Washington County, Wisconsin
Source: History of Washington and Ozaukee Counties, Wisconsin; transcribed by Barbara Ziegenmeyer

West Bend—Village or West Bend—Hartford—Village or Harford— Polk—Schlkisingerville —Farmington—Kewaskum—Village or Kewaskum—Barton and Villages— Trenton—Jackson—Wayne—Addison—Erin—Germantown—Richfield.

The town of Richfield was designated in the Governmental survey as Town 9, Range 19 east. It is one of the southern tier of towns in the county, and is situated between the towns of Erin, bordering it on the west, and Germantown on the east. In the northern and eastern part it is level. In the southwestern sections the surface of the land is somewhat broken by sharp drift hills of gravel. The growth of timber is of the hard wood varieties, with here and there in the valleys, along the creeks, patches of tamarack. The soil is a rich clay loam, yielding abundant crops of every cereal grown in this latitude. The town is well watered by small creeks and streams, the two largest of which are Bark River, which has its source in Section 23, runs through Bark Lake, on Sections 26 and 35, and Oconomowoc River, which enters the town on Section 4, runs southeasterly, and leaves the township on Section 30. The principal bodies of water are Bark Lake, on Section 26; Lelliecrap Lake, on Section 25; Lake Five, on Section 32, and Fries' Lake, on Section 17.

The first purchase of Governmental land was made by one Samuel Spivey, who entered 160 acres on Section 36, May, 31,1841. It does not appear that he ever settled in the town, as his name does not appear in the early records, nor is he remembered by the early settlers now living. Jacob Snyder made the second purchase, forty acres, on Section 35, July 6, 1841, and was the first settler in the town. No other entries were made during that year. In the fall of 1842, some fifty entries were made, mostly by actual settlers, and the settlement of the town fairly begun. The year 1843 witnessed a large immigration, and nearly half the desirable land in the town was occupied, mostly by Germans.   The town was quite generally settled in 1844 and 1845

Below is given a list of all purchases of Government land prior to 1844, with dates of purchase, number of acres, and location. Some of the purchases are known to have been made by nonresident speculators, but the list is none the less interesting, as it also contains the names of all the early settlers who came in and took up Government land prior to 1844. The list is as follows:
Name Section Acres Date of Entry
Johann Stuesser 1 80 Sept. 14, 1842
Francis Jos Stuesser 1 80 Sept. 14, 1842
Justus Schneider 1 160 Sept 29, 1842
Johann Gottlieb Ahnert 1 103 Dec. 9, 1842
Nicolaus Adam Pilger 1 104 Aug. 1, 1843
Jacob Regenfus and George Regenfus 1 160 Nov. 13, 1843
Francis Jos. Stuesser 2 240 Sept. 14, 1842
John Kessel, Sr. 2 160 Oct. 10, 1842
Andreas Heeld 2 101 Nov. 21, 1842
Johann Gottliob Ahnert 2 101 Dec. 9, 1842
John Nauth 2 80 Aug. 4, 1843
John Kessel 3 80 Oct. 1, 1842
Johann Mauer 3 40 Sept. 10, 1849
James McMonegee 8 80 May 30, 1843
Edward Burke 9 40 Aug 17, 1843
Diether Jung 9 40 Aug. 16, 1843
Edward Burke 9 40 Aug. 17, 1843
John Bauer 10
Nov. 1, 1843
John Kessel 10 160 Oct. 1, 1842
John Mower 10 80 June 13, 1843
William Held 10 120 July 7, 1843
John George Thoma 10 40 Aug. 8, 1843
Frederick Ebeling 10 120 Aug. 16, 1843
William Ostrander 11 160 June 20, 1842
John Eimermann 11 240 Oct. 1, 1842
Michael Bauer 11 40 Nov.16, 1842
Martin Franck 11 40 June 14, 1843
Henry Ebling 11 160 Sept. 14, 1843
Jacob Schlitz 12 80 Nov. 13, 1843
Ebenezer Jones 12 160 June 20, 1843
Christoph Funk 12 40 Sept. 14, 1842
Philip Laubenheimer 12 120 Oct.1,1842
John Kessel 12 80 Oct.10,1842
Gabriel Eudlich 12 80 June29,1843
Henry Hochstein and Friedrich 12 40 July28.1842
Friedrich Harth. 12 40. Oct.28,1843
Johann Haurich 13 40 Sept.15,1842
Thomas Hayes 13 80 Nov. 3, 1842
John McGrath and Patrick Homgon 13 40 Nov. 14, 1842
John McGrath and Patrick Homgon 13 80 Nov. 14, 1842
Phillipp Koch 13 40 July 31, 1843
Henry Phillipp Eberhard 13 40 Aug 1, 1843
Phillipp Schneider 13 40 Aug. 9, 1843
Michael Fogarty 13 40 Oct. 20, 1843
Christian Kissinger 13 160 Nov. 1, 1843
Martin Franck 14 40 June 14, 1843
George Jacob Wambold 14 80 Aug 1, 1843
George Schaefer 14 40 Aug. 9, 1843
Jacob Stuesser 14 360 Oct. 9, 1843
John Joseph Tilz 14 80 Oct. 9, 1843
Auton Keil. 14 40 Oct. 23, 1843
John Dixheimer 14 40 July 3, 1843
Peter Mueller 15 80 Sept. 8, 1843
John Joseph Tilz. 15
Oct. 9, 1843
Jacob Werner 15 80 Oct. 9, 1843
Auton Kiel 15 80 Oct 18, 1843
Jacob Schroeder 15 40 Oct. 13, 1843
Nicholaus Landguth 15 80 Oct. 26, 1843
Michael Griebeln 15 40 Oct. 28, 1843
Theodore Frederick 15 40 Oct. 28, 1843
Peter Brosius 15 40 Oct. 31, 1843
Mathew Chapman 17 120 May 22, 1843
John Mocklar and Thomas Mocklar 17 40 Aug. 22, 1843
Henry Lowe 19 240 . Sept. 19, 1842
Henry Lowe 20 320 Sept. 19, 1842
Joseph Hearly 20 80 Oct 17, 1842
Jacob Reichard 20 80 Nov. 16, 1842
Hugh Flanagan 21 40 Sept. 13, 1843
Theodore Frederick 22 40 Oct 28, 1843
William Contes 24 80 Aug. 30, 1842
Lorenzo Dow Fuller 24 40 April 7, 1843
Zachariah R. Fuller 24 40 May 29, 1843
Betsey Perry Fuller 24 80 Oct. 2, 1843
Charles McCarty 24 80 Oct. 26, 1843
James Ball 25 80 Sept. 23, 1843
Richard Wroath 25 80 Sept. 23, 1843
Nicholaus Kastels 25 80 Nov. 2, 1840
James McGovern and Patrick McGovern 26 120 Oct. 17, 1842
Patrick Clark 26 40 Oct. 24, 1843
Michael Riley 27 80 Sept. 19, 1842
Patrick Clark 27 40 Sept. 19, 1842
Michael McGarrathy 27 80 Sept. 27, 1842
Michael Redmond 27 80 Oct. 31, 1842
Cormick Dugan 27 40 Oct. 20, 1842
Patrick Boyle 29 80 Sept. 22, 1842
George Clements 29 160 Sept. 29, 1842
Martin Cloffy 29 80 Nov. 14, 1842
Francis McKenna 29 80 Feb. 16, 1843
Thomas King 29 40 Oct. 13, 1843
Johann Lowe 30 160 Sept. 19, 1842
Johann Lowe 30 291 Sept. 19, 1842
Patrick Flynn 30 80 Sept. 22, 1842
Frances McKenne 30 80 Mar. 6, 1843
Richard Griffin 31 120 July 5, 1842
Johann Lowe 31 103 Sept. 19, 1842
John Cosgrove 31 80 Sept. 22, 1842
Michael Fitzimons 31 120 Sept. 22, 1842
Patrick Shannon 31 80 Sept. 22, 1842
Peter Schneider 31 65 July 10, 1843
Francis Maldoon 31 40 Aug. 23, 1843
John Donnelley 32 80 Aug. 17, 1842
John Mulharan 32 80 Sept. 17, 1842
Bernard Mulharan 32 80 Sept. 17, 1842
Isaac Webb 33 40 July 11, 1842
John Donneley 33 80 Aug. 17, 1842
Austin Odell 33 40 Sept. 15, 1842
William Odell 33 40 Sept. 22, 1842
Michael Redmond 33 80 Nov. 26, 1842
John Donneley 33 40 June 10, 1843
Michael Denny 33 40 Oct. 18, 1843
James Curry 33 40 Oct. 18, 1843
Stephen Moriarty 33 40 Oct. 26, 1843
Nicolaus Nowland 34 80 Sept. 17, 1842
William Dunn 34 80 Sept. 19, 1842
Michael Shiel 34 40 May 29, 1843
Patrick Clark 34 120 Oct. 23, 1843
Jacob Snyder 35 40 July 6, 1841
John Campbell 35 80 Sept 22, 1842
Lawrence McGeough 35 40 Jan. 14, 1843
John Donneley and Peter Smitt 35 40 Nov. 13, 1843
Samuel Spivey 36 160 May 31, 1841
James McCusker, 36 80 Sept. 3, 1842
Samuel Edge 36 80 Oct. 16, 1843

Of the above list, the following are still residents of the town: Diether Jung, John Bauer, John Kessel, John Eimermann, Frederick Ebeling, Thomas Hayes, Patrick Horregan, Patrick McGooem, Martin Claffy, Johann Lowe, Patrick Flynn, Matthew Chapman, Michael Fitzimons, and possibly others Some who moved away are known to be yet living, but excepting those named above, nearly all have done with life's labors, and passed into the land of the hereafter.

The town was incorporated under the name of Richfield, January 21, 1846. There is no complete record of the first town meeting. The record concerning it is contained in a series of resolutions certified by the Town Clerk, which read as follows:

Resoled, By the citizens of the town of Richfield, in annual town meeting, held at the house of Zachariah Fuller, April 7, 1846: (First), that it is our duty and it shall be our aim to practice strict economy in the government and management of our town affairs, and that our motto is, M the greatest good to the greatest number," and in order to carry out these principles, therefore,

Resolved (Second), That the pay since fees of the officers of the town shall be as follows, to wit: Supervisor Commissioners of Highways, Commissioners of Common Schools and Assessors shall receive each $1 a day, and for all necessary writing on town business, six cents per folio, and the committee of investigation shall order make the resolution be altered in such manner as to covey the same meaning in a less number of words; they shall make such revocation in the charges as they shall deem fit. The Collector shall receive for his services 5 per cent on all money by him paid into the Town Treasurer. The Treasurer shall receive for his services 2 per cent for all money received by him, and 1 per cent for all money by him paid out.

Resolved (Third), That in all surveys of roads, that pay shall not be allowed to more than four persons, to wit: a Surveyor, two Chairmen and a Marker.

Resolved (Fourth), That we will raise ?80 to pay the expense of the town for the ensuing year. In addition to the above $80, $70 more was voted for at special town meeting, held at the house of Philip Laubenheimer. at 1 o'clock, the 6th day of May, 1846.

Attest: Michael Foqartt, Town Clerk. The first town officers, elected at this meeting, although not recorded by the Clerk, are ascertained from the records of the earlier sessions of the Board of Supervisors. The first meeting was held at the house of Michael Fogarty. The board were all present, and consisted of Balthus Mantz, Chairman, William Coates and Isaac Romig.   The following business was transacted :   The bills allowed were :

Bill of Baltus Mantz, $12.38, for services as Supervisor, Assessor, Commissioner of Highways and Commissioner of Schools. Isaac Romig, $6 as Commissioner of Highways. Joseph Harzacker, $2.63 as School Commissioner and sundry services. Patrick Harrigan, $3.75 as Commissioner of Highways. Michael Fogarty, $8.67 as Town Clerk. Gustavus Bogk, $9 for overturning his wagon on the Fond du Lac road, and breaking a stove and other articles.

The catastrophe of Bogk, dimly brought from the shadows of the past in the above item, gives room for the imagination to picture the trials of the hapless Gustavus. He was, doubtless, a newcomer, having his worldly effects all stowed in the wagon which he had the misfortune to upset. When he met with the mishap, whether the sky grew blue with the oaths he swore, or trembled at his bellowings of despair; whether he threatened the town with the rigor of the law, for the villainous state of the highway, or humbly put in the supplication of a poor unfortunate for relief, can never be known. The historian can only record that Gustavus Bogk was the first man who upset his wagon in the town of Richfield, and got pay from the authorities for breaking his stove.

The records of a subsequent meeting show that the first Town Treasurer was Zachariah Fuller, and Everet Wartz was the first Collector. Joseph Harlacker also served as School Commissioner, and Lorenzo D. Fuller as Assessor.

The oldest church in the town is St. Hubert Church (Catholic). The first church was built of logs, on Section 22, in 184546. The first priests to say mass were Fathers Meyer. Martin Kundig, and Obermueler. In July, 1863, the old church was replaced by the present substantial stone structure. Rev. Ferdinand Raess is the present officiating priest. The congregation now numbers (1881) seventy five families.

The St. Augustine Church, also Catholic, was started at an early period, under the care of the priests above named. It was built of logs on Section 18. The old church went into disuse many years ago, and a stone church was built on the adjoining Section, No. 7.

The oldest preserved poll list of the town is that of the general election held in November, 1847. It is given as showing the names and number of naturalized citizens residing in the town at that time.   It is as follows:

Michael Fogarty, Everet Wartz, Isaac Romig, Jacob Wambolas, Phillip Laubenheimer, John Fluke, Patrick Horrigan, John Kuper, Peter Brown, Joseph Fuss, Christopher Braden, John Moore, Theodore Rademacher, Bertram Schwartz, John Dies, William Huber, Jacob Wittemberg, Peter Limbough, Peter Weimer, Peter Criel, Leonard Gates, John Kessel, Theodore Frederick, Martin Falen, John Basil, Theodore Busch, Jacob Kurtz, Jacob Werner, Hubert Thomas, Michael Bauer, Herman T. Schultheis, Nicholas Merckel, George Fries, John T. Tilz, William Bigler, Frederick Merckel, Amest Hailsburg, Jacob Schroeder, Joseph Weber, John Derheimer, Mathias Fuss, Anton Konrad, Baltus Mantz, Thomas Hayes, Jacob Stuesser, John Greive, William Weller, John Stuesser, John Boehuer, Conrad Cornelius, Anthony Dourgh, John Thomas, John T. Fronock, Frederick Ebling, Peter Stoltzer, Francis T. Stuesser, William Coats, Christian Suller, John Filaon, Peter Miller, John G. Loffey,' Henry Otto, Nicholas Weimar, Peter Funk, Nicholas Smith, George Wittmeier, Thomas Martin, Casemer Wittmeier, John Martin, Jacob Eberhardt, Peter T. Schultheis, Arthur Donahue, Thomas Martin, Joseph Waldor, Peter Share, John Kessel, Jacob Kurtz, Michael Fahey, John Kissinger, William Rummens, Martin ClafFey, John Mulheron, John Ammerman, Andrew Griesemer, D. Schel, Henry Ebling, Leonard Brucker, Adam Brucker, Jacob Baumgaertner.   Total votes polled, 90.

During the war, Richfield raised for war purposes, the sum of $5,018.12. The records of the State have enrolled the names of thirty five soldiers from the town, who did personal service in the army.   Their names appear in the war history of the county at large.

The town is entirely covered with farms under a high state of cultivation. The population is three fourths German, the remaining part being mostly Irish.   The Northern Division of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway passes through the town, the station being on Section 12, in the northeast part of the town.

There are eight churches situated and named as follows : German Methodist, Section 2 ; St. Mary's (Catholic), Section 3; German Presbyterian, Section 5 ; German Evangelical, Section 11; St. Augustine (Catholic), Section 7; St. Hubert (Catholic), Section 22; German Methodist, Section 26; Colombia Church (Catholic), Section 33.

The town is divided into eleven whole and joint school districts. It has seven schoolhouses, costing $6,300. The number of scholars is 683, and the number of teachers is nine. The amount of money expended for school purposes in 1880 was $1,996. The industries of the town are largely agricultural.   The trade of the town centers at the

This hamlet is clustered about the railroad station, and does, in addition to the local trade" a considerable business in the shipping of grain. The first settler and first owner of the site of the village (on Section 12) was Philip Laubenheimer. He was a native of Hesse Darmstadt, where he was born March 23, 1803. He same to Wisconsin in 1842, and settled immediately on the present site of the village. His family, consisting of a wife and seven children, with himself, spent the first two weeks encamped under a tree near where he afterward built his house. His wife and one child died in a few weeks after his arrival, and were the first whites buried in the town. The remaining children— Elizabeth, Clara, Gertrude, Philip, Fred and Peter are believed to be still living, though not residents of the town.

Mr. Laubenheimer built on his claim through which the old Fond du Lac road passed, a blockhouse, which served as a dwelling, a tavern, and where he kept a very primitive stock of goods, consisting of pins, coffee and sugar. He added to his house from time to time, and it became the grand place of rendezvous for all the German immigrants who came into seek lands. The old Laubenheimer tavern is still standing, and is of historic interest as it was the first German tavern, saloon and store within the present limits of Washington County. When the railroad was laid out in 1855, he gave the company the depot grounds, and thus secured its present location, and held the center of trade at his place. He subsequently built a large stone brick store on the south side of the track in 1868, and carried on a large mercantile business. In 1875, he built an adjoining building of like size, 50x40 feet. The whole structure, still standing and occupied by his sons, Henry and William, as hotel, saloon and store, has a frontage on the railroad of eighty feet, and a depth of fifty feet.

Mr. Laubenheimer, in connection with his largely increased business, continued to run his old tavern till 1874. He died in 1878. He married for his second wife Mrs. Annie M. Arnet, of Germantown. The children by his second marriage were two sons—Henry and William, still living and in business in Richfield, and three daughters—Eva, Margaret and Barbara. He was an intimate friend of Solomon Juneau, who paid him frequent visits, and held over him a sort of protectorate, which shielded him from the thievish incursions of the Indians, who were numerous during the early years of his settlement.

In 1857, Emanuel Mann, one of the early settlers of the town of Polk, started a store, which added largely to the prosperity, not only of the village, but the whole town. He drew the trade of a large region to his store, and for many years, in connection with his sons, did as large a mercantile business as was done in the county. The house sunk under the vicissitudes of the grain trade in 1871. The village has hardly yet recovered from the paralysis occasioned by this failure. The finest residence in the place, now the residence of Mr. H. J. Lowe, was built by Mr. Henry Mann, and stands as a monument of his taste and refinement.

There are now in the village two stores, kept by William Laubenheimer and Henry Pfeiffer; a depot for the sale of agricultural implements, kept by H. J. Lowe, who is also a large shipper of grain ; two steam sawmills, run by Mr. Reidenbach and Davis Bros. There are two shipping elevators, owned by Laubenheimer and Pfeiffer, through which are shipped annually 75,000 bushels of grain. A cheese factory is just started. There is one hotel—the " Northwestern"—kept by Henry Laubenheimer; also shoemakers, blacksmiths, butchers, harnessmakers and all other artizans usually found in a country village.

There is but one mill outside the village of Richfield in the town. It is a sawmill and gristmill, is run by waterpower, and is built on Section 9.

According to the last official returns (1880), the average amount of crops raised on 7,320 acres of cultivated land was as follows: 52,000 bushels of wheat, 49,000 of rye, 46,000 of oats, 14,000 of barley, 6,000 of rye and 18,000 of potatoes. There were in the town 752 milch cows, and there was made 27,000 pounds of butter and 2,000 pounds of cheese. There were 216 acres of apple orchard, with 7,035 trees bearing fruit.

The population, as given in the census of 1880, numbered 1,716. Below is given the present town officers: Supervisors, Andrew Ennis, Chairman, Henry Wiederaeyer, John Thielman; Town Clerk, Peter Schaenzer; Assessor, Ignatius Zins; Treasurer, Lorenz Heck.

There were two post offices in the town in 1881—Lake Five, Section 33, and Richfield.

The present Postmaster at Richfield is William Laubenheimer.

The growth of the town has been gradual, and it has, under the steady and continuous labors of an industrious people, developed into one of the finest and wealthiest farming towns of the State. The history of such communities gives no startling occurrences for historical record ; it is all within the personal experiences and folklore of the inhabitants, and can be only faithfully portrayed in the biographical sketches of the men and women who have been identified with its material growth. To the accompanying biographies the reader is referred if he would know of the living forces that have made from the wooded wilds of forty years ago, the homes of the thrifty population that now inhabit the town.

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