Many interesting features cluster around the first settlement of a country. Among the many difficulties, privations and hardships always attending the first development, there are bright spots along the pioneer life, standing out sometimes in bold relief against a background of darkness and distress. The mutual helpfulness, almost universal kindness, and interest in each other's welfare apparent in those days, were things to be the more appreciated as time passed on. The social circle, although necessarily limited as to numbers, had not its present limit as to classification, and the disagreeable formalities of the present day were unknown. A treatise on etiquette was not a necessity in every family, and the peculiar twist of a handkerchief, or fold of a shawl, were not matters requiring especial thought and careful manipulation. Comfort and happiness were untramelled by fashion and formalism. In such respects many in later days have had occasion to wish for the good old times.
The first settlement in the town was made in June, 1852, by John Hake, a native of York State, who came here from Rock county. Previously two of his sons had been here and entered land on the southeast quarter of section 4. This locality now bears the name of Hake Hollow. Here Mr. Hake cleared quite a farm, and lived a number of years. He died at Sextonville in December, 1883.
The next settler was Benjamin Smith, who came into the town from the first time when Mr. Hake moved here with his family. He selected land on section 23, where he still resides.
D O Chandler, now a prominent citizen of Richland Center, was among the earliest settlers of this town. He was a native of Erie Co., NY, and came here from Buffalo in 1853, and settled on section 9, where he entered 160 acres and cleared about forty. In 1859 he removed to Loyd and engaged in mercantile business until 1865, when he removed to Richland Center and engaged in the hardware business.
Another settler of 1853 was Henry Cushman, from New England. He settled in Hake Hollow, remained a short time and went to Iowa.
Jacob Fellows and Byron Telfair came the same year and settled on section 2, where they erected the first cabin in the north part of the town. They made some improvements, and in 1854 sold to Ephraim Moody. Fellows moved to Loyd and bought an interest in a saw-mill, in which place he died a few years later. Telfair was a lawyer, and a brother of Dr. Telfair, of Lone Rock. He settled in Buena Vista, enlisted in the army and contracted disease, from the effects of which he died a few years later.
The next year (1854) Russell Carpenter came from York State and settled at Loyd. He was by trade a clock-tinker, and kept boarding-house. In 1864 he removed to Sauk county, where he was living at last accounts.
Another settler of this season was Ephraim Moody, a native of Ohio. He emigrated from Green county and settled on section 2. He was a land speculator, and was elected county sheriff; removed to the county seat, where he died in 1861.
From the same county, about the same time, came August Lampher and located on the northeast quarter of section 1. In 1859 he removed to the Kickapoo. In 1861 he enlisted in the army and served until the close of the war. At last report he was in Nebraska.
Section 10 received a settler this year in the person of Dr. Hitchcock, from Greene county. He was a practicing physician and quite an elderly man. He sold out to Joseph Stout, a native of New Jersey, and in 1855 removed to Reedsburg.
During the winter of 1854-5 Alonzo Burdick came from Dane Co., NY, and settled on section 2. He died in 1868. His widow now lives in Viola.
Edward C Walker came from Greene Co., NY in 1855, and bought land on the northwest quarter of section 1. He has cleared a farm, which he still owns.
James French, a native of Tennessee, lives on section 2, where he settled in 1854.
Patrick Smith, a native of Ireland, came here in 1855 and bought land on section 23, where he lived a few years, and moved west.
Valentine Stoddard, a native of Connecticut, came from New York State in 1854 and bought land on section 31, where he settled the following year, and still lives.
Daniel Stoddard, also a native of Connecticut, came from New York in 1854 and settled on section 30. He was an old batchelor and by profession a school teacher. He died in February, 1868. His widow still occupies the homestead.
Philip McNamara was a settler of 1857. He was a native of West Virginia and came from Iowa and lived first on Mill creek, then, in 1857, he came to Willow and settled on his present farm on section 19.
The next year, during the month of September, Watson A Hatch came from New York State and settled in the village of Loyd, where he now lives.
Amos Stafford also came in 1856 from Chenango Co., NY. He came in the fall and spent the winter in Loyd. The following spring he settled on section 26, where he lived a few years, then traded his farm for forty acres on section 15. He there built a mill, put in a turning lathe and manufactured household furniture. He was a natural mechanic, a good workman, and continued in that business some time and cleared a farm. He died here during the war.
John Rosenbaum and Aaron Bowman came from Ohio in 1856 and located on section 1, where they made a little improvement and remained a few years, then moved to Westford.
David Wildermurth, a native of Ohio, came from Iowa county in 1855 and entered land on section 7. In 1856 he settled and has since remained.
New York State furnished another settler this year in the person of Daniel Graves, who made settlement on the southeast quarter of section 10. He enlisted in the army and contracted a disease from which he died soon after his return. There is one son now living of this family who, at last accounts, was in New York State.
Edward M Alward, a native of New Jersey, came here in 1853 and entered land on sections 18, 19 and 20. He did not settle, however, until 1857. He now lives on section 16.
Bartholomew Shea is a native of Ireland and came here in 1855 and located on the southeast quarter of section 20, where he still lives.
Samuel Fuller was from Ohio and came from Green county in 1855 and settled on section 5, where he now lives.
Ralph Ward, an Englishman, came to Willow as early as 1854 and selected a home on section 9. After a few years he removed to Iowa, but has since returned, and now lives on section 7.
Another early settler was William Butler, a half-blood Indian, formerly from Onondaga Co., NY. He came from Ithaca probably about 1853 and settled on the southwest quarter of section 31. He was quite an elderly man and had a white woman for a wife. He was a good farmer and quite industrious. He was, in common with all of his race, very fond of hunting, and among his exploits during one winter killed seventy deer. He cleared quite a farm and remained here a number of years. He was quite a character in his way and served in the War of 1812. He drew a pension during his declining years and lived to the mature age of ninety-nine years. He had but one child, a daughter, now dead. There are two grandsons now living in Dakota.
Another early settler was Jefferson Shaver, a native of Kentucky, and of African descent. He first came to the county in 1852 and lived in the town of Ithaca two years. In 1854 he came to the Little Willow valley. He had bought eighty acres of land, one-half of which was in the town of Willow and the other in Rockbridge. He first built a house on the town line. His present house is on section 31, town of Willow.
David Wood arrived here in 1854 and settled on the southwest quarter of section 29, where he died. Two of his sons entered the army and sacrificed their lives in the cause of their country. The rest of the family are scattered and their whereabouts unknown.
Harvey Wells and Henry Short came in 1855 and settled in Wheat Hollow, where they improved farms. They removed to Nebraska in 1870.
Preserved Wheat came from Michigan in 1855 and located on section 28. The valley in which he lived took his name and is called Wheat hollow. About 1870 he sold out and at last accounts was in California.
A man from New York State, Henry H Butts, came here in 1856 and located on section 23, where he still lives.
Mrs. Jane Warren came from the same State the same year and died here in 1862.
In 1855 John Drought, a native of Ireland, came. He was from Jefferson county and settled in the village of Loyd. He had purchased land on section 15, which he still occupies.
S V Carpenter was a native of York State, and came here during the winter of 1854-55 and settled on section 11, which place is still his home.
In 1856 a Vermonter by the name of Joseph Marden, settled in "Marden Hollow" where he yet makes his home.
Charles Herzing, Sr., a native of Germany, a weaver by trade, settled in the village of Loyd in 1856, where he operated a small factory and died in 1881. His son, Charles, settled on section 27, where he cleared a good farm. In 1870 he removed to Nebraska.
In 1855 there was a settler came here by name of John Romack. He made his selection on section 25, where he cleared a farm and lived some years. He is now dead.
The same year Joseph Stout came from New Jersey and settled on section 10. He is now dead. His sons Merritt and Jonathan now occupy the homestead.
Myrus Ramsdale, a native of Vermont, was also a settler of 1855, and selected the southwest quarter of section 10. He was a blacksmith, worked at his trade and cleared a farm. He died about 1872, and the whereabouts of his family are unknown.
Another settler of this year was Romine Shaw, a native of Alleghany Co., NY. He located on the northwest quarter of section 15, and remained until 1864, when he returned to York State, and now lives in Cattaraugus county.
An earlier settler was I A Chandler, a native of Erie county, who came probably as early as 1853, and made a claim on the southwest quarter of section 9. In 1855 he sold out and worked at his trade of carpenter at Pike's Peak. He is now in Texas.
The citizens of Willow town have not been unmindful of the educational wants of the children within her borders, and have provided from time to time, necessary facilities for imparting instruction, and giving all an opportunity to receive a fair education. The town is now divided into school districts calculated to meet the wants of the people. Some changes might be made to advantage, which would better accommodate some sections, and in these matters the wants of the people being duly considered, changes will doubtless be effected in time. As early as 1857, a school was taught in a log house located on the southeast quarter of section 9, and owned by D O Chandler. This is called district No. 4 and Annie Fellows was the first teacher. A number of terms were taught in this building. In 1866 a log school house was built which is still in use. Margaret Larey was the first teacher in the new building. The same year a school was commenced in what is called district No. 7, and was taught by Jemima Hake in a log building belonging to John Hake, located on the southeast quarter of section 34. The same year a school building was erected, and painted a bright red after the custom of those days. It was located on the southeast corner of the southwest quarter of section 34. Anna Fellows was the first teacher in this building. The house has since been sold and is now used for a wagon shop in Ithaca. In 1872 the present house was built, located on the southwest of the northeast quarter of section 34, and Clara Campbell taught the first school therein. The teacher at this time (1884) is Nallie Railton. Before these schools were organized, Mrs. A. Hitchcock taught in what is known as district No. 1. This was in 1855, and the house was located on block 4, of the village plat of Loyd. The same year a frame building was erected on block 3. In this house Charlotte Smith was the first teacher. In 1876 a new house was built on block 10, in which Mary Cass taught the first school. The teacher for 1884 was Lizzie Markham. That same year (1855) in what is called District No. 2 a school was taught by Harriet Smiley in a log shanty owned by E L D Moody, located on the southeast quarter of section 2. The year following the first school house was built in this district and Velisa Godfrey was the first teacher within its walls. She had previously commenced a term in Mr. Moody's barn, but completed it in the school building. In 1882 a more commodious house was erected and furnished at a cost of $600. Margaret A. Anderson was the first teacher in this building. In 1884 a school was here being taught by James B Moody. The first school taught in what is called district No. 5 was by Emily Grover in 1859, during which year the house was built, located on the southwest of the northwest quarter of section 23. This building was burned in 1867 and the present house erected on the old site. In the latter building Edward Long was the first teacher. District No. 6 was organized in 1859 and a school building erected the same year, located on the northwest quarter of section 31. Mary Worth was the first teacher. In 1880 the district sold this house to Valentine Stoddard, and built a new house on the southwest quarter of section 30, where John Stevenson was the first teacher. This building is supplied with modern furniture, and the school in 1884 was under management of Hessie Railton. In 1858 a school building was erected in district No. 10, on the southwest of the northwest quarter of section 7. It was constructed of logs, and Cordelia Wood was one of the first teachers. Afterward another log house was built on the southeast quarter of section 6 in which Jemima McNamar was the first teacher. In 1879 this house was burned and two terms of school were taught in David Wildermuth's hop house. In 1880 a neat frame house was built on the southwest quarter of the northwest quarter of section 8, in which Lillie Wood was the first teacher.
The spiritual wants of the people of Willow have not been altogether neglected, although many, in an early day, very much desired Church privileges beyond what they were able to obtain, and as a consequence Churches were organized, societies formed, and the attention of the people directed toward matters which appertained to their spiritual welfare. Prayer meetings and occasional services were held in some of the houses of the early settlers, and as to the date of the first meeting of such a character, there is some difference of opinion, and it is uncertain at what place or by whom the actual first meeting was held. The historian ascertained dates, and facts, so far as they could be given, and the same are hereby presented. During the winter of 1857-58, revival meetings were held at the school house in Loyd, conducted by different preachers, and quite a number of the people were converted. The ministers were of the United Brethren order, among whom were: Rev. Frederick Outcalt, James Howard and G G Nickey. The latter was a presiding elder. At the close of this series of meetings, a class was organized with about thirty members. The following were among the members: Amos Stafford and wife, W A Hatch and wife, Joseph Stout and wife, T R Rollins and wife, George Wright and wife, John Shaw and wife, Edward Long and wife, Levi Stafford and William Shaw. Edward Long was chosen class leader and W A Hatch steward. The following named preachers administered to the spiritual wants of this class: Frederick Outcalt, James Howard, Revs. Harrison, Smith, Sutton and Alderman. During, the preaching of the latter meetings were discontinued.
In 1856 Rev. Kilbourne, of the M E Church held services in different parts of the town but did not succeed in effecting any organization. The first United Brethren society organized in this section of the county, was at the residence of Moses Bible, on section 35, town of Westford, in the spring of 1857, by Rev. Frederick Outcalt. The class contained fifteen members, among whom were the following: Moses Bible and wife, William Smelier and wife, James French and wife, John Frye and wife, John Clary and wife, William Thornburg and wife, Henry Trobough and William Carr and wife. James French was class leader. They met for worship in the Moody school house on section 2, town of Willow, for some years, but now hold meetings at the Block school house in the town of Westford. In January, 1884, they were making preparation to build a church to be located on the southeast quarter of section 2. The class now numbers about thirty members, and Ashbury Smelier is class leader. There was another organization of this denomination affected at the residence of David Wood, on section 29, in 1858, with eight members. Among the number, were: David Wood and wife, Moses Call and wife and Alpheus Smith and wife. David Wood was class leader, and during his life the organization was continued, but disbanded soon after his death. About the same time Rev. Outcalt organized another class in "Hake Hollow" with the following members: Cornelius Hake and wife, John Hake and wife, A Vanallen and wife, George Hake and wife, and Mr. Romack and wife. John Hake was the class leader. This society continued in existence about four years, by which time, most of the members had moved away. The Christian Church of West Willow, was organized about 1870, by Rev. William Cammick. The following were among the members: J R Davis and wife, Samuel Jones and wife, Enoch Gray and wife and Mary and Rachel Davis. J R Davis was elder and clerk. Enoch Gray was class leader. In 1881 the society purchased the school house in which it was organized, and continued to hold service in that building. Among those who have preached there are the following: A. Rogers, David Wood, John Walworth and James M Keepers, the present pastor. George Jones clerk, and J R Davis deacon. They have preaching regularly once a month. In 1874 Rev. Thayer, a United Brethren preacher, organized a society at Ezra Reagles' house with five members, as follows: Ezra Reagles and wife, F L Smith and wife and Rosanna Beggs. Ezra Reagles was class leader and F L Smith steward. This society continued to hold meetings in private houses until 1877, when a log church was built, on the southwest of the southeast quarter of section 7. The following named pastors have preached to this society: Rev. Potts, McReynolds, Aldrich, Mabbitt, Young, Snell and Erwin, the present pastor. This organization has flourished, and now numbers seventy-three members. Jesse Hatch is the present class leader and Ezra Reagles steward. A Sabbath school was organized in 1875, with Harrison J Kirkpatrick as superintendent. This school flourishes during the summer months only. In 1878 Rev. F B Moulton, from Ithaca came to Loyd and preached in Rollet's hall. He continued to supply the pulpit here from time to time, until 1880, without any organization. In February of that year, he held a series of protracted meetings, at which time considerable interest was manifested, and a Free-Will Baptist Church was organized with fourteen members, as follows: J W Burnham and wife, with three children, A Rollet and wife, with two children, J W Roberts, with his wife and son, and J W Bryant and wife. J W Burnham and J W Bryant, were chosen deacons, and J W Roberts, clerk. Mr. Moulton is still pastor of the society. In connection with this Church there is a Sabbath school, of which J C Hatch is superintendent.
The first birth in the town of Willow was that of Lucy Lorain Smith, a daughter to Benjamin and Phoebe (Price) Smith, born in December, 1852. She was married to Albert Tuttle, and died in Richland Center in November, 1876, leaving two children.
The first death was that of H Z Britton, who died at the village of Loyd in 1855, where he was buried, but has since been removed to the cemetery.
About 1867 Daniel W Dodge built a saw-mill on the northwest quarter of section 34, having an "up and down" saw. The dam was built of timber and dirt. In 1874 he sold this property to Augustus Taplin, who operated it for four years, when it reverted to Mr. Dodge, and was burned the same year. He immediately rebuilt, and it is now owned by Davis & Poole. It is furnished with a muley and lathe saw, and the proprietors are doing a fair business. Earlier than this, in 1855, John Wood erected a saw-mill on section 15, on Willow creek. It was constructed on the old pattern, having an "up and down" saw. In a few years he sold this property to Mr. Sexton, who in 1868 sold it again to Samuel McCorkle, and he in turn to Robert McCorkle, who put in a circular saw. In 1879 he sold a one-half interest to his brothers, Samuel and William. The new firm built a grist-mill with two run of stone, and put in all necessary machinery for the manufacture of first-class flour.
In 1860 a cemetery was laid out in this town by the United Brethren Church society, on the northwest quarter of the northwest quarter of section 2. The site had been used as a place to bury the dead previously. The first interment on these grounds consigned to the earth the remains of Edeline Clary in 1859. At that time the land was owned by James French, who a few years later deeded it to the United Brethren society.
This the only village in the township, and was platted in 1854 by R B Stewart and E M Sexton. Joseph Irish was the surveyor and gave the village its name. It is located on the northeast of the northwest quarter of section 22. There was at the time one log house within the limits of the plat, erected by E M Sexton, for the accommodation of the men at work on the saw mill, which was built by Stewart & Sexton in 1854. About two years later Stewart sold his interest in the mill to E M Sexton, who in turn sold to Samuel McCorkle in 1868, who tore down the old structure and built a new and better mill.
The first store in the village was opened by Nelson A Hawks in 1855. He kept a general stock and had a good trade. He remained only about one year and removed to Sextonville. He was followed in business in Loyd by E M Sexton and he in turn by J W Lybrand. D O Chandler was the next to engage in trade at this place.
W A Hatch opened a blacksmith shop in 1856 and continued the business until 1873. Previously a Frenchman had put up a shop to make the irons for the saw-mill, which was closed about one year after the completion of the mill. This branch of business is now represented by Frederick Moyes, who commenced in April, 1876.
A man named Veard opened a blacksmith shop in 1855, and continued some years, when he removed to Fancy creek, and is now dead.
Loyd postoffice was first established in 1855, with H Z Britton as postmaster. He was succeeded by R G Carpenter, then a W A Hatch was commissioned who was followed by D O Chandler. In 1865 Antoine Rollet was appointed and has since held the office. At first, mail was received weekly from Sextonville. Now there is a daily mail, the office being on the route from Richland Center to Cazenovia.
R B Stewart, a pioneer of Richland county, first settled here in 1849 when he entered land on section 19, of town 9, range two east, now included in the town of Buena Vista. He made some improvements and remained here until 1854 when he sold out and came to what is now known as the town of Willow, purchased land on section 22, and in company with E M Sexton platted the village of Loyd and erected a saw-mill. He operated this saw-mill two years then sold out and engaged in farming. His farm is located in Willow creek valley, on section 22, and contains 160 acres, and is well adapted to raising grain and stock, in which business he is engaged. He has erected a good frame house and barn. He was married in 1849 to Helen L Sexton. They have four children --- Laurentine, Charles, Robert and Edward M.
Daniel Murphy, son of Daniel and Elizabeth (O'Brien) Murphy, early settlers of Willow was born in county Meath, Ireland, Feb. 2, 1849. When he was eighteen months old his parents emigrated to America and located in York State for a short time and then came to Richland county, where he grew to manhood, obtaining his education in the public schools. He was married in 1874 to Nora, daughter of Bartholomew and Mary (Tahan) Shea. They have two children --- Nellie and Winifred. At the time of his marriage he settled on his present old farm on sections 2 and 3, which contains 330 acres. He has given his attention to raising grain, stock and dairying. His wife has earned the reputation of being a first class butter maker.
James French was one of the pioneers of Willow, coming here in September, 1854, and entering forty acres of land on section 2, where he built a log house and commenced to clear a farm. He was successful, has since purchased more land and built a hewed log house with a frame house addition, 16x20 feet, also has a log barn 30x50 feet, and is now engaged in raising grain and stock. He was born in Greene Co., Tenn., Nov. 11, 1823, where he was married in 1842 to Margaret Lonas also born in Greene county, Sept. 29, 1823. They remained in Tennessee until Oct. 11, 1853, when the entire family consisting of six children started in one wagon drawn by one span of horses, containing themselves and household goods, to seek a new home. They went to Indiana and stopped in Clinton county until September, 1854, when they again loaded up and started for Wisconsin. They carried provisions with them and camped along the road arriving in Richland county in twenty days. His property then consisted of the team, one cow and $40 in money. For the first few years they experienced many hardships, incident to this country at that time, but by energy and industry they at last secured a comfortable home, and are now well prepared to spend their declining days in comfort. Mr. and Mrs. French were the parents of eleven children, seven of whom are now living --- Stephen A, Martha, John W, Sallie C, Margaret E, James A and Darwin P. These are all married except the youngest. Mr. and Mrs. French are both members of the United Brethren Church. Mr. French is not a member of any political party, but exercises the right of suffrage intelligently, voting for whom he considers the best man.
Jules Francois, one of the early settlers of Richland county, is a native of France, born in March, 1838. In 1853 he left his native land in company with an uncle and came to America. They spent two or three months in Illinois, then came to Wisconsin and spent the winter in Janesville. In the spring of 1854 he came to Richland county. His uncle (J B Poinset) entered a large tract of land in town 11, range 2 east, now known as the town of Willow, on sections 19, 21, 22, 27 and 28. Here they built a log house and commenced to clear a farm. Mr. Poinset was a bachelor and a man of good education. He died here in 1875. The subject of our sketch was married in 1867 to Clara Sawyer, who was born in York State. They had two children --- Josie and Kola. He now has a farm of 220 acres in Willow creek valley. In 1870 he erected a frame barn and in 1873 a large frame house. He has one of the best farms in the town.
John Wright, one of the pioneer settlers of Willow, first came from Ohio in 1844, and located in that part of Iowa now known as Lafayette county, where he engaged in mining until 1850, then went to Greene county, and settled on land which he had entered in 1846. Here he built a log cabin and improved a portion of the land remaining until 1855, when he sold out and came to Richland county. He purchased 500 acres of land, a part of it in Rockbridge, the remainder in Willow. He erected a log cabin on section 26, town of Willow, and has since made this his home. Here he has cleared a farm, built a frame house and barn, and is now engaged in raising stock and grain. He is a native of York State, born March 20, 1819. When he was six months old, his parents moved to Ohio, and settled in Richland county, where he grew to manhood, receiving his education in the district schools. In 1839 he moved to Illinois and lived in Jackson county until 1844, when he came to Wisconsin as before stated. He was married in 1863 to Rachel Smith, a native of Ohio. She died Sept. 7, 1883, leaving six children --- James, Joshua, Mary, Katie, Francis and Jesse.
Valentine Stoddard, one of the pioneers of Willow, is a native of Connecticut, born in Litchfield, July 25, 1810. When he was five year old, his parents emigrated to Ontario Co., NY. They made the journey in the winter season and took their household goods upon a sled drawn by two pairs of oxen, and were thirty-one days upon the road, a distance of 300 miles. His father purchased a farm in the town of Richmond, and here the subject of this sketch grew to manhood. He was married in March, 1833, to Joanna Davison, a native of Ontario county, and purchased a farm in the town of Canadice, where they lived until 1855. In that year they came to Richland county and settled on section 31. He first built a log cabin and then began clearing his present farm, which is situated in Little Willow valley. He has cleared and fenced seventy-five acres, erected a large frame house and other buildings. His wife died in February, 1859, leaving eight children, six of whom are now living --- Jane, now the wife of George McCrossin; George, now living in Kansas; John, Harlow and Jesse live in Richland county; Jennette, the wife of Seth Frost, lives in Michigan. Mr. Stoddard was married the second time in 1860, to Rebecca Sippy, daughter of Joseph and Martha (Cogswell) Sippy. She was married in 1850 to Robert McCloud, who died in 1852, while on his way to California. He left one child --- Laura, now the wife of Monroe Slater. There is one child by the last union --- Frank.
David Wildermuth was one of the early settlers in Willow, having moved here with his family in the spring of 1856. He was born in Fairfield Co., Ohio, Jan. 17, 1803. He was the son of David and Elizabeth (Wagoner) Wildermuth, both natives of Pennsylvania, and early settlers in Fairfield county where they located in 1777. There were but thirteen families there before them. Here the subject of our sketch grew to manhood, receiving his education in a subscription school, as this was before the days of free schools. He was married in 1831 to Annie Newkirk, born in Fairfield county, March 3, 1814. In 1835 they started overland with horse teams for the then far west, and located in Coles Co., Ill., which was at that time on the frontier. Here he purchased land which he improved, remaining until 1845, when he again loaded up his goods, and driving to Wisconsin settled in that part of Iowa county now known as Lafayette county. He purchased land in what is now known as Fayette town. Here he engaged in farming and mining and lived until 1855, then removed to the State of Iowa remaining till the fall of that year when he returned to Fayette and lived until the spring of 1856, when he started with ox teams for Richland county, where he had entered land. He has since cleared a farm, erected buildings and now makes this his home. Mr. and Mrs. Wildermuth are the parents of six living children --- Edwin C, Eli M, Clarissa, Cordia, Louisa and Daniel.
John Salisbury, one of the early settlers of Willow, was born in Summit Co., Ohio, May 11, 1828, where he was brought up on a farm, receiving his education in the public-schools. He was married the 14th of March, 1850, to Rosanna Willey also a native of Summit county, born May 10, 1828. They remained in this county until 1856, then started west to seek a home. He purchased land on the southeast quarter of section 35, built a log house in the woods, took his ax and commenced to clear a farm. In 1864 he purchased land on the southwest quarter of the same section which had been entered by Henry Cushman. He moved on to this place and occupied the log house built by Mr. Cushman until 1883, when he built the large frame house he now occupies. He has been an industrious, hard-working man, and this, combined with good judgement, has now placed him in easy circumstances. He has 280 acres of land, a good frame barn and other needed buildings for stock and farming tools. In February, 1865, he was drafted in company D, 11th Wisconsin, and went south to Montgomery, Ala. In June he was taken sick and the following month taken to the hospital. As soon as sufficiently recovered he was granted a furlough and came home. He was discharged at Madison September 29, and went to Ohio on a visit; returning soon after he resumed farming. Mr. and Mrs. Salisbury are the parents of six children --- Nancy, Ida J, Laura, Adeline, Nellie and William S. Nancy died March 17, 1852, aged one year, one month and three days.
George N. Mickel first came to Richland county in 1856 and stopped at Neptune with friends a short time, then, leaving his family there, he went to Minnesota to seek a home and made a claim near Glencoe in McLeod county, erected a small house, and spent the winter there. In the spring he returned to Neptune for his family, but finding them in poor health delayed. Meanwhile, his claim in Minnesota was jumped, and he concluded to settle in Richland Center, where he engaged at his trade of boot and shoemaker until 1861, when he enlisted in company D, 11th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry and went south. He was twice severely wounded at the battle of Cache river, in Arkansas, July 7, 1862. He was sent to the hospital at Jefferson barracks, near St. Louis, where he slowly recovered and was honorably discharged on account of gunshot wounds Feb. 3, 1863, and returned to Richland county. As soon as he was able he engaged in mercantile business, in company with his brother, C G Mickel, keeping a general assortment of dry goods and groceries, boots and shoes, leather and findings. His health was poor and two or three years later he sold his interest in the business and returned to New York State, visiting friends and relatives, remaining there nearly a year, when he again returned to Richland Center, where he lived until 1881. His business meanwhile was of a speculative nature. In 1881 he purchased a farm on section 27, of the town of Willow. This place is situated in the Willow creek valley and is well improved, having a nice frame house and barn. He is a native of New York State, born in Rensselaer county, in May, 1829. His father, Andrew Mickel, was also a native of the same county, and was a volunteer in the War of 1812. When the subject of this sketch was twelve years old his parents, with their family of twelve children, six boys and six girls, moved to Lewis county, which, at that time, was but sparsely settled, the nearest school house being three miles. Here his father died and two years later his mother again married. He then started out for himself. Going to Collinsville he engaged with Dean Hoodly to work for his board and schooling. Here he remained one year, then went to Forestville, Chautauqua county, where he engaged with Dr. Sexton as clerk in his store, remained there one year, then worked with William Gardner, a boot and shoemaker, to learn the trade and remained with him two years, then returned to Lewis county and worked at his trade. In 1852 he opened a shop in Peach Orchard, Tompkins county, remaining in business there until 1854, when he sold out and removed to Illinois, spent two years in Livingston county, and from there came to Richland county, as before stated. He was married in 1853 to Maria Hodges. They have had five children --- Adella, Edwin, Burt, Minnie and Gracie.
Edward M. Alwood, one of the early settlers of Willow, was born in Morris Co., NJ, in 1821. Here his younger days were spent in school and on the farm. While yet quite young he took charge of a boat on the Morris canal and engaged in freighting between the Lehigh coal mines and New York city and continued this business for some years. In 1853 he came to Wisconsin and entered land in township 11, range 2 east, now known as the town of Willow. However, he did not settle here until 1857, when he erected a log house and stables. He has since built a large frame barn and in 1883 erected a two and one-half story frame house of commodious dimensions and good appearance. His farm now contains 440 acres. He formerly engaged in raising hops, but of late years has turned his attention to grain and stock. He was married in 1860 to Mary Stout. They have two children --- Henry and Sarah.
Samuel Cline, one of the early settlers of Willow, was born in Marion Co., Ohio, May 22, 1825. When he was eleven years of age, his parents moved to Indiana when they were early settlers of Cass county. Here the subject of this sketch began his pioneer life. The family remained in Cass county four years, then moved to Illinois and settled in Coles county where they were again among the pioneers. He remained with his parents for a short time, then returned to Indiana, and was there married, in 1847, to Celia A. Gates, a native of Ohio, Darke county. They remained in Indiana until 1854, when they came to Wisconsin and spent two years in La Fayette county, coming to Richland county in 1856. He purchased land on section 6, of township 11, range 2 east, in the present town of Willow, and immediately began clearing a farm. He lived in a log house until 1870, when he built the frame house he now occupies. Eleven children have been born to them, of whom three are living --- Edward, Henry and Stephen.
William Murray, another early settler of Willow, was born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, Sept. 22, 1827. When a young man he engaged to learn the trade of stone mason, he served three years, then worked as journeyman one year, then in 1852 came to America and lived in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey until 1855, then came to Madison and worked at his trade until 1858 at which time he settled on his present farm on section 31, town of Westford and section 6, town of Willow. This land he had entered in 1855. He first built a log house on section 31, where he lived until 1868 when he erected a neat frame house on section 6. He is now quite an extensive farmer, raising grain and stock. He was married in 1855 to Jane D. Rea, from Forfershire Scotland. They have eight children --- John, William, Ella, Nora, Charles, George, Frank and Myron.
Ezra Reagles purchased the land on which he now lives, in 1857. He did not settle on it however, until 1861. He then built a log cabin 12x14, with a dirt and stick chimney on the outside. This humble abode was his home until 1868, when he built a small frame house, to which, three years later, he built a large addition. He is a native of Ohio, born in Medina county, in 1834. When he was six years of age, his parents moved to Indiana and first lived at Wolf Lake then in Kosciusko county, and afterward in Wabash county. Here he was married in 1861, to Susfine Mayewinkle, and two weeks later came to Richland county. Mrs. Reagles died in March, 1877. He was again married March 18, 1878, to Mary E. Lewis, a native of Pennsylvania. They have three children --- Clyde A, Mary O, Tartar A; also an adopted son, Hiram E.
John R. Smyth, the present chairman of the board of supervisors of the town of Willow, settled here in 1863, purchasing at that time his present farm on section 23. It had upon it then about twenty acres of cleared land and a small frame house. He now has 120 acres under improvement, has built two large frame barns and a commodious frame house. He has engaged in raising both stock and grain. His farm is one of the best in the town. He is a native of Ireland, born in county Cavan, Nov. 12, 1830. His family were believers in the Episcopal faith. His younger days were spent in school and on the farm. In 1849 he left his native land and came to America, located in Washington Co., NY, town of Argyle, and lived there two years, employed in farming summers and in attending school winters. He then went to Hadley, Saratoga county, and worked upon a farm summers, and at lumbering winters, until the year 1863, when he came to Willow. He has taken a lively interest in town and county affairs, and has served several terms as chairman of the town board. He has also been treasurer in the school district several years. He was married Nov. 27, 1860, to Eliza Brien. They have six children --- William H, Maggie A, Joseph L, John R, Edward J and Dora N.
Edward Markham first came to Richland county in 1868. He was directly from England, where he had been engaged in a bakery, and knew nothing about farming. He first rented land in the town of Rockbridge three years, then purchased forty acres in the town of Richland. Two years later he traded this land for his present farm on section 34, town of Willow, where he has since made his home. He was born in Buckinghamshire, England, Nov. 6, 1834. When quite young, his parents moved to Bedfordshire, where he was brought up and educated in the public schools. At thirteen years of age he was apprenticed to a baker to learn the trade and served seven years. He then established himself in that business, in the town of Ampthill, remaining there until 1868, when he sold the business and rented the premises, came to America and settled in Richland county, as before stated. He was married in 1863 to Lucy Brightman. She was born in Bedfordshire. They have had six children -- Henry, Lizzie, Charles, Arthur, James and Kittie. Henry, the first born, died when fourteen months old.
James Johnson was a soldier in the Union Army. He enlisted Dec. 23, 1863, in the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry, company E, and went to Nashville, Tenn., and from there to east Tennessee, where he joined Sherman's command in February, 1864, and started with him on his march through Georgia, participating in many important engagements on the way to Atlanta. In a charge at Burnt Hickory, Ga., May 26, 1864, his horse was shot from under him and he was himself severely wounded, a rifle ball having passed through his right lung. He was in the field hospital for a time, and was then taken to Marietta, Ga., and from there to Nashville, Tenn., from there to Joe Holt hospital at Jefferson, Ind., from there to Prairie du Chien, Wis., where, under skillful treatment, he partially recovered and was advised by the physicians to join the invalid corps. This he declined to do, and went to the front and joined his regiment, although not sufficiently recovered to do active duty. He was with the command on the Wilson raid to Macon, Ga., and was discharged with the regiment July 19, 1865, and returned to his home in Sauk county. July, 1865, he purchased his present farm, which was then but little improved. He has since cleared quite a tract of land, erected a fine frame house, granary and log barn, and now has a comfortable home. He was born in the province of Ontario, Canada, Oct. 14, 1842. When he was very young his parents came to the United States and lived in York State two years, then came to Dane Co., Wis., remained there two years, thence to Rock county. In 1856 they went to Sauk county and settled near the county line of Richland county, and here he remained with his parents until the time of his enlistment. He returned to the parental roof at the time of his discharge, making it his home until the time of settlement in Willow. He was married in 1871 to Julia A Wright, a native of Ohio. They have three children -- William H, Florence, Adelle and James F.
John Leiber settled on his present farm in 1872. It is located on section 32. He is a native of Germany, born Nov. 10, 1829. He attended school until fifteen years of age, and then worked upon a farm. At the age of twenty-one he came to America and engaged as helper in a blacksmith shop in New York city, remaining there until 1853, when he went to St. Louis and lived one year, and from there to Chicago, where he engaged as blacksmith in the Illinois Central railroad shops, and has continued in that employment the greater part of the time ever since. He was married in 1855 to Elizabeth Perry, a native of Chillicothe, Ohio. She was first married, at the age of eighteen, to Thomas Dye, who died in 1852, leaving two children -- Charles W and Julia N. Mr. and Mrs. Leiber have eight children -- Thomas Henry, Fredolin, Joseph A, Frances, Elizabeth H, Augusta J, Christina F and John W. Since purchasing the farm, Mr. Leiber has continued to work in Chicago, leaving his family in charge, his eldest son taking the lead in managing the farm. They have erected good frame buildings, and have engaged in raising stock and grain.
Benjamin B. Brownell first came to Richland county in 1855, and entered land on section 3, town 11, range 2 east, now known as the town of Willow. He, however, did not settle here until 1872. He has since cleared thirty-five acres of land, built a two-story hewed-log house, a good stable and other out buildings. He was born in Monroe Co., NY, Feb. 24, 1831. When he was two years old his parents moved to Wyoming county, where his father died when he was eight years old. He remained with his mother four years, and then went to live with a neighbor, who agreed to board, clothe and school him in consideration of the work he could do. He remained there four years, and then came to Wisconsin with a friend who lived in Green county. He had no money, but his friend paid his expenses, he agreeing to work for him to pay it back. The second summer he worked at farming for $10.25 per month, and out of his wages saved enough to enter forty acres of land. He remained in the west four years, three of which were spent in Wisconsin and one in Illinois. He then returned to New York, remained two years, after which he returned to Green county and rented his brother's farm one year. He next went to the pineries and engaged in lumbering two winters, and building rafts on the river in the summer. In 1859 he started for Pike's Peak, but was taken sick at Leavenworth, Kansas, and came back to Green county and resumed farming. In August, 1862, he enlisted in the 31st Wisconsin, company F. The regiment went to Kentucky, where they performed garrison duty at Fort Halleck. In July, 1863, they were sent to Tennessee, to guard the railroad from Nashville to Tullahoma, where they remained till July, 1864, then joined Sherman at Marietta, Ga., and were with him on his grand march to the sea and through the Carolinas participating in the many important battles of that noted campaign. He was discharged with the regiment in July, 1865, and returned to Green county, rented land and lived until 1872, when he came to Willow. He was married, Jan. 6, 1860, to Sallie Brayton, who was born in La Porte Co., Ind. Two children have been born to them -- Frank E and Mary P.
Jehiel W. Roberts settled in Willow town in November, 1875. He purchased timber land on sections 14 and 15, where he built a good log house and has cleared quite a tract of land. He was born in the town of Locke, Cayuga Co., NY, Jan. 2, 1815. He was there brought up on a farm, securing his education in the district school. At sixteen years of age, he was converted, and one year later joined the regular Baptist Church. When he was twenty years old, he commenced to learn the cooper's trade, and a few years later went to Steuben county in the same State. He was there married, May 18, 1841, to Sarah Ann Smith, born in Steuben county, Nov. 29, 1820. From there they moved to Otsego Co., NY, where they lived two years, thence to Delaware county, remaining there until 1853, thence to Wisconsin and settled in Koshkonong, Jefferson county, where the husband engaged in farming and worked at his trade. He there received license to preach in the Methodist Episcopal Church. He remained in Jefferson county until 1875, when he came to Willow as before stated. At this time there was a M. E. class at Loyd, which he joined. When the greater part of the members had moved away, this organization became extinct, and he joined the Free Will Baptist Church at Ithaca, and was there licensed as a preacher in that denomination, Nov. 15, 1879. When afterward an organization of this character was effected at Loyd he took letters from Ithaca and became a member there. Mr. and Mrs. Roberts have six children -- Edwin, Albert, Charles, Melissa, Wesley and George C.
John W. Willis settled on his present farm in 1879. It is located on section 13, of the town of Willow, and contains 160 acres, eighty of which are cleared and in a good state of cultivation. It was formerly occupied by Rev. Timby, and is considered one of the choice farms of the town. He is native of Missouri, born in Lincoln county, May 8, 1830. In 1839 his father, James Willis, with his family, consisting of a wife and five children, came to Wisconsin and settled in Grant county, where they were among the pioneers. Here the subject of this sketch spent his younger days assisting his father in clearing a farm. He was married in 1850 to Mary Jordan, a native of Posey Co., Ind. One year later, his father died and he took charge of the farm. In 1879 he sold his interest there and came to Richland county and located as before stated. Mr. and Mrs. Willis are the parents of eight children --- Mahala, Armilda and Serilda, twins, Castela, George M, Abraham, Melissa and John W.
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