Chapter 16. - Town of Eagle.


    Eagle was organized as a separate town in 1853, in conformity with the prayer of certain petitioners. When originally organized the eastern tier of sections was not included in the town limits, but they were afterward annexed, thus giving Eagle the territory over which it exercises jurisdiction today. The town comprises thirty-eight sections, but six of these are fractional, and the territory actually contained would probably measure a little less than thirty-six full sections. The surface of the town is well watered by Eagle Creek and its numerous tributaries, and bordering on it is a rich and valuable territory, the natural drainage enhancing the value of the lands traversed, and rendering them available for grazing purposes as well as farming.

    This is about the finest agricultural town in Richland county. While the south half of it is upon the rich plateau of the Wisconsin river, the northern part of it is broken and hilly; the higher lands interspersed with rich lowlands and valleys; the home of luxuriant grasses and golden grain. It has a rich soil, susceptible of high cultivation, and some fine farms and excellent improvements attest the truth of this statement. While some valuable timber is still preserved, by far the greater part of it was destroyed in fitting the land for cultivation. That which survived the pioneer log heaps, has submitted to oft-repeated culling for market purposes, or the personal needs of the owners, until at this time the territory where it grew thickest, more resembles the treeless prairies of the west than the original home of a dense forest.

    Bird's creek and Basswood are the most important trading points in the town of Eagle. No railway invades her confines, yet in times past there have been other good trading points, notably Eagle Corners and Rodolf's Mills, where considerable business was transacted. The territory now embraced in the town was first occupied in 1840. Some time during that year Matthew Alexander, a native of Kentucky, who had been a sailor on the great lakes, came from that region to this county. He entered lots 1 and 2, on section 33, and lot 4 on section 34, where he made some improvements, and remained until 1852, when he sold out and moved to Brownsville, Minn. The greater portion of the time he spent here he was engaged in lumbering and rafting. It is believed that the first claim in the town of Eagle was made in 1839, by Robert Boyd and Monroe Fleming. During that year they came from Iowa county and claimed the southwest quarter of section 26, covering the excellent mill privilege on what is now called Mill creek. They made no improvements except to cut four poles and lay them "claim fashion". They did not attend to their claim close enough and it was jumped in 1841 by Thomas J. Parrish. The second settler on the soil of the town was Hardin Moore, a native of Kentucky, who came here from Grant county and made a claim of the southeast quarter of section 34. He was a single man, and did not enter his land, but erected a log cabin and made a little clearing. A few years later he sold his claim and boarded with Matthew Alexander for a time. He was a natural mechanic, and would often shoe horses for the settlers. He receives attention in the general chapters of this volume.

    Early in 1848, other families began to appear in the township, and among them were Thomas Palmer and George Goff, and a few others whose time of settlement is uncertain. In 1849 a larger accession of colonists was added than in the previous year, to wit: Stephen Tinnell, William Pickering, William Cooper, Cyrus McGill, William Miller, George D. Sharp, Preston Say, John Miller, James Miller and Andrew Miller.

    Thomas Palmer and his sons, Loreman and William, came here in 1848. The father entered the east half of the northeast quarter of section 32, where he lived until his death. Loreman entered the east half of the northwest quarter of section 32, and lived there until he died. In November, 1854, he was elected surveyor and served one term. Mr. Palmer was reared in Fauquier county, Virginia, and in 1845 came west and located in Lafayette county, Wisconsin, remaining there until 1848, when he came to Richland county and settled on a farm in the town of Eagle, as before stated. There he remained until the time of his death in 1880. He was not a practical surveyor when he came to the county, but was taught the business by his brother-in-law, James Appleby. William Palmer entered the east half of the northeast quarter of section 32. He lived there for some years, then sold out and removed to Missouri, but returned after a short time and died here.

    George Goff, a native of Virginia, came from Missouri in 1848, and settled in the town of Orion. In 1853 he settled on the southeast quarter of section 26, where he died January 4, 1858. Thomas Goff, a son, came with his parents and lived for a time in the town of Orion. He entered the southwest quarter of section 15, in the town of Eagle, and made that his home until the time of his death. Thomas Goff was born in Randolph county, Virginia, May 16, 1828. He was but two years old when his parents emigrated to Arkansas. Where they lived three years, then moved to Missouri and settled in Washington county and remained until 1848, when they came to Wisconsin and located in Richland county, which was at that time a new country, and was attracting the attention of immigrants. Thomas lived with his parents until 1855, when he settled upon land that he had bought on section 15, town of Eagle. It was heavily timbered, but he cleared a good farm, watered by Mill creek and well adapted to raising both grain and stock. His death occurred on April 5, 1881.

    Stephen Tinnell, a native of Kentucky, came her from Highland, in 1849, and claimed the northwest quarter of section 33. He remained here about three years and then removed to Missouri.

    William Pickering, one of the pioneers of Richland county, was born in Cheshire, England, February 18, 1818. He immigrated to America in the fall of 1847, coming to Jefferson county, Wisconsin, in the spring of 1848, and hiring out as a farm laborer until the fall of 1849. Having purchased two land warrants for one hundred and sixty acres each, he started out to find government land; came to Richland county and located timbered land on sections 8 and 9 in the town of Eagle. The same fall (1849) he returned to England to visit friends, coming back to Milwaukee, in the spring of 1850. He then purchased a team and wagon and engaged in carrying immigrants and merchandise from Milwaukee to different parts of the state. He engaged in farming one year in Racine county, and in the winter of 1852-3, he again came to Richland county and erected a log cabin on his land, and moved his family from Racine county into the same in the spring of 1853. He immediately commenced clearing the land and raised a crop of corn and garden vegetables the same year.

    William Cooper, another of these pioneers, was born in Butler county, Pennsylvania, March 21, 1801, and his youth was spent there. He purchased a tract of land and cleared a farm, living on the same for six years, when he sold out and engaged in selling goods on the road for two years. He then worked on the Chenango canal three years, after which he went to Ohio and was employed on the Maumee canal one year, then went to Indiana and engaged in farming one year in Clinton county. In 1849 he made his first visit to Richland county and purchased the east half of the northwest quarter of section 11, town of Eagle. After a short time he returned to Indiana and remained until 1850. Then with a team, accompanied by his family, and taking their household goods along with them, they started for their new home. At that time there was no settlement in the neighborhood of his land, and he purchased another tract on section 26, cleared a portion of the same and remained there until 1869, then sold out and removed to Muscoda, and made a contract with the government to carry the mail between Muscoda, Readstown and Viroqua, and was thus employed four years.

    Cyrus McGill, a native of Virginia, came here in 1849, and located on section 25. He lived there until the late sixties, when he returned to Kansas.

    The first move toward a settlement in what is known as Hoosier Hollow was made in 1849, when William Miller, George D. Sharp and Preston Say came from Indiana and located there. William Miller, the first settler of Hoosier Hollow, was a veteran of the war of 1812, and was born in Anderson county, Kentucky, in January, 1795. In 1829, with two or three other families, he and his wife started for Indiana, taking their household goods on flat boats, floating down the Kentucky rive to the Ohio, and down the Ohio to the mouth of the Wabash river. At that pint their boats were attached to a steamer and towed upstream as far as Lafayette. From there they continued their journey overland to Clinton county, where they located and were pioneers. They purchased government land, improved a farm and resided there until 1849, when, his wife dying, Mr. Miller came to Richland county and entered large tracts of land in the town of Eagle. He built a house on the southeast quarter of section 23, and returned to Indiana. In September of that year he came back to Wisconsin with his family, and resided there until his death, which occurred in 1879.

    George D. Sharp entered one hundred and sixty acres on sections 23 and 24. John Miller, son of William, came with his family in September, 1849, and settled on section 13, afterwards removing to section 23. Sharp located on the southeast quarter of section 14, and in October, of the same year, James and Andrew Miller, brothers of William, came to Richland county and located in the town of Orion. James was a bachelor. He bought land on section 29, but did not improve it, and sold out a few years later. Until the death of his sister he remained in Orion, after which he made his home with William until he died. Andrew owned land on sections 29 and 30, but died in Orion.

    William Robinson, another well Known early settler of the town of Eagle, was a native of Kentucky, born in Franklin, six miles from the state capital, October 23, 1808, and there his early days were spent. In 1829 he, in company with his parents, immigrated to Indiana and was among the early settlers of Tippecanoe county. He returned to Kentucky in the fall of 1832, but soon came to Indiana again and began clearing a farm. In 1849 he came to Richland county with the Miller brothers, to assist them moving here. He was at that time favorably impressed with the country, and although it was a wild, unsettled region, inhabited by Indians and wild beasts, he thought it must become settled at no distant day, and he entered one hundred and sixty acres on section 24, the northeast quarter. In 1852 he sold his farm in Indiana and started with his family for their new home. They took two wagon loads and goods and two pairs off horses. They reached their destination traveling fourteen days, and moved into a vacant log house nearby until Mr. Robinson could cut logs and build one on his own land. As soon as it was completed, he commenced the clearing of a farm, and the next year he purchased land adjoining this on the northwest quarter of section 24, and there, in 1855, erected the first frame dwelling in the town.

    Mrs. Sarah Perrin, a native of Kentucky, came here at the same time and bought land on section 25.

    The year 1850 was eventful to the early settlers by a larger immigration than usual to the town; and this soon brought a change, for instead of poverty and hard times, comfort and plenty came_ another illustration of the fact that "in union there is strength," and the further fact that the soil in any community is indebted for its commercial value to the extent of the population of the district in which it lies. The new arrivals in 1850 were George Slater, Abraham Beard, Joseph Hays, John Thompson, Charles G. Rodolf, and others. All of the gentlemen named brought families with them, and as some were large in numbers the population increased considerably.

    George Slater was born in the state of Maryland, and when he was quite young his parents immigrated to Indiana and settled in Clinton county. There he commenced pioneer life and spent his early days. In 1850 he visited Richland county and entered land on sections 22 and 23, then returned to Indiana. During the fall of the same season, in company with Abraham Beard and Joseph Hays, he started for his new home, accompanied by his family. They came overland with teams, which was the usual mode of travel at that time, bringing household good and provisions with them, and camping out wherever night took them. Upon arrival, Mr. Slater at once erected a log cabin and commenced clearing. In 1861 he sold this farm and bought another on section 34, where he made his home until the time of his death. Hays settled on section 13. A few years later his wife died, and for some time he lived with his son-in-law, after which he returned to Indiana and died at the home of his son.

    John Thompson, a native of Ohio, came from Indiana in 1850 and settled on section 22, where he died in 1854. Charles G. Rodolf, a native of Switzerland, came from Iowa county in 1850 and first located in Orion, where he engaged in the mercantile trade. In 1852 he came to the town of Eagle and bought a half interest in the mill property on section 26. He later purchased his partners interest, and in 1857-8 erected a substantial building, which was destroyed by fire in January 1869. He immediately rebuilt the mill, and again the property was destroyed by fire in 1874. Mr. Rodolf removed to Muscoda, and after a time migrated to Wichita, Kansas, engaged in the real estate business and died there several years ago. The electric light plant at Muscoda, which is owned by Frank G. Rodolf, a son of Charles G., is run by the power at Rodolf's mills, the former having succeeded his father in the ownership of the mill property.

    From 1850-1856 came still greater acquisitions to the prospering colonists, and requiring more room, they stepped further into the wilderness parts. Among the families who came to the town about this time were Josiah Newburn, Jeremiah B. Newburn, Josiah and Richard Willey, Abraham Dillon, Newton Wells, Martin Smith, Holliday Peters, James H. Robinson, Hubert Matthews, James Willey, Thomas Hardy, James Lucas, Samuel B. Goff and William Briggs. These make up the principal part of the early pioneers of Eagle, who braved the dangers and hardships incident to the settlement of a wilderness, and carved out of it for themselves and their growing families a home, a comfortable home, which they left as legacies to those who followed them on earth's stage of action.

    Josiah Newburn, a native of Pennsylvania, came in 1851 and settled on section 22, where he lived for several years and then removed to Nebraska. He died in Missouri in 1882.

    Jeremiah B. Newburn first visited the county in 1852 and bought a claim of C.G. Rodolf, located on section 33, town of Eagle. He remained a short time and then returned to his home in Edgar county, Illinois. The following June he started, taking his family and a pair of horses and a wagon, which held their household goods, and camped at night at the roadside. They were twenty days in making the journey, and on reaching their destination they remained at his brother's until he could build a cabin. Mr. Newburn was a native of Pennsylvania, born December 2, 1814. When but two years of age he had the misfortune of being bitten by a snake, and in consequence was a cripple for fourteen years, and not being able to work he improved the time by studying, and thus obtained an education. When he was seventeen years old, his parents removed to Ohio and settled in Muskingum county. Which at that time was attracting the attention of settlers, and there he began his pioneer life. In 1840, he removed to Pike county, Ohio, where he purchased timberland and partially cleared a farm, remaining there until 1845, when he sold out again and started westward, settling in Edgar county, Illinois, where he again purchased timberland and partially cleared a farm. He lived there until 1852, the year in which he came to Richland county. Mt Newburn was appointed postmaster at Eagle Corners, February 28, 1870, and remained in office until 1882, when he resigned.

    Josiah and Richard Willey, natives of England, came here in 1852 and settled on sections 17 and 20. They remained but a short time and then returned to Grant county. Abraham Dillon, a native of Missouri, came from Grant county in 1852, and entered land on sections 7 and 8. Newton Wells, a native of Virginia, came from Orion in 1854 and located on section 10, where he lived until his death in 1893. He had been a soldier in the Mexican War, serving in Company J, First Indiana Regiment. He was a prosperous farmer and was considered a good citizen, serving as justice of the peace for several years. Martin Smith came from Indiana n the same year and entered land. When the Civil War broke out he enlisted and died in the service. Holliday Peters, a native of Indiana, came in 1854 and entered land on section 4, cleared a small tract, then sold out and returned to Indiana. A few years later he came back and settled on sections 27 and 28, but afterward removed to Knox county, Nebraska. James H. Robinson, a native of Indiana, came in 1854 and settled on section 4. He was a single man at the time, but married soon afterward and lived there a number of years, then sold out and removed to Nebraska, where he became a prominent citizen.

    James D. Weldy came to Richland county in 1858 and located in the town of Eagle, purchasing the east half of the northwest quarter of section 33. He cleared quite a tract of land and then sold and bought the south half of the southeast quarter of section 16. He was not entirely satisfied with that farm and again sold and purchased the northeast of the northwest quarter of section 32, and twenty acres on section 29, where he made his home until the time of his death, which occurred in May, 1882. He was a native of Virginia, born in Fluvanna county, March 4, 1813.

    George Kite came with his father in about 1853 and purchased eighty acres of land on sections 29 and 30. His father purchased land near Eagle Corners. Thomas McClary came at bout the same time and became a wee-to-do and prominent farmer, living to an advanced age and dying about 1895. John Weldy came to the county about 1850 and first located on Indian creek in the town of Orion, where he resided until about 1860, when he removed to a farm on section 35 of the town of Eagle. He was the fist mail carrier from Orion to Black River Falls, and made weekly trips on horseback for about ten years. He died in 1904 at his residence in the town of Eagle.

    Hubert Matthews was born in France, January 7, 1820. When quite young he learned the weavers trade and worked at the same until 1841, then left his native land and came to America. He went directly to Ohio, engaged in farming during the summer season, and in the winter was employed in weaving, his wife assisting him. In a few years, by continuous hard labor, they saved enough money to purchase a farm of fifty acres in Tuscarawas county, Ohio, where they lived until 1854, then sold out and started west to seek a home. Coming to Richland county, they rented a farm in Hoosier Hollow until 1859, then purchased eighty acres on section 22, town of Eagle, where Mr. Matthews commenced clearing a farm. He enlisted February 25, 1864, in the Thirty-sixth Wisconsin, Company B, and went south, was taken prisoner at the battle of the Wilderness, June 1, 1864, and was confined in Andersonville prison until December, when, in a dying condition, he was discharged. A few days later he died, weakened and reduced to a mere shadow by hunger and exposure.

    James Wiley, a native of England, came from Iowa county in 1854 and settled on sections 17 and 20. Thomas Hardy, a native of Virginia, came from Indiana in 1855 and settled on section 16, where he spent the remainder of his life.

    James Lucas came in 1855 and purchased three hundred and twenty acres of timber land on sections 4 and 9. He was a native of Ohio, born in Ross county, November 3, 1827, and when but three years of age, his father having died, he went to live with an older sister in Tippecanoe county, Indiana, and there grew to manhood. In 1850 he went to California where he engaged in mining a short time and then returned to Indiana, renting a farm in Tippecanoe county until 1855, and then came to Richland county as before stated. He was a lively, good hearted man, hospitable, and much liked, and was well known in the county. He was an extensive dealer in live stock. During the Civil War he served in Company H, Forty-fourth Regiment of Wisconsin infantry. He died several years ago.

    Samuel B. Goff, a native of Pennsylvania, came from Indiana in 1855 and entered land on section 6, which was his home until the time of his death. In 1856 William Briggs, a native of Massachusetts, came from Illinois and bought the southwest quarter of section 3.

    The town of Eagle was prolific in early industries, there being a number of saw-mills, grist-mills, and asheries, constructed and operated at different times from the first settlement, according to the needs of the various communities which they served. These, for the most part, were of brief existence, and, in fact, most of them were quickly and cheaply built with no ides of permanence, beyond the demands of the day. Among others was a saw-mill, built about 1841 or 1842, in the southwestern part of the town, by Thomas J. Parrish, in company with a Mr. Estes, and the former conducted it for some time, furnishing lumber to the early settlers for miles around. It was afterwards owned and operated by Charles G. Rodolf successfully for a number of years. Simon Sharp and Henry Miller built a saw-mill in 1852 and equipped it with an "up and down saw." They afterward sold it to Oliver Miller.

    In 1854 John Crandall, a Baptist preacher, held services at John Thompson's house on section 23. He was a pioneer in the northern part of the county, and was instrumental in the establishment of a number of religious organizations in this region, but he did not organize a society here. Mr. Crandall afterwards removed to Nuckolls county, Nebraska, and became a prominent citizen there. The first Methodist class was organized at the house of Josephus Cooper, on section 28, by Rev. Mr. Hyatt (or Rev. Mr. Schoonover, as some claim). The following were among the members: Josephus Cooper and wife, Henry Miller and wife, Mrs. C. Thompson and William Cooper - Josephus Cooper being the first class leader. The class was in existence but a few years. Ministers of different denominations preached at the schoolhouse in district 6, Rev. Joseph Mathers, the pioneer Presbyterian, who resided in Richland Center for a number of years and was the first county superintendent of schools, being among the first to preach there. In 1857 a Methodist Episcopal class was organized there by Rev. John Walker, the following being the members of the class: Gideon Miller and wife, James Lewis and wife, and Mrs. M. Young - Gideon Miller being the class leader. The class flourished for some time, holding meetings in the schoolhouse, but in the early sixties it suspended, as some of the members moved away. Rev. Messrs. Knapp, Blackhurst and Burlingame were among the pastors who served the class. Pleasant Valley Christian Church was organized at the Basswood schoolhouse in the winter of 1866-7, Rev. Jacob Mark being the preacher. Among the first members were Horatio Cornwall and wife, W.H. Cooper, Mrs. Keplogle and two daughters, William Briggs and wife, and son Marvin. During the summer of 1866 a successful protracted meeting was held at which fourteen were baptized. The society met at the schoolhouse for some years, and in 1874 they erected a neat frame church at Eagle Corners, at a cost of $650. The Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church was organized in 1851 by Rev. William Smith, from Sextonville, at the log schoolhouse on section 23, and among the early members were George D. Sharp and wife, Mrs. Mary Sharp, William Robinson and wife, William Miller and two sons, George and John Miller and wives, Mrs. Sarah Perrine, Mrs. Abraham Beard, and Henry Dawson and wife. The following were elected elders - George D. Sharp, William Robinson and Cyrus Sharp. Rev. Mr. Smith preached for the society for one year, and among his immediate successors who filled the pulpit were Rev. Messrs. Overton, Laughlin, Conley, Smith, Pinkerton, Francis, Sherwin, and Sparrow. The society met for worship in the schoolhouse until 1854, when they erected a frame church on the southwest quarter of the northwest quarter of section 24. A Sabbath school was organized in connection with it at an early day, with George D. Sharp as first superintendent, and he was followed by D. A. Hurlbert, who held the position until the time of his death. The United Brethren Church Humility Chapel was organized by Rev. George Kite in the late sixties, the following being among the first members: Alexander Shannon and wife, Clarissa Shannon, Sarah Evans, Sarah Endicott, and Susan Dillon. Alexander Shannon was the first class leader, and the following were among the pastors who filled the pulpit during the early years of the society's history: Rev. Messrs. Mebbit, Potts, Young, Whitney, Pound, Day, Taylor, Bovee and Giffin. In 1882 the society commenced the erection of a church edifice which was dedicated September 9, 1883, by Bishop Weaver, of Toledo, Ohio.

If you have resources for Richland County or would like to volunteer to help with look-ups, please e-mail Tim Stowell
You are visitor since 2 Aug 2011 -- thanks for stopping by!

There were 1083 visitors at our previous host from 14 Mar 2006 to 2 Aug 2011 and 662 visitors to a previous site from 15 Dec 2002 to 14 Mar 2006.

Last updated: 2 Aug 2011
Top of Page
1906 Richland County History
Richland Co., WI Page