County History
Source: "Adams County Press" Newspaper, 1 January 1876

Transcribed by Sandra Wright

A Review of Its History From Its Establishment;
Together with a Summary of It Advantages, Resources, Natural Curiosities.

Adams County was established in 1848, by Chapter 168 of the Laws of that year, and attached to Sauk county for judicial and all other purposes.

By section two of the Revised Statutes of 1849, the boundaries of the county were fied so as to include all the territory now constituting the present counties of Adams and Juneau, except the south halves of townships fourteen of ranges two, three, four, and five, and that part of the south half of township fourteen, of range six lying west of the center of the main channel of the Wisconsin river. The county, therefore, in 1849 contained about 1435 square miles, or in round numbers 919,000 acres.

The census of 1850 showed a population of only 187 souls, and these were almost exclusively confined to settlements in what are now known as the towns of New Haven, Dell Prairie, the Grignon place near the Big Roche-a-Cris, and along the valley of the Lemonweir.

By chapter 29 of the Laws of 1853, the former boundaries of the county were restored, and all of townships 14 west of the Wisconsin river and east of range 1 were taken from Sauk and placed in Adams county-thus forming a county forty-two miles north and south by thirty-six miles east and west, and containing one thousand five hundred and twelve square mile.

On the 10th of January, 1849, the county board of Sauk county made the following order:

Ordered That the county of Adams, now attached to Sauk county for judicial purposes, be a town called Lemonweir: election to be held at Mr. Maugh's mill in said town.

On the 23rd of September, 1852, the same County Board organized all the territory east of the Wisconsin river, comprised in townships 14 and 15 of ranges 5, 6 and 7, into a new town called Jackson.

On the same day the town of Quincy was organized, to include township 16 and 17 of ranges 4 and 5.

The next day all the territory in Adams county east of the Wisconsin river, and not included in the new town of Quincy, was attached to and made a part of Jackson. Other changes were made in the territory west of the river; but such changes do not come within the scope of this article, as it is designed to chronicle only such matters as may be of interest to the county in its present shape.

The new towns of Jackson and Quincy were ordered to hold their first election on the first Tuesday in April, 1853.

Here there seems to occur a hiatus in the record of the proceedings of the County Board of Sauk county, for we are unable to find anything farther done by the Board relating especially to Adams county.

How the town of Grand Marsh came to be organized the records do not show. It was probably provided for at the annual session of the Sauk County Board in 1852, as the town was represented at the first meeting of the County Board of this county.

By chapter 30 of the Laws of 1853, the county was organized for county and judicial purposes, and the county seat was located at Quincy on the east bank of the Wisconsin river. The first election for county officers was directed to be held on the first Tuesday in April that year.

The offices of several towns of the county were elected in April of that year, and as the legality of their election was questioned, recourse was had to the Legislature then in session, by which the election was legalized. The law will be found in chapter 333 of the Session Laws of 1853.

The first meeting of the County Board after the Act of the Legislature organizing the county, too place on the 12th of April, 1853. The county was then divided into five towns, represented on the Board as follows:

Grand Marsh, by Ralph Patrick; Jackson by Geo. Knox; Lemonweir by A.P. Ayer; Necedah by John Warner; and Quincy by Thomas J. Greenwood. Ralph Patrick was elected Chairman of the Board, and W.H. Spain acted as Clerk.

On the 13th of April, the Chairman of the Board, as provided on the statute from the organization of the county, called to his aid two Justices of the Peace and proceeded to canvass the votes cast at the election on the first Tuesday of April, for county officers. The canvass showed that the following persons had been elected, the whole number of votes cast in the county being 267:

E.S. Miner, County Judge; W.J. Sayers, Sheriff; S.G. Holbrook, Clerk of the Circuit Court, and also County Treasurer; W.H. Spain, Clerk of the Board of Supervisors; Wm. H. Palmer, Register of Deeds; D.A. Bigelow, District Attorney; Caleb McArthur, County Surveyor; W.I. Webster, Coroner.

Evidently the Board of Canvassers has expansive ideas for their powers and duties in the premises, for it declare the office of Treasurer vacant because that S.G. Holbrook, the person elected to that office, has also been elected Clerk of Circuit Court. Thereupon the County Board elected Daniel Young County Treasurer. The county officers elect immediately qualified, and entered upon the discharge of the duties of their respective offices.

On the 1st of August, 1853, the County Board again met in special session. At this session Stillman Niles gave bond to the County Board, bonding himself to furnish a cour-room and three office rooms for the use of the county.

At the annual session in 1854 an order was made for the organization of the town of Chester, by detaching from Grand Marsh the territory now comprising the towns of New Chester and Easton.

At the same session the town of Westbrook, comprising all of townships fourteen and fifteen in ranges five and six east of the Wisconsin river, was ordered to be organized, and Jackson 3 was cut down to townships fourteen and fifteen of range seven.

At this time of Grand Marsh included all of townships seventeen, eighteen, nineteen and twenty of ranges six and seven,

At the special session in March, 1855, so much of township seventeen, and the north half of township sixteen as lies west of the Wisconsin river, were detached from Quincy and ordered too constitute the town of Germantown.

By chapter 28 of the Session Laws of 1855, the question of detaching all that part of the county lying west of the Wisconsin river, the territory so detached to constitute the county of Juneau, was submitted by the electors of the county. The measure, pro and con, was fought with great vigor, spirit, and not a little bitterness, but was carried by the friends of the division by a considerable majority, and the Wisconsin river became the west line of the county.

In the meantime villages began to spring up in the county. In 1853 Cascade (now White Creek) was settled and platted by Seth Thompson and William Barker. Capt. W.H. Kingsbury, Capt. Corliss Roberts, John Falkner, Stillman Nile, Lemuel Berry, the Spains, and others, had struck their stake at Quincy. Dell Prairie, Preston, Fordham and Big Springs began to be regarded as important points.

At the annual session of the County Board in1855, the town of Richfield, including the present territory of that town and the town Leola, was set off from Grand Marsh and ordered to be organized.

The town of Preston was also set off from Grand Marsh, the new town to comprise townships eighteen, nineteen and twenty of range six.

The town of White Creek was also detached from Quincy and ordered to be organized. The new town comprised sections 25, 26, 27, 28, 34, 35 and 36 of township sixteen of range five.

It is also probably that the towns of Dell Prairie and Springville were organized about March, 1855, out of the town of Westbrook, and elected their first officers the following April; for, though we are unable to find any record of the action of the County Board as its next annual session, and the name of Westbrook does not again appear in any of the county proceedings.

We were unable to ascertain from the records the precise date on which provision was made for the organization of the town of big Spring; but it elected its first officers and perfected its organization in April, 1856, and in November of the same year its name was changed to New Haven.

At the annual session of the County Board in 1856, provision was made for detaching township 16 range 6 from Chester, and from the organization of the territory so detached into a new town to be called Easton.

At the same session provision was made for the organization of all the territory north of the present town of Quincy, and between the town of Preston and the Wisconsin river, into a new town to be called Strongs Prairie.

At the annual sessions of the County Board in1857, provision was made for the organization of the present towns of Rome and Big Flats. The latter, however, was then named Verona, which in 1858 was changed to Brownsville, and again in 1862 to its present name - Big Flats.

Provision was also made in 1857 for the organization of the town of Leola, to comprise town 20 range 7.

Section 1 and part of section 2, township 15, range 6 was detached from Springville and annexed to White Creek.

At the annual session of the County Board in 1858 provision was made for organizing the present township 19, range 7 into a new town to be called Barton.

The town of Newark Valley was also detached from the territory of Quincy to be organized.

The town of Barton was subsequently vacated, and the territory divided between Adams, Quincy and Strongs Prairie.

At the annual session of the County Board in 1860, the name of Grand Marsh was changed to Lincoln; and the south half of section 24, township 16, range 5 was detached from Quincy and annexed to White Creek.

In 1861 the County Board changed the name of the town of Chester to New Chester; and thus the map the county assumed the shape in which it appears at the present time.

In 1858 the Legislature submitted to the electors of the county the question of the removal of the county seat from Quincy to Friendship. The vote was taken at the general election and resulted in favor of the removal by a majority of about 155, and in January following the books and records were removed to Friendship.

Is the south east town in the county, and appears to have been organized for town purposes in the Spring of 1856; for, though we are unable to find any record of the action of the County Board organizing the town, it was first represented on the Board at the November session of that year. Mr. A.C. Chamberlain was Chairman that year. It was organized by the name of Bog Springs, but the following November the name change to New Haven.

The town at present comprises all of township 14, range 7, except sections 6, 7, 18, 19, 30 and 31, which form a part of Dell Prairie. It is exceedingly well adapted to both agriculture and manufacturing pursuits and enterprises. The soil, except a small portion in the northern part, consists of a rich clayey alluvial deposit, well adapted to the luxuriant growth of all kinds of grains, clover, timothy and other grains. Of timber there is sufficient for all the needs of the people of the town, consisting mainly of white, burr and black oak, with soft maple and poplar along the streams and on the lower flats. The thriving village of Big Springs is located in this town. Four fine water-powers fed by never failing streams of spring water are already improved. The first in importance is that used to drive the Big Springs Flouring and Custom Mills, J.B. Rose proprietor, whose milling products have acquired an excellent reputation wherever known.

A half mile west are the "Variety Works" of Hon. G.M. Marshall, where sawing, planting, casting, and the manufacture of tools and machinery is largely carried on. This is a beautiful power, finely improved, and the proprietor and citizens of the place are rightfully proud of the improvement.

Nearly a half mile west of the Variety Works, are the Carriage and Wagon Shops of Mr. N.R. Richardson. This is a fine little water-power, furnishing abundant motive force to drive the machinery in the shops, consisting of saws, planer, lathes, etc.

The remaining improved water-power is owned by Mr. J.M. Winchell, and is used to drive a saw-mill. Besides these there are several other water-powers, in the town of more or less capacity, which are ultimately destined to be utilized, and made to add to the prosperity and growth of town.

Big Spring has two stores-one, comprising a large General Stock of Dry Goods, Groceries, Boots and Shoes, and in fact, everything usually found in a well appointed country store, owned by Mr. B.S. Wilber. The other is owned by E.S. Pierce & Son, who confine their trade principally to Groceries, Boots, Shoe, Clocks, etc. Both houses bear an excellent reputation for fair dealing.

Three well-kept and comfortable Hotels furnish abundant entertainment for all the public. The proprietors are B.S. Wilbur, W.S. Pierce, and John Stowell.

There are three blacksmith shops, of which that of Mr. Vliet should bear special mention.

The trout ponds of the Richardson Bros. are located in this town, and are a source of great interest and amusement to hundreds of people. In these ponds great numbers of speckled trout-the most beautiful and valuable of food fishes-are annually raised.

Of public buildings and societies, New Haven makes a very fair showing. One beautiful church, built by a union of the congregational and Baptist Societies, five excellent school-houses, in one of which a grade school is maintained, and Wilber's Hall, a commodious structure, mark the public enterprise of the people.

Big Springs Grange, No. 466, A.L. Snyder. M., and D.K. Wells, O., was organized in April 1874, and now numbers forty members.

Beacon Light Lodge, No. 61, of I.O. of G.T., E. P. Richardson, W.C.T., and F.H. Marshall, W.S., is about eight miles from Kilbourn City and fourteen miles from Portage.

Lies west of the town of New Haven, and between that town and the Wisconsin river. It comprises all that part of township 14 range 6, lying east of the Wisconsin river, and also sections 6, 7, 18, 19, 30 and 31 of township 14 range 7. The southwest corner of the town adjoins the original plat of Kilbourn City, and it is along the western boundary of Dell Prairie that the finest and most wonderful scenery of the Dalles of the Wisconsin is found.

Cold Water Canon is one of the wild, grand features of the Dalles. It is a deep, rocky defile overhung with frowning, beetling crags. Here Mr. F.M. Richardson has established a trout pond, croquet grounds, a dance and eating house, and no more romantic place could be found to spend a pleasant half day.

The Devil's Jug is but a short distance from the trout pond. To reach it the tourists must pass thro' a deep, wild, narrow fissure in the rocks, the sides in some places almost perpendicular, and in other places overhanging. The jug when reached appears a large chamber worn away by the action of the elements until it has assumed somewhat the form of a jug broken from the nozzle through the opposite side to the bottom.

Ruffle Rocks are farther up the river, and derive their name from their resemblance to an immense ruffle.

Chameleon Cave is a dark weird seam in the rocks, which can only be reached by a ladder placed on a steamer's deck or raft.

Steamboat Rock is an immense mass of sandstone rising abruptly from the bed of the river, and washed on all sides. It is estimated to be 220 feet in length, 80 feet wide, and from 40 to 50 feet high. It is covered with a growth of stunted pines and shrubbery.

Rood's Glen is located just above Steamboat Rock. It is an immense cavern with a wide opening toward the river. Overhead the arching rocks almost meet while the pines and birches at the top reach out and interlock their limbs. A little stream of cool, limpid water ripples down the rocks at the eastern end through a Glen to the river.

The Witches Gulch at the head of the Dalles proper, extends nearly a mile from the river. The formation of this Gulch is one of the most remarkable sights of this strangely picturesque region. The gloomy gorge whose almost perpendicular rocks tower on either side nearly a hundred feet in height, and vet so close together that at some points one can with outstretched arms almost touch both sides at once. In the Gulch are a miniature waterfall, the Phantom Chamber, Fairy Grotto, and many more strange and marvelous formations.

Scattered along in the river above the Upper Jaw of the Dalles, are many beautiful and picturesque islands, covered with growths of maple, birch, ash, oak and pine.

The Hornet's Nest, Luncheon Hall, Stand Rock, and a hundred other interesting views of singular formations, may be found along the river on either shore; but ours space will not permit us to enumerate them all.

The town derives its name from the Dalles on one side and the beautiful prairie that extends over a large share of the eastern part of the town. In the northern part of the land is well timbered, and the same may be said of most of the lands lying contiguous to the river. Along the western part, and on the prairie the land is very fertile, annually producing abundant crops, while the central portion affords a vast amount of grazing for stock.

Beautiful streams rise near the center of the town and flow westward to the river. At Plainville there is an unimproved water-power which affords an inviting opportunity for a person with moderate means and plenty of push. Very good powers may be obtained on the same steam higher up.

At Dell Prairie Corners there is a good church of sufficient capacity to meet the requirements of the community.

Excellent schoolhouses conveniently located are situated at various points I the town, and the citizens are justly proud of the educational progress of their pupils. At Plainville in particular is this the case, where they have an excellent schoolhouse surmounted by a fine bell.

The Plainvile House, located here, the tourist and traveler will find good place to deed and rest at. Here, too, are the carriage, wagon, and blacksmith shops of C.W. Armstrong, an excellent mechanic.

Beautiful and commodious farm houses and buildings are scattered here and there throughout the town. The farm barn of Mr. F. Straw, located in the eastern part of the town is a structure of mammoth proportions-the largest in the county, is not all this part of the state.


Lies north of Dell Prairie. The Wisconsin river runs along its western line, White Creek and Easton form its northern and Jackson its eastern boundary. The town is largely comprised of the drift formation which occurred at the time when, by some terrific convulsion of nature, the mighty jaws of the Dalles were torn asunder and the great waters of northern Wisconsin, changing their course toward the Gulf of St. Lawrence, flowed southward to the gulf of Mexico.

The beautiful scenery of the Wisconsin extends along the western line of this town, but here the ruggedness of nature has been toned down. The crags, though quite as high as any farther down the river, slope more gradually, an are covered with a fine growth of oak, birch, maple, linden an other varieties of forest trees; yet here and there a ragged crag of stupendous proportions, projects from the surrounding plain. Such are Pt. Bluff, Temple's Rock, Ackerman' Bluff, Van Wie's Bluff, and the range of bluffs in the northeastern pat of town near Indian Spring, an old camping ground of the aborigines, now owned by Mr. J. Casad.

The central part of the town is quite rolling and sandy, covered sparsely with timber. This whole section might become of great value of the annual fires that sweep over it could be kept out, the young timber permitted to grow, and the annual crop of leaves and other vegetation allowed to lie upon and enrich the soil.

Along the river valley and in the east part of the town are many beautiful, well-tilled, fertile and productive farms. Twin Valley is a rich section located in this town.

At Olin near the southeast corner of the town is situated the excellent flouring mill of F. Eichler. There are at least two other good water powers in the town as yet unimproved, but awaiting the coming man to direct their latent forces to the production of wealth. Several fine streams of pure spring water flow down the western slope to the Wisconsin river, affording splendid opportunities for the propagation of fish.

The people are well provided with schools. Good school-houses are located at Olin, Point Bluff, and Twin Valley.
Mr. S. W. Davis, an old resident of the town, has a store at Point Bluff-daining in groceries, stationery, drugs, medicines, etc.

Comprises town 15, range 7. Originally it contained pretty much all of the county in its present shape, and may very justly claim to be the mother or grandmother of all the towns in the county except Quincy. But while she ranks as the oldest town in the county, she has from time to time been shorn of her anciently magnificent proportions, and brought down to her present modest dimensions of six miles square.

The geology of the town bears ineffaceable marks of the great drift from the north to which we have before referred, and which washed, and rubbed and formed the "backbone" that divides the waters that flow into the Wisconsin from those that flow into the Fox.

In this drift ridge are found the indisputable evidences that at some time in the great past, there was washed from the Lake Superior region that vast material from which this ridge is formed. Copper, silver, iron and rock, not native to this resting place, are found mixed with clay, gravel and drift sand. The minerals, however, have never been found in paying quantities; but Mr. D.L. McConic, at Davis Corners, has several interesting and valuable specimens of pure silver taken from the drift.

As might be inferred from what we have said already, a great part of the town is high and rolling, but it is mostly covered with a thrifty growth of timber, which will ultimately become a great source of wealth if the fires are rigidly kept from running through the woods.

Beautiful lakes dot the landscape and add to its beauty, while affording an abundance of excellent fish.

Jordan Lake is a beautifully clear sheet of water, a half mile wide and nearly one and a half mile long, situated near the southern boundary of the town. South of and bordering upon this lake, lies the county Poor Farm.

Parker Lake lies about two miles north of Jordan Lake.

Crooked Lake, which derives its name from its tortuous form, lies a little southeast of Parker Lake.

Deep Lake, so named because that no successful attempt to sound its bottom had yet been made, lies a short distance to the northeast of Parker Lake.

The Neenah Creek has its rise on or near the northeast quarter of section 16, and flows easterly through the town. It is a rapid, beautiful stream of clear spring water, flowing over a rocky, stony bed. There is an excellent unimproved water power on this stream, which will yet some day handsomely remunerate the man who will improve it. North of the Neenah lie Wolf and Goose Lakes, two small sheets of water. The water is all these is generally pure. A singular feature about them is that, with the exception of Crooked Lake, none of them has a visible inlet or outlet.

Around these lakes are many beautiful and fertile farms. On either side of the ridge are broad, expansive flats of rich arable lands, cut into farms, annually producing abundant crops. And we predict that some day the best wheat and fruit growing region of the county will be found upon the white and bur oak cobble hills of Jackson and towns lying across the same drift line.

The people of the town take a praiseworthy interest in educational matters, and good school houses are conveniently located, and the schools well and liberally sustained.

Its beautiful scenery, interesting geological formations, pure air, healthy climate and excellent farming and grazing lands, commend this town to those seeking homes or a resting place in the west.

Two well-kept public houses entertain and feed the way-farer-on by II. W. Landon, the other by T.G. Burnham, and both locates near little lake, on the stage road from Killbourn to Friendship. Mr. E. Stockwell, an excellent mechanic, has his blacksmith shop at Davis Corners. Mr. T. M. Mayhew of the same place manufactures every kind of style of brooms.

Good farm houses, barns, and outbuildings scattered over the town give evidence of the prosperity and thrift of the people.

Now Comprises township 16, range 7. It is bounded on the north by Lincoln, and west by Easton. On its first organization the town included, in addition to its present territory, all of the town of Easton. In 1857, the town was divided, and Easton formed from the western half.

What has been said about the geological formation and characteristics of the town of Jackson, is measurably true of New Chester. There are the same indications of the drift, the same traces of copper, silver and other mineral substances.

The western part of the town is quite level, and is either gently rolling prairies or oak openings. The prairies and openings are generally quite sandy, with occasional areas of clay. The center and east lie upon the ridge dividing the water-sheds of the Fox and Wisconsin rivers. This part is well timbered and the soil generally fertile and productive.

There are four small lakes in the town having in general the same interesting character of those in Jackson. In one branch of the Neenah Creek has its source, and flows thence into the Fox river.

Deposits of loose cobble limestone are found in several places in the town, one of which was worked for a number of years during the early settlement of the town.

The town has no villages proper. The Congregational Society has a good church, situated on section 14, which was erected in 1858.

On section 1 are found several of those evidences of a prehistoric race, of which not even tradition speaks. Upon the brow of a hill overlooking the Duck Creek, are the well-defined remains of ancient earthwork fortifications. The works extend from northwest to southeast, with redoubts, angels, and other evidences that the builders possessed quite advanced ideas of the science of military engineering. On the parapet of one of the redoubts now stands an oak tree about twenty inches in diameter, showing that these works are of great age.

The people of the town realize the advantages of good school houses. There are many good farm houses, commodious barns and out building, and the people seem generally thriving and prosperous.

Easton comprises town 16 range 6, and was organized out of the west half of the town of Chester (now New Chester) in 1857.

The surface of the town is generally level with an inclination to the west of about five or six feet to the mile. In the northwestern part are extensive hay marshes, valuable for the great amount of hay they annually produce. The town is generally well-watered by beautiful spring brooks, furnishing opportunities for excellent water powers. One of these, situated on section 29, has been improved by the erection of excellent flouring mills, now owned by Mr. J. Walton, and around which has sprung up the enterprising village of Easton.

White Creek has its rise in this town, and its many tributaries, fed by innumerable springs, furnish splendid opportunities for the propagation of trout and other fish. On one of these streams running nearly along the line between sections 17 and 20, Mr. W. Fairfield has already erected a dam preparatory to the breeding and rearing of fish. Upon the heads of some of these streams, too, opportunities are afforded for the culture of cranberries, some of which are now being improved. This must, it seems to us, yet be a source of considerable profit to the people of the town.

Along the streams the soil is a clayish loam, very fertile, and producing excellent crops of wheat, corn, oats, and other grains. Away from the streams and in the eastern part of the town the soil is light and sandy, but nearly all well timbered, and only needing that the fires shall be kept out, to be valuable.

No town, for its population has more prosperous farmers than Easton. Good schoolhouses have been erected in all the districts in the town, showing the praiseworthy interest felt by the people in educational matters.

At the village of Easton, besides the excellent flouring and custom mill of J. Walton, are the store of E.M. Hay, containing an extensive stock of goods adapted to the retail trade of community; the millinery shop of Miss E. R. White; and the blacksmith shop of Mr. W.A. Eddy, all doing a prosperous business.

In territory, ranks the smallest in the county, It was organized in the spring of 1856, from territory taken from the town of Quincy. White Creek, a beautiful stream of water from which the town derives its name, flows through the town from east to west, affords several first class water powers, two of which are already improved. The village of White Creek, located upon this stream, is one of the first villages planted in the county. It contains an excellent flouring mill, owned by J.B. McIntyre and superintended by J.H. Harrison; two well-stocked general stores, one by geo. B. Bacon & Co., and the other by D.C. French; the Bacon House, one of the best kept hotels in the State; the blacksmith shop of Mr. John Bergman, an excellent mechanic; and one of the largest and most commodious schoolhouses in the county. A mile down the stream is located the saw mill of N. Carpenter.
Just north of the village is a bluff rising gradually to a considerable hight, and furnishing picturesque sites for resdences.

In the northwestern part of the town are extensive and valuable hay marshes, portions of which can readily be adapted to the growing of cranberries. On Duck Creek, a small stream empties into White Creek a half mile west of the village, Messrs, Jencks & Booth have commenced the cultivation of a cranberry marsh which gives rich promise of success.

Generally the soil throughout the town is of fair quality, and much of it among the best in the State.

This town divides with Jackson the honor of being the oldest town in the county. It comprises all of township 15 of range 5 east of the Wisconsin river not included in White Creek; all of township 17 of range 4 east of the river, except section 1; and the west half of township 17 of range 5, except sections 4,5, and 6. The village of Quincy is located on section 7, township 16, range 5; and it was here that, upon the organization of the county, for county and judicial purposes in 1853, the county seat was located.

The town is essentially a farming and stock raising one, and hardly a town in the county is better adapted to these purposes. In the southern part, and from the river extending eastward for a considerable distance, are rich alluvial flats. Extending nearly through the centre of the town from south to north, is a belt of rolling sandy land covered with a growth of oak and pine, very valuable now, and if the fires can be kept out to become still more so. East of this belt, and comprising nearly one half of the whole town, is one of the finest hay and grazing regions in the State. Along the eastern margin are fine situations of cranberry growing, some of which are now being improved, and other awaiting development.

There are some very singular, interesting and wonderful rock formations in the town. Along the eastern line is a range of bluffs extending three miles in length, and ranging from fifty to two hundred feet in hight, and abound in caverns, crevices, and uncanny nooks. Lone Rock is one of the wonders of this town, being a boulder of sandstone rising out of a low level plain to the hight of two hundred feet, and covering three and four acres.

The early settlement of the town was in the immediate vicinity of the river; and throughout that part are many fine farm houses, with capacious barns and excellent outbuildings.

Good schools are liberally sustained in the town at convenient places.

The town has one excellent water power of Nile's Creek, as yet unimproved.

This town comprises the east half of township 17, range 5, and all of township 17, range 6. It was organized in the Spring of 1857, from the west half of the town of Grand marsh (now Lincoln.) Geographically the town is in the center of the county. Generally the surface has a declination to the west of about five ? to the mile, and is usually very level, but gently rolling in some parts. In the eastern part, except a portion in the northeast corner, the soil is of first-class quality, equal to the best, but as yet almost wholly unsettled. The central part is quite sandy, with areas of rich heavy soil, and the whole cut with broad belts of excellent hay marshes. What we have said in regard to the facilities for hay, grazing, and stock-raising in the eastern part of Adams. It seems strange to us that enterprising stock-raisers have not long before this profited by the advantages offered by the section referred to.

Duck Creek rises near the southeast corner of the town, and after flowing a little north of west for some distance, finally gradually bears to the south and passes out of the town near the southwest corner. The whole extent of this creek is skirted by excellent hay marshes, and affords several opportunities for the establishment of the best quality of cranberry marshes.

The Little Roche-a-Cree flows from the southeast across sections one and two where it passes into the town of Preston. It again enters the town of Adams on section five, and passes out a little south of the northwest corner. This stream in its course furnishes opportunity for several fine water-powers, only one of which-that on which the Friendship Mills are situated-are now improved. Houghton's Rock, Castle Rock and the Owls Roost are interesting natural curiosities situated in this town.

Friendship, the county seat, is located on section five in this town. It was first settled in 1856, by people from Friendship, Allegany county, New York. Of the original settlers, only Capt. W.R. Newton and family, now remain. The village now contains four stores-one by J. Hill & Son, dry goods, groceries, hardware, and miscellaneous stock; James Chalmers, dry goods, groceries, notions, chemicals, medicines, fruits and candies; S.E. Webster, general drug store, and W.R. Newton, flour, feed and farming implements-a wagon and carriage factory, two blacksmith shops, one harness shop, a flooring mill, joiner shop, printing office and three law offices. The public buildings are the Court House, a frame building 32x46 two stories high, a stone fire-proof building in which the county offices and public records are kept, a fine two story schoolhouse 30x46 ground plan, and an excellent church erected during the last year by the Congregational Society, and jointly occupied by that and the M.E. Society.

This town was originally named Grand Marsh, it comprises town 17, range 7. The surface is quite level with a slight declination to the east.

The western part of the town is well timbered, but interspersed somewhat with marsh meadows. The timber is principally white, bur and black oak. In the eastern part of the town are located two beautiful prairies, dotted with farm houses, barns and other buildings. Pleasant Prairie lies in the southeast part of the town, and north of that lies Buckhorn Prairie, so named for its fancied resemblance to a buck's horn.

In the northern part o' the town are quite extensive marshes, annually growing abundant crops of hay.

The town is exclusively devoted to agriculture and stock-raising. With the exception of the little Roche-a-Cree, which flows through the northwest part of the town, we believe it has no streams of importance, but water is reached by wells of very moderate depth. The soil except a small tract in the northwestern part of the town, is very good, and much of it very fertile and productive, and offer to settlers rich opportunities. Grazing is profitable followed to some extent.

Extensive quarries of milestone are found in the northeast part, and lime-burning is profitably followed.

In fact, while Lincoln has but few distinctive features to write about, we regard it as an excellent town as a whole.

Spring Bluff, situated in this town, is a high, rocky elevation, from near the top of which issues a spring of deleiously cool water, the stream from which, however, is swallowed up in the sands near the base of the bluff.

Pilot Knob is another bold rock of majestic proportions, a land-mark in the early days.

The town sustains excellent schools, and the schoolhouses are well located for the accommodations of the children.

Mr. O.D. Osborn keeps the only hotel in the town, and there the public are hospitably entertained.

Pleasant Grange, No. 6, located in this town, was organized in February, 1872. It now has 36 members.

Comprises township 18, and the south half of township 19, range 7. Lying across the line of the pinery travel in early days, settlements were made within its present limits among the first in the county. It was first organized in 1856, and then included the territory of the town and also that of Leola.

The eastern part of the town includes a considerable portion of Bur Oak Prairie, and stretching the whole length of the town, is a belt of timber, varying from one and a half to two miles in width. The timber is oak, ash, poplar, basswood, pine and tamarack, and is of a very valuable character. West of the timber belt are extensive and productive hay marshes, through which long lines of ditches have been cut at the public expense. Broad expanses of these marshes are adapted to cranberry growing, and it is here that we find the vines growing in dark purple masses native to the soil, and bearing crops of this valuable fruit. Ultimately those marshes will provide a source of untold wealth, whether they be made into cultivated cranberry fields, or by drainage brought into a state to grow oats, buckwheat, corn, root crops; or redtop or timothy. Stock raising cannot be otherwise then profitable, for the ranges are rich in food, and hay is abundant and easily secured.

Richfield has several good schoolhouses and schools are well sustained.

With enterprise and properly directed efforts, Richfield has a future before it of grander prosperity than its citizens ever dreamed; but it will need intelligent work to bring it about. There are quite a number of good farm homes and barns in the town, some of which were erected the past season.

Castle Rock and Ship Rock, located in this town, are among the wonders of this section, and worth going many miles to visit. There are also several other interesting rock formations.

Comprises township 18, of range 6. It was first organized in 1856, and then included all of townships 18, 19 and 20 of range 6.

The surface of the country is somewhat rolling, with areas of very level land, the whole having and gentle declination to the west. The level areas are very fertile, as are most of the lands in near proximity to the streams. This town is well watered but never-failing streams, and several of these furnish opportunities for excellent water powers. These are the Big Roche-a-Cree in the northern part, Middle Creek, a tributary of the Little Roche-a-Cree, which flows diagonally from the northeast through the town and the Little Roche-a-Cree, which flows through sections 35 and 34. These streams furnish opportunity for at least five good powers.

In the northeast part of the town are considerable hay marshes of excellent quality, and cranberry marshes of considerable extent. These will ultimately be largely and profitably improved.

The improvements are now nearly all located near the streams, between the Little Roche-a-Cree on the south and Middle and Cool creeks on the north, and at Roche-a-Cree on the Big Roche-a-Cree.

The Mound, located just north of the village of Friendship, and partly in the town of Adams, but most in the town of Preston, is a huge mass of sandstone rising out of a level plain. It is a mile in length about one-third of a mile in width, and 478 feet high.

The Roche-a-Cree Rock stands about three-fourths of a mile north of the Mound. It is a solid mass of sandstone covering about five acres at the base, and rising 350 feet above the plain. The sides are nearly perpendicular, and the top is reached by great labor and difficulty.

Comprises township 18, range 5, and all of 18, range 4, lying east of the Wisconsin river and sections 4, 5 and 6 of township 17, range 5, and section 1 of township 17, range 4.

In natural resources and advantages it is not surpassed by any town in the county, and it is settled by an industrious, temperate and thrifty population-a considerable majority of whom are Norwegians-the rest being Americans, Irish and Germans.

The Little Roche-a-Cree, after leaving the town of Adams, flows just within and along the southern boundary of the town. In the northern part, the Big Roche-a-Cree enters the town on the northeast quarter of section 12, and flows thence in a south of west course to the Wisconsin river. This stream is the largest in the county, and furnishes, like the Little Roche-a-Cree, opportunity for several excellent water-powers.

One of these powers, situated upon section 15 has been improved, and is used to drive the machinery of the popular Arkdale Flouring and Custom Mills, Mr. W. Woock, proprietor. Around these mills a little thriving village is growing up. It now contains two stores, a wagon shop, blacksmith shop and shoe shop. The store of Mr. Woock, at this place, contains one of the largest and most complete general stocks in the county. The other store is that of Mr. Thomas O. Harris, and has a very good and full stock of goods and groceries suitable to the need of a farming community, and is doing a paying business. Besides that above, the place has a fine commodious church, belonging, we believe, to the Reformed Lutheran Society. Another Lutheran Church of even larger dimensions stands about three miles west of Arkdale.

At Strongs Prairie Corners is the store of Mr. John Feigel, where a very complete general stocks of dry goods, groceries, etc. are kept for sale.

The town has the largest population of any in the county, and good schools are maintained in the several school districts.

The major part of the soil is rich and fertile, and the people thrifty and prosperous.

Comprise all the territory of township 19, range 4, lying east of the Wisconsin river, and west two thirds of township 19, range 5. It was organized in the spring of 1859. The town is an exclusively agricultural and stock-raising one. In the western part, along the river bottoms, are extensive bottom land meadows, and belts of excellent timber, consisting of white and black oak, maple, birch, poplar, ash and basswood.

The soil is quite varied, much of it consisting of a clayey loam, very rich and fertile. Black Prairie, one of the most fertile sections in the county, and which derives its name from the color of the soil of which it is composed, lies in Monroe. In the eastern part of the land is quite rolling; but flats separate the hills. No town has more good farmers, in the ratio of its population, then has Monroe. Few anywhere are more enterprising or prosperous. The staple crops are wheat, oats, rye and corn. The raising of stock is followed to a considerable extent, and every season a large number of fine cattle are sold off.

Spring Creek runs through the northern part of the town; but our knowledge of its character is too indefinite for use to state whether it affords any opportunity for water-powers.

Monroe has no village or church now within its limits. A fine church was burned there a few years ago.

In this town, and extending through the northwestern part of Strongs Prairie a few years ago, were plainly visible extensive earthwork fortifications miles in length. Breastworks, salients, redoubts.- all were there; but the plow of the husbandman has now nearly obliterated all traces of them. When, or by whom they were built, is hidden in that part, of which the red man who now roams over them had no tradition.

Comprises township 19, range 6, and the east one-third of township 19, range 5. it is one of the levelest towns in the county, but has many points of interest in it, It was organized, as heretofore stated, in the spring of 1656, by the name of Vernona.

The western part of the town is cut by quite a number of sandy ridges, covered with a growth of oak and pine timber; but the intervals are of good quality for agriculture purposes. Going east, the ridge becomes less frequent and the flats widen into broad prairie-like expanses, once, no doubt, wet and marshy, but now dry enough to be tillable. In the eastern part the prairies gradually change until they assume the character of marsh meadows, producing enormous quantities of hay. In fitness, probably, Big Flats may justly rank as the banner grazing town in the county. In the eastern part, too, are extensive natural cranberry marshes, which, when brought under cultivation, must be exceedingly profitable.

Within the last year or so the town had been rapidly settling up with Danish immigrants, a people who make a hardy, industrious, thrifty and honest community, and who will develop the latent resources of the town.

The Big Roche-a-Cree runs through the southeast part of the town, and we predict that before many years these enterprising Danes will turns its waters to profitable use. Big Flats will grow.

Lies in the northeast corner of the county, and is nine mile in extent north and south by six miles east and west. The eastern part was originally covered with a heavy growth of pine and hard timber,- the greater part of the latter still remaining. This section is all adapted to the growth of all kinds of grain, and some of the finest farms in the county are located there. The great source of its future wealth, however, lies in its marshes, which cover nearly two-thirds of its surface. These are covered to a great extent with cranberry vines growing naturally thereon. Already enterprising and sanguine men have taken hold of the lands, and spent many thousands of dollars in their improvement. Hundreds of miles of ditches have been dug, and it is now proposed to turn the waters of the Big Roche-a-Cree across the great marshes, and thus to assure beyond question an abundance of water and consequent heavy crops of cranberries. The success of the enterprise will be the harbinger of uncounted wealth.

Marshes suitable for hay abound along the margin of the cranberry region.

Near the northeast corner of the town is located a very fine steam saw mill, owned by Dr. U. Dorman & Son. Near the center of the town are the excellent flouring mills of R. Flyte's & Son, having a reputation for doing good work second to no mills in the State.

There is but one store in the town, that of Marvin Lathrop at Flyte's Mills, who keeps a general stock suitable to the wants of the community.

In this town as in many others, there are towering rocks of sandstone formation, that excite the wonder of the beholder.

Lies against the northern and western boundaries of the county. It comprises all of township 20 of range G, and of township 20 of range 5, lying east of the Wisconsin river. Fourteen mile creek cuts the town nearly through the center from east to west. It is a large, rapid stream, with bold high banks, furnishing quite a number of opportunities for turning the water to account for driving machinery. Extensive marshes are suited in the eastern part of the town, good for hay, and some excellent for cranberry culture.

Through the center of town north to south the land is high, rolling and sandy. West of this, and approaching the river, the soil improves in quality, and along the river valley is very rich and fertile. The latter section abounds in good farms and thrifty farmers. The hill country affords great range for stock, and this the farmers have not been slow to take advantage of and hence stock raising has become a prominent part of the husbandry of the town.
At Barnum in Rome are located the great mills of the Wood Lumber Company, capable of cutting from 70,000 to 100,000 feet of lumber every twelve hours. The perfect construction of these mills for economy of labor excited the admiration of every beholder. They are regarded as among the best, if not the very best in the great Northwest. Above the mills in the ricer, the booms of the Company are said to have a capacity for 15,000,000 feet of logs.

Beside the mill at Barnum there are the extensive general store of the Wood Lumber Company, a hotel, blacksmith shop, joiner shop, a good school house, and many fine residences recently built.

We should like to speak more fully of Barnum and its surroundings, but went of space forbids.

Aside from what we have said above, extensive beds of pure kaolin or fire clay, are found in New Haven, Adams, and Quincy, and probably exist in some other towns.

Bog iron ore is found in inexhaustible quantities in Leola, Richfield, and Rome, and probably exists in Big Flats.

Source: History of Northern Wisconsin (1881) transcribed by Sandra Wright

History of Adams County
Natural Features

The region organized under the name of Adams County lies in nearly the center of the State, is bounded north by Wood and Portage counties, east by Waushara and Marquette, south by Columbia, and west by Juneau, from which it is separated by the Wisconsin River.
The general surface of the county may be designated rolling. As the Wisconsin River is approached, however, the county becomes broken, offering to the artist fine opportunities for the display of taste and skill in rugged studies. The famous “Dells” are partly within the limits of this county, in the southwestern portion, and several of the graduated glimpses of scenery are here obtained. Among these are “Cold Water Canon” and “Witches’ Gulch,” which extend back into the county a mile or more from the river. There are also “The Devil’s Jug,” “Ruffle Rocks,” “Steam-boat Rock” “Rood’s Glenn” and other exceedingly curious and picturesque localities, celebrated not only in the immediate region, but known to tourists from all parts of the Union. In the northern towns the view along the river is less grand, though the bluffs are always bold, and the scene ever varied. This is due to the action of the water on the soft sandstone, which forms the banks, and which, by constant erosion, has been fashioned into an endless variety of forms. The bluffs vary in height, from a gentle ascent from the water’s edge to ragged precipitous walls that rise abruptly 200 feet or more. The county has but few streams, the principal being the Big and Little Roche-a-Cri, White and Grignon’s creeks. All these afford water-power, and abound in the common kinds of fish. The soil for the county is below the average for cultivation, being quite sandy; however in the southern part, there is considerable good land; and this region is the home of many thrifty and well-to-do farmers. About 50,000 acres in the county are under cultivation-the crops being corn, wheat, rye and hops, in the order of enumeration. The county suffered greatly by depression in hops in 1868, and has never fully rallied from the financial losses. Considerable attention is being paid to fruit raising, but it has been attended with only medium success. The greater part of the county is covered with an inferior class of timber, such as the oak, ash, and basswood, there being only a little pine toward the northern end. About twenty per cent is marsh, some of which is adapted to cranberry culture, while other parts make valuable meadows. Sandstone is quarried at different places in the county, but is used only for local purposes. The population in 1880 was 6,741, of which more then 5,000 were Americans; the rest being Swedes, Germans, Danes, and immigrants from other European countries.
The county is traversed by no railroad as yet, although future internal improvement may bring that section of the State into closer communication with other counties. At present Kilbourn City is the chief depot of supplies, and is outer terminus of a daily stage line.


The necessity which induced white settlement in Adams County was the supplying of food to lumbermen going to the pineries of the upper Wisconsin. A post was established in the county as early as 1838, in what is not New Haven Town, less then two miles from Big Springs Post-office. The pioneer who thereby won for himself a place in history was Jared Walsworth, a man of no slight experience in frontier ways, and who had served as engineer on a Mississippi steamer. The supply post kept by Walsworth was not only the first mercantile venture; but it was also the home of the first white woman to settle here; as Mrs. Walsworth and her family came at the same time as the trader. He died some years since.
The Walsworth “tavern,” as it was called, witnessed the birth of the first white child born in the territory named. The name of this noteworthy child is J. S. W. Pardee, son of George Pardee; and the year of the event was 1843.
George Stowell, on the employ of Walsworth originally, claims the honor of having first settled upon land in the county in 1844. His frame “shanty” was put up in the town of New Haven, and there he began the cultivation of a small tract of land. In 1845 Amos Landt, Judge Smith, Robert Ramsey and his three sons, “Uncle” Ward and a man named Winchell became “squatters” in the same town, near what is now Big Springs Post- office. They tilled the soil and erected log cabins.
The Territorial road from Milwaukee to Stevens Point passes through Adams County, and upon this highway, in 1845, William Sylvester opened a supply post combined with a “tavern,” at what is now Grand Marsh Post-office. Soon afterwards one Strong began a similar enterprise on the Big Roche-a-Cri, not far from Cotton’s, about eight miles north of Friendship.
Among the settlers in what is now Dell Prairie in 1849-50, were Thomas Rich, William Davis, Holland Carter, George Knox, Cotterel and Mathews. Wells Tyler and William Armstrong located on the banks of the Wisconsin in 1851. From the year 1850 to 1853 immigration poured into Adams County.
In 1850 the first school-house in the county was built. The site of this building was what is now known as Dell Prairie Post-office. It was built by Thomas Rich, who hired Lewis Carter as teacher at $12 and board per month, and invited the neighbors to send in their children.
Rev. Anderson preached the first sermon in the county, in 1852, at the house of Mr. Rich, who paid him one dollar a visit. He afterward grumbled at the salary, and thought they ought to furnish him a conveyance. Mr. Rich thereupon bought him a horse for $65, and told him to wear his legs out in the good cause. A church was erected in 1854, at the Dell Prairie Post-office, and Rev. C. L. Fisher, a Baptist minister, was employed to regularly supply the pulpit.
The first white settler who died was one Horton, who was killed in the Summer of 1850, while digging a well.
The two towns, Dell Prairie and New Haven, are the best settled, and the richest in the county.
There are still tracts of land in the northern part of the county owned by the State and General Government, for sale at a low figure. In these northern towns there are fund deposits of bog iron ore, and also some beds of kaolin.
The first newspaper in the county was the Adams County Independent, issued in May, 1858, by Julius C. Chandler, in the interest of removing the county seat to Friendship. The paper was discontinued in 1862. In 1860 the Adams County Press was started by the “Press Publishing Co.,” under the direction of S.W. Pierce.


The act creating the county of Adams was approved March 11, 1848. The new county was created from territory hitherto belonging to Portage, and embraced a region defined by a line commencing at the “northwest corner of Sauk County, and running due north to the middle of the Lemonwier River; thence down the main channel of that river to its mouth; thence down the Wisconsin River to the point where it crosses the north line of township 13; and thence due west to the point of beginning.” The new county was attached to Sauk for legal purposes. This boundary was of short duration, however, for by an act of the Legislature, approved March 8, 1879, the county was greatly enlarged in area. By this act, it included all north of the middle of Township 15 north, in ranges 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 east, to the north line of Township 20 north. At this time the county contained about 1,435 square miles, or about 919,006 acres. By an act of March 14, 1853, it was again enlarged, and made to include township 14 to 20 north, inclusive, lying in Range 2 to 7 east, inclusive. By another of the same date, it was organized for county and judicial purposes from and after the first Tuesday in April. By this act, also, it was organized into the five towns of Jackson, polls will be open at the house of Thomas Ritchie; Grand Marsh, voting to occur at the house of Mr. Peck; Quincy, first election to be held at the home of H. W. Kingsbury; Neenah, first election at the house of Thomas Weston & Co.; Lemonwier, voting to occur at the house of Mr. Findlay. Town elections were ordered by the act, and such political machinery as was indispensable to the complete formation of a county was provided for and set in motion. An election was ordered in these several towns for such offices as they were allowed by virtue of the organization. The county seat was fixed, for a tern of five years, on the southwest quarter of Section 7, township 16 north, of Range 5 east- the village of Quincy. The county was, by the same act, made part of the third judicial district. The election, which occurred on the first Tuesday of April, resulted in the selection of E. S. Miner, County Judge; W. J. Sayers, Sheriff; S. G. Holbrook, Clerk of the Circuit Court, and also County Treasurer; W. H. Spain, Clerk of the Board of Supervisors; William H. Palmer, Register of Deeds; D.A. Bigelow, District Attorney; Caleb McArthur, County Surveyor; and W. I. Webster, Coroner. The Board of Canvassers, which was composed of the Chairman of the County Board, assisted by two Justices of the Peace, decided that H. G. Holbrook could not legally hold two offices, and accordingly declared the office of treasurer vacant, and appointed to that position Daniel Young. At a special meeting of the board in August, 1853, Stillman Niles gave bond to furnish a court-room and three office rooms for the county. The Legislature passed an act, approved March 8, 1855, authorizing the people to submit the question of still another division of the county to a popular vote. The measure created an intense feeling, and the question was fought with considerable bitterness. Those in favor of division prevailed in the contest, and the Wisconsin River became the western boundary of Adams, and the new county of Juneau was formed. The latter county remained attached to Adams for judicial purposes. By this division the county seat was left on the western boundary of the county, and was distasteful to a large number of the citizens. As an outgrowth of this feeling, the Legislature, by and act approved March 24, 1858, allowed the people to vote on removal of the capital from Quincy to the village of Friendship. The vote resulted in a majority of 155 for removal, and in January following, the books and records were taken to Friendship, where they have since remained. Adams County is named in honor of President John Adams, second President of the United States. The present subdivision comprises the organized towns of Adam, Big Flats, Dell Prairie, Easton, Jackson, Leola, Lincoln, Monroe, New Chester, New Haven, Preston, Quincy, Richfield, Rome, Springville, Strong’s Prairie.

Indian Writing on Rocks
Source: Adams
County Press (16 Nov. 1915) from Wisconsin Historical Society Website; transcribed by Sandra Wright 

While making a survey of the Indian mounds in Adams county last month, the attention of H. A. Smythe of Madison and the writer was called to some peculiar marks or hieroglyphics cut in the sandstone at the south end of Roche-a-Cris rock, about two miles north of Friendship. A photograph of the end of the bluff was taken and submitted to Charles E. Brown, chief of the museum  of the State Historical Society, Madison, and he thinks the marks are of Indian origin. Up to the present it has not been learned what the marks mean or what Indians made them. Mr. Brown says that some way should be devised to prevent white people from marking and cutting near these marks. He has compared them with others with favorable results. Mr. Brown will reserve a decision until he is able to see them.

Near Spring Creek, in the town of Monroe, section 12, town 19 north, range 4 east, there is a large mound which is sometimes spoken of as an Indian mound. From photographs and a description of the surroundings, Mr. Brown is inclined to believe it is not of Indian origin but the result of erosion. This mound is about 40 feet high and on its top about 100 cattle took refuge during a flood a number of years ago. It is so large two cellars have been constructed in its side. The entire country roundabout has been reduced by erosion during the past ages and Mr. Brown is inclined to believe the pile of sand was left much as the picturesque castle rocks have been left in Adams and other counties.

Near the Big Roche-a-Cris in the town of Preston, section 7, town 18 north, range 6 east, there is also another mound clothes in doubt. Mr. Brown does not think it of Indian origin but will reserve a definite decision until he is able to visit it.

W. R. Edmonds of Plainville, has an interesting cache which he found, about tow miles north of his present home, in the sand on the east bank of the Wisconsin river. The three pieces are of riolite rock and were buried there long ago by some Indian who intended to make spades or adzes of them. The tools are only partly chipped and are gray in appearance. Some years ago at Baraboo a cache of twenty one pieces was found and two others have been reported from other parts of the county. In case other caches have been found in Adams county the writer would be pleased to receive information before a report of the recent survey has been printed.
H.E. Cole, Baraboo, WI

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