Racine County ALHN


As published in "Commemorative Biographical Record of Racine and Kenosha Counties" (Chicago: 1906), pages 497-498

Capt. John T. Trowbridge settled in Dover, in '36, made his claim, which was long a landmark in the county, and was the first settler. His wife, Mrs. Mary Trowbridge, who lived to a ripe old age, and died but a few years since, and his two sons, Stewart and Henry, came with him. He had been a sea captain for twenty-five years, had gone on whaling voyages and been a prisoner at Calcutta and Dartmoor, and after buffeting the storms of ocean from early manhood he sought a quiet refuge in the wilderness of the West. His two-story log house was a point in the traveler's journey, and I scarcely remember the time, in boyhood, when "Capt. Trowbridge's place" was not a familiar expression. He was the first postmaster in the town. He gave to his town the name of Brighton, from the place whence he had come, but in the re-organization of towns it received the name of Dover. He was a justice of the peace, and distinguished himself in this office as employing it to promote peace rather than litigation. I believe that he also represented his district in the Territorial legislature. The second settler in Dover was Mr. Samuel Ormiston, who came in August, 1836. The first child born in the town was Mr. Ormiston's daughter, Elizabeth, who was born on the 12th of November, 1838.

J. Sellers accompanied Mr. Ormiston in his settlement in Dover, and settled on on claim which in now the farm of Mr. Walter Bryce.

An incident in the experience of Mr. Sellers is worthy of notice. He started one morning to go to Pike Grove, and on his journey called at the house of George Nichols of Yorkville. He tarried a few moments, and bidding his friend "Good Morning" set out on his travels. He journeyed to the end of the day, and at evening found himself again at the house of Mr. Nichols, nor could he be made to believe that he had not arrived at Pike Grove, until he was introduced to the hospitalities of Mr. Nichol's cabin, and was told that on a prairie without roads, guiding posts, or human habitations, a bewildered traveler sometimes made a circuitous journey, arriving at the precise place from which he departed!

Among the other early settlers were George and Robert McKey, James Ballock, James Graham, William Cruikshank, Aaron Putnam and Joseph Scott, all of whom made their settlements in 1839. Samuel Stenhouse located in the town in 1840.

In the fall of 1838 John Duffus, Archibald Brown and Peter Manny made adjoining claims. In the same year, Robert Beatty and Thomas Green also made claims in Dover.

Mr Duffus built a shanty on his claim, 10x12. In March, 1839, his daughter, now the wife of Nicholas D. Fratt, and his son joined him. Mr. Duffus, his son, and Mr. Brown and Mr. Manny lived together in Mr. Duffus' cabin and Mrs. Fratt kept house for them. She describes the shanty in which they lived as without a floor, and with a roof of boards that was slight protection against the storms. It was like the house that was builded upon the sand, for one day when she was making bread and had placed it in the kettle over the fire, in the corner, for baking, a thunderstorm came up, and at the first flash of lightning, followed by a clap of thunder and a gust of wind, the roof of her father's cabin was swept away, "and the rain descended and the floods came," and there was no bread to be eaten in the house that day!

The first marriage celebrated in Dover was that of Peter Manny to Margaret Duffus.

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