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Historical / architectural resources survey, Village of Thiensville, Ozaukee County

Chapter 2: historical development of Thiensville,   pp. 3-6

Page 3

Historical and Architectural Resources Survey
Village of Thiensville                                                      Page 3
Historical Development of Thiensville
The Village of Thiensville is situated in the historic Town of Mequon in southern Ozaukee County.
The community primarily is on the west bank of the Milwaukee River, a region that was historically
filled with oak, maple, beechwood and birch forests, and was transformed over time into a rich
agricultural area.2
The first inhabitants of what would become the Village of Thiensville were Indians who had a small
village at the confluence of the Milwaukee River and Pigeon Creek. The area was inhabited by the
Sac, Fox, Pottawatomie and Menomonee tribes, who were drawn to the area's rich sources of game
and fish, as well as the close proximity of Lake Michigan. In 1831, the first of a series of treaties
began to turn the area over to white settlement and the process was completed in 1838 when the
Indians had completely turned over their land rights.3
Beginning in 1832, the federal government surveyed the Green Bay Road from Milwaukee to Fort
Howard (Green Bay) and it was completed through the Town of Mequon between 1836 and 1839.
Within the town, the crude trail primarily ran along the Milwaukee River. Also during this period,
the federal government surveyed the Town of Mequon. Between 1834 and 1836, the area was
surveyed by John Weston and a Mr. Brink and Mr. Follett. The first known settlement occurred in
the mid 1830s when a small group of settlers set up a cluster of shanties where Pigeon Creek joined
the Milwaukee River. Soon thereafter, John Weston purchased the quarter section of land that would
eventually become the Village of Thiensville. By 1840, Weston was the area's postmaster and
operated out of his log cabin.4
During this period, Peter Turck set up a sawmill along the Milwaukee River; however, it was a later
mill that served as the catalyst for the formation of the Village of Thiensville. In 1842, John Henry
Thien purchased Weston's land. Thien had emigrated from the Saxony region of Germany to
Milwaukee the previous year. Soon after purchasing Weston's property, Thien constructed a
substantial two-and-half-story, stone flour mill to provide for the township's growing farming
population. Thien paid a substantial Indian labor force to construct a dam on the Milwaukee River,
dig a millrace, as well as construct the mill and tailrace. The settlement that emerged took the name
of Thiensville, although the local post office was known as Mequon River for many years. Thien
2Walter D. Corrigan, Sr., History of the Town of Mequon, Ozaukee County, Wisconsin (Cedarburg, WI:
Cedarburg News Print, n.d.), 7.
3Corrigan, Sr., History of the Town of Mequon, 7.
4Corrigan, Sr., History of the Town of Mequon, 8; Gretchen Mohr, ed., History of Thiensville (Cedarburg, WI:
News Graphic, Inc., 1976), 2.

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