Kinney, Thomas P. / Irish settlers of Fitchburg, Wisconsin, 1840-1860
Irish arrive in Fitchburg, pp. 28-41 PDF (6.3 MB)
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.
Copyright 1993, 1998 Thomas P. Kinney