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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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History of Sheboygan County


     A gentleman who made the trip from Green Bay to Chicago by steamer, as long ago as 1845, wrote a communication to an eastern paper, in which he spoke of Sheboygan as follows: "This I found to be a place about which not so much has been said, yet one of the most romantic and promising villages on the entire lake. More natural advantages center here to make this, in time, a large and splendid city, than any other place within my knowledge." "There is no city on the lakes more pleasantly located than Sheboygan." So said the leading newspaper of Wisconsin a decade ago, and the truthfulness of the statement is indorsed by every visitor of today. The Sheboygan River enters the city at a point a little south of the middle point of the western boundary line, runs in a north-easterly direction nearly to the northern limit of the original plat, curves to the east, then makes a broad sweep to the southeast, reaching a point several blocks below a middle line run from east to west across the city, when it curves sharply to the north for a few blocks and turning east empties itself immediately into the lake, affording two miles of navigation within the city limits. On the beautiful elevated plateau north and east of the river, undulated along the lake and dotted with fine groves (giving to it the name of " Evergreen City "), is situated the resident and main business portion of the city. Most of the great manufacturing interests are located on the south and west banks of the river. The city is admirably located, geographically, for commerce and manufacturing, and its facilities for communication, both by rail and water, are complete. The town of Sheboygan is No. 15 north, Range 23 east. The original plot of the village comprised fractional Section 23, east half of Section 22, northeast quarter of Section 27 and fractional north half of Section 26. Additions were made from time to time on the north and on the south, the present legal boundries being as follows:

     Commencing on the lake shore in east and west section line of Section 14, running west on quarter-section line of Sections 14 and 15 to the center of Section 15, thence south on north and south quarter section lines of Sections 15, 22 and 27 to south quarter post of Section 27, thence east on section lines of 27 and 26 to the lakes shore, thence north along lake shore to beginning, embracing about 1,850 acres.

     In 1885, William Paine and Wooster Harrison built cabins within the limits of the present city of Sheboygan, but as they stayed only a short time, they can hardly be called the first residents. In the winter of 1835-36, the plat of the village was surveyed. The owners of the property were George Smith. Daniel Whitney, William Bruce and Seth Rees, all non-residents, to which fact was due, part, at least, the delay in the permanent growth of the place at the outset. In August, of 1836, Charles D. Cole and family settled here and were soon followed by other families, as related in the record of the early settlement of the county. A charter was granted incorporating the village of Sheboygan, by the Legislature of 1846, and an election for choosing officers was held on the 9th of February of that year. The result was as follows:

     President H. H. Conklin; Trustees, Warren Smith, J. L. Moore, William Farnsworth, R. P. Harriman; Clerk, D. U. Harrington; Treasurer, Van Epps Young; Assessor, Stephen Wolverton; Constable, Robert Watterson. The city of Sheboygan was incorporated by act of the Legislature March 19,1853, chapter 94, private and local laws of 1853. The first election under the charter was held on Tuesday, April 5, 1853. The following officers were elected: Mayor, H. H. Conklin; Clerks, C. E. Morris; Treasurer, Kasper Guck; Superintendent of Schools, J. J. Brown; Marshal, George Throop; Police Justice, D. Manville. The city has divided into two wards, and the Aldermen elected were: First Ward, G. H. Smith, Jas. Fagan, John Deitzel; Second Ward, Jas. Hogan, Joseph Schrage, John Gee. The following is the list of Mayors who have been elected from the organization to the present time with dates of their service: H. H. Conklin, from April, 1853, to August, 1853; F. R. Townsend, August, 1853, to April, 1854; J. F. Kirkland, 1854 to 1855; E. Fox Cook, 1855 to 1857; Z. P. Mason,1857 to 1858; W. N. Shafter, 1858 to 1859; Z. P. Mason, 1859 to 1860; Bille Williams, 1860 to 1862; Godfrey Stamm, 1862 to 1863; J. L. Moore, 1863 to 1867; J. O. Thayer, 1867 to 1868; Francis Geele, 1868 to 1870; Thos. M. Blackstock, 1870 to 1871; William Elwell, 1871 to 1872; T. M. Blackstock, 1872 to 1873; James Bell, 1873 to 1874; B. Williams, 1874 to 1875; George End, 1875 to 1876; F. Geele, 1876 to 1879; George End, 1879 to 1880; F. Geele, 1880 to 1881. The present city officers are: Mayor, William H. Seaman; Clerk, W. Kunz; Comptroller, M. H. Wilgus; Treasurer, J. H. Abrahams; City Attorney, Conrad Krez; Assessor, Joseph Bast; Marshal, Louis Otte. The School Commissioners are L. D. Harvey, Superintendent, Joseph Bast and James Bell. The city now embraces five wards, each represented by three Aldermen.

     For the purpose of obtaining a permanent water supply, the city of Sheboygan determined, in the spring of 1875, to bore an artesian well in the park. The contract was let to John Dobyns, who completed it to the depth of 1,475 feet in October following. An abundant supply of water was found at this depth, with a pressure of 52-1/2 pounds to the square inch, sufficient to raise a column 114 feet above the surface of the ground. The well cost the city about $5,000. A tasteful house, octagon in shape and surmounted by a bronze statue of Hebe, was erected at a cost of $1,600, and a large and handsome fountain in the center of the park, at a further outlay of $700 more. The water is richly impregnated with mineral salts, possessing medicinal value, as shown by the following analysis made by Prof. C. F. Chandler, Ph. D., of the Columbia College School of Mines, New York:

Chloride of Sodium306.9436.
Chloride of Potassium14.4822.
Chloride of Lithium0.1062.
Chloride of Magnesium54.9139.
Chloride of Calcium27.8225.
Bromide of Sodium0.1873.
Iodide of SodiumTrace.
Sulphate of Lime169.8277.
Sulphate of BaryiaTrace.
Bi-carbonate of Lime13.6585.
Bi-carbonate of Iron0.5944.
Bi-carbonate of Manganese0.1742.
Phosphate of Lime0.0383.
Biborate of SodaTrace.
Organic MatterTrace.

      The medical effect of the water seems to be laxative, diuretic and tonic. Physicians recommend its use for dyspepsia, rheumatism, faulty action of the liver and functional derangement of the kidneys and bowels. The water is very saline to the taste; but becomes grateful frequent use. Its value in the bath is undoubted. It is put up for shipment, under a lease from the city, by tho Sheboygan Mineral Water Company, composed of E. R Richards, H. H. Kuentz and E. W. Koch. The water is put up in its natural state in lined kegs or barrels, and also is artificially charged with carbonic acid gas, giving it the healthful sparkle of seltzer, and put up in quart botttes and stone jugs The park and well are in charge of a Board of Commissioners, consisting of Mayor William H. Seaman, Chairman; Frank Geele, Conrad Krez, Christian Fricke and Gustav Mitwede. Col. Kres, who labored industriously to secure the digging of the well, is Clerk of the Board.

     The protection of the city against fire was early considered by the citizens of Sheboygan, and a hand fire engine was purchased about twenty-five years ago. Ten years later, another hand engine was provided, and, in 1872, the present steam fire engine was purchased. The fire department has received appropriations from the city treasury for many years, and, since the purchase of the steamer, it may be said that Sheboygan has had a paid fire department in the usual acceptance of that term. The department now consists of a steam fire engine, attended by an engineer and a fireman; the Steamer Hose Company, consisting of 10 men; the Sherman Engine Company, 38 men; the Union Fire Company, 27 men, and a hook and ladder company, 15 men. Henry Boyle is Chief Engineer. These facilities for protection against fire are supplemented by the artesian well, from which 3,086 feet of pipe have been laid along the principal streets. The mains are tapped by ten hydrants, to which hose can be attached, the pressure of the water in the pipes being suflicient to carry it higher than the highest buildings. Thus the city is well protected.

     The business of the banks of a city fairly indicate the growth of its prosperity. Sheboygan is well served in this respect, and the increase of business done through the banks speaks well of the enterprise and thrift of the city.

     The first bank in the city was the Bank of Sheboygan, established in 1851, by F. R. Townsend, which was afterward incorporated. It has done a large business from the commencement. The first officers were W. W. King, President; F. R. Townsend, Cashier. In 1873, this bank organized under the national banking system, with the title First National Bank, and issued $50,000 of currency, all of which has now been redeemed. The bank has a capital $50,000, and its deposits amount to $200,000. The present officers are F. R. Townsend, President; H. F. Piderit, Cashier.

     The German Bank was organized June 25,1856, and began business July 1 of that year. The original capital was $25,000, which was increased to $50,000, November 26, 1856. After the first half year's business, the demand deposits amounted to $24,492.82, and loans and discounts to $29,966. On July 4, 1881, the demand and time deposits of this bank amounted to $744,951.27, and the loans and discounts to $458,115.50. The business of the bank is about evenly divided between the manufacturing and agricultural interests. The first officers were John Ewing, President; James H. Mead, Cashier. The following year, George C. Cole was elected Vice President, and held the position until 1865, when he was elected President. This position he held until 1875; when the present officers were elected, namely J. H. Mead, President; Fritz Karste, Cashier; George Heller, Assistant Cashier.

     The Sheboygan Merchants' Association was organized January 24, 1874, and incorporated February 14 of the same year. The first officers were: - Thomas M. Blackstock, President; Ernest Lohman, Secretary; and Joseph End, Treasurer. The object of the association is buying and selling wheat and other produces. It owns and uses the Holstein elevator in its business. The present officers are the same as when the association was organized. The officers, with John H. Plath and Fred Koehn, form the Board of Directors.

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