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Kinney, Thomas P. / Irish settlers of Fitchburg, Wisconsin, 1840-1860

Irish arrive in Fitchburg,   pp. 28-41 PDF (6.2 MB)

Page 41

Some of the Irish joined the Yankees in the 1860's and 1870's
in building a style of wood-frame house often referred to as
"upright and wing." The wing was sometimes constructed with
a kitchen on the first floor and was occupied before the gabled
upright was built. Many of these houses are still found in Fitch-
burg. Most of the remaining log cabins were replaced by houses
that frequently included Queen Anne ornamentation in the
1880's and 1890's.
An additional reason for the Irish being slow to replace
their log cabins was that they did not all share the Yankees'
speculative impetus to improve their land for resale. A large
number of Irish were satisfied with living in Fitchburg because
the good access to Madison markets helped them to achieve a
goal of self-sufficiency They put their money into buying
nearby farms for their grown children, perhaps so that the clan
could live together as in Ireland. The Irish immigrants' concept
of the farm as a home for descendants helps explain why most
of the 1990's Fitchburg residents whose families have lived in
Fitchburg since before 1860 are Irish-Americans.
The primary experience for Irish arrivals in Fitchburg
from 1840 to 1860 was that of building frontier log cabins and
establishing pioneer farms. The Irish of the Fox, Irish Lane,
and Stoner Prairie settlement areas and their satellite communi-
ties took on the wilderness challenges to build lives where
potato famines and foreign armies would not tyrannize them.
Schools, churches, and houses were only three of their achieve-
ments. They created the Fitchburg Mutual Protection Society to
safeguard their land claims, and their wheat cash crops paid for
their farms. By 1860, the Irish had built three healthy, resilient
settlements that became the heart of one of Dane County's
largest rural Irish communities.

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