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Ela, Ida L. / The early history of Rochester Wisconsin

Early history of Rochester,   pp. [1]-14 PDF (8.9 MB)

Page 2

     In the spring of 1856, he brought his family to the little log hut in
wilderness--a humble home it is true, but with a setting of surpassing beauty.
Throughout this whole region of country were magnificent oak-openings,
entirely free from underbrush,--carpeted, in season, with green turf and
kings of wild flowers.   Winding through this scene of beauty, within short
distance of the little home, was the shimmering river, then a clear, rapidly
running stream.
     For the first six weeks after her arrival, Mr. Godfrey did not see a
white woman, the one nearest living thirteen miles away at Call's Grove,
known as Ives' Groves. But during the year others arrived.
     Among the settlers of 1836 were Martin C. Whitman and son, L. 0. Whitman,
Gilman Hoyt, G. M. Gamble, Merrill Fowler and sister, William B. Wade and
George E. Duncan, Philander Cole, Seth Warner and wife, and her sister, Mary
Skinner, and Tristram Hoyt, with son, George Hoyt and daughter.
     L. 0. Whitman, then sixteen years of age, took up a claim lying just
west of the present village of Rochester. He put up the body of a small log
cabin to hold his claim until he should return the following year to take
full possession. When he returned he found the claim jumped, the man in
possession having a home built, considerable land broken, and crops raised
and harvested. He did not try to dispossess but quietly took another.
     Merrill Fowler took a claim a few miles west of the village near the
Honey Creek Road. This included the farm now owned by E. S. Ela, whose father
bought it of David Merrill Fowler, on his first trip from Plainfield to
Wisconsin in December, 18ý8, when he came to "take a look".
Mr. Fowler also
made a claim for his father, Benjamin, who came later.  A part of this claim--
the Schade home--remains in the family, in the third generation. The Fowlers,
though from Vermont, had first settled in Plainfield, Illinois. Several
times a year the father came overland with ox-team to bring supplies. Merrill
Fowler's sister, Nancy, came with him to be his housekeeper, but before the
year closed, married Mr. Philander Cole. This was the first marriage in the
town of Rochester. Mr. Cole walked to Racine for his license and paid four
dollars for it. The Fowlers were the proud possessors of the first cupboard
with doors. Every woman caller gave it envious and interested inspection.
      William B. Wade's claim was just south of the present village of
Waterford, on the west side of the river. His limekiln at the north bend
the Waterford road was one of the old land-marks.
       It was in a log house on this claim, February 5, 1837, the first white
child in the township of Rochester, and in Western Racine county was born--
Samuel B. Wade. He became a prosperous farmer.
      Mr. Wade the next year exchanged claims with John Bloomer, who lived
on the farm later owned by Mr. Edward Anderson, near Vienna. He sold this
Judge William Berry and moved to Illinois.
       Seth Warner located on land northwest of the village, beyond the village
school house. He was the first Justice of the Peace. His son was the first
white child born in the present village of Rochester.
      Mary Skinner soon became Mrs. George Duncan. They were married in a
little house on the east side of the river where now stands the Helding home
at bhe northeast corner of Water and Main streets. With true pioneer hospital-
ity they invited the settlers from far and near, to the wedding feast of
ginger-bread and water.
        Tristan Hoyt laid claim to land a few miles west of Rochester, on
Honey Creek road. l~ongknown as the Squire Hoyt farm, it afterwards became

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