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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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History of Sheboygan County


ORGANIZATION.

    The materials from which to compile an accurate historical account of the formation and organization of the county are, unfortunately, extremely meager, all the records of the first twenty-five years of its existence having been destroyed by fire on the first day of January, 1860. It is known, however, that the county was created by an act of the Territorial Legislature, which was approved December 7,1836. The organization for county purposes was not completed till two years later, when the first election for county and town offices was held, on the first Monday in March, 1839, in pursuance to a Legislative act of the previous December. Section thirty-three of this act provides that: "All that district of country lying within the present limits of Sheboygan County, shall be a separate town by the name of Sheboygan, and elections shall be holden in said town at the school-house in Sheboygan, and at 'Gidlling's mill.'" From its earliest organization the County of Sheboygan has embraced the same territory as at present, and for the first ten years after its formation, the town of Sheboygan occupied all the territory included in the county. As new towns were formed they were all " set off" from the town of Sheboygan. The present city of Sheboygan has always been the county seat.

    For nearly ten years after the organization of the county it was joined to Brown County for judicial purposes, but on the 1st day of May, 1846, in accordance with an act of January 22, of the same year, it started on an independent career. From that time to the present there has been a constant increase of prosperity, and the county compares favorably with any county in Northern or Central Wisconsin .

    The judicial history of the county dates from the morning of June 1, 1846, when the court was called to meet for its first term, in the schoolhouse in the village of Sheboygan. The county at this time belonged to the Third Judicial District, and courts were held twice a year--on the first Monday in May and the third Monday in September. The story of the first meeting of the County Court is an especially interesting one. The Judge failing to appear on the day appointed, June 1, 1846, the court was adjourned to the foIlowing day. On June 2, the first court was organized by Judge Andrew G. Miller, Associate Justice of the Territory. John S. Rockwell was United States Marshal; William P. Lynde, United States District Attorney; D. U. Harrington, Territorial District Attorney; James Rankin, Clerk; Silas Stedman, Sheriff; Thomas C. Horner, Crier. It is a remarkable fact that at this first session of the court the jury, no doubt impressed by the importance and responsibility of their position, failed to agree in a single case that was brought before them.

    The place for holding the sessions of the court changed with nearly every sitting till, in 1868, it took possession of its present convenient quarters in the court house, first occupied at that time. An enumeration of some of the different places in which the court has held its sittings, as gleaned from calls for different sessions, gives some idea of the frequency of it migrations. Among other places mentioned are: The Schoolhouse, the Academy, the Congregational Church, B. Teyn's Assembly Rooms, the Presbyterian Meeting-House, the basement of the New York Block, the Turner Hall, and Zaegel's Block.

    The county officers for the year 1881 are as follows: County Judge, Bille Williams, of Sheboygan; Clerk of Court, Felix Benfey, of Plymouth; Sheriff, W. Pfeil, of Sheboygan; District Attorney, J. Q. Adams, of Sheboygan Falls; County Clerk, Fred Hoppe, of Rhine; Treasurer, George W. Bradford, of Plymouth; Register of Deeds, Valentine Detling, of Sheboygan; Suveyor, L. Bode, of Sheboygan; Coroner, Julius Breitzmann (now deceased), Lotte appointed; Superintendent of Schools, B. R. Grogan, of Elkhart Lake.

    An account of the county expenses for the year 1844, taken from the report of the County Commissioners for that year, is of interest as giving a good idea of the county at that early day. Following is the list of charges: For county officers, printing, etc., $395.40; support of poor, $14.75; support of schools, $220.92; roads and bridges, $311.20; contingent expenses, $70.96; county tax, $1,018.69; amount in treasury January 1, 1844, $892.20; total expenditure for the year, $2,000.90. This account bears the signatures of Sylvanus Wade, B. R. Farmin and A. W. Knight, County Commissioners, and W. W. Kellog, Clerk.

    In 1852, the county of Sheboygan voted $20,000 in aid of the harbor improvement at the mouth of Sheboygan River. Bonds were issued to that amount, the last installment on which was paid in 1865. In the year 1855, the county purchased $100,000 of the stock of the Sheboygan & Mississippi Railroad Company, issuing its bonds to that amount, to run twenty years. In 1864, three years interest being due, the amount was consolidated with the principal and one hundred new bonds of $1,280, to fall due in 1883 and bearing interest at the rate of 7 per cent per annum were issued. In 1871, bonds were issued for the purchased of $80,000 of stock in the Milwaukee, Manitowoc & Green Bay Railroad Company. These bonds fall due August 1, 1886, and bear 7 per cent interest. A total indebtedness for these purposes was thus contracted, amounting to $228,000. This has been reduced by payments from the sinking fund, for which $19,600 is annually raised, to $117,000, January 1, 1881. The bonded indebtedness of the City of Sheboygan at the same date was $230,000; that of the town of Lyndon, $16,200; town of Plymouth, $13,520; town of Sherman, $520.

    The first jail was built in the summer of 1851, on the ground now occupied by the court house. In 1853, a brick building for the accommodation of a portion of the county offices, was built on Seventh street, near Center, on lands leased of Judge David Taylor. After the fire of 1860, in which many of the county archives were destroyed, offices were built on the corner of Pennsylvania avenue and Hickory street. The present court house was completed in November, 1868, at a cost of $65,000.

    The county is building an asylum for the incurably insane, on land bought of the town of Sheboygan, and situated one-half of a mile west of the city limits The building is to be of brick; 120 feet long by 45 feet in width, and of fine architectural appearance. The grounds will contain nineteen acres, and the total cost of building and grounds will not be far from $20,000. The building is to be completed May 1, 1882, and will have accommodations for forty inmates. H. C. Kock & Co., of Milwaukee, are the architects, and Luecke & Roder and Mueller & Ackerman are the builders.


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