Caleb Waggoner, the fifth son and one of twelve children of William and Sarah Jackson Waggoner, was born September 18, 1813. His father was a pioneer in Jefferson county, Ohio. The patent for the land, then covered with giant oaks, of which he and his sons in due time made a valuable farm and attractive home, was executed by President Madison, under date of May 8, 1806. There were no schools in my father's childhood and only winter evening schools maintained in his advanced youth, and of books there were few; but he acquired a practical knowledge of the rudiments, which served him well in a long and useful life. When he attained his majority he had mastered the trade of wagonmaker, which was then more intricate and important than now, as every considerable village sustained a wagon and carriage factory, with a master mechanic at its head. He subsequently learned also the trade of watchmaker and jeweler.
In 1837, Feb. 9th, he married Nancy Jenkins, daughter of Solomon and Sarah Jackson Jenkins, also pioneers, and who still survive him. They made a home in East Springfield, erecting a dwelling house which yet stands as a land mark of the village, and for some years my father successfully conducted a wagon and carriage factory. Many of the older residents in that vicinity now proudly exhibit the work which came from his shop. Failing health however obliged him to relinquish his chosen vocation, and for a time before coming west he was engaged in merchandising in the village of Salem, a few miles from Springfield.
In the winter of 1853-4, a younger brother, who had been one of a small party to penetrate the wilds of Wisconsin to purchase government lands, returned, with glowing accounts of the western El Dorado. The glittering prospect was alluring to a man with growing family, for which he cherished fond hopes. My father at once bought of his brother one of the two tracts of land in Richland county purchased by the latter, and a few months later looked over his new possession and bought more land and several village lots in the then new plat of Richland Center. On July 2, 1854, about a week after the incident depicted in the opening paragraph of this article ---- he returned to the Center, with his family and personal effects, and from that day until he was summoned to the Beyond, of which he entertained cheering hopes and joyful expectations, it was his home. Of his participation in the earlier and rapid development of the village and county, more will be said elsewhere.
My father was not a man who could seem to be what he was not --- not a man who could be plausible in defiance of his convictions. While he was ambitious of the approbation of others, he could not subordiate the promptings of right or duty to the acquirement of favor or regard. Perhaps he was sometimes over-jealous of his convictions or too tenacious of the right; but if a fault, it is rare enough to be regarded as a virtue. It however served to disqualify him for that public recognition which waits upon fortuitous circumstances and happy combinations and defeated his aspirations --- two or three times expressed --- to become county treasurer. Nevertheless, he was frequently assured of the esteem of his neighbors --- in both his old and new homes --- by being called to the discharge of the duties of the town and village offices, such as supervisor, assessor, justice of the peace, trustee, etc.
In domestic life, he was a model of tenderness and consideration, and in social and business relations an exemplar of integrity and honesty. For half a century, he was a consistent professor of religion, most of that period a devoted member of the Presbyterian Church, and for nearly thirty years one of its ruling elders. His active interest and participation in the affairs of the Presbyterian Church of the Center dates back to its organization and the erection of the neat little edifice which stands as a monument to the zeal and liberality of its handful of founders. His diffidence and abhorrence of ostentation sometimes put his at disadvantage, but he never faltered in his aim to do unto others as he would be done by. I contemplate his whole life with reverential pride and profound satisfaction.
On the 13th of September, 1883, in company with his son William and the latter's little daughter Rena, he set out for a second visit to the relatives and friends still living in Ohio, and particularly to participate in a family reunion at the old homestead on the 19th of that month. There were present on that occasion seventy-five of blood kindred, of whom five were his brothers and four his sisters --- the youngest of them being 54 and the oldest 78. My brother William and daughter and myself and wife and two daughters were among those so highly favored.
It was while he was yet enjoying the sweet communion with relatives and friends, but with the purpose of returning home the week following, that he was unexpectedly stricken down. He died at the home of a brother, Dr. Joseph Waggoner, in Ravenna, on the night of the 15th of October, with expressions of love for all and firm reliance in the promises of his Redeemer. He had passed the allotted three score years and ten by twenty-seven days --- the last aniversary of his birthday having occurred the day before the ever-memorable family reunion. His son, William, was also present at his death, and nothing of which medical skill or fraternal affection was capable was wanting to prolong his days or contribute to the peacefulness of the flight of his spirit. On the evening of the following Thursday, as the sun was going down, his body was laid at rest in the Richland Center cemetery, which he had been active in providing for such sad uses, after appropriate obsequies, conducted by the pastor of the Church in the Center to which he had sustained much the same relations as did his father before him to that which for so many years stood in the churchyard where his body was laid at rest soon after the removal of my father to Wisconsin, and which we together visited only three short weeks before he was called to his eternal home.
The families of the pioneers in Richland county know what it was to "come west." Every member was an active participant in the preparation. The experience was almost universally the same. Sacrifices of property were cheerfully made; the auctioneer was permitted to sell, at any price, articles of greatest value in the new home, and persistently watched lest he should "knock down" a ponderous bureau or high-post bedstead; every available helper was employed in packing the reserved household effects, and the anguish of parting with aged parents and loved friends was assuaged by the bright expectations for the future.
The journey from Salineville, Ohio, to Richland Center, in 1854, was tedious and tiresome for my father and mother, with their four children --- the youngest a babe and the oldest fourteen years of age. The railway was exchanged for the steamboat at Cleveland and resumed at Detroit, to be again exchanged at Chicago and again resumed at Milwaukee. A very rough track was then laid between Milwaukee and Madison, and from Madison the journey was concluded by livery. The midnight ride over the insidious corduroy, at Madison, between the depot and the old United States Hotel, at the east corner of the capitol park, was a new experience, and sufficiently aroused us all to pass the remainder of the night in vigorous defense against a new found enemy --- the mosquito.
The journey from Madison afforded a succession of surprises. Wild as were the sights at the outset, they were tame in comparison with those nearer the Center. The rude log houses and the breaking-plows to which four yokes of stags were hitched --- the latter urged on by honest yoemen well up in the vernacular of "Big Jack Small" --- were as evidences of advanced civilization, in comparison with the blazed and little-trodden track through the dense forest between Sextonville and the Center.
The sun was receding from sight, behind the bluff which marks the western limit of the village, and the valley --- with its half-dozen houses and profusion of hazel-brush and scattering diminutive oaks and poplars "arrayed in living green" --- was a beautiful and impressive prospect. But there was an other sight in store for us, which surprised us most. It was Sunday evening, and we had left a land not only rich in its products and abounding with creature comforts, but had parted from a people indoctrinated in religious precepts, among whom reverence for the Sabbath was a cardinal virtue. Here was gathered all of the available force of the new settlement --- a score of men, half a dozen yokes of stags, and a joiner's kit --- employed in the construction and erection of a Liberty Pole, the first to bear our country's flag, two days later, on the seventy-eighth anniversary of American independence, in the political capital of Richland county.
A dozen structures in all greeted the eyes of the new comers. They were the two public houses, (one the original part of the American House which was destroyed by fire in 1874, and the other the original part of the now larger Peck's Hotel, the former then kept by Ira S Haseltine and the latter by Hascal Haseltine); the little store and dwelling of S H Austin, near the site of the brick dwelling yet known as the Austin House, now one of Mr. Walworth's collection of tenement buildings across the street; part of the flouring mill, now used for other purposes, on the original or main channel of Pine river, and a frame made to serve the purposes of a sawmill, close beside it; a rude blacksmith shop nearly opposite Austin's store and a small dwelling on the east side of the same block (that in which the Krouskop buildings stand), belonging to Ralph Neff; the main part of the present Tom & Jerry store, then near the present site of Pier's wagon shop, used for county purposes; the log house not long since removed by H T Bailey, stood nearly in front of his new dwelling, then occupied by David Strickland; a smaller log house on the site of Mrs. M C Pease's residence, occupied by a hunter, by the name of Wilson, whose two children, after his death, some years later, were adopted by Albert S Neff; the little cottage at the foot of the East bluff, until within a few years undisturbed, occupied by Dr. L D Gage as a residence, and from which he also distributed Uncle Sam's mails and dispensed physic; a smaller dwelling in the southwest, the home of Sidney Rose; and the dwelling opposite Hascal Haseltine's public house (lately moved a little south of its original site by Dr. Mitchell), owned and occupied by a Mr. Sheldon, a brother-in-law of the Haseltines.
When my father had decided to locate at the Center, he contracted with one Albert Stannard to construct the building but recently removed by H T Bailey to make way for his new store. It was to have been completed before our arrival, but part of the material only was on the ground. Father at once brought to the aid of the contractor, in the capacities, respectively, of excavator, mason and joiner and plasterer, that never-to-be-forgotten patriot and politician of Irish birth, Cornelius McCarthy; R C Hawkins, whose pre-emption claim of a quarter-section east of the village father had bought; and Robert Akan, so long the owner of the fertile quarter-section at the mouth of Brush creek, and who was elected to the Legislature of 1856, --- and the new home was soon made ready for occupancy. A couple of years later father bought the improvement begun at the foot of the bluff by D B Priest, and completed it; and it was ever afterward his home, and is yet the home of my mother. The building first erected by him underwent little change, except from natural wear and decay, during the twenty-nine years it stood where Bailey's store now is.
An incident in house-furnishing in 1854 will illustrate the inconveniences of that period: The Casses, at the mills which soon afterward became the property of the Bowen's, and which bear the name of the latter, manufactured plain wood-bottom chairs. Father, William, Edwin and myself made the expedition on foot, returning with as many chairs as we could well carry. The rests were frequent, and particularly agreeable under the shade of the little trees in the vicinity of the Catholic Church site.
Until the effect of the financial depression of 1857 became general, the population of "the little nest among the hills," as Amos Nudd described the Center, was rapidly increased by immigration, and its growth in buildings kept pace with the increase of population. Conspicuous among the settlers of that period were D B Priest, James H Miner, Amos Nudd, B J Tenney, George H James, Alonzo G James, Rev. J H Mathers, W H and A L Wilson, William Hill, A S Neff, Israel Sanderson, Daniel Rice, John S Wilson, G N Matteson, A C Eastland, W H Downs, C W Huntington, L Dillingham, Charles Nelson, Patrick Meehan, James Holden, James Moroney, J S Thompson, and others. Each filled a place and performed a part in the growth and development of the village.
It was in the earlier days of the Center that my father erected, besides the dwelling houses already mentioned, the two store buildings on what is now known as the Hill corner, the smaller of which he occupied for several years for merchandising. He was also one of the largest contributors, if not the largest, to the erection of the neat little edifice of the Presbyterian Church, which yet stands as a monument to the religious zeal and pecuniary generosity of the handful of Presbyterians who had become residents of the village as early as 1855-6. He was also actively identified with the efforts which resulted in the erection of the White School House --- the crowning event of that period.
On leaving Ohio, it was his purpose to engage permanently in merchandising. With that view, the building he first erected was planned, and he forwarded a good assortment of dry-goods and notions for the trade of the new settlement. But my mother strenuously opposed that purpose, not without reason, and after disposing of the first stock, he bought and sold real estate for a time. As a merchant, in Ohio, he had been more generous to others than just to himself. A larger number of guests were seated at our tables than at the tables of the village hotel --- a circumstance which imposed heavy burdens upon my mother, besides absorbing the profits of trade. He bought and sold lands at small margins, and helped many of the settlers north of the Center to the best selections. I well remember the advent of the Wagners, of Horse creek, between whom and my father's family --- partly on account of the similarity of the names --- perpetual good will has existed. They soon admitted into their name the additional letters, g-o, making it Waggoner, probably because it was so spelled by those who had become more familiar with father's name. I also remember the "flittings" of Elijah Barto, Moses West, and others, of whose services in the development of the county I would gladly make mention, but forbear, for want of time, and because others will probably discharge that duty. I must however remark that Moses West seemed to me so small in stature that I wondered what he could do with the monster trees that covered the eighty on which he settled.
The hard times of 1857 caught my father with a large amount of real estate --- unimproved lands and village lots --- bought at the advanced prices made by the boom of the few years previous, from the effect of which he never fully recovered. With no productive property and little income from any source, he experienced for some years all that was meant by hard times. Money was scarce, taxes were high, and there was almost universal despondency. When buyers could be found at all, he sold from time to time tracts of land to pay taxes on what he had left until his holdings were materially lessened and of no greater relative value than when the hard times set in. In that crisis, the prudent and excellent management of household affairs by my mother was invaluable, and served to tide us over to better times.
One of the first of the buildings erected after our arrival was that known as the Pease & Baker store. It was put up near the middle of the west side of the same block, by J S Thompson, and was the model for subsequent improvements. It was christened by a 4th of July ball, which was attended by a large number of the pioneers of the county, many of whom are yet living to enjoy the comforts obtained by the labor of their own hands. As I remember it, it was a fascinating and much enjoyed social party.
The next remarkable incident associated with it was a county convention of the republican party, over which the now venerable, but then as white-haired, 'Squire Dixon presided. The struggle for the party favors was protracted until midnight, and every boy in the village, as will as his father, was awakened to deep anxiety concerning its labors. That convention made politicians of many persons who were thereafter more or less prominent in the politics of the county.
A little later one J J Shoemaker opened in it --- using every available nook and corner --- a large and attractive stock of merchandise. His also was the genius which sent a steam sawmill north of the Center, to a point he called Marysville, afterwards Janney's Mills, on Fancy creek. But J J Shoemaker was too large for the occasion, so to speak. His career was brief --- too brief for his creditors, but profitable, it was thought, for himself. He "vanished" between two days, and the Richland Center eye hath not since seen or its ear since heard of him. "It's an ill wind that blows nobody good." The wind which brought J J Shoemaker to Richland was probably not exceptional; yet no regret has been expressed that small shadows only of the genius he displayed have since darkened the horizon of the village. One of these appeared soon after his departure, and may be mentioned in this connection. That was Sam McCulloch, who figured as a grocer and dazzled the eyes of the girls. Ornamented by the "stubs" which he coaxed from George Lybrand, he was a stunner, and possibly the girls obliged him to neglect his business so that the sheriff soon took charge of it for him. He "kept store" in the front room of G H James' house.
The first public school was kept in the upright part of the present dwelling of Alfred S Fries, and was taught by a niece of I S Haseltine. The room --- neither lathed nor plastered --- was used for Sunday schools, religious services, and other public gatherings. Not a few stormy discussions over religious differences, or the policy of the new community respecting affairs of Church, took place there; and it is possible that differences which divided the people for years afterwards were first manifested there.
The second school house was the upright also --- and also without lath or plaster --- of the present dwelling of Mrs. Maria Lawrence. Judge Miner, then a new-comer, at the threshold of his useful and honorable career in Richland county, was the teacher of the school of the winter of 1855-6. The room was crowded to its utmost capacity with restless, fun-loving boys and girls --- the future men and women of the village and county. That winter was cold, and piles of wood were required to make the room habitable. The James boys and the Waggoner boys, Henry Wood and his sister, the children of Ira Haseltine, P E Brewer, "Jimmy" Moroney and "Johnny" Agin, the Huntington girls and the Nelson girls, and Leroy and Josie Gage, "Melick" Hankins and Matt. Neff, and others, were there, with less interest in their books, perhaps, than in the frolics natural to the surroundings. But the teacher skillfully handled the incongruous elements and obliged each to drink from the fountains of knowledge. There were occasional rebellions, led by a daring captain --- "a little but old-looking fellow," with irrepressible tenacity of purpose; not wicked, but persistently mischievous, often with painful results to others. Oft repeated entreaty and mild persuasion having failed, the schoolmaster at length summoned to his aid a bunch of well selected hazel brush, with the announcement that all should be sacrificed in the interest of good order. The belligerent bade defiance, and made fight; but he succumbed ere the bunch was half used up, and became one of the most obedient of the school. That use of the rod was timely and salutary. Thereafter it was much easier to control that school.
The upper floor, besides being used as a school room the next summer, was the lodge room of the Masons, faithfully patronized by William Short, Dr. Gage, W F Crawford, Miner, Priest, "Indian" Butler, and other old settlers.
The first floor was used for public meetings of all kinds. There Perry A Dayton first revealed to the young ideas the beauties of his magic lantern and discoursed to an awe-stricken throng upon the mysteries of the solar-system, by the aid of his well-worn planetarium. There the itinerant phrenologist examined heads and taught that the man as he should be could be made from the boy. There, too, the entertaining teacher of music chalked the long and short notes on the blackboard and taught the receptive mind "John Brown had a little Injun," "Scotland's burning, etc.
Perhaps the most noteworthy of the notable events of that epoch, within those weatherboarded walls, was a lecture on woman's rights by Lucy Stone Blackwell, who was accompanied by her husband. Next in importance was a "lecture," one Sunday, by a colored man, for his oppressed race. Richland Center was positively anti-slavery in sentiment, and the colored man received a cordial welcome. Amos Nudd chaperoned him, and at the appointed hour tenderly introduced him to the waiting audience. That advance-guard of emancipation took a text from the Bible --- "Faith, hope and charity; but the greatest of these is charity." He bounded like a quarter-horse over Faith, revelled a moment only in the realms of Hope, to find --- with the apostle --- that "the greatest of these is Charity," of which he himself was in particular and distressing need. Priest and Rice and Crawford "caught on," as the boys now say, and passed their hats, collecting a small amount for the crafty Ethiopian. His "lecture" was thus closed in less than five minutes, but he had accomplished his object, and the audience laughed heartily over the sell.
The "children of school ages" had outgrown the little red school house before another was provided. A protracted struggle preceded the erection of the White School-House --- at the time regarded by some as many years in advance of the necessities of the village. The champions of the movement were Messrs. Priest, Miner, my father, Rice, and the James's, with Priest as chief spokesman. Several meetings were held and the forces on both sides were skillfully manipulated. Each successive meeting was an interesting and exciting debating-school, in which wit and humor, sarcasm and invective, were permitted full play. But the end came, and a little later the new school house, which proved to be none too large.
The first church edifice erected in the Center was that unobtrusive little one still used by the Presbyterian society. The Rev. J H Mathers, a home missionary of that society, had been preaching in the hall belonging to Hascal Haseltine, and there organized the Richland Center Church, in the winter of 1855-56. The church building was erected the following summer, at a cost of about $900, contributed in material, labor and money. The Wilsons and Mr. Hill did the carpenter work, and they and my father were among the largest contributors --- half a dozen in all bearing fully half the expense. Mr. Mathers was also a liberal contributor of money as well as of time. He preached also to congregations at Richland City and on Fancy Creek.
None of the early settlers are more kindly remembered than the young Presbyterian minister and his much esteemed wife, and their return to Pennsylvania, ten years later, was deeply regretted by a circle of friends co-extensive with the boundaries of the county. Mr. and Mrs. Mathers were essential to the enjoyment of every social festivity, and Elder Mathers was an important factor in every public gathering. He was the first county superintendent of schools, and first and foremost in almost every public enterprise. His horse "Sam" was known all over the county, and respected for his own good qualities and those of his owner.
A writer of history is not permitted to speak of the living and present in terms of praise, but I will transgress the unwritten law so much as to say, that of the pioneers of the Center, no other has acquired a wider or better influence, or been more deservingly honored, than James H Miner. The esteem and confidence reposed in him by his fellow-citizens, expressed through the ballot box and otherwise during his thirty years of active participation in public affairs, will sustain the highest commendation of which words are capable.
The removal of D B Priest, to Viroqua, soon after his settlement in the Center, was an irreparable loss. No man, in so short a time, acquired so strong a hold upon his associates, and no other has bequeathed to the political lore of the county so rich a fund of campaign anecdotes. One might disagree with Priest, but he could not dislike him. He was generous to a foe and unalterably faithful to a friend.
It would afford me much pleasure to extend this list --- to include many other names to me known to merit particular mention for invaluable services in the development of the village. Indeed I would like to include also the names of many deserving friends in other parts of the county; but this I must forego, assured that the names of all such will be duly enrolled in this History by others.
At one time, in the early day, Pat Meehan, on the J L Fogo corner, and Michael Carmichael, at the bowling-alley near the Sid Rose house, as vendors of intoxicants, were persistently besieged by most of their neighbors to forsake their calling. Appeal and numerous legal prosecutions had been unavailing. At that juncture, A C Eastland came to them with a new doctrine, which he expounded with so much ability as to enlist the co-operation of almost the entire community. It was that of "abating the sale of intoxicating liquors as a nuisance," under the authority of the board of health. The then venerable E P Young, a Presbyterian elder, and the Rev. B L Jackson, pastor of the Methodist Church, at that time ex-officio members of the board, became his zealous coadjutors and trusted lieutenants. The lodge of Good Templars was also committed to the doctrine. A deputy sheriff (David Ellsworth) was armed with the proper order and fortified by an indemnifying bond. With a small posse, he laid hold upon Meehan's "spirits" and moistened the ground with them, but not without conflict. The ball of a rifle in the hands of the good wife of the supposed offender against the peace and dignity of the State of Wisconsin inflicted a flesh wound in the arm of the valiant deputy. I will leave it to others --- perhaps to Mr. Eastland himself --- to finish this story, except to say that the sale of intoxicating liquors was "abated as a nuisance" for a few days only.
Michael Carmichael was more diplomatic. He yielded to the entreaties of the ladies. One beautiful summer morning, followed by the brave men and flanked by the ever-watchful boys, the ladies of the village, led by Mrs. James Holden --- a lady of fine presence and superior tact --- marched upon his establishment. He received them with gracious courtesy and patiently listened to the address by Mrs. Holden --- to quit the traffic and claim his place among the best and foremost of good and useful men, etc. In response, he declared his willingness to do and to be, according to the request, but protested that he could not, in justice to himself, make the proposed sacrifice of his stock. Negotiations were promptly concluded for its purchase, and the soil of the Hamilton settlement received a baptism of fire-water. But Carmichael's retirement from the unhallowed vocation was of short duration.
A thrill of delight pervaded the new village of Richland Center one day in October, 1855, when the material from which the Observer was to be printed was unloaded at the back door of Nelson's store, now the corner building of Walworth's collection of tenement houses. Only those who lived in that period can fully appreciate what a publication of a newspaper at home then meant. The inhabitants of a newborn town could not then read at breakfast the news of the preceding day, or at their supper-tables learn from the evening papers what had transpired in the busy world while they were employed in their pursuits of the day not yet ended. "Patent insides" and "plate" were yet unknown, and newspapers could not be planted at every cross roads as easily as now.
The founder of the Observer --- at first a six-column folio --- Israel Sanderson, was a man who could overcome obstacles. I shall never forget a phrase in his salutatory. He "started the Observer," he said, "without a bonus or the promise of one." Bonus, short as it is, was a big word, but Mr. S.'s use of it furnished an index to his character. He was positive in his convictions, courageous and independent in support of them, and above all superior to that belittling sort of financial help which too often curses the press. An inventory of the printing material he bought and brought to the Center, rather than be under obligations to any one, will impart a knowledge of the man, besides being interesting in a specific way: The press for the paper was the only article which had not been cast aside by others. It was a first-class Adams, and is still in use, in Mineral Point. He had collected the type from a cast-off dress of the Chicago Tribune, and he produced as good work from it as has ever been shown in the county. His job press was a Ramage, of small size -- an invention of long ago. It too had seen its best days, but Mr. Sanderson did good work on it. He was an excellent printer and a versatile editor.
In order to follow the Ramage --- then as now an historic thing --- to its present post of service, a digression will be timely.
The Ramage and much of the original outfit of the Observer --- then part of the Observer newspaper office --- became my property ten years later. About nine years after that (in 1874), I "retired" the Ramage, but subsequently intrusted it to a friend and former foreman --- C F Trevitt, a justice of the peace at Blanchardville, LaFayette county, who is yet, I believe, printing on it justice court blanks, etc.
Mr. Sanderson sold the Observer, in the summer of 1857, to J Walworth, with whom he had been associated in business in Monroe, who published it until November 19, 1863. By him it was then sold to Gilbert L Laws, Samuel C Hyatt and William J Waggoner --- the latter my elder brother. Those gentlemen had been in the army. Neither was a practical printer, but they were fast friends and hard workers, and did well with the enterprise while they were connected with it.
On May 12, 1864, I purchased the interest of Mr. Laws, and a week later my brother and I purchased Mr. Hyatt's interest. Thereafter, until July, 1865, the Observer was published by W J & J H Waggoner. At that time, by exchange of joint mercantile and newspaper interests, he became merchant and I the sole proprietor of the Observer. My first intimate knowledge of or personal interest in the newspapers of the county, however, dates back to January 14, 1857, when I entered the Observer office as "printer's devil." When Sanderson sold to Walworth, I remained with the latter a few months --- climbing from "devil" to "foreman," by the change. My contract with Mr. Sanderson will indicate something of the changes of a quarter of a century, particularly in the matter of apprenticeships to trades: For the first year I was to be "boarded" and clothed; for the second, to receive $5 per month instead of clothing; for the third, $7 per month instead of clothing. But at the end of six months Mr. S., who had voluntarily expended in that time four dollars for clothing for me, also voluntarily advanced my compensation to $4 per month, for the remainder of the year, instead of clothing; and with Mr. Walworth's advent, a month or two later, I obtained the remuneration per month promised for the third year! I should also observe here that at the time of acquiring proprietary interest in the Observer, in 1864, I was yet in the army (on duty at Madison as acting quartermaster for the then active recruiting service), and took little or no part in its vexatious responsibilities until I became its sole proprietor, the following year.
My first experience as editor and publisher of the Observer was destined to be brief. October 26, 1865, I sold it to W M Fogo and J M Hoskins, on account of the recurrence of inflammation of the eyes, which has twice since driven me from newspaper work. Those gentlemen admitted Mr. Walworth to the partnership, from which Mr. Hoskins soon retired, and Walworth & Fogo continued the publication until August 8, 1867, when the Observer was consolidated with The Live Republican --- the two papers taking the name Richland County Republican.
The first issue of the consolidated paper, under the new name, was made August 15, 1867. The consolidation, owing to peculiar circumstances, entailed upon me a financial burden of which I did not see the end for five years. During that period I was the editor and manager and half-owner of the Republican. C H Smith and G L Laws were half-owners a few months, to be succeeded by Geo. D Stevens, whose interest I bought November 28, 1872, and was again sole proprietor.
On December 11, 1873, I admitted W M Fogo into partnership, and Waggoner & Fogo conducted the business until September 1, 1874, when I was again compelled to relinquish newspaper work. I sold to G L Laws, who was succeeded a couple of years later by O G Munson. The Republican was published by Fogo & Munson until January 1, 1881, when it was consolidated with the Observer, the consolidated papers taking the name --- the Republican and Observer.
Fogo & Munson became and have since remained the editors and proprietors of the consolidated papers, representing the only continuous publication in the county dating back to that cold November evening, in 1855, when Israel Sanderson issued the first edition of the Observer. The Republican and Observer is double the size of the parent, and is otherwise vastly improved upon the Richland County Observer of 1855. It is creditable alike to the publishers and the widely and favorably-known commercial mart of which it is a faithful representative.
The election of a democrat or two to county offices invested with printing patronage encouraged the founding, late in the fall of 1857, of the Richland County Democrat, by Wm. Pitt Furey, a zealous and able champion of democracy. The residence of the editor and the office of the democrat were in the main part of the Bulard dwelling-house, which then fronted north, on the same lot. But Richland county afforded poor picking for two papers; besides, it was radically republican in political sentiment, and the Democrat yielded up the ghost with the expiration of its lease upon the public printing. During its existence, however, a ferocious struggle was made for the county printing, which was two or three times afterwards imitated --- with positive damage to the interests of the publishers and actual loss to the patrons of the local newspapers.
Soon after the demise of the democrat, the material on which it had been printed was used in the publication of The Zouave, by a Mr. Godfrey. A lady whose pseudonym was Lisle Lester, and who had considerable reputation for literary work, was the editress. That paper was also short-lived.
by D T Lindley, was the next newspaper venture, with the same printing material for its basis. The initial number was issued November 1, 1860, and it was typographically neat and spicy in its local news. It soon surrendered, however, to the inevitable, and the printing material which was practically responsible for the inception of the two papers last named was thereafter sold to Prairie du Chien and Mineral Point parties, thereby abridging the opportunities of ambitious printers and others in Richland county to wield the pen, pro bono publico, for some years to come.
A combination of circumstances conducive to mutual interest in the enterprise made Ira S Haseltine and myself editors and proprietors of The Live Republican, the publication of which was begun December 13, 1866, and terminated August 6, 1867, by consolidation with the Observer. As the republican nominee for the assembly, in the fall of '66, Mr. H. was spoken of as "an unwelcome necessity" by the Observer --- the avowed republican organ. That made him --- notwithstanding his election --- ambitious of a seat on the editorial tripod, and I was desirous of resuming newspaper work. After we had decided upon uniting forces, and when I was on the way to Mazomanie to purchase the printing material for the office, we chanced to meet under the little tree which yet stands, I believe, on the knoll in the Sextonville road near the Hiram Welton house, on either side of which a wagon track is maintained. "What shall we name our paper?" he enquired. I had not got that far, and replied accordingly. "What do you say to calling it The Live Republican?" he then asked. The name seemed to me to be at once appropriate and talismanic, and it was unanimously adopted! Mr. H.'s characteristic contributions to the paper, and his industry and zeal in canvassing for it, did much to establish it; but with the consolidation before mentioned, he went out of the newspaper business.
In 1869, (about two years after the consolidation of the Observer and The Live Republican), Walworth & Fogo began the publication of the Sentinel, of which Mr. Walworth retained control until the printing material of the office was transferred to Boscobel, two or three years later, when Mr. W.'s connection with the press of the county ceased. Mr. Fogo soon retired from the Sentinel, and his place as associate editor and manager was afterwards filled in turn by E E Pickard, C B Walworth, and perhaps others. The Sentinel was the oracle of a local "retrenchment and reform" party and made a vigorus fight for the county printing and the county offices. It is within the recollection of the people of the county that the newspaper war of that period was not well calculated to promote Christian virtues. I must say this because I was one of the combatants, and because I have long since forgiven and repented of what should have been left out of print.
For some months in the years '75-6, Fogo & Laws issued from the office of the Republican a paper for circulation in Lone Rock and vicinity, called the Lone Rock Pilot, of which J W Fuller was the local representative. The enterprise was creditable to all concerned in it, but not remunerative enough to become a permanent thing.
After two years of rest and restlessness, I again enlisted in journalism by founding The Observer, the first number of which was issued on December 21, 1876. The venture was a marked success. The Observer achieved a larger circulation, and did a larger business, the first year, than I had previously been awarded in my newspaper experience in the county, in a single year. It was published a little more than four years, when it was consolidated with the Republican, as hereinbefore stated. In its fourth year I admitted N B Burtch to a proprietary interest, and he was the responsible publisher and the local editor. C E and C J Glasier were its printers and publishers the third year, and I the owner, as I had been from the first. I was the responsible editor throughout the four years; but having, at the end of its first year, been appointed to the position of chief clerk of the State land office, at Madison, to the duties of which I gave personal attention, I necessarily availed myself of the assistance of others in the local and business departments of the paper until the consolidation was made which relieved me of a burdensome care and undoubtedly terminated my connection with the press of Richland county. Mr. Burtch and the Glasiers, and others, labored with zeal, in their several relations to the paper, for which those named were compensated by generous patronage. I have not forgotten that a few friends made contributions of labor and goodwill which placed me under life-long obligations.
Brief mention of the later-day newspapers will be required to complete this sketch.
The Richland Rustic of to-day, by J A Smith, as I remember the chain, is the successor to the Richland Democrat of '79 or '80, which took the place of Sat's Pine River Pilot, started in the spring of '79. Sat (M Fletcher Satterlee) received his first lessons in the art preservative in the Observer office, in 1864-5, and was employed at various times in the newspaper offices in the Center. He is full of wit and humor, and a first-class pressman and printer. But the odds were against him and he was obliged to quit the field in a few months, leaving it to Otis H Brand to publish for a short time the Richland Democrat. Mr. Smith gathered up the fragments and soon established the Rustic, which is abundantly able to speak for itself.
There was started, in Excelsior, in 1879, a small paper --- The Teacher's Press, I think --- by Ira D Hurlburt. Its circulation was local and it did not long survive the vicissitudes of journalism. After a short time it wandered into the greenback fold, and died with its party.
The Richland Union Democrat is a recent and the last of the newspaper ventures of the county. As I have seen but a single issue, I can say only that it made a good appearance and gave promise of long life.
Of course, every newspaper in the county, dead or alive, was and is "devoted to the interest of the people;" and that all have deserved well of the people, and have exerted a vast influence, is attested by the recognized industry, sobriety, intelligence and prosperity of the inhabitants of the county. But, according to the spirit of the age, each was and is more or less pronounced in political opinions. I have already indicated the political proclivities of most of them, but the value of the history of the past will be increased by a brief classification here. The Richland County Observer, The Live Republican, the Richland County Republican and The Observer, were advocates of the principles of the republican party, as is The Republican and Observer of to-day; the Richland County Democrat and the Richland Democrat were, as is the Richland Union Democrat, democratic in politics --- the names indicating their political complexions. The Zouave, the Richland Press and Sat's Pine River Pilot, like the Richland Rustic, floated non-partisan flag, as did also the Lone Rock paper; the Richland County Sentinel, with republican predilections, championed certain local projects; and the Excelsior Teacher's Press drifted into greenback company, as before stated.
Mr. Sanderson was efficiently and ably assisted in founding the Richland County Observer by William Nelson, who, as a printer and counselor, rendered invaluable service. He was Mr. S.'s brother-in-law --- a young man of enviable physical perfection and mental powers. His robust frame, his indifference to conventionalities, and his iron will, attracted favorable comment. Very soon after Mr. S.'s sale of the Observer, he also departed. He was also Mr. S.'s lieutenant in founding the Grant County Witness, at Platteville, in 1859, and in 1860 he and I published, for six months or more, the Wisconsin State Rights, at Monroe. He bore an honorable part in the war for the Union --- being brevetted captain for heroic conduct; was a prisoner of war for eighteen months --- enduring the privations which killed hundreds and even thousands of his fellow prisoners. After the Viroqua tornado, in 1865, he became the editor of the Vernon County Censor, was elected to the state senate in 1871; became editor of the LaCrosse Leader (daily and weekly) in 1873, and was appointed United States marshal of Utah in 1875. He resigned that office in two or three years and has since been editor of the Salt Lake Tribune.
The connection of my brother William J with the press of the county was not limited to the period heretofore mentioned. During two or three winters of my absence, when chief clerk of the State senate, at Madison, he had immediate charge of the Republican office. He has twice been county superintendent of schools, and for some years past has been merchant, miller, farmer and postmaster at Viola. My brothers Edwin B and Joseph M were also valuable helpers of the county newspapers. Edwin B has also been interested in an Iowa paper, and in 1877-8 was editor and publisher of the Whitehall Times, in this State. He was also in his country's service --- enlisting when eighteen years old. With a large number of fellow-soldiers, some of them also from Richland, he was made a prisoner of war at the battle of Atlanta, Georgia, and endured seven months of the cruelties and hardships of Andersonville and Florence. He was commissioned a lieutenant of his company about that time, but of course could not be mustered. Joseph M, when able to work, was a superior compositor and a faithful and zealous helper.
Jay Hamilton, who had learned the trade in the office of the Republican, was for a short time local editor of that paper and afterwards for a short time local editor of The Observer.
Soon after leaving the Center, Israel Sanderson founded the Grant County Witness, at Platteville, employing the same industry, prudence and courage that served him so well in founding the Richland County Observer. A few years later, he established a job-printing office in the city of Decatur, Illinois; and when next and last I heard from him, he was engaged in market-gardening in Du Quoin, Illinois. About that time, D B Priest, who had moved to Sparta, became the owner of the Sparta Eagle. He tendered to Mr. Sanderson such interest in the enterprise as the latter might desire. Mr. S. replied, in substance, that he "was not then and never expected to be again poor enough to resume journalistic work." Only those persons who have spent the better years of their lives as faithful and honest editors and publishers can correctly interpret and feelingly appreciate the sentiment underlying Mr. Sanderson's reply.
William P Furey, of the Democrat of '57, afterwards published a paper in Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, and was two or three times an officer of the Pennsylvania assembly --- democratic, of course. My impression is that he died some years ago. The "Lisle Lester" of The Zouave went to California, where she added to her reputation as a writer. I am unable to say more of her, or anything of Mr. Godfrey, the publisher of The Zouave.
D T Lindley has had a varied experience, always to his credit as a printer, and mostly in Northwestern Wisconsin. He is now and has been for some time the editor and publisher of the Elroy Tribune.
Of Mr. Walworth and the others who are yet living in the Center, or not far away, I will not be expected to make particular mention, as each is entitled to and will certainly be accorded due prominence elsewhere in the History of Richland County.
Several months prior to the expiration of my term of office at the state capitol, viz., in July, 1881, I bought some shares of stock in the Free Press Company, of the city of Eau Claire, with the purpose of becoming the editor of the daily and weekly issues of the Free Press. In due time, I moved to this city, to make it my permanent home, and for the last two years have discharged the duties incumbent upon the president of Free Press Company and the responsible editor of the Free Press. I have also largely increased my original interest in the Free Press property, and it seems more than probably that Time with his scythe will find me here, by the desk in the inner sanctum on which this contribution to the History of Richland County has been written by the hand of another, at my dictation.
I believe this sketch of the press and the other historical matter herewith contributed, under various headings --- although drawn almost entirely from memory --- to be substantially, if not precisely, accurate. In writing so much of detail, I have yielded to the urgent requests of many old friends, whom to serve is a personal gratification.
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