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The history of Columbia County, Wisconsin, containing an account of its settlement, growth, development and resources; an extensive and minute sketch of its cities, towns and villages--their improvements, industries, manufactories, churches, schools and societies; its war record, biographical sketches, portraits of prominent men and early settlers; the whole preceded by a history of Wisconsin, statistics of the state, and an abstract of its laws and constitution and of the constitution of the United States
(1880)

Chapter X,   pp. 588-664 PDF (39.1 MB)


Page 588


5HISTORY OF COLUMBIA COUNTY.
                                    CHAPTER X.
                               THE CITY OF PORTAGE.
EARLY SETTLEMENT-GROWTH OF PORTAGE-PORTAGE THIRTY YEARS AGO-PORTAGE IN 1860-
     "CLAI1M TWENTY-ONE "-RICHARD FREEMAN VEEDER-THE GUILPPEY 
       PLAT AND VEEDER
     CLAIM-ORGANIZATION AND GOVERNMENT OF PORTAGE-THE CANAL-THE ScHOOLs-RELIG-
     IOUS INSTITUTIONS-MANUFACTORIES-FERRIES AND BRIDGES-THE FIRE DEPARTMENT
     AND FIRE RECORD-BANKS-WISCONSIN EDITORIAL ASSOCIATION-EARLY JUSTICE
IN PORT-
     AGE-THE SCHULZE BAND-THE POST OFFICE-HOTELS-PUBLIC HALLS-LOCAL MILITIA-
     ORDERS AND SOCIETIES-CEMETERIES-PORTAGE OF TO-DAY.
                                   EARLY SETTLEMENT.
    .Henry Carpenter, now residing at Coloma, Waushara County, was the first
white man to
make, within the present City limits of Portage, improvements of a permanent
and progressive
character, though preceded, as a resident, by Silas Walsworth. Mr. Carpenter
says:
     "I landed in Portage in July, 1837-my wife and I and a man and
wife by the name of
Hart.   Henry Merrell was keeping a sutler's store when I came, in a building
close by the
fort.*  He afterward built and moved to the west side of Fox River. The first
white woman
who came to the portage, and permanently settled there, was Sarah Carpenter,
my wife; the first
white child born at the portage was George Carpenter, my son. Silas Walsworth
kept a small
grocery on the Wisconsin River, near the place where I built my hotel. Gideon
Low (an army
officer), then living at the fort, was building the Franklin House when I
came, and afterward
moved into it."
     Neither Carpenter nor Low came to Portage to settle there, although
they finally became resi-
dents. The same may be said of Henry Merrellwho was a suttler at Fort Winnebago,
and came to the
portage in 1834. He built a store on the west side of the Fox River, opposite
the fort, in the summer
or fall of 1837, about the same time that Carpenter erected the old original
United States Hotel.
Both Merrell and Low lived and died in Portage. Silas Walsworth, whom  Carpenter
found
living on the portage in July, 1837, came the same year. He afterward married
the Widow
Pervonsal, more familiarly known as Madame Pauquette, and, in 1846, when
Columbia County
was organized, was chosen to fill the responsible office of County Judge,
though he failed to
qualify and assume its duties. He came to the portage as a trader who might
at any time leave
for another place.
     The year 1838 witnessed the advent of Andrew Dunn, Hugh McFarlane, Clark
Whitney,
J. Garrison, Archibald Barker, Jonathan Cole and others. Dunn, McFarlane
and Whitney, it
seems, were the only ones who "came to stay."   The full tide of
immigration set in during
1839-40, and continued unabated for nearly twenty years.
                                   GROWTH OF PORTAGE.
     The development of Portage, during the first fifteen years of its existence,
was rapid.
Unlike most Wisconsin cities and villages, dependent upon the local water-power
site for their
earlier greatness, Portage commanded a large share of the '-rade 1,f all
those portions of the
State lying between Green Bay and Prairie du Chien; that is to say, the products
of the region
of country extending along the Fox. and Wisconsiii Rivers found their way
to Portage, where
exchanges and sales were made, and thus the place became, and, in fact, has
since remained the
entrepot of Central Wisconsin. Under these circumstances, its growth has
been rapid, though
of a less substantial nature in the earlier part of its history than now.
In fact, from  1849 to
     * East of Fox River, and therefore outside the present city limits.
588


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