ORGANIZATION - FIRST SETTLERS -CHARACTER OF SETTLERS - PRINCIPAL WATER COURSES - FIRST SETTLEMENT - IMMIGRANTS OF 1848 - LONE ROCK - RICHLAND CITY - SEXTONVILLE - EARLY RELIGIOUS MEETINGS - ORGANIZATION OF FIRST PRESBYTERIAN, CONGREGATIONAL AND METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCHES.
One of the earliest settlers of the town of Buena Vista was Samuel Long, who was chosen as its first treasurer, his settlement dating from August, 1848. He was born in Indiana, October 9, 1816, but was reared in Illinois, where his parents removed when he was a child.
Orrin L. Britton, one of the first justices of the peace, was the pioneer settler of Sextonville, and he was born in Westmoreland, New Hampshire, in 181. When he was twelve years old his parents moved to Jefferson county, New York, where they were pioneers. There Orrin L. spent his youth and continued to live until 1844, when he moved to Wisconsin, making the journey overland with a pair of horses and wagon. He was six weeks on the road, at the end of which time he arrived at the village of Jefferson, Jefferson county. He first rented land a few miles out of town, and in the spring of 1845 he bought timber land in the Rock river woods, moved there and cleared a few acres, then sold and hired to E. M. Sexton to drive a pedler's wagon from near Fort Atkinson, which he continued until 1848, at which date he came to Richland county.
The town of Buena Vista was settled, as was Richland county generally, by people from the older states, with an occasional immigrant from the mother country or the fatherland. Descendants of these early pioneers people the township to a considerable extent, but of later years it can be said that the population is becoming more cosmopolitan. But whatever their ancestry or wherever their birth-place, the residents of the town of Buena Vista are a class of intelligent and progressive citizens, many of whom are highly cultured and intellectual.
The principal streams that traverse the town are Pine river and Bear creek. The former rising in Vernon county, enters the town of Buena Vista by way of section 7, town 9, range 2 east, and flowing nearly due south, makes confluence with the Wisconsin river on section 31. Pine river is the most important stream that flows through Richland county, in this town its average width being seventy feet. Bear creek rises in Sauk county, enters the town of Buena Vista from Ithaca, by way of section 1, town 9, range 2 east, and flows nearly south to the center of section 35, thence southwesterly to enter the Wisconsin river on section 4, town 8. One of its tributaries, Little Bear creek enters the town on section 24, from Sauk county, and flows west to join Bear creek on section 23. By way of the Wisconsin river all the waters of the entire town reach the Mississippi.
The first settlement within the limits now comprising the town of Buena Vista was made in the fall of 1845 by Robert and William McCloud. They emigrated to Wisconsin from Hardin county, Ohio, in 1844, and stopped with their families in the village of Muscoda. In the fall of 1845 Robert McCloud located a farm on the east bank of Bear creek, the northeast quarter of section 35, and began improvements at once. At the same time his brother, William McCloud, located a farm about one half-mile further south. In the spring of 1846 they removed their families to the new homes, from Muscoda.
In the fall of 1846 Israel Janney and his brother Phineas came into the town. Israel located on the west half of the northwest quarter of section 34, and Phineas located on the west half of the northeast quarter of section 28, town 9, range 2 east.
In the spring of 1847 William Janney, another brother of Israel, located on section 34. He was born in Loudoun county, Virginia, October 7, 1815, and when he was but fourteen years of age his parents removed to Ohio. When he was seventeen years old he commenced learning the tailor's trade at Monroe, Mich., served four years, and then worked at the trade as journeyman, in Logan county, Ohio. In 1847 he came to Richland county and made a claim in what is now the town of Buena Vista, and remained two years, then sold and returned to Ohio. In 1852 he again came to Richland county and remained until 1859, four years of this time serving as clerk in the register's office. In 1859 he went to California and spent a few months, then returned to Ohio and remained three years. He then came to Richland Center and opened a tailor shop, which he run one year, then sold out, went west and spent several years in Colorado, Iowa and Nebraska. He afterward returned to Richland county and now lives in the town of Marshall.
The next settler in town of Buena Vista was Amos Mercer, who also came in the spring of 1847, from southern Illinois. He settled on the west half of the southeast quarter of section 28, town 9, range 2 east, but afterward removed to Sauk county, where he became a prosperous farmer.
In the summer and fall of 1848 there were a number of locations made in the town-Delos Matteson, J. W. Briggs, Samuel Long, Jonathan Ingram, E. B. Benson, Jonah Seaman (Mr. Seaman came with the McClouds in 1845, but returned to Illinois, and came back in 1848), I. H. Wallace (proprietor of Richland City), C. W. Morris, George Reed, Nathaniel Wheeler (who bought out Phineas Janney), and J. W. Coffinberry, who settled on section 30, but soon afterward removed to Richland City. William and Cyrus Kline settled on the northwest quarter of section 23, and the north half of the northeast quarter of section 22, town 9, range 2 east. John P. Smith settled the same year on section 22, and Emanuel Wallace, a brother of John Wallace, also came in 1848 and settled on section 14. John Wallace, who became well known as a merchant at Lone Rock, came to Richland county in the spring of 1849, and was a permanent resident after 1851, when he helped erect a mill at Richland City, which was the first mill built at that point. In 1854 he settled on his land, which he had entered in 1849, but he took up his residence at Lone Rock in May, 1861, and spent the remainder of his life there. B. J. Hopkins located on sections 24 and 13, and Moses Brown and Sterling McKinney located the same year on section 36. Brown afterward removed to Chippewa county, this state, and McKinney died in this county. Other early settlers were George L. Dyke, a man named Stroud, Luther Evans, Holland Allen, Elias Thomas, George Woodard, Edmond Meade, and John Daley. A man named Perrine located on section 12, town 8, range 2 east, in 1851, and he sold the railroad company the plat of Lone Rock village. He had several grown sons, one of whom was Dr. Perrine. A singular fatality attended this family, five of whom died soon after coming here. The surviving ones removed to Minnesota.
Lone Rock is the principal village in the town of Buena Vista, and it also holds the second position among, the towns of Richland county. It had its origin in the advent of the Prairie du Chien branch of the Chicago. Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad, and the decision of the railroad company to establish a station at that point. The railroad was completed to the place in October, 1856, and the name of Lone Rock was given to the station because of the remarkable pile or mound of sandstone rock located just south of the eastern part of the village, on section 13. It is not known positively by whom the name was first applied to this mound of rock, but it was probably first so called by the early raftsmen on the Wisconsin river, who, impressed by the singularity of the lonely rock on the prairie, gave it the name to designate a point on the stream down which they floated, the rock being but a short distance from the left bank of the Wisconsin river. In the fall of 1856 what is known as Lone Rock City was laid out by Ray, Dean, Burrell and Cook. This plat comprised the southeast quarter of section 12, town 8, range 2 east. At about the same time, what is known as Lone Rock village, consisting of eighty acres adjoining Lone Rock City on the north, was laid out by Dr. J. N. Castle. Two other additions were made at about the same time-one of forty acres by A. C. Daley, on the west of Lone Rock City; the other by Daniel B. Allen, of forty acres joining Lone Rock village on the east, the latter addition being in Sauk county. The United States census tells a story of progress during recent years in its returns of the population of the village: 1890, three hundred and forty-two; 1900, five hundred and twelve. Since the taking of the last census, however, it has had a good growth, but as no enumeration has been taken, the population can only be estimated. The present chief officials of Lone Rock are as follows: President, G. W. Hurless; clerk, George R. True; treasurer, J. F. Beardsley.
The village of Richland City -- once of considerable importance -- is located on the southeast quarter of section 31, town 9, range 2 east. The original proprietors of the village plat were Isaac Wallace and Garwood Greene, who laid out the village in 1849. In 1851 A. C. Daley became an equal partner with Wallace and Greene in an addition that was made that year. The addition was laid out on the north side of the original plat, and was known as Wallace, Greene and Daley's addition to Richland City. Until the completion of the Prairie du Chien branch of the Chicago Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, in 1856, steamboats plied the Wisconsin river as far up as Portage, and Richland City was the most important landing on the route, but the completion of the railroad put an end to such traffic, and from that time business in the village rapidly declined.
The village of Sextonville is pleasantly located in the northwestern part of the town of Buena Vista, on sections 5, 6, 7 and 8, town 9, range 2 east. Being situated on Willow creek, and in close proximity to Pine river, water power sufficient to propel a vast amount of machinery can be easily obtained. The village is surrounded by some of the best and most valuable farming and stock-raising territory in the county, which is a guarantee of permanent and ever increasing trade. The Richland Center branch of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad passes just west of the village, Twin Bluff station being located on the northeast corner of section 12, town 9, range 1 east. The village was platted in January, 1851, by E. M. Sexton, the surveyor being Oscar Briggs, from Sauk county, and the plat as then drawn laid upon sections 5, 6, 7 and 8.
The first sermon preached in the town of Buena Vista was by Elder Nathaniel Wheeler, in the fall of 1848, at his residence. The first religious meetings in the village of Sextonville were held in the old building known as "The Ark," by Rev. Mr. Chaffee, a Presbyterian minister. He organized a church of that denomination there, the following being among its first members: Charles Devoe and wife, A. H. Bush and wife, Samuel Long and wife, Richard Struble and wife, Emanuel Allace and wife, John Ingraham and wife and a Mr. Fox and wife, Charles Devoe being elected deacon. They met for worship in "The Ark" until the schoolhouse was erected, and then met there for a few years. Some of the leading members moved away, and finally the remainder united with the Congregationalists. About 1859 a Congregational church was organized at Sextonville. It included as members: Arvin Burnham and wife, Wareham Burnham and wife, J. C. Stockton and wife and Mrs. Susan Tapin, Arvin Burnham and wife being elected deacons. This organization flourished but a short time, and in 1867 it was reorganized by Dexter Cleary, agent for the American Home Missionary Society for southern Wisconsin. The following were among its members at that time: Arvin Burnham and wife, Wareham Burnham and wife, Franklin Hapgood and wife, Amelia L. Perry, Harriet K. Bush. William H. Davis, Mary A. Post, A. H. Bush and wife, Charles Devoe and wife and John C. Stockton, Arvin Burnham and J. C. Stockton being elected deacons. They met for worship in the Methodist Episcopal church until 1868, when they erected a church edifice on lot 8, block 24, in the village. Rev. A. S. Bush was the first pastor and he was succeeded after about a year by Rev. Simon Spyker. A Methodist Episcopal class was organized in Sextonville at an early day, and in 1856 a church edifice was erected on block 31, Rev. William R. Irish being one of the first preachers.
J. C. Stockton, one of these early church workers, settled in Richland county in 1854 and engaged in farming on Willow creek. In 1857 he removed to section 26, town of Richland, and continued farming until 1881, when he sold out and moved to Richland Center, where he spent the remainder of his life. He was a native of Ross county, Ohio, born February 24, 1815. His father died when he was six years old, and his mother, with her children, removed to Tippecanoe county, Ind., Mr. Stockton coming thence to Richland county.
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