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State Historical Society of Wisconsin / Wisconsin domesday book. Town studies
Volume 1 (1924)

Empire,   pp. [unnumbered]-51 PDF (5.6 MB)


Page 51


WISCONSIN DOMESDAY BOOK-TOWN STUDIES                                    
51
ended the long trail so far as he was concerned.2 Since 1838, the
de Neveu home has been noted for its hospitality and social activities.
A daughter, Emily de Neveu, still resides on the old farm, which has
become a popular summer resort. Throughout his Wisconsin career
Gustave de Neveu was a farmer, with occasional excursions into the
fields of literature and politics. In 1881, although then seventy
years of age, he planned a long trip through the then unsettled
regions of the Pacific Northwest. Death overtook him near the
close of the year, and his remains lie buried on the banks of the
Columbia River within the state of Washington.'
    Other early settlers in Empire were David Lyons, George Keys,
John Keys, James Wells, M. Reilly, J. McCrory, B. F. Swett, T.
Brownsell, B. Kaye, John Meiklejohn, George Meiklejohn, A. T.
Germond, John Berry, J. Immel, D. H. Vinton, Hamilton Meekin,
John Treleven, J. Isaac, L. H. Jennings, B. White, T. J. Burhyte,
J. Menne, C. S. Pray, George Wright, George Shoemaker, the Freund
brothers, George Titus, Daniel Graham, and William Edwards. A
number of Scottish families early came to Empire, among whom may
be mentioned Duncan McGregor, Alexander McGregor, Peter Fergu-
   2 For Marryatt's account of his meeting with de Neveu, see Wis. Hist.
Col.#.,
xiv, 142.-- Brrox.
   I See article by de Neveu in Wis. Hist. Soc. Procsedings, 1910, 158-164,
ac-
companied by his portrait.-EwroR.
son, William Moffatt, and J. Campbell. Before the Civil War period,
the people of Empire were from "York State," or else from England,
Ireland, or Scotland. The Germans in most instances came in at a
later date. One of the early German settlers was J. Immel. A son,
John W. Immel, resides in Fond du Lac; as president of the Immel
Construction Company, the Vulcan Iron Works, and the Clark Motor
Company, he is well known throughout Wisconsin.
    Although the population of Empire has never been large, it has
been a place of sepulture for hosts who have crossed the "great
divide." No other town in the county approaches it in the number
of interments. Rienzi Cemetery, four miles from Fond du Lac, is
unequaled in Fond du Lac County for size and beauty; it is located
in sections 18 and 19. Empire Cemetery, in section 33, has long
been a burial place for the residents of portions of Empire, Eden,
Osceola, and Forest.'
    Of social or quasi social events, the most common were the farm
"bees," country dances, singing schools, and church donation par-
ties. The "bees" were the culmination of a sincere desire on the
part of the pioneer farmers to help one another, and especially to
give assistance to a neighbor who had been ill or otherwise unfortu-
   'For a description of Empire Cemetery, see article by the writer, "Two
Graves in a Rural Wisconsin Cemetery," in Wis. Mag. of Hitt., iv, 426-430
(June,
1921).
nate. Where no such incentive existed, it was common enough to
find a neighborhood group alternating the "bees" for the sake of
sociability or the advantages of joint effort. Ordinarily there was
a little liquor provided; it was not used to excess as a rule, but the
workers were kept in a happy mood. Many of the stone-wall fences
that still exist were the result of this community teamwork.
    The country dances were simple, unconventional, and without
any set time for closing, except that the young people must get
home in time to feed the stock in the morning, and do the other
morning chores. The, people came from miles around to these
dancing parties, using heavy draft horses and even oxen as a means
of rapid transit.
    The church donation party, an annual event, was one of the
methods employed for maintaining the rural pastor. The net result
was a miscellaneous collection of food and clothing, desirable or
otherwise, some cash, and a jolly evening for all, from the grand-
parents to the children. The few roomy homes in the neighborhood
were always in demand for these social affairs.
    The pioneers who carved the fertile farms out of the wilderness
have passed on, and hardly a thought is given to the efforts of these
noble men and women who made possible the comforts and the
luxuries of today.
WISCONSIN  DOMESDAY  BOOK--TOWN
ST UD I ES                                               51


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