University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Port Washington centennial, 1835 - 1935 : one hundred years of progress

Historical highlights of "Old" Port Washington,   pp. 5-6

Page 6

Early County Seat
In the ten years that followed Port Washington
became a thriving settlement. Solon Johnson, a
very able man, succeeded Harrison as promoter.
Settlers generally were of a high type. often well
educated. Col. Teal, one of the best educated of
them all, was a close friend of Harrison. He pos-
sessed foresight. He saw clearly the need for well
laid out roads, connecting Port Washington with
other communities. When informal meetings were
held it was he who suggested and finally brought
forth the first plans for new roads. More import-
ant than that, he saw the possibilities of making
Port Washington a county seat. Thus Port Wash-
ington gained precedence over other towns years
later when claims were made for the latter, 'but
that fact that already Port Washington was nom-
inally a county seat finally resulted in obtaining
government confirmation as the county seat.
Town Organized
A definite need was soon felt for an orderly
government, with the advantages accompanying
schools, churches, courts and police. A postmaster
had been appointed. There was one school. But
authority was possessed by everyone and haphazard
conditions prevailed. Finally, in the spring of 1846,
leaders called a general meeting to assemble at
the school house, built a year before. Everybody
was there. A clerk was named to keep election
records. Solon Johnson, Col. Teal and another
person were selected as a board of supervisors. A
highway commissioner also was selected. Harrison
was elected assessor. Justices and constables were
elected and then a school commission was created,
'composed of three' English settlers, Watson, Bates
and Young.
In the. poll list at this meeting appear many
names, some obviously mis-spelled, such as Inger-
soll, Anderson, Thomas, Watrey, Allendorf, Schols,
Weycher, Micheal, McLean, Schmidt and Bievier.
First Charter
Thirty-three years later Port Washington form-
ed it's city charter and in 1882 was officially in-
corporated. In the beginning there was the alder-
manic form of government, but in 1917 this was
changed to the commission form and this has since
been retained.
Coming of the
First White Men
Here's the record of the first white men to set
foot on the site now known as Port Washington,
"The Little City of Seven Hills": (The dates are
taken from indisputable official records).
Menard, 1661-1663. There is a legend that
Menard made his first stop at the mouth of Sauk
Creek in 1653, but there is no olffcial record.
Marquette and Joliet, 1673.
Marquette, Pierre Porteret and Jacques, Dec. 19,
1674, stayed 212 days.
LaSalle, Hennepin and LaBourda, 1679.
Marest, 1698, lived here for one year.
Jean Francois Brisson St. Come and Henry de
Touty, 1699.
Nearly all of the above named were French-
Canadian Missionaries.
Catholic Church
The second church to hold services was the
Catholic Church. Three families made up the con-
gregation and in 1847 all members gathered in the
house of John Gengler where a visiting priest said
Mass. Two years later Hiram Johnson, one of the
oldest settlers, voluntarily donated the two lots
he owned on the North bluff which he thought
ideal for a church. In that year the building was
completed and three visiting priests alternated in
holding regular services. Father F. X. Sailer came
to Port Washington as a resident priest in 1853.
There were then 25 Catholic families.
In 1860 a stone building took the place of the
old frame building. Twenty years later plans were
begun for the present church which now occupies
its imposing position atop St. Mary's Heights.
Other Churches
Two other churches had early begi~inings in
Port Washington. One, the German Methodist,
was started in 1852. The other was the German
Evangelical Lutheran Church. This church was
started in 1853 and had an auspicious beginning
because of the work and direction of Jacob Eckel,
who was one of the oldest trustees.
Today Port Washington has six churches: St.
Mary's, St. Ambrose, Congregational, Friedens Evan-
gelical, St. John's Lutheran and Grand Avenue

Go up to Top of Page