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Damaske, Charles H. / Along the right-of-way to Burlington

Durham Hill,   pp. 13-18 PDF (3.9 MB)

Page 13

DURHAM           HILL .....
Durham Hill is located in the southeastern corner of the Town of Muskego.
History has
woven itself throughout the lives of the neighbors around Durham Hill, the
settlement named
for the herd of blooded Durham cattle imported to the area by John P. Roe
in pre-Civil War
Levi Graves Guild took his first big chunk of land from the government when
John Tyler
was President in 1843. Two years later, Guild deeded a small piece of land
in the southeast
corner for a schoolhouse, provided his neighbors built a school with a fence
around it within
a year's time. In June of 1836, Luther Parker drove his two horse team to
Muskego from
New Hampshire. He brought his wife, Alletta French Parker, their three daughters,
Perse and Ellen and their son, Charles. Charles grew up to become lieutenant
governor of
Wisconsin in 1873. Baby Amanda, born after they came, sickened and died.
They buried
her on the shores of Little Muskego Lake not far from their cabin. Parker
was one of those
responsible for Waukesha County's secession from Milwaukee County in 1846.
When the
location of a county seat was being considered, Parker's farm at Muskego
was suggested.
One year after Wisconsin became a state (1848), Alletta Parker died at the
age of 46. Luther
followed his wife to the grave four years later at the age of 53. Both were
buried nine miles
from their home in the Durham Hill neighborhood, skirting the then largest
lake in the
county, Big Muskego Lake.      Durham   Hill's half-acre cemetery had been
given to the
community in the early 1840's by Levi Guild. Located at the northeast corner
of their farm,
the cemetery was exempted each time the farm changed hands. Most of the burials
in the
tiny cemetery took place before, during and just after the Civil War. Its
first grave was
opened in 1847. Two Union soldiers were buried there, Johnathan Smiley, who
died at
Lexington, KY in 1862, and Lt. Homer Clark, who died at Nashville, TN in
1863. Other
thoroughly English names listed on the cemetery stones are Hutchinson, Longstreet,
Drought, Clark, Brice, Bentley and Fillmore. An interval of almost thirty
years went by with
no new graves in that peaceful ground. The last grave was opened in 1958
for Frank Brice,
who died at the age of 91.
During the Civil War, Levi Guild sold his farm to Samuel A. Tenny, who became
the first
Postmaster of Durham Hill on February 9, 1863. He served the community until
1903 when
the post office was discontinued. In 1883, Peter Blattner bought out Samuel
Tenny and the
farm remained in the family for many years. Also in the same year, John Bosch
bought out
John P. Roe. He then owned land at all four corners of the crossroads. The
operated a saloon, a farm implement agency, an inn and a general store.
When tracks of the new electric line (17.5 miles) came out from Milwaukee
in 1908, the
railroad bought four acres from the Blattner farm for a right-of-way. T.M.E.R.&
L. Co.
had a difficult time laying their tracks across the sinking swale and springs
below the
Blattner's barnyard. During construction, workmen would stay at the Peter's
farm located at
the southeast corner of the crossroads.
The first telephone connecting Durham Hill with the outside world was the
line from John
Bosch's place at Durham Hill to Schafer's at Windlake with no customers in
between. Later a
public line hooked onto it. Nellie Wall and Mary Wolf were the first "Centrals"
to connect
the neighbors' houses when a call was made.
Durham Hill once supported two general stores, two saloons, a hardware store,
a farm
implement agency, a blacksmith shop, a creamery, an inn, a school, a post
office, two
churches, a ballroom and several tradesmen.
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