Chapter 12 - Town of Akan.


    The town of Akan is one of the western tier of Richland county's towns, the second from the south, embracing congressional township 10 north, of range 2 west. It is bounded on the north by the town of Sylvan, on the east by Dayton, on the south by Richwood, and on the west by Crawford county. The surface of the town is well watered by Mill and Knapp's creeks, and their numerous tributaries. The valleys are very fertile and in many cases the ridges furnish excellent farming land. Wherever an enterprising farmer has taken hold and cleared land, a good and profitable farm has rewarded him.

    The town of Akan was created by the county board of supervisors at the November session, 1855. It was organized at a town meeting held at the house of Martin Munson, April 1, 1856. The inspectors of the election were Zenas W Bevier, chairman, Rawley Crothers and Votany Butman; clerk, G R Barnes; constables, William Elder and Joseph Dunson; assessor, William Elder. There were twenty-eight votes polled at this election.

    The first settlement within the limits now comprising the town of Akan was effected in the spring of 1851 by Martin Munson, Ole Johnson and John Turgasen, a party of Norwegians, who came from Dodgeville. Mr. Munson entered land on sections 26 and 27, where he erected a log cabin and commenced improvements. Ole Johnson entered the northwest quarter of the northwest quarter of section 35, and he lived there until his death on March 18, 1855. John Turgasen remained but a short time and then returned to Dodgeville. Two years later he came back and entered the southeast quarter of the southeast quarter of section 33, and, although then possessed of no means, he was very industrious, economical, and exhibited such excellent management, that he became one of the wealthiest farmers of Richland county. He was born in Norway, January 21, 1824, and like the greater portion of his countrymen, he passed his early life on the farm and at school. In 1849 he immigrated to America, landing at the port of New York. He started for Wisconsin, going up the Hudson river to Albany, thence by the Erie canal to Buffalo, where he took a lake steamer for Milwaukee. From thence he went to Dane county, Wis., and three weeks later to Dodgeville, where he obtained employment in the mines and at the smelting furnaces. In 1851 he came to Richland county, as stated above, but did not then effect a settlement. He returned to Dodgeville, where he remained two years. He then removed his family to Richland county, and entered land on section 33, of town 10 north, of range 2 west. He never removed from his first settlement, and during the years that lapsed added little by little to his possessions, and was blessed beyond his earlier expectations. His son, Anthony Turgasen, purchased a farm near Richland Center, and now resides thereon, a prominent and respected citizen.

    Bernard C Hallin, a native of Ireland, came here in 1852 and entered land on sections 17 and 18, but did not settle there until 1854. He afterwards removed to the town of Richland. In 1865 he purchased a valuable farm near Richland Center, and lived thereon until his death. He is farther mentioned in the biographical department of this volume.

    William Elder, a Virginian, was an early settler in the southern part of Richland county. He made a business of showing the pioneers land, and did a great deal towards the settling up of this region. In 1855 he settled on section 3, in the town of Akan, resided there a few years, then went to Crawford county and later removed to Dakota territory, where he died. He was with the government surveyors when they surveyed the town of Akan, and was noted as a great hunter and an extra good marksman.

    David Woodruff came here in 1854 and settled on the southeast quarter of section 3. In 1875 he sold out and moved to Dakota, and later to Otter Tail county, Minnesota.

    James Brady was a pioneer of Crawford county, where he settled in 1854. He is a native of Ireland, born in the parish of Kilshere, County Meath, in August, 1826. There his younger days were spent on the farm and in the subscription school, where he received a liberal education. In 1850 he bade adieu to his native land and sailed for America. He landed at New York and engaged at work in the machine shops of the Empire Stone-dressing Company, and remained there until 1854, when he came to Crawford county as before stated. He came on the cars to Madison, thence by stage to Highland, and then started on foot to seek a home. He crossed the Wisconsin river at Port Andrew on July 4 and entered land on section 24, town 10, range 3 west, now known as the town of Clayton in Crawford county. He then returned to Madison and remained until October, when he hired a team to convey him to his western home. He thus had transportation as far as Martin Munson's in the town of Akan, at that time the end of the road, and he then procured an ox team and proceeded on his way. He camped on Knapp's creek while he built a log cabin, moving into it as soon as possible, and commenced clearing, and the following year he planted four acres of corn, and in the fall sowed four acres of wheat on ground that never had been plowed. He worked his land without any team until 1857, when he bought a yoke of steers. He lived on this farm until 1861, then purchased land in Akan, on section 19, and became largely engaged in raising grain and stock. He has always taken a lively interest in town and county affairs, serving as town clerk six years, as treasurer six years, and as chairman of the board five years. He also served as postmaster at Brady's office a number of years; and he still lives in the town of Akan.

    Lewis Dieter, a native of Germany, came here in 1854 and settled on section 25. He was accompanied by his father and three brothers, and for a time they lived together. He died at his old residence in 1905.

    George Hall, an Irishman, and a veteran of the Mexican war, cam here in 1853 and entered one hundred and sixty acres of land on sections 19 and 20. He remained about two years, then sold out and left, and the locality in which he settled has since been called Hall's Bottom.

    William Anderson, a native of Indiana, came in 1854 and settled on the southwest quarter of section 30. He remained about three years and then returned to Indiana.

    A Scotchman named Penny came in 1854 and settled on the northwest quarter of section 27. He improved a farm and remained for several years, when he went to Minnesota.

    William Smith, an Englishman, came at the same time and located on section 21. He went to Minnesota with Penny.

    Samuel Yager was an early settler in the town of Eagle, but in 1854 he came to Akan and located on the southwest quarter of section 21. He was a veteran of the Mexican War. He was a cabinet maker by trade and put up a shop, in which he manufactured chairs, bedsteads, etc. When the Civil War broke out he enlisted and served until its close, but having ruined his health in the service, soon after his return he sold out and removed to Excelsior.

    Joseph Dunson came in 1854 and settled on section 23, where he cleared a farm and lived for some years. He afterward removed to Richwood, where he died.

    Horace Waite, from Ohio, came in 1855 and settled on the northwest quarter of section 3. He cleared a small tract of land and remained about three years, when he sold out and went to Orion, where he engaged in the mercantile trade. He afterward removed to Muscoda.

    Esec Spreig came from Illinois in the fall of 1854 and settled on he northeast quarter of section 4. Four or five years later he sold out and returned to Illinois.

    Zenas W Bevier, in 1855, settled in the town of Akan, where he was engaged in blacksmithing and farming until his death, which occurred in October, 1881. He was a native of New York, where he learned his trade, in which he became a first-class workman. It was through his influence that the first postoffice was established at Akan, he receiving the appointment of postmaster, which position he held until his death.

    Frank Morningstar, a German, came in the fall of 1855 and settled on section 2. He cleared a good farm and made it his home until he died.

    Mathew Ryan, an Irishman, also came in 1855, and settled on section 3.

    Jefferson Smith came from Illinois in 1855 and settled on the northeast quarter of section 6. He cleared a small tract of land and remained about twelve years, when he removed to Richwood, and there died.

    Julius Jenks came from Illinois during the same year and settled on the northeast quarter of section 8, where he remained for some years and then went to the mountains.

    William Percy came in 1855 and claimed the northeast quarter of section 9. After a short residence he afterwards sold his claim and left the country. Jacob Lawrence purchased Percy's claim and improved it. He lived there until 1875, when he sold out and removed to the town of Eagle, entering the mercantile trade at Eagle Corners.

    John Chitwood, a native of Tennessee, came from Indiana in 1855 and settled on the northeast quarter of section 5, where he lived until the time of his death.

    Patrick Hines, a native of Ireland, came in 1855 and settled on section 30. In 1865 he entered the service as a recruit in the Twenty-second Wisconsin infantry. He died November 13, 1902.

    William Dobbs, a native of Tennessee, came from Lafayette county, Wis., in the spring of 1855, and entered three hundred and sixty acres of land on sections 5, 6, 7 and 8. He lived there for a number of years and then went to the Black River country; but he afterward returned and settled in Richwood, where he died in 1876.

    Henry Bailey, a native of Rhode Island, came in 1855 and settled on section 7, but afterward removed to Nebraska.

    David Clancy, a native of Ireland, came in 1855 and settled on land which he entered on section 15.

    James Bachtenkircher, an early settler in the town of Sylvan, but later a resident of Akan, was born in Clermont county, Ohio, April 15, 1835, and when he was eleven years old his parents emigrated to Clinton county, Ind. He received a liberal education, and remained with his parents until 1855, when he came to Richland county and located in the town of Sylvan. At the end of one year he returned to Indiana and engaged with a carpenter and joiner to learn the trade, with whom he served two years. He then returned to Sylvan and worked at his trade two years, and in 1860, in company with Michael Snyder, started for Pike's Peak, traveling in a wagon drawn by a pair of oxen. After fifty-two days travel they reached Central City, Colorado, where Mr. Bachtenkircher worked at his trade until November. He then yoked his oxen and started on his return to Sylvan. In 1862 he bought land on section 30 of that town, and was engaged in farming during the summer and in teaching school in the winter. In 1869, becoming excited by the so-called western fever, he sold his land and removed to Kansas. He made a claim in Wilson county and engaged in farming, also worked at his trade until 1872, when he returned to Richland county and rented land in the town of Akan, until 1877, then purchasing a farm on section 8. He possesses the confidence and respect of the community and is prominent and influential in public affairs. He has served as clerk, assessor and justice of the peace, in Sylvan, justice of the peace in Akan, and also chairman of the town board. He still resides in Akan.

    Squire Shaffer, a native of Ohio, came in 1856 and settled on the southwest quarter of section 1, where he resided until his death in 1900.

    F A Harsha, a Kentuckian, came from Iowa county in 1856 and settled on section 36. He removed to Minnesota a number of years ago, and died there about 1903.

    John Kelly, an early settler of Akan, was born in the parish of Egles, Tipperary County, Ireland, in 1821, where he was reared to agricultural pursuits. In 1848, he left his native land and came to America, landed at New York, and from there went to Fort Washington, a point ten miles distant, where he obtained employment on a railroad, in the process of construction. He continued working there eight months, then went to Ohio and engaged in farming a short time, then to Bedford and worked on the Pittsburg & Cleveland railroad two years, and thence to Akron, where he was employed on the Clinton extension two years. He next purchased two pairs of horses and engaged in teaming at Hudson, three months. He then came to Wisconsin and was first employed in railroading near Waukesha, continuing in that business until 1856. He came to Richland county in the fall of that year and bought eighty acres of timber land on section 18, town of Akan. In spite of all the pioneer hardships he worked courageously and his good judgment and industry combined made him successful in life.

    William Core, a native of New Jersey, came from Orion in 1856 and purchased land on section 24. He was the first settler in the locality known as Core Hollow, it being named for him, and he still resides there.

    At an early day the Methodists held services in the northeastern part of the town, and a class was organized that flourished for several years. Prominent among the members were David Woodruff and wife, Mrs. Polly Crothers, Mrs. Esther Barnes, and Elijah Austin and wife. Rev. Prince was the first preacher, and after him Revs. Hafus, Walker and Elihu Bailey at different times officiated. The class remained in existence only a few years, and then, as some of the members moved away, it was dropped.

    The United Brethren organized at the schoolhouse shortly after the discontinuance of the Methodist class, most of its members having belonged to the latter. Rev. Mr. Potts was the first minister for the United Brethren class, and succeeding him were Revs. Messrs. Young, Wright, Snell and Haskins. The class was continued for several years.

    In 1873 the Christians organized a church in the schoolhouse of district No. 3, under the management of Revs. Jacob Fulton and Lewis Himes. Among the first members of this church were Albert S Bailey and wife, Mrs. Amanda Ross, Michael McMillan and wife, Isaac Ferguson, William Fosnow and wife, John Beaman and Wilson Slayback and wife. John Beaman was elected the first class-leader. This class met at the schoolhouse for about two years, and was then merged into the Harmony church. A Sabbath school was organized at the same time as this church, with John Beaman as superintendent, meeting weekly and having a good attendance.

    At an early day J J Brown, a school teacher, opened a store on section 7, purchasing his stock of goods of Pease & Baker, at Richland Center. His means were limited, and for a time he worked under disadvantages. In a short time he removed to Excelsior and opened a store there, but later quit business and went to California.

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