Pewaukee Township History

Excerpts were taken from pages of an old 1880's publication on the history of Waukesha County.

The town of Pewaukee, named after the lake within its borders, of the same name, called by the Indians Pewauk-ee-we-nink, is, historically speaking, the oldest town in the county, next to Waukesha. The Cutler Brothers and Henry Luther passed the summer of 1834 in the town of Waukesha, but not the winter of 1834-35. In the spring of 1835, people began settling in Pewaukee within a few weeks of the time when the Cutlers and others returned permanently to Waukesha.

The town is in a rich and thrifty agricultural district, which is neither hills, swamps nor prairie. It is composed largely of glacial drift, and therefore has a more thoroughly diversified soil than any other in Waukesha County. One farm may be excellent for fruit, the adjoining one for wheat, the next for grazing, and the next for meadows. This is available characteristic in any town. Timber was originally found in goodly quantities, though Pewaukee never was as heavily timbered as some of the other towns. With good timber, a diversity of soil, excellent stone quarries and plenty of water. Pewaukee is certainly a desirable town in which to own a farm and home.

Pewaukee was set off and organized as a separate town by an act of the Territorial Legislature, approved January 13, 1840. As will be seen by the following Act, the town has no legal right to the name under which it now exists, holds elections, and transacts business:

Enacted by the Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of Wisconsin:

Asection 1. That all that part of the town of Brookfield, in the county of Milwaukee, comprising township seven, north, of Range nineteen, east, be, and the same is hereby set off into a separate town, by the name of Pewaukee.

It will thus be seen that the town was named "Pewaukee" and in subsequent acts of the Legislature -- except those in regard to preserving fish in the lake, passed in 1866, and one relative to school moneys -- the town is referred to as "Pewaukee". This may be safely set down as an error, though the historian has no means of knowing how the error, if such it was, occurred.

The first recorded town meeting or election at the house of E.P. Maynard, April, 1842. Asa Clark was chosen moderator, and D.W. Reed, Secretary. A committee was appointed to report on the various sums necessary to defray the towns expenses. The committee decided that the Assessors, Highway Commissioners and Supervisors should receive each $1 per day for services; that the School Commissioners should receive 75 cents per day, and that the Town Clerk and Treasurer should receive such compensation as the Supervisors saw fit to allow. They also reported in favor of raising $200 for incidental expenses, and for levying a tax of one-half of one per cent on the taxable property of the town, for the support of schools. These resolutions were all adopted. The following officers were elected for the ensuing year: Morris S. Barnett, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors; Asa Clark and Alan Clinton, Side Supervisors; David W. Reed, Town Clerk; Hamilton Nelson, Treasurer; Charles Bell and Seth Riford, Assessors; Israel W. Porter, Seth Riford and Waldo Rosebrook, Commissioners of Highways; David W. Reed, Thomas H. Olin and Timothy W. Lyman, Commissioners of Common Schools; John Nelson, Constable and Collector; Harvey Church, Sealer of Weights and Measures; Cromwell Hills, Overseer of Highways, District No. 1; James N. Heath, Overseer in District No. 2; Seth Riford, in District No. 3; D.W. Reed in District No. 4; Leland Crocker in District No. 5; Samuel Bissell, Hiram Wheeler and Spencer Allen, Fence Viewers.

The first road surveys recorded, occurred in June, 1842, Rollin Blount being the surveyor. There were six roads surveyed this year, and opened by the Commissioners. In 1843, the road districts were increased from five to nine, and in 1844 increased to thirteen. The total expenses for services of town officers and surveyors fees and incidentals during 1842, amounted to $?????.

The first election of Justices of the Peace was recorded in 1844, when Charles Bell, M.S. Barnett and C. L. Rockwood were elected.

In 1843, there were 130 school children, with a school fund of $150. There are now 806 pupils. In 1880, there was $3,720.62 appropriated for school purposes in five whole districts and nine joint districts. there were in 1843 four whole and two joint districts.

In 1843, there were 100 resident taxpayers in the town with property assessed at $1,461.50, as follows: Isaac B. Judson, F. Jewett, Elon Fuller, Hosea Fuller, Hosea Fuller Jr., John -----, John L. Bidwell, Allen Clinton, James Begg, Seth Riford, Marvin Reed, Frederick -----, G. Moulten, Daniel Moulten, James Tipple, Stephen Moulton, John Williams, James O'Hara, Thomas Johnson, J.W. Friend, John Nelson, Hamilton Nelson, William Love, David Root, Henry Reed, Charles Bell, T. Lyman Clark, Joseph Gauthie, B. Love, Isaac Smith, Henry Smith, John Austin, Daniel Aret, Samuel Bissell, M.S. Barnett, Abel Brown, James Buckner, Asa Clark, Leland Crocker, D.G. Deissner, R.K. Dye, Ansel McCall, Thomas G. Eggleston, J.F. Eggleston, W.C. Gates, S.F. Smith, Michael Graff, Abram R. Gale, Cromwell Hill, D.J. Heath, James N. Heath, Philetus Hurlburt, E.P. Maynard, Caleb Nanscawen, John H. Nanscawen, Joshua Nanscawen, Warham Nobles, Thomas H. Olin, C.C. Olin, Adam S. Putney, Isreal W. Porter, G.W. Sturdevant, David Miller, Waldo Rosebrook, D.W. Reed, Cephas L. Rockwood, Isaac Sears, Eleaser Scripture, Alexander Stewart, William Stewart, John M. Woodworth, Hiram Wheeler, Hiram H. Wheelock, Zebulon Bidwell, Nathan Graves, John Hodgson, Solomon Horn, H. Rupell, Robert Stewart, Elisha Lyman & Sons, Jesse Williams, Daniel McCall, Jackson Swift, Abraham Mead, ----- Dieman, J.H. & H.C. Waterman, J. Kaye, Edmund Miles, John Wigginton, Lyman Goodnow, -------- Clark, H. Turner, Absalom Miner, Samuel S. Breese, Breese & Higginbotham, Milo Heath, Joseph Webb, -------Bloor, Samuel H. Dougherty, Charles Bartlett. among these, D.G. Deissner, owner of the saw-mill, was the heaviest taxpayer, being assessed $32.66, and Asa Clark, owner of the saw-mill at Pewaukee with a tax of $21.49, was the next heaviest.

In 1844, a novel vote was taken, it being decided by ballot to appropriate $75 for the support of the poor, if any be found in the town during the year.

The first settlement was made in the southwest quarter of Section 34, which is opposite Waukesha Village, by Elon Fuller, a single man, and Isaac B. Judson and his family. They made their camp in June 1835, on a gravel knoll near a sulphur spring, on the farm now owned by Henry B. Bidwell, quarter and section above named. This camp was their home until a log house was erected near where John Russell now lives, a short distance from the original stopping place. Elon Fuller's present residence is only a few rods from the knoll on which he first lighted his campfire in Waukesha County.

In 1836, Zebulon Bidwell and his family settled on the farm now owned by the son, Henry B. Bidwell, Section 34. The next settler was probably Israel W. Porter, who built a dam near where Deissner's Mill now is, in 1836, and a mill in 1837.

At about the same time, John M. Woodworth settled in the south part of the town. Mr. Woodworth was a small man, and Cephas L. Rockwood, a Prairieville lawyer, was a very large one. The latter settled on one of the former's claims, and was ordered off, without success. Mr. Woodworth went out one day, and finding Mr. Rockwood preparing to build a log house, again ordered him to leave. He was still unsuccessful, and then began a series of strange and astonishing maneuvers, jumping and squatting on all sides of Mr. Rockwood, standing on his head, making frightful grimaces and falling prone on his face with astonishing rapidity, the while keeping up an uninterrupted flow of gibberish which no one could understand. Mr. Rockwood thought Mr. Woodworth, who was always known as, "Crazy Woodworth" on account of his strange actions, was possessed of a devil, and dropping his ax, took to the deeper woods, leaving the clai, to the quasi juggler. Afterward Mr. Rockwood had many a laugh over the novel manner in which he was frightened out of a claim.

IN the vicinity of Pewaukee Village, T. Lyman Clark was the first settler, building or commencing a log house on the shore of the lake, a short distance from the present village. This was in June 1837. A few weeks later Asa Clark, his father, A.M. Clark, his brother, and the balance of the family, arrived and occupied the house. The claim, including the water-power at the outlet of Pewaukee Lake, had been examined and secured by Asa Clark in 1836, who began the present dam, which is the road bed of the street, in 1837, and erected a saw-mill during the following year. This was the second saw-mill in the town, Israel W. Porter having begun one the year before, which was the second in the county.

The first death was Edgar T., a son of Ethan Owen, who was killed accidentally, in the winter of 1836, while at work in the woods. The accident was an exceedingly sad one, young Owen's head being split open by the blow of an ax in the hands of his brother.

The first Pewaukee couple who committed matrimony were probably Hamilton Nelson and Mrs. Caroline Eggleston, but they were obliged to go over into the town of Waukesha to find a person competent to tie the knot, which was done August 12, 1838.

The first house in Pewaukee was built for Isaac B. Judson, in 1835, Section 34.

The first chimney in Waukesha County was built by I.B. Judson in 1835, in Pewaukee.

The first thrashing machine in the county was built in this town, by Hamilton Nelson, now of Beloit, Wisconsin.

Mrs. I. B. Judson was the first woman in Pewaukee.

The first birth was Uriel P., son of Nelson Owen.

The first schoolhouse was probably built where Pewaukee Village is in 1842. The first school-teacher was a young woman, who taught in Asa Clark's house. The first one to teach in the schoolhouse was probably Mr. Waterman, who was paid $12 per month.

Asa Clark erected the first flouring-mill at Pewaukee Village, which began grinding in 1845.

The first store in Pewaukee was kept by David Miller, at the village. He also distributed mail gratis, the residents clubbing together to pay for fetching it from Waukesha, or some of them volunteering to fetch it free.

In 1839, Henry Bowers stabbed James O'Hara with a pitchfork.

Gardner Brown, of Summit, was killed by the fall of a tree, at Porter's saw-mill.

The dam for Dreissner's flouring-mill was built in 1836, by Isreal W. Porter. The saw-mill was built in 1837, and began sawing early in 1838. The saw mill ceased to pay in a few years and the Dreissner's erected a flouring mill on the site. The mill is still managed by a member of the family and has a good business. It is a water-mill, that is, has water for its motor power, and is well equipped with modern milling machinery.

The first steamer on Pewaukee Lake was a rude affair, built by L. Ferris. It made only a few trips in 1866.

IN 1873, N.P. Inglehart and J.M. Heath launched a screw propeller, but the engine was worthless, and the boat was made into a sailing yacht.

In the summer of 1873, N.P. Inglehart went to Oconomowoc and purchased the "Surprise", and chartered a special train of cars, on which he transported the boat to Pewaukee. Her owner now is Capt. Davy, and her name, "Lady of the Lake." She is a side wheel steamer with fifteen horse-power engine, registered to safely carry 150 passengers.

The "Oriole" is another side wheel steamer, owned also by Capt. Davy. The steamer "Lady of the Lake" was the making of Pewaukee as a summer resort.

The first hotel was opened at what is now Pewaukee Village, in 1844, by Theodore Sheldon. the building was erected by A.M. Clark, still a resident of the place, and was called the Pewaukee House.

Asa Clark probably built the first frame dwelling, at Pewaukee Village, in 1839.

Chauncey H. Heath was the first Postmaster, receiving his appointment from James J. Polk in 1846 or 1847. The office was called Pewaukee, and was located at what is now Pewaukee Village.

Matthias Schock built the first brewery in Pewaukee in 1876, not far from the village of Waukesha. It is of stone, 55X25 feet, and is called "Fountain Brewery." It is fitted with patent coolers, a fine cellar, large ice-house and all modern improvements. In connection with the brewery is a summer garden and beer bottling works.

The town officers for 1880 are as follows: Supervisors - John Ross, Chairman; August Jessie, J.W. Wilkins; Town Clerk, Alexander Caldwell; Assessor, J. A. Gauthie; Treasurer, Casper Linder; Justices of the Peace, John W. Gentz, J.A. Griswold; Constables, Alexander Parsons, F.W. Dick.