TOPOGRAPHY OF RICHLAND COUNTY - GEOLOGICAL FORMATIONS - THE NATURAL BRIDGE - CAVES IN TOWN OF SYLVAN - MINERALS - AGRICULTURE - EARLY SAW AND GRIST MILLS - FIRST STEAM MILL - EARLY TRADES - PEOPLE AND MECHANICS.
The features of the topography are remarkable and interesting, in common with nearly all of the state of Wisconsin, the general character of the land being steep, bluffy hills and fertile valleys, with streams coursing down each dale. The county can be said to be a well watered district, abounding in fine springs and pure streams, some among the latter attaining to the dignity of rivers, while others rejoice in the nomenclature of creeks. Pine river, which is probably the most important, rises just over the line in Vernon county, traverses the entire length of Richland county in a general southerly direction, sometimes inclining to the eastward, watering the towns of Henrietta, Rockbridge, Richland and Buena Vista. The principal affluents are Indian, Melancthon, Soules, Hawkins, Fancy, Willow, and Ash creeks, and the West branch. The Kickapoo river traverses sections 6, 7, 18 and 19 of the town of Forest, its principal affluent, Camp creek, running from the east, westward across the whole town, and fertilizing with its waters the surrounding county. The little Baraboo river rises in the town of Westford, flowing in an easterly direction, passes into Sauk County, crossing the county line in section 12. The west branch of the Baraboo river just enters the county, in section 1 of the town of Westford. Besides these rivers, several creeks of some considerable dimensions are found within the limits of the county, of which the most notable are: Knapp's Creek, in the western part of Akan and Richwood; Eagle or Mill creek, which rises in the southern part of the town of Forest and flows southerly through the towns of Sylvan, Eagle and Dayton; Willow creek and tributaries, which water the eastern part of the county, and Bear creek, whose waters lave the bosom of the towns of Ithaca and Buena Vista, and finally enter into the Wisconsin. The general slope of the surface of the county is to the south.
It is a well established fact, the result of scientific research, that the whole country about this region has at some time, ages ago, been covered with water of unknown depth, and that these waters were constantly changing as if in motion, or by under currents, tides and waves. In the course of ages these waters receded, having found some outlet into the vast bodies of water that now so largely cover the earth's surface. Again, the labors of those who, during the last two hundred years, have devoted themselves to the study of the structure of the globe, have resulted in the creation of the science of geology, and the claim which this department of human knowledge has to science, depends upon the symmetry which has been found to prevail in the arrangement of the materials forming the earth's crust. By the slow process of adding fact to fact and by comparing the observations of the devotees of the science in different lands, it has been found that the rocky strata of the earth hold definite relations to each other in position, and hence in age: that many of them are distinguished by constant or general features, and contain characteristic or peculiar remains of plants or animals by which they may be recognized wherever found. This sequence of deposit forms what has been aptly termed the geological column.
The geology of the soil in this part of Wisconsin is dependent on the underlying rocks, and is not referable at all to what is known as the drift. Long after Richland county was raised above the sea, as a sort of plain, topped by the ocean-rippled shales of the Waverly series: long after the depressions and upraising that accompanied the deposits of the carboniferous or coal-bearing rocks to the eastward and southward; and long after the streams of that ancient time had cut away the rocks to form the valleys nearly as they are today, throughout a period of erosion when the Alleghany mountains were reduced from a height of five miles to something near their present modest altitudes-after all this, the ice age came and covered the greater part of Wisconsin with a glacier sheet which completely enveloped what is now the state, with the exception of Richland county, and the territory south and west of it. This county, therefore, has no glacial history as has most of the other portions of the state. In them, not a summit is there that stood above the glaciers, and the clay and boulders that mark the drift overlie all the ordinary high land, but in Richland county the natural erosions of the native rocks furnish varied and fruitful soils, and hence the lands of the county take their place among the best in the state of Wisconsin. The bold inequalities that mark the surface of Wisconsin are due, in a large measure, to three different agents, acting at different times and under different conditions. These are:
1st. During that long cycle of time that existed between the emergence of the land form its bed in the vasty deep, and what is known as the drift period, the numerous streams and rivers were ploughing their beds deeper and deeper into the primeval rocks, and rendering the former level surface more and more irregular. The softer rocks being more readily eroded than the harder ones increased their unevenness, there being a constant tendency of the streams to follow the softer strata wherever the slope of the land favored, and as these run in a northerly and southerly direction generally throughout the county, the main streams have that general course. The little streams gathered into the larger ones are not unlike the branches of the forest tree as they gather into the parent stem. The erosion of this nature produced in the unevenness of the surface a symmetry and a certain system easily recognizable. As this action upon the rocks occupied the period preceding the glaciers, we, for convenience, call it the pre-glacial.
2nd. The modifications of the surface constituting the first class of topographical features were produced by running water: those of the second class, which follows next in order of time, were formed by ice, in the form of glaciers, and by the various agencies, brought into action by their melting. The work of the ice was two-fold; first, in the partial leveling of the surface by planing off the hills and strewing the finely pulverized rock upon the surface of the valleys: second, in the creation of a new, uneven surface by the promiscuous heaping up the clay, sand, boulders and gravel, thus giving the land a new aspect. Among the features produced by this movement of gigantic mountains of ice, are parallel ridges, sometimes many miles in length, having the same general direction as the ice movement; hills of a rounded, flowing contour, like many found along the shores of the Wisconsin river; half embosomed rocky ledges cropping out of the hillside, like giant battlements on titanic castles: all of which combine to form a peculiar and distinctive contour of surface easily recognizable. All of these apparent freaks of nature being due to the action of the ice are therefore denominated glacial features.
3d. Subsequent to the subsidence of the glacial periods the streams resumed their wearing action, but under different conditions, and carved out a new surface contour, the features of which may be termed post-glacial or drift.
There are no evidences of any violent disruptions of the earth's crust in Richland county, but the region has owed all of its peculiarity of aspect entirely to the agency mentioned as erosion.
When the white man first settled within the boundaries of Richland county the fact of the earth was covered with a dense primeval forest and much of the county is, to this day, heavily timbered. Great masses of trees cover the hillsides and the ridges, and fully supply all the needs of the community for fuel, rails and building lumber. The principal varieties are: white oak, black oak, red oak, burr oak, elm, white maple, sugar maple, white ash, basswood, pine, white and black walnut, and cherry. This timber supports the business of lumbering, one of the principal industries of this section of country.
The broken face of the country, while its clamatorial effects are very pleasant, modifying the rigidity of a prairie winter, does not present the advantages of Illinois or Iowa, for large capitalists who desire to open up immense grain or stock farms. The principal attention of the rural population is engaged in dairy interests, and the raising of stock, notably that of sheep, is by no means a small industry.
The geology of this section of the state is marked throughout the county by the outcrop of Lower Magnesia limestone, near or at the top of the bluffs or hills. The action of the elements, sunlight, water and air, together with freezing and thawing causes this rock to disintegrate and converts it into a clay loam, which is an everlasting fertilizer. This strata varies in thickness from a few feet to forty, and invariably overlies a substratum of Potsdam sandstone, which varies from a light cream or buff color, through al the gradation of shades to a reddish brown. This rock is largely quarried, and is extensively used for building purposes. The Potsdam limestone is well known for its caves and the fantastic shape it often puts on where exposed to the elements. One of these curious freaks of nature is quite noted throughout this county. We refer to the natural bridge, in the town of Rockbridge, of which the following description has been written by one of the early pioneers of the county:
"Richland county boasts a natural bridge, which, though of less pretensions than the Natural bridge of Virginia, is still a curiosity worthy of examination. It is located in the town of Rockbridge, the name being suggested by it. The visitor, in traveling north through the town of Rockbridge, is struck with the utter abandonment of style or purpose in the distribution of the rocks and ledges, until he arrives at this bridge, consisting of a mass of rocks about a half mile in length, from thirty to ninety feet in height, and varying in width (we should judge) from three to five rods at the top, but shelving so that it is much less at the bottom. Here a purpose might be assigned, and that, the damming up, or changing from its channel the meandering west branch of the Pine river, though it heeds not the obstacle, but pursues its serpentine windings to the ledge and along its side, and seeks, successfully, for escape through an aperture beneath the massive structure, which its actions and old Father Time have evidently enlarged beyond its primitive size. The arch is irregular, about ten feet high, exclusive of a narrow seam which extends far up toward the top, and some eighteen or twenty fee wide at the bottom: and has formerly been utilized by building a flume to run a grist mill."
While upon this subject, it were perhaps as well to give a description of some caves in the town of Sylvan, located on section 34. One of these caves has long been known as the Bear Den, their lair, which had been supposed to be the extent of the cavern, having been often seen. The entrance to the cave, about two hundred feet above the level of the creek (west branch of Mill creek), and from a sink hole of about ten feet in depth, is through an opening in the solid rock; the passage of twenty feet is high and wide enough for a man, followed by a wider one for forty feet further, after which, by change of direction, the Bear Den is reached. After this a passage of ten rods brings the explorer to a small hole, just a close fit for a man's body, through which he can climb, then making his way through a difficult passage of twenty rods, which will bring him to a round room, about thirty feet in diameter, from the center of which a small steam of water is constantly dripping. Two passages lead off from this room; the one from the left is through rock, ten rods, where a pool of pure, clear water, about two feet deep, is found; passing this, the end of that cavern is reached in about four rods: the passage leading from the right of the central room also discovers a pool of good water, larger than the other. After passing the water, at the distance of ten rods, a small opening is found, but what remains beyond has not been explored. On the other side of the creek, from the caves above described, on the bluff, another, equally curious, has been visited.
Richland county is said to be within the mineral range. In the southern part some lead ore has been found, but always in small quantities, never in sufficiently large bodies to induce extensive mining operations. Iron ore is, however, present in many places, and considerably good sized leads of it have been found at several points, the most important being at or near the town of Cazenovia. There has never been sufficient development, except at the latter place, to ascertain whether it exists in very extensive veins or not. Occasionally specimens of copper ore have been also found, principally in the form of float or surface pieces.
The soil, throughout nearly the whole of the county, is found to be, in the valleys, a deep black, rich, alluvial loam; in some places, however, more particularly about the river bottoms, it is quite sandy. The soil upon the upland ridges seems quite often to be a species of clay, and it is claimed to be the very best land for the luxuriant growth of winter wheat. The land upon some of the hillsides is too steep for cultivation, and the narrow ridges are deemed unsuitable for that purpose, but they are very valuable for grazing purposes and for the timber. The soil and climate are well adapted to the cultivation of wheat, oats, rye, barley, corn, potatoes, tobacco, hops, all kinds of vegetables, clover, timothy and other grasses, and plenty of all these are raised for home consumption, besides having a large surplus for export. Apples and grapes can be raised with more than moderate success, and all the small fruits thrive abundantly, while wild plums, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are indigenous. The industries of the county are; farming, in all its various forms; butter and cheese-making; lumbering, principally in fine hard woods; milling, manufacturing of various kinds, and nearly all of the varied mechanic arts and employments. There are mills of various kinds, utilizing many good water powers, which exist all over the county. The data of the development of agriculture in Richland county is the life story of the pioneers who cleared away the forests, and of the sturdy and faithful workers who have been their successors. Concerning them, much information is given in the town chapters of this work.
No county in southwestern Wisconsin, probably, possesses better elements to guarantee prosperity to an agricultural organization than does the county of Richland. An agricultural society was founded about 1866, and the first meeting or exhibition o the Richland County Agricultural Society was held in the fall of the year 1867, in the streets of the village of Richland Center. The place of meeting was then for several years upon grounds in the eastern part of the city, on Haseltine street, where suitable buildings were erected for keeping the exhibits and other purposes of the society. A few years later the society purchased a tract of land situated about one mile north of Richland Center, and since that time fairs have been held there annually. The present officers of the society are as follows: J. w. martin, president; W. G. Barry, secretary; R. C. Lybrand, treasurer; directors, John Annear, Harvey Fogo, H. L. Downs, and J. E. Coffland.
The first efforts of the pioneers were, of course, after providing a shelter, to raise something to eat. There was game in abundance-venison, wild turkey and bear-meat. Corn was the great cereal crop, and out of it was made a coarse meal and corn-bread, and a good deal of whiskey. Wheat was grown, and in time took the place of corn as an article of human food. Potatoes were easily grown but were not so popular then as now. Fruit was, of course, very rare at first, but there was an abundance of wild berries which served very well.
Next to food the great necessity was clothing, and it was no small task to obtain it from "back east." Many were obliged to be content with what the new country afforded. The home manufacture of buckskin clothes was not uncommon, as well as the weaving of flax shirts. "Linsey-woolsey" suits were considered full dress, except for the dandies or the city men of imposing rank and station. Buckskin was considered good material for moccasins until tanneries were introduced, and then men skilled in the handling of leather went from cabin to cabin to make footwear for the people.
Following the most primitive manufactures came the production of woolen yarn and cloth, flouring and saw-mills, blacksmith shops and forges.
The pioneer farmers in some sections engaged in the manufacture of corn meal themselves, using what was facetiously termed the "Armstrong" mill. A solid stump was cut square on the top and a cavity burned out in it, and when cleaned out this became the mortar, in which corn was put and vigorously pounded. The product was sifted through sieves made by stretching deer hides, when green, over hoops, and puncturing with small holes when dry. Coffee mills of good size were brought into Wisconsin by many settlers, and some member of the family was kept busy at the grinding.
The first water-power mills of the settlers were "corn crackers," supported by two large canoes anchored in some stream where the current was rapid. Between the boats was left a chute for the water in which the motor wheel hung and revolved. Primitive methods, such as have been described above, may not have been employed by the first settlers in the present limits of Richland county, but the older people will call to mind by the descriptions given the story of the hardships experienced in the earlier days of Wisconsin's history.
Water-power was, of course, chiefly depended upon for the early industries, wherever the same was obtainable, and as Richland county was well supplied in that particular, water-mills were very plentiful. The introduction of steam-power, however, added to the efficiency of the mills, and a great many of them have been run by steam.
The business of lumbering being a large one in the county, it will probably be of interest to say that the first sawmill erected in the county was built by Estes & Parish, in the fall of 1841, and was located at or near the site of the mills now known as Rodolf's, on Mill or Eagle creek, in the town of Eagle.
The first grist-mill was built at Sextonville, in the years 1851-2, by Jacob Krouskop. Prior to this time the settlers had ofttimes to go fifty and seventy-five miles to the mill with the little grain they had to grind. John McKinney, however, before the erection of this mill, had a small mill driven by horse-power, in which he could grind a sort of corn meal. This might be called the first attempt at grinding in the county, but could hardly be termed a grist mill.
The first blacksmith shop in the county was started by Harden Moore, in the summer of 1841.
Garwood Greene erected a house in Richland City in the fall of 1849, which was purchased and occupied by Henry Clayman in the spring of 1850. Mr. Clayman used this as a dwelling house and a shoe-shop, he being the first shoemaker in the village. Peter Haskins was the first blacksmith there, and Samuel Tyler was the first wagon-maker. Other early mechanics were Chester Goodwin, cabinet-maker; John Hooper, blacksmith; Sebastian Speidel, later of Richland Center, was the first jeweler; and Capt. Henry Dillon and John Wyker were the first tailors. The first mill was a steam saw-mill erected in 1855 by Ephraim Brown. William Ketcham soon afterward bought a one-half interest and they ran the mill for a number of years. It was afterward conducted by other parties, but its use was discontinued in 1870. The pine timber which was used was rafted down the river from the pineries above, and an extensive business was done. This mill supplied the surrounding country, for a radius of many miles, with lath and lumber, and it also was used to manufacture into lumber the oak and other timbers in the vicinity. A steam grist and flouring mill was erected in 1854 by Henry Rowell. This mill contained four run of stone and did an extensive business for a number of years. Mr. Rowell owned the mill for about a year, when it went into the hands of other parties. It proved to be of too great magnitude to be profitable in that location, and was finally removed to Milwaukee.
In 1848 William Thompson erected a saw-mill on section 2, in the town of Orion. The power was derived from Ash creek, and the mill was equipped with an old fashioned "up and down saw." Machinery for grinding corn was soon added. It was a small affair, but was a great convenience to the settlers in those days. Caleb Morris, a resident of the town of Ithaca, once came to the mill to have some corn ground, and on, on his return, he told the neighbors that it was the "smartest" mill he had ever seen. He said that "as soon as it got through one kernel, it would go right to work on another." Mr. Thompson sold out in 1858 to Jacob Krouskop, who erected a carding-mill, and in 1864, Jacob Brimer purchased the property. The first blacksmith in the village of Orion was John Nipple, who opened a shop in 1844, Thomas Matthews furnishing him with a shop and the necessary tools. A few years later Nipple died and was succeeded by Thomas Palmer, who continued in business about two years, then sold out. About 1854 William Roush started a tin-shop. He remained in Business until the war broke out, when he enlisted, and later settle din Iowa.
Knapp's creek, on its passage through the town of Richwood, furnishes an excellent water privilege-eight feet head of water. Alonzo Carson was the first to utilize and improve this power, purchasing property in section 20 in 1855 and erecting a saw-mill. In April, 1866, a freshet washed the mill away, and he at once rebuilt. In 1868 or 1869 he sold to Avery & Langdon, and in 1870, a. H. Avery became sole proprietor. In 1871 he built a grist-mill, at a cost of about $5,000, equipping it with two run of burrs. Mr. Avery died in 1879, and the property was soon afterward purchased by B. F. Washburn. Samuel Yeager owned an interest in this property for several years and operated a chair-factory in connection with it. The Ellsworth Mills were erected on section 6, by J. S. Ellsworth, in 1856. They did general sawing, planing, matching, and band-sawing, the principal products being material for wagons and agricultural implements. In 1867 Thomas J. Ellsworth erected a tannery near Ellsworth mills, and operated the same for about ten years. In 1848 Melendeth Whit settled on Byrd's creek and put in shape a device for crushing hominy. It was so arranged that by the use of a water-wheel a weight would be raised and let fall into a wooden mortar. In the mortar about a peck of corn could be placed, and this would be crushed to meal in a day's time. The only trouble Mr. Whit complained of was that the crows would occasionally carry off the corn before it was ground. Adam Byrd came to Richland county in 1844 and settled on section 25, in the town of Richwood, near the creek which bears his name. He erected the first saw-mill in the town, and had the same in operation in 1845. The property subsequently passed into the hands of Coumbe, who in turn sold to Coleman & Carver. These gentlemen erected a new mill, but as they became somewhat financially embarrassed, John Coumbe again became owner of the property. In 1865 David Dewey, in company with two other gentlemen, purchased the property, but Mr. Dewey soon became sole proprietor. In 1875 he built a steam mill, using some of the machinery that had been used in the old water mill, which went into disuse. In 1879 H. B. Ellsworth leased the water privilege which Knapp's creek furnishes on section 17, and set a carding-mill in operation. He afterward added a saw-mill and general wood-working department, manufacturing broom-handles, table-legs, sled-runners, etc. The first blacksmith at Port Andrews was Hardin Moore. The first man to cut brush for the purpose of improving in the vicinity of Excelsior was W. H. Haskins. In 1854 he purchased the southwest quarter of section 16, at which place Knapp's creek furnished an excellent water power, and there he erected a saw-mill. The first blacksmith at Excelsior was William Haskins, who opened a shop there in 1867, and Henry Couey also opened a shop in 1869. C. J. Moore opened a wagon and carriage shop there in 1879. The first harness shop was opened by R. Buchanan, Jr., in 1870
The first steam saw-mill in the county was put up in the town of Rockbridge by J. J. Shumaker & co., in 1856, and was located on the northwest quarter of section 29. It had a number of saws and lathes, fence-pickets and lumber being manufactured. In 1857 Israel Janney purchased this mill, and sold it in 1863 to John Walworth, who two or three years later moved it to Richland Center, where it was afterward destroyed by fire. In 1854 a grist-mill was built by Alden Haseltine on the west side of the river near the natural bridge, the power being derived from the west branch of the Pine river. A dam was built at the mouth of the tunnel and a head of ten feet was thus obtained. It was furnished with one set of buhrs for grinding corn and cracking wheat. The people came to this mill for many miles around and it did a flourishing business. The first blacksmith at the village of Rockbridge was Abner Aiken, and his shop was built with poles, the anvil being placed upon a stump. He was engaged at work in the saw-mill and did not do much work in the shop.
The first saw-mill erected in the town of Richland is believed to have been erected by James Cass, in 1851, the outgrowth of which was Bowen's Mills, which for years has been one of the most important of Richland County's enterprises. The first wagon shop was opened in 1856 by O. H. Northrup, who put up the first wagon made at Richland Center. The first tannery was built in 1857 by Jeduthan Jones. Mr. Jones sold to other parties and it was operated about six years, when it was destroyed by fire. The second tannery at Richland Center was erected in 1860 by D. L. Downs and H. W. Fries. In 1862 Mr. Downs sold his interest to F. P. Bowen and subsequently Mr. Fries became sole proprietor. In about 1867 Mr. Fries sold to his sons, A. s. and J. C. Fries, who operated the tannery until 1876, when it was destroyed by fire. The first cabinet shop at Richland Center was opened in 1858, by William Wilson. After a time A. L. Wilson purchased an interest, and the firm was finally succeeded by William Hill and A. L. Wilson. William H. Downs established an ashery in 1837-8 and operated it successfully for several years, manufacturing potash, etc. D. E. and d. G. Pease established an ashery the following year, which they ran for several years. The first brick made at Richland Center was from a kiln burned by d. Rice, September 20, 1856, and from this small beginning grew quite a large industry. John Waddell burned the first kiln of brick in the town. In 1855 Ira S. Haseltine, who then owned the water-power, built a saw-mill at the point where the present mill now stands, and the same fall erected a mill to grind corn and feed and some grist, but it was a poor affair at best. He continued as proprietor of these mills until July, 1860, when the elder Parfrey rented them of him, together with the water-power, and run them until 1863. A. C. Parfrey and J. C. Nichols purchased the property and rebuilt the grist-mill and also built a new saw-mill. In 1870, Parfrey and his partner, Pease, who had bought Nichols' interest, commenced the erection of a new dam and fine merchant and grist-mill, which became a very flourishing institution. The first steam-mill at Richland Center was that known as the Shumaker mill, formerly located in the town of Rockbridge. In 1865 A. C. Parfrey erected a bedstead factory. In 1868 he associated D. E. Pease as partner and they operated the business until 1871, when it was discontinued. The factory, while it was in operation, furnished employment to some sixteen to thirty-five hands, and was an important industry in Richland Center. Mr. Parfrey constructed flatboats, loaded them with bed-steads and floated them down Pine river into the Wisconsin and then down the Mississippi to St. Louis. In 1973 Parfrey & Pease established a stave factory, which was operated with good success by them for about four years, when the business was discontinued.
In 1841-2, Thomas J. Parish, in company with a Mr. Estes, erected a saw-mill on the southwest quarter of section 26, in the town of Eagle, and this was the first saw-mill to be erected in the county. In 1852 Simon Sharp and Henry Miller erected a saw-mill on section 13 and equipped it with an "up and down saw." The power was derived from Hoosier creek, a dam of brush and earth being constructed. In 1853 they sold to Oliver Miller, who operated the mill until 1867, when he sold to Isaac Thompson and John McCormack. Mr. Thompson purchased McCormack's interest in 1870, and run the mill until 1876, when he abandoned it and in company with S. C. McClintock, purchased a steam-mill and set it up near the old water-power. C. C. Taylor was the first blacksmith at Eagle Corners, opening a shop in 1878-9, and William Smith was the first wagon maker, opening there in 1876. The latter was the first business established at the "Corners."
In 1855, John Wood erected a saw mill on Willow creek, in section 15 of the town of Willow. It was constructed on the old pattern, having an "up and down" saw. In a few years he sold this property to Mr. Sexton, who in 1868 sold it again to Samuel McCorkle, and the latter in turn to Robert McCorkle, who put in a circular saw. In 1879 Samuel and William McCorkle purchased a one-half interest in the mill, the new firm then built a grist mill with two run of stone, and put in all the necessary machinery for the manufacture of first class flour. W. A Hatch opened a blacksmith shop at the village of Loyd in 1856 and continued the business until 1873. Previously a Frenchman had put up a shop to make the irons for the saw-mill, but it was closed about one year after the completion of the mill. A man named Veard opened a blacksmith shop in 1855, and continued some years, when he removed to Fancy Creek.
Joseph McCoy, a native of Pennsylvania, was the first blacksmith in the town of Marshall. He opened a shop there in 1856 and did horse-shoeing, general repair work and manufactured plows. He remained there until 1857, when he went to Vernon county, and when the war broke out he enlisted, and later died in the service. In 1855 Thomas Marshall erected a saw-mill on the northwest quarter of section 14. The power was derived from the north branch of Fancy creek, the water being carried to the mill through a race a quarter of a mile in length. An old-fashioned "up and down" saw was put in. The mill could only be run during warm weather and did but little business in the five years of its existence. In 1857 William Saltsman erected a saw-mill on the southwest quarter of section 19, and equipped it with an "up and down" saw, the power being derived from Mill creek. The water was carried through a race one hundred and thirty rods in length. The mill commenced operation in November, 1858, and continued until 1870, when it was destroyed by fire.
The first saw mill in the town of Forest was erected by S. Rogers and Adam Shambaugh, on section 2, in 1857-8, and the first grist mill in the town was erected by the latter gentleman in 1860, on the same section. The first wagon maker in the village of Viola was John Cummings, who located there in 1866, and the first shoemaker was John Gribble, who came in 1861.
In 1855 O. Guess built a saw-mill on Eagle creek, in the town of Sylvan, which was indebted for its motive power to what is called a flutter-wheel. This mill supplied, to a large extent, the early pioneers with the requisite lumber for building purposes. It has long since been rebuilt and enlarged, and the old wheel replaced by an improved one, and the old-fashioned sash saw by a rotary.
The first wagonmaker in the village of Spring Valley, now Bloom City, was Reuben Selby, the first blacksmith was William McMillan, and the first shoemaker was W. H. Rist. The first blacksmith in the village of West Lima was H. D. Tillon, the first shoemaker was A. B. Rundecker, and the first mill was one run by steam power, which was erected by J. L. DeHart & Co. in 1878. The first grist mill in that section of the country was erected by James Sellers in October, 1855.
In 1852 David J. Eastland began the erection of a saw-mill on the northwest quarter of section 7 in the town of Ithaca; The mill was completed in 1853, the dam being constructed of stone, brush and earth. The water wheel was a screw wheel, fourteen feet in diameter, and the power was derived from Pine river. The water was carried to the mill through a race sixty rods in length, and a tail race of the same length. The mill was in operation for about twelve years.
In 1856 Isaac Miles erected a saw mill on section 30, in the town of Akan. A dam was thrown across Knapp's creek and the mill was equipped with an up and down saw. He run the mill for a few years and then sold to A. Wright, of Muscoda, Grant county, who rented the mill to different parties, but the dam went out and the mill went into disuse long ago. It was never a success. About 1853 George Reagan Barnes settled on the southeast quarter of section 12. He there erected a saw-mill, deriving the power from Mill creek. It was furnished with a up and down saw, but it was a small affair, and was only run for a few years.
Allen Perkins erected a saw-mill in 1853, in the village of Cazenovia, the power being derived from the south branch of the little Baraboo river. The mill was equipped with an "up and down" saw, and for several years did a good business. The dam was built with log cribs, filled with dirt and stone, but it was washed out after a few years. It was replaced by another dam, which soon followed the first one down the stream.
Of the mercantile establishments of early days mention is made in the various township chapters.
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