Thwaites, Reuben Gold, 1853-1913 / The story of Madison
Chapter II. Early annals of the town--1838-1845, pp. 9-12 PDF (1.7 MB)
EARLY ANNALS OF THE TOWN. 9 CHAPTER II. Early ~4nnals of the Town - 1838-1845. The town of Madison was a plant of slow growth. In the summer of 1838, the census re- vealed the presence in the settlement of. only sixty-two people, and it is recorded 1 that there k. Condition were at that time "not more than a dozen houses, built and in process of erection, In 1838. counting every cabin and shanty within three miles of the Capitol;" while Indian I wigwams were frequently erected within sight of the doors. For. the matter of that, we can still~sixty-one years later (1899), with a population of nearly 20,000-frequently see Winne- bago tepees on the shores of Lakes Mendota and Monona; especially upon the latter, a mile-and-a- half from the Capitol. The little village was charmingly situated in the primeval wilderness. In 1885, the late Jerome IR. Brigham - a nephew of the Blue Mounds pioneer, Ebenezer, and himself one of A sylvan Madison's early teachers - thus wrote of the Madison of his young manhood.: Capital. "Those who only know of Madison, now, have but a feeble conception of its won- derful and fasci- nating beauty at the time I first saw the beginning. At our Capital  it had the look of a well-kept lawn, shaded byfine white-oak and burr-oak trees, with a fragrant fringe of red cedar all about the lake shores. There was no growth of nfl- derbrush and thicket such as Sprung up soon, when the semi-an- nual fires ceased to do the duty of the rake and mower; but the eye had a stretch quite uninter- rupted, except as the surface rose in beautiful green knolls on either lake. There was no fence about the square, and none of the present TURVILLE'S BEACH, LAKE MONONA trees, I think. If there were black-oaks among them, they fail to relnaifi in the picture I recall. The lakes then lay in natural silver beauty, prettily framed in pebbly beach, now lost by the dam on Mendota and the railways on Monona. Madison in 1839 was wonderfully beautiful - not rugged or ro- Inantic, which is ordinarily picturesque, but for simple, quiet beauty, unequalled by anything I rem~i~b~', ~; In the early annals of this peaceful village in the undulating oak grove between Mendota and Mono,~a,~ surrounded on every hand by far-stretching lakes and marshes, and thus in a measure isolated from her rural neighbors,- the historian finds little of stirring interest; and that I Robert L. Ream's reminiscences, in Durrie's History of .2ifadison (Madison, 1874), p. 102.
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