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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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This article was contributed by Kay Reitberger

Sheboygan Press Telegram - September 8, 1923

Jonothan Hounsell Recalls Boyhood Days In County - - A Pioneer Family


Early Sheboygan days were recalled by Capt. Jonothan HOUNSELL, third of the name, when he visited old friends here Thursday for the first time since 1876. Considerable change has shifted the residential and business aspect of the city since that time and the captain was agreeably surprised at the growth of the community. Capt. HOUNSELL came over from his home in Ludington, Michigan, on the tug E.M.B.A. and left by train for Fond du Lac where he will visit his uncle, Samuel D. HOUNSELL, for a few days.

Ancestors of Capt. HOUNSELL were early settlers in Sheboygan county and early lake fishermen from this port. The captain has been master of everything in the marine line from the old type windjammer to the steam and gas propelled boats of the present day. He is captain at present of fish tug "Black Hawk" sailing out of Ludington. While he was here he gave something of the history of his family and how they came to Sheboygan as pioneers.

Father On Constitution

Capt. HOUNSELL's father, Jonothan HOUNSELL the second, was gunner on the famous American fighting ship of 1812 days, the Constitution, and had a romantic and adventurous life on the high seas before he finally decided to settle in Sheboygan.

The grandfather, Jonothan the first, came over from England in the 40's bringing his family of four boys and six girls with him to Wisconsin. They came to Kenosha first then to Sheboygan county and settled on a farm near where Plymouth is now. There they lived out their span of years, their remains even now resting in a Plymouth cemetery.

Jonothan the second did not accompany the family to this country. He was to have sailed on the same boat as mate, Capt. HOUNSELL says, but he became involved in sailor's celebration ashore and was left behind, no one knew where. It was only seven years afterward when he came to New York and later joined the family that his history was learned.

Was In Mutiny

The mate, Jonothan HOUNSELL, found a boat in the West Indies service and sailed with a crew of cutthroats and slum rats picked up from London's Limehouse district. It was on the way over that some sort of mutiny broke out and HOUNSELL was implicated. He was no longer a mate as he signed as able seaman before the mast after his boat with his family had left for America.

The ship stopped at Cape of Good Hope and the prisoners that had taken part in the mutiny were set ashore for trial. HOUNSELL's trial came near the end of the term and he was fortunate in receiving only a light sentence of thirty days in the dungeon. After getting his liberty he left the English service for the American and finally was made gunner on the famous Constitution. This boat had made history in the War of 1812 and was kept as a relic, known as Old Ironsides, for many years.

Homesick For Family

After a period when HOUNSELL was engaged in helping clear the Indians out of Florida and put them on reservations so that the new territory could be settled, he grew homesick for his family and left his ship at New York. He found mail that he had addressed to his father at Plymouth being held at Plymouth, Rhode Island. Instead of this Plymouth the mail should have gone to Plymouth, Wisconsin, he learned and in this way located his relatives.

He resolved to go West and find them and accomplished his long trip by way of the Great Lakes on a small lake boat in the year 1839. His parents, sisters and brothers were overjoyed to see him as they had long ago given him up for dead.

Life on the high seas no longer held an attraction for him but the call of the water was in his blood and he soon signed up for work on the "Western Star" out of the port of Sheboygan. A. P. LYMAN was the owner of this boat which was later wrecked at Kettle Point in Lake Huron.

Settles Down

It was only a year after the arrival of Jonothan the second in Sheboygan that he took unto himself a wife, one Elizabeth Anne DUFFEY, and the large family of 14 children came to bless their home. Capt. HOUNSELL was the son of this marriage and the last of the Jonothan's. There is another brother and five sisters yet living of this family.

The family lived here until in 1876 the father decided to move to the Michigan shore. Capt. Jonothan was then fourteen years of age. The trip across was made on board the tug Cloud and was considered perilous in so small a boat.

Capt. HOUNSELL has since followed the lake as did his ancestors and although having been on this side of the lake several times since 1876 has never had time to visit in Sheboygan before.

He remembers as his school mates of the early days in Sheboygan, Geo. ESZWEIN, Frank ECKMEYER, Wm. RUSSELL, George RUSSELL, Paul PANTZER and Calvin POOLER besides many others. The times have wrought great changes in the appearance of the city since Capt. HOUNSELL's boyhood here.

The property next to Albert FREYBERG's on Pennsylvania avenue he says that his father sold for $200 when the family left. Eighth street was mostly a residence street, very few business houses being located along what is now the principal business thoroughfare of the city.

Capt. HOUNSELL intends to return to Sheboygan next Sunday after his short stay in Fond du Lac with his uncle but he does not know if he ever will get the opportunity to visit the city of his birth again.


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