Grant County, Wisconsin on Genealogy Trails
Source: History of Grant County, Wisconsin (1881); submitted by Mary Saggio:
The town of Muscoda, occupying the extreme northeast corner of the county, claims a priority in history which is ante-
A second tradition, of a more recent period, gives to the plain stretching away on either side the name of “English prairie,” so named, says the legend, from the fact that a number of English families settled here at as early a date as 1812 or thereabouts, but were subsequently massacred by the Indians. This too, must, however, be relegated to the region of myths for want of corroboratory testimony.
The first authentic knowledge possessed of any actual residents at this point gives this honor to parties by the name of Armstrong, who had a trading-
“In 1838, I went to English Prairie, now Muscoda, at the solicitation of Col. W. S. Hamilton. I hauled and purchased lead ore for him that summer at Peddler’s Creek, Centerville, and Upper Diggings. The lead, when smelted, was then shipped from Muscoda to Galena, via the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers, a steamboat coming up regularly every week. At that time, the Wisconsin contained at least a third more water than now.
“The men employed by the Colonel about the furnace were mostly Frenchmen.
“Prominent among the interests that gathered around the furnace at this time or a little later was the land office, which was removed here from Mineral Point. Albert Paris was Register, and Levi Sterling Receiver. William Garland kept a small lumber-
“The Indians were very peaceable. At one time, Humphrey A. Springer and myself had taken an old deserted Indian farm, as a claim near the mouth of the Baraboo River. We occupied the house and made some improvements, and I had traded here with the Indians. One day a person, part Indian and part French, came with about thirty Indians to drive us away. He told me that we had to leave and that he had come by order of Capt. Low, of Portage, to lock up the house – peaceably, if possible, with force if we did not submit to his order. My friend, not understanding French, was perfectly astonished to see me take my double-
“There was no further endeavor made to drive us off, and the Indians were afterward quite friendly. Springer always took pride in narrating the ‘daring exploit,’ as he called it.
“We had that summer (1838) some very eminent visitors at the Prairie, being Mrs. Alexander Hamilton and Mrs. Halle, wife and daughter of the great Gen. Alexander Hamilton, of Revolutionary fame, and also mother and sister to William S. Hamilton. They were delighted and pleased with our western prairies, as also with the Wisconsin River.
The same gentleman speaks as follows of the appearance of Southwestern Wisconsin, as it appeared to view in the early days of settlement.
“I came to the Territory of Wisconsin, then Michigan Territory, in the summer of the year 1834, and located near Fort Hamilton, now Wiota. This was one of the largest settlements at that time, containing stores and smelting furnaces for lead ore, belonging to Col. William S. Hamilton.
“The county at that period was full of fine game – plenty of deer, some elk, wild turkeys, grouse, prairie chickens, pheasants, quails, pigeons, wild geese and ducks. The prairies were full of prairie wolves, the timber of raccoons, wild-
“In the summer of 1836, I visited, for the first time, Wingville. Thomas J. Parrish, Esq., was the principal owner and business man of that part of the county. He had, considering the times, good buildings – dwellings and store, also a water blast furnace, to smelt lead ore – and was smelting and sending a great quantity of lead to Galena. Mineral at that time was worth from $8 to $10 per thousand at Wingville, while pork was $27, and flour $15 per barrel; so it took about 3,000 pounds of mineral to buy one barrel of pork, or about 2,000 pounds to buy one barrel of flour. But the miners seemed to do well, and always had a little leisure and money for a quiet game.
“In the summer of 1838, I was frequently at Centerville. This village was one half in the county of Grant and one half in the county of Iowa. The county line was in the middle of its principal street. I was hauling mineral ore from there to English Prairie, now Muscoda. That summer there were a great many miners there, and some very good diggings being worked. Frank Kirkpatrick and William S. Madden sold their diggings for $10,000 to Thomas J. Parrish. Capt. Wohn and partners worked a good diggings. Hohlsauser & Co., H. M. Billings, and Hollenbeck & Underwood all had valuable diggings. There were two stores there at that time; one kept by Thomas J. Parrish, and the other by Prentice as agent for other parties. There were also two hotels and boarding-
“In 1842, I moved to Centerville, opened a store and purchased one-
“I rented the furnace of Thomas J. Parrish, at Wingville, that summer, and sent my lead to Potosi. After I quit smelting, I sent for two years considerable mineral or lead ore to Potosi, to Thomas Palliser and Frank Cholvin. During this time Joel Landrum, Esq., and myself attended to all the legal business. In 1847, I left Centerville, moved my store and house to Highland, then Franklin, in Iowa County, on wheels, which were made purposely, to which I had twenty yoke of oxen hitched.”
The first attempt at corporate improvements was made by Thomas J. Parrish, Charles Bracken, Col. Nichols and others. This portion of the village now known as “Lower Town,” was included in that section bounded by Wisconsin avenue and Division street, but the date of the platting is uncertain, the probable time being somewhere early in the forties.
In 1847, the settlement contained about fifty inhabitants, and numbered in its confines the following buildings: The residence of Thomas J. Parrish, “Billy” Garland’s hotel, a second institution of the same kind kept by L. J. D. Parrish, the residence of Mr. Prater, which was occupied by himself and a Spaniard, and the old log buildings once occupied by the land office, and at this time used as a store. All of these buildings were, with the exception of the cidevant land office, large double log cabins, built after the Kentucky pattern, and one of which (Prater’s) still remains a perpetual reminder of the days gone by.
By 1853, the population had crept up to the neighborhood of two hundred, and the settlement boasted of two good general stores – one run by S. A. Quincy, and the other by Messrs. Palmer & Ward, Mr. Palmer at present being a resident of Boscobel. During the year, Mr. Jonathan B. Moore brought in a stock of goods and opened a third store. The buildings occupied by these establishments are still standing in Lower Town, the names of the proprietors standing out on the weather-
In the year following, the minds of the inhabitants were occupied with the premonitory shadows that told of the swift approach of the new railway, although it was not until two years later that its actual entrance was made into the town of Muscoda. This road, as projected, passed about three-
In 1858, the Catholic denomination erected the first church in the new town, and the year following the improvements included a second steam saw-
Up to the year 1868, but little advancement had been made in the upper town, the houses then comprising it being almost computable on the fingers of one hand. This year, Gen. Moore commenced the erection of a bridge across the Wisconsin, at a point just above Wisconsin avenue; the structure was completed the same year, the first team passing over it September 16. The effect of this enterprise on the part of Gen. Moore was speedily seen. New life seemed infused into the stagnant town; houses and business blocks began to show their proportions against the sky, and, in a few years, a lively little town stood out in bold relief upon the broad prairie.
A steady and healthy growth has characterized the village from this time forward, drawing, as it does, not only from the country about it, but reaching out to the wide district on the opposite side of the river, making the prospects for the future fully as bright, and, in a certain sense, possessed of a much more rosy radiance, than those of the past.
By an act of the County Board, passed at the session of 1851, it was enacted that Townships 8 and 9, and the north half of Township 7, of Range 1 west, shall constitute a separate town by the name of Muscoda, and the first town meeting shall be held at the house of James Moore. In accordance with the above, the first election in the new town was held at the Wisconsin House, kept by Mr. Moore, on Tuesday, the 6th of April, 1852. Mr. Alfred Palmer was appointed Chairman, with William A. Moncrief, Jesse Locke and A. J. Thompson as Inspectors. The number of votes cast at this election was 117. Muscoda has, up to the present time, remained unincorporated, either as village or city; and, from outward appearances, it has no reason to regret the course thus marked out.
Below is given a roster of the Supervisors and Clerks from the organization of the town up to the present date:
1852 – Supervisors, James Moore, Chairman, A. Dickenson, Edward Dorsey; Clerk, A. J. Thompson; Treasurer, A. Dickinson; Assessor, James Moore; Justices of the Peace, R. Barnes, E. Dorsey, W. G. Spencer and James Moore; School Superintendent, A. J. Thompson.
1853 – Supervisors, James Moore, Chairman, A. Dickenson, Thomas Waters; Clerk, J. B. Moore.
1854 – Supervisors, James Moore, Chairman, Charles Wright, Thomas Waters; Clerk, George R. Frank.
1855 – Supervisors, James Moore, Chairman, Charles Wright, John Burris; Clerk, Franklin Z. Hicks.
1856 – Supervisors, James Moore, Chairman, George R. Frank, John Burris; Clerk, R. V. Alexander.
1857 – Supervisors, J. W. Blanding, Chairman, B. M. Coates, George Keck; Clerk, J. McLaughlin.
1858 – Supervisors, James Moore, Chairman, Joseph Boggy, E. Dunstan; Clerk, James S. Featherby.
1859 – Supervisors, James Moore, Chairman, J. B. Winter, B. Fayant; Clerk, Samuel B. Elston.
1860 – Supervisors, W. W. Dimock, Chairman, C. W. Wright, B. Fayant; Clerk, J. W. Blanding.
1861 – Supervisors, W. W. Dimock, Chairman, C. W. Wright, Peter Schmidt; Clerk, Ralph Carver.
1862 – Supervisors, W. W. Dimock, Chairman, P. B. McIntyre, Samuel Bull; Clerk, Ralph Carver.
1863 – Supervisors, J. B. McIntyre, Chairman, John Smalley, J. B. Winter; Clerk, W. W. Dimock.
1864 – Record has been destroyed.
1865 – Supervisors – S. C. McDonald, Chairman, Royal Wright, Joseph Boggy; Clerk, A. R. Tyler.
1866 – Supervisors, S. C. McDonald, Chairman, Henry Fessel, Royal Wright; Clerk, Ralph Carver.
1867 – Supervisors, S. C. McDonald, Chairman, J. B. McIntyre, Henry Fessel; Clerk, Ralph Carver.
1868 – Supervisors, John Smalley, Chairman, Royal Wright, Peter Schmidt; Clerk, Ralph Carver.
1869 – Supervisors, O. C. Denney, Chairman, Henry Tessel, Thomas J. Graham; Clerk, Ralph Carver.
1870 – Supervisors, P. B. McIntyre, Chairman, Joseph Meier, Joseph Komers; Clerk, Charles D. Alexander.
1871 – Supervisors, Thomas J. Graham, Chairman, Joseph Stork, John Garland; Clerk, John Hendricks.
1872 – Supervisors, Jacob Bremmer, chairman, Henry McNelly, Henry Fessel; Clerk, Joseph Meier.
1873 – Supervisors, Charles G. Rodolf, Chairman, Henry Fessel, P. B. McIntyre; Clerk, L. Scofield.
1874 – Supervisors, Charles G. Rodolf, Chairman, Jacob Ritzie, Joseph Meier; Clerk, P. J. Schaefer.
1875 – Supervisors, Charles G. Rodolf, Chairman, Jacob Ritzie, Joseph Meier; Clerk, P. J. Schaefer.
1876 – Supervisors, Charles G. Rodolf, Chairman, Frank Kolman, W. W. McKittrick; Clerk, P. J. Schaefer.
1877 – Supervisors, Charles G. Rodolf, Chairman, W. W. McKittrick, Thomas J. Graham; Clerk, P. J. Schaefer.
1878 – Supervisors, Jacob Bremmer, Chairman, P. B. McIntyre, John Kolars, Jr.; Clerk, P. J. Schaefer.
1879 – Supervisors, Jacob Bremmer, Chairman, James A. Black, P. B. McIntyre; Clerk, F. L. Doubrava.
1880 – Supervisors, Jacob Bremmer, Chairman, Moritz Honer, A. C. V. Elston; Clerk, F. L. Doubrava.
1881 – Supervisors, C. G. Rodolf, Chairman, J. D. Pfiesterer, Jacob Chesick; Clerk, Fred W. Schmitt; Treasurer, Peter J. Schafer; Assessor, I. J. Wright; Justices of the Peace, G. L. Schlump, W. S. Manning; Constables, George Britthauer, J. E. Peebles, Joe Stork.
This structure which has done so much for Muscoda in a commercial point of view, owes its conception and erection to the stirring enterprise of Gen. Jonathan B. Moore. As stated heretofore, the bridge was erected during 1868, and the beneficial results which were expected to accrue to the village, were apparent from the first. Starting from the southern abutment, the first portion reached is the draw, 140 feet in length, the channel of the river at this point diverging to this shore, and, therefore, determining the position of the draw. Beyond this comes the bridge proper, with two spans, of 150 feet, or 300 in all, succeeding which, is the pile bridge, which spans the islands formed at this point, and the slough; this portion of the structure is 1,272 feet in length, making the total length of the bridge 1,712 feet. The cost of this improvement was $24,000. Previous to the erection of the bridge, Muscoda drew but little from the opposite side of the river, and the yearly exports of grain during this period amounted to but a few thousand bushels. Now between 150,000 and 200,000 bushels are shipped from this point annually. In every way, the bridge must be considered a most prominent factor in the advancement and success of Muscoda.
The first post office at Muscoda was established in 1839, W. S. Hamilton being commissioned as Postmaster, probably retaining the office during his continuance at this point. The names of those who served in the capacity of mail distributors, for the years succeeding Col. Hamilton’s departure, have escaped the memory of those acquainted with the early history of the place. The mail at this early opening of the post office was carried by Edward Beouchard. In 1849, the post office was kept in a building about a block of Garland’s Hotel, but the name of the building spirit of the mail-
In 1850, James Moore was commissioned as Postmaster, the office being in his store at lower town. Three years later, he resigned the position in favor of F. Z. Hicks, who held the office until 1855. From that date until 1861, T. R. Chesebro distributed the mail as Uncle Sam’s agent. He was succeeded by J. L. Marsh, who remained in charge of the office until he joined the army in September, 1862. After the resignation of Mr. Marsh, the duties were transferred to Mrs. E. Harris, who continued as Postmistress until her death some few years later. At Mrs. Harris’ decease, she was succeeded by her daughter Annie; she, however, being unable to attend to the growing duties of the office, resigned in favor of A. R. Tyler, who handled the mails until July 12, 1868, when the post office, together with all the records was destroyed by fire.
During the year, Ralph Carver was appointed to succeed Tyler, and continued as Postmaster for nine years succeeding. In May, 1877, he turned the office over to Frank A. David, the present agent for Uncle Sam, whose rule is spoken of in terms of heartiest satisfaction. The office is situated at present in the stone block owned by Gen. Moore, on Wisconsin avenue.
It would appear that educational advantages were afforded to the youth of the new settlement at an extremely early date. In 1839, a school was started over which Allan Booyer wielded the birch, and initiated the youthful idea into its first acquaintance with the “rule of three” and minor mysteries. Unfortunately those who followed this pioneer master, have failed to have their names recorded in the memories of those still living. The school year at this time was a very short one, consisting generally of a few months’ school during the summer, the teachers being mainly of the gentler sex, who could get along on a smaller stipend than their masculine compeers, besides taking more kindly to the pleasures of “boarding ‘round.” The first schoolhouse was a log building, built by Col. Hamilton in 1854, Charles W. Wright doing the carpenter work. George R. Frank taught the first school in this building, which was subsequently disposed of the Methodist Episcopal society, who still own it as a church. The present schoolhouse was built in 1860, the dimensions of which are 30x60, and cost $2,500. High school was organized in 1877, and the rules and regulations governing it were adopted February 22, 1878. The first board consisted of J. B. McIntyre, P. A. Daggett and O. P. Manlove, and H. R. Smith was the first Principal. July 14, 1879, the voters of the village changed this from a town high school to a district high school. Only one class, consisting of Donald McDonald and Mary Garland have graduated from this school, they graduating in 1880. The report for the school year commencing in 1878 and ending in 1879, shows the whole number enrolled to be fifty-
Catholic Church. – The first services of this denomination were held in 1855, at the house of Mr. Bartholomew Fayant, by Rev. Father Conrad, who came from Cross Plains for that purpose. The first congregation consisted of sixteen or eighteen families. This was for several years only a missionary station. Rev. Sebastian Seif following Father Conrad as missionary, and continued to hold services in private houses as had been the practice heretofore.
During the year 1858, the erection of the church still used by the congregation was conceived in the minds of several of the most active members, prominent among whom were Valentine and Solomon Schneider, Peter Aesch and Mr. Remi. The architect was Joseph Schild. Mr. Dimock donated two lots to the congregation provided they would finish the church by a certain time, which was done. The corner-
Congregational Church. – The history of church dates back to 1856, but owing to the fact that no records for this period were kept, or, if kept, have since been lost or destroyed, the date of organization with sundry other matters of importance are wrapt in the shadowy cloak of forgetfulness. The society at this time was very weak. The first Pastor was the Rev. A. A. Overton, who commenced his labors with the young society in this year. Among the prominent members of the early organization were Mrs. B. M. Coates, Mrs. Farnsworth and Mrs. Col. Moore. Rev. Mr. Overton continued as Pastor for three years, when he removed to Avoca. The society was thus left pastorless, and meetings were discontinued until the arrival of Rev. Mr. Laughlin, who, however, remained but a short time, when the church was again without a Pastor. Under these dispiriting influences disintegration set in with the result that in the course of years the membership was reduced to the minimum.
In 1869, interest was re-
M. E. Church. – In January, 1865, Rev. Austin became the spiritual guide of the church, and remained one year, to be succeeded by Rev. Brainard, who acted in the capacity of Pastor for three years, endearing himself to his congregation. He remained the full length of time allowed by the M. E. Church, and, after he left, the pulpit remained unoccupied until the coming of Rev. Smith about the year 1870.
Rev. Smith continued as Pastor for two years, and was succeeded by the Rev. Mr. Jones, who remained about six months, when Rev. Mr. Irish completed his year.
The church was without the guidance of a Pastor for over four years from this date. This lapse was broken when Rev. Waldron was sent to act as Pastor for two years. Rev. Mr. Treewater was the next Pastor, and remained two years up to 1881, when Rev. Mr. Smith was again sent to assume charge of the church, and is the present Pastor, holding meetings every alternate week in the old schoolhouse, purchased by the society, for a comparatively small sum of money, from the town at the time of the erection of a larger school building in 1860.
Lutheran Church. – The first meetings of this society were held by the Rev. Winter. The first place of worship was situated about five miles south of the village, the land on which the church and school stood, at this time, being the gift of Rev. Winter. Under his fostering care the congregation grew quite prosperous, and it was with feelings of unfeigned regret that they witnessed his departure to another field of labor. In 1869, the idea was conceived of moving the church to Muscoda. The plan met with favor, and land was purchased for a small sum and the present church building, 30x50 feet, was erected in 1870, at a cost of $1,500.
Rev. Zwolanck was the first Pastor in the new location, serving for one year, when he was succeeded by the Rev. Remi, whose pastorate extended over a period of three years, during which time the church enjoyed a season of great prosperity. After the departure of Rev. Remi, the society was without a Pastor until 1877. This year, the Rev. Andewood was secured, and who has remained the spiritual guide of the little flock up to the present time.
Orion Lodge, No. 70, A., F. & A. M., of Richmond, now Orion, Richland Co., received its dispensation to work from Grand Master Henry M. Billings, at Highland, Iowa Co., June 26, 1855. The dispensation was granted to D. L. Downs, as W. M.; J. T. Barnes, S. W., and Levi Houts, J. W. The lodge was regularly instituted June 12, 1856, and Messrs. Downs, Barnes and Houts were the first officers.
The lodge remained at Orion and prospered, but was transferred to Muscoda March 20, 1875, when the name of the lodge was changed to Muscoda Lodge, No. 70. This was approved by J. P. C. Cottrill, Grand Master of Wisconsin, April 6, 1875. The lodge hold their regular meetings the first and third Saturdays of each month. The present membership is twenty-
Muscoda Lodge, No. 58, A., F. & A. M., received its dispensation from the Grand Lodge of the State of Wisconsin March, 1854, and on June 12, 1855, a charter was granted authorizing J. B. Moore, as W. M.; A. A. Overton, S. W.; William G. Spencer, J. W. This lodge had a membership of nineteen, and continued to hold meetings until the 7th day of January, 1868, when the lodge notified the Grand Master of the State that the members had voted to surrender the charter, which was done June 18, 1868. The officers who were in office at the time of disbandment were S. C. McDonald, W. M.; A. R. Tyler, S. W.; O. P. Underwood, J. W.; Ralph Carver, Sec’y; John Smalley, Treas.
I. O. O. F. – On the 12th day of June, 1855, Deputy G. M. Stewart instituted Eureka Lodge, No. 73, by the authority of a charter granted by L. H. Kellogg, Grand Master of the State of Wisconsin, to C. G. Rodolf, N. G.; R. V. Alexander, V. G.; T. J. Graham, P. Sec’y; O. P. Underwood, Sec’y; A. Palmer, Treas. The charter members were A. Palmer, C. G. Rodolf, William N. Mongrief, O. P. Underwood, Richard V. Alexander and Thomas J. Graham. The present membership is thirty-
The lodge hold their meetings in Co. Moore’s stone block, on Saturday evenings. The present set of officers are C. G. Rodolf, N. G.; Joseph Graham, V. G.; John Steward, Treas.; William Wilson, Sec’y; J. C. West, Warden; O. C. Deney, Conductor. The present Trustees are O. C. Deney, P. A. Daggett and William Wilsey.
Muscoda News. – The initial number of the News was put forth December 4, 1874, the proprietors and publishers being H. W. Glasier and Charles H. Darlington. This partnership continued but a brief space of time, and January 1, 1875, Mr. Darlington purchased his partner’s interest and remained sole proprietor. The News was at this time, and has since remained a five-
April 1, 1861, the paper passed into the hands of S. C. McDonald, under whose management it has been considerably improved, both in appearance and in the matter contained in its pages. It already has a circulation of over five hundred, and bids fair to far exceed this ere many months have passed. In politics the News is consistently and uncompromisingly Republican.
Western Advance. – During the Presidential campaign of 1880, a small sheet with the above name was published in the interest of the Democratic party by Mr. Satterlee. The necessity which gave birth the venture having passed, it was discontinued under the pressure of financial embarrassments.
Graham & Bremmer. – The main elevator used by this firm was erected in 1868, it being the first institution of the kind to be built in the village. The building is 22x60 feet in size and two stories high, a six-
McKittrick & Sons. – This elevator was erected in 1872, and is 24x24 feet in ground dimensions, and thirty feet high; in addition, it has two wings, one 24x24 and the second 24x30. The capacity of the building is about 16,000 bushels of grain.
The first hotel in Muscoda was a small one-
The next hotel was erected in 1851 by William Salman, who disposed of it the next year to Allanson Dickinson. S. B. Ellston purchased it in 1855, and, in 1869, moved it to where it now stands and sold it to J. D. Pfieisterer, who has enlarged and operated it up to the present time.
In the fall of 1856, John Smalley erected a two-
|Jo Daviess (IL)|