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

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

Page 14

Whitewater University 1868-1968 
A concrete indication of prosperity was that by 1855 the citizens no 
longer had to depend on Milwaukee for their news. The Whitewater 
Gazette, established by Henry J. Curtice, was a weekly Republican paper 
and lasted two years. Then on March 25, 1857 the Register was begun 
by the capable Hamilton L. and Lellemand H. Rann, the latter being a 
future promoter of the Normal. While it was intended to be a family 
paper and void of vulgarity, it had "no holy terror of a joke"
and was "dis- 
posed to look upon a funny story as a sin of less magnitude than forgery
horse-stealing.33 In 1871 E. D. Coe, the first of a continuous family line
of editors, took over the paper and brought it close to the head of front-
ranking weeklies in the state. Another cultural advantage was the Library
Association founded in 1857, the first of several organizations for the 
promotion of good taste and rational enjoyment among the people. The 
panic sent the price of spring wheat to 450, barley to 350, oats to 250,
potatoes to 180, and beef to 3 , but Whitewater had not experienced a 
single crop failure up to 1858; when the crash came, therefore, "it
our business men standing upon a solid foundation."34 About 100 buildings
were erected in 1857. 
The "solid foundation" made possible the conclusion of a village
ernment despite the panic. On the evening of March 6, 1858 J. L. Pratt 
called to order a citizens meeting and a week later a draft for a charter
was on its way to Madison. A remonstrance was sent in by those who 
thought the place was growing too fast, but the bill of incorporation 
passed the Senate and was signed by Governor Randall on April 21, 
1858, exactly a decade before the Normal went into business. On May 4th 
the first charter election was held, the Union ticket leading. At the first
meeting of the village board sidewalk relief was discussed; at the sec- 
ond there began the temperance war. Mr. Esterly of the committee on 
licenses submitted a majority report against them, and Mr. Curtice of the
same committee submitted a minority report in favor. Although the latter
faction was never silenced, the Whitewater mind followed Puritan lines 
for many years to come. 
The progressive spirit of Whitewater was ostentatiously demonstrated 
at the pioneer festival of December 31, 1858, the community's first public
celebration and reportedly the first meeting of old settlers ever held in
Wisconsin. About 300 people gathered around loaded tables and listened 
to the glee class render "Happy New Year" and "Our Wild Wisconsin
Home," a toast to "the brightest jewel in Old Virginia's early
gift." Toasts 
were given to working men, farmers, mechanics, miners, merchants, and 
the pioneer women. Special recognition was made of Solomon Juneau, 
whose fur trading post became the nucleus of Milwaukee, the source of 

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