First Settlers of Kenosha County, Wisconsin

 

First settlers of Kenosha County. G. H. Kimball, Hudson Bacon, John Bullen, Jr., S. Resigne, Jonathan Pierce, Gardner Wilson, Jason Lothrop, William Bullen, Nelson Lay, Alfred Foster, Waters Towsley, David Crossit, may be named as early settlers at Pike River, afterwards called Southport, and still later Kenosha. Many came into the place and remained till they could secure claims in the country back; these are not named in the above list.

Pleasant Prairie. Horace Woodbridge and Jacob Miller were the first settlers in this town; the latter kept a tavern in a log house on the United States' road, where John Eastman, Esq., now resides. After them came Sylvester Pierce, Caleb Pierce, Robert Barnes; the first two moved into Hickory Grove, and the latter located on the United States' road, where Charles Morgan now lives. Then came John T. Cady, and soon after Owen Stevens, who afterwards left, and Abner Barlow, who subsequently preached at Pike River and elsewhere. Early in 1836, Daniel Stevens, Christopher Derbyshire, and the Talcotts.

Somers. The family of Felches were here in 1835, as early as March, and were soon followed by Montgomery, Griffin, Shuart, Allen, Bond, Willard, Stevens, Miller, and Deacon Cephas Weed.

Paris, Hammond Marsh, the Northways, TL Marston, Fulsom, and Coffin.

Bristol, Rev. Ira Bristol, from whom the town was named, Levi Grant, Ethridge, Wilbur, Fitch A. Higgins, his son William Higgins, and Rawlen Tuttle, were the first settlers. Joel Walker, in the spring of 1830, made his claim on what has since been known as Walker's Prairie.

Salem, John Dodge, John Bullen, David Bullen, and Amos Gratton.

Brighton, Dr. Johnson, and Mr. Wightman.

Wheatland, Jenkins, the Dixons, and Powers.

Did time and space permit, we should like to present more names, with a more particular account of them; as it is, we must be content to close with some brief sketches of a few of the more noted and prominent.

G. H. Kimball was an early settler at Pike River, after purchasing a large tract south of the creek or river; and having sold out much of his interest, he still lives here. He has a fine residence, where he can spend his old age amid the beauties of nature, in a thick forest of fruit and ornamental trees.

Gen. John Bullen came in the year 1836, and located in the town of Salem, at the place still known as Bullen's Bridge. He was active and influential in labors for his town and county, and was appointed general of militia by Gov. Dodge. He died in Kenosha in 1852.

John Bullen, Jr., son of the general, was an early settler, and for a while sole Agent of the Emigration Company, and as deeply interested in its fortunes and issue as any other man. He was for many years engaged in mercantile business, and has been an extensive land-holder. He still lives to witness the great changes that have taken place: since the days of 1835 and 1836, William Bullen, his brother, was one of the first claimants on the island, and afterwards procured a pre-emption on the claim made by IT. Bacon. He pursued mercantile business, and built a number of large houses, and was much engaged in promoting the interests of the town. He was a member of the Territorial Council in 1838, the two sessions of 183!), and in 1840 and '41. He was honored as a citizen and legislator. He died some years since.

Charles Durkee came from Vermont, his native State, in 1836. He purchased considerable property here, and early commenced building, which he pursued extensively to the advancement of the best interests of the place; the last of these buildings reared by him was the large hotel which will continue to bear the name of Durkee House while it stands. He was highly esteemed by the few he found in the place, and his friends have steadily increased with the population. Few men have done so much business, dealt with so many persons, and made so few enemies. He was engaged in every good work, and did his full share in its prosecution.

He never waited to be led, but was forward in all plans of mercy and benevolence, even when he knew the majority would oppose him. In the cause of temperance and freedom, he was an early and earnest advocate. He was elected a member of the first Territorial Legislature in 1836, and also in 1837 and '38; in 1850, he was chosen to a seat in the lower house of Congress, where he served his two years' term; and in 1855, was elected a member of the United States' Senate. He now resides in Dane county, where he has an extensive farm.

R. H. Doming came here in the year 1836, and for a time was employed in mercantile affairs. He soon took a prominent part in public matters relating to the welfare and prosperity of the place. His early labors in the cause of freedom, temperance and education, have identified him with the history and progress of South-port, and the then county of Racine. But all his other public positions and services, will, weigh little in comparison with his influence and labors connected with the establishment and support of our public schools. He was one of the first to favor the organization of free schools, and he has uniformly given them his warm encouragement. Kenosha is much indebted to him for the success of her schools, and he has lived to see some of the fruits of these labors, and in his own family.

Michael Frank deserves to rank high as one of the most prominent and useful of our citizens. He has done much towards the growth and prosperity of Kenosha. In 1837, he exchanged his home in Virgil, Courtland County, New York, for Southport. Though unobtrusive in his manners, he soon became appreciated as editor, Justice of the Pleace, President of the Corporation, and member of the Legislative Council, in which latter body ho served from 1843 to 1846, inclusively. He has been Colonel of the regiment, and had the offer of a General's commission, but he never valued any military office, and seemed not to love the business of war. If he has taken pride in any public stations, it has been in those which enabled him to promote popular education. In our public school system, he is beginning to see the utility of his labors in a generation rising up to bless such philanthropists. His ''Annals," carefully kept since he has been a citizen with us, may be of much use and value hereafter.

Charles C, and Christopher Latham Sholes did not settle so early among us as many others, but the prominent part they have taken in our affairs, demands our notice.

C. C. Sholes has been long known in Wisconsin, first at Green Bay, and since in our place. He represented Brown County in the Territorial Assembly in the six sessions from 1837 to 1810; and in 1855, represented this county in the Assembly, and was chosen Speaker of that body. Here in Kenosha, he has been known as an active citizen, engaged in all good labors. As mayor of our city, his name has been more associated with the prosperity of the place than that of any other person. In every position he has occupied, he has exhibited a character of sterling faithfulness and honesty of purpose.

O. L. Sholes established his newspaper press here in 1840, and has sustained its credit and his reputation as editor, taking rank with the ablest in Wisconsin; its independent and liberal character is well known. He served in the State Senate in 1848 and '49, and in the Assembly in 1852 and -53, and is now serving another two years term in the Senate. He has always been forward in every improvement and good work. If the spirits of the departed influence none to worse deeds than they do him, we shall not be very jealous of their visits.

Footnote:
*In Peet's History of the Presbyterian and Congregational churches in Wisconsin it is stated that the Kenosha church was organized June 25th, 1838, by Rev. Gilbert Crawford; and Rev. C. C. Caldwell was the first minister, from July, 1838 to July, 1839.

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