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Full text of "A reminiscent history of the village and town of Lake Mills, Jefferson County : embraced in a period of ten years, from 1837 to 1847, and while Wisconsin was a territory"

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1837. 1847. 1894. 








' All of which I saw, 
And part of which I was." 




Ladies and Gentlemen of Lake Mills: To fill up the gap from 
1S37 to 1S94 would require fifty-seven years and those years 
would only measure the time since my father's family settled 
here in 1S37. To commence at the beginning of this period 
with a backward look from today; to carefully scan the succeed- 
ing ten years, bringing to the fore from that long buried past, 
the facts, incidents and prominent figures of that early settle- 
ment, would seem to be a draft upon one's memory that could 
not be honored. Yet. knowing myself and the tenacity of my 
memory, from those boyhood days, I know that it is clear, and 

"True as the needle to the pole, 
Or as tlie dial to the sun." 

From the storehouse of that memory, I have brought forth 
the facts and reminiscences embodied in this address. Fiction 
is given no place and nothing is credited to the imagination. I 
only fear you may set down as trifling and uninteresting, so 
much that is necessarily personal to myself in many of the inci- 
dents herein related. But, being dear to me, I submit (hem to 
your kindly interest. 

I remember when a boy in Vermont my father procured an 
old-fashioned atlas, with the apparently unsettled northwest 
territory traced upon it, and calling my older brothers to him, 
pointed with his forefinger on the map to that portion of the 
territory which began along the southern point of Lake Michi- 
gan, and extending therefrom in a northwesterly direction. He 
pointed to the mouth of the Milwaukee river, and, said he, 
'•'Roys, there's where we want to go; that country offers splendid 
inducements for sen lets. There/' said he, "must be water powd- 
ers and timber." 

At this time I was but seven years of age. still I remember 
the deep interest I took in the conversation, and the impression 

that it made upon my mind. Following this discussion about 
locality, in the year 1836, my father wended his way thither, 
going to Milwaukee and later to Jeffersc n county, finally mak- 
ing' claims to lands in that portion of the county afterwards 
known as Lake Mills, though the land was not then in the mar- 
ket. Having made up his mind to settle at that point, he com- 
municated with my mother, then resident with her children at 
Xorthfield, Vermont, and arranged that the family should start 
for the country that had just been organized into Wisconsin 

In pursuance of this determination, on the second day of May. 
1837, the family, consisting of my mother and brothers, Abel 
and Oliver, and sister Katharine and myself, started in wagons, 
with a few household goods, for Burlington upon Lake Cham- 
plain'; thence by steamboat to Whitehall in Xoav York, and from 
that point by canal. Xear Utica, my father, coming from the 
west, met us upon the way and guided us to our new home. 
Embarking at Buffalo upon the steamer Bunker Hill, after a 
very pleasant voyage, with scarcely a ripple upon the lake, we 
landed in Detroit. 

From Detroit we traveled in covered wagons along the 
swampy roads of Michigan, and through Northern Indiana to 
Chicago. After dragging our wagons through the muddy 
streets of that embryo city, little dreaming that some of us would 
live to see it contain nearly two million people, we started on 
our winding way for Milwaukee. The road was muddy and the 
country almost wholly unsettled. In the heavy timber between 
Racine and Milwaukee, and nearer to the latter city, we be- 
came stuck in the mud and were obliged" to remain all night, 
waiting for daylight: to extricate ourselves. In flip morning 
we proceeded oil ear way. and finally, in the afteWiobii of the 
17th day of June, 1S37, we emerged from the heavy timber upon 
the banks of the Milwaukee river at what was then known as 
Walker's Point. 

We remained in Milwaukee until ant num. occupying a frame 
building, two stories with basement, on the northeast corner 
of Ouieda and Broadwav. This house had been constructed by 
my father at a place called Navariiio on Green Bay, and shipped 
to Milwaukee where it was put up. Its location at that time 

was reallv in The woods. There were ho buildings in front of 
it to the river, anil but one between it and Wisconsin street. 
After Ave became settled I attended school at the old court- 
house taught by Eli Hates, and between onr house and the 
court house the bush Was so thick that I frequently became lost, 
until 1 had thoroughly learned the way. 

Milwaukee was then but a village of a few hundred inhabit- 
ants, yet it was the largest and most important point, if I re- 
member rightly, in all the vast expanse of country west of Mil- 
waukee. For some years after, it was thought that Milwaukee 
was more likely to become the great city of the west than Chi- 
cago, but subsequently the railroads turned the tide in favor of 
the latter city. 

The year before, which was in the summer of 1836, my father 
had visited the country now known as Jefferson county, and 
made claim to about a section of land, now comprising Lake 
Mills village and its surroundings. lie was very anxious to 
move his family to that point. Therefore, in the latter part of 
September, we were on the move again to roach, what was Then 
pictured to us to be, "The Promised Land.'' 

We left Milwaukee with two teams, one of which was a 
wagon drawn by oxen, containing our household goods and the 
women of the party, who could not well walk over the rough 
and muddy roads. We passed through Prairieville, now Wau- 
kesha, which place had only one or two log houses, and across 
Summit Prairie through Oconomowoc until we struck the 
woods, through which we traveled until Ave reached the pres- 
ent site of the city of Wa ten own. At a place in the heavy 
timber, hot far from the Rock river known as Saeias, we were 
OA'ertaken by a heavy rainstorm, and wo had to Search for the 
bestshelter we could find. In a clearing near at hand we 
found a shanty with the body niade of small logs, and with the 
roof partly Covered with split timber. Into this we all hud- 
dled; and after partaking of the last of onr provisions waited 
for the morning, which finally came and found us thoroughly 
wot from the storm. We gathered ourselves together, formed 
anew the procession, and started with the two wagons for 
Watertown. not very far ahead, at which place we arrived in 
the afternoon. All Ave saw at this place avus a dam across the 
river, partially constructed, and the foundation for a sawmill 


with, two shanties not far away. We crossed the river, passing 
on to our objective point, and at about a mile or so distant, in 
open country, we reached a log house occupied by the family 
of Timothy Johnson, where we stayed all night. 

The next day was to finish our journey, and while the dis- 
tance Avas only about twelve miles, we knew it would be a great 
undertaking to reach our destination by nightfall. After mak- 
ing the best time we could during the da}', we reached the ford 
at a place now known as Milford, just as the sun was declining 
in the west, and we ferried across the river in a boat con- 
structed of two Indian canoes, bottomed with split bass wood 
planks, upon which the wagons rested, the horses and cattle 
fording the stream. 

After crossing the river we started through the oak open- 
ings with no road, not even an Indian trail, seeing no human 
being, not even a shanty, until after dark when we struck the 
present site of Lake Mills where, near the lake, after crossing 
the slough, on the property now owned by Gherika Bros., we 
found a lioorless shanty shingled with a hay stack. Our horses 
and oxen were picketed in the best manner possible for the 
night, and .some of our household goods were unloaded from 
the wagons, "We were entirely out of everything to eat, and 
we were certain to go supperless to bed unless something could 
be cooked. The sheet iron cook stove was placed upon its legs 
upon the ground, and a lire started. The program was to make 
some biscuits and boil the tea-kettle for a cup of tea, and that 
was to be our supper. A lire was started in the stove but it 
would not burn. There was no draft. The smoke issued from 
it in every direction. It commanded our best efforts to make 
it perform its duty, but it would not. We were nearly discour- 
aged. ' Our party had gathered around it watching with deep 
solicitude the result. -Ml the ingenious devices Me could think 
of were applied to it to make it work, and we were all giving 
up the effort in, despair. My father said, "We will try two 
things more, and if they f;iil we will give it up." The first was 
to set some hay on fire and thrust ii into the pipe hole, which 
was low down, to <\vy qui the dampness, whhrh, he thought, 
might have gathered lliere from being so long exposed to the 
rain during our journey. This was done. No change in the 
.stove. The next and last move was to pm up a long stretch of 

pipe pointing towards the stars, at least, twelve feet. When 
the pipe was erected, new fuel was applied, and soon the stove 
was singing away right merrily with a splendid draft that 
made our hearts glad for we knew it meant a supper for a nun* 
gry party. Soon the cakes were mixed and baked, the tea- 
kettle boiled and tea was made, and we sat around upon the 
ground partaking of our supper, very thankful that it had been 
vouchsafed to us. 

After supper, with darkness having set in all around us, my 
father found another most difficult problem to solve. The ques- 
tion was, ''Where were we all to sleep?" It must be in some 
manner beneath the shelter of the hay stack that topped the 
shanty. Across one end of the same my father gathered away 
the chips and chunks and limbs and old musty hay, supplying in 
their places hay of a better quality over which were spread 
some blankets, and one large resting place was provided. When 
it was ready we all gathered around and went to bed in the fol- 
lowing order. Xext to the logs was placed my brother Abel; 
next to him Mr George Farmer; then came his wife and my sis- 
ter Kate; then my youngest brother Oliver, and next in order 
was myself; and when Ave were all packed in snugly my father 
took the outside, and his place came mainly upon the ground 
with nothing between. I will state here that Mr. George 
Farmer and wife accompanied us from Milwaukee, and that 
my mother left us in the Watertown woods in order to lighten 
our load, and went to Aztalan in company with other travelers. 

While we were occupants of the shanty, we had some rather 
interesting times and varied experiences. From the south, to- 
ward Illinois, my father had secured a yoke of oxen fur labor, 
and a cow had followed them in. which animal was designed 
for food. As we had no ford for her, it became necessary that 
she should be dispatched and made into beef. So one bright 
morning all hands were called together to participate in the 
slaughter. We had corraled the animal in the bush, in fact 
surrounded her. and George Farmer with his rifle was to be the 
executioner. The cow was as wild as a doer, and seemed to an- 
ticipate what was in store for Iter. It was some time before an 
opportunity was presented for a shot. The rifle went off with 
a loud report, and away went r the cow — over the hills and out 
of sight. We all rushed after and surrounded her again. All 


were very much, excited. Soon another shot was made— aimed 
at her head by George Farmer, the marksman, though not a 
farmer. The cow shook her head ami away she went again. 
This was very discouraging. My father became alarmed. He 
thought we were going to lose our hold upon the animal. The 
time came when there was another opportunity for the rifle to 
be brought into play. My father shouted to Farmer at the top 
of his voice, saying, -'Shoot again. If you cairt hit her in the 
head this time, shoot her in the paunch." The rifle sounded 
again and the cow came down, and an ax finished the final 
effort. This occu rred a little way from our shanty and the dress- 
ing took place where the cow fell. We had made sure of our 
beef. We did not wish it to become food for the wolves. We 
wanted it. ourselves. It was brought in and protected as fully 
as possible, but that night, a drove of gray wolves surrounded 
the shanty. The smell of blood had sharpened their appetites, 
and portions of the animal had been seized by them and 
dragged quite a distance, but we all rallied to save it from loss. 
The next night it was arranged to lie in wait for the savage 
brutes. Xo sleep for us that night. Volney Foster, who joined 
us, was posted in a secure place armed with a rifle. As the 
night progressed the howling of the wolves was heard, and 
some of them approached within a few feet of the shanty. 
Soon the report of the rifle rang out loud and clear and a big, 
gray wolf fell pierced with a rifle ball through his body. Though 
not dead my father finished his career with a blow upon the 
head with an ax. 

We occupied this primitive habitation for a number of weeks, 
but it was necessary for us to have a belter place than this to 
live in during the winter; therefore, my father proceeded at 
once to construct a log house upon the Bite now occupied by W. 
H. Eaynes" dwelling, it was built and ready for occupancy be- 
fore the cold weather came. In this house we lived f<>r several 
years. We had very little, if any, furniture to furnish the house 
with after it was finished. Only a few of the most essential 
articles conlcl be moved from the eastern home. No chairs, no 
tables, no bedsteads, nothing hardly but the old traditional 
featherbed, and a meager lot of crockery for the table. I re- 
member very well the manner of construction of our log house. 
Logs were rolled one upon the other, crossing at the ends and 


interlocked together and between the logs we put wedges of 
split oak, filling the chinks in with niml from the hank. The 
floors were made from plank split from oak, and the shingles 
were turned out in the same manner. The table, which Ave used 
for many years, was made of oak, and the chairs were simply 
three-legged stools with plank to cover the three legs. Old set- 
tlers have a keen recollection of them. 

In the end of our log house *was an old-fashioned chimney, 
with a hole cut through the end for the stone work, with the 
chimney extending to the top of the roof, built of split oak and 
mud. It was several years after this log house was constructed 
before a frame house was erected in any part of the county. 
After the saw mill commenced operations and we could saw 
boards for building purposes, a frame addition of one room and 
chamber was built on the north end of our log house. It was 
a great addition and was appreciated very highly. The old 
land marks, the log houses, have now almost wholly disap- 
peared, and with the old pioneers will, soon have returned to 

My father had selected this site upon the si ream near the 
lake with the intention of constructing a saw mill and a grist 
mill there. The former was built and in running order in '39, 
and the grist mill in '4:2. All his efforts during this period, and 
under the most discouraging circumstances, were devoted to 
the construction of the mills, which, I think, were about the 
first, if not the first built in Jefferson county. 

The early settlers of Lake Mills and Jefferson county were 
all men of small means. They had but little money. Many 
of them found it difficult to furnish bread for their families 
during the time the ground was being cleared and broken in 
order to produce a crop. At the .lime, and for several years 
subsequent, provisions were very high, and the markei ihe early 
settlers had was Milwaukee, some fifty or more miles distant, 
with the roads almost impassable. [ remember that in the 
spring of '.">s. we had gotten out <>t' provisions, and my father 
started for Milwaukee for some flour and pork. The weather 
was bad and the mads almost Impassable. A filer an absence of 
over three weeks, during which time the family was very much 
alarmed for his safety, he returned, having spent all his money, 
with just one barrel of flour. This was nearly all loaned out in 


a short time to the settlers, who had not even money enough 
for their necessary wants. 

A kindly and fraternal feeling prevailed most emphatically 
among all the early settlers. There was no fighting, no wrang- 
ling. They all agreed and were desirous of helping one another 
in whatever they had on hand to do. If one had a barrel of 
flour and a little pork; he most cheerfully loaned a portion of 
it to his neighbor, and thus some families were enabled to sub- 
sist that otherwise would certainly have gone hungry. 

It hardly seems possible in this day of plenty to realize the 
condition of things which then existed. There was a time 
when the settlers in the vicinty of Lake Mills and Aztalan 
really suffered from hunger. They were apprehensive that they 
and their families might starve to death. A meeting was held 
one Sunday in a log house at Aztalan occupied by Capt. Thomas 
Brayton, where the settlers came together and considered this 
difficult problem, which had become to them a serious one, that 
is, what they were to do for something to eat. At this meeting 
the oxen in the settlement, which were about the only beasts 
of burden, were counted up and an estimate made as to how 
long the band of settlers could subsist upon them in case they 
should be reduced to that extremity. The question was most 
carefully and prayerfully considered by the men and women 
who were present at that meeting. I have seen my father with 
his head bowed low upon his hands in deep thought and medi- 
tation, and when my mother attempted to arouse him by the 
inquiry. •Joseph, what is the matter?" he would lift up his head 
and say. "Olive, I know not where we are to get provisions to 
live upon much longer.'' 

I recollect one instance, which I shall never forget, when we 
were entirely out of provisions of every kind, and my father 
started in the afternoon for Capt. Brayton's at Aztalan to see 
if he could not borrow a few pounds of flour. The sun went 
down, and he had not yet returned. Darkness came, and my 
mother and the children were much worried for fear some ac- 
cident had befallen him. Tie had gone on horseback, leaving 
one horse in the stable. About nine o'clock we heard the neigh- 
ing of a horse in the distance, which was answered by its mate 
in the stable, and shortly afterward my father emerged from 
the opening across the creek, and soon reached the door, lead- 


ing his horse, and from the open door and by the light of the 
fire, which shone through it, we saw something had happened 
to him. He was wet and muddy, and held in his arms a little 
bag or bundle. His firsr remark to my mother was, '"Olive, we 
are ruined." lie proceeded to relate that upon his homeward 
way in crossing the Big Slough, about midway between the two 
places, his horse had stumbled upon the floating logs, and 
thrown him and the bag of dour he carrie 1 into the mud and 
mire, where the horse and rider -and Hour remained until he 
succeeded in extricating himself. lie then grasped the bag of 
flour and carried it to dry land, the horse following. Thence 
he wended his way homeward. The flour had been soaked in 
the muddy water of the slough, and he had reason to think that 
it was entirely destroyed; but my mother, who always took a 
hopeful view of things, endeavored to comfort him by saying 
that perhaps it was not so bad as he expected. The horse was 
put in the log stable, and the bag of flour brought in and laid 
upon the floor, inul my father and mother and us children gath- 
ered around the bag as the strings were unfastened waiting in 
eager expectancy for the result. As the top of the bag was 
opened, sure enough, so it appeared, the muddy water had done 
its work, but soou the dou^h cracked open, and inside there 
appeared good dry flour. The end of the bag was turned back- 
ward, and the dry flour taken out. After this had been secured, 
then the dough, the result of the mixture of the marsh water 
with the flour, was carefully scraped off and sacredly preserved 
and eaten by the family. For a little while we had two kinds 
of bread upon the table, that made of the mixture T have spoken 
of for the children, ami the beiier quality for Ihe older people, 
but the children did not complain. We were satisfied with it 
because it would appoasd our Imngor. 

The early settlers were noi good hunters nor expert fisher- 
men. They had to learn these arts by practice. Tn those days 
there were no breach loading i;nns. Tf a settler could get hold 
of an old flint-lock fusee from ihe Indians for a little barter and 
use that for his gun. he was doing exceedingly well. It was a 
longtime het'on- any white man proved himself alert enough to 
shoot a deer. It was said that a disease known as the 'T.uck' 
Fever'' rendered their aim so unsteady that they failed to bring 
down such game, although the wood ; were tilled with it. There 


were deer in great abundance, prairie chickens, partridges, 
ducks and geese. At that time there were no (mails nor rab- 
bits for the reason, as I supposed, that the wolves and foxes de- 
stroyed them. The streams were full of fish. One of the most 
useful and substantial articles of diet for the early settler was 
the ''sucker," which was found in great abundance in the lake 
and in the Crawfish river, and in the springtime sou Id be ob- 
tained by the wagon load. Reaching the lake here late in the 
fall, we, of course, did not "catch on" to the ways of the fish, 
but the following spring, which was in '38, the great wealth 
of our lake was most singularly unfolded to us. Our log house 
was but a few rods from the bank of the stream. A little way 
from the house was the stable and near this stable was a small 
dam that had been constructed across the creek that flowed 
from the lake, to raise the water on a level with the bank so 
the horses could drink more easily. It was springtime. The 
snow had gone, but the ice was not all out of the lake, and the 
water in the creek was singing merrily as it proceeded on its 
way. Just at sundown one day, my brother Oliver and myself 
went to water the horses at this rise of i lie water above the dam, 
where they were in the habit of drinking. In looking into the 
stream we discovered that its bottom Avas literally covered 
with very large fish. I called out to my older brother Abe to 
come there and see what it meant, lie at once took in the 
situation, and ran to the stable and came back with a pitch 
fork, when he commenced pitching out the fish. Very soon my 
father was called and put in an appearance, and we all pitch- 
forked those ••stickers" until late in the evening, not stopping 
until we had secured, at least, a barrel full. It was with great 
satisfaction that my father remarked to my mother, f \Xow, we 
are all right, There is no inure dauger of starving when we 
can get plenty of fish, and, the indications are that the supply 
will be fully equal to the demand." As soon as we got fairly 
started in the ti-di business, we had fish for breakfast and fish 
for dinner and fish for supper, and. in fact, fish all the time. 

There was a young. «$reen fellow, a sort of a Pennsylvania 
Dutchman, who had wandered west, working for niyJaiiher. He 
was possessed of an enormous appetite; and he also seemed 
possessed of great courage, for he never feared that he might 
choice himself with fishbones. The rest of us were a little rare- 


t'ul upon that point and looked over our fish with eare, but 
Laurence Becker had a knack of eating fish that double dis- 
counted ours, and it was frequently said that lie could shovel 
tish in at one side of bis mouth, and the bones would fly out at 
the other. His skill in this respect was certainly wonderful 
and my statements in regard to it are not in the least exag- 
erated. After mentioning this circumstance a number of years 
ago at a meeting of the old settlers in Fort Atkinson, an old 
pioneer, whose name I have forgotten, but who resided in the 
southeastern part of Jefferson county, said. "Keyes, you have 
told the truth about Beeker. He was the almightiest eater I 
ever knew. He used to work for me before he went to your 
father's, and after he had eaten us out of house and home, we 
let him slide." All of the old settlers will remember that it was 
a common remark that they had so long a time been restricted 
to a fish diet that they did not make an attempt for months to 
change their shirts, the fishbones sticking through and prevent- 
ing such an operation. 

It is true that at this time we occasionally got hold of a little 
of what was called 'Tloosier Pork," which rooted its way up 
from southern Illinois. The pork, it was said, was made from 
a class of hogs whose snouts were so long they could reach 
through the fence and root up the third row of potatoes. The 
pork was so poor ami lean that we had to catch fish and save 
fat enough from the latter to fry the pork in. With this pork 
and the fifth and the corn bread, which for a long period of time 
constituted our diet, we managed to get along. 

An old settler in onr log house was heard complaining of his 
fare. He said he had nothing to eat but corn cake and "jerked 
pork."' In answer to an inquiry as to what kind of food -jerked 
pork" was. lie replied, that it was a piece of pork tied firmly to 
one end of a strong string with the other end of the string 
nailed securely to the center of the oaken table. The pork was 
passed around ami swallowed by each person to grease his 
throat, and was jerked back for further use. 

As I said it was a long time before the sot tiers learned the 
knack of procuring game, either venison or wild fowl in much 
quantity. In this age of luxury and plenty, when one scarcely 
goes hungry, or certainly needs .not, it would seem very strange 
if the father of a family who, as the members of his household 


gathered around the table, should be obliged to divide up the 
food in so many equal parts, and say to each one, "This is as 
much as you can have and no more;" but in those early times 
it was frequently practiced. Many times have I known it to 
be done by my father in his family. 

The first settlers in Jefferson county were American-born. 
The great tide of foreign emigration, which since that time has 
Bet in so strongly westward, had not then begun, and it was a 
number of years after the first settlers came to Jefferson county 
before the foregn-born sought homes here. The first settlement 
was of Germans near Jefferson in '42, and the first German girl 
I ever saw was engaged in my father's family as a domestic. 
She was a girl of good birth and education, who came there and 
was willing to work in order to learn the English language, and 
when she acquired that she returned to her home near Jeffer- 
son. That was a period before hired girls had become an insti- 
tution. There were no girls who sought employment of this 
character, and if there were any in the settlement who were 
willing to assist their neighbors in domestic matters, they were 
the daughters of American parents, and not ashamed to work 
out. About this time or, perhaps, a little later, the Norwegians 
began to settle in eastern Dane county. 

Before the establishment of stores for general trade, the set- 
tlers bought their supplies of dry goods and knick-knacks mostly 
of peddlers, and this, class of dealers was quite numerous at 
that time, appearing at every house. The two Cooper boys. 
ITorace and Lucius, were early in that business, and must have 
started out in the year 1*840. They finally opened a small store 
at Aztalan. and in 1844 they moved their goods to Lake Mills. 
These two young men were active and energetic, enured t<> hard- 
ship and possessed of imtiring energy; and they pushed 
business with gteat success. 

One of the earliest marriages in Lake Mills was that of Hor- 
ace Cooper and Julia Wiliams, early in 1S45. At that tiin« 
there was not in the village any person authorized 1o tie 
knot. To meet the emergency a boy was started for Aztalas 
with two horses, riding one and leading the other. He quid; 
returned with Justice Joel Gardner riding the extra horse, 
very soon the ceremony, was performed. 

There was another peddler who plied his vocation here for ■■ 


while, during the earliest years, by the name of Alvinza Hay- 
ward, but he soon became tired of this business, and, marrying 
Charity Hathaway, one of a large family of daughters who re- 
sided across the river at Milford, he started for California where 
he now resides, and where he has since been visited by a few of 
the old residents of this region. His career there was success- 
ful, and he became a many millionaire. At one time the girl 
Charity, afterwards his wife, was a member of our family, in 
the capacity of general assistant at house work at so much per 

Payne and Byington were the first general dealers to open 
a store in this village, which must have been in "39 or '40. They 
were followed afterwards by the Cooper boys, and Codwise & 

At the period of which I write Wisconsin territory might be 
said to be full of Indians. They Mere to be found and seen in 
almost every portion of it. They were the orignal settlers and 
occupants of these beautiful lands. The smoke of their wig- 
wams could be noticed in many directions. They were a 
happy, healthy and stalwart race. They had not then become 
demoralized from their intercourse with their white neighbors. 
The lake here and its surroundings was one of their best hunt- 
ing grounds, and crossing the creek where the bridge now is, 
was their trail as they came from the northeast to hunt along 
the southern shores of the lake/ and it was almost an every 
day occurrence for them to return, passing our log house, going 
to the northeast, laden with venison and other game, and they 
were always ready for barter of some kind. What they de- 
sired most was whiskey. A drink of whisky would buy a sad- 
dle of venison or any other article they possessed, even to their 
hist rifle, but all decent settlers always refrained from dealing 
out this fire-water 10 them, because when intoxicated they 
were ugly and dangerous. 

I remember one afternoon in '38, when my mother was alone 
in the log house with tin/ younger children, my father and my 
older brother Abe being absent, a band of Indians loaded down 
with game came from the south end of the lake and stopped in 
the yard in front of the log house, and their leading Indian en- 
tered the room. Seeing upon the shelves several vials filled 
with medicine, he commenced a search through the bottles for 


whiskey. A taste or two of their contents satistied him so that 
he wanted no more, and he gave it up. It was washing day. A 
big tin pan stood upon the table containing wet clothes. An 
old Indian wanted to buy the pan. A trade was struck up be- 
tween him and my mother, and for the pan he gave a quarter of 
venison. My mother happened to think that possibly an old 
calico shirt, which was up the ladder in the chamber, might 
suit him; so it was obtained, and when he cast his eye over it. 
it evidently pleased him. He went out to his pack and brought 
in a saddle of venison, put it on the table, snatched the shirt 
iind put it under his blanket, evidently afraid that the trade 
would not be consummated. My mother with great firmness 
•ordered him to pull it out and put it upon the table which he 
did, angry and mumbling in his Indian tongue. After he had 
done this, she said, "All right; now, we swap," and he took his 
shirt and tin pan, and very soon the band passed out of sight 
in the openings. 

A band of Indians dressed in their war paint once gave me a 
terrible fright. We were surprised in the forenoon of a day 
by a visitor at our house, and my mother when she came to take 
an account of stock found that she had neither tea nor coffee 
for dinner. So it was decided that I should go to the nearest 
neighbor, which was one of the At woods, about a mile and a 
half distant, to see if I could borrow a small quantity of one of 
these articles. When about a half a mile from the house I 
espied in the path before me a dozen or more of Indians, As 
they had also seen me, it was of no use to retreat; therefore; I 
made up my mind to go ahead. As 1 came in siglit of these 
stalwart fellows. I noticed they had formed some plan in refer- 
ence to myself, and they soon commenced trying to pull me ofl 
the pony I was riding, jabbering and insisting it was it,- ' 
pony, but I stuck to the animal thinking they had no serious in- 
tention of doing me any injury. After a while I broke away 
from them and put the pony to the top of his speed. One of the 
Indians od foot chased me quite a distance.. being able to out- 
run my pony, and when he got within shooting distance 1.- 
would drop upon one knee, take aim and pretend to tic. but 
only flashing the powder in the pan of his unloaded flint-lock 
rifle. It was enough, however, to frighten me almost to death. 
Finally he got tired of the fan, and T proceeded on my way and 


borrowed enough coffee for a drawing. On returning home I 
found the Indians. My brother asked the leading Indian what 
their intentions were regarding me. lie answered saving, "We 
only wanted to frighten the little papoose." 

It was an old saying that you could not tame an Indian, and 
I remember an early effort in that direction which was a dismal 
failure. The family of Mr. Armine Pickett discovered a young 
Indian about twenty years old, who appeared to be a good sub- 
ject for the white man to try his taming process upon. He was 
known as ''Indian John,"' and was domiciled in Mr. Pickett's 
family for some time, working upon the farm and performing 
the usual services of a laboring man, and he seemed quite 
handy. He lived in the house, ate with the family, slept in a 
bed and seemd to take naturally to the habits and practices of 
his white brother. One winter he attended the district school 
as a companion to his white brother, James Pickett. He sat in 
the school house during the school hours, and pretended to 
study. He seemed to be desirous of learning something from 
books, but he was a dull, stupid fellow, and made but little 
progress during his winter attendance at school. He Mas more 
interested with the slate and pencil than study. Still he was 
kindly, and all of us boys took a great interest in him, and he 
participated in all our sports and games. When the school was 
out and the spring had come, the general opinion was freely ex- 
pressed that the wildness of Indian John was out of him; that 
in reality he was tamed, and that he would continue to be like 
a white man and live with them, but one day John turned up 
missing, ne left unexpectedly to his friends, and the place to 
which he bad gone was unknown, lie had made no sign of 
discontent. As it were, he walked out in the darkness and was 
lost to sight. Some apprehensh n was felt about him. — that he 
had been foully dealt with. Several weeks elapsed before any 
tidings came of John, and it came in this manner. He reported 
himself. One bright sunny afternoon from out of the oak 
openings there came an Indian with a squaw walking behind 
him. As they approached nearer to the log house "and to the 
mill they attracted close attention, and when within hailing 
distance the familiar features of Indian John were recognized, 
but he was no longer a white man. He was dressed in the garb 
of his race; his face was striped"in various colors of paint; the 





quills of the eagle were tied in his hair; his buckskin suit was 
rich and gaudy — in the best style of his tribe. A beautiful 
young Indian woman Avas his companion, and in answer to an 
inquiry as to who she was, he replied, saying, "My squaw." So 
it was and turned out to bo, that he had doserted his white 
friends, and returned to his native wildness. John had learned 
to speak and understand the English language very well. On 
his first meeting with Mr. Pickett after his return, Mr. P. said 
to him, "John, where in the world have you been all this time?" 
John pulled his blanket a little closer around him and replied, 
''Mr. Pickett, I no understand English any more." And ever 
afterwards he wholly refrained from speaking English if he 
could avoid it. 

His Indian name was Ma-shook-e-nieker. He had taken unto 
himself a wife from his tribe, and he wanted no more to do with 
the manners and customs of the white people. Nevertheless for 
quite a while he remained a favorite with those who had known 
him under other circumstances, but after a short time Indian 
John and his squaw drifted away, following their tribe to some 
other locality, and they were forgotten. 

The Indians of those early days were well off, by which I 
mean they were well dressed, with the best guns made, owners 
of Indian ponies, even quite droves of them, and you could 
hardly find an Indian but had Mexican dollars stowed 
away somewhere on his person, saved up from payments made 
by the government, to be used and invested by them in some- 
thing that might especially please their fancy. And when they 
traveled from point to point through the country, it was not 
generally on foot, but on the backs of their ponies with other 
ponies laden down with camp equipments and other articles. 
I remember well that Mr. George Farmer had been compelled 
to use some of his specie, which he had carefully laid away to 
pay for his land when it came in market, and he was womb-ring 
how he could make up the deficit, when one day an Indian came 
along with several Mexican dollars, which he exchanged with 
Mr. Farmer for sonic brass but ions and other trinkets probably 
not worth twenty-five cents. 

There was an old Indian chief named See-sink-e-tor, who was 

quite prominent in the councils of his tribe, and well known to 

all the old settlers. He attracted a jrood deal of attention, vet 


he was an Indian of an ugly temper, especially when he was 
under the influence of whiskey and many settlers were afraid of 
him. There was a companion piece to old Chief See-sink-e-ter r 
a squaw of uncertain age, called Xich-e-naeker, and reputed to 
be a widow. Judging' from her glibness of tongue, she must 
have outrivaled any white woman in the scolding business, as 
she would make the braves and papooses of her tribe "get up 
and dust" whenever she sounded her notes, in that shrill and 
piercing manner, characteristic of the Indian when speaking in 
a loud and excited tone of voice; but if there was any one thing 
in the world that the poor old girl had a weakness for, it was 
whiskey. She loved it with an affection almost unprecedented, 
and she made it a point to get beastly intoxicated whenever she 
could secure enough of the "scud-a-wa-ba v or firewater to ac- 
complish that purpose. It was lamentable that she should by 
her conduct set such a poor example to the dusky maids and 
matrons of her tribe, but old u Xish'" was so firmly set in her 
way in reference to this enjoyment that modern prohibition, if 
closely applied to her case, would never have accomplished her 

If you should at this period be traveling through a lonesome 
piece of woods, and you should discover a human body poised in 
a treetop, it would undoubtedly startle you exceedingly; but 
that was the custom, at the time I speak of, during the depth 
of winter for the Indians to dispose of their dead, by suspend- 
ing the body in the branches of the trees, high up from the 
earth, carefully wrapped up and securely fastened there to re- 
main undisturbed until the frost should have disappeared in the 
spring so that the body could be consigned to the ground. This 
was the Indian custom in such eases and was generally ob- 

The Winnebagees. at this time, under the treaty, really had 
no right to remain in the vicinity, but still they lingered. They 
hated to leave the hind of their fathers. They refused to go. 
In the summer of 1841 a company of United States Dragoons, 
about one hundred strong, passed through Jefferson county, 
camping one night on the lake near the mills, and gathering up 
all the Indians they could find. Such a well equipped military 
force appeared very formidable indeed. Success attended their 
mission, and a large number of Indians were removed, although 


they soon returned to their old haunts. After several similar 
removals the matter was given up, and the Indians permitted 
to remain wherever they pleased so long as there was no special 
complaint made by the settlers against them. 

For a number of years the present limits of Jefferson county 
contained as many Indians as white people, although the whites 
were swiftly gaining on them in numbers. The Indians gener- 
ally were peaceable and well disposed, although in those early 
days there was a good deal of apprehension on the part of the 
settlers, the most serious of which was an occurrence very 
early. The Indian settlements were mainly in the woods on the 
east bank of the Crawfish, extending from its junction with the 
Bock at Jefferson to about ten miles above Milford. Word 
passed through the settlements from house to house that there 
might be trouble with the Indians; that a young Indian, the 
son of a chief, had suddenly disappeared from his wigwam and 
hunting grounds. His absence could not be accounted for. It 
was charged by his tribe that he had been murdered by the 
white man. This, of course, was most vigorously denied, be- 
cause no grounds for it existed, and no trouble was known be- 
tween the two races which would provoke such a result. Never- 
theless the settlers of the townships of Lake Mills, Aztalan, Jef- 
ferson and Milford felt it incumbent upon themselves to take 
some action in the matter. The murdered Indian was last seen 
in the heavy timber between Aztalan and Jefferson engaged in 
hunting; therefore a most thorough search was instituted in 
that vicinity for some evidence of his disappearance, and the 
people of the several townships turned out en masse, and 
formed a line between the Crawfish and Bock rivers, moving 
forward cautiously and examining every point. Before reach- 
ing the junction of the two rivers, the body of the Indian was 
found. He had been shot through the head. His own title lay 
by his side. The manner of his death was in great doubt. It 
could not be determined whether he had been tired upon from 
ambush and brutally murdered, bad committed suicide, or had 
met with an accidental death. So much doubt was involved in 
the matter, that his Indian relatives and friends became quieted, 
as they could not charge with any reason, that the death of the 
Indian had been caused by the bullet of a white man. Still I 
remember very well that the" impression prevailed very strongly 


among the settlers that a certain -white man, a hunter by occu- 
pation, who about that time disappeared, was the man responsi- 
ble for the death of the Indian. 

A few years previous a white land huuter had been murdered 
near Johnson's Creek. Vigorous effort was made by Gor. 
Dodge of the territory to arrest and punish the murderers, and 
an old Indian chief and his son were arrested, charged with the 
crime, and during the period of the summer of '37 that I at- 
tended school at the old court house at Milwaukee, these two 
were confined in the jail. The old Indian was sullen and un- 
communicative, although during their confinement both had 
learned to speak the English language quite well. Cut John, 
so called, the son, became well acquainted with the school chil- 
dren, and was a great favorite with them. Many hours have 
I spent at the grated window in communication with him, and 
almost daily my luncheon was shared with him. When the 
time for our departure to the Rook river country came, John was 
affected to tears, and in his broken English he struggled to say, 
"I so sorry you go; you so good to me. I never see you more." 

Very soon thereafter Gov. Dodge came to the conclusion that 
there was so much doubt about their guilt that he ordered them 
set at liberty, and the old chief and his son resumed their 
tribal relations somewhere in the interior of the territory, but 
ever afterwards kept shy of the white settlement. 

Only five years before our settlement in Lake Mills had the 
Black Hawk war been concluded. Black Hawk and his band 
were pursued through this section of the territory by regular 
troops, by volunteers, and by friendly Indians in greater num- 
bers than he possessed. His stronghold avus at the head of 
Lake Koshkonong. Two young girls, named Rachel and Sylvia 
Hall, who had been stolen by Rlaek Hawk and his band from 
their parents near Ottawa, Illinois, were ransomed by the pay- 
ment of $2,000, by some friendly Winnebagoos. who represented 
the Indian agent at Galena. In this pursuit Black Hawk's line 
of flight was from Lake Koskonong towards Whitewater 
through Bark River woods, where lie crossed the river not far 
from Jefferson Junction, and then went on westward through 
Lake Mills to Cottage Grove and Madison to the Wisconsin 
river, where the battle occurred, and where the destruction of 
his band was made almost complete. 


Very soon after the first settlement of the village an interest 
sprang up among the residents for the establishment of a school. 
The first school I attended was taught by Mrs. J. F. Ostrander, 
at Aztalan, in the summer of *.'iS, and I used to walk the dis- 
tance most of the time on barefoot. It was then thought to be 
quite a task, but the necessity of attendance was so apparent 
that I fulfilled my part of the programme without complaint. 
My father finally concluded that there should be a school nearer 
home, so as soon as the saw mill was completed and the lumber 
for building purposes could be procured, he built a schoolhouse 
at his own expense, and hired a teacher to teach the school, who 
was Miss Eosey Catlin of Cottage Grove. She boarded in our 
family, and my father paid her salary. This w T as the .first 
school, and was not very large, only about a dozen scholars, and 
was taught in the summer of 183Q. The next school we had 
was taught by Miss Nancy At wood, now Mrs. Daniel Wood, 
who is living and is one of the few pioneer women of Lake Mills 
who are spared to us today. I remember this lady with a re- 
gard almost akin to love. She was a most successful teacher, 
and the children of her school all loved her with a sincere affec- 
tion. She possessed The happy faculty of enkindling in the 
minds of her pupils a strong desire to learn, and they were al- 
ways obedient to her. There was about, her, as I remember, an 
ease and dignity that well befitted the school-room. As I look 
back through the years, I can find no recollection of my school 
life that was so pleasurable to me as the time I attended Miss 
Nancy Atwood's school in this village. I always flattered my- 
self that I was a great favorite of hers. She seemed to take 
extra pains with me in helping me out of difficulties in my 
studies, and especially in my ideas of the ait of composition, and 
if I am not mistaken, and I think I am not, seme of those com- 
positions of mine prepared at thai early day were not wholly 
original with me, but were in a great measure inspired by her. 
Nevertheless the instruction was valuable. Miss Atwood 
taught three terms, commencing in the summer of 1840. 

The school succeeding the one taught by Miss Atwood was a 
winter school, anil was taught by a genlh man. The first one, 
I think, by Mr. Birdsall, in the same old wooden schoolhouse. 
After a while the district was organized and a brick school- 
house constructed, and more "dignity attached to the school. In 

• 23 

those early days the schoolmaster always boarded around. 
That is, all the families that sent children to school, in propor- 
tion to the number sent, hoarded the school teacher. The boys 
out the wood and took turns in building- the fire, and this prac- 
tice prevailed until the village had grown, and it became neces- 
sary to put on more style. 

For a short time Lake Mills had a seminary. It was taught 
by two gentlemen, brothers-in-law, named S. W. Miinn and 
Henry Mixer. It was an object of great interest and very suc- 
cessful as long as it continued. It was well supported by the 
people with a goodly number, of students. Tl?e manner of its 
location in Lake Mills was as follows: 

During the time I was a farmer boy upon the I'hillip's place, 
at about noontime one day a man drove into the yard with a 
peddler's cart, and inquired if he could feed the horse, get 
some dinner, and pay for it in goods. I answered that I reck- 
oned he could. His horse was put in the stable, and he sat 
down to dinner witli the family. In conversation with him we 
learned he was looking for a place to establish a select school. 
I suggested Lake Mills as probably the best point in the state. 
He seemed pleased with the suggestion, and investigated the 
matter as fully as he could during his brief stay with us. He 
left, promising to communicate with me further, which he did 
very soon. The result was an agreement to open a seminary at 
Lake Mills, and at an appointed time I met the two gentlemen 
with their families in Milwaukee, where they had landed from 
a steamer, and brought them and their household goods to this 
place. That fall the srhool was fairly started — in 'IS — but 
only maintained an existence for one year when it was closed, 
and the parties left the place. Mr. S. W. Munn. the principal, 
was afterward a resident of Joliet in Illinois, a. member of the 
state's senate and a very prominent citizen. 

As the settlement increased, and there became resident of 
Lake Mills a number of families with children, more interest 
was created in the school question. This territory had been a 
portion of the Aztahm district, and in the opinion of tin 1 settlers 
the time had come when it should be divided, and Lake Mills 
and itsproper surroundings be organized into a separate school 
district. Therefore notice was given on the fifth day of June, 
1841, that there would be a meeting of the regular voters for 


the purpose of organization. On the twelfth day of 
June in said year, a meeting was held in the old school district 
No. 3, -which included Aztalan, for the purpose of organizing the 
Lake Mills district. Joseph Koyes was chosen moderator; 
Lester Atwood, clerk; Issac At wood, collector; Joseph Keyes, 
Armine IMckett and Wm. S. Wadwell were chosen trustees for 
one year. The only business transacted was the election of 
these officers. At a meeting held in said district on November 
12th, 1S11, it was voted to raise £42.00 to support three months 
school, and §15.00 was appropriated to buy a stove and pipe. 
At a third meeting of the district held April 12th, 1842, it was 
voted to have sixteen weeks summer school; and at a meeting 
of the district held February 22nd, 1811, it was voted to raise 
$200.00 toward building a new schoolhouse, and Benjamin Salts 
and A. J. Waterbury were appointed a committee to select the 
site. Work was commenced upon the building in the early 
spring of that year, and the work continued, with frequent in- 
tervals, and was finally finished and ready for occupancy in the 
year 1S15. 

The male teachers employed by the district for the winter 
school in the old and new schoolhouse were Albert Birdsall, IT. 
W. Barnes, J. F. Johnson and Mr. Goodrich, who formerly 
taught in Aztalan, S. A. Boys. P. B. Pease, and one other whose 
name I cannot recall. The old schoolhouse stood on Madison 
St., second building from the corner of Main, northwest. I 
think the main body of the building is in existence yet, having 
formed intimate relations with a more modern structure. At 
that time it was a building of groat general interest. The rear 
end of the building contained a board shelf standing out from 
the wall at a proper slope, and in front were benches made of 
slabs resting upon posts fastened into largo auger holes. 
Toward the front there were several rows of these kind of scats. 
each about twelve feet long. The style of these desks and 
benches was not very attractive, nevertheless ihey served their 
purpose well. This old schoolhouse was used for church pur- 
poses until the new brick schoolhouse was completed in 181.*). I 
think the first school was held in this schoolhouse in the sum- 
mer of ls.°.0. 

The settlers of Lake Mills r were men of high character, honest 
and moral men, and while there were no churches, no conven- 


iences for tlie people to gather together and listen to the word 
of God, still there was a strong feeling on the sub- 
ject, and whenever a volunteer preacher was to be had a notice 
was given of a meeting on some Sunday, and the people would 
gather there to worship in an earnest manner. 
Services were held and sermons preached to the people by itin- 
erant preachers long before there was any church organization 
in the village. I cannot forbear to mention that class of noble 
men who followed the pioneers soon after their first settlement 
in Lake Mills and Jefferson county. I have reference to that 
class of men known as the Methodist circuit riders. Where 
they came from one hardly knew, but they were earnest men 
of God determined to carry the gospel into the wilderness, and 
our log house was hardly ready for occupancy before one of 
them appeared at our door asking shelter and the privilege to 
hold services therein, which was granted. I remember one, 
Elder Halstead by name, who came there tired and hungry ask- 
ing for something to eat. My mother had nothing in the house 
but enough buckwheat flour to make one batch of cakes, which 
she prepared for him and which he ate. I shall never cease to 
have respect for that class of men, and shall always cherish 
their memory. 

Methodist meetings were frequently held in our log house, 
and in due time a Methodist Church society was organized. 
The Methodists were the first denomination who received recog- 
nition on the part of the settlers, and it was quite a while be- 
fore any other society put in an appearance. The Methodist 
minister of those early days went at his work in a direct and 
forcible way. He struck from the shoulder. He preached the 
gospel and that alone. There were no side issues. The Bible 
was his text book, his guide and his friend. 

The Kev. Washington Philo, an Episcopalian missionary sta- 
tioned at Madison, used to come frequently to Lake Mills, and 
hold services on a Sunday in our ]<><_•; house. He was a kindly 
man, and was fully impressed with the idea that he was ac- 
complishing very much in the service of his Master. On one 
occasion when he was making a trip from Madison to this 
place he met with a serious mishap. In passing over the 
corduroy road this side of Deerfield. he got off of his horse to 
walk. The horse passed along quietly at first, but being a little 


thirsty and seeing water in the marsh at the end of the logs, 
proposed to have a drink, and the result was that in a few mo- 
ments he was inextricably caught in the mire past all help of 
being gotten out by the Elder. The reverend gentleman 
footed it to Lake Mills, and in the middle: of the night our fam- 
ily was aroused by the loud halloo of some one in trouble. It 
was quickly responded to by my father and the mill hands. 
When it was learned that the horse of the Elder was mired in 
the marsh, a party was made up and proceeded to the scene of 
the mishap, and speedily succeeded in pulling the hourse out 
upon the corduroy and leading him into more comfortable quar- 
ters. The Elder recovered from his accident none the worse for it 
and held services as usual. On one occasion when he arrived 
at our house, my father and mother were absent. We gathered 
around the supper table, but no one of the party seemed to un- 
derstand the proprieties <>f the situation to the extent of ask- 
ing the Elder to pronounce a blessing, so the Elder thought he 
would do it on his own account. He had just raised his hands 
and dropped his head to proceed when Mr. Byington, one of our 
boarders, unwittingly passed him the plate of bread. The 
Elder was equal to the emergency. lie opened his eyes, threw 
back his head, dropped his hand upon a slice of bread, and the 
invocation contemplated was lost to the party assembled at the 
supper table. 

There was another itinerant who preached very frequently 
in the old schoolhouse prior to '43, and that was the Rev. E. 
fclingerland of Sun Prairie of the Dutch Reform Church. He 
was a very interesting man in conversation and a very good 
preacher, and we all liked him exceedingly and encouraged his 
coming although he was a masterful eater, and diminished our 
supply of eatables in a manner very satisfactory to himself. 

Another, a Baptist minister by the name of Matthews, was 
an early pioneer in the cause at this period of time, and made 
frequent trips through this section of the country, stopping at 
our house, lie was not popular. lb' was called a '•crank"' or 
rather a. fanatic as. T think, at that early time ihe word "crank"' 
had not been mined for general use. He was a great ami- 
slavery agitator, and the majority of the people being against 
the agitation of the slaverv/piestion at that time, he was looked 
upon with disfavor, ami frequently had to run the gauntlet of 


rotten eggs, but he was an earnest ami sincere man, an English- 
man by birth, and was entitled to receive better treatment than 
was often times dealt out to him. 

As I said all the ministers put up at our house, so it became 
my duty to take care of their horses, and it seemed rather hard 
when the oats were scarce and high that they should be con- 
sumed by the horses of these travelers, and I must confess that 
sometimes I got out of all patience with the business. But 
generally we were honest with the minister and his horse. He 
paid nothing for his own fare, and never anything for the 
horse, not even a shilling to the hostler. I remember one in- 
stance when a minister stopped at our house, and I put his old 
white horse in the barn and gave him some hay. The horse 
was poor, tired and hungry and, really, he excited my pity. 
Marsh hay had not proved very nourishing to the animal, and 
I really felt moved to give the old creature a full measure of 
oats. To that end I talked the matter over with my bother 
Abe. We looked at the horse, considered the matter, and 
finally deeided thnt as a matter of Christian duty a peck of 
oats should go into the manger and into the horse, and it went. 
I have heard a good deal about casting bread upon the waters 
and that it would return after many days, but I really do not 
now remember whether Abe and T ever got our credit for that 
peck of oats, but it is probable we have although we have no 
special record of it. 

There was a desire on the part of all to improve the church 
music, and, therefore, after a while a singing school was organ- 
ised, taught by Dr. Merriman. and all the young of both sexes 
were quite prompt in their attendance, and manifested a great 
deal of interest, in the instruction. At that time the Metho- 
dists held meetings in the schoolhonso in the afternoon and the 
Congregationalists in the forenoon, and one choir sang for both. 
P. IJ. Pease was the leader. On one occasion Rev. Mr. Seward, 
the Congregational minister, gave out the hymn and the choir 
sang it well, as they thought, putting into its rendition all the 
unction they possessed. When the reverend gentleman gave 
out the second hymn during the services, he remarked to the 
choir, "If you cannot sing this better than you did the first one, 
you had better not sing it at all." Of course the choir thus sat 
down upon by the reverend gentleman went, into a state of 


collapse. I presume tliere are a number here in Lake Mills who 
still remember Mr. Reward and his peculiarities; that he 
wanted everything done in his own way and no diversions. 
While hardly knowing one tune from another, he claimed to be 
' a musical critic. 

The Rev. O. 1'. Clinton, Congregational minister and mission- 
ary, preached in Aztalan and Lake Mills from '43 to 'JLG. He 
was succeeded by the Rev. E. D. Seward in April, IS 40, with 
the church organization dating in the following year. The 
Methodist ministers and circuit riders were the first ones to put 
in an appearance in the village, which continued to grow and 
prosper from the time the first sermon was preached. 

The utmost friendliness and good feeling prevailed among 
all the (?) early settlers. Any note of trouble, any sound of 
alarm, any call for assistance, no matter what it might be was 
responded to with alacrity. The settler was ready any mo- 
ment to divide with his neighbor his last pound of flour and his 
last piece of pork. If there was any sickness in the neighbor- 
hood, every possible assistance was rendered by all. It has al- 
ways seemed to me that there was more Christian charity man- 
ifested toward ail in those early days than has appeared at any 
time since. Social gatherings of the settlers in the log cabins 
were very frequent, and the women visited back and forth with 
one another at regular intervals. The same kindly feeling was 
seen in the intercourse of the younger people of the families — 
the boys and girls — and as soon as civilization, so to speak, had 
advanced far enough, a regular ball was announced to come oil' 
at the Lake Mills House in this tallage. Cards of invitation 
were issued. "While rather young I was invited, and my mother 
insisted that I was big enough to go, and that I should invite a 
girl and take my place in line with those who wereolder. As I 
remember I was a timid lad. and it required a good deal of 
courage to (what seemed to me at that time a terrible ordeal) 
invite a girl to go to the ball with me, but with the help of pry 
good mother it was made easy. T consulted her and was gov- 
erned by her advice. I said to her I should like to invite Qliye 
Pickett, if she thought she would not give me the mitten. She 
replied that that was just the thing for me to to. so I kind of 
gently consulted Olive on , the subject, but she replied that my 
brother Abe had already spoken to her about the matter. I at 


once reported this condition of things to my mother, and she at 
once flared up indignantly and said Abe should do no such 
thing, and thereupon she "knocked him out in the first round," 
and Olive was duly booked to be my partner at the ball. The 
tickets required us to put in an appearance at the Lake Mills 
House at two o'clock in the afternoon, ^o I started out early 
after dinner -with the best horse and buggy I could procure, 
visited. the Pickett family around the lake about three miles 
away, secured my partner and reached the Lake Mills House at 
three o'clock, the first one on the job. I managed to get 
through the exercises of the evening without any discredit to 
myself, and was most successfully sustained in so doing by the 
beautiful, black-eyed, little girl who was my partner. Ladies 
and gentlemen, I have the pleasure of introducing her to you 
at this time, and which I now do — Mrs. Olive Pickett Wood. 

To facilitate traveling when on visiting excursions, my 
mother and her friends rede in an ox cart, which was a vehicle 
with wheels sawed from the end of a large oaken log with the 
box set upon the axle between the wheels, and a long pole to 
which the yoked oxen were hitched. This was considered to be 
a first class conveyance, and I was the driver and conductor on 
many a joyful occasion as the more distant, families were 
visited, and when we came to a smooth stretch of road our 
oxen would trot as quickly and as easily as a fancy pair of 
roadsters today. I felt proud of my position as driver of that 
ox cart. 

Those of the settlers who became domiciled in the fall of 
1S37 were prepared in the spring of 1S3S to spade or break up 
a patcli of ground, and to plant potatoes and other vegetables 
to a small extent. The product, though meager, was of great 

At first there was very little sickness, but as the land became 
broken and otherwise improved, fevers, particularly ague and 
fever, prevailed x^vy generally, and I presume then 1 is not an 
old settler living in Jefferson county who has not had some ter- 
rible experience with the "shakes" which he will never forget. 
The change from the east to the west was a striking one in 
many respects. The climate was different; the water and food 
also were dill'erent. I remember there was one trouble from 
which nearly all the old settlers suffered, and which was at- 


tributed to a variety of causes. It was a disease that w as 
never known to prove fatal, though it was very annoying ami 
frequently productive of a good deal of profanity, but it had t<» 
be endured as patiently as possible, for there were no means 
discovered to cure it. It really had to wear itself out. I allude 
to that old affliction which the settlers cannot certainly have 
forgotten known as "prairie itch." It was very amusing at 
times to see a whole family out around a log house, leaning 
against the butt ends of the logs scratching first one shoulder 
and then the other, touching points that could not be easily 
reached with the hands. One of the mills hands, whom we had 
at work for us. was afflicted with this disease most savagely. 
He said he never was so happy and felt so well in his life as he 
did when he stood before a rousing fire at night-time, and could 
scratch at his leisure without let or hindrance. 

In those early days dogs were reasonably plenty and cats cor- 
respondingly scarce. Our old dog was named "Watch" and her 
best point was to sound the alarm by a vigorous bark whenever 
any one approached the place in night or day, and it was the 
practice when the dog barked for every one to run to the door 
to see who was coming. Watch was a great enemy of the In- 
dians, and frequently had to be chained up to prevent her at- 
tacking every one in sight. 

A good cat was worth a live dollar bill. It is true that there 
were not many mice in the country at that time, perhaps none. 
except a few who had found a quiet corner in some box of 
goods, and thus been brought to the west. Still the women 
could not be perfectly happy unless they had a cat. I remem- 
ber the great interest that centered around, the first one we 
possessed, which was a beautiful animal, and there Mas great 
strife between the members of tin* household '«> see who should 
have the cat for a sleeping companion. In the cold weather the 
fur of the cat was very comfortable. 

In the winter of '37-'3S, a. young topographical engineer, who 
surveyed ami superin tended the construction of the road from 
Madison to Milwaukee by May of Lake Mills, was a member of 
our family, and while there speni a good deal of his time in 
making maps of Ins surveys of the road. Ho became very much 
attached to this cat, and he would catch it in his arms in the 
early evening and go up the ladder to bed among the first, so 



he could monopolize the cat. This man afterwards, as the 
years rolled on, became well known throughout the country. 
He was a general in the army of the Union during the war of 
the Rebellion, and afterwards a prominent federal officer in 
Chicago. I allude to the late Gen. J. D. Webster. 

The first celebration of our national anniversary in Lake 
Mills and Jefferson county, was on the Fourth day of July A. D. 
1S39. It was held in the grove, a little west and south of our 
log house, on the ground now occupied by Haskin's Hotel. 
This event occurred fifty-five years ago the coming Fourth of 
July. It seems a long time, and it is, and though then a boy 
of not many years, the events of that day are as indelibly traced 
upon the tablets of my memory as though they occurred but 
yesterday. The old pioneers with their families assembled 
from miles around. The bright sun shone upon them in un- 
clouded splendor, and the smiles of Heaven welcomed them. 
With hearts full of gratitude to God, they entered upon the 
duties of that day. Fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, 
gathered in from that stretch of beautiful land between this 
lake set here in the gentle hills and the Crawfish river, a few 
miles away. They came from their log cabins, sparsely dotting 
the rich landscape of those earlier years. They came, some in 
wagons and some in carts drawn by faithful oxen, and some on 
foot. The lad and the lassie could have been seen emerging 
from the bright green foliage of the oaks, the sunbeams dancing 
in their pathway, both riding upon the same horse. From out 
of the wilds they came, following the footprints" of the wild 
deer, and the trails of the Indian hunters. 

What grand inspiration moved with one accord those few 
settlers of that year long ago! It was high and holy patriot- 
ism, love of country, a desire to do honor to the Nation's birth' 
day in a manner befiting their means and number. They 
were noble types of American citizenship. From their homes 
in old New England and the east, they bad brought with them 
the principles of undying liberty. Their mission was to found 
an empire in the rich places of the distant west to be forever 
consecrated to freedom. There w;is n»> ringing of bells, no 
strains of soul-stirring music to enliven that scene, but yet, 
many of the formalities of later years were carefully observed. 
There was an invocation to the Most High by the chaplain, the 


reading of the Declaration of Independence, the delivery of the 
oration, the march and procession, and last, thought not least, 
the dinner in the grove beneath the overhanging branches of 
the trees. 

The officers of the day were as follows: President, Capt, 
Joseph Keyes; Chaplain, Re v. Mr. Pillsbury; Reader of the 
Declaration, Nathaniel F. Hyer; Orator, J. F. Ostrander; Com- 
mittee of Arrangements, Capt. Joseph Keyes, James Payne and 
John Starkweather; Committee of Ordinance, Nelson P. 
Hawks; on Music, James Rabcock and James Williams. 

Among those I remember to haveb een present with their fami- 
lies were: George Hebard, James Manville, James Payne, David 
Hyer, R. Ingraham, H. L. Foster, Thos. Dray ton, Benjamin Nute, 
George Lamphere, Reuben Keene, Silas Styles, Walter S. Hyer, 
Hugh Rriggs, Jno. Atwood, E. L. Atwood, Capt. Robert 
Masters, Royal Tyler, R. M. Nevins, J. F. Ostrander, Capt. 
Joseph Keyes, George Farmer, Nelson P. Hawks. There were 
present also: J. D. Waterbury and sister, Mrs. Rabcock. 
Charles Rrayton, Louise Drayton and Antoinette Drayton (chil- 
dren of Jeremiah L. Bray ton), two Misses Laudtz, Harvey 
Foster, Volney Foster, Hopstil Foster, Mrs. Zilpah Drown, Miss 
Nancy Atwood and sister, Theron Plumb, Samuel Hosley, 
Stephen Hawks, George Hyer, William Drayton. James Dray- 
ton, Alfred Drayton, George Hayden, James Dabcock, Jno. 
Starkweather, James Williams, N. F. Hyer. 

The music of the occasion was a. life and a fiddle, which led 
the procession in its line of march. Mr. James Williams piped 
the shrill notes of the file, and Mr. James Dabcock manipulated 
the fiddle to the satisfaction of all. The gun used for the 
salutes was an anvil from the shop, and it performed most ex- 
cellent work. The dinner table was laden with the best the 
neighborhood afforded, the contributions of those who sat down 
to it. At one end was a roast, pig, with head and tail erect; at 
the other end a large piece of a similar animal, but of maturer 
age. A sprinkling of "green sass," and various other et ceteras 
filled up the intervening space. No ardent, spirits were used 
or needed to awaken enthusiasm: a few lemons had been pro- 
vided for the after dinner exercises of the toasts, but when 
sought for they were found to have mysteriously disappeared, 
having been stolen and sucked dry by a lawless fellow, who was 


in the employ of Royal Tyler. Perhaps I ought to say in ex- 
tenuation of his offense, that he divided a few of them with the 
boys. The banner of freedom, emblem of our liberties, which 
gayly floated over them on that memorable day. was, unlike the 
star spangled banner, immortalized by the poet Key. It was 
improvised out of a red shawl with blue stripes, and with a red 
cotton handkerchief figured with white stars, pinned on one 
corner. The shawl was furnished by a good mother present, 
and the cotton wipe was ransacked from a coat pocket in the 
crowd. This poor substitute for a national flag was raised 
upon a tamarack pole, from the top of which it gloriously 
waved all day. At its close it had to be cut' down to restore to 
the owners the handkerchief and the shawl. 

The table was spread, and the exerises of the day were held 
on the ridge south of the old mill, a little south and west of my 
father's log house, which stood upon the present site of Miles 
Millard's former residence. There were no other buildings here 
except the saw mill, which was about that time completed. 

Two of the early settlers. Mi", and Mrs. Jeremiah Brayton, 
failed to grace the festivities of the occasion with their pres- 
ence, and for what seemed to them a good reason. It was 
rumored, yet untruly, that Mr. James Payne, one of the commit- 
tee of arrangements, had procured from Milwaukee some 
brandy to be drank at the celebration. The strong temperance 
principles of the good deacon ami his plucky wife could not 
countenance such a proceeding 1 , and so they stayed home. I 
doubt not that in later years they felt proud of the position they 
assumed in favor of total abstinence. 

There was one incident of the day in which I was personally 
concerned. I was not expected to take a very important part 
in the exercises; ;tnd 1 was considered too young to march in 
the procession with a girl, and not old enough to eat at the lirst 
table; but as the sequel proved, and unexpectedly to myself. I 
did both. With the other lads 1 was marching the line of 
march, outside of and independent of its regularity; at this mo- 
ment, a critical one to rue, one of the committee of arrange- 
ments, a stalwart bachelor, who had upon his arm a beautiful 
young lady, with a younger sister tugging at his disengaged 
hand, in a tone of authority called me to him. Innocent of sur- 
prise or sudden ambush, and expecting only some trivial com- 


mand, I obeyed the summons. His fingers clutched my ami, 
and in The twinkling of an eye I was formed into the line with 
the little trembling miss, not too young to blush, as a clinging 
attachment. The jeers and laughter of my playmates at my 
sudden transposition from a boy sovereign on the Fourth \<< 
such dignified associations seem to be ringing in my ears today. 
The column soon halted at the refreshment table, and I was 
seated with the rest, awaiting results with many apprehensions. 
Soon I espied my good mother examining the table arranging 
to place some extra seats. If I was discovered I feared an ex- 
plosion that boded me no good. 1 shrank into as small space as 
I possibly could, but there was no escape; the firmness of her 
presence was overwhelming; her large, blue eye was set search- 
ingly upon me. Although there by compulsion, still I felt 
guilty of violating the proprieties of the occasion by my pres- 
ence. With outstretched arm and finger pointed full upon me, 
my mother exclaimed, "Elisha, what are you doing there? Get 
right up and out as soon as you can." I was preparing to "get*' 
when the author of my embarrassment came to the rescue by 
calling the attention of my indignant mother to the timid 
maiden by my side. With quick wit she took in the suituation 
and retiring in good order, she said. "If that don't beat all; who 
would have thought it!" 

The little lady who was my companion on that not unevent- 
ful day was Miss Antoinette Drayton, youngest daughter of 
the late Jeremiah L. Urayton. then residing upon the river 
bank, not far below A/.talan. Afterwards, as the years rolled 
on, she grew into a beautiful woman and became the esteemed 
wife of one of Wisconsin's earliest pioneers. Hon. 1. W. Bird of 
Jefferson, but now. with many of her early associates she sleeps 
the sleep that knows no waking. 

This celebration of the anniversary of onr national Independ- 
ence was, I think, the first ever held in the present limits of Jef- 
ferson county, and was, therefore, a notable occasion. There 
was a Aery general turnout of the settlers easterly from this 
place, including the present towns of Mil ford. A/.talan and -Jef- 
ferson, there being no settlement west of here. Still there Were 
less than a hundred present, all told. men. woman and children. 

In Lake Mills and also in other places in Jefferson county, 
there were organizations, of the settlers into clubs for the pur- 

85 1742420 

pose of protecting each other in their rights to the claims they 
made upon government land, which was not then in the market. 
These organizations were strong, in fact, they were composed 
of the entire body of settlers, and no person dared with impun- 
ity attempt to interfere with the rights of the settlers so far as 
their claims to their land was concerned. Still there was such 
an operation known as '-jumping a claim" in cases where there 
had been an abandonment, and where it became apparent the 
land had not been selected and claimed in good faith. But 
these difficulties were generally met in an amicable manner. If 
any one had been bold enough to assert a claim to another's 
land, not sustained by the rules of the club, he would have been 
driven out of the settlement. Thereupon under the rules and 
practices of this organization, a man could claim what land he 
thought he wanted, providing he was the first man upon it, built 
his shanty, and declared his intentions as to the number of 
forties and quarter sections that he wanted for his own pur- 
poses. Without the powerful influence of these organizations, 
and the concentration of public sentiment caused by them, 
there would! doubtless have been a good deal of trouble and dif- 
ficulty growing out of the question involved. Tin; first land in 
Lake Mills and vicinity was offered for sale at the government: 
land office in Milwaukee in the winter of '30, and all those de- 
siring to purchase or make good the title to their claim had to 
be on hand with the money to perfect their titles. At that 
time my father made purchase of the land about Lake Mills, 
nearly a section in all. There was very little trouble at the 
land office; no interfering with what might be called vested 
rights. Every man asserted his claim and was permitted to bid 
off the land, and obtain the title to the same. 

Aztalan or "The Ancient City" as it was sometimes called, 
claimed a little seniority over Lake .Mills: that the latter should 
be subordinated to the former, and. therefore, a good deal of 
rivalry existed between the two places after they had fairly 
started on the read to prosperity and growth. There were two 
roads frem Aztalan to the head of the lake, one; by Lake Mills, 
and the other by Royal Tyler's, on the east, leaving out this 
place. It is a fact thai Aztalan people exercised all their in- 
fluence with travelers to induce them to go by the Tyler road. 
''It is so much better," they said, ''and so much nearer."' To 


meet this objection my father cut out the road four rods wide 
from Lake 31 ills clear to Ustrauder Prairie, and built bridges 
and improved it generally, doing it all at his own expense. 
James Payne was the postmaster of Atzalan, and for several 
years in succession my father made efforts to secure the estab- 
lishment of a postoilice at Lake Mills, but was not successful. 
Finally he made one grand effort, lie went out to Madison and 
secured the endorsement upon his petition of nearly all the of- 
ficials of the territory, including the legislature. Thus he fi- 
nally accomplished the object desired, and a postoffice was es- 
tablished at Lake Mills, October Oth, 1>44, and my father ap- 
pointed postmaster. His assistant postmaster was E. W. 

Bitter feeling existed for some time between the two places 
and the two postothees. My father religiously believed that the 
mail matter for Lake Mills was detained or destroyed at the 
Aztalan postofiice, and for a long time the mail for Lake Mills 
was diverted at Milwaukee, and came in via Madison. 

At one of our Fourth of July celebrations the liberty pole, 
which had been raised for independence day, was bored through 
with an auger the night before, and felled to the ground. Of 
course, this act of vandalism was laid at the doors of our neigh- 
bors of "The Ancient City.'' 

To come back for a moment to the old saw mill with its saw 
propelled by an old fashioned flutter wheel. During its time it 
accomplished a great work, and sawed a large amount of most 
excellent lumber. Logs were drawn to the mill from a distance 
around of, at least, ten miles. Rock river woods supplied a 
large quantity of the best material, such as black walnut, but- 
ternut, ash, cherry, poplar, bass wood and oak, and not a little 
tamarack from nearer by. Logs were drawn in from that point 
of. land between the Crawfish ami Koch fiver, near Jefferson. 
A good deal of the lumber that Meat into the construstion of 
the old territorial Capitol was sawed by this mill. For a long 
time after the mill went into operation, the logs drawn there 
by its patrons were sawed into lumber for one half the logs pro- 
duced. "When matters had become a little more promising, my 
father adopted a more liberal rule, and sawed the logs for one 
third of the boards. As soon as the logs were converted into 
lumber and the same had become seasoned, then it was that 


the settlers commenced building barns, outhouses, dwellings 
for themselves, and frequently additions to their log houses. 
One cold winter night, soon after the mill had been completed 
and was in operation, the family were awakened by the roaring 
of water. My father and his mill hands were aroused, and 
went forth to discover what the trouble was. It was found 
that the dam under the grist mill flume had become under- 
mined, and that the water was rushing through with great ve- 
locity, carrying the timber and gravel the length of the grist 
mill race, and filling the foundation of the grist mill full of 
gravel and other debris. It was at once apparent that no ef- 
fort would stop the rush of the water, and, therefore, the men 
proceeded to the outlet of the lake, and hastily constructed a 
dam across its mouth, which, of course, accomplished the de- 
sired object, and when the water had run out of the pond, the 
damage could be ascertained and repaired. This was a great 
discouragement to my father, and it took some time and consid- 
erable expense to repair the damage caused; still he went for- 
ward with that courage which always characterized all of his 
movements, and in a few weeks the saw mill was in running- 
order again. 

The first postoffice established in the county was that of Jef- 
ferson on April 1st. 1S37, and X. F. liver was appointed post- 
master. Although the office was called Jefferson, it was 
located and its business transacted at- Aztalan, On July 31st, 
1830, the name of the otlice was changed to Aztalan, and 
James Payne appointed postmaster. At the 1 same time a new 
office was created at -Jefferson taking that name, and Enoch G. 
Darling appointed postmaster. An otlice was established at 
W'atertown August 154 h, 1SJ7. and William M, Dennis ap- 
pointed postmaster. At Fort Atkinson on July 5th, 1S39, and 
Dwight Foster appointed postmaster. At Lake Mills October 
9th, 1844, and Joseph lyeyes appointed postmaster. As will 
be seen those six offices wore the first established in Jefferson 
county, as the records of the postoftice department at Washing- 
Ton will show. At that time postoffices did, not increase as 
rapidly as tiny have since then. 

The first office of Jefferson was opened for business before 
there was any regular mail service to supply it, and any one 
responsible, making the trip to Milwaukee had the opportunity 


of carrying tlie mail in his coat pockets or tied up in a bundle, 
and the mail only came semi-oecasionally. 

"When the question arose, as it did very early in the history 
of this settlement, as to what the name of the town should be, 
there was a good deal of interest manifested, and quite a diver- 
sity of opinion. My father decided that the place should be 
called Lake Mills — something that was local and something 
that was characteristic of the place, "For," said he, ''there is 
the lake and here are the mills therefore, let us call the place 
Lake Mills."' The first settlers favored this name, but there was 
a crop of Young America that came in later that opposed it, 
and they insisted that the place should be called New Boston 
or Boston. At one time it looked as if possibly that name 
might prevail, but Mr. Armine Pickett and others of the first 
settlers took the matter in hand and the result was that the 
boys and young men were backed off the course, and finally the 
name of Lake Mills was adopted without opposition. All finally 
concluded it was the best thing to do. 

There had only been one town organization for the four town- 
ships, Aztalan. Milford. Lake Mills and Waterloo, but. the time 
had arrived when there should be a separation, and to that ef- 
fect a law was passed by the territorial legislature in words as 

An act to divide the town of Aztalan and establish the town 
of Lake Mills. Be it enacted by the council and the house of 
representatives of the territory of Wisconsin. 

Section I. That all of That part of tin- town of Aztalan. com- 
prised in townships number seven and eight in range nnmner 
thirteen in the county of JeirVrson, be, and the same is hereby 
set olf into a separate town by the name of Lake Mills, w1.i-.1l 
town shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges which 
Other towns by law are entitled to. The first election in said 
town shall be holden at. ttte house of Morgan L. I'.artlett. on the 
second Tuesday of April next. 

Section 11. This act shall take effect from and after its pas- 
Sage, Approved, February 22nd, 1M.~. 

The election was held on the second Tuesday of April follow- 
ing, as provided by said act. There were two tickets in the 
field, and a good deal of interest was manifested in the result. 
The one called the Lnioffl ticket, without regard to parly, was 


triumphant by a good majority. Over one hundred rotes -were 

There being no printing press the tickets had to be written, 
and I remember well my time during the entire day was occu- 
pied in writing Union tickets. I became very much interested 
in the election, and when the result was ascertained I started 
from the Bartlett house on a run towards the mills, shouting 
at the top of my voice, "The Union ticket is elected to a man." 
This was my first experience in an election, and although not 
a voter by several years, perhaps the taste I then got of it laid 
the foundation for a long association with politics in after 

The following town officers were elected: for supervisors, 
Joseph Keyes, chairman, Miles [Millard and John Twining; for 
school commissioners, Donald Stewart, II. W. Barnes, A. E. 
Hayes; road commissioners, Kelly At wood, Daniel Wood, Elislia 
Crosby; for assessor, Moses Bnrtlett; for town clerk, Walter B. 
Sloan; for treasurer, Edward Abbe; for constable, Josiah Drew; 
for collector and constable, M. L. Bartlett; for justices of the 
peace, James H. Ostrander, Armine Pickett, E. 11. Colton. 

It was voted to raise sixty dollars for school purposes; that 
the town officers be paid seventy-five cents per day for services, 
when engaged in the performance of their duties; that the clerk 
be paid the annual salary of twelve dollars; that one hundred 
dollars be raised for the expenses of the town for the ensuing 
year. James Williams, Abrain Yanderpool and A. I*. Water- 
bury were duly elected path-masters. Afterwards, on division 
of the property jointly owned by the two townships, consisting 
of books and records ;ind a map of the town, it was agreed that 
Aztalan should hike the books and records, and Lake Mills the 

On May Sth, 1S47, the two townships of Lake [Mills and 
Waterloo were separated, and the latter town organized a gov- 
ernment of its own. A division of the property and effects 
was made. Lake Mills keeping the books, records and map of 
the town, and a cow bought for the use of the poor, and paying 
to Waterloo the snm of $7.04 in full settlement of all accounts. 
Thus all relations between the two townships were closed, and 
each passed on its career independent and alone, with its terri- 
tory of six miles square, and its organization of town officers. 


I regret somewhat the records do not show in some particu- 
lar and interesting manner how the cow kept for the benefit 
of the poor was made useful to that unfortunate class of peo- 
ple. It is not probable that the animal was milked by the town 
officers and the milk divided, or that butter was made and 
served up in small parcels. It may be, however, that the cow- 
was farmed out; that one poor person or family may have kept 
her for a day or more, and then passed her along to another. 
There must be some mystification about this cow business, as 
I do not remember that there were any poor existing at that 
time in Lake Hills or vicinity, and I do not think there were 
any to be found. Still the record on the subject stands out in 
bold relief that a cow was bought for the use of the poor; but 
I will not pursue the inquiry further. I hope the cow was a 
good one and gave satisfaction. 

The plat of Lake Mills village was surveyed in the summer 
of 1842, and the village thereby, as the saying is, was laid out, 
and lots were offered for sale. The plat was tiled in the office 
of the register of deeds, August 18th, of that year. 

There were no dwellings constructed in the village, except 
the one occupied by my fathers family, until after the saw 
mill was completed, as there could not be procured lumber for 
building purposes before that period, and the first house built 
was by "William "Wardwell, and occupied by his family. 

The people of Lake Mills, being more energetic and enterpris- 
ing than their neighbors, and being constantly on the alert for 
some object that would advance its growth and prosperity and 
attract the settlers to the place, early came to the conclusion 
that the organization of a brass baud would play a very promi- 
nent part to this end. The project was started and earnestly 
advocated. "Without delay a band was organized and by sub- 
scription enough money raised t«> buy the instruments, which 
occurred in 1844=45. Public interest upon the subject was very 
much excited, and the people could hardly wait for the coming 
of the instruments, which had been duly ordered from the east. 
One afternoon when 1 was at work near our house with my 
father, in easting my eye towards the mills, 1 saw the tall form 
of Miles Millard moving toward as with astonishing rapidity. 
It was apparent there was something up. and something more 
than ordinary was impelling his locomotion. When within 


hearing distance he shouted at the top of is voice, "Captain, the 
horns have come, and the circus is coming." It was true that 
a team from Milwaukee had brought the hand instruments, and 
that he had learned from a messenger that the circus — the first 
one that visited the territory — was to pitch its tent and give 
an exhibition upon our village green. These were great events. 
There had been much rivalry between Jefferson, Aztalan and 
Lake Mills as to which should secure the circus and Lake Mills 
was the winner, and we enjoyed the circus at our very doors. 
It was a great sight to see "Yankee Eobinson," the strong man, 
bend the iron bar by striking it upon his arm, and to receive 
the heavy blows of an iron hammer upon an anvil poised upon 
his breast, but then I am not going to tell you about all the 
performances although I could do so, the most of them at least. 

The following named parties were members of the band on 
its first organization: J. F. Johnston, leader; Elijah Faville, 
Thos. Burdick, 1'eter Lang, ^imon S. Keyes. Abel Keyes, Oliver 
A. Keyes, Peter Millard, Edward Abbe, Lyman Fargo, Hoyt 
and William Wilt. The band was a great success and al- 
ways in good demand. It was the first organization of the 
kind in the central part of the territory, and maintained its ex- 
istence until '19, when the California gold 'fever dispersed its 

The family of John Atwood was one of the first that settled 
here — a large family of sous and daughters. Of the sons there 
were Kelly, Isaac. Elihu L., who was a member of the hist con- 
stitutional convention, and Gordon; the daughters. Mary Ann. 
who became the wife of M. L. Eartlett. Nancy, now Mrs. Daniel 
Wood, and another who became Mrs. J. Cans. The Atwood 
boys became promirieiit and influential citizens. I remember 
one cold winter night, When the dogs were barking, there 
sounded from the oak openings a loud halloo. My father 
dressed himself, and going to the door answered it. Very soon 
a man appeared to arouse the household. He said that old 
Uncle John Atwood was lost; it was feared that he might have 
been frozen to death, and he must be found and cared for. ITe 
was the oldest man in the neighborhood. He had gone out in 
the daytime and wandered too far. and could not retrace his 
steps. A general search was instituted, and after a while he 
was found and returned to his log cabin home. He had the 


discretion on finding a haystack, a mile or more away, to- stick 
to it until tie heard the calls of those in search. I know it 
created quite an excitement at the time for fear he was lost 
and frozen to death. 

Another family was that of Miles Millard, consisting of three 
sons, Peter, James and George, and one daughter, Sarah, now 
Mrs. Fred leaver. The Millards came here in '43, and suc- 
ceeded my father in the ownership of the mills, the village site 
and adjacent land. Mr. Millard, though not one of the first set- 
tlers, was one of the best. 

The Plumb family came here early, and consisted of Joab 
Plumb, the father, Charles, Theron, Thomas D. and John, 
brothers, and three daughters, Caroline. Xancy and Mary. It 
was a very highly esteemed family. Theron came in "37; the 
others a little later. 

The Favilles were a numerous family, and commenced com- 
ing in '44, consisting of John Faville, father, and sons, Elijah. 
Dr. John, Alpheus, Stephen and William, and two daughters. 
Mrs. Eldridge Gary and Mrs. Cole. They were all persons of 
great worth, and occupied prominent positions in the early 
society, and although not residents of the village, they were al- 
ways closely identified with it. Elijah Faville, a bachelor when 
he settled in Lake Mills, married soon after and became the 
happy father of twin boys, and in this event he added much t«> 
the pride of the family name, and to the fame of Lake Mills as 
being the birth place of John and Henry Faville — two eloquenl 
and distinguished divines, whose names today are familiar in 
Wisconsin as household words, and who have been successful 
in the ministry in a pre-eminent degree. 

The family of Armine Pickett came hen- in October. 1840, and 
consisted of three children, two sous and one daughter, Janus 
G.. and the daughter. Olive, but the name of the other boy I d<> 
not remember. With them came the families of Aldrich. Wil- 
liams and Everson, and their coming was quite an evenl to the 
early settlers. As the grand cavalcade passed by the Phillips' 
place and along the road towards the mills and our log house, 
it presented quite a formidable appearance. There were a num- 
ber of covered wagons, double teams, single wagons, mostly 
drawn by oxen, and the number of men, women and children 
made an encouraging outlook for increase in population. In 



the procession, sandwiched in between the wagons, could be 
seen hogs, sheep and cattle. Mr. Pickett drove in a flock of 
sheep and some fine Berkshire hogs and a number of cows. 
This arrival was of great interest to the people of the village. 
Mr. Pickett had previously purchased his land northwest of the 
lake, upon which he settled and made extensive improvements, 
but becoming uneasy he finally sold out his farm and moved to 
Winnebago county in the year '40. This sturdy old pioneer de- 
serves more than a passing notice. He presented a striking 
appearance, and was modeled after the form of Daniel Webster. 
Every one had the utmost confidence in him. His word was 
law and his opinions were respected by every one. Being a, 
man of good ability and undoubted honest\*?he naturally be- 
came one of the most influential of the early settlers, and he 
filled many town offices, always with credit to himself. He 
represented a portion of Winnebago county in the legislature 
in 1809. There was general regret on his leaving for another 

While speaking in words of praise of Armine Pickett, the 
merits of his wife should not be forgotten. A fitting tribute 
should be paid to lier for her energy and industry in that early 
period. And she is entitled to the credit of inaugurating the 
first co-operative cheese manufactory in the territory and in 
the whole country in 1841. The inspiration of this work was 
wholly her own, and she carried it out most successfully, aided 
by her husband and son. James (1. Full mention of this enter- 
prise has within the last year been made in the leading papers 
of the country. More should be known of this woman, the wife 
of one of our earliest pioneers, and the dairymen of today should 
revere lu-r memory, but of such material were math' tin- wives 
of the early sot tiers. 

The son, Janus <;., now residing upon the old homestead at 
Pickett Station, is a chip of the old block. He was my earliest 
playmate and schoolfellow. Together we hunted and hallooed 
through i he woods skirting yonder lake; we caught fish from 
its clear and shining depths; we bathed in its limpid waters. 
and when nor engaged in labor or in sports, we were in school 
together trying to improve to the best advantage the meager 
opportunities afforded to obtain an education. The daughter, 
Olive, is now Mrs. Harmon Wood of this village. 


There was another family that came a little later, still the* 
are entitled to be classed among - the early settlers. I mean the 
Fargo boys who came in '4o. There was Lyman, the elder, 
Enoch, Lorenzo and Robert, the younger, familiarly known at 
that early day and since then, at least so far as I am con- 
cerned, as ''Bob." They were all hustlers, although Bob was 
most too young at that time to hustle, except among the girls. 
Lyman and Enoch with D. B. Shatter opened a general stoic 
and continued business for a number of years. These boy* 
when they first came here by their good clothes and fine ap- 
pearance created quite a sensation. They came later from the 
paths of civilization than most of the settlers, therefore, as the 
saying is, "They were up and dressed on ah! occasions.'' They 
were all splendid ousiness mem and their coming was of great 
advantage to the village as they were among the foremost in 
any enterprise that would redound to its advantage. 

These half dozen prominent families are now very much scat- 
tered and gone; some to other homes, but most of them to that 
"bourne from which no traveler returns." But very few, if 
any, representatives of these families I have mentioned, are re- 
niaining here at this time. Of the Fargos there is Lorenzo and 
Bobert and numerous descendants, and some of the Favilles. 

Of course it could hardly be expected that I should remember 
the names of all the old settlors, but the most of them, T. think, 
I can. Among these are to be found the names of John At- 
wood, Kelly Atwood, E. L. Atwooil, Gordon At wood, Isaac At- 
wood. Royal Tyler, Armine Pickett, dames G. Ticket I, Benj. 
Salts, Ed. Salts. Alanson Farmer, Geo. Farmer. Sam. Hosley, 
Yolney Foster, James Frost, S. C. Rice, John Starkweather, 
Esehyllus Masters, Ed. Baldwin. II. Ik Sedgwick, (seven of the 
hist named above worked for my Father in tin- mills), Andrew 
"Waterbury, Horace Cooper, Luelns Cooper, Miles Millard, Peter 
Millard. James Millard. Bile* Millard, George Payne, J. L. By- 
ington, Philander Everson^ William WnrchVell, Isaac Ward- 
well, E. J. Williams, W. D. Bragg, dohn II. .Edgerton, Jake 
Gauze. John Chambers, Tlieron Plumb, Thos. 1>. Plumb, Charles 
Plumb, John f*lumb, P. A. Seawr. Homer Cook. Dr. E. M. Jns- 
lin, George W. Bishop. George llobbard. William llebbard. Geo. 
P. Hebbard. Lucius llebbard, IT. C. Codwise, Edw. Abbe, Henry 
Abbe, John Floury. Col. T. J. Carmichael, Enoch Harvey. El- 


dridge Cary, Daniel Wood, Waller B. Sloan, Tlarmon Wood, 
Mark Kilbourne, 1). H. Nash, D. Stewart, Hiram Briggs, Silas 
Briggs, Enoch Fargo, Lyman Fargo, Lorenzo Fargo, Robert 
Fargo. Of the Faville family there was John, the father, Eli- 
jah, Dr. John, Jr., Alpheus. Stephen, William, Mrs. Cary and 
31 is. Cole, daughters; E. R. Col ton, James Williams, H. W. 
Bronson, D. Dulf, Dea. Cutler, Truman Hoyt, Thos. Dancy, M. 
L. Bartlett. 

In those early days every log house was a tavern, or, in other 
words, no one was turned away who wished a meal of victuals 
or a chance to stay over night. Our log house, being on the 
line of travel between Madison and Milwaukee, a stop for din- 
ner or over night was the practice, and we were obliged to en- 
tertain a good many people during the year. 

As I look back to that period, I can see passing in review 
many of the prominent people of the territory. They had been 
guests of the Keyes' log tavern, and, having been such, they 
had impressed themselves indelibly upon my memory. In this 
connection I could give the names of a large proportion of the 
first settlers who became identified with the early history of 
the territory and state; but I will only mention a few, as fol- 
lows: James Duane Doty and Henry Dodge, delegates in con- 
gress, and governors of the territory; Morgan L. Martin and 
John H. Tweedy, delegates in congress; A. J. Irwin, territorial 
judge; William A. Prentiss, George II. Walker, I. P. Walker, 
J. E. Arnold, II. X. Wells. Daniel Wells, Jr., Don A. J. Uphani, 
Hans Crocker, Alexander Mitchell, Charles II. Larkin. A. D. 
Smith, Andrew E. Elmore, S. Park Coon. Edward G. Ryan, and 
Solomon Juueuu, of Milwaukee, Lucius I. Barber, William M. 
Dennis, Patrick Logan. ;ind many others of Jefferson county. 
C. C. and C. L. Sholes, John II. Koundiroi*, Adam E. Ray, Moses 
M. Strong, from other parts pf the territory. Simeon Mills 
Darwin (.'lark, l'hilo Dunning. Efoenezer Brigham, George 1*. 
Delcplaino. Elisiia Bui'dick, Alexander L. Collins. Lafayette 
Kellogg, John 1'. Sheldon, .John Catlin, Scth M. Yanbergen, of 

I well remember the family of Gen. Henry Dodge stopping 
at our house at different times, including the sons. Augustus, 
Henry and the daughter, Virginia, a beautiful girl fresh in her 
teens. It was a great event to me to listen to the recital of 


earlv times as all were gathered of an evening around a Mazing 
fire of oak, which stretched nearly across one end of the ]<.;: 
house, although oftentimes my room was considered better 
than my company, and I was sent up the ladder to bed. 

There was also a stage route, and there was a relay of hoists 
at our place. Gen. Simeon Mills, of Madison, had one of the 
first contracts for carrying mail between Madison and Mil- 
waukee, and extra horses for his route were cared for in our 
log stable. Leaving Madison in the morning the stage stopped 
at our house and changed horses and got dinner, and, in return- 
ing from Milwaukee, the distance was so calculated as to Jo 
the same thing again. For several years after our settlement 
at Lake Mills, my father declined to receive a cent for the enter- 
tainment of travelers, but after awhile he got tired of this, and 
we used to charge twenty-live cents for dinner. 

I remember one, a foot traveler, came to our log house and 
applied to my father for entertainment over night. It was 
granted, lie had supper, lodging and breakfast, and when he 
came to leave he asked my father what his bill was, and my 
father answered, "Xot anything." lie said he was much 
obliged. During the evening he had related the circumstance 
of finding a small package on the road containing about a half 
a pound of shot, and I was hoping that there would be some 
turn in the tide of affairs that would give me the shot, and 
when my father gave him his keep over night I thought he 
might have given me the few shot, which, perhaps, were Worth 
five cents, but he failed to do so, and the last 1 saw of this gen- 
erous traveler was as he disappeared through the oak openings 
on his tramp to Madison. 

At this early time a custom prevailed which has long since 
been abolished It was when the shoemaker came to the house 
with his kit of tools in the fall of the year, and stayed as one 
of the family until he had made tip boots ami shoes for all of 
those in need of them. My father thought this the most eco- 
nomical way of supplying his family with these needed articles. 
Benjamin Ualdwin, of Aztalau, afterwards quite a prominent 
settler, was the shoemaker who sat upon his bench and ham- 
mered his last in our log house. My father furnished tin- stock, 
and Baldwin worked by the day. 

The name of Roswell Ticket t was very familiar to the old set- 


tiers. He was a capitalist and came west as one of the earliest 
to enter government lands, and if he found a settler who did 
not have money enough to i>urehase his quarter section of land, 
which required Si'OO, Mr. Pickett would make the entry in his 
own name, and give the settler back a contract, that on receipt 
of #400 in four years he would convey the land to the settler. 
Very many availed themselves of this arrangement as it was 
the best that could be done, thereby saving their land for them, 
and giving them four years time to do it in. The records of 
the land office at Milwaukee and the register's oflice in this 
county will show that Mr. Pickett purchased more land than 
any other person in this section of the territory. 

In the spring of J 3S, not being possessed of a breaking plow, 
we spaded up quite a patch of ground and planted a garden, 
which was a great help to us. A little later in the season my 
father procured oxen and a plow from some neighbors, and 
broke up some of tin 4 rich sod towards the low ground and 
planted potatoes. Of course we did not get a very large crop 
from the fust planting in the new ground, still they turned out 
reasonably well. In the fall as my brother Oliver, Abel and 
myself were digging these potatoes, we saw a flock of seven 
wild geese fly over the lake and settle down into a pond of 
water about half way to the Tyler place. Abe said if we boys 
would work right lively, he would take the rifle and go through 
the oak openings, and see if he could not shoot a goose. We 
readily acquiesced and he started out. In a. little while we 
heard the report of the gun, and saw live geese Hying back to 
the lake. We could not realize that he had killed two geese at 
one shot with the rifle, but such was the fact. Soon he called 
to us from the oaks, and we went to the pond and fished out 
the geese. 

In the early history of the. mills the pond was full ro the top 
of the dam, and created quite a large overflow of water extend- 
ing over the marshes north and south of the dam. These 
marshes were full of ducks and geese, and fish in their season. 
affording tine spearing for fish from a boat, and tine shooting of 
ducks and geese. The inuskrat was also there in force, and I 
devoted a good deal of my time to him, as a inuskrat skin was 
worth six pence, which to me in those days was a good deal of 
money. I caught them iu traps and speared them through their 


houses during the icy time, an<l shot them from the shore in the 
early evening when they were on the swim. In those days 
times were hard and money scarce, and every boy was expected 
to do something for himself. I was a trapper of wolves and 
foxes, and was quite successful. .V fox skin brought a dollar 
and a wolf's half that money. 

The earliest plan we had for catching fish was in the con- 
struction of a dam across the stream with the water flowing 
over into a large rack made of bass wood bark. The pickerel 
and suckers ran out of the lake in the night time, the flow of 
the water carrying them over the dam and into the rack, the 
water dropping through and leaving the fish high and dry. All 
we had to do in the morning was to go down and pick them 
up in baskets full. 

At that time it was no uncommon thing to see many kinds of 
game such as Wolves; deer and foxes within range of vision 
from our log house. While hunting at one time my brother 
Abe captured a young fawn. It was brought home, and very 
soon became very tame and thoroughly domesticated, and he 
stayed with us until he became a large animal of his kind, with 
wide spreading horns. We kept upon Ids neck a red band to 
distinguish him from his kind, but one day poor Dick started 
away, land he had become a great rambler), down towards the 
Crawfish, just beyond the farm now known as Earl's, and some 
one took advantage of his confidence and shot him. We felt 
very indignant, but this would not bring Dick back to us. 

He was very mischievous and at times quite ugly. It was al- 
most impossible to keep him out of the house, as the latch 
string to open the door from the outside was -within reach of 
his month, and he would get a good hold of the string, raise the 
bar. and walk into the house and help himself i<> anything he 
could ft ml. in the summer time, it' the window was raised, lie 
would jump through on to the floor, if there were no other 
means of ingress within his reach. I remember one time 1 was 
husking corn in the field, and sitting down by a shock. Dick 
was my companion, atid seemed to be enjoying himself in his 
own war, and minding his own business. All at once he ap- 
proached and made a springing jump on top of me, and one of 
his forelegs found its way flown my back inside of my shirt 
from my neck, tearing open the collar, and leaving a stripe 


upon my back, -which the boys said looked very much like a 

In '44 Lake Mills received quite an accession in the person of 
Col. Thos. J. Carinichael, an educated and accomplished Scotch- 
man, who selected a location at the head of the lake, and 
stocked it quite largely with sheep, intending to make a sheep 
farm of the place, and to test the question whether sheep rais- 
ing and wool growing would prove to be profitable. He was 
very liberal and enterprising in everything tending to the 
growth and prosperity of the village. He contributed to the 
purchase of the band instruments, and one of its first tunes 
was played in his honor, but his career suddenly came to an 
end, as he was most unfortunately killed in an accident in the 
winter of '48. 

In one of the earliest years of our settlement here on one 
sunny afternoon in the month of May, 1840, we noticed a stal- 
wart stranger emerging from the oak openings, coming towards 
the house upon the marsh road. His coming had been an- 
nounced by the barking of the watch dog. He seemd to be feel- 
ing his way along very carefully, and gazing forward with ap- 
parent interest which denoted him to be unfamiliar with the 
neighborhood. He finally reached our log house and asked for 
accommodation, and wanted to know what prospect there was 
for finding work. He made his home with us for a while, and 
then secured land north of the village upon which he made his 
home. Being a bachelor, he was anxious to find a wife, and his 
efforts in that direction were warmly seconded by the numerous 
friends and acquaintances he bad made. In Oakland he sought 
his fate, and there secured his bride in lS-i."'.. On his return 
with her after the wedding, passing by the mill in his winter rig 
with its jingling bells, he was cheered by us all to the echo. 
The name of the person 1 here describe is Alansan Farmer. He 
was the first one of our young bachelors to wed, and at that 
time they were Quite numerous. He is still a living representa- 
tive of the early pioneers. 

I cannot forbear calling attention to a prominent character, 
who was well known, revered and loved by the early settlers. 
I refer to Aunt Zilpah [frown, wife of the proprietor of Brown's 
mills, which was so long in construction upon this stream, away 
down towards Milford. She was a good mother in Israel, and 


she was the nurse, comforter and friend to all of her sex who 
were sick. If the truth should be told, she was the first to take 
in arms many of the early born of Lake Mills and vicinity. 

The first child born in Lake Mills was a daughter to Mr. and 
Mrs. tieorge Fanner in '30, and though living miles away Aunt 
Zilpah was present at its birth. After rounding out many 
years, and with a crown of glory resting upon her, Aunt Zilpah, 
the beloved of all the old settlers and their families, was 
gathered to her rest. 

In 1S474S the Telegraph line was constructed between Mil- 
waukee and Madison by the way of Whitewater, Janesville, 
Fort Atkinson, Jefferson and Lake Mills. It touched all these 
places with a view to receiving aid from the settlers in its build- 
ing. It was thought that the telegraph would add very much 
to the importance of our village, and with that in view not a 
little aid was furnished, but after all it did not add much to 
our prestige. 

I will mention the fact that in '30 a steamboat was budt and 
launched at Aztalan under the manipulation of Xelsoa 1*. 
Hawks. It was claimed then that Aztalan would be the head 
of navigation upon the Rack river and its branches, and great 
advantages to the place was thought would follow the enter- 
prise. The launching of the boat was a great event and called 
forth a large concourse of settlers, all watching with eager anxi- 
ety the moment when the beat should start for the placid sur- 
face of the Crawfish. "When all was ready Sam. C. Rice, a me- 
chanic who had previously worked for my father, struck the 
blow which unloosened the fastenings, and the boa! slid gently 
and gracefully into the water amid the loud huzzas of the 
strong-voiced men and women present. With great difficulty 
the .boat was floated down the Crawfish into the Rock and into 
the Mississippi, but its passage demonstrated the fact that the 
Rock and its tributaries were better adapted to be dammed for 
mill purposes than to be kept for the use of steamboat naviga- 
tion. The boat was christened the X. I*. Hawks, and never re- 
turned to its original moorings at Aztalan. lis name after- 
wards was changed to the Enterprise, and after a short and pre- 
carious existence, it succumbed to the elements. 

After the saw mill was finished ami put in running order, it 
was kept at work night and day with relays of hands. It was 


not long before I had Learned its control, and minus the heavy 
lifting I could manufacture lumber in good style. Commenc- 
ing: first to manage the mill when the men were at meals, many 
thousand feet of lumber were turned out of the mill under my 
manipulation. On completion of the grist mill (and I will re- 
mark here that in those days a mill was called a grist, mill be- 
cause it was a place where the farmers brought Their grist to 
be ground, and such a business as manufacturing flour largely 
for other markets was then unknown) I was transferred to the 
occupation of miller for a short time. Very soon after the com- 
pletion of the grist mill negotiations for the sale of the whole 
property were entered into by my father with Miles Millard, 
and a bargain was soon consummated. All the members of the 
family, except my father, opposed the sale. We wanted to let 
well enough alone. We understood the business then in hand, 
but my father, who was a restless man, fond of change and who 
always had his own way, argued that it would be so much bet- 
ter for us all to retire to the land which he would reserve, now 
constituting the Phillips' place, and start a splendid farm. We 
did so and in the spring of) '4:5 we left the log house and the 
mills, the scene of so much labor and anxiety to us all, and 
moved on to the land out of which we were to make a farm. 
My father built a small house for temporary use, and imme- 
diately commenced the construction of the main house and 
barn, and in the fall of that year we moved into the new house. 
That summer in the little house across the road from the main 
residence, my sister Emily was born, and later in the season 
my grandfather. Abel Keyes, a man of seventy years and over, 
was stricken with chills and fever, and yielded up his life. 

In the early spring following, quite extensive preparations 
were being made for a double wedding, which was to be cele- 
l) rated on May 1st. 1S44, and which occurred at that time. My 
brother. Abel, and Miss Mary Cutler, and my sister, Katharine, 
and. George liver, of Madison, were the contracting parties. 
The ceremony was performed by the llev. (). 1'. Clinton, Congre- 
gational clergyman and missionary. On that 1st day of May, 
over fifty years ago, which was ushered in with a clear sky and 
a bright and shining sun, a large eonipany of friends and neigh- 
bors assembled to witness the ceremony, which took place at 
twelve o'clock uoon. For several days previous thereto, the 



best cooks in the neighborhood were engaged in the preparation 
of the mammoth loaves of wedding cake and the supplies for the 
wedding dinner. This double wedding at that period was con- 
sidered a great event, and was generally attended. The event 
was signalized by a party arriving from Madison, consisting of 
riiilo Dunning, Darwin Clark, Seth Van Bergen and others, ac- 

companied with ladies. They came in one of Frink & Walker's 
four-horse stage coaches, and it was thought that they came in 
grand style. The trip was made by the way of Sun Prairie and 
Hanchetville, the road through Deerlield being the poorer one, 
and besides having in its line too much corduroy over the 
marshes. After the ceremony, the wedding dinner, and a look 
about the village, a ball was held in the evening at the Lake 
Mills house, which lasted until the light of the next morning 
shone upon the earth, after which the Madison party started for 
home. A half a century lias moved the world since that wed- 
ding morn when the Madison stage coach, with its joyous party, 
swept around the head of the lake, down the hill on Madison 
street, and turned the corner with a sweeping curve to Bartlett's 
tavern, where upon its broad piazza its passengers were un- 
loaded. The villagers were there in goodly numbers to welcome 
its arrival. From out of the stage coach stepped Philo (Dun- 
ning), and Darwin iClarkt, and Seth (Van Bergen), the three 
youngest of the Madison boys, and they were noble specimens 
of young manhood, inspired' with health, and hope, and happi- 
ness, and with that energy and courage which characterized the 
early pioneers, enabling them to turn aside, as occasion pre- 
sented, from the sober realities of pioneer life to enjoy the fun 
and frolic of the wedding days of their friends and associates 
thirty miles away. 

I can see them now as I saw them then, and their joyous 
voices seem to be yet ringing in my ears. I see them today but 
they are old boys now, and. although time's busy fingers have 
made their impress upon them, still their hearts are young, and 
when talking of this wedding of the long ago. those days seem 
to come bark and with smiles ami hearty laughter they are 
boys again. 

And now one word of the boys, then known as Philo, Darwin 
and Seth. God has been good to them, in that long span of life. 
Pew of the old pioneers have been so highly favored. Their 


retrospect of early and later clays cannot fail to afford them 
peace and contentment. A talk with them would recall many 
incidents of that occasion, which I have not time here to repeat. 
They would tell you how the stage coach became stuck in the 
mud; how it had to be pryed out with rails, and how the young 
ladies were carried to a place of safety while this work was go- 
ing on. "While there may be quite a difference in the conduct 
of a wedding occurring fifty years ago, and a similar event at 
the present time, still I imagine that all, old and young, en- 
joyed such an event then, with greater satisfaction, than those 
occurring now are enjoyed. 

Having become domiciled upon the farm, we started out for 
its improvement. Land was broken for cultivation, and in the 
winter tamarack poles were procured from across the lake to 
fence it. Very soon after my father became tired of farming, 
and he left the farm in charge of myself and mother, and 
brother Oliver, while he and my brother Abel went to the Kosk- 
konong, in Dane county, and indulged in their favorite work 
of mills and village building, settling at a point on the Kosh- 
konong afterwards named Cambridge, where they built mills 
and started the village. Tiring of that venture after several 
years of experience in it, my father turned his thoughts back 
to Lake Mills, and proposed to sell the farm and move to the 
Fox river country. A long and earnest protest by my mother 
and myself was entered against selling the homestead. It had 
become very dear to us; we had farmed it quite extensively; we 
had it in a good state of cultivation for those davs; it was well 
stocked; the orchard was just coming into bearing fruit, and 
my mother had been quite successful in butter and cheese mak- 
ing, and although the work was hard still we were all happy 
and contented. It was then the ambition of my lite to become 
a farmer. I had no wish or thought of anything different, and 
as my father had alwavs promised that the farm should eventu- 
ally be mine. It was gratified in contemplation of such ownership, 
but it had to go; and in '49 it was sold to the Philips' brothers. 
Possession was given to the family and we moved to Menasha. 
The sale of the farm destroyed all my hopes and aspirations 
for a farmer's life, and in '."»() I turned my footsteps toward 
Madison, where I have resided ever since. 

A roll call of the first settlers of Lake Mills would awaken 


Imt few responses. Xot one of the old original pioneers, who 
brought their families to this place, is left, and few of their de- 
scendants are to be found within tin- borders of this township. 
Most of the latter, moved by that spirit which animated their 
sires, have continued the westward march, and now are scat- 
tered throughout the newer states of the union. The ravages 
of time have removed all of the heads of families I have men- 
tioned, and the grim reaper has also been busy with the chil- 
dren. How many are there in this large audience who were 
children living here during the six years between '37 and '±'i. 
You know but little of those who were here before you. A half 
century has obliterated nearly all knowledge of them. The sur- 
viving children of the first settlers are now men of three score 
years and more, and of this narrow class no one other than my- 
self, with memory illumined, could draw aside the curtain and 
present the picture as given you, with the earliest views of 
scenes and incidents occurring here long before most of you 
were born. 

A few words about the Keyes family, the first settlers here, 
and I have done. In 1836 my father, Joseph Keyes, as I have 
stated, made claim to the beautiful land surrounding you. He 
was the first white man to assert ownership of the lake and 
land about you in opposition to the Indian. Abel Keyes. his 
father, my gradfather. and my oldest brother, Simon S.. came 
from Vermont soon after, and were among the earliest settlers. 
The two hitter are now sleeping in yonder cemetery. The sur- 
viving children of Joseph and Olive Keyes. my parents, are 
Abel. Oliver, myself and sister, Emily, new Mrs. II. 1). Fisher. 
My father was a man of great courage and tremendous energy. 
The obstacles in his pathway were overcome with a force in- 
vincible. He belonged to that class of pioneers who were 
strong and hopeful in their noble manhood, the founders of a 
great state, the landmarks of its mighty progress: the impress 
of their works shall last forever. 

In paying a heartfelt tribute to the memory of my mother, 
I will include the wives of all the old settlers. With an abid- 
ing faith, with a courage that never faltered, inspiied by the 
fortitude of a true Christian, they were lit to be ordained of 
God as the lib- companions of the old pioneers. In sickness and 


in health, in sunshine and in storm, fulfilling every obligation, 

they stood forth among the noblest of their sex. 

Joseph and Olive Keyes, the founders of Lake Mills, have 
years since passed to their reward. They are laid to rest near 
Lake Winnebago within sound of the rushing' waters of Fox 
river, and, as the water Hows on, it will sing - a requiem to their 
memorv as long as time shall last. 



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