Harney, Richard J. / History of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest
City of Menasha, pp. 215-229 PDF (10.6 MB)
HISTORY OF WINNEBAGO COUNTY,. WISCONSIN. the present limits of the town. This was a private school, taught by Miss Hettie Frost, the pupils, "as in duty bound," each bringing their mite to the extent of one shilling per week as tuition fee. This building has a long unwritten historical record of the early day which we are compelled to omit for want of space. * The firstdivine services wasconducted during. the fall, in the log tavern, by Rev. 0. P. Clinton, the bar and sitting room being thrown open for the occasion. During the services several persons came into the bar room for spiritual consolation of a different order; such as they had heretofore sought every day in the week, and probably had never been so disappointed. Mr. Clinton noticing their anxiety, gave them a lesson of patience and self-denial, by extending his discourse to an unusual length. A Lyceum was organized during the winter, at what has ever since been known as the Menasha House, commenced in the fall of 1848, by H. C. Tate, occupied during the winter and completed in the spring of 1849, the first frame hotel in the place. At this first meeting of the Lyceum, Jeremiah Hunt was elected President. This, so far as now known, was the initial point of Jeremiah's political aspirations. During the fall of 1848, the Rev. 0. P. Clinton moved to his present residence on the Island. ACCESSION TO THE POPULATION-VILLAGE SITE SURVEYED AND PLATTED. In 1 849, the census of Menasha was increased by the arrival of A. D. Page, S. L. Hart, Ed O'Connell, Wm. Hughes, Henry Axtel, Abel Keyes, L. A. Donaldson, Lyman Fargo, Jos. W. Thombs, J A. Sanford, W. P. Rounds, and Ed. Decker. This year the first mill was commenced, a sawmill on the north side of the dam, built by Cornelius Northrop and Harri- son Reed, completed 1850. The village having been surveyed and platted, the first plat recorded was on the 28th day of May, 1849, Charles Doty, proprietor. The hotel now standing on the north side of the public square, was commenced this year by Ed. Decker and Henry Axtel, completed the next year, and called the Decker House. FIRST BIRTHS-FIRST DEATHS. The first birth within the little settlement was that of Lydia M. Hunt, a daughter of Jeremiah Hunt, February 22, 1849. The following July, a family by the nameof McCollum, was increased in numbers by the birth of a daugher, who was named Menasha. The first death also occurred in the same fam- ily, in May, 1849, that of Fannie McCollum. STRIFE ON THE LOCATING OF STATE CANAL. During this year occurred the memorable strife between the proprietors of the north and south sides for the location of the State canal, which was to connect the navigable waters of Lake Winnebago and Buttes des Morts. Har- vey Jones, as one of the proprietors of Nee- nah, offering to complete the work without expense to the State in consideration of its location on that side, while Curtis Reed, in behalf of the proprietors of the. Menasha inter- est, made the same offer with the further inducement of $5,000 to be expended in repairs of canal, locks and dams, as it became necessary. During the year Mr. Reed's offer was accepted, and the work commenced. It has been stated as a matter of "history and inter- est, fully appreciated by early settlers, that Mr. Reed not only failed to pay the $5,000, but by some sharp management, afterward received pay for the work done, all of which had been offered as a free gift." This is unqualifiedly false, as the records fully show. In 1853, the entire improvement was turned over by the State to a company, as is well known. At the request of the company, Mr. Reed's contract was relinquished. Mr. Reed had originally contracted with the State to construct a canal sixty feet wide on the bot- tom, and a lock thirty. five feet wide by one hundred and thirty feet in length. At a later date the State enlarged the plan of the canal to one hundred feet width on the bottom, and the lock to one hundred and sixtv feet in length. Much of this additional excavation had been completed by Mr. Reed, which was to be deducted from the $5,000, or paid for. And now comes the Improvement Company to set- tle with Mr. Reed, in place of the State. In lieu of the balance of the labor and the $5,000, Mr. Reed and his associates conveyed the right of way for the canal, which had before only been conveyed by implication, and transferred the dam, reserving the right to all surplus water for hydraulic purposes which they had never parted with, and the right to which had never been disputed by the State or the com- pany. STORE OPENED - POST-OFFICE ESTAB- LISHED-DAM COMPLETED-FIRST SAW-MILL PUT IN OPERATION -FIRST GRIST MILL. John McCune engaged in trade this sea- son, 1849, with a stock of general merchandise. 216 [i848-49.
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