LOCATION - ORGANIZATION - DRAINAGE - SOIL - FIRST SETTLEMENT - SKETCHES OF EARLY COMERS - FIRST BLACKSMITH SHOP - FIRST ELECTION - VILLAGE OF CAZENOVIA - EDUCATION - IRON ORE DISCOVERED IN 1874.
The soil of the town of Westford is generally fertile and well adapted to the raising of all kinds of grain, grasses and fruits. The valleys of the small streams are rich and productive, and as a whole the soil of the town is of excellent quality. It was originally covered with a fine growth of timber, in which the hardwood varieties predominated.
The first permanent improvement which was made in the town of Westford is credited to Allen Perkins, who came in 1848 and entered a large tract of land in Westford, including the present site of the village of Cazenovia. He came from Walworth county with his family, and settled in 1853, erecting a house on the southeastern part of section 12. He was a man much esteemed by the early settlers for his candor and peace-making peculiarities in the whole range of his social circle. In 1865 he sold all his interest in the village of Cazenovia and moved to Missouri, but he has long since passed to that bourne from whence no traveler returns.
In 1853 Henry Fuller, a native of England, came from the state of New York and entered land in the town, claiming the south half of the northwest quarter of section 12. He settler there in 1856 and remained until about 1880, when he rented his farm and moved to Sauk county.
Among the settlers of 1853 that can be remembered were William Y. Barron, a native of England, and his father-in-law, Thomas Woodford. Mr. Barron entered land on section 14, but sold out as early as 1867 and removed to Cazenovia, where he opened a wagon shop. Two or three years later he went to Lime Ridge, and still later became half of the northwest quarter of section 14, where he erected a house and lived until the time of his death, in 1856.
Among those that came in 1854, that can now be called to mind, were Cyrus Stowe and wife, who settled on the present site of Cazenovia early in the winter of that year, erecting a house on what is now block 8. Mr. Stowe was a blacksmith by trade and upon settling in the town of Westford became engaged in that business, opening the first hop in Cazenovia. He afterward removed to Sun Prairie, Dane county, where he followed his trade for many years. The very earliest of the settlements of the town of Westford were in the vicinity of Cazenovia, but soon settlements commenced in the other portions of the town as well as in the village. Among them were Levi and Asa Lincoln, O. L. Gleason, George Dennis, John Frye, John H. Clary, James French, William Smelier, N.R. Kline, Frederick Dietelhoff, John Donahue, Allen Tinker, Moses Bible and William Murray. The latter a native of Scotland, settled on section 31 in 1858; served in Company H Sixteenth Regiment of Wisconsin infantry. About 1896 he sold his farm and removed to Richland Center, where he now resides. Levi and Asa Lincoln, natives of the town of Westford, Otsego county, N.Y., settled upon block I, of the present site of the village of Cazenovia, and there erected a log building and put in a small stock of merchandise. They continued in trade for about three years, when Asa removed to Dane county. Levi went to Sauk county and engaged in farming, and later he went to Dakota, where he died in 1882.
Otis L. Gleason, one of the first settlers of Cazenovia, was born in Northampton county, Mass., Oct. 26, 1811. When he was but four years old his parents migrated to New York state and settled in the town of Ogden, Ontario county, making the journey thither with teams, in the winter. He made his home with his parents until eleven years old, when he started out traveling in company with an older brother, selling jewelry and notions, visiting several different states. At twenty-two years old he engaged at work on board a boat, and run the river two seasons. He afterward went to Cleveland, Ohio, and there engaged to learn the mason trade. There he worked until 1846, then went to Michigan and bought government land in Ingham county. Eight months later he sold this and went to Kalamazoo, where he worked at teaming on the railroad, and thence to Chicago, where he engaged to go to "Big Bull" pineries, Wisconsin, making his way there with a team. In 1848 he went to Dane county and took government land in the town of Burke, remaining there until 1854, when he came to Richland county. He was a natural mechanic, and after coming here worked as brick mason, plasterer, carpenter and joiner, etc. His last years were spent in retirement in Cazenovia.
George Dennis came early in the spring on 1854 and entered the north half of the northwest quarter of section 12. In the fall he sold to Joseph Dann and moved away. Mr. Dann spent the winter there and then returned to Whitewater, Wis. In the fall of 1854 four families of native Tennesseeans, John Frye, John H. Clary, James French and William Smelier, came from Indiana. They came overland, with teams, bringing their household goods with them. Mr. Frye entered the southeast of the southwest quarter of section 36, Mr. Clary the west half of the southwest quarter of the same section, and Smelier and French located in the town of Willow. Mr. Clary joined the army towards the close of the Civil War and died in the service. N. R. Kline, a native of New York state, came from Ohio late in 1854 and bough the northeast quarter of section 15, remaining there until 1883, when he sold his place and moved to Dakota. Another arrival in 1854 was William Davalt, a native of Trumbull county, Ohio, but who came from Dane county, Wis., and settled on section 32. Frederick Deitelhoff, a German, came here in 1854 and settled on the west half of the northwest quarter of section 14, living there until the time of his death.
John Donahue, another of the pioneers of the town of Westford, was born in County Cavan, Ireland, Dec. 28, 1818, where he was reared to agricultural pursuits, receiving his education in a private school. He came to America in 1845, landing in Boston on May 10 of that year. He there worked in a chemical factory till the fall of 1846, when he went to New Orleans, returning to Boston in the spring. He continued to spend the summers in Boston and winters in New Orleans until the year 1849, when he took a contract at the latter place to construct a levee and ditch. He employed men on that work until 1852, then removed to Perry county, Ohio, and bought a farm, living there until 1855, when he removed to Richland county and settled upon a farm in the town of Westford. He immediately began clearing and built a log house, in which he lived for a number of years. He enlisted on Nov. 11, 1861, in the third Regiment of Wisconsin cavalry, Company F, serving with the regiment until his discharge, Feb. 17, 1865. Among the more important engagements in which he participated are the following - Prairie Grove, Cabin Creek, Little Blue, Kansas City and Lexington, Mo. Mr. Donahue was prominent in public affairs, held offices of trust, serving as assessor and supervisor, and also clerk and treasurer of his school district.
G. W. Montgomery, a native of New York state, came in 1855 and entered the southwest quarter of section 9. He remained there for about three years, when he sold out and removed to Sauk county, and later to Walworth county. During the Civil War he served in the Third Regiment of Wisconsin cavalry.
Allen Tinker, one of the pioneers of the town of Westford, was born in Chenango county, state of New York, April 2, 1815. He made his home in the same county until sixteen years of age, when he moved to Otsego county and there engaged in farming until 1843, then worked with a blacksmith at Cannonsville, Delaware county, continuing thus employed until 1849, when he immigrated to Wisconsin and settled in Jefferson county, erecting a shop at Koshkonong, where he worked at his trade till 1855, when he came to Richland county and settled on section 9, of the town of Westford, with the intention of becoming a farmer. He built a blacksmith shop for his own convenience, but people came from miles around with work and he was kept busy at his trade. In February, 1857, he went to La Crosse and spent a few weeks, and during his absence the town of Westford was organized and he was chosen chairman of the board. In the spring of 1858 he moved to Cazenovia, built a shop, and afterward worked there at his trade. He was prominent in public affairs and filled many offices of trust and honor, among them being justice of the peace. He always took a great interest in school and church affairs, and was among the first members of the Methodist Episcopal church at that point, for many years being class leader.
S. S. Moon, a native of Indiana, came in 1855 and entered land. He lived thereon about two years, then sold out and removed to the village of Cazenovia, where for a time he worked in Perkins' mill. He then went to Sauk county, purchased a mill, and afterward died there.
Edward West, an early settler of Westford, was born in Schenectady county, N.Y. on Jan. 17, 1824, and there his childhood and youth were spent in going to school and working upon a farm. In 1848 he came to Wisconsin and located at Janesville, where he was engaged in farming and blacksmithing until 1850, when he started for California overland, and arrived at his destination at the end of six months. He worked in the mines there until 1853. In that year he returned to New York state by way of the isthmus of Panama, remaining five months, then went again to California and resumed working in the mines, which he continued until 1855. He then returned to New York, and after stopping there a short time came to Richland county and settled on section1, in the town of Westford. In 1863 he bought a house and lot in Cazenovia and moved his family there. Company I, Third Wisconsin infantry, went south, joined Sherman at Chattanooga, was with him on his march to the sea and to Washington, participating with the regiment in the many important battles of the campaign. He was discharged at Madison, at the close of the war, and returned to Cazenovia, after which he worked as a brick mason and plasterer, and also as carpenter and joiner.
Jesse Carpenter, a native of Ohio, made his appearance in the town of Westford in 1855 and entered the northwest quarter of section 21, also the northwest quarter of the northwest quarter of section 28. He erected a house on section 21 and remained two years, when he sold out and returned to Ohio. In the fall of 1855, Moses Bible, Zachi Clary, and Jonathan Smelier, natives of Tennessee, came. Like the former party they all came from Indiana, overland, with horse teams, bringing their families and household good with them, and also drove some stock. They were about three weeks on the road.
Moses Bible was born in Green county, Tenn., Apr. 7, 1808, and was reared on a farm. At twenty years of age he engaged with a blacksmith to learn the trade, with whom he remained five months, then followed that business one year with another party, when he resumed farming. In 1834 he erected a grist-mill, doing the work out and removed to Indiana, taking his family, and traveling with a four horse team. They located in Clinton county, rented land and there remained until 1855, when he again started to seek a new home in the northwest, came to Westford and settled on the southwest quarter of section 35. He was a member of the first board of supervisors for the town of Westford.
Zachi Clary entered the east half of the southwest quarter of section 23, and made his home there until he died. Smelier settled in Sauk county.
Ludger Phoenix, another of the early settlers of Westford, was a native of Canada, born at Richelieu, province of Quebec, Sept. 29, 1831. When he was seventeen years of age he came to the states and engaged in farming near Troy, N.Y., for one year. Then for one season he was employed in running a ferry-boat across the Hudson, between east and west Troy. He then worked at lumbering till1855, excepting one season that he was engaged in rafting lumber from Oneida lake to Albany. In the spring of 1855 he came to Wisconsin and engaged in farming near Madison, remaining there until September of that year, when he came to Richland county and purchased the southwest quarter of section 11, in the town of Westford. He built a small log house and then returned to Madison, where he was married, and the came back to his new home with his bride, who shared with him the hardships of pioneer life, ever ready to assist him in every way that she could. Mr. Phoenix afterward engaged in the insurance business at Cazenovia, where he still resided.
Elijah Williams cam eat about the same time, in 1855, and entered the west half of the northwest quarter of section 23, dying there in 1867. Cornelius Sweeney, a native of Ireland, came in the spring of 1855 and entered the north half of the southeast quarter of section 22, and the northwest quarter of the southwest quarter of section 23, erecting his dwelling on the latter section. Peter Jax, a German, came from Fond du Lac in 1855 and bought state land on section 15 - the southwest quarter, where he improved a farm. William Duren, a native of Prussia, came from that country in 1856 and entered land on section 2, living there until 1866, when he bough land on section 14. Theodore Moll, a native of Germany, came during 1856 and set his home stakes on section 2, where he improved a farm and made it his home until his death in 1877. William M. Beeson, accompanied by his brother and William Mann, came from Indiana at an early day, the former settling on section 1. The Mann family settled in Sauk county, and Lewis Mann locate don section 2, where he lived until 1880, and the removed to Nebraska.
The first election in the town of Westford occurred at Lincoln's store in the village of Cazenovia, in April, 1857, and the names of the officials have been preserved for posterity, and are as follows: William Burman, clerk; Allen Tinker, chairman of the town board of supervisors; Moses Bible and John Russell, associate supervisors; Zachi Clary, treasurer; Allen Perkins and Frank Jones, justices of the peace.
The village of Cazenovia, which had a precarious existence for the first years of its life, gradually assumed the proportions of a thrifty village. Successful business enterprises were located there at an early day, and a number of years ago it was incorporated. It is supported by a rich agricultural district, remote from formidable competitors, and its business men are a class of progressive and enterprising people, who command ample capital and first-class facilities for the transaction of the large volume of business. Though it has not made rapid strides in growth, its population is mainly of that solid, permanent character which indicates financial strength and stability. The village has well-built residences and business blocks and good educational advantages and church facilities.
The town of Westford is well supplied with district schools now, in striking contrast with the log houses and antiquated system of instruction of former days. Among the early teachers in the town were George Flautt, James Brown and William A. Perkins - all "sturdy knights of the birch," and Theressa Carr.
In 1874 Joseph Culver, from Madison, came to Westford, secured the services of Joseph Moll and leased land from him and also from Joseph Dresen and John Cobbledick, on sections 2 and 3. Mr. Moll was employed to prospect for ore, commencing first on the northwest quarter of section 2. They soon found ore sixteen feet below the surface of the earth. In the fall of 1875 a shaft was sunk on section 2, about forty-eight feet deep, and afterward several other shafts were sunk near by. In 1876 a company was formed, which continued operating the mines, and piled up the ore upon the ground. The vein became larger as they progressed, and finally they sold their interests to the Iron Bridge company, of which Leonard Bean was president. This company built a furnace at Cazenovia, and during the summer of 1877 erected a foundry. Numerous shafts were sunk on sections 2, 3 and 4, and large quantities of good ore were taken there-from. The last named company carried on the business until 1879, when they stopped work, and about one year later sold the buildings to C.E. Bohn, of Ironton, who converted them into a stave factory.
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