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Bohi, M. Janette / A history of Wisconsin State University Whitewater, 1868-1968
(1967)

1 In the beginning: nation, state, and village (1837-1868),   pp. 7-[18]


Page 9

In the Beginning 
No person shall keep open his shop, warehouse or work-house, or shall 
do any manner of business, or work, except only works of necessity or charity,
or be present at any dancing, or any public diversion, show or entertainment,
or take part in any sport, game or play on the Lord's day, commonly called
Sunday; and every person so offending shall be punished by a fine not exceed-
ing two dollars for each offense.'9 
Julius Birge humorously remarked that in some cases cider "was drunk
on Saturday nights so that it would not work on Sunday."20 Such an 
ordinance prospered among the puritan stock of the southeastern counties
(until the Germans altered the lake shore area) but was not so readily 
enforceable in the lead region of the southwest. The temperance issue 
was even hotter. The Yankee element tried a drastic plan of regulation 
which sought to make the vendor of spirits responsible for all damage 
resulting from the sale of intoxicants. This unenforceable regulation was
besieged by German repeal bills, which were answered by more Yankee 
prohibition bills. At Whitewater the fight dominated politics for years,
since the majority were determined to keep the colony free from the twin
curses of intemperance and irreligion. The Walworth County Temperance 
Society was organized in January, 1839. 
The fathers of Whitewater institutionalized their faith at the commodi- 
ous log residence of Deacon Prosper Cravath in Lima on July 3, 1840. 
Composed of 15 members, including his daughter Emily who became 
the mother of President Albert Salisbury, the future Congregational 
Church of Whitewater was founded under a presbyterian form of govern- 
ment. In June, 1841 the congregation began to worship in the old log 
schoolhouse, the scene of the beginning of most cultural attainments. The
next year the Baptists organized in William Birge's barn, and in 1843 
the Methodists boasted of 11 members. In 1852 the Episcopalians and 
Catholics established local works, and in 1868 the Universalists held a 
conference to discuss the formation of a society. The church life of the
community was the axis of its cultural life. Not only did the denominations
establish a large share of the schools in the Midwest, but the ministers
were respected intellectual leaders. It has been estimated that in 1845 
2/ of the ministers in the state were seminary graduates, a high propor-
tion for the frontier.2' Since the largest church in a town was the meeting
place for all community events, the Whitewater Congregational Church 
served the Normal in that capacity. While the churches were not the 
cradles of the normals, they did a good deal to rock those cradles and 
spent much time baby sitting, occasionally to the dismay of educational 
leaders. 
The puritanical sense of right and wrong was nowhere more distinctly 
9 


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