views which the writer entertains relative to this public school question. He expresses them for himself only, for the reason that the board of education has not, for want of proper organization, expressed any conclusion upon the subject. Should these views be in accord with yours, the writer will if a harmonious board can be organized, do whatever he can to carry them into practical effect. Otherwise he begs to step down and out by placing his resignation at your disposal.
"I am, gentlemen, respectfully, yours,
The common council, immediately after reading of this communication, passed by unanimous vote, the following resolution:
"Resolved, That in the opinion of this council the views expressed by Mr. Lawler, in his communication just read, are in full accord with the views of the council," which was confirmed by the unanimous vote of the council.
As an evidence of the actual condition in which the city schools were, at that time, the following extract from the journal of the council, will be sufficient:
"To the Honorable Mayor and Council of Prairie du Chien:
"Gentlemen: The board of education find the water closets of the school house of district No. 2, in a shamefully unsuitable condition, and recommend their destruction at once, and the building of new ones. Your immediate action will be necessary. The cost of the renewals recommended will be from $300 to $350.
"Respectfully, J. Lawler, Pres't Board of Education."
This was also agreed to by unanimous vote of the council.
This was the first official action to improve the condition of the city public schools, and construct a high school in Prairie du Chien. Much preparatory work had to be accomplished. All the ward schools were put in first-class order. The preliminary matters arranged, the first appropriation asked by the board, $4,000, was levied Oct. 4, 1875, and on Monday, Oct. 11, 1875, the plans for the new high school were approved. This determined that the new central high school building should be erected, and the board called for another appropriation of $5,000 to commence the work. The board found upon subsequent consideration that they would require about $10,000, more than the city could appropriate for the purpose, and there was a lengthy correspondence between the secretary of State, Hon. P. Doyle, and the attorney general and the president of the school board. It was agreed that a special act of the Legislature was necessary to secure a $10,000 loan from the State. The following communication to the city council explains the whole matter:
Prairie Du Chien, Aug. 9, 1875. "To the Honorable, the Mayor and Common Council of Prairie du Chien.
"Gentlemen. --- The board of education begs leave to submit the accompanying correspondence between the Hon. Peter Doyle, secretary of state, and the Hon. A. Scott Sloan, attorney general, relative to the school loan desired to be made by this city.
"Since it appears that the law, in the opinion of the attorney general, cannot be construed so as to authorize the commissioners of education to make the loan, however willing they might be so to do, it is the sense of this board that it would be advisable to begin work upon the proposed new building as soon as the fund, now held in trust by the board of college trustees, shall have been placed at the disposal of the city, for there can be but little doubt that the authority to make the loan will be readily granted by the next Legislature, in the same manner that former Legislatures have authorized loans to be made to other cities for purposes similar to that of ours. And if the Legislature should refuse even, we must have the new school building, for the interests of the city demand it, and we believe the people of the city will not hesitate to vote the tax necessary for the purpose.
"Respectfully submitted, J. Lawler, President Board of Education."
A special city election was held, and the taxpayers carried it in favor of a tax to build the high school building. The money was borrowed from the State. The contract was let to Messrs. Menges & Lefeldt. And thus the first high school in Crawford county originated, and was completed under the direction of the first board of education, and to the credit of the citizens of Prairie du Chien. At this time (1884) the schools of the city are in a very flourishing condition.
There are now (1884) five school houses within the independent district of Prairie du Chien, situated as follows: First ward, a two story stone structure, built in 1857; second ward, one brick building two stories high, built in 1876, at a cost of $12,000, and a frame house, two stories high; third ward, a brick building not in use, but in good condition; fourth ward, this contained a small one story frame building, which stands west of the slough near the river.
The people of Prairie du Chien have ever taken a deep interest in educational matters and from the earliest date have provided the best methods of teaching. Especially are the Roman Catholic people entitled to much credit for their zeal in this direction, as they have always labored to make Prairie du Chien a city of schools and colleges, the benefit of which they are finally enjoying; as but few places in the State can boast of better denominational schools than those at this point. They have two flourishing institutions of learning at this place.
The College of the Sacred Heart, conducted by the Fathers of the Society of Jesus, for the training and education of boys, and St. Mary's Institute, conducted by the sisters of the Society of Notre Dame, for the education and practical training of girls. Each of these institutions aims to give the youth of both sexes such a practical education as will enable their pupils to meet the exigencies of life, and to be useful and respected members of society. While these institutions are Roman Catholic, their doors are open alike to Catholic and non-Catholic, and as a matter of fact, the patronage is about equally divided between these two classes, which is a striking evidence of the esteem in which they are held by the public. The patronage of both institutions has outgrown their foundations, consequently the Jesuit Fathers are preparing to increase their accommodations to twice their present capacity, by the erection of a new building, the estimated cost of which is $50,000. When this improvement is completed the college property will be worth $100,000. The college at present is under the immediate control of the Rev. Father William Becker, president, who has conducted its management successfully since its establishment. The number of students in attendance from September, 1882 to July, 1883, was ninety-one.
This institution was opened in September, 1880, and chartered as The College and University of the Sacred Heart, Aug. 20, 1881. The college comprises two courses of study, classical and commercial. The full course consists of six classes, to be absolved in six years. Though the college is only entering upon its fourth year, the number of classes will be complete the next session. The College of the Sacred Heart is complete in its appointments, and conducted under a wise, firm, yet mild and paternal system of government. The situation is picturesque and healthful. The building stands on rising ground commanding extensive views of the Mississippi and Wisconsin valleys and the beautiful bluffs that bound them. Taken all in all, it is one of the most attractive and beautiful collegiate properties in the entire northwest. Its president, the Rev. Father William Becker, is a thorough scholar, and a man of fine executive ability. He was born in Germany, educated in Europe, and came to the United States in 1869.
He acquired an enviable reputation, in the east, as the founder of the St. Ignatius College at Buffalo, which he conducted several years, with such marked success, that it was acknowledged by the highest authority in educational matters in New York, as one of the leading institutions of that State. He is supported by an able faculty, four of whom are of American birth, one of English and the others of German.
The college building was originally built as a large hotel in 1857-8, by a joint stock company, at a cost of $56,000. It was used as a hotel only a few years, or until the removal of the railway depot to Upper Town. During the war, it was used by the government as a hospital; next, an unsuccessful effort was made to have the State accept it as a site for a Normal school. Failing in this, its managers organized an independent college, known as the Prairie du Chien College, this institution proved a failure, financially, and was closed after a brief existence of three years. About 1873 the property passed into the hands of the Brothers of the Christian schools, a Catholic order, who opened it under the title of St. John's College. This Institution failed to meet the expectations of its founders, and was closed about 1876.
The property was then purchased of the Catholic Brothers, by Mr. John Lawler, who added largely to its value by substantial and important improvements, and then in his free handed public spirited way, presented it to the "Fathers of the Society of Jesus," thus making that order a present of a property, valued at nearly $50,000, while his beneficence insured to Prairie du Chien a permanent and creditable institution of learning.
St. Mary's Institute, was established in 1872. The buildings being erected for that special purpose, under the management of the chief donor, Mr. John Lawler. The Institute is conducted under the management of the sisters of the order of Notre Dame, and is presided over by a sister superior, of that order. During the vacation period of 1883, the sisters completed a dormitory, capable of accommodating 100 students. For the year ending July, 1883, the number of students in attendance, averaged seventy-five. It may be proper here to remark that in the Institute as well as the College the students comprise representatives from nearly all of the northwestern states. The system of education, under the able management of the sisters, is one that commends itself to every unpredjudiced mind. This is no fashionable boarding-school, where only a superficial education is obtained; here the solid acquirements are gained that fit the students for the earnest duties of life, which in the course of events are liable to devolve upon them; at the same time, the range of studies embraces the higher branches, languages, music and art. The buildings of the Institute occupy the historic ground of Fort Crawford, the ruins of which form a picturesque feature of the landscape. The situation is elevated, and commands a magnificent view of the Mississippi river and valley, and the towering bluffs on either side.
The buildings are tasty and commodious, and fitted with the most improved modern conveniences. No pains have been spared to make this institution a model of its kind.
It would be an injustice to its most liberal patron to omit to mention the fact that the institution owes its origin, and present prosperous condition to the unbounded liberality and careful supervision of Mr. John Lawler, one of Prairie du Chien's most respected and enterprising citizens.
On the first day of December, 1866, a number of the prominent German citizens of Prairie du Chien, met for the purpose of organizing an independent German school, where the German language might be taught, without regard to any religious creed. After preliminaries, the following officers were elected: F. Unger, R. Rosenbaum, Jacob Raffauf, M. Menges, Otto Georgii and H. Boehlke trustees; F. Unger, president; F. Rosenbaum, treasurer; Jacob Raffauf, secretary.
A constitution was adopted and the following March, 1867, the society was made a legal corporation, by an act of the State Legislature. For two years this school society held their school in a private school building of John Lawler's and in the German Methodist church. In 1868, however, they erected a neat, one story brick school building which stands just east of the court house square. This school was in successful operation until 1878, when it was discontinued. At one time the school contained seventy-five pupils, a part of whom were from American families. A tuition fee of $1.00 was required of those whose parents belonged to the society, and $1.50 from those outside. The association was made up of about thirty members, but finally has been reduced to thirteen, on account of deaths and removals.
At the present time (1884), the society exist and own their property which is not used as a school house, but leased for various purposes.
The last officers elected were as follows: M. Frederick, M. Menges, H. Otto, S. Rosenbaum, C. Leefeldt and Theodore Shuman, trustees; Henry Otto, president; M. Menges, vice-president; R. Rosenbaum, treasurer, and M. Frederick, secretary.
In 1836 Alexander McGregor established a horse ferry between Prairie du Chien and the Iowa side of the river. The point of debarkation, on that side, soon received the Iowa name of McGregor's Landing, where now stands the city of McGregor.
In 1840 the United States government commenced to build Fort Atkinson, and as supplies had to reach that point from Prairie du Chien (or Fort Crawford) by way of this landing, this ferry became one of much importance to the public and of great profit to its owner, who had been granted the exclusive right to ply a ferry at this point, under a charter issued by the State.
One of the conditions in the license granted Mr. McGregor by the court, was that not more than the following rates should be charged for ferriage: One person, twenty-five cents; man and horse, seventy-five cents; wheeled carriages, twenty-five cents per wheel; horned cattle and horses, fifty cents per head; sheep and goats, six and one-fourth cents per head; mules, jacks and jennets, fifty cents per head; freight not in wheeled carriages six and one-fourth cents per 100 pounds. This ferry continued under the management of McGregor till 1856, when his energies were bent more especially in founding the city which now bears his name. He then willed the property to a relative, W. B. Gardner, who, in company with Ole Oleson, operated a short time and sold to John Lawler; he run it until the spring of 1882 and sold to H. Schlader, who has run it on a diminished scale, owing to the building of Lawler's pile pontoon bridge.
Bass & Rice operated a ferry about 1840, for the government; this was operated as an opposition line to McGregor's ferry, and only continued a short time.
Another mark of wisdom upon the part of the city is the well organized fire companies, whose vigilant eyes watch the property of the city, by day and by night, and through whose skill and watch-care the populace of the place feel secure against the fire fiend. This department, which is under the direct supervision of the city authorities, is composed of three fully equipped fire companies, the "Phoenix," No. 1, consisting of forty-three members; the "Badger," No. 2, consisting of thirty-two members; and the "Aetna," No. 3, having a membership of twenty-three; forming a grand total of 103. These companies are all uniformed and regularly equipped with the most modern fire-extinguishing apparatus, including three hand engines, the total cost of which was about $1,800. These engines are made effective by means of 3,000 feet of the best quality of rubber hose.
This department was organized in 1872, since which date, no disastrous fires have occurred within the city, except the burning of the Mondell Hotel; this being occasioned by the inferior quality of hose then in use, which gave way at a critical stage of that long-to-be-remembered conflagration.
These companies are provided with a never-failing supply of water from the artesian wells for which Prairie du Chien is so noted.
The earliest religious services of which there is any record was that held by the Roman Catholics in 1817, when Father Durand came and held mass, and baptized about 125 persons, all of the families of the French and mixed races. As some children of Catholic parents were found who, although nearly grown men and women, had never before had an opportunity to receive the rites of baptism, it is inferred from this that no priest had visited the post for many years prior to the advent of Father Durand. This Father left a written record behind him which is the foundation of the records of the Catholic Church at this point. The Rev. Father did not remain more than a few years, and after his departure there is no further record till 1836, when the Rev. Father Mazzucheli was sent to select a site for a church, and to lay the corner stone which he did, and the place was called the "Episcopal See." In 1839 Rev. Bishop Loras visited the place. He was followed in 1839 by Father Cretin, who remained four years and erected the first church edifice in the place. It was named St. Gabriel's Church. Father Cretin was a remarkable man. His talents and culture were only equaled by his kindness of heart, industry and deep humility. From here he went to Dubuque, and in 1850 was appointed the first Bishop of St. Paul. His death occurred at that city, Feb. 22, 1857. He was succeeded by Rev. Father Bonduel, and he by Father Ravoux and Father L. Galtier, both of whom came here with Father Cretin, and each in order were placed in charge of this congregation. Father Lucius Galtier succeeded to the charge in 1847, and remained at his post till the time of his death, which occurred in 1866. Father L. Lux was next in charge, and remained till May 26, 1867. He was succeeded by Father Koke and he by Father Abeline, Sept. 1, 1880. Father Herman Richards, of the Society of Jesus, became the pastor and held that position till August, 1883, when he was assigned to another field. While serving as pastor of this congregation Father Richards has been required to preach in four different languages, to suit the understanding of his people. The congregation numbers about 3,000 members, who all live in a radius of from seven to ten miles about Prairie du Chien. The Catholics outnumber all other denominations combined, by a large majority, and record among their members many of the wealthiest and most influential citizens of Prairie du Chien. They have two flourishing institutions of learning established here, a sketch of which is given elsewhere in this work.
In 1834 the Rev. David Lowery, a Presbyterian clergyman organized the first protestant society in Prairie du Chien; it afterward was merged into the Congregational society.
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Prairie du Chien was organized in 1836, by the Rev. Alfred Brunson, superintendent of the M. E. mission, of the upper Mississippi and Lake Superior. Mr. Brunson came here in the fall of 1835, from Meadville, Penn., and returned home the same autumn. In the spring of 1836 he came back with his family, purchased a farm and built a house, the materials of which were brought by boat from his old home in Pennsylvania. He soon organized a society.
Mr. Brunson says: "We reached Prairie du Chien July 16, 1836. I organized a class of ten members out of those who came with me, being the first class of Methodists ever formed north and west of the Wisconsin river.
I spent the winter in missionary labors at home and in the new settlements that were springing up within reach. In the winter of 1836-7, we had a gracious revival at Prairie du Chien, in which about twenty souls were converted, and in the course of the winter of 1837-8, another revival crowned our efforts under the blessing of God."
The church edifice was built about 1847. The records contain no history of the church, and as the memory of the oldest inhabitant seems to be at fault as regards any facts connected with it, our sketch must remain incomplete. The present pastor, Rev. John Knibbs has been in charge two years, and has lately been appointed to his second term. As he has had an eventful experience in this field, we append a brief mention of his life.
Rev. John Knibbs, pastor of the M. E. Church of Prairie du Chien, was born in Oxford, England, March 2, 1826. He emigrated from England to America, in 1855, joined the West Wisconsin Conference, in 1856, and has been in active service now about twenty-seven years. In the winter of 1856-7, while a stranger in the land, Mr. Knibbs was engaged by the Rev. Alfred Brunson, to officiate at Eastman, in place of a brother minister who was prevented by sickness, from keeping his appointment. He started to travel some five miles over the hills. The snow being nearly three feet deep and covered with a sharp crust, as no road was broken, he soon lost his way, and wandered about a considerable time. His horse becoming exhausted he tied him to a tree and tried to make his way on foot. Like many others when lost he traveled in a circle and soon came back to his horse. Again he tried to make his way out only to find himself back to the horse again. When night came on he crawled into the snow for protection. The following day he tried again but with no better success. Four days and three nights were spent in these vain attempts --- his feet, hands and face were frozen and he was nearly starved. At last he sighted smoke from a chimney and was barely able to reach the house. The people only supposed one foot to be frozen, which they thawed out with spring water. This foot was saved and the other that was thought uninjured was so badly effected that amputation of a part of the foot was necessary. More recently three different amputations of the limb have been made, one in 1883, nearly twenty-seven years after his exposure. Mr. Knibbs has in spite of his physical disabilities done effective work as a mission preacher. He is a man of fine ability and great earnestness of purpose. The past two years he has filled the pulpit at Prairie du Chien and at the last conference was appointed to his second term at this point. Mr. Knibbs does not feel hopeful of filling the term of his appointment, but expects to be soon retired from active service.
The Episcopal Church of Prairie du Chien has "a local habitation and a name" and but little more. The first religious services conducted by a clergyman of this denomination were held in 1836 in Fort Crawford by Rev. Mr. Coddle, the first chaplain. The parish was organized in June, 1855, by the Rev. John Egar, rector. The church edifice was erected the same year under the management of Mr. H. Baldwin. At the close of the year Mr. Egar resigned and Mr. Lyman was called to fill the vacancy. He only remained a few weeks. The Rev. Mr. Pratt filled the pulpit a few times but was not located here. Mr. Clinton was the next rector, and he served two years. He was followed by the Rev. Mr. Lloyd, who only remained nine months and withdrew. The Church was then vacant for some time, till Rev. Mr. Geirlow was chosen rector. The field had no charms for him and he resigned after ten months' service, having during his pastorate consecrated the church. Aug. 13, 1865, the Rev. Mr. Skinner was appointed rector, and after a brief career resigned on November 18th of the same year. The pulpit was vacant till 1867, when the Rev. H. C. H. Dudley filled it as a missionary, but refused the rectorship. Again the pulpit was vacant till Oct. 3, 1875, when the Rev. Dr. A. F. Samuels was called to the rectorship. Under his management the church was partially rebuilt and new interest excited. For six years Dr. Samuels labored without hope of reward; the smallness of the congregation making it practically impossible to support a pastor. Dr. Samuels retired from the ministry in October, 1881, and resumed the practice of medicine. At this writing, September, 1883, the Church is still vacant.
The First Congregational Church of Prairie du Chien, was organized under the management of the Rev. Mr. L. L. Radcliff, July 16, 1856. Names of members at date of organization: Leonard L. Radcliff, local pastor; J. S. Lockwood, A. O'Neil, P. J. Adams, James J. Langdon, B. Bull, A. C. Phillips, B. E. Hutchinson, Walter R. Bullock and O. B. Thomas. Aug. 16, 1856, D. H. Johnson, E. G. Perry, and T. B. Moore joined; August 17, W. L. Mower and E. P. Lockhart joined. The first officers of the society were: L. L. Radcliff, president; Benjamin Bull, vice president; A. C. Phillips, secretary; P. J. Adams, treasurer; J. S. Lockwood and B. E. Hutchinson to complete the board of trustees.
The church was built in 1858, under the supervision of the pastor, Mr. L. L. Radcliff, at a cost of $2,424.36.
Mr. Radcliff began as the first regular pastor of this denomination at this point, in October, 1855, sent by the American Home Mission. He was a member of the LaCrosse district convention of Congregational and Presbyterian Churches. He remained in charge of this Church till the close of 1860, when he returned to Pennsylvania, and is now preaching at Chautauqua Lake, N. Y. He was succeeded by Rev. H. W. Cobb, who was succeeded by Rev. Henry Carpenter, in 1864. Mr. J. Porter succeeded Mr. Carpenter, and filled the pulpit several years. He was said to have been the first Protestant minister that held service in Chicago. Rev. W. H. Marble succeeded Mr. Porter, and closed his work Jan. 9, 1871. Mr. C. F. Clapp was the next pastor, and served till March, 1877, when he was succeeded by Rev. A. W. Safford, who remained till the spring of 1880. The church was vacant till April 1, 1881, when Mr. Arial McMaster, the present pastor, was chosen to fill the pulpit. The membership is fifty. Mr. Orson Jackson is the only deacon.
St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized in 1862. The first pastor was the Rev. John Himmler, who was succeeded by Rev. Loren Schorr, and he by Carl Weideranders, Herman Krotzschmer, Joseph Westenberger, Johannes DeJung, and he by the present pastor, the Rev. Christian Gevers. The church was built in 1868, at a cost of $1,000. The present membership is about thirty. Among the first members were Fred Rhemhold, Fred Pagelo and Louis Scharpf. This society has a flourishing Sabbath school, which has been kept up since the organization of the society. It now has a regular attendance of sixty scholars. Louis Scharpf is the superintendent.
The Evangelical Association was organized June 26, 1864, under the management of Rev. Peter Speich, pastor. Among the first members were: Frederick Bauer, John Poehler, Frederick Ahrens, John Schulz and Carl Lang. The Rev. Peter Speich was succeeded by Rev. Thomas Ragatz, and he by Fred Kaufmann, Fred Stroebel, Louis Runkel, William Kaun, Fred Asmann, G. Schwantes, the present pastor, who entered upon his duties in March, 1883. Mr. Schwantes was a mission preacher in 1863, and held the first services of this society, in the court house, in that year. The church was built in 1865, a wooden structure, at a cost of $1,500. The trustees, in 1883, were: Fred Bauer, John Schulz and John Kauffmann.
The first Sunday school within what is now Prairie du Chien, was organized through the labors of Mrs. Juliana Lockwood and Miss Crawford, assisted by Dr. Edwin James, post surgeon United States army, and John H. Kinzie. This school included all denominations of both Catholic and Protestant faith, and was in operation from the spring of 1825, to the spring of 1826. It is mentioned in a previous chapter.
The following societies are now (1884) represented in Prairie du Chien: Good Templars, St. Joseph Benevolent Society, Odd Fellows, Grand Army of the Republic, Ancient Order of United Workmen, Masonic and German Harugari.
Prairie du Chien Lodge No. 16 (Independent Order of Good Templars), was institued by S. E. Farnham, special deputy G. M., Oct. 31, 1875, with a charter membership of sixty-six, of whom only two are, at this writing, members in good standing. The first officers were: Dr. John Conant, W. C. T.,; Mrs. J. Lovewell, W. V. T.; Rev. C. F. Clapp, W. C.; F. J. Bowman, W. R. S.; J. D. Humphrey, W. F. S.; Anna McCulloch, W. T.; C. A. Douglass, W. M.; Annie Oram, W. I. G.; J. Lovewell, W. O. G. Two hundred and thirty-four members have been admitted since the lodge was organized. The number now in good standing is fifty. The present officers are:
William Mauke, W. C. T.; Aggie Herr, W. V. T.; Schwantse, W. C.; L. T. Butterfield, W. R. S.; Charles Lester, W. F. S.; Clara Gerry, W. T.; David McMaster, W. M.; Belle Thompson, W. I. G.; Eddie Poehler, W. O. G.; L. T. Butterfield, lodge deputy. Lodge meets Monday nights, at their hall, in the Dousman Block.
St. Joseph's Benevolent Society (a Bohemian benevolent society), was organized Sept. 28, 1879. The object is for mutual aid in sickness and death, sick benefits are paid, and in case of death; the brother's widow or heirs receive $600, and in case of the death of a wife, the husband receives $300. Albert Vondrak was the first president, John Fuka, vice-president, Anton Prochaska, secretary, Frank Liber, financial secretary, Joseph Lauka, treasurer, Anton Vlaste, collector. The present officers are, Anton Prochaska, president, Charles Kalina, vice-president, Matt. Kobliska, secretary, Matt. Chapek, financial secretary, Wenzel Hanzel, treasurer, Frank Kalina, banner-bearer, Joseph Krejci, marshal, Frank Liber, second marshal. The society numbers seventy-four, and meets once a month.
Pioneer Lodge, No. 37, I. O. O. F., the first Odd Fellows' lodge of Prairie du Chien, was organized Aug. 3, 1849. The record states that the Grand Master was present, and conferred the fourth degree upon Bro. E. P. Wood, and the full five degrees upon Bros. H. A. Wright, T. L. Wheeler, F. B. Bachelor, and I. S. Curtis. The lodge opened on Friday night, Aug. 3, 1849, E. P. Wood was chosen noble grand, H. A. Wright, vice-grand, and I. S. Curtis, inside guard. The first candidate initiated, was C. P. Fox, whose initiation took place at the first meeting. Bro. Fox was a candidate for a degree at each successive meeting, and was finally voted in the fifth degree, Aug. 31, 1849. Degrees fourth and fifth were conferred upon Bro. Harrison; degrees third, fourth and fifth, upon Bros. T. Robertson, Wm. Robertson and L. Jackson. The lodge seemed to lack vitality, for some cause or other. The records show the last meeting to have been held May 2, 1856. It is supposed that the charter was surrendered about that time.
Crawford Lodge No. 98 (Independent Order of Odd Fellows), was organized at Prairie du Chien, Feb. 28, 1859, D. D. G. M., E. A. Bottum in the chair. The following named brothers were elected, and installed as the first officers of the lodge: Robert Scott, N. G.; A. Benedict, V. G.; T. Warner, R. S.; S. A. Clark, treasurer. A charter was issued to the lodge dated Jan. 19, 1860. Bros. Sam. A. Clark, Robert Scott, Theodore Warner, Alonzo Benedict and A. Coburn were the charter members. The Charter bears the signature of Stoddard Judd, G. M.; H. Ruda, G. S. The lodge has had an uninterupted existence, from its organization to this writing, and is now in a prosperous and healthy condition, present membership, sixty-six. Its present officers are George Wright, N. G.; H. C. Parshler, V. G.; E. W. Van Vickle, R. S.; E. Blanchard, P. S.; A. Denio, T. Past Grands, are Sylvester Ault, J. C. E. Bear, S. A. Clark, Dr. John Conant, A. Denio, S. E. Farnham, M. Friederich, C. S. Fuller, T. M. Fullerton, J. M. Gillis, Frank Jallish, John Koch, Thomas Kemp, E. O. Lacy, David McIntyre, Henry Otto, Jacob Pugh, J. H. Priest, D. B. Richardson, James Stackpole, G. C. Smith, Joel C. Smith, J. G. Schweizer, (deceased), C. M. Lully, I. M. Stern, Edwin Treffry, L. F. S. Viele, A. C. Wallin, and T. G. Brunson.
Peter V. Plummer, Post No. 37, G. A. R. was instituted July 18, 1882. Daniel Webster, commander, Dr. E. J. Eddy, adjutant. The membership numbers fifty. Meets every first and third Friday of each month. The organization is growing rapidly, and is in a prosperous condition.
Star Lodge No. 15, Ancient Order United Workmen, was instituted by district deputy grand master, W. H. Burford, at Prairie du Chien, Oct. 19, 1877. The meeting was held at the hall of the I. O. G. T., in Dousman Block. The charter members were H. R. Farr, William Manke, F. W. Herr, D. Webster, C. W. Plummer, J. A. Newton, J. D. Humphrey, Dr. E. Steiger, L. O. King, John B. Davis, L. Case.
The first officers were William Manke, F.; L. Cherrier, O.; D. Webster, R.; Phil Helwig, G. L. R. and F.; H. C. Poehler, R.; G. W. Foster, Dis. Dep. G. M. The lodge meets every alternate Tuesday in the Odd Fellows' Hall.
The aggregate losses paid to Aug. 1, 1883-4, amount to $8,000. The association is growing and prosperous.
Trustees were: Short term, L. Case; middle term, J. A. Newton; long term, J. D. Humphrey; guide, C. W. Plummer; I. W., F. Herr; O. W., William Manke. The lodge numbers forty-five members. The present officers are: L. T. Butterfield, P. M. W.; Henry Otto, M. W.
Prairie du Chien lodge No. 106, A. F. and A. M., was instituted with charter bearing date June 11, 1858. The following were the appointed officers: John Kennaly, W. M.; I. Perrit Gentil, S. W.; John J. Chase, J. W. First meeting was held Jan. 6, 1858, acting under dispensation of the grand lodge. The first officers elected: Henry Patch, W. M.; I. Perrit Gentil, S. W.; John Kennaly, J. W.; O. P. Martin, T.; John J. Chase, S.; J. S. Curtis, S. D.; H. Weidmfeld, J. D.; A. C. Dudley, T. The first brother initiated and raised was Ira F. Manuel, Feb. 24, 1858, was made a master mason. The lodge was worked successfully continuously from its inception to date (1884). The lodge bought an old store building near the old fort grounds, about the close of the war, which they sold to Mr. Herdenberger, who moved it to Bluff street, opposite the Central House, where it is now used as a meat market. Their present commodious hall was built by the lodge; size 28x80 feet. The postoffice is below, offices back, built in 1872, at a cost of $6,000, of mill brick, two stories, situated on north side of Bluff street near Church street.
The present membership, 1884, is 100 master masons. Present officers: A. C. Wallin, W. M.; E. Morrison, S. W.; S. E. Farnham, J. W.; Aaron Denio, T.; George D. Cottrell, S.; John Koch, S. D.; M. Frederick, J. D.; A. Tilmont, S.; R. M. Halsey, T.
Jerusalem Chapter No. 25, (Prairie du Chien) was operated under dispensation of the grand chapter July 11, 1865, and instituted Feb. 20, 1865. The first officers were: U. F. Case, H. P.; J. J. Chase, K.; G. M. Rising, Scribe; A. Coburn, treasurer; E. Johnson, secretary; R. C. Dimock, C. of H.
The first officers after the lodge was instituted were U. F. Case, H. P.; J. J. Chase, K.; G. M. Rising, scribe; A. Coburn, treasurer; R. C. Dimock, C. of H.
The present officers are R. C. Dimock, H. P.; J. D. Jones, K.; L. F. S. Viele, S.; Aaron Denio, treasurer; A. C. Wallin secretary; L. Canillard, C. of H. The chapter meets the second and fourth Mondays of each month.
Mississippi Lodge No. 423, (Deutcher Order Harugari of Prairie du Chien), was instituted under the jurisdiction of the grand lodge, which organized in New York city March 9, 1847, and reorganized in Wisconsin, Jan. 25, 1869. The Mississippi lodge No. 423 was chartered May 8, 1880. The charter members were Charles Reinhold, H. Willers, Charles Bracher, Herman Doshe, William Ziel and Christian Griesbach. The lodge has a membership of twenty-two, and is composed exclusively of Germans. The first officers were: Theodore Willers, Ex. B.; Carl Reinhold, O. B.; Christian Greisbach, U. B.; Charles F. Bracher, S.; Thio Willer, T. The present officers are: William Ziel, O. B.; Ferdinand Pflaun, U. B.; Henry Netz, S.; Charles Reinhold, T.; M. Menges, D. D. Ex. B. The association is exclusively German, and originated in New York city, March 9, 1847. Twelve Germans founded it for the purpose of preserving the German language in America, and for preserving the German National characteristics. Subsequently it was made a benevolent order, and by its laws pays endowments or insurance to the heirs of deceased brothers to the amount of $500, and a sick benefit to sick brothers as fixed by the bylaws. This lodge meets every Thursday evening at their hall in Brunson's block.
The Prairie du Chien Mechanical, Agricultural and Driving Park Association was organized Aug. 22, 1883. H. L. Dousman was elected president; O. B. Thomas, vice president; Wm. Newton, secretary; A. M. Beach, treasurer, and M. Menges, superintendent. The capital stock was limited to $10,000, about $6,000 of which has been subscribed at this writing. The association has bargained with Mr. B. F. Fay for fifty-seven acres in the northeastern part of the city, for the site, being a part of farm lot No. 35; the price to be $3,000. It is the intention on the part of the managers to proceed at once to improve the ground, and construct a first-class race course thereon.
The Bohemian band, of Prairie du Chien, originally organized in 1870, comprised eight pieces, with Matt Chapek as leader. The band was composed of Bohemians, and was very popular. About 1877 it suspended for a while, and re-organized in 1881, with ten pieces. The following named parties compose the band: Matt Chapek, leader; M. Tehle, W. Tesar, Joseph Zeman, C. Zeman, Joseph Tehle, Matt Hanzlicek, Fred Bachelder, Charles Pion and Winzel Strauski. This band have a good outfit of instruments; are well drilled, and are widely and favorably known.
There are, at this date (1884), four burying grounds used by the people of Prairie du Chien. These "silent cities" have buried, within their numerous vaults, a history which nothing but eternity can reveal. Within these sacred enclosures lie buried the joys and sorrows of two generations of pioneers. Here rest the remains of many a bold adventurer and frontiersman, and by his side has long since decayed the mortal part of scores of gallant soldiers. Here the pioneer has oftimes bent over the coffined form of a darling child, who lived but to lisp, perhaps a single word, then was plucked like a spring flower and transplanted into a better world; others have grown to young man and womanhood, and then been laid low by disease and finally placed beneath the green sod which has been moistened by tear drops from the eyes of a dear father and loving mother, for many a year. Then in time, they too, have been subjects of disease, pain and death, and put away at rest by the side of their children so dear. Funeral procession after funeral procession has slowly coursed its way to these burying grounds and deposited the loved ones from out the home circles of this city, and monuments have been reared to their memory, until to-day, these "silent sentinels" stand one against another, as it were. The oldest of these cemeteries is one of the three Catholic burying grounds used by the pioneers. This is situated just north of the city, and contains the remains of many of the departed dead. The only public and non-sectarian cemetery in the place is located in the southeast part of Lower Town. This contains about eight acres of ground, and was laid out on land owned by John S. Lockwood, in 1842. This cemetery has been properly cared for and presents to the passer by an index of the culture and refinement of the city populace. Besides the public cemeteries, there are numerous private burying grounds in and about the city, where rest the remains of many of the pioneers of Crawford county, some of which are on the highest bluffs east of, and overlooking the city. There are also several interments on land enclosed in what is known as the officers' cemetery, on grounds reserved by the United States. This is near John Lawler's residence, and contains the bodies of soldiers and their families, who died at this point when Prairie du Chien was yet a military post.
Prairie du Chien can boast of one of the prettiest public parks in southern Wisconsin. It is located just south of Bluff street, which is the main business thoroughfare of the city. Minnesota street runs on the east, Wisconsin street on the south, the grounds being in block 90 of the Union plat. The land embraced within this beautiful park was purchased of H. L. Dousman, Jr. The principal attraction of this spot is the fountain formed by the perpetual flow of the artesian well, situated within the enclosure of the park. A very neat and substantial fence encloses the grounds, which are made charming by an abundance of choice shade trees, including some fine evergreens of symetrical proportions.
One of the peculiar and interesting features of the city of Prairie du Chien is its several mammoth artesian wells. To the late Judge Ira B. Brunson belongs the credit of proposing and urging the undertaking of opening an artesian well at this city. The subject was discussed by the judge in so earnest and hopeful a manner that he soon had other prominent citizens interested in the project.
The drilling of a well was commenced in the latter part of 1875, without any formal organization and before its completion, a public meeting was held (May 26, 1876) for the purpose of organizing a joint stock company.
Judge Ira B. Brunson was chosen president, and Mr. L. Case, secretary, of the meeting. A committee on organization was appointed, consisting of B. F. Fay, A. Denio and W. B. Hunt. A second meeting was held June 23, 1876, and the organization was perfected. Judge I. B. Brunson was elected president, and E. M. Wright secretary. A board of directors was chosen, consisting of B. F. Fay, Lawrence Case, T. L. Brower, H. Beach, M. Menges, I. B. Brunson and W. B. Hunt.
Articles of association were adopted, and the capital stock fixed at $10,000. The association was to be known as the Prairie du Chien Artesian Well Company. Stock was readily taken, and the work pushed to a speedy completion. The diameter of the tube is six inches, and the well was sunk to the depth of 960 feet, when a powerful stream of mineral water was struck which was found to flow at the rate of twenty barrels per minute, and with sufficient force to rise to the height of seventy feet.
An analysis of the water was made by a competent chemist with the following showing per gallon:
Grains. Bicarbonate of lime .6222 Bicarbonate of magnesia 10.9739 Chloride of sodium 90.2007 Chloride of potassium 3.8064 Bromide of sodium .1281 Sulphate of soda 12.7978 Sulphate of lime 15.3699 Bicarbonate of iron .2318 Aluminia .0610 Silica 2.8430 Phosphate of soda Trace. Organic matter Trace.
The water is said to be a powerful remedial agent in rheumatism, dyspepsia and numerous other diseases. The original cost of the well was $4200, which was the amount of stock issued. The additional improvements, including mains and hydrants extending down Bluff street to the foot of Main, cost $2,500. A still further expense has been incurred for copper pipe for lining main pipe to the rock. The present annual income is between $600 and $700. The company, with a view of developing the business, has granted the sole right of sale of the water for a term of ten years from July 1, 1883 to Henry F. Schultz, of Milwaukee, for a nominal sum.
The present officers, (1884), are M. Menges, president; Wm. Newton, superintendent and secretary.
The well is situated on the northwest corner of Minnesota and Wisconsin streets. The surplus water is conducted to Bluff street and there divides equally and passes down the open gutters, which are paved with stone, thus presenting the curious and agreeable spectacle of two brooklets of clear, sparkling water, flowing one on either side of the principal business street of the city, while at frequent intervals open hydrants pour out a never-ceasing stream. Drinking cups and watering tubs supply the thirsty mortal or beast with abundant opportunity for quenching thirst. Two wells of this kind propel a flouring mill in the heart of the city, and Mr. T. L. Brower has another similar well at Lower Town, which throws an immense volume of water. It is situated in a beautiful private park of Mr. Brower's designing, and supplies a minature lake. Besides the main fountain which forms so interesting a feature of the park, another fed by the well, through pipes, throws its bright waters high in the air, on the beautiful lawn that fronts the owner's residence. Still another no less beautiful fountain than Mr. Brower's, ornaments the beautiful grounds of the Dousman mansion near the river.
The first milling done at or near the city of Prairie du Chien, was the grinding of small grain, such as wheat, peas, barley and oats. Two or three farmers would unite in the construction of a horse power mill. The buhrs were large stones cut from the granite rock, found about the city. The product of these mills was sifted by hand. The first regular grist mill within the limits of the city of Prairie du Chien, was erected by Edward Pelton in 1847. This was a frame structure, except the engine room, which was built of brick. It was situated on the east bank of the Mississippi river, in the northwestern part of the city. It was still doing service in 1884. The original building was 50x50 feet, four stories in height and contained two run of stone. But in 1867 the property passed into the hands of J. Fameshon, who remodled the building and provided new machinery throughout. In 1884 the mill was propelled by a sixty-horse power engine and operated as an exchange mill. In 1878 after the artesian wells in the city were pronounced a lasting success, Henry Weniger conceived the idea of securing a power sufficient to propel a flouring mill by means of two of these wells. So he opened one having an eight inch bore and one with a six inch bore. These wells were sunk 1,044 feet, and the streams give an upward force equal to the requirements of this mill, which contains two run of stone with a capacity of grinding 100 bushels per day. This is the only mill known in the world that derives its power directly from an upward stream of water, coming from the earth. This mill is located just north of Bluff street and east of the "slough."
The first saw-mill at Prairie du Chien was built in 1857, for the purpose of cutting hard wood lumber. It stood near the site of the present round house. Soon after its erection, it was burned down, and through aid derived by private subscription, it was rebuilt and continued a few months.
The next saw-mill in or about Prairie du Chien, was that owned by Stauer & Co., which was operated in McGregor for about a year, and in 1872 moved over to Prairie du Chien, in order to get more yard room in which to operate on a larger scale. This mill is one of the largest between Minneapolis, Minn., and Clinton, Iowa. Its propelling power is a 125 horse-power engine, which drives machinery sufficient to cut 85,000 feet of lumber per day. At this mill, besides the immense quantities of lumber sawed, there is one of the largest shingle and lath mills in the county.
The location of this mill is on the east bank of the east channel of the Mississippi river, just northwest from the railway depot of the C. M. & St. Paul railway, the track of which passes through the mill yard.
Most of the logs used by this mill are rafted from Stillwater and the Chippewa country; and the major part of the mills product finds a market in Iowa and Dakota.
The first brewing done at Prairie du Chien was in 1855, by Theodore Schumann and Otto Georgii, who operated in a small wood building near the base of the bluffs, where they excavated a large cellar which was stoned up and arched over. In 1870 M. Menges bought into the company, as the successor of Fred Kalpel, who had purchased Mr. Georgii's interest a year or two before. On the 29th of April, 1872, this brewery was destroyed by fire, causing a loss of $8,000, while $12,000 of its value was covered by insurance.
A few weeks after this fire a new brewery was commenced, which was still running in 1884, and known as the City Brewery. This concern fronts Church street from the west side, and is situated in block No. 1, and is the property of Theodore Schumann and M. Menges. This building is 45x160 feet, two and three stories in height. It is a stone and iron structure, erected at a cost of $23,800, including machinery. It has a capacity of 6,000 barrels per year, which finds market in Wisconsin and Iowa, where eight salesman are constantly employed. This concern uses from 12,000 to 14,000 bushels of malt of their own manufacture, and from 1,000 to 3,000 bushels imported. It also consumes 1,800 tons of ice per season.
Harris & Benson are manufacturers of steel plows and cultivators. Their business was established in 1855, by D. G. Harris, and conducted by Mr. Harris, and various partners, till 1871, when he formed a partnership with H. J. Benson. This firm does an extensive business in the manfacture of steel plows and cultivators, of which they make several varieties. For the year 1882, they made 4,000 plows and cultivators. The senior partner has had thirty-four years' experience in the business, while Mr. Benson has devoted several years to the same line of work. Their plows and tools are sold throughout the west, and are held in high favor.
Just before the Civil war, H. H. Hall found money for Capt. Chase and Alonzo Pelton to put in operation a soap factory, which they continued to run till April, 1864, when they sold to J. D. Humphrey, of Galena, Ill., who operated successfully until Jan. 12, 1883, and then sold to Haskins & Wallan, who carried on the business until December of that year, when Mr. Haskins purchased his partner's interest; the concern then going under the name of Leroy Haskins' soap and candle factory.
No little importance is centered about industries of this character; indeed, they are the vitality of any city. Five standard grades of laundry soap are here manufactured --- "Eureka," "Palm," "Old English," "Favorite" and "Economist." The capacity of these soap works is 11,000 sixty-pound boxes per annum. These soaps find market in Iowa, Wisconsin and Dakota, in which States salesmen are constantly employed. This factory is situated in one of the pioneer buildings of the city. It was formerly the "Rioleto House," kept by a Frenchman at an early day. It was next used as an office for the Indian agent, and later still, as a select school. Since 1870 this concern has been superintended by Jeremiah Cannon, an experienced soap maker.
The Vinegar works, of A. H. Reitemeyer, another enterprise of manufacturing industry of Prairie du Chien, was established in 1870, in the three-story brick business house, in Lower Town, built in 1857 for a bank. Up to 1879, the product of these works was made by use of spirits, which were imported; but at that date Mr. Reitemeyer, put in new machinery and has since produced the best grades of vinegar, by the "vaporizing process," employing spirits obtained from malt, corn and rye, purchased and extracted at his works. The capacity of these works is 1,000 barrels per year; however, the average amount produced is about 600 barrels, which is sold to the retail trade of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The commercial interests leading to the foundation, and subsequent development of a city, which must of necessity, receive the attention of the historian, is attended with many difficulties and uncertainties unknown to those who have never undertaken the collection of such matter. Especially is this true of a city dating back to so early a time as Prairie du Chien. Few of the early business men of the place are now living, and to the memory of the few surviving ones, years that have passed but as fleeting hours, and the reports given by these pioneers are often at antipodes in relation to vital points, such as names and dates of those who first embarked in business. Notwithstanding these obstacles, the task has been undertaken, and the result is here given as a matter of record, to be handed down to succeeding generations, that they may know who founded the business of a city whose proportions shall increase with the incoming years, and the magnitude of its commerce outstrip the most sanguine hopes of its projectors.
In this connection it will be the aim of the historian to give, as far as possible, the names of the first representatives in each line of business, together with a brief history of their business and then in conclusion, show the advancement made by a business directory of the city in 1883.
As the earliest trading at this point, has been spoken of at length, in former chapters, in connection with the French and Indian trading post, no special mention will be made of the city's business until the American settlement commenced.
The first merchandising done at this point, was carried on by John S. Lockwood, who opened a general store in 1839, and continued till about 1844, when he moved the stock to Upper Town, and a few years later died. Samuel A. Clark was the next to embark in trade in the Lower Town. He commenced in 1840, and continued until 1862 and then moved his goods to Viroqua, Vernon county, where he built a fine store building, which a few years later, he sold to Mr. John Tate, who was still in trade there in 1884.
The first hardware dealer of the place was G. C. Cone, who finally moved to McGregor, where he died. Succeeding him in this line, came Oswald & Hopkins in 1856.
Frank Jackish run the pioneer meat market of this part of Prairie du Chien.
A bank was established in 1856, under the state banking laws, by a man from Milwaukee, who continued some few years. This bank was kept in a large three story brick block erected by Allen Reed for that purpose. In 1883, this was utilized as a vinegar manufactory.
In 1857 the principal trade of the place was in the hands of the following:
T. L. Brower, wholesale and retail drug store.
Mr. Osborne, grocery store.
H. Baldwin, ship store, which he kept in the railroad depot.
Samuel A. Clark, general store.
William Hawkins, groceries and provisions.
At this date there were eight hotels of various kinds, which changed hands many times and several of these were destroyed by fire, it is supposed to obtain the insurance, which was placed upon them.
In the winter of 1862-3, the long talked of removal of the depot, to a point up the river, near what was the "Main Village" of early date, was finally effected and with this change of railroad business, all other branches of trade commenced to center at Upper Town, many of the business men removing their goods from "Lower Town."
"Lower Town" contains at this time (1884) but one store, which is operated by the pioneer, T. L. Brower.
Aside from the Vinegar works of A. H. Reitemeyer established in 1870, this constituted the business of this part of Prairie du Chien.
The C. M. & St. Paul have their round house and repair shops here, also a passenger depot.
The earliest trading done here, was carried on at what was then known as "Main Village," on the island, near where the Milwaukee depot now stands. The building used was a solid, stone structure, which is still standing. This was head-quarters for the Indian traders, among whom were Dousman & Brisbois, agents for the American Fur Company.
In 1839, Edward Pelton opened up a general store.
In 1847, Thomas A. Savage and Martin Neinhardt engaged in trade; the former in a general stock, and the latter in exclusive grocery stock.
O. P. Martin embarked in the drug and grocery trade, at about the same time.
Gaillard & Famechon, began business in 1849, running a large general stock, then called and still known as the "French Store." In 1855, they erected a spacious stone building on Bluff street where Mr. Famechon is still (1884) doing business.
The first to engage in the hardware trade at this point was Mr. Frisbie, who sold to B. F. Fay, in 1857. Beach & Weber engaged in the same line in 1858.
The earliest dealer in furniture was Christopher Greeley, who commenced business in 1850, in a shop near the site of the present Commercial Hotel. This business is still (1884) carried on by his son Charles.
Horace Beach kept the pioneer agricultural store.
The first lumber dealers were I. P. P. Gentil & Dorr, who operated as early as 1856-7.
Shipley & Peas run the first livery stable, beginning about 1853.
The first to deal in clocks and jewelry was Mr. Giles, who was in trade here just before the war, and here commenced the foundation of the great fortune he has since amassed in Chicago, where he has long since been one of the noted business men.
The pioneer picture taker was Alpheus Wright, who located long before the art of taking photographs was known. About 1850 was the date of his commencing to take daguerrotypes. D. A. Douglass was the second artist, who settled here. He was farther advanced in his profession, and taught Mr. Wright the process of taking both photographs and ambrotypes. He located in 1856, and continued in the business till 1865. His gallery was situated on Church street near where the city brewery was afterward built.
The first shoemaker in Prairie du Chien was a German named Sielgher, who commenced cobbling in 1842. In 1856, J. T. Christoph came from New York city and opened a shoe shop, and in 1860 added a stock of boots and shoes. He is still (in 1884) operating in this capacity.
The first restaurant in the place was run in connection with a boarding house, known as "Our House," which stood near where the French store building now stands. It was kept by John Pion, who is a native of Prairie du Chien. He was born in 1821, on the site of the present Railway House, and died Dec. 1, 1882. He had served two years in the United States army 1846-7, in a campaign against the Indians of the northwest. At one time he was counted among the wealthiest men in Prairie du Chien; but one reverse added to another till all was finally swept from him. The last twenty-five years of his life he suffered much from inflamatory rheumatism, contracted while in the army. It is said Mr. Pion was a "born gentlemen," and like most of the early French settlers, he was liberal and hospitable. His death added another to the long list of pioneers, who have been gathered to their fathers, leaving only a few of that generation who lived on this beautiful prairie, and whose chief business was "dance, sing and make merry."
Mr. Pion was married in 1850, to Anna Brisbois, a niece of Col. Brisbois, by whom he had ten children --- John, Emma, Louis, Anna, Charles, Addie, Ella, Lotta, Johnny and Eddie.
The following is a business directory of Prairie du Chien in December, 1883:
Brower, T. L., general store.
Brower & Son, drugs and groceries.
Beach, H., hardware and farm implements.
Bassett, Huntington & Co., grain dealers.
Butterfield, L. T., photographer.
Baldwin, H., Tremont House.
Bridenbauch, M., Central House.
Chase, L. & Co., general store.
Crehain, Dennis, St. Paul Hotel.
Conant, Dr., Turkish Bath.
Case & Co., grain dealers.
Douglass, D. A., notion store.
Evans, William, attorney.
Eddy, E., physician.
Famechon, J., grain dealer.
Garvey Brothers, dry goods.
Grelle, Charles, furniture.
Griesbaugh, Christian, meat market.
Haskins, Le Roy, soap manufacturer.
Hewitt, Byron, farm machinery.
Jones, J. D., physician.
Kohn & Co., clothing.
Knops, John, furniture.
Lindner, G. L., cigar maker.
Levi, N. H., jeweler.
Lockart, E. P., lumber dealer.
Mathews, R. G., jeweler.
Morrison, E., hardware.
Nor, Frederick & Co., meat market.
Poehler, H. C., groceries.
Rosenbaum, S., groceries.
Reitemeyer, A. H., Vinegar Works.
Rodgers, Edward, Sherman House.
Rodway, T. F., restaurant.
Schweizer, Mrs. J. G., Commercial Hotel.
Schweizer, M., boots and shoes.
Stauer & Co., saw mills.
Shumann & Menges, brewery.
Steiger, A., physician.
Samuels, A. F., physician.
Schumecher, R. R., restaurant.
Thomas, O. B., attorney.
Viele, L. F. S., attorney.
Wright & Co., drugs.
Weidenfeld, H., dry goods.
Webster, Daniel, attorney.