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Early history of Ozaukee County, Wisconsin

Saukville,   pp. 40-41

Page 41

Going back to 1848, William Payne and Jabez H. Foster built a dam
across the Milwaukee River three-quarters of a mie north of the villrxe,
where they obtained a fall of fifteen feet. They also built a footbridge
at a cost of $500, the county furnishing half the sum. he first build-
ing erected here was a sawmill. A year later they built a frame gristmill.
Payne and Foster had entered some 1,200 acres of land which was designated
"The Mill Property." They continued to do a profitable business until
1851, when their gristmill was destroyed by fire. After this disaster,
a dispute arose between them as to the sharing of' the property, and a
lawsuit ensued which resulted in the court deciding that the property
should be divided into equal shares, each one taking half. Mr. Payne then
sold his interest including water power, to William Kittridge. The site
upon which these buildings were erected was given the name Mechanicsville,
but later became part of the village of Saukville. In 1849, a turning
shop was added to the sawmill where the manufacture of bedsteads and
chairs was carried on until 1858, when the business was abandoned. After
changing hands several times, Thien and Guettler bought and rebuilt the
gristmill, a four-story stone building, in 1870. After repairing the dam
and enjoying a few years of prosperity, the gristmill was again destroyed
by fire in 1879.
It was voted to build a new bridge across the Milwaukee River in 1873,
and the contract was let to William Rettberg of Cedarburg. It was built of
wood and served for many years as a substantial structure, Until replaced
by an iron one. In 1881 the Milwaukee River rose to the highest point
ever known, flooding the country for several miles. The dam was consider-
ably damaged, and the village of Saukville was inundated two to four feet.
A great many families were forced to abandon their homes.

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