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Town of Mackford

Town of Mackford

Transcribed from Portrait and Biographical Album of Green Lake, Marquwette and Waushara Counties Wisconsin, Acme Publishing Co., 1890, pages 278-279.

Mackford is the southeastern town of Green lake County, boarded on the north by Green Lake, on the east by Fond du Lac County, on the south by Dodge County, and on the west by Manchester. Most of Lake Maria lies in the southwest part of this town. This lake, which extends into Manchester, covers about 600 acres. Lake Emily is near by, to the southward. Grand River flows westwardly, through the village of Markesan, through the northwestern part of the town. There is no known outlet to Lake Maria, except at very high water, when it overflows into a swale adjacent. A remarkable occurrence was the destruction of the fish in this lake during the "hard winter" of 1847. It is believed they were smothered, as the lake was entirely frozen over and the ice was covered with four feet of snow. In the spring winrows of fish were cast ashore here, all bearing evidence of this natural supposition. The greater portion of the town is prairie. The soil is one and a half to two feet deep. Good water is found in all parts of the town from six to ninety feet below the surface. Limestone crops out in places.

Name of the Town.

This town derives its name from the first part of Hiram Mc Donald's name ("Mac") and a crossing place ("ford") on the river, at a point where Mr. McDonald was sanguine of building up a town. Gillespy says: "Nothing but the dog in the manger policy of some of his old neighbors prevented this place from becoming a place of business and importance-sociable, free, companionable, as well as gentlemanly, his future plans were frustrated not only to his own detriment, but the disappointment of the speculators.


The town of Mackford was organized in 1849. At the first town meeting there were seven votes cast. "Squire" McDonald was elected Chairman; L. Wooster and John S. Toby, Supervisors; John Chapel, Justice of the Peace; J. C. Matthews, Town Clerk.


Hiram McDonald had the honor of being the first settler. He located where he afterward lived, in 1837. Samuel McDonald, his father, came soon afterward. In 1843 Hiram McDonald built a sawmill at this place and it is a curious fact that twelve out of fourteen male inhabitants of Waupun at that time were present at the raising. Lyman Austin and George Pratt came in 1844 and 1845 and 1846 there was quite a number added to this small settlement. Among those were Austin McCracken and his sons, William Butler and son, James Densmore, William Hare, S.M. Knox, John Larkin, J.L. Millard, Abram Moore, Barlow
(p. 279)
Swift and William Shaw. Austin McCracken built a sawmill in 1848 and a large gristmill in 1855. In 1850 Messrs. McDonald, Carhart and white erected a large four-story gristmill at Mackford village. This was destroyed by fire. John B. Seward started the village of Markesan in 1845 and built a saw and gristmill.

First Things

The first white child born in the town was John McDonald, son of Hiram McDonald. The first wedding was that of Mr. Vedder and Miss Patterson. The first death was that of a Mr. Lyon, who was killed by a tree falling upon him. The first church was built by the Presbyterians, Rev. Mr. Kaison, pastor.

Village of Markesan.

Markesan is pleasantly situated on the uneven land lying on both sides of the Grand River, in the town of Mackford on the branch of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway which penetrates this county. It is seventeen miles south of Dartford and twelve miles northwest of Fox Lake, the nearest banking point.

Markesan was platted in 1849 by John Chapel and C.E. Russell, proprietors. The original plat was one and one-half miles square. Parker's addition was platted in 1858. The village was incorporated in May, 1853 and its first officers were: President, Ira Manley; Trustees, John Parker, P. Nelson, G. Harris, E.A. Wilder, M. George; Clerk, R. Lexington.

The first frame house built in the present site of the village was erected by John B. Seward in 1844. Mr. Seward afterward put in operation a sawmill and a gristmill which was afterward remodeled and made a flouring mill only. The early settlers were of good stock, mostly Yankees, but with a sprinkling of English.

In 1859 Markesan contained the gristmill, then owned by Mr. Parker, four stories high, with two run of stones and a daily capacity of 100 barrels; three blacksmith shops, a wagon shop, two cabinet shops, one cabinet wareroom, three shoe shops, two taverns, one drug and book store, two saloons, four good general stores, one variety store, one hardware store, one stove and tin shop, one harness shop, two cooper shops, a livery stable, a millinery shop, a meat market and a bank with a capital of $75,00-C.P. Dearborn, Cashier,--besides an insurance agency and a printing office. The population was then estimated at 800.

The village now contains a gristmill, a feedmill, a grain elevator, a cheese factory, carriage and wagon works, several churches and a live weekly newspaper, the Herald, George H. Larke, editor and proprietor. Much live stock, grain, and produce is shipped

In point of natural advantages, trade and enterprise, Markesan is the leading village in the southern portion of the county. It is the center of a rich and beautiful farming country in which it possesses no rivals to be feared and it is predicted that its progress will be steady and satisfactory. The district school house is swell located and one of the best buildings in the county. The Universalists have a neat church, built in 1857, the year in which their society was organized. The Congregationalist Society was organized in 1847 and their church was built in 1858. The Methodists organized in 1859 and have a neat church.

Half a mile east of Markesan, on the Grand River, a lime-kiln was long kept running constantly. There was also a manufactory of superior kind of building material, composed principally of lime and gravelly sand. Buildings put up of this kind of composition appear to the eye, when coated with a cement or varnish used, as durable as stone, and a person unacquainted with the materials would readily believe that sandstone had been cut out to make its walls.

The Markesan Herald is in its eight year. The publisher is George H. Larke. It is a neatly printed, newsy sheet, well patronized by its subscribers and advertisers, and has had its influence for good upon the development of Markesan and that portion of the country round about.

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