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Pioneer days of Evansville and vicinity

Chapter IV: Stage coaching in early Wisconsin days,   pp. 17-19

Page 17

Stage Coaching in Early Wisconsin Days 
Traveling before the days of railroads was done by stages. The first tavern
in Janesville was built by a Mr. Stevens. He was the first tavernkeeper and
the house was called by his name. It was also  called  the stagehouse. Four-horse
stages left Janesville for Madison and Madison for Janesville every morning,
arriving at their destination the same evening. The distance traveled was
forty miles. As the business grew, more stages were added. This stage line
  was owned by Frink &     Walker. The 
stages leaving Janesville came west diagonally over the prairie, striking
what is now the main road one mile east of Leyden. Later the road was changed
so the drivers went out of Janesville four miles  north. Here Justin Dayton
built a tavern called the Dayton House or the Rock River House. 
Leyden was the first stop to change the mail; the tavern here was built by
Ben McMellen in 1841. The next stop was at Warren's to change the mail. This
is where Lew   Fellows now lives. John Winston opened a tavern in 1843, one-half
mile west, on the farm now owned by William Stevens. The postoffice was moved
from Warren's to this place. The next stop was the Ball Tavern, so called
because of the sign that hung from the limb of an oak tree at the corner
of the house, a round wooden ball about as large as a man's head. This tavern
was built by a Mr. Osborn. From there the road ran diagonally to Union. Evansville
was not on the map at that time. About one mile before coming into Union
there was a long house, built and kept by Charles McMullen, on the farm now
owned by Chris Jorgenson; this was not a postoffice. 
At the village of Union the tavern was built by a Mr. Prentice in 1844 and
kept by him for some time, but later by Dan Pond. Union was a lively burg
in those days. Just think of four coaches loaded with passengers stopping
here for dinner, and as this was the half-way house  they changed horses
here. These coaches ran on a  schedule time, and   as promptly as express
trains do now. 
One day a nicely dressed young man alighted from the stage. He inquired if'this
was Union. On being told that it was he seemed somewhat surprised. It seemed
that some real estate agent in the east had sold him quite a number of city
lots in Union, representing it to be quite a large place. After looking around
a little the young man took the first stage back home, a wiser if not a better
I think one of the first and~bldest drivers was Nay Smith, who lived in Union.
Then there was Martin Saxie, Warren Briggs, Ed Lovejoy, Joshua Nichols and
Tommy Lee, who drove four white. horses. He was a good driver, but a hard
one, and it was a bad day when he did not come in on time. When the drivers
came within about one hundred rods of any postoffice, the driver would  blow
 his horn to let people know they were coming, and for them to clear the
After leaving Union the first stop was Rutland. The   Rutland  house was
built and kept by Albert Water- 

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