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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 XI,   pp. 665-697 PDF (18.3 MB)


Page 695


HISTORY OF COLUMBIA COUNTY.
     There is "a good one" told of J. T. Lewis, and it is worth
preserving forposterity.
Not long after his arrival in Columbus, the now ex-Governor was met near
the place where he
now resides, by E. Thayer and H. Cady. They had just wounded a deer, and
the.animal was
over the hill using his best endeavors to'escape.  They were on foot and
Mr. Lewis was
mounted on his Indian pony, and they requested him to give pursuit and secure
their venison.
Now, it may be premised Ă½that he knew as little about the cervine
quadruped as any man in these
parts, but he gave chase. The difference in the speed of the pony and that
of the wounded buck
was hardly discernible, but the former gained Alowly, and after a sharp run
came alongside.
The rider was at the moment perfectly guiltless of any weapons of offense
or defense, and
the buck had ugly antlers, a circumstance before unthought of, but Mr. Lewis
unhesitatingly
flung that physique which was subsequently to embellish the gubernatorial
chair of Wisconsin,
pronely upon the back of the running deer. It was a seat even more uncertain
than the seat of
power, and his future Excellency was precipitated several yards into the
snow. He shook him-
self from his descent, and, bethinking himself of his pocket knife, followed
on foot the now
almost exhausted animal, and, after one or two ineffectual attempts, succeeded'in
dispatching
the deer, by stabbing him in the neck, and was himself completely covered
with blood.
     The national anniversary of our independence was first commemorated
in Columbus in
1846. Most of the settlers for miles around were convened and expressed their
patriotism with-
out any reference to the conventionalities that came in later years. The
country tavern which
then stood on the present site of the Fox House, had been transferred by
Mr. Whitney to a Mr.
L. Thomas, and here the dance, indispensable at such a time, was held. In
those days most of
the settlers were young or unmarried men, and the gentler sex did not exist
in the proportion
in which they are now to be found.  Partners were in demand, and all the
wearers of petti-
coats were impressed into the service: Many of those who were noted for their
grave and dig-
nified deportment that year passed the night of the 2d decorating the hall,
danced all night on
the 3d, and spent the night of the 4th in general jollification.  The portico
of J. T. Lewis'
little law office was the rostrum for the orator of the day, who was Mr.
Lewis himself, and Dr.
Axtell read the Declaration of Independence. The ordnance consisted of a
couple of anvils, the
one inverted on the other, and the martial music to stir the patriotic breast
of the early resi-
dents included a fife and drum, the latter manipulated by A. P. Birdsey.
     The first court ever held in Columbus was when the old district system
obtained, and was
 presided over by Judge Alexander W. Stowe in the old schoolhouse. Judge
C. H. Larrabee
 was elected for this district, but at the time had made an exchange. Judge
Stowe was an old
 bachelor of rather an harmonious turn of mind, and several dry jokes are
related concerning him.
 During the first term of the court, T. Clark Smith was Sheriff and H. A.
Whitney was Deputy. In
 the first case that was tried the jury went out under the direction of the
Deputy to a room in
 the Whitney House to make up their verdict. The deliberation extended into
the night, and the
 jurors, becoming convinced they could not agree, suddenly dispersed through
the window, des-
 pite all the efforts of the deputy.
     It was at this same term of court that Judge Stowe fined a petit juror
for contempt, to
 which judicial visitation the party punished replied promptly and cheerfully,
"Fine and be
 d-did," whereupon the court "went and saw him" in a second
mulct, which satisfied him.
     The first proceedings in the Justice Court in Columbus was an action
of assault and bat-
 tery, wherein one Joseph Brown did do Bob Mills bodily harm contrary to
law. He was tried
 before Squire Allen.
     Josiah Arnold, now Mayor of Portage, was a Columbus pioneer. He was
a Massa-
 chusetts boy, and his birthplace was among the hills of Berkshire.  He came
to Wisconsin in
 the spring of 1843, and located at Janesville, then a small settlement.
In 1845, Arnold and
 D. E. Bassett, another:Columbus pioneer, started business together at Janesville,
and conducted
 it there for about a year. Thinking the demands of trade too fully met in
Janesville, Arnold
 started northward on horseback, in August, 1845, to find a new location.
He came by-way of Lake
 Mills and Waterloo, and night overtook him about six miles south of the
hamlet of Columbus.
.695


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