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Adams, Arva Luther; Herziger, Caryl Chandler; Pawlowski, Winifred Anderson (ed.) / A tale of twin cities : or the development of the Fox River Waterway

Kidd, Mary F.
Rev. O. P. Clinton,   pp. 58-69 ff. PDF (3.8 MB)

Page 59

Rev. 0. P. Clinton
to meet the demands. At thirty-seven, Clinton was considered one of the
religious leaders of great influence in Wisconsin.
The new territory charmed Clinton; indeed, he thought it unsurpassed in the
western country and very inviting to immigrants. It had good soil which was easy
to till and cultivate with all the advantages of the prairie and better timber than he
had ever seen before. Lake Winnebago, which lay thirty-five miles west of Lake
Michigan, was a "fine sheet of water 30 miles in length and 10 miles in width".
Clinton viewed the country around the lake and along the river as being
essentially attractive to settlers, it seemed so beautiful a place to live that it would
no doubt be taken within a year. In recounting all the advantages, Clinton hoped
the facts might reach some of the "pious" who were planning to migrate west so
that a fair degree of religious influence might come to an area destined to
become densely populated.
Clinton attacked his mission with zeal. During the first three months from
January to March, he traveled over seven hundred miles preaching at twelve
different localities in five counties. Armed with an axe, a shovel, and a few feet
of rope, Clinton traveled by horse and buckboard. The going was not easy as
he had to wade through marshes, ford rivers, drive over ice-covered bridges, and
find his way through long stretches of timberland, often with only the aid of
marked trees to guide him. It seemed to him that he had been preparing all his
life for this pioneer ministry.
In December, 1845, Clinton visited Winnebago Rapids, now Neenah, where he
was a guest of Harrison Reed and his wife, Ann Louisa, in their blockhouse home
on the shores of Lake Winnebago. During his visit, Clinton held a service in
Reed's cabin for a small congregation composed of seven white men and a few
Indians. One of the first pioneers on the scene, Reed enthusiastically shared with
Clinton his dreams to develop the site and attract people who shared his vision.
Throughout the winter months of 1846, Clinton made his missionary calls with
diligence. He preached in his new territory except for one Sabbath when he
returned to his former pastorate at Lake Mills where his family still lived. Early in
the spring of 1846, Clinton decided to move his family to a permanent residence
in Neenah, about eighty-five miles north of Lake Mills. There were two reasons
for this decision. Although the settlement was at the northernmost boundary of
his territory, Clinton was convinced that the vicinity was the most important point
for his labors. Secondly, Clinton reasoned that the area had thus far been kept
by Providence from being occupied by "anti-gospel influences" and was

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