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Dexheimer, Florence Chambers, 1866-1925 / Sketches of Wisconsin pioneer women
([1924?] )

Johnston, W. H.
Mrs. John F. Johnston,   pp. 39-41 PDF (581.1 KB)


Page 40


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
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