Dexheimer, Florence Chambers, 1866-1925 / Sketches of Wisconsin pioneer women
Johnston, W. H.
Mrs. John F. Johnston, pp. 39-41 PDF (581.1 KB)
had been intended to perform the marriage ceremony under the famous old council tree, it being the first mar- riag to occur in Neenah but a storm came up and the wedding party was compelled to adjourn to the old coun- cil chamber. Governor Doty, the few whites living in that vicinity and a number of friendly Indians were present at the ceremony. In July, 1848, Mr. Johnston came down the river in his canoe, landing near where the Lake Street bridge now stands, selected a site and began clearing a place for a home. There was a trail to Duck Creek which with the help of a few Indians made it possible to haul the lumber with an ox team for the erection of the first house in Appleton (more properly called a shanty). It was located on what is now called Johnston Street, between Morrison and Durkee. Mr. Johnston left his wife and infant son at Menasha with her sister, with the understanding that she would remain there until he had completed their cottage and came for her. She became tired of waiting and learning that a barge, or roughly constructed boat was being loaded with furniture to be taken down the river for their cottage she decided to surprise her husband, and, with her baby, embarked on the boat. It landed near what was later called Pierce Park, where a road had been cut to the river. An ox cart was there waiting; she and her infant son were loaded in the cart with the furniture. All went well until they were climbing one of the hills, when the contents of the cart were dumped on the ground. Mrs. Johnston refused to ride any farther and waited until her husband came for her. His first words were, "Why did you come, Nettie? Our house is not ready; the roof is only partly on." She said, "T wanted to be with you." In cooking their first meal they held an umbrella over the stove to keep things dry. That was the entrance of the first white woman to what is now the beautiful and prosperous city of Apple- ton. This cabin was the nucleus around which gathered the old settlers. It was the bright spot in the dense 40 r__
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