- [by] Mrs. Charles R. BENTLEY.
As our country has been growing away from its early history "The
Dames" and "The
- daughters" have been interesting
themselves in preserving places of historic value and in keeping
in the memory many heroic deeds of our pioneer countrymen. The
women's clubs are doing much work along the same line, and this
evening we are assembled, in this same spirit, to take an inventory
of our possessions, past and present, in our home city of Edgerton.
It is fitting, then, that we pay tribute to the men and women
who braved the hardships and difficulties of a new country in
laying the foundation of our prosperous little city. I take pleasure
in bringing to mind, so far as I can, the pioneer families of
Edgerton and something of their manner of living in pioneer days.
- I find the first to settle within what
is now our city limits was William BLIVEN, wife
- and child. They came form Allegany
county, New York, in 1842, took up government land and built
a log house, in which they lived, in the extreme northeast corner
of our city. Mr. and Mrs. BLIVEN were Seventh day Baptists.
They raised a large family amid hardships and privations, we
may believe. For water to drink they took a barrel on a stone-boat
drawn by oxen and went to Aden Burdick's (now known as the Thomas
ATWOOD Farm). Water for washing and other purposes they
drew from Mud Lake, also with an ox team. Rather a slow method
of drawing water, even with a most speedy ox team, as compared
to turning a spicket.
- In 1843 Mr. Arnold COLLINS came
form New York with his wife and five
- children. They took up government land
and built the first frame house - whose history you know. A son,
Milo COLLINS, is now a resident of our city. This family
were also Seventh Day Baptists. We believe it took seven days
of religion to keep faith and heart strong. Bread with pumpkin
butter was not sufficient. A man from the Emerald Isle, named
Thomas QUIGLEY, owned a farm purchased from the government
in 1843. It comprised the land on which the railroad depot now
- In 1848 John FASSETT came from
Pennsylvania with his wife and two sons,
- Sherman and Porter; Mr. FASSETT's
brother, Schuyler, accompanied them. By the way, this gentleman
was the third postmaster, and I am told that in those early days
he found it quite a task to keep his silk hat smooth, nor could
he take a trolley or limited express to Milwaukee to purchase
a new one.
- John FASSETT was a practical
man; he took up 160 acres of government land,
- including that ground now sacred to
many of us because it is the resting place of our loved ones.
- In 1842 Mr. Aden BURDICK came
from New York state and bought a large
- tract of government land on which he
made his home with his wife and grown children. In 1851 his youngest
son, Austin, left the home farm and came with his bride and made
a home in a log house on the site that J. B. TOINTON's
house is now on . This log cabin home was warmed in winter from
logs burning in an open fireplace in front of which the meals
were cooked until 1852, the advent of a new method of cooking,
when Austin BURDICK purchased an iron cook stove in Beloit.
- For meat they caught fish in the streams
or killed game, and Christmas,
- 1851, Mr. BURDICK killed three
deer on the slope of the hill behind the house Lew TOWNE
lives in. He killed one by the Catholic Church later. We are
proud to speak of Mr. and Mrs. BURDICK as the representative
pioneer family, having lived longer in close touch with the life
and activities of Edgerton than any couple the writer has knowledge
of. The influence of pioneer life was felt in their home. The
cordial greeting, the true hospitality shown to acquaintances
as well as to friends, and I feel certain that many strangers
were made welcome to a "dish of tea." To such pioneers
much credit is due for all that has been best in the social and
business life of our city. Mr. and Mrs. BURDICK have ever
discouraged all that was low and degrading, while they assisted
and supported that which had a tendency to uplift and ennoble
character. Mrs. BURDICK was one of our Monday Club's charter
members. To Mr. BURDICK I am indebted for information
regarding pioneer life. I will tell you a little story he told
me in regard to a little girl who came to his well for water
when he lived where Mr. William CLARKE does. They drew
water with a pail hooked on to the end of a pole. As the girl
lowered her pail Mr. BURDICK was frightened to see her
disappear head foremost into the well. He called to some one
passing to assist him in getting her out, but what was his astonishment,
when he looked into the well to see the girl, her pail full of
sand, climbing out by placing her hands in the crevices in the
sides. She got her pail of water and, without a word, walked
away with it to her home, a block and a half distant. Such was
the pluck of a fifteen-year-old pioneer maiden.
- In 1853 Daniel COON, the first
carpenter, came. His wife and daughters
- were prominent members of the village
society. At this time, Robert ATTLESEY, then living in
England, received a letter from his father, who was living here,
telling him of the good prospects in this new country. Mr. ATTLESEY
decided to try his fortune here, and came as all did in those
days, by sailing vessel. He was eleven weeks and three days on
the ocean, and sixty-four out of twelve hundred passengers died
on the voyage.
- Rosyln ROBINSON came in 1853
also, with his wife and three sons. Grant is a
- resident now.
- Ferdinand DAVIS, who sold the
first stock of goods, came at this time. He had a
- wife and two sons, Percy and Evan,
who were sent to Milton College to complete their education begun
in the village schools. Mr. DAVIS and wife were from New
Jersey. In 1853 they went to California, where he died, leaving
considerable wealth in silver mines. They were Seventh Day Baptist
people, as were our mayor's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel DOTY,
who came west in 1849. Mr. DOTY owned a sawmill at Newville.
While living there in 1852 Mr. George DOTY was born. They
moved to Edgerton in 1853. Mr. George and Will DOTY and
a sister in Janesville are all that are left of a large family.
- Mr. William C. BANKS came here
in 1853, bought grain, and returned in 1855 for
- Mrs. BANKS. They built the house
which she has lived in ever since that time. Certainly she is
one of a few who have lived here for forty-eight consecutive
- Mr. William HALL, who was the
first postmaster as well as the first
- photographer, came to Fulton Depot,
now Edgerton, in 1853. He built the building now owned and occupied
by Mrs. EDWARDS. William HALL had the postoffice
in the front, a little store in the back rooms, and the family
lived in the rooms over. There Frank HALL was born, with
the distinction of being the first child born in the village.
Many came the winter of 1853-54, among them James HILL,
a carpenter, whose wife and three daughters were prominent in
society in later years.
- James CORDUER, a contractor
and builder, O. D. PECK, the first depot agent,
- who lived with his wife and son in
the rooms over the depot. Mr. John ASH came from Palmyra
with Mr. PECK and bought grain in partnership with him. I have
been told that Mr. ASH was the first baggage master, and I have
also been told that Mr. WELCH was. Both these came when
the railroad did. Mr. and Mrs. ASH were English people,
the parents of two of our business men of that name.
- Mr. and James FINNEY came here
from Janesville and bought of Mr. Nelson
the hostelry on the south side of the track and called it the
Exchange Hotel. There many a weary traveler was warmed and fed
during the lifetime of Mr. and Mrs. FINNEY. A daughter
resides here, Mrs. Walter CRANDELL, also five grandchildren.
Mrs. Mortimer CARRIER of the Culture Club is one of these.
Mr. and Mrs. FINNEY were English people, as were Mr. and
Mrs. HUTSON, who moved to Edgerton from Indian Ford in
1854 and built the red brick part of the building we have known
so long as the U. S. House. Mr. HUTSON did not expect
to keep a hotel, but the pressing need of accommodations in that
line was the reason of his entering that business, which he followed
until his death. Mr. and Mrs. HUTSON's family were grown
young people when they came to Edgerton. The Railroad House,
as their hotel was called, was built the same year that Gilbert
RANDOLPH built the American House. He was from New Jersey,
an uncle of our citizen Z. H. BOWEN. Gilbert RANDOLPH
came in February, 1854, built the American House in the following
summer and fall, sold it to Samuel COON, who was the first
occupant, and returned to his native state, New Jersey.
- Mr. H. S. SWIFT, of Wait's River,
Vt., came to Edgerton in the spring of 1854
- with his wife and children. They had
lived in New York city just previous to the move to Wisconsin.
Mr. and Mrs. SWIFT thought it was not a good place to
bring up a family of boys, so they came to this new country.
In all, they had fourteen children; seven are living today. Nine
of Mr. SWIFT's children attended Albion academy. Henry
graduated from that school, then went to Albany, N.Y., where
he took a course in law. On his return home in June he was asked
to give an oration on the Fourth of July, which he did. In a
few weeks he went south as first lieutenant to engage in the
Civil War. In his very first engagement, while acting as captain
(his captain being absent), he was shot through the heart, dying
in about twenty minutes. His remains were laid in Fassett's cemetery
and a monument erected to his memory. Our Grand Army post is
named for him. This family were bright, witty, genial, musical,
good-hearted and enterprising.
- In the spring of 1854 the village blacksmith,
Stiles HAKES, of Fulton, moved to
- Fulton Depot. His wife, a fine cultured
woman, was a daughter of Deacon WEST. There were two sons.
David, the elder, had a fine tenor voice, composed music, and
gave instructions in voice culture. Oscar, the younger, was in
later years a prominent attorney on the Pacific coast, where
he became a circuit judge.
- Mr. HAKES kept the first general
store here, and for his clerk hired the pioneer
- German, Christian GUISHART by
name. This store has often been referred to by the pioneers.
An old lady told me she paid Mr. HAKES fifty cents a yard
for unbleached sheeting a yard wide, and as much for calico.
But often this was thought good enough for a Sunday gown. As
to style, they were so plain that they were never out of style.
An old lady whom I called upon in the morning arose form her
chair so that I could see the cut of her gown, and said: "This
is the way they were made then, in 1855, and I have made mine
that way ever since." She told me of the first lamp bought;
it was at Mr. CROFT's store. He said, "Take one of
these new lights home and try it." She did so, but, fearing
to put the glass chimney on the blaze, she did not think the
new light much of an improvement over the candle. But that was
long after out pioneers had used a rag in a saucer of grease
for a light, after which came the candle and little fluid lamp
in which they burned camphine. When kerosene came into market
it sold for a dollar and twenty cents per gallon. This year Dr.
SLOCUM, the first resident physician, came with is wife.
He was a good doctor, but returned to the East after a few years'
residence here. Previous to his coming the people had called
Dr. HEAD from Albion, or Dr. LANDERS, of Fulton,
when in need of a physician.
- There were many whom I have not time
to so much as mention, but there was a
- young boy who attended the village
schools, clerked in his father's store, and conducted himself
in such a manner that the people were proud of him, and prouder
now that he is a man. I refer to Albert ROBINSON, the
son of Mrs. Alva CHILD. When a young man he studied civil
engineering, went west with a surveying party for the Santa Fe
railroad, was elected third vice-president, then second and first,
finally general manager of the road, which position he resigned
a few years ago to take the presidency of the Mexican Central
railroad, which position he holds today.
- I am indebted to Mr. C. H. DICKINSON
for an account of his interesting journey
- from Lowville, N.Y., to Wisconsin.
Time does not permit me to give you but a sketch.
- Mr. DICKINSON had a perilous
ride by stage from his home town to Rome,
- where he took the cars and arrived
in Janesville on the 16th of November, 1854, coming by rail to
Afton, the terminus, and finished his journey by stage. Not being
satisfied with Janesville, he started for Watertown, and arrived
at Forrest House Station, now Wauwatosa, which was as far as
he could go by rail. He had engaged his seat in the stage for
next day when he found an old friend and roommate, Mr. SERLES,
who was going to Fulton Depot. Mr. DICKINSON decided to
join his friend. They arrived here at eleven o'clock a.m., took
dinner at the FINNEY House, and decided to go to red Wing,
Minn. But Mr. SWIFT, in need of workmen to finish his
house, prevailed upon them to remain and work for him, which
they did that winter; formed a partnership in the spring, known
as DICKINSON & SERLES, which continued for
three years. Mr. and Mrs. SERLES returned to the East.
Mr. DICKINSON married here and has lied just out of the
city limits for many years.
- Mr. James CULTON, by birth a
Scotch-Irish Presbyterian, was a brickmaker in
- Janesville prior to 1851; he sold out
his brick business and went to California, where he made some
money in mining, and returned to his family in Janesville. He
decided that the bed of clay was better in Edgerton than in Janesville,
and bought land of Dr. HEAD, in all eighty acres, and
started a brickyard on the south side of the tracks. A frame
house was built for the family to live in the first summer. This
was underdrawn with white cotton cloth, as was customary in California.
The brick house was built for the family to move into in the
fall of 1855. It covers the same ground space as the block occupied
by BABCOCK & BIRKERMEYER's department store.
Mr. CULTON's family, when he moved to Edgerton, consisted
of his wife, his son William and daughter Nellie, also a woman
named Bella BENTON, who was maid of all work in the family
for twenty-seven years. Mr. CULTON had eight children,
five of whom are living. Of these, John and Charles CULTON
and Mrs. Charles BENTLEY are residents of this city. A
brother of Mrs. CULTON's lived with them when they moved
from Janesville, and he was in partnership with Mr. CULTON
for a time. I refer to Mr. James CROFT, who in 1858 bought
of Julius BURDICK the house now occupied by Mr. and Mrs.
Hugh McINNES. I am told the CROFT and CULTON
houses were known for their hospitality. Mr. CROFT never
thought of the trouble when planning a party or doing something
for the church. Mr. Mathew CROFT, Mrs. McINNES'
father, was not a pioneer. He came with his wife and two children
in 1859 and lived in the house with Mr. James CROFT. His
daughter, Mrs. McINNES, has lived there ever since.
- Many laborers came in 1855; Patrick
MOONEY and wife, John LEARY and wife,
- William CONDON, and others.
These men told me they worked in Mr. CULTON's brickyard
in summer and cut and hauled wood for him in the winter, living
in little houses on his land, where the pottery buildings and
brickyard are now. They reminded me of a pleasant incident in
their lives, for they, in common with thirty or more laborers
on the brickyard, were served with a warm lunch at nine a.m.
and three p.m. This consisted of hot buttered soda biscuit and
coffee, which they ate under the shade of a tree in the days
before Mr. CULTON used steam power.
- Mr. Charles MALLETT came to
Edgerton when a boy, in 1856, from New York
- state, with his father, mother and
a sister. His father first engaged in the lumber business; the
sister married George WILLIAMS, and died, leaving two
daughters, Mrs. Harry SON and Nellie WILLIAMS.
Charles MALLETT has been for many years one of Edgerton's
staunch business men. His wife is the honored president of the
- In 1856, B. B. SHERMAN, wife
and children, came to Edgerton. Not finding a
- house for rent he bought the American
House of Sam COON, and kept a public house for a short
time; but it was not the business he wanted and he consequently
sold to Lorenzo DEARBORN, and built the brick house on
Albion street. Mr. and Mrs. SHERMAN were Vermont people,
but came from New York state to Edgerton. They were the parents
of Mrs. William H. POMEROY, and our sister club member,
Mrs. James PYRE.
- Ephreium PALMER and wife came
in 1856 also, and, like most of the pioneers
- were from New York state. They were
the parents of Mrs. George LUSK, Mrs. Raselas BARDEEN
and Dr. Henry PALMER, deceased, who was a most noted physician
and surgeon in southern Wisconsin. The Janesville Hospital is
named for him. Ephreium PALMER's daughter, Mrs. BARDEEN,
was the mother of Chief Justice BARDEEN, whose death two
years ago the whole state mourned. Judge BARDEEN spent
his youth on the farm where Mrs. JACOBUS now lives. Though
not in the village the family were a part of Edgerton society.
- Dr. LORD was the first physician
to remain here long. He grew to manhood in the
- state of Maine, but lived in Iowa,
where he married previous to coming to Edgerton, in 1858. Most
of you know what a large practice he had in the village and country
- how he served his country in the Civil war, was sent to the
legislature, and died, leaving a son well equipped to fill his
father's place. He, too, laid down his life, as had his mother.
There are three sons living and five daughters are residents
of our city. Mrs. Charles TALLARD, of the Twentieth Century
Club is one.
- The first to nurse the sick as a means
of earning a living was an English woman
- named Mrs. REESE. There were
no drug store until 1860, when Dr. BURDICK built one on
the site Phoenix Hall now occupies. It appears that with the
scarcity of medicine, doctors and nurses, our pioneers were not
only healthy, but peaceable, for there was not much doing in
the law business until September, 1858, when our honored citizen,
J. P. TOWNE, arrived. He was a young unmarried man, who
met and married his wife here. Mrs. TOWNE was Miss Rosa
FORD, a niece of "Elder FORD," as he
was known, the first resident Baptist minister. Miss FORD
and her aunt were the first milliners, had their store in the
front corner of the building which has long been the home of
Mrs. EDWARDS. Mr. and Mrs. EDWARDS bought the property
she now occupies in 1859, of Elder James ROGERS, a Seventh
Day Baptist minister.
- Mr. E. H. SMITH opened the first
jewelry store in the building west of Mr.
in 1858. Mr. and Mrs. SMITH were from Massachusetts. Mr.
SMITH was in the Civil War, and returned to Edgerton and
his trade. For a number of years he has been in the legal business
- much of the time a police justice.
- I might tell you, if I had time, how
the first tin shop was on wheels, Mr. Benjamin
mending and selling from his wagon; the first meat market, the
same owned by Mr. SHINTZ; how Mr. HARRIS, Sylvia
GATES and Mrs. EDWARDS tailored for the gentlemen,
and Mrs. Stephen COON hung out a sign "Dress and
Mantua Maker," to attract the eye of the ladies.
- I want to tell you before closing that
our pioneers well understood the philosophy of
- all work and no play, and society had
a place in their wholesome, industrious lives; that pleasures
were often helpful, as, for instance, when they went into the
country to a husking bee, apple-paring bee or to a friends' to
a quilting party. Small dancing parties they had at the houses.
If at Roslyn ROBINSON's the cook stove was moved out that
they might dance in the kitchen. When they met at O. D. PECK's,
Mrs. PECK not quite willing to have a dance in her house,
allowed them to dance in the waiting room of the depot. For music
they had two violins, played by Charlie ROBINSON and Sherman
FASSETT. Then there was oft the repeated surprise parties,
the weekly house social for the church, the spelling school and
singing school, and there were many good voices among them. Above
all, they are to be envied for the generous, informal, hospitable
way in which they entertained.
- [Source: Rock County, Wisconsin:
A new history of it's cities, villages, etc., by William
Fiske Brown (editor-in-chief); ©1908
C. F. Cooper, Chicago, IL; pp. 651-660; Courtesy of Carol]