Township History - 1880
Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin
(From the "History of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin" published by the Western Historical Company, Chicago, IL. - 1880)
This fine agricultural town lies on the west line of Fond du Lac County,immediately south of Ripon and northwest of Waupun. This is called the richesttown in Fond du Lac county, cities not included. This reputation is sustained bythe taxes paid in 1879 by Metomen, which were about $3OO in excess of those ofany other town. It is Township 15 north, of Range 14 east, containing 36 fullsections of arable land. The town as a whole is a rich, undulating prairie, scarcelyone-twentieth of its area being timber. The most uneven portions have a soil ofsandy loam, with a subsoil of gravel, and with an occasional outcrop of limestone,which can be profitably worked. In the lowlands are found the vegetable mold -the choice alluvium of the marshy meadows. These, when thoroughly drained,constitute a mine of agricultural wealth. "Round Prairie," comprising severalthousand acres northwest of Brandon is justly celebrated for its beauty andfertility. Much of Metomen is similar to Ripon, which has been called the "Edenof the West." Its elevation, its gradually rolling surface and deep, warm soilcombine to render it attractive and productive. Other portions of the townshipclaim equal fertility. Much of the land is higher than any of the surroundingcountry - is, in fact, a watershed from which the streams flow southeasterly,northerly and westerly. The East Branch of the Rock River rises in Metomen. The Grand River, in the southwest corner, affords mill privileges at Fairwater. Wells upon the high prairie are not deep, but furnish exhaustless water supply. Creeks and brooklets are found, except upon the uplands. For a prairie country,Metomen contains some remarkable springs and streams. The spring on AlmonOsborns farm, Section 2, is the largest in the county, being the principal source ofSilver Creek, which flows into Green Lake. Caraboo Spring, on the old Col.Mansfield farm, is twenty-five feet across and discharges an astonishing volume ofwater. This is the head of Grand River. The land has been well adapted to wheat-raising, but, lately, attention has been profitably turned to stock-raising,particularly of sheep; and wool is becoming a leading export. For general farmingpurposes, Metomen is excelled by few in the State.
"Metomen," in the Menominee language, signifies "a grain of corn;" and this townwas thus christened by F. D. Bowman. The first "white mans cabin" within thepresent limits of this town was built by Col. Mansfield, in 1844, north ofFairwater, in western portion. He kept bachelors hall that summer and the next,but did not bring his family here till several other homes were established. On the29th of May, 1844, the first entry of land in Metomen was made; by C. D. Higley,who was then an active young bachelor. It was the farm upon which he nowresides with his family. The honor of founding the first home in Metomen isclearly due to Daniel Eggleston, who brought his family to a log cabin, not farfrom their present home, in the third week of June, 1845. Jacob Carter and familylocated near him just one week later. Among the settlers of that season wereAlmon Osborn, S. H. French, E. F. Mansfield, Robert Jenkinson, John and ThomasCoats, William C. Worden, M. D. Wilson, Mathew Wilson, A. Dart. Thesettlement was prosperous and rapidly increased, and, within two years, allGovernment land was claimed by actual settlers. Franklin French has the honor ofbeing the youngest pioneer who arrived in the township during the first year of thesettlement, he having been born on the 26th of October, 1845, in the unfinishedcabin of Jacob Carter. Eq. Frenchs hay-thatched cabin had been, the previousmonth, accidentally burned, and that can date first "fire" in Metomen. In thespring of 1846, the first sermon was preached by a Baptist minister namedJeremiah Murphy, in the cabin of Daniel Eggleston. During the summer of 1846,Rev. W. G. Miller, now well known in this State, began preaching in theschoolhouse on Section 2, in the Walworth District, and Rev. Miller was the firstpreacher whose charge included the town of Metomen. Elder Marcellus Barnumwas the first settled Pastor in the town, having organized a Wesleyan society atReeds Corners in 1847. This was afterward changed or merged into the presentCongregational church, located at Reeds Corners. No death occurred the firstyear of settlement, but in March, 1846, Frederick Nay was consigned to earth. InApril, of the same year, a Mr. Farnam and a Miss Collins were united for "better orworse." The first public school was established the same season on Section 2, andLois Walker was the presiding officer; this was in a private house; but, nextsummer, a schoolhouse was built on the same section, and J. W. Wilsie was thefirst pedagogue. In the spring of 1846, within a year from date of the first familysarrival, a post office was established, named "Grand River," with Jacob Carter asfirst Postmaster. At about the same time, the Post-Office Department hadestablished another office called "Mansfield," with Daniel Eggleston asPostmaster. These were so near together that, as an old pioneer expressed it, "onecabbage leaf would cover both." "Grand River" was soon discontinued, but"Mansfield" remained for years the only post office in the town. William Stantonbuilt a saw-mill in 1846, and Messrs. Dakin & Lathrop erected a flouring-mill in1847 on the branches of Grand River, within the town limits and near Fairwater. The flouring-mill, remodeled, is now owned by Mr. Hurlbut, and has been "onduty" since its erection. The proprietors of the first flouring-mill, Dakin &Lathrop, were also the first merchants, having started a store at Fairwater in 1847.For several years all religious services were held in the settlers cabins or in theschoolhouses, but, in the summer of 1856, the Free-Will Baptists of Fairwatererected the first church edifice in Metomen.
Metomen Town was organized at a meeting of citizens duly convened on the 7thof April, 1846, at the house of F. D. Bowman. Samuel A. Carpenter was chosenModerator, and A. C. Robbins, Clerk. The town of Waupun and part of the townof Alto were then embraced in the town of Metomen. The first resolution whichwas passed established the pay of all town officers at 75 cents per day, unlessotherwise fixed by law. The town officers elected at this first town meeting were:Chairman, Almon Osborn; Side Supervisors, Daniel Eggleston and S. A. Carpenter; Assessors, James English, D. L. McCorpin and Jacob Carter; Treasurer,Harvey Sexton; Town Clerk, A. C. Robbins; Collector, S. H. French; SchoolCommissioners, Henry Boardman, A. C. Robbins and Robert Jenkinson; Justicesof the Peace, S. H. French, S. A. Carpenter and Ira Lee. The total amount of taxeslevied in Metomen, in 1846, was $161.32, of which $100.87 were collected. Thepresent officers of the town are: Chairman, P. K. Pickard; Side Supervisors, J.Warner and W. Watson; Treasurer, J. McClelland; Clerk, E. Ensign; Justices, E.Reynolds and T. Watson; Assessor, A. M. Bly.
This prosperous village lies in the southeastern part of Metomen. The firstbuilding within present corporation limits was built by R. W. Pride, in 1849, andstood on the site of F. M. Hillmans residence. The place was not improved norcontinuously occupied for several years. It did not become a center of businessuntil the completion of the railroad in 1856, when it began rapid strides toward thedignity of a city. In its early history, it was a lively place and known as"Bungtown." The station and village was named "Brandon" by William Lockin,in honor of many Vermont settlers. It was not organized as a village until January8, 1878. The first Trustees were, J. Abercrombie, W. D. Ash, J. Lockin, L. Marsh,G. H. Paine and J. Raube. First President, William Plocker, and Clerk, CharlesHeuman. The present officers are, President, G. A. Russell, and Clerk, E. Ensign.
A Methodist class was formed as early as 1848, by Rev. H. Allen, a lay preacherand farmer, in the north part of Metomen. Meetings were held at Union PrairieSchoolhouse, which was one of a circuit containing three charges. This society in1861 removed to Brandon, which by its rapid growth had become of centralimportance. The first official record of the Brandon Methodist Episcopal Church,is that of a quarterly conference held on Round Prairie, November 24, 1855, Rev.J. M. Walker, Presiding Elder, and Rev. John B. Armatage, preacher in charge. Services were held in private houses or schoolhouses, or sometimes in the hall ofthe building now kept as a hotel by Warren Hall. The present church was built in1863, during the pastorate of Rev. Henry Requa. The present Board of Trusteesare F. M. Hillman, F. P. Furguson, T. R. Darrow, William Bronson, G. A. Russell,C. P. Knapp and A. G. Yorty; Clerk is W. R. Brown; Superintendent of Sundayschool is Leander Ferguson; Rev. Jesse Cole is present Pastor. The totalmembership is 153. They have a commodious church and a comfortableparsonage. The society is an active force, and numerically exceeds any otherreligious association in the town. The Methodist Episcopal Church at ReedsCorners is also connected with this charge.
The Congregational Church of Brandon was organized on the 19th of April, 1857,by Rev. S. Bristol, in the schoolhouse near the center of Metomen Town. JohnWilson was the first Deacon, and Robert Jenkinson the first Clerk. In July, 1862,the society removed to Brandon, and during the following summer their presenthouse of worship was erected, under the pastorate of Rev. Norman McLeod. Thepresent Board of Trustees are R. M. Wilsie, R. Graham and R. C. Kelly. Mr. Kellyhas been a member of the Board continuously from its organization. The Deaconsare George Bly, A. Turner and R. Graham. Martin C. Short is both Clerk of theChurch and Superintendent of the Sunday school. Rev. Homer W. Carter isPastor. Membership numbers seventy-five. The society is harmonious andprosperous.
The German Methodist Episcopal Church of Brandon erected its church edifice in1876, under the pastorate of Rev. F. Strobel. A class was formed about ten yearsbefore that, by Rev. August Turnitzer, who supplied them, with preaching. Theirmeetings were held in the Congregational Church. Trustees are Fred Gauger, F.Praatz and F. Nordwig. Superintendent of Sunday school is F. Sheffelbein. Present Pastor is Rev. John Deitrick. Membership, eighty-eight.
The German Lutheran Church was built in 1874. The Pastor was Rev. Holtzner. At the present time they are supplied with preaching once in two weeks, by thePastor in charge at Ripon. The society is small, and a majority of the memberslive in the country.
BRANDON PUBLIC SCHOOLS
From the small school taught by a single teacher in 1856, the Brandon school hasgradually developed to its present acceptable proportions. In 1864 the presentschoolhouse was erected. It is a wooden. two-story structure, containing fourschoolrooms. The Principal, Prof. Kirk Spoor, has been in charge since 1872. Hehas three assistant teachers, all ladies. The present Board of Education are, JamesTurner, M. D., President ; M. C. Short, Clerk, and F. R. Foster, Treasurer. TheBoard, under the high-school law of 1877, adopted the three-years courserecommended by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. A class of fourgraduated in June, 1879. The course is designed to fit graduates for practicalbusiness life, and includes more than is required for a first-grade certificate forteaching. For the last five years, the school has drawn a gratuity under the law topromote high schools. In January, 1880, the average attendance was 170, with atotal enrollment of 211. There is an average attendance of twelve non-residenttuition pupils. The teachers are faithful, the administration quietly efficient, andthe school enjoys public confidence.
The Brandon Lodge, A., F. & A. M., was organized under dispensation dated June13, 1863. The first meeting occurred July 10, 1863. The charter members were:Elisha Gallop, who was the first Master; R. C. Kelly, who was the first Secretary; Hanson Ely, James MeClelland, E. H. Yorty, James McGill, Henry Henricksonand Zenas Scott. The charter is dated June 14, 1864.
The present officers are: William Irwin, W. M.; Thomas Ivers, S. W.; H. H.Green, J. W.; J. P. Lyon, Treas.; E. Ensign, Secy; James McClelland, S. D.; John OHara, J. D.; Henry R. OHara, S. S.; C. A. Danforth, J. S.; A. Butts, Tiler.
The present membership is fifty-two. They have an attractive hall and are inworking condition.
Lodge No. 107, I. 0. 0. F., was organized under a charter from the Grand Lodgedated January 21, 1864. The charter members were Lewis Whistler, FrankPerkins, C. B. Pierce, L. S. Shepherd and Isaac W. Tower.
They have a substantial two-story brick hall, 70x38 feet, built in 1871 at a cost ofnearly $5,000; it is not yet free from incumbrance.
The present officers are: H. H. Green, N. G.; N. A. Stevens, V. G.; J. E. Gee, P.S.; Samuel Weinstock, Treas.; T. Watson, R. S. The Trustees are G. W. Sargeant,A. Butts and T. Watson. The society has been large and of social prominence.
Brandon Encampment, No. 25, was organized January 19, 1869. Its officers are: G. H. Paine, C. P.; G. W. Cole, H. P.; H. J. Parker, S. W.; H. H. Green, J. W; T.Watson, Scribe; S. Weinstock, Treasurer.
Martha Lodge, No. 6, Daughters of Rebecca, was organized January 21, 1870. The officers are: L. J. Hall, N. G.; E. Butts, V. G.; M. Austin, R. S.; J. Watson,Treasurer.
Hope Lodge, No. 84, I. 0. G. T., organized April 7, 1869, with ten chartermembers. The first W. C. was William R. Brown, and the first RecordingSecretary was A. Pallister. The membership of the Lodge is fifty-six, and theofficers are: Horace L. Brown, W.C. T.; Mary Whitton, W.V. T; Eva C. Knapp,P. W. C. T.; Charles Allen, W. R. S.; Fayette Butts, W. F. S.; Lizzie Yorty, W.T.; F. E. Jones, W. M.; Rev. H. W. Carter, W. C.; Jennie Randall, W. G.; CharlesBlake, W. S. The Lodge is thoroughly efficient.
Honest Temple, No. 88, Juvenile Templars, was organized in March, 1878. Itsofficers are: Lincoln McClelland, C. T.; Edith Yorty, V. T.; Charles Whitton, P.C. T.; Neil Knapp, R. S.; George Porter, F. S.; Minnie Danforth, Treas.; AlmerHall, M.; Frank Knapp, C.; Grace Whitton, I. G.; Andrew Yorty, O. G.
The membership is forty-nine, and is composed of those who are in the habit-forming period of life, namely, from six to sixteen years of age. Most of themembers are pledged to abstain not only from intoxicants, but from tobacco andprofanity. Fully six thousand of these Juvenile Templars are numbered inWisconsin, and ought to be a potent factor in shaping the future history of theState.
Brandon Grange, No. 52, was organized January 24, 1873, by Edwin Reynolds,Deputy of the State Grange. The first Master was John Wormwood, and the firstSecretary was R. C. Kelly. The present membership is forty-four.
In the autumn of 1877, the Brandon Grange, in connection with severalsurrounding Granges, organized a stock company for the management of a co-operative store in Brandon. They commenced with a capital of $4,050. ChesterHazen is President of the Cooperative Association; F. Collins, Secretary; J.Wormwood, Treasurer. R. C. Kelly was engaged to take charge of the store,which has thus far been a success. It is conducted mainly on a cash basis. Theprofits are divided among the stockholders, not in proportion to their stockinvested, but according to the amount of purchases they have made at the storeduring the year. Mr. Kelly is assisted by Frank G. Fowler, salesman, and alsomost of the time by an additional clerk. The capital, on the 1st of October, 1879,was $5,950, showing a net increase of $1,904. The Grangers express satisfactionat the result of the experiment. The present Master of the Lodge is William Irwin,and the Secretary is 0. B. Knapp.
The efforts of this township and others in this locality were successful in securingrailroad connections, and the Milwaukee & Horicon Railroad was built throughthis township in 1856. It passes northwesterly, from Section 36 to Section 3, in itscourse through Metomen. The road is now owned by the Chicago, Milwaukee &St. Paul Railway Company. It was built by a construction company, who did notmeet all their obligations, which caused some difficulties. Near Reeds Corners,the tracklayers were forcibly prevented from putting down the rails, by the unpaidworkmen who had graded the road-bed. Civil and military aid was invoked andthe rails were laid amid much excitement. The scene of the encounter is stillknown as the "battle ground." During the building of the railroad much freighthad accumulated at Waupun, and some was sent over the line before the regularrunning of trains.
Way-bill No. 1 and first freight receipt were dated Tuesday, October 14, 1856. The goods were consigned to G. Perkins & Co., who were merchants, then locatedin the Walker House. The senior member of that firm is now County Judge ofFond du Lac County. Regular freight trains did not run until the 19th of October,1856. The first regular passenger train which left Milwaukee for Brandon, andreturned on schedule time, came into Brandon with flying colors about noon onSaturday, October 18, 1856. The event was an occasion of special rejoicing;Charles Larrabee, of Horicon, was the leading orator of the day; a public dinnerand free drinks made it a memorable day. H. W. Gregory was the first stationagent at Brandon. The express and railroad agent at the present time is W. S.Randall.
The village is fairly supplied with manufacturing establishments, and among theheading ones are the planing-mill and sash, door and blind factory of C. P. Knapp;the wagon factory of Alexander Turner, and the flouring-mill of H. G. Mathews.
There are two hotels - the Ensign House, kept by the owner, Esquire Ensign; ithas twenty-two rooms for guests, has a good reputation, and is a pleasant home forpilgrims and strangers. The Walker House, about the same size, is kept by theowner, Warren Hall. This was the first hotel in Brandon, and still retains a share ofthe traveling patronage.
The business interests of Brandon are represented by enterprising men in thevarious departments of industry and commerce. An extended sketch of most ofthem will be found in the Biographical Department of this History. A richagricultural country is tributary to Brandon, which is a thrifty village of 800population. It contains four general stores, three hardware stores, two drug stores,two groceries, three milliners stores, one notion store, one jewelry store, oneflouring-mill, one planing-mill, two wagon-shops, three harness-shops, two shoe-shops, two meat markets, two hotels, one merchant tailor, two paint-shops, onecooper-shop, one cabinetshop, three blacksmith-shops, one barber-shop, four grainwarehouses, two lumber-yards, five grain and produce buyers, two jobbers andcontractors, two stonemasons, four agricultural-implement dealers, one drayman,two justices of the peace, one lawyer, three doctors, four ministers and fourchurches, three saloons, two insurance agents, one police magistrate, one broker,one newspaper and printing office, one money-order post office, one depot, onegraded high school and seven secret societies.
In the southwestern part of Metomen, on the Grand River, in 1847, a flouring-millwas built by Messrs. Dakin and Lathrop; it was a favorable site for a village andwas the starting-point of Fairwater, which rapidly grew and was for ten years thecommercial center of a large tract of rapidly developing country. The railroad, in1856, left Fairwater "out in the cold," and a decline was inevitable.
The first church in Metomen was built at Fairwater. The society was organizedFebruary 2. 1850, with the name of the First Free-Will Baptist Church ofFairwater, under the ministrations of Rev. William Mitchell; the first Clerk wasDeacon R. M. Harwood. Their church edifice was dedicated on the 10th of July,1856, by Rev. Ransom Dunn. The cost was $1,600, and, in 1863, the society builta $1,000 parsonage. The original membership was eight; the present is thirty. TheTrustees are F. Newland, C. Tinkham and P. P. Tucker, who also is Clerk. JohnHogben is Deacon, and Rev. J. P. Hewes, Pastor. This first church of the town, atthe present writing, is the scene of unusual religious interest. The First RegularBaptist Church of Metomen, at Fairwater, was organized March 30, 1851; theCouncil was held April 30, 1851. Original membership, thirteen. Elder Peck wasthe organizing Pastor. Their church was dedicated in July, 1860. The society wasat one time quite flourishing, but by deaths and removals has become very small. It is now nominally a branch of the Ripon Baptist Church, but most of the formermembers attend and help support the Free-Will Baptist Church of Fairwater. Noregular services are now held in the church; it is the temporary lodge-room of theGood Templars.
The temperance people of Fairwater and vicinity organized Lodge No. 111, of I. 0.of Good Templars, on the 9th day of February, 1876. The officials are: W. C. T.,Frank Hunt; R. S., Warren Batson; Lodge Deputy, Frank Collins. They have amembership of forty, and are in good working condition.
The first Evangelical Lutheran Church of East Fairwater was organized at ameeting held on the 21st of June, 1872. The presiding and recording officers ofsaid meeting were William North and Louis Dreis. The first Pastor was Rev. G.Heolzel, who began his pastorate in the autumn of 1872, and a church was erectedthe same season. The membership includes forty-seven families. The President ofthe Board of Trustees is Gottlieb Klawon, and the Clerk is H. Kath.
The leading industry of Fairwater is the flouring-mill of N. C. Hurlburt. The Postmaster is J. H. Brown. The village has two general stores, one flouring-mill, oneblacksmith-shop, one shoe-shop, two carpenter-shops, one stonemason, a postoffice, one secret society, two ministers, three churches and one saloon.
REEDS CORNERS AND METOMEN
The northern portion of Metomen was settled as early as the western, and severalof the first settlers located in the vicinity of what is known as Reeds Corners. Apost office was established at that point in 1852, with Giles Eggleston asPostmaster. In 1847, a Wesleyan Church society was organized by Rev. MarcellusBarnum, but no church was built until 1857. This organization was consolidatedwith or merged into a Congregational society on the 21st of May, 1865, and Rev.S. Bristol was their first Pastor. The church property was deeded by the Trusteesof the former Wesleyan society to the new organization, which is named the"Second Congregational Church of Metomen," and is located at Reeds Corners. The Deacons are M. Barnum, L. Stillwell and G. C. Goodfellow. The Clerk is H.E. Stillwell. Pastor, Rev. Heman Safford. Membership, thirty-two.
Rev. W. G. Miller, Methodist, held meetings on Section 2, near Reeds Corners, in1846. Services were afterward discontinued, but, in 1860, were revived by Rev. S.S. Lang, who organized a class and appointed S. T. Wilsie Class Leader. Theirpresent church edifice was built in 1866, during the pastorate of Rev. A. A. Reed. The Trustees are S. T. Wilsie, N. Van Camp, J. B. Russell, N. A. Miller and T.Hutchinson. The charge is connected with Brandon, and is served by Rev. JesseCole, as Pastor. Present membership about thirty.
The place was once of local importance, and had stores, shops, depot, post office,etc., but in 1873, the post office and depot were removed half a mile south and thestation named Metomen. The location of the two churches at Reeds Cornersgives it prominence. It receives its name from Warren Reed, deceased, who wasactively identified with the locality.
Metomen is the other railroad station in the township, besides Brandon. It has nobusiness houses, stores, shops or manufactories. The post office is in officialcharge of Mrs. E. Reynolds.
There are two cheese factories in the town, one established by H. C. Kibbie, onSection 18; in 1871. The other by Hazen & Norris, on Section 26, in 1872. Thetown is noted for its pleasant farmhouses and spacious, substantial barns. Probably no portion of Wisconsin can show so large a percentage of first-classbarns as Metomen and the few surrounding towns. The contents of these barns aresupposed to be more secure because of the existence of a thoroughly organizedProtective Association, with fully seventy members. The name suggests itspurpose. E. Reynolds is President, and R. M. Wilse, Secretary. In 1875, the townhad a population of 1,838, and will doubtless show its proportionate growthaccording to the census of 1880. More than the usual percentage of old pioneersstill retain their original purchases from the United States Government. There areeleven schoolhouses and nine churches in the town; the people, being largelyfrom New England, are of the class which builds churches and schoolhouses verysoon after securing their first cabin homes. Metomen is a choice town, both in thefertility of its soil and in the character of its inhabitants.
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** Ruth Shaw Worthing, The History of Fond du Lac County, as told by its Place-Names, 1976.
** The History of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880.
** Portrait and Biographical Album of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Chicago: Acme Publishing Company, 1889.
** A. T. Glaze, Incidents and Anecdotes of Early Days and History of Business in the City and County of Fond du Lac from Early Times to the Present, Fond du Lac: P. B. Haber Printing Company, 1905.
** Maurice McKenna, ed., History of Fond du Lac County, Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912.
** Wisconsin Volunteers: War of the Rebellion 1861-1865
** Plat Book of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, C. M. Foote & Co. 1893