These sketches relating to personal matters will show the disadvantages under which the hardy pioneers procured the homes which now seem so comfortable. Whatever of romance adhered to the hardy colonist was abundantly compensated for by hard work. Contrast the journey of that devoted party through the roadless and bridgeless tract between Chicago and their destination, with a party on a like journey to-day. Instead of weeks of labor and toil, privation and suffering, with cold and hunger, a seat is taken in a palace car in the evening at Chicago; an unexceptional supper is partaken of without leaving the train; the passenger retires upon a downy couch, and in the morning awakens to find himself at his point in southwestern Wisconsin, having lost no time by the journey. Those who enjoy these blessings would be less than human if they were not filled with gratitude to these early settlers, who paved the way and actually made the present condition of things possible. At that time the confines of civilization were on the lakes; Chicago had not many thousand people; Milwaukee was just beginning to be a village, and Madison was a mere vidette, and an outpost of civilization. There was nothing in the now wealthy region of southwestern Wisconsin except the intrinsic merit of the location, to attract people from their more or less comfortable homes in the eastern States, or on the other side of the water. The hope as to the future, which "springs eternal in the human breast," was what lured them on, and, although, those that came were usually regarded by the friends they left as soldiers of fortune, who, if they ever returned at all, would indeed be fortunate; they were a sturdy race, who realized the inequality of the struggle in the old States or countries, and resolved to plant themselves where merit would not be suppressed by tradition.
The men who came were, as a rule, enterprising, open-hearted and sympathizing; they were good neighbors, and so good neighborhoods were created, and they illustrated the idea of the brotherhood of man more by example than by quoting creeds. With a bravery that never blanched in the presence of the most appalling danger, they were neverthless tender, kind and considerate in the presence of misfortune, and their deficiency in outward manifestations of piety was more than compensated by their love and regard for humanity. And if their meed of praise is justly due to the men, and it certainly is, what shall be said of the heroic women who braved the vicissitudes of frontier life, endured the absence of home, friends and old associations, whose tender ties must have wrung all hearts as they were severed. The devotion which would lead to such a breaking away, to follow a father, a husband or a son into the trackless waste, west of the great lakes, where gloomy apprehensions must have arisen in the mind, is above all praise. The value of the part taken by the noble women who first came to this uninhabited region, cannot be over-estimated. Although by nature liberal, they practiced the most rigid economy, and often at critical times, preserved order, reclaiming the men from despair during gloomy periods; and their example of industry constantly admonished him to renewed exertions; while the instincts of womanhood, constantly encouraged integrity and manhood.
Richland county was held by Iowa county until organized as a county. Was sub-divided by Iowa county into two towns: 1st, Richmond, which includes all the territory from the Wisconsin river north on the congressional line, range 1 east, of the 4th principal meridian, to the north line of the county; thence west along said line to the northwest corner of township 12, 2 west; thence south from said corner on the congressional line to the Wisconsin river; thence east along said river to the place of beginning, including now, Orion, Richland, Rockbridge, Henrietta, Bloom, Marshall, Dayton, Eagle, Richwood, Akan, Sylvan and Forest. 2d, Buena Vista, which included all the territory from the Wisconsin river, commencing at the congressional line on said river, range 1 east, of the 4th principal meridian; running thence east along said river to where the congressional line, range 2 east crosses said river; thence north along said line to the northeast corner of township 12, range 2 east; thence west along said line to the northeast corner of township 12, range 2 east; thence west along said line to the congressional line, range 1 east of the 4th principal meridian, thence south on said line to the place of beginning, including what is now Buena Vista, Ithaca, Willow and Westford.
The first election held for town officers in the town of Richmond, was on the first Tuesday in April, 1849. The said election was held at the house of Matthew Alexander, on section 33, town 6, range 1 west, now in the town of Eagle. The house (a log one, or double log) was situated on the bank of the Wisconsin river near the place where the Pilling's saw-mill later was situated. The officers who conducted said election were John R Smith, Myron Whitcomb and Reason J Darnell, as inspectors of said election; George C White and Nathaniel Green, clerks. The following were the town officers elected at said election: John R Smith, chairman; Adam Byrd and William Kincannon, supervisors; John Nipple, town clerk; Stephen Finnel, collector or town treasurer; Walter B Gage, assessor; Marion White, superintendent of schools; William Thompson, E H Dyer, B B Sutton and Matthew Alexander, justices of the peace; Nathaniel Green, William White and Daniel H Boyle, constables; L B Palmer and William White, overseers of highway. The persons elected were all qualified as such officers. John Nipple, town clerk, died before the expiration of his office, and A B Slaughter was appointed in his place. Also Mr. Slaughter resigned and Levi Houts was appointed to fill the unexpired term of said office and made out the first tax list for said town.
The record of the first county officers elected, you have in the county clerk's office, therefore will not give their names here. After their election they had to go to Mineral Point in Iowa county to qualify. Your unfortunate subscriber hired a team and took the said officials to Mineral Point to be qualified, and it is needless to say that they, the said officers, had to stop at Highland over night on going, in order to view the beauties of the place, inspect the whisky and buck the faro bank. On the next day we got to Mineral Point and it took them two days to qualify and inspect that village, etc., therefore I was four days making the trip, and $3 out of pocket. I had agreed to take them for a fixed price. John J Matthews was the sheriff and he collected the tax on the list I made out.
As to the first settlers in the then town of Richmond, it will be hard to determine; I would refer your honorable committee to John Comb and Myron Whitcomb. I believe that they come as near giving that point of information as any person. I came into the county Sept. 10, 1849. I must say like the man fiddling told the Arkansaw traveler: "These hills were here when I came and so were men, women and children, situated here and there in the forest in log houses, and seemed happy and contented." Their meat they had in abundance by killing the bear, the deer and moose, and for sweet they had the bees and had all the honey by cutting the trees; corn they raised for meal and homony; potatoes and garden vegetables they raised. The flour they used was generally bought at Galena, in Illinois, and hauled here. One of these pioneers would start to Galena with an ox team loaded with honey, bear and deer, trade his load for flour and groceries, and that would supply a number of families for a time. There was a sociability between those pioneers that is now gone among the things that are past. There was no lawing one against the other. The people held as a sacred law to themselves to follow the golden rule one toward the other. Now and then a little bad whisky helped a fight and that settled the matter. I would like to here give the name of some of those pioneers; some are dead and some are still living, who, in the pioneer settlement of this county, were men whose characters were not blemished, and we still have some of them living with us, and the golden light of justice and right between their fellow men is still shining. But I suppose when they let their minds wander back to the early settlement of this county, and think of the times then in the wilds of nature and then pass on year after year, change after change to the present time, they will express --- the wilderness is blooming and turned as by magic into beautiful fields and costly houses instead of the log houses, and the great strife now is to get money --- honest or dishonest. He says in his mind, where is the sociability we had in the early days? Then if a man killed a deer or bear, and if his neighbor was out of meat, he would divide and in turn it was paid back without laws. But now it is law and confusion, compared to what it was in the early pioneer days. The man who has a few more dollars than his neighbor looks on him as a poor a scamp, and that sociability existing in early days without regard to wealth is gone. Methinks you will behold a deep sigh heave in the breast of that pioneer. For fear of making this a personal matter, I forbear giving names.
As to the history of the first roads and mills, at now Rodolf's mills, Rockbridge mills and a corn cracker at now Brimer's woolen factory, I will not give in this. The first school house in the then town of Richmond, was located in now Richwood, not far from M. Whitcomb's. I leave them to Combs or Whitcomb to report that and their first teacher. The next was in the now village of Orion (all log houses). The first teacher in the school house in the village of Orion was Mary Malanthy (now Mrs. Joseph Elliott, of Port Andrew). In the summer of 1846, and in the fall and winter of 1849, your writer taught three months' school in the same house and enrolled eighteen scholars, a few of them over twenty years of age.
As I have already written considerable matter, such as it is, I will stop, hoping others will furnish more and better information than I have given. Should I endeavor to make a personal matter of all the pioneers at a certain time, and then go on to describe the continued changes of persons coming into the county so far as my knowledge would permit, and their usefulness in building up the county, I might leave some out and then they would be offended; or if the locating and building up of villages in the county and their now delapidation, cause, etc. I do not expect to be able to attend your meetings. It matters but little to me in the future if I am permitted to live in seclusion among the hills of Richland county the remaining days of my life.
Before the town of Orion was organized and adorned with its present name, it was, at the time I came to Wisconsin, May, 1849, a part of the town of Richmond, and after the adjoining towns in the east, and Eagle in the west, had taken considerable, and not the poorest part of the territory that should by right belong to her, left it, as it is at the present day, one of the smallest and poorest towns in the county. Probably to compensate for the wrong done to the new town, the name of one of Heaven's brightest constellations was adopted. Its history to the present day would likely be one of troubles and difficulties, occasioned by the many miles of roads and numerous bridges, but the energies of some of her earliest settlers has conquered the same, and the town has never, to my knowledge, been involved in lawsuits on account of the condition of her roads and bridges.
The ferry across the Wisconsin near Avoca, was at that time run by a Mr. Gage, who, with his family and one Dr. Hartshorn, resided on the bank of the river in this county, near the place where James Laws, a few years after, settled, and who succeeded Gage as ferryman; it was from this place that I struck out for Ash creek, and found there a small settlement, and tired of travel, bought a piece of land and made one of the number of early settlers. I found then here about twenty residing in the town; now, about ten have gone to their resting places and the balance taken Greeley's advice.
It is perhaps superfluous to say much of the life we have led in those early days; the hardships in a newly settled country are almost alike in all places; our troubles were not who should sell our produce but where to buy. We had no grist mill nor stores on this side of the Wisconsin river, neither a postoffice, and our nearest trading point was Franklin, in Iowa county, now Highland, until a store was started in Orion and Jacob Krouskop built his grist mill on Willow creek. This gave us at the same time a bridge across Pine river near the mouth of Ash creek, and Mr. Banks, of Sextonville, took a contract from government to run a weekly mail from Sextonville to Prairie du Chien and back, and an office was established at Ash creek and Orion, so that we once more were in communication with the outer world. The clearing of land and chopping and hauling saw logs to the mill, constituted the most work in winter, and hunting deer and other game during the fall, of which most settlers in a new country are fond of, was much practiced and gave a great deal of sport and some profit to the settlers, who late in fall generally took their deer to Platteville and other places to trade for their winter provisions. There was great harmony among the first settlers and it did not require much to make them feel contented; it seems every one was inclined to be sociable. I remember once we had a gathering at my home, when the whole settlement was present, and although we had only a room of 16x18 to dance in, with Jeff Shaver as musician, sitting in one corner on an empty saurkraut barrel, and assisting the fiddler with his feet, the smaller children by the dozens laying up stairs on beds and floors, you can hardly find a jollier set than there was that night in the humble cabin. Among the hunters occurred sometimes laughable incidents. On a general election day, in November, a crowd of us went to the village, also a bear which one of our number, a tall and easy going fellow, had shot the day before; the man starting for the woods and leaving his dog, who was too young to be of any service, at home, ran up all at once to Mr. Bear laying under a fallen tree, he fired at him instantly and retired quickly. The dog who had followed unbeknows to his master hearing the report of the gun, came running towards him, and the man thinking he had missed his game and was pursued by the bear, made long strides towards home, where man and dog arrived at the same time. Not being sure how things really were, he got one of his neighbors to go with him to the spot where the shooting took place and there found bruin dead in his lair, being shot through the brain. The man was rallied a great deal on the way the next day, especially by the fellow who went with him after the bear. In a few days we had a light sprinkling of snow, and both these men being out with their guns, after having killed a deer, struck the track of a bear, which following, they found their game in a small cavern. Holding a council of war, they agreed that one should take a pole and rake Mr. Bruin in the ribs, thereby inducing him to come out, when the other standing on the rock above, would shoot him. Following this plan they got the bear to rush out and the man on the rock firing instantly, hit him, breaking his lower jaw. The enraged brute went for the man who had done the poking, who run lustily down hill and finding the bear was gaining on him, took to a small ironwood tree, hollooing and screaming all the time for help, until the other, who was the same man who had been bored about his running away from his own dog, came up and shot the brute, thereby releasing the prisoner and having the laugh on his own side.
Of physicians, we had only a small supply in 1849, namely the aforementioned Dr. Hartshorn who stayed only a few years and then left, looking for a place where the folks were less hardy. Later the town had some good physicians, D L Downs, Dr. Howe, J H Tilly and Jacob Brimmer. Lawyers did not fare very well in the town of Orion. A P Thompson settled in the village at an early day, and although the adjoining towns kept him more than Orion, he at last left in disgust and has had no successor.
It was several years before a preacher came among us to show us the way we should go. The first offer we had came from a lawyer residing in an adjourning town, who volunteered to come over every four weeks and preach to us and save us if possible. We held a council, and being a little dubious if the pulpit be the right place for an attorney, concluded not to accept his kind offer and take our chances. In a few years several churches were established and some worthy preachers came among us. Five buildings were erected and used as places of worship; one of them is situated near the northern town line for the use of the United Brethren Church, and Jacob Brimer, Durfee Bovee and James Howard are the men who contributed mostly the means necessary. On section 3, near Henry Segrist, the German Methodists have a nice building for worship, their pastor residing on the east side of Pine river. Next is the Christian church near Henry Wilson on Ash creek, whose pastor is Rev. J Walworth, through whose exertions, aided by David Wiker, Hezekiah Jones, Abram Miller and others, the church was built and is flourishing. The elder is much respected by his followers, but we owe it to posterity to record that they accuse him of baptising and catching fish at the same time on a certain Sunday, but if the truth has to be told, the fishing was accidental and only the suckers, which came up the Elder's leg, between pants and lining, is to blame. The German Lutherans have a substantial building near D. Wiker's; their pastor residing at Boaz. The members of the Methodist Church have erected a house of worship on Oak Ridge, near S. S. Blake's, who is one of its leading members.
The schools in the early days of Richland county and under the system then in vogue, did not give the scholars the advantages they now enjoy. The few children were scattered over a large territory, roads often bad and the means of the settlers limited. Then the method of giving the examination of teachers to the chairman of the town board did not work well in many instances, and was often light on the teachers and hard on the chairman. The method of requiring the teacher to "board round," as it was called, was also often annoying to both parties. I know of one instance where the teacher had to sleep with five of his scholars in one bed, the mother claiming that this would greatly assist the young ones to acquire knowledge, and the teacher could not convince her of her error.
Of industrial establishments, the town has only the woolen factory of Jacob Brimmer, on Ash creek, which is a great accommodation to wool-growers and of benefit to the whole community. W H Stewart is one of the best mechanics and has a widespread reputation, is also very successful as a raiser and keeper of bees. Thomas Mathews and Levi Houts have expended much time and labor digging for lead mineral, and although they had some success, the quantity found was too small to make it a paying job and so abandoned it. In the mercantile business were engaged in the village of Orion, Downs & Ripley, Rodolf & Graham, Berry Ferries, Clements & Wait, Miller & Edwards, St. Randall, Dan Clinginsmith, Jacob Dosch, and at the present day, A. Crosby and W H Dawson. Orion had at one time a lively trade, but the building of the M & P C railroad, and the erection of the bridge across the Wisconsin river, took the largest part away and left her struggling in the sand. She also had the misfortune to lose the court house, and was only lucky in declining the proposal of Mr. Moore to make a donation of several thousand dollars, towards erecting the bridge.
It speaks well for the town of Orion that in a space of thirty years no serious crimes are to be recorded. The only instance of an aggravated nature, was the burning of the dwelling house of C G Rodolf, by a deluded German, whereby the family of Mr. Rodolf, he himself was at the time a member of the Assembly in Madison, was brought in great danger, and the German was sent to Waupun for seven years. Of the men who watched over the interests of the town as supervisors thereof, I name D L Downs, Jacob Brimmer, J H Tilly, David Wiker, W H Stewart, Dan Clinginsmith, but for the faithful service rendered the town, Levi Houts stands at the head, who for the last thirty years, almost without interruption, has served as town clerk, and who at the present day, would give a more comprehensive history of the town than any other man.
I have tried to give a brief sketch of Orion's history, and as I write from memory only, omission of many things of interest are natural, and I hope will be excused and errors corrected.
About the year 1840, a company from Mineral Point penetrated the forest up Pine river for the purpose of lumbering, a small pinery having been discovered there, from which the river takes its name. They located and built a sawmill on the northwest quarter of section 10, in town 11 north, of range 1 east, about twenty-two miles from the mouth of said river, with the intention of rafting their lumber on the Pine to the Wisconsin river. They were unfortunate both in damming the stream at the mill and in keeping it clear for rafting below, so that their enterprise nearly proved a failure. In 1850 the mill property was purchased by Orrin and I S Haseltine who immediately thereafter, moved in from Black Earth, cutting their road on the east side of the river from Sextonville. At that time it was all government land, except the quarter section on which the mill stood. The Haseltines immediately commenced entering lands chiefly for the timber, and constituted themselves emigrant agents to encourage settlers to take up and improve farming lands.
In the spring of 1851, towns 11 and 12, one east and one west, were organized as a town and named Rockbridge, from the natural bridge over the west branch of Pine river near the mill. Fourteen votes were cast at the first town meeting. Orren Haseltine was elected chairman and Alonzo Decker, town clerk. No party feeling marred the harmony of the meeting. They undoubtedly elected their best men, for nearly every one had an office. Several cabins were built and settlements commenced this year. Amasa Hoskins, Seth Butler, John Pool, Jacob and William Dairy, on section 22; Augustus Hoskins and Orion Satterlee, on section 18; Reuben Hancock and German Tadder, on section 17; Hiram Tadder on section 20; of town 11, 1 east; Joseph Marshall and A P Hide, on section 13, town 11, 1 west. In 1852, town 10, 1 east was annexed to and made part of the town of Rockbridge. Orren Haseltine was elected chairman and Robert Hawkins, town clerk. Number of votes cast sixteen. Roads were laid this year from Pine river mill to Amasa Hoskins' and thence to Cass & Pound's (now Bowen's) mill; also from A. Hoskin's up Fancy creek across section 30 and 19 to town line; also from Richland Centre to Willow creek.
In 1853, town 10, 1 east, was set off and organized as the town of Richland, leaving Rockbridge its original limits of four townships. O. Haseltine was elected chairman, and F M Stewart, town clerk. The following is the poll list at the general election in November of this year: Hiram Tadder, O. Satterlee, R M DeLap, Harvey Gillingham, John Marshall, Alden Haseltine, Joseph Marshall, F M Stewart, Moses Laws, A. Aikin, O. Haseltine, Augustus Hoskins, G. Tadder, A G Decker, Seth Butler, Daniel Hoskins. Sixteen general settlements were commenced this year in town 12, 1 east. The first of whom were W W Garfield, on Soles creek; A. Sires on the West branch and W H Joslin on the east branch of Pine river. Settlements were also commenced in town 12, 1 west, by Isaac McMahn and others, near where Spring Valley now stands. At the spring election 1854, forty-two votes were cast. Alden Haseltine was elected chairman and F M Stewart, clerk. Roads were surveyed and laid out this year, up Fancy creek, up both branches of Pine river, and across from both branches to Fancy creek, in the whole about forty miles.
In April 1855, towns 11 and 12, 1 west, having been set off from Rockbridge, were organized by the name of Marshall, leaving Rockbridge to consist of towns 11 and 12, 1 east. The number of votes cast at the spring election was thirty-three. Alden Haseltine was elected chairman and J W Chinch, clerk. In April 1856, town 12, 1 west, was organized by the name of Henrietta, leaving to Rockbridge its present limits, town 11, 1 east. J. S. Scott was elected chairman and Hiram Freeman, clerk; number of votes polled thirty-eight. The first school district was organized in 1853 by Abner Aikin, town superintendent. The settlement of this town has not been rapid but steady. We have now 1200 inhabitants; 515 children of school age and about 240 voters and settlers on every section. (Written in 1879.)
In the years 1854 and 1855, the town of Forest was comprised of the towns 11 and 12, range 2 west, now known as Sylvan and Forest. The first town meeting of the joint towns was held at the house of William Ogden, in Sylvan, April 3, 1855; fifteen votes polled at that meeting; was duly organized by the election of the following officers of the meeting: Elijah Austin, chairman; Silas Benjamin, William Wood, associates; E B Tenny, Asahel Savage, clerks. At the same meeting the following officers were duly elected for the ensuing year: E B Tenny, chairman; R J Darnell, William Wood, associates; Levi C Gochenaur, clerk; William Ogden treasurer and Asahel Savage, assessor.
In the year 1855, the town was divided; the geographical town 12 retained her political name of Forest, and town 11 assumed the political name of Sylvan. The first town meeting held in the town after the division was made, was held at the house of John W Ambrose, on the first day of April, 1856. R J Darnell, presided as chairman; Salma Rogers and Cyrus D Turner, as associate supervisors; Levi C Gochenaur, clerk. At said election the following officers were duly elected for the ensuing year: Jesse Harness, chairman; William Mathews and J V Bennett, associate supervisors; Hartwell L Turner, clerk; Levi Kanable, assessor; Andrew Carpenter, treasurer; Harvey C Goodrich, Jeremiah D Black, Salma Rogers, justices of the peace; William Clift, Emanuel P Bender and George Pitsenborgner, constables.
In the year 1852, in the month of April, the first piece of land was entered, it being the southeast corner of section 33, town 12 north, range 2 west, by Alexander Barclay, now owned by Charles Marshall. On July 2, following, Mr. Barclay was drowned in the Wisconsin river at Orion. The first settlers in the town were Daniel and William Bender. Daniel Bender entered his land, it being the northwest quarter of section 33, town 12 north, range 2 west, in the month of April, 1854, and built his house, the first that was built in the town, on the 12th day of May, the same year, and moved with his family into the house on the 15th, and buried his wife on the 24th day of May, 1854, this being the first death that occurred in the town. Ten persons were present at the burial and only two of that number were resident of the town. The fall of 1854 the town was settled very rapidly.
On Sept. 20, 1854, H L Turner, William Turner, Cyrus D Turner, Salma Rogers and J Lyman Jackson, settled at Viola, in the Kickapoo valley; Laal and William Clift came to the Kickapoo valley, June 8, 1854, where Laal Clift now resides. Cyrus D Turner laid out and platted the village of Viola. In October, 1854, Levi Kanable and David Johns settled in the southwestern part of the town, and in the same month, John W Ambrose, Jacob K Ambrose, Levi C Gochenaur, Jacob P Neher and R J Darnell, settled in the southeast part of the town.
The first marriage in town, was that of George Chroninger and Nancy Smith, solemnized by Oliver Guess, justice of the peace, Aug. 27, 1856.
The first sermon was preached by Edwin Buck, on the second Sunday in April, 1856, at the house of R J Darnell. The text was, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life."
The first school superintendent was R J Darnell, and the first school teacher examined for a certificate was Helen Jackson, who taught the first school in the town of Viola, in the summer of 1855.
The first saw-mill built in the town, was that of Adam Shambaugh's, built by Salma Rogers in the year 1857, on the south branch of Bear creek.
The first merchandise was sold by Cyrus D Turner, at Viola, in October, 1854.
In July, 1851, the first road was laid through the town; it was a country road running from R J Darnell's in a westerly direction across the town to the county line on the west. R J Darnell, Adam Bird, John Price, commissioners, and James Appleby, surveyor. On June 7, 1855, the first town road laid through the town, was from Viola through the valley of Camp creek to R J Darnell's by E B Tenny, chairman, R J Darnell and William Wood associate supervisors and L B Palmer, county surveyor.
The estimated number of votes at this date is some over 200. The town has thrived and prospered by dint of hard labor; her forests have fallen before the hardy sons, large fields have been opened and her soil yields her golden harvest and makes glad the hearts of the husbandman.
The town of Sylvan (congressional town 11, range 2 west of fourth principal meridian) is situated in the western part of Richland county. It is bounded on the east by the town of Marshall; on the south by the town of Aken; on the west by the town of Clayton in Crawford county, and town of Kickapoo in Vernon county; on the south by the town of Forest, in Richland county, of which it was an integral part until April, 1856, when it was separated from the town of Forest, and organized into a separate town, by the election of officers on April 1, 1856. First election was held at what was then known as Ogden school house. E B Tenny, William Wood and Horace Cook were elected first town board of supervisors; Lyman Matthews, clerk; and William Ogden, treasurer.
The first settlement was made in 1853, E B Tenny and William Ogden being the first permanent settlers. The immigration steadily but slowly increased for a year or two, owing to the difficulty of procuring provisions, having to haul them over rough roads from Orion, on the Wisconsin river, a distance of about twenty miles. But when the town was organized, in 1856, there were thirty-two votes polled, and in November, there were forty-nine votes polled. From that time the population rapidly increased.
The town of Sylvan is pleasantly situated, being alternated by ridges and valleys, which are very productive. It is also well watered, a creek called Eagle creek (Mill creek) runs along its eastern border, and the West branch of Eagle creek runs along its southern side. A long stream called Elk creek rises near the center of the town and runs to the northwest into the Kickapoo river; together with numerous rivulets and springs, some of which are very large; it is thickly set with timber of the following varieties: White oak, bur oak, red oak, basswood, ash, hard and soft maples, butternut and some other varieties. At the time it was organized it was almost an unbroken wilderness; since then the improvements have kept apace with population. In 1855 Mr. O. Guess built a saw-mill on Eagle creek and run it by what is called a flutter wheel, which supplied the immigrants with lumber to a great extent. Since then it has been rebuilt, and the flutter wheel replaced by an overshot and the sash saw by a rotary saw.
In 1855 there was a small grocery store stationed at what is known as Sylvan Corners, by a Mr. Nixon; since then it has passed through several hands and each time enlarged. At this time it is owned by Mr. William Henthorn and is enlarged into a respectable dry goods store, the only establishment in the town of this kind.
Whilst the citizens were subduing the forest they were not neglectful of their mental culture, and as soon as districts could be formed, they began to build school houses; though rude, they answered the purpose for which they were intended. The first school taught in the town was taught by Miss Olive Matthews. When we look back upon the crudeness of the common school system under the town superintendency and compare it with the present advanced state of the schools we are astonished that men could not see these things before. One instance of an examination under the town superintendency: A young lady went to be examined. The examination in arithmatic was: Add 1/2 1/4 1/8 1/3 3/4 together, which was done very quickly, that was all the examination there was on that branch. The superintendent remarked to the writer that "she is pretty sharp;" this is only a specimen of examinations of those days.
It would perhaps not be inappropriate here to notice some of the natural scenery. There are in some localities bold rocks cropping out from the points of hills that have pillars of rocks on them that rise to the height of twelve or fifteen feet above the level of the hill; upon which if you take your stand, gives you a view of the surrounding country which is delightful and picturesque. There is a locality known as the Big Rocks on section 16 which is very singular in appearance. The ground rises gradually from the north for about thirty rods, when it abruptly breaks and forms a perpendicular wall of about 100 feet in height, then runs to the south in a gentle slope, forming quite a valley. There are in the south part of the town three caves of considerable size, one of which has been explored to a distance of one-fourth or one-third of a mile, and as far as explored consists of three rooms, each one of which is 50x150 feet. They are all hung with stalactites, and have stalagmites rising from the bottom, of various sizes and shapes, which give it truly a grand appearance.
The welcome a settler now receives is very different from that we received as actual settlers upwards of twenty-five years ago. Those who came before the terrible winter of 1856-7 were welcomed with mild and fruitful seasons, abundance of wild game in the woods, and we supposed that much of it run about all roasted, ready to eat! Leastwise some such stories were afloat in the east when we came here, and as we didn't find any, we presume it must have been here before we came. Then those fellows had choice of all the land; provided they were as smart as other speculators who eagerly gobbled up the whole batch that was of any great value.
After a time these old chaps got pretty well started, and then they turned around in this welcoming business and welcomed every greenhorn who brought plenty of cash and bought slices of their land at five times its first cost.
But woe! woe! to the poor devil who came here in the fall of 1856, and especially if he had a family and was obliged to pass through that terrible winter with its rains and snows, when the mercury congealed at times with the intense cold, and the four feet of snow had its four crusts of ice. There was hardship, suffering and privation that winter among the poor, and few were wealthy here in those times. This winter was the collapse of the land speculation, after which many men from the burden of their taxes were actually land poor. Added to this there was the financial crisis of 1857, that sent the wild cat banks into space and dissolved much of our currency into thin air.
Thus we see that many of us had to make our homes here under these discouraging circumstances. I have seen the time when a sack of bran was valued as much for food as a sack of Parfrey & Pease's best, patent, fancy, super-extra flour would be to-day; when it was very common for families to subsist a week or a month on two or three articles of diet, and happy was the man who could have pork and potatoes at the same meal. Everything that would do for food was utilized that terrible winter. Even the poor deer, worried and bleeding from the pitiless ice crusts of the snow, starved and frozen were mercilessly slaughtered. Those who came to Wisconsin from the east usually brought with them two things: one was a lively remembrance of the plenty they left, the other a big appetite. It was wonderful what a great amount of food we found necessary to acclimatize us. How hungry we were. Father bought a hog that winter, that was actually so poor it would hardly fry itself, yet it was the sweetest pork I ever tasted.
What a big effort we made to grow hosts of garden vegetables in 1857, and how abominably wet the season was. How smutty the wheat was. Didn't we have shady bread that winter? We toiled in the fields, we grubbed alders, hoed corn, mauled rails out of tough logs, cut firewood from knotty old oaks, hunted cows in Uncle Sam's log pasture, and sometimes, especially when it was stormy, it was terribly long. May be we perfumed our breath with a leak, scraped the wild beans from our clothes with a case knife, and picked the wood ticks out of our hair.
Ox teams were the fashion then, so much so that you could count all the horses on your fingers a whole town might possess. Father, who at that time had a blacksmith shop in Loyd, shod ninety-five yoke of cattle in one winter.
Curious old tools we had in those days, and everybody was jack-at-all-trades. We mended our plows, patched up our wagons, and cobbled our own boots and shoes. Many of our dwellings were made with fire places of sticks and clay, the floors of the house of "puncheons," or split logs, the roof of "shakes" (long split shingles). In such dwellings as these, many of our mothers and sisters toiled, and no doubt imbibed many lessons of skill, industry and economy that more recent homes do not afford. Our home-made clothing was washed by their hands, with home-made soap; and home-made clothing meant that made with needle by hand --- very few affording a sewing-machine then. Economy was rigid. Many are the pairs of pants we have seen made from grain sacks; one year they were very fashionable.
Then business developed with the country, and new excitements roused us to new actions. What lots of money was made in digging ginseng. For a year or two it was a great thing. Then we had sorghum introduced, and we all got rich --- in a horn! No, we waited for that until 1868, and went into hops and got busted.
Well, we began way back in those early times to build school houses, make roads and bridges, organize churches, societies and associations. We have built mills, shops and factories. Our villages have grown until they teem with all kinds of useful pursuits that the country may need. We have also built our homes among the hills of Richland, where once forests were growing. We have no regrets that our county was not settled among stirring scenes of war and tragedy. It is better, far better, that our settlers were devoted to the arts of peace. We have had our quaint old characters, our religious revivals of many kinds, our political excitements, our business struggles, our spelling schools, debating schools, singing schools, and more than this we have had our 4th of July celebrations, our Christmas festivals and New Year's jollities, and many of these are freighted in memory with interesting accidents, incidents and reminiscences.
I remember him; he came to our house as he "boarded around," bringing with him his Saratoga, (a red silk handkerchief containing all his worldly effects), a clean shirt of unbleached muslin and wide collar of same material, a razor, brush and "strop," and a strap for the boys. I say "he" because girls and old maids were not permitted to teach in those days, because they were supposed to be mentally and physically incompetent.
The pioneer teacher was a sort of John the Baptist, and he not only firmly believed in the doctrine of Solomon, that "sparing the rod spoils the child," but he religiously practiced it, and he executed the law on the prophets, ranged round the room, in rows, on benches. To me, through remembrance, the "oil of joy" of even these days has a taste of leather strap in it. The pioneer teacher's edicts were like the laws of the Medes and Persians --- unchangeable, but not those of the tyrant, Caligula, hung so high that nobody could read them. They contained no inkhorn phrases of doubtful mean, but were in good plain English and were read aloud every Monday morning, with such additions as the previous week's experience had proven necessary. Among them was one that "each scholar should come to school regularly at 9 o'clock, with face and hands clean washed and head clean combed."
It was once the custom to bar teachers out on holidays and make them treat. An occurrence of this kind once took place in southern Illinois where a young man from Ohio came out west to "keep school." The school house was a log one, batten door hung on wooden hinges. The chimney was of logs lined with stone for a few feet up, then finished with clay and sticks, which latter in this case had fallen off. Twenty or more young men and boys and a few girls assembled early Christmas morning and barred the door. The teacher came and was refused admittance till he treated. He tried the door, then walked off briskly, for apples and candy, the boys thought. He soon returned with an ax and butcher knife, took off his coat, leisurely rolled up his sleeves, chopped the door off its hinges and entered, ax in one hand and knife in the other. No Arnold Winkelreid was there among these boys, "to make way for liberty or die." There was no way of escape except over the burning hickory logs in the fire place, and out over the top of the fallen chimney. The larger boys dropped out over the top of this chimney as fast as one could get out of the way of another, and each took the "route step" for home. The smaller boys from under benches surrendered unconditionally and were allowed to retain their jack knives and other side arms.
In a different view the early teachers of Richland Centre may be counted pioneers, and my heart wakes to the pulse of the past as I run over the list. To four, perhaps the most faithful good and true, "school is dismissed:" Mary, Emma, Cordelia and Betsey, have "climbed the golden stairs."
"School is out." The coasters, the skaters, the group on the green, and the flowers brought fresh every morning as tokens of friendship and love, are not, to them. Those who remain will love the old school house in the autumn.
John Fogo, was a Scotchman, with all the sturdy virtues and some of the weaknesses of the people of his nationality. He was a man of strong passions, which (alas for the weakness of human nature) sometimes got the better of him; yet he was of quick sensibilities, of generous impulses and of a kindly heart. He was a warm and truly trusty friend, but fearless and outspoken against what he considered wrong. He had no sympathy with the weak sentimentalism of the present day, which apologizes for any rascally transaction, thus "putting bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter," confounding the distinctions between virtue an d vice. His legal knowledge, for a man in his station, was considerable, and this, coupled with strong common sense, made him a reliable public officer and a useful counselor to his neighbors. He was gifted with a remarkable memory and (what does not always accompany a good memory) good judgment. His memory enabled him to retain historical facts remarkably well. History indeed was his delight, especially the history of his native land. Few men were better informed in regard to the political and ecclesiastical history of Scotland.
He had quite a taste for theological learning. He had been quite well instructed in childhood (for he came of a goodly house), and in Kilmarnock and Pittsburgh he had opportunity of hearing some of the first preachers of the age. He was also well read in the old divines of the sixteenth century. He was ever a lover of the sanctuary, and gave devout attention to the various services of sermon, psalm and prayer. As many times as I have preached before him, I do not remember a single instance in which his attention flagged.
He was a most genial and instructive companion. Some of the most pleasant memories of my sojourn in Wisconsin, are of the long winter evenings, spent by the "chimla lug" of his humble home, in cheerful conversation with him and his "guid wife." History, poetry and religion, as well as the common topics, was our theme until it was time to "tak the bukes," which in a Scottish household means to have family worship.
Alanson Clark was a man of considerable information, and of a pure and upright life, being highly respected by his neighbors. He was a very kind man and of a sociable disposition. He may have lacked in firmness and decision of character, which, as a philosopher has said, is apt to be the case with natures thoroughly kind. His tastes lay in a different direction from the other two. While they were men of war from their youth, engaging with a will in the disputes that arose about town, county, State and National affairs, Mr. Clark was more like Jacob, a plain man dwelling in tents. He took but little part in the stormy contentions arising out of questions agitating the neighborhood or the country. His name was identified with the Church; he was the friend of Zion and of Sabbath schools; his brethren recognizing his merits, elected him to the responsible position of ruling elder, the duties of which he discharged both in Ohio and Wisconsin. His gifts and graces shone particularly in public prayer. I have heard few men engage in that exercise more to edification than Mr. Clark. His prayers were humble, solemn, and sound in the faith, and enriched by scriptural quotations. He had a deep and abiding sense of eternal things. He spoke often on the shortness and uncertainty of life, and of the importance of being prepared for death. He has gone to his grave like a shock of corn fully ripe. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord."
Josiah McCaskey was a man of good natural parts and superior intelligence. I believe he was of Scotch-Irish extraction, and had the firmness (to put it mildly) we might expect, for the Scotch-Irish are a doggedly, obstinate race, which I may say without offence, remembering "the rock whence I myself was hewn." He was a great stickler for forms, and desired all things to be done according to the laws made and provided, whether in matters ecclesiastical or civil. This, let us hope, resulted not from a fault-finding disposition (for he was equally severe on the false steps of friend or foe), but from a desire to have the forms of law preserved. Owing to his knowledge of law, there were not many in the neighborhood a match for him except Mr. Fogo. In him he found a "foe-man worthy of his steel." Their controversies at town meetings and other public gatherings were long and fierce, but did not destroy their friendship for each other. Sometimes they discussed Church matters, and then there would be an exchange of rigorous English (and Scotch), but all ending in good part. Mr. Fogo used to good-humoredly call him an "auld Ishmaeleete," because his hand was against every man, and every man's hand against him.
Not only had he no sympathy for mistakes and negligence in conducting public business, but anything like corruption in office was apt to bring him up to a white heat of indignation. Had he been President, official delinquency would have found no mercy at his hands, and it would be no fault of his if the morality of our civil service was not brought back to the state of purity characteristic of the "better days of the Republic."
He was well acquainted with the Scriptures, and had some knowledge of the original language in which the New Testament was written. He once sent me a roll of papers entitled "Field Notes of a Surveyor," which proved to be Greek criticisms on the New Testament. Many of his annotations were judicious, and though not of great importance, tended to throw some light on the sacred text. In the early days of my ministry at Fancy Creek, he used to sit before me with his Greek Testament in his hand, imitating the Bereans in "searching the Scriptures whether these things were so." But soon something was said or left unsaid, or done or left undone, which gave offence and he absented himself. Few things in this world pleased him, either in Church or State. He had looked so much at the dark side of human nature that he had almost lost faith in mankind. Poor man! He had his troubles here. Let us hope that, through those Scriptures which he professed so highly to revere, he at length found peace. Though it may be said of him, "Pancis lacrymis compositus es." With few tears thou wert laid to thy rest, yet, let us forget his infirmities and remember his virtues.
Thus have passed away three worthies --- representatives of the olden time, in integrity and real worth. Let us avoid their mistakes and imitate their excellencies, and let us be admonished by their departure that we too shall die and not live. Our heads will soon be silvered, and crow's feet be found in our temples --- the fore-runner of death --- for man goeth to his long home and the mourners go about the streets.
In 1851, by act of the Legislature, the county seat was located at Richland Centre, which is on the north side of Horse creek, supposing the county to be square, but by counting the fractions on the south side of the county it brings the geographical center on the north end of section 28, town of Richland, on land which the writer hereof bought of Uncle Sam and on which he lived three years. The above statement in necessary to show the cause of the eight years war. That war carried on with much bitterness between Romulus, the founder, and the exasperated Sabines. It is said that Romulus promised lots, free, to those who would vote to confirm the act of the Legislature referred to above, and thus succeeded in locating the village of Richland Centre. John Price, then chairman of the county board was succeeded by a Mr. Tracy when new life and energy was given to the Sabines by the removal of Charley to Mill creek and the assistance of Robert and A. M. S. John Mathews was then sheriff and fought the county seat question to the bitter end.
In 1851 I first sat foot on the present site of Richland Centre, near sun down, and a more tired and hungry paddy than I was, you never saw. A smoke, and to my great joy, over the river by the side of the bluff was a log cabin occupied by a Connecticut Yankee by the name of Bacon. He told me once had a pre-emption on the quarter, now the county seat, and that he had sold it to Romulus for $25. Bacon was an honest man but a very green Yankee.
In the summer of 1852, was built the little court house where now stands Hugh Boyle's blacksmith shop. The old building is now Schmidt & Lawrence's fruit store. During the same summer, part of the American (now Richland) House was built, and with the whole block, was sold to A S Neff in 1854, for $1200. This was the first substantial purchase in the new city. In 1852, Judge Coffinbury resigned, and David Strickland was appointed county judge, by Gov. Barstow. R C Hawkins was elected sheriff in 1852, but did not enter upon the duties of his office till 1853, which compelled John Mathews to attend court in the "Centre" one day. Passing the office of the clerk of the court one cold, stormy day, I heard a pounding inside and my first thought was that the Sabines had taken possession of the ark of knowledge and the throne of justice, and were preparing to carry it away on their shoulders, so I rushed in and found the county judge seated on a high stool, A B Slaughter, clerk, at the desk and John Mathews trying with a very dull ax, to split an oak knot to fit in an eighteen inch stove. They all looked cold, and I offered to cut enough wood for two fires for twenty-five cents, but they all confessed, in open court, to want of funds and I believed them and left them shaking with the cold.
The winter of 1853 gave a new turn to affairs. The Legislature was petitioned to bring the school section into market and lay it off into lots which was done and a day appointed for the sale of lots to the highest bidder. This measure made more stir in Richland county than is made by the civil rights bill in Congress. In the spring of 1853 was held the first town meeting in the town of Richland at which Asa J Sheldon was elected chairman, McMann, clerk, C McCarthy, treasurer and Hascal Haseltine superintendent of schools.
[The following reminiscence appeared in the Richland county Republican, on July 1, 1869, under the head of "Fifteen Years Ago."]
Fifteen years ago to-morrow (July 2, 1854), the family of C Waggoner, of whom the writer was one, hauled up at the hotel of Richland Centre, then kept by Col. I S Haseltine, after a tiresome journey by rail, steamer and stage, from the eastern part of Ohio. The railway between Milwaukee and Madison was then new, and as rough as new. The trip from Madison was made in nearly two days by livery conveyance. All the surroundings observed in this then new country were very different from those of the home just left. The rude cabins, the rough roads, the wild scenery, were in striking contrast with the comfortable dwellings, the well worked roads and the placid surface of eastern Ohio. But the change was little lamented by "we boys." Our "range" was much enlarged, and we enjoyed the freedom of the hills, though the luxuries of the former home came only with the developments of after years.
The first celebration of the National Anniversary in Richland Centre was on the second day after our arrival here. The first flag unfurled to the breeze in this valley was that which waved here on the 4th of July, 1854. The first "liberty pole" implanted in the soil of the village was that from which the stars and stripes floated on the 4th of July, 1854. A glorious day seemed that 4th of July. No 4th has seemed more grand since. A handful of people, comparatively, participated in the observance of the day; but they were nearer to each other than now --- there were no internal dissensions then. The good of one was the good of all. The people of the surrounding country and the people of the village were one. All sought the aid of the lowing cattle for purposes of pleasure or labor, and the fat of the land, wherever found, was common property.
At that time Richland Centre was comprised of part of August Schmidt's building, then used as a court house; of what is now the "old part" of the American House, where travelers were entertained by Mr. Haseltine; the building now belonging to Le Roy Humbert, west of Austin's corner (then south of the same corner and occupied by S H Austin with a small stock of goods); a small building in what was afterward known as the Hamilton settlement, belonging to and occupied by Sidney Rose; the main part of the now Grant House, then unfinished and occupied by Hascal Haseltine; the building now occupied by George H James, then occupied by a Mr. Sheldon, in the front room of which a little store was soon opened, and the house now belonging to W J Waggoner, on the east side of the village, then occupied by Dr. Gage, where also was the post-office. During the summer several dwellings were erected, among them one by the head of our family. Little improvement was made during two or three years following, but soon thereafter immigration gave the village and adjacent country a respectable population; from which time to the present the growth has been sure if not rapid, with every promise of ultimate good cheer for all the people.
Though the village of Richland Centre has grown from a handful of people to nearly 1200 in fifteen years, with wealth nearly an hundred fold advanced over the increase of population, it is apparent to all that greater advancement might have been made. But how, has not been demonstrated, unless the experience of the past be demanded to guide the effort.
Great as have been the improvements in the village, considering its embarrassments, the county at large bears off the palm. Bounding from a population of but 900 to over 15,000, it has developed in wealth and substantial improvements far beyond the county seat. Valuable farms and fine dwellings, thrifty villages with excellent manufacturing establishments, dot its length and breadth. As a whole, though not enjoying all the advantages of many other sections of the State, we doubt if its advancement has been greatly surpassed by any other. Our quick soil, splendid timber, pure water, and healthy climate, offer inducements to settlers not always combined.
Richland Centre in 1855, contained a population of about 200 souls all told. At this time no county buildings had been erected, neither church or school house, although the county seat had been located here several years before.
Orion, then called Richmond, had a school house and maintained a good school. Richland city had shown a degree of enterprise in building an academy and maintaining an institution of learning which deserved a better fate than befell it. After a few years the village ceased to grow and its commerce went to Lone Rock on the railroad. The academy failed. Silsby, the principal had gained, by his successful management of the school, a well deserved reputation as an educator of eminent attainments.
At Richland Centre, in 1855, the subject of securing a school house site and erecting a school building took a definite shape. The annual meeting, of that year, was a stormy one. The party favoring the locating and building the house finally prevailed. The public school interest received lasting and substantial aid from Mr. Priest's untiring efforts. And it was mainly owing to his exertion, that his friend Israel Sanderson was induced to establish the Observer, the first newspaper in the county. The first issue of the paper was one of the marked and important events in our history. The county board was then in session (November, 1855), and some of the first copies were distributed to the members, and when the carrier presented each member a copy, the business of the county was suspended until the paper was read and favorably commented upon. The paper soon became well established.
The political campaign of 1856 received the consideration its importance demanded. In October, a republican mass convention was held, and addressed by C C Washburn, who was then a candidate for re-election to Congress; Judge Jackson, and the witty and humorous Mohawk dutchman, Vinton. The meeting was well attended, and Fremont, the Presidential standard bearer strongly endorsed.
The democratic mass meeting was afterwards held, and was addressed by Judge Crawford, candidate for Congress, against C C Washburn. The meeting was well attended, and James Buchanan and Judge Crawford, were enthusiastically supported by their party.
The people of this county were deeply interested in the contest at Madison during the winter of 1856, between Governors Barstow and Bashford. Aside from the question of which was elected, and whether the supreme court, a co-ordinate branch of the State government, had the authority to determine the controversy, our member of assembly, Robert Akan, who was elected by a peculiar turn of political affairs, was a strong supporter of Gov. Barstow.
A large proportion, however, of the people of the county firmly believed that Gov. Bashford had been really elected, and were his firm supporters. The supreme court were of the opinion and declared him elected and he was installed into office.
The severest winter known since the first settlement of the county was that of 1856-7. It was during this winter that the bold and adroit John J Shoemaker, an adventurer, came among us. He made his appearance, representing himself to be a man of great wealth, and looking for a location to lay out a town and build an academy. He went into the northern part of the county and platted a village, on the west branch of Pine river, calling it Marysville. He then went to Chicago and purchased a large saw-mill on credit, and at great expense hauled it with teams from Lone Rock, some thirty-five miles, to Marysville, where he set it up. He also purchased at the same place a $10,000 stock of goods with which he opened a store in Richland Centre. Before his bills in Chicago fell due, he had disposed of a large share of the goods for cash, he obtained credit everywhere, and in the latter part of February, left the country with a valuable team and several thousand dollars, the proceeds of a few months scheming.
In the fall of 1857 the contest over building a school house was renewed with greater vigor than before. Several meetings were held, and a tax of $2000 was finally voted toward a school house, which was placed upon the tax roll. It was found impossible for a large majority of the tax-payers to pay the tax in money, and an expedient was resorted to. A building committee was appointed with power to receive building materials or labor, at a price to be fixed by the said committee, for which they gave a receipt, which was taken by the town treasurer in the place of money, and these receipts were taken by the district in its settlement with the treasurer.
The price allowed by the committee for clear basswood or linn lumber was $7 per thousand. The old school house, 34x52 feet in dimensions, and two stories high, now stands a monument of the generosity and public spirit of a majority of the citizens of the village, during the most depressing financial time in the history of the present generation. It has been in almost constant use ever since, and is in a good state of preservation yet.
The people of the county took a deep interest in the political contest of 1860, and when it merged into the stern realities of war, with one accord they determined to sustain the government. At an early day a public meeting was held at the court house and strong resolutions were passed, expressing the will and opinion of the people. Company H., of the 5th Wisconsin Infantry, was raised, and quartered in the village for some time, supported by the volunteer contributions of the citizens.
On the 21st of May, orders were received to report at Madison. The citizens gathered and expressed a deep feeling in their quiet words and anxious countenances.
At this time the mail was taken by stage from Lone Rock every morning and arrived here at 11 o'clock. The driver, on reaching the outskirts of the town, blew a tin horn to announce his arrival. The citizens would soon begin to assemble at the postoffice and hear from the boys and hte news from the seat of war. A copy of a daily would be handed out the first thing on opening the mail pouch, which would be read to the crowd.
From this time forward the record shows the temper and patriotism of the people of the county. From a population of only 9732 in the county in 1860, enlistments were made during the war, nearly equalling two regiments.
Considering all things, the people of Richland county have shown an enterprise and industry in the development of the resources of the county, unsurpassed in the settlement of the State.
Churches and school houses have been erected and supported in every part of the county, and all by the settlers, out of their hard earned money, as very few men located among us with surplus means, and the accumulation of wealth has sprung from the development of land and country.
B C Hallin, now one of the members of the county board of supervisors, tells the following story, that illustrates, better than anything else can do, the stuff of which the noble pioneer women, who first settled in Richland county, were made of. Mr. Hallin was absent on business, his wife sat down by a window to rest. Looking out to see where the child was, that was playing in front of the house, she espied what she thought was a large dog making its way through the wild pea vines that interlaced the heavy growth of timber near the house. A searching glance soon revealed the fact that the intruder was a large brown bear. To rush out and save the child was but the work of a minute. Mrs. Hallin, having secured her offspring, turned to where she had her dog, a large English mastiff, chained up, and loosing his collar, sent him to grapple with his bearship. The dog made for him and a lively tussle ensued. The place of the combat was upon the declivity of a small hill at the bottom of which run a small creek, and in their struggles the two animals rolled into the water. The brave woman picked up the ax, which lay convenient, and running down to the place of combat, sought to assist her dog. But here she found matters in so much of a mixed state that she could not strike the bear for fear of hurting the dog. Watching her chance, however, she at last saw the chance she was looking for, and a well directed stroke of the ax soon gave the quietus to bruin and ended the battle. When the combat was ended she called to her assistance a neighbor, who helped her to skin the beast, and drag the carcass to the house. A numerous family of children have all been cradled in this trophy of their mother's nerve and pluck. Hallin winds up his story, which is well authenticated, by saying that the bear came just in the nick of time, for there was no other meat in the house, and his bones were pretty well polished before they got through with him.
In the early settlement of this county there were many of the different denominations and religious organizations of the eastern States, represented by the emigrants located here, and among them were a number of the members of the Christian Church from Ohio, Indiana and eastern States.
After the excitement and trouble of the war of the Rebellion, and our soldiers that were spared had returned home, the members of all societies saw and felt the duty of a better organization for the moral and religious instruction of their families, and the better order of society generally.
In accordance with this sentiment, a meeting was held at district No. 8, in the town of Sylvan, on May 5, 1866. After devotional exercises and mutual consultation, it was unanimously,
Resolved, That the moral and religious wants of the community requires of us a better organization for the more successful and efficient performance of our work as ministers and members of the Church of Christ."
After which the following ministers (all of whom presented good credentials of their ordination and correct standing in their respective churches) : Jacob Felton, of the town of Aikin; Jacob Mark, of Marshall; John Walworth, of Richland Centre, and John Poff, of Sylvan, and delegates from two Churches or congregations, proceeded to organize this conference by electing Rev. J Walworth, president and Rev. J Mark, secretary. After which the following formulated principles in substance were adopted as the basis of the faith of this conference:
The Bible is the inestimable gift of God to man, and contains in its teaching, all that is essential to direct man in his duty to his God, his neighbor and himself; and, therefore, the only authorative rule of faith and practice for man.
That all men have a God given right and duty to read, search and interpret the Scriptures according to his own best judgment, using such aids and helps as are accessible to him. That every man is accountable to God for his actions, and for the use which he makes of his life and the blessings bestowed upon him.
That the Divine law fixes and promises a reward and blessing to the righteous in this world, and eternal life and happiness in the life to come, and that the same Divine law fixes and ordains an adequate retribution for sin of every kind, in this world and the world to come.
That the Lord Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah, the son of God, the only medium between God and men, and the only name given under Heaven to man whereby he can be saved.
That the name Christian, designates the character of the disciple of Christ, and is therefore the only appropriate and scriptural name given to the true believer and the Church of Christ.
That in all Nations and ages, every one who fears God and works righteousness, is accepted by him, and is therefore entitled to a membership in the Church of Christ by virtue of a Christian character.
That all divisions among true Christians and persecutions for a difference of opinion is unauthorized by the Bible, and contrary to the true spirit of Christianity.
That all true Christians should be united in fellowship, in all gospel ordinances, in all good works and charity.
The form of ecclesiastical government of this conference and the Churches connected with it, is Congregational.
This conference has peacefully and without ostentation labored on, mostly in rural districts, until at its last annual session held at the Bethel church, in the town of Orion, October, 1883, the reports showed its membership to be twenty-one ministers, seventeen churches and about 300 communicants, with ten or more houses of worship. It has never received any pecuniary aid from abroad, but has a home missionary society with a permanent fund of about $300, and is ever active in the Sunday school work and the cause of temperance. Its officers elected at the last session are: Rev. John Walworth, president; Rev. C M Poff, MD, vice-president and Rev. Jacob Mark, treasurer.
There are three Presbyterian (c)hurches in connection with the general assembly of the Presbyterian Church, Richland City, Richland Centre and Fancy Creek --- organized in the order here given. The Rev. Joseph Adams, of Dane county, occasionally crossed the Wisconsin river to preach to the few Presbyterians who had found their way to the frontier settlements of Richland county.
He was somewhat advanced in years, and had the care of a farm near Hayworth Ferry, so that his time was occupied with other interests, and after the organization of a Church about 1855, he retired from the field. For a short time, Rev. William McNulty supplied the little Church. In January, 11855, J H Mathers arrived in Richland Centre, with a view to supply this Church for a few months, and then continue his journey westward. E P Young and his son, David B Young, and Richard Strubble, were the ruling elders, and upon them, with the help of J H Morrison, at a later date added to the eldership, and a few others, depended the maintenance of our feeble Church.
Richland Centre, in the summer of 1855, was in the very infancy of its existence. Its entire population, before the inflow of that season, did not reach two score, I believe. The immigration of that year, however, gave it a new impulse, and as the county seat, it attracted population more rapidly.
The first religious services, I think, were held in Richland Centre, by Rev. William Smith, a Congregational minister who resided at Sextonville. He held his services in the store-room of Mr. Langdon. In the fall of that year my attention was directed to the place by the settlement there of several Presbyterian families --- the Waggoners, Wilsons and Youngs. My first service was held in a room occupied as a grocery store by W H Vinton, in the house now known as the American Hotel. At the next appointment our services were held in an upper room of the same building, fitted up and used as a ball-room. This room was generously placed at my disposal by Mr. Herschel Hazelton, who owned and occupied the building, and who had no sympathy with the doctrines taught by the young minister. In this room, in February or March, 1856, the Presbyterian Church was organized by the Rev. Bradley Phillips, of Mineral Point (the preacher in charge being simply a licentiate and not an ordained minister). Caleb Waggoner and E P Young (formerly of Richland City) were elected ruling elders, and our services were subsequently held in a school house, and then in the court house, and finally, after much tribulation, in the building now occupied by the congregation, this house was finished in February, 1858, and for years was the only church edifice in Richland Centre. It shows the primitive condition of the town, that when the Church was organized, there was not a school house within its limits. A small building, which had been designed for a dwelling, was purchased by the district and fitted up for school purposes. Here the school meeting was held which determined to build the large frame building in the eastern part of the town. This first house was afterward purchased by C D Stewart, and by him converted into a dwelling as originally intended. Now it is in contemplation to erect an edifice which will cost $30,000.
The Presbyterian Church of Fancy Creek, in the town of Marshall, was organized in the fall of 1857. Rev. J H Mathers was the first Presbyterian minister who preached within the limits of this township. The first sermon was preached in the house of David Noble, on Fancy creek, in August or September, 1855, and for some time thereafter regular services were held at the dwellings of Alanson Clark and Daniel Noble.
The Church was organized a couple of years or more after their services were first introduced. A meeting was called for the purpose at the house of Alderson Clark, and after due considerations it was determined by the Presbyterians of the neighborhood to place themselves in formal connections with the Church of their fathers. Alanson Clark and David Noble were elected ruling elders, and about eighteen or twenty others entered into covenant, as the Church of Fancy Creek. Among the names that now seem to me as connected with this enterprise, either as members or supporters, are Clark, Noble, Fogs, Benton, Smith, Hart, Wanless, McDonald and Morril. There was no church building at that time in the township. Our ordinary services were held in the rude houses of the earlier settlers, and our communion services in the larger buildings, which the increasing crops rendered necessary for their storage. I remember now that the sacrament of the Lord's supper was dispensed on the threshing floor of "Squire" Joe Marshall's barn, which was kindly placed at our disposal by its generous owner. On another occasion the barn of Mr. John Hart sheltered us from the fierce rays of a summer's sun. Afterward the school house opened for our use. At a Congregational meeting held in Marshall's school house on Jan. 28, 1861, it was determined to build a log house 28x30 feet, for the use of the Church, and arrangements for preparing the logs etc., were made at the same time; the building was erected during the summer of same year, which is now about to give way to a neat and substantial frame building.
The relation of the pastor, J H Mathers (under whose ministry the Churches of Richland Centre and Fancy Creek were originally gathered), was broken by his removal to Pennsylvania in the spring of 1864.
Rev. J M Reid was the immediate successor of Mr. Mathers, but his health was finally broken and he was compelled to lay aside entirely the duties of the ministry. In 1877 his friends in Richland Centre were shocked by the tidings of his tragic death near Congress, Ohio. He was crushed to death beneath the wheels of a loaded wagon which he was driving. He was a man of fine ability. He was a resident of Richland County for eight or nine years.
Rev. Joseph H Mathers was the first Presbyterian minister who permanently located in Richland county. His ministry began there on Feb 1st, 1855, and terminated in April, 1864. J H Mathers was born on Aug. 5, 1832, at Mifflintun, Juniata Co., Pa. His parents were James Mathers, a leading member of the bar of Juniata county, and Jane Hutchinson, a daughter of Rev. John Hutchinson, for nearly forty years pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Mifflintun and Lost creek. Mr. Mathers graduated at Jefferson College, Cavensburg, Penn., on Aug. 7th, 1850, and at the Theological Seminary at Princeton, NJ, in May, 1854. He was licensed to preach the Gospel by the Presbytery of Huntingdon, in June of the same year, and a few months there after began his ministry in Richland Co., Wis. In October, 1856, he was ordained to the full work of the Gospel ministry by the same body. On Dec. 2, 1856 he was married to Sarah E Jacobs, of Mifflintun, Penn., who shared with him the toils and joys of life until Nov. 8, 1869, when she passed to the rest of Heaven.
In 1860 the existing order as to the superintendency of the common schools, was adopted, and J H Mathers was elected the first county superintendent. The change was a very great one, and perhaps for the time worked to some disadvantage. The standard of scholarship on the part of the teachers was elevated, but some whose attainments were comparatively limited, but whose aptness to teach compensated for this deficiency, in a measure, were excluded from the schools. There was, in consequence, a scarcity of teachers, and in some instances really less competent teachers were placed in charge. In a short time, however, educational interests were adjusted to the new order, and undoubted advance in the right direction has since resulted from the change. It would be wearisome to dwell at any length upon my experience as county superintendent.
A leading business center at the time of my first removal to Richland county, was Krouskop's store and mill. Any history of that region would be defective which did not give a prominent place to Jacob Krouskop and his family. The old gentleman was then really in his prime. A sturdy, upright and shrewd man of business, he accomplished much in the building up of his new fortune and in advancing the general interests of the community. His influence was felt not only in business circles, but he was recognized as a leader in religious enterprises --- was an earnest and consistent member of the M E Church for many years. His mill and store attracted an extensive trade, whilst his home was a centre of social influences widely felt. His oldest son, now Hon. George Krouskop, the banker, was just embarking in business, whilst "Doc" was in his youth, not as yet having the opportunity to develop the talent which has since made him an important factor in the commercial history of Richland county. But you will have of course, a full biography of the father and his sons, all widely known in the county, and indeed the State in which they reside.
The Black family must also occupy a conspicuous place in such a history. Alexander Black was a man of rare courtesy, intelligence and integrity. Being prematurely grey, he had a more venerable appearance than his age would really suggest. It was always a pleasure to visit his hospitable home on the Willow, and enjoy the delightful society of this cultivated gentleman and his family. He possessed the courteous manners of the Virginian, and his intelligence always rendered him a most agreeable and entertaining companion.
The eccentric E M Sexton, the founder of Sextonville, was a notable character. He was among the very earliest of settlers. His eccentric manners sometimes possibly offended those who did not know him well. My relations to him were exceedingly pleasant, and I have the tenderest remembrance of the man. He was greatly crushed when the tidings reached him that his only son had been slain in battle. He never fully recovered from that blow.
The Brush's, the Foxes, Field's, Bremer's, Devoe's, Derrickson's, Young's, Morrisons, Wheeler's, etc., were all prominent families in those early days, and many of the descendants are still conspicuous citizens.
Israel Janney was, in 1855, the clerk of the county. His name is closely identified with the social and political history of the times. His residence originally in Buena Vista, was transferred to Richland, and for years he was a citizen of the county seat. His reminiscences of Richland county will be especially rich. The "Pike's Peak" excitement took away many of our citizens, and for a time Mr. Janney disappeared from the county. His return was a satisfaction to his friends, as it was an advantage to society.
Three young men, Hartwell, Cyrus and Jerry Turner left Stykesville and Sheldon, Wyoming Co., NY, about the 1st of May, 1854, and came west, making explorations for government lands, intending to go into the Bad Ax river valley; they stopped for a time at Mr. Wilson's, at Kickapoo Centre, to rest. Hartwell took lands on Camp creek and some in Vernon county. Cyrus took lands in Richland and some in Vernon. Jerry took a tract in Vernon, which he afterwards traded for the farm of Mr. Richards near the town plat of Viola.
These men returned to New York, where Cyrus and Jerry remained until September.
A short time after they had returned home, Hartwell returned and entered more lands, and with him came Lyman Jackson. Mr. Jackson entered lands where Mr. Sommers' residence now is, and Hartwell and Jackson both built log buildings, Jackson on said premises and Hartwell near the mouth of Camp creek. Then Hartwell again returned to New York. Mr. Jackson remained here expecting his family to come on in company with the Turners. The 1st of September five families came: William Turner and wife; Hartwell, wife and two children; Cyrus Turner and wife and two boys; Salma Rogers and wife and two children; Lyman Jackson's wife and two children; Jerry Turner, John Fuller and Asa Patten.
We came around the lakes to Milwaukee, and from there with our own teams. Our journey was altogether a pleasant one until we left Richland Centre, then a town invisible, and entered the woods, with sometimes a road and sometimes not. Crying children, tipped over wagons and camping out, sitting up on chairs for fear of snakes, helped fill the programme of our journey; many walked as long as strength lasted rather than peril the lives of the little ones which they carried in their arms and on their shoulders.
Cyrus Turner looked over his land entries and proceeded to lay out a town line, his first survey did not please him, and he again made another plat which is now a part of the city property, although some of the streets have been fenced up for many years. The first thing to be done was to excavate a log for a canoe with which to transfer travelers from shore to shore of the Kickapoo, which was fordable where the Waggoner's mill now stands.
House building was yet in its infancy here. The Gothic, Ionic, Doric orders of architecture are but little known; the style of which all the principal buildings here are composed may be termed "Kickapooric," for several sprang into existence about this time, which consisted of rolling logs up on each other so as to enclose a square pen until the required height was obtained when the structure was covered with split boards, called "shakes" in western vernacular, which are nailed on by placing poles across them, thus making a very picturesque roof and a well ventilated attic. The space usually inclosed is about 18x20 feet or about the size of your dining-room. This is the house of the pioneer, this little room is the kitchen, dining-room, pantry, bed-room, nursery, and frequently the up-stairs and down cellar for a family of about a dozen members; into this are stowed beds, chests, dishes, boxes, babies, pots, kettles, and all the trumpery and paraphernalia, and you can easily imagine what a paradise of commotion it is; there cannot be much of coveting for all are on an equality, even in taking pleasure rides after ox teams and faring sumptuously upon wild game or mush and milk, or the most dainty dish of all, batter, warm griddle slap, pan cakes with pumpkin butter or wild honey. Our first religious sermon was preached in this pioneer building by Mr. Neher, of Forest, and in the summer of 1855 a little log school house was erected near the county line, and in a remote part of the town plat. Here our Sabbath school was organized, a library from the American Sunday School Union was procured, and we did well, notwithstanding all our difficulties; trees were chopped down, corn and potatoes planted, if disposed to indolence the melodious music of the mosquito or the silent aches of our limbs reminded us of action, by fighting mosquitoes or rubbing our rheumatic limbs, or pass the time in shaking our superfluous flesh off.
William Mack, a half breed from the Picatonic country, now appears among us. He bought out the store of D C Turner, and built a wooden structure, which is now attached to Mr. Tate's store. With Mr. Mack came Mr. Goodrich and family. Mr. Goodrich built a plank house on block three, which is still standing. Here his little daughter, Libbie Goodrich, died. This was the first death. She was buried near the house on the said lot, near the southern line of the street, where her grave is indistinct.
In the fall of 1857 Mr. and Mrs. Keith, teachers in the Brown school of Chicago, spent their summer vacation in Viola with the family of D C Turner. In three days after their return to Chicago, Howey Willie Turner, D C Turner's oldest son, was a corpse. Here appears Dr. Gott, of Viroqua, for the first time; yet his skill was of no avail. This child's death was a crushing calamity upon his family.
Mr. Keith, Howey Willie and Freddie Turner were buried on the mound between the residence of Charley Tate and Nelson Buegor's store for several years, but disinterred in 1869, and removed to the Viroqua cemetery, along with the remains of William Turner.
In the year 1857 Viola Mack was born, and received a lot in block three for her name. This year also D C Turner bought out Mr. Mack, and commenced buying ginseng, which business he followed for eight successive years. Buying and clarifying and drying was also largely carried on by James Turner and Henry Livingstone, from Kentucky.
D C Turner built another store, and the old Mack building was used for a dry house. The store then built is now a part of H C Cushman's.
In the fall of 1856 Harry Turner and family, Mr. Gill and family, Mr. Loveless and family, Amos Fuller and family came on. Harry Turner bought out Lyman Jackson; Mr. Gill bought out the tract of land Jerry Turner had entered and now resides there. Amos Fuller went to blacksmithing, got sick of the country, and went back in the fall of 1867. In the fall of 1859 Henry M Keith and family came here and bought the pioneer home of Mr. Hull. Mr. Keith had been obliged to resign his situation in the Brown school of Chicago on account of ill health. He received a death blow from a band of ruffians in that school building, an account of which the papers of Chicago detailed in full particulars. Mrs. Keith taught our school one summer, before her husband's death, which occurred Feb. 18, 1861. In the winter of 1859-60 our school house was made lively frequently from time to time, in which Jerry Turner and Van S Bennett figured largely.
1858-9. --- About this time several acres of land were given by C D Turner for a cemetery on the mound east of the new school house, where Mr. Clark now resides. This did not suit and became outlawed. Mr. Keith, consequently, was buried and removed, as before mentioned.
1860-1. --- The second pioneer house was removed, and the residence Mr. Cushman now occupies was erected. John Fuller left for California. Mrs. Keith left for the Chicago school again. General political excitement prevailed; the war was upon us; consequently no improvements were made for some time.
Jerry Turner enlisted; was 2nd lieutenant, then first, then captain of company H, 5th Wisconsin Infantry. Here is an extract from Benjamin Lawton's letter, as written to Harry Sherme's family: "He fell while charging on Mary's Hill, back of the city of Fredericksburg. He was struck in the head by a large ball; I think it must have been a canister shot, for it made a hole about the size of a canister shot. He was shot so dead that he did not move. he was a brave and noble soldier. We mourn his loss and always will. He has been the main stay of company H, ever since we came out. When the captain fell I staid with him and took care of his body, which I agreed to do when I first came out; I told him I should stand by his side until the last, and I have done so. I tried my best to get his body embalmed and sent to you; but I could not for want of an ambulance to get it carried it to Falmouth. Our quarter-master assisted me all he could, but it could not be got, for everything in the shape of wagons was used to bring the wounded off the field, so we had to bury him in the city." He was killed May 3, 1863. He made us his last visit on his thirty-first birth day, the 16th of February before his death.
Company I, of the 12th Wisconsin Infantry, was organized and drilled here until ordered to headquarters. Hartwell Turner was captain of this company. While this regiment was in Leavenworth he was very sick. C D Turner, his brother, went to and staid with him till he could be brought home.
From 1861 to 1864 it was only war, war, war, until scarcely an able bodied man was left in the town of Forest, in 1865. D C Turner was quite sick, was drafted, and Dr. Terhune, of Viroqua, reported for him, as he was under the doctor's care for sometime, until he was able to go to Boscobel, prepared to furnish a substitute, but was not accepted. From this time more or less sickness followed. He gave up the mercantile business and sold out to Mr. Tate. In 1865 Mr. Harrington and family, John Bryant and C Ward came. N D Ward, of the 2d Wisconsin Cavalry, returned from Texas.
Of the five original families that came to Viola in 1854, only two are here now --- Salma Rogers' and H L Turner's. Of the twenty persons, or children, of that time, there are still living: Salma Rogers and wife and two children; Mary Bews, of Deadwood; Frank Rogers, of Viola; Hartwell Turner and wife; Lyman Jackson, wife and son, of Oregon, Wis.; Helen Jackson Drenn, of Centralia, Ill.; Dewitt C Turner and his mother, Greenfield, Mo.
These are deceased: William Turner and wife, Cyrus D Turner and son, George Turner, Alice Turner Waggoner, Jerry Turner and John Fuller.
Pine river runs the entire length from north to south, through the central portion of the county. On the west side of the river was a heavy forest with a thick undergrowth of brush, extending for miles with no roads or bridges. We were without communication with the western settlements, only by the difficult route of crossing the Wisconsin river and traveling down to the village of Muscoda, there re-crossing the river and following the trail the western settlers made to their homes, the only entrance for the early settlers of the western part of the county. There was a good highway from the above village to Mineral Point, and also to Galena, where the emigrants by water landed that were looking for homes in Wisconsin; and those that made their way by land from Illinois, Indiana, southern Ohio and further south, generally found their way to Mineral Point.
This accounts for the settlements in the western part of the county, being generally composed of people from the above named States, while the eastern portion of the county was reached from the east by the way of Sauk Prairie and Helena. The result was, the eastern portion of the county was settled by the inevitable Yankee; a close, industrious and enterprising settler, with the milk pail on his arm, ready to milk the first cow he could secure, and also a foreign emigration working their way westward from the eastern States and cities. I will here state the Yankee, with the cow, has been a large and important factor in the improvement and development of the rich resources of our county.
Robert and William McCloud, with their families, emigrated from Hardin Co., Ohio, in the year 1845, to Wisconsin, having previously purchased a tract of land near Muscoda without seeing it. After arriving at the above named place and having examined their purchase, they found it worthless for agricultural purposes. They remained in the village of Muscoda during the fall and winter of 1845-6, looking at different parts of the country, hunting and buying furs that were found in the northwest at that time, such as the beaver, otter, fisher, martin, mink and bear. The above named animals were numerous. Robert McCloud was a general agent for a fur company located at Perrysburgh, Ohio, and his agents traveled as far north as St. Paul. In the spring of 1846, Robert and William McCloud moved upon farms they had selected on the east bank of Bear creek, in town 9 north, of range 2 east. Robert broke up about eighty acres, planted corn, potatoes and garden vegetables, and William broke and planted about forty acres. They had good crops, and when my brother, Phinneas Janney, and myself moved into the above named town in the fall of 1846 we found the McClouds comfortably situated with good log houses. Robert had sown four bushels of winter wheat, which was without doubt the first sown in the county. They were the only families in the eastern half of the county at the time we moved in, except some parties that were engaged in building a saw-mill on Pine river, where the village of Rockbridge is located.
Mineral Point was our postoffice for a time, and later, Franklin or Highland in Iowa county. Our supplies had to come from Mineral Point.
Richland county at this time was a wilderness, where the Indian and wild beasts of the forest roamed at will; such as the lynx, elk, deer, bear and wolf; the three latter were very plentiful. Our animal food consisted chiefly of the deer and bear meat. The hunting of them was a very pleasant and exciting exercise, as well as profitable. Fish were very plentiful in the small streams. We found trout and the larger varieties in the Pine and Wisconsin rivers. They furnished fine sport and amusement in securing, as well as an important article of food; and the hunting of the wild bee was interesting and profitable. They were very plentiful and yielded a large amount of honey, which took the place of sugar and syrup for all sweetening purposes, so that we were not without some amusement and pleasure to mix with the troubles and trials incident to pioneer life. About three weeks after our arrival, Philip Miller, a very promising young man, died of typhoid fever, which cast a gloom and sorrow over the small settlement; and we were admonished of the truth, notwithstanding our journey of hundreds of miles, that the messenger of death was near, and would find us sooner or later.
The winter of 1846-7 was one of the coldest and hardest that I have experienced in the county; the snow fell very deep, and soon after thawed sufficiently to form a heavy crust that would almost bear a man up; but about the time he would straighten up, down he would go, and would continue to repeat it for a short distance, until he found himself played out. The result was we had to keep close quarters, and had often to eat what we called Irish supper --- venison, potatoes and salt. We had an early spring. It turned warm and remained so; and it was not long until we laid aside our troubles caused by the winter, and were delighted with the prospects the country presented. The bold bluffs and beautiful valleys, with their cool springs, brooks and creeks, with the surrounding forest, made up a view beautiful and grand; and the thought occurred that there were none to dispute our right to this beautiful country. But we were disappointed; the red man of the forest made his appearance with claims, and gave us considerable trouble; and on several occasions we were compelled to collect with our families at one house, for safety and protection, until the Indians were disposed of.
The McCloud brothers had been absent for several days from the village, early in the spring of 1846, looking at different parts of Richland county, and on their return home, found the people of the village in a fight with the Indians. They were called on for help, and responded by hurrying to the scene of action. There were four of the Indians killed and one wounded by the McClouds. The Indians then fell back into a heavy undergrowth of pine timber, taking their dead and wounded with them. The whites called a council and decided to send a messenger to Gov. Dodge, and runners to the different settlements for help, believing the Indians would renew the conflict as soon as they could collect their forces. By morning there were a large number of whites on the ground, and fully as many Indians. They seemed determined on mischief. But the whites acted strictly on the defensive until they could hear from the governor, which was soon answered by his presence in person; and after a careful investigation of the facts, he sustained the people in what they had done and complimented the McClouds very highly for the brave and decisive action they took in the matter. The Indians were sent to their reservation by Gov. Dodge, with orders not to remove; but the orders were often violated and they gave the different settlements more or less trouble, but more particularly the McCloud settlement; they were determined to have the scalps of those two men, and made many attempts to secure their object; and the number they lost in the raids they made will probably never be known. They finally disappeared and left the McClouds to enjoy their new homes in peace. A few words in reference to the McCloud family.
Judge William McCloud, the father of Robert and William, was one of the early pioneer settlers of Champaign, Logan and Hardin counties in Ohio. The family held a prominent place in the hearts of the early settlers in the above named counties; was respected and esteemed by all who knew them. Robert and William McCloud having grown up in the midst of the greatest warlike Indian tribes of Ohio, with such opportunities for studying the peculiar traits of character of the Indians, well qualified them to meet their Indian troubles in this county with the success they did. Mrs. Elizabeth McCloud, the mother of Robert and William, after the death of her husband, came to this county and remained with her children and friends until her death, which took place at James D Key's, in the town of Buena Vista. She was a lady of fine intellect, highly cultured and of excellent memory. She had been a faithful member of the Methodist Episcopal Church for many years, and was one of the true Christian mothers of the past.
The next addition to our small settlement was Mary J Janney, now Mrs. William Willey, of Fancy creek, born Dec. 12, 1846, daughter of Israel and Elizabeth Janney. In the spring of 1847, W H Janney located on the farm now owned by J W Briggs; and Amos Merser settled on land east of David Young's farm, but shortly afterward sold out and located about four miles northeast of Lone Rock, in Sauk county where he now resides.
In the fall of the same year there were two men with their families, one by the name of Parshall Smith and the other Cyrus Cline, moved in and settled on Bear creek.
In the fall of 1848 Jonathan Ingram and family, Samuel Long with his family, and many others, moved into the town. Our first election was held in November at the house of Robert McCloud, and I think there were thirteen votes polled. Up to 1849 we had never seen or hear of an assessor or tax collector. We certainly ought to have been happy.
Nathaniel Wheeler moved from the State of New York, to Dane Co., Wis., in the fall of 1848. He settled in town 9 north, of range 2 east, on the farm now owned by David Young. He was the first Methodist preacher in the town. Mr. Wheeler served one term in the State Legislature from this county. He left this county many years ago, and when last heard from was living in the State of New York, as a Baptist minister. He had evidently changed his religious views.
B L Jackson was the first local preacher of the same Church, and settled in the same neighborhood in 1848. They organized a class about the same time in a log school house, a short distance from Samuel Long's residence. Mr. Jackson was an itinerant preacher in the M E Church for a number of years, and was then transferred to an Iowa conference.
Rev. G G Nickey was one of the pioneer preachers of the United Brethren Church on Fancy creek, and under his preaching they have increased in strength and numbers, and at the present writing are strong and prosperous.
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