MEANS OF COMMUNICATION.
For a number of years after the first settlement of the county,
connection with the outside world was maintained only by means of boats on the lake, which
occasionally touched at Sheboygan. The arrived of the mail was the event of the week, though
it occasionally happened--particularly in the winter season--that the place was cut off from
all communication with the outside world for months at a time. The trip from Milwaukee was
occasionally made by land; but so difficult was it that it was seldom undertaken by loaded
teams. The overland trip was often made along the beach and near the shore of the lake.
The two earliest roads in the county were established by the
Territorial Legislature of 1838-39. One of these was made to run from Sheboygan by way of
Hustis Rapids, on Rock River, near Horicon, to Madison, and the other was laid out from
Sheboygan to Sheboygan Falls, and thence to Fond du Lac. The commissioners for the former were
B. L. Gibbs of Sheboygan; James L. Thayer, of Manitowoc and John Hustis, of Milwaukee; and,
for the latter, Charles D. Cole and David Giddings, of Sheboygan, and John Bannester, of
Fond du Lac. A Government appropriation of $3,000 was expended on the Fond du Lac road in 1845.
Of plank roads, the Sheboygan & Fond du Lac road was chartered in 1851, and completed in July,
1852. The Sheboygan & Calumet plank road was incorporated two years later; completed to Howards
Grove in 1856, and built to Kiel, Manitowoc County, in 1859. September 4, 1852, the Sheboygan
River Plank Road Company was organized at Sheboygan Falls. J. F. Seely was chosen President;
S. B. Ormsbee, Secretary and John Kelley, Treasurer. That the early settlers were alive to the
importance of having good roads, is shown by the fact that in a local town-meeting, when it
was proposed to raise $100 for roads and $1,000 for schools, the voters reversed the sums
giving the $1,000 to the roads.
The means of communication between different parts of the county
and with the outside world, are now equaled by few counties in the State. Two lines of
railroad--the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western and the Milwaukee & Northern--traverse it from
north to south, and the Sheboygan & Fond du Lac brings it into easy communication with central
part of the State. Add to this its thirty miles of lake coast, a good harbor, passenger boats
touching daily and all kinds of freight boats constantly loading and unloading in its harbors,
and you have a county that can be surpassed by few in its facilities for both land and water
In the same year that the improvement of Sheboygan's harbor
facilities was actively engaged in, the necessity of railroad connection with the interior was
impressed upon leading citizens of the county. At a meeting held in the city of Sheboygan
September 6, 1852, to taIk over the matter of a railway to Milwaukee and thence to Chicago,
the conclusion was arrived at that inasmuch as water communication existed to these points
already, it would be wiser to first turn attention to the building of a road back into the
interior of the State, and across it to the Mississippi River. The Sheboygan & Mississippi
Railroad Company had been incorporated on the 8th of March of that year, and books opened for
the subscription of stock, but the Company was not organized until the following year. At a
meeting in Sheboygan, held for this purpose April 5, 1853, J. F. Kirkland was elected
President, and M. J. Thomas, Secretary. Work was actually begun on the construction of the
road June 4, 1856, by the contractors, Edward Appleton & Co. The road was completed to
Sheboygan Falls in January, 1859, to Plymouth June 6, of the same year, and to Glenbeulah
March 29, 1860. This was as far as the above-mentioned contract extended. The road suffered
the fate of most new enterprises of this character, and, after foreclosure of mortgage, the
company was re-organized. The new organization was known as the Sheboygan & Fond du Lac
Railroad Company, and its officers were S. P. Benson, President, and J. O. Thayer, Secretary
and Treasurer. Finally, the road was completed to Fond du Lac February 14, 1869. It was
subsequently pushed on to Princeton, in Green Lake County, which point was reached in the fall
of 1871. The road is now under the management of the Chicago & North-Western Railroad Company.
The Milwaukee & Northern.--The Milwaukee & Northern Railroad
Company was incorporated February 24, 1870, and the contract let for the construction of a
road from Milwaukee to Green Bay. The road runs through the western portion of the county,
crossing the Fond du Lac road at Plymouth, which point was reached early in the year 1872. The
road was, in the year 1874, leased to the Wisconsin Central Railroad Company.
The Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western--The importance to the city
of Sheboygan of obtaining railroad communication to the South, connecting it with Milwaukee &
Chicago, became so manifest as time went on that when a movement for a lake shore road was
started, leading business men at once took a deep interest in the project. On the 10th of
March, 1870, the Milwaukee, Manitowoc & Green Bay Railroad Company was organized and work at
once commenced. Interruptions occurred, and it was November 21, 1872, when the first passenger
train was run between Milwaukee and Sheboygan. December 10, 1875, the road was sold under
foreclosure of mortgage, and in re-organization the present name, Milwaukee, Lake Shore &
Western was adopted. It has always done a thriving business.
The Sheboygan & Fond du Lac and the Milwaukee, Lake Shore &
Western received liberal aid from the city and county of Sheboygan in the purchase of stock,
and the Wisconsin Central from several of the towns through which it passes.
A post office was established in Sheboygan as early as the autumn
of 1836, James Farnsworth being appointed Postmaster. In 1839, this office was discontinued for
the reason that the Postmaster's family was the only one then living in the place. An office
was also established at Sheboygan Falls in 1837, George B. Babcock receiving the appointment
of Postmaster. The first mail carrier, named Griswold, committed suicide by hanging in 1837.
The mails were brought overland, and were slow, so that Eastern newspapers were very old when
they reached here. It was not until 1849 that this condition of things was greatly bettered.
In June of this year the matter having been brought to the attention of the Postmaster General,
the mails were ordered to be brought from Milwaukee by the steamer Champion, which came
regularly into this port three times a week. By this arrangement, mails were received two days
in advance of the previous delivery. Up to this time, it had taken as long to get the mails
from Milwaukee as they were in coming from Buffalo to Milwaukee. By the new order mails
reached here from Buffalo in about fifty hours. This was regarded as a substantial gain by the
business interests of Sheboygan. The following is the list of post offices in the county at
the present time, numbering twenty-eight in all. Ada, Adell, Beechwood, Cedar Grove, Cascade,
Dacada, Edwards, Elkhart Lake, Franklin, Gibbsville, Glenbeulah, Howard's Grove, Hingham,
Johnsonville, Our Town, Onion River, Oostburg, Plymouth, Random Lake, Rathbun, Rhine, Scott,
Sheboygan, Sheboygan Falls, Silver Creek, Winooski.
A telegraph line was run along the lake shore from Milwaukee to
Sheboygan in 1851, but was sold for taxes and taken down.
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