Hardship And Privation Marked Settlement Of Russell, Once Covered By Dense Forests
The town of Russell forms the northwest township of Sheboygan county. The first settler of which there is any record was Lewis ODELL who came in 1848 and located in Section 13. At that time the nearest grist-mill was at Plymouth, a dense forest extending a long distance throughout that region, and there being no public road, going to this mill was a difficult and arduous task.
The early settlement of the town is a story filled with incidents of which hardship and privation played the leading roles. As an example of the hardship which the early settlers had to endure, it may be mentioned that Michael BYRNE, who came in 1851, made a clearing of about ten acres of land, which he planted to corn and potatoes, the ground being prepared with a grub hoe as the only implement.
After enduring many vicissitudes Mr. BYRNE became one of the richest and most influential farmers in the town of Russell. It is said that for many years he had the largest barn in Sheboygan county. The main part of the building was 50 by 80 feet, and there was an ell on the west side 34 by 34 feet. Including the basement walls, which were 9 feet high, the barn was 33 feet from ground to eaves. In the basement was a cistern having 750 barrels capacity. The stables in the basement comfortably housing 28 head of cattle, 8 horses and 250 sheep, while the barn above the basement was large enough to store the crops raised on 100 acres of land.
The town of Russell was organized and named by the county board after John RUSSELL who, at that time, lived on Section 4. The first town election was held at George KEENAN's house, on Section 3, in the spring of 1854. Fourteen votes were cast, Michael BYRNE being elected chairman, and John L. SEXTON, clerk.
The first birth in the town was a daughter to Mr. and Mrs. Anton BOLL, in the spring of 1851.
The first death was a man named TRIMBAUER, who was killed by a falling tree, in the fall of 1853, on land later owned by Michael WAGNER.
The first marriage was that of Henry HENSCHELL to Mrs. Amelia WOLFF, in the spring of 1855, Esquire DEAN officiating at the ceremony.
The first religious service was held in a small log church at St. Anna in the spring of 1851. The service was conducted by the Rev. Father ELL.
The first log school house was located in Section 12, and was first taught by John L. SEXTON, the class including 30 pupils.
The first post office was also located in Section 12, being conducted by John L. SEXTON who, for many years, was the only Republican in town.
The first and only church in the town is the Evangelical Lutheran, located on the BRICKBAUER homestead, Rout 2, Elkhart Lake.
The Sheboygan marsh originally covered a large area in the southern part of the township and to accommodate the farmers living south of the marsh, who were forced to make a wide detour to reach the main part of town, the two south tiers of sections properly belonging to the town of Russell were set off and added to the town of Green bush by the county board.
The pioneer settlers and the chronological order of their arrival in the town follows:
1849 - Herman HENSCHEL on Section 14; Louis HENSCHEL on Section 2; Valentine WELKER on Section 5; Anton BOLL on Section 5; Jonathan COTRILL on Section 2; and James SHUFFLEBOTHAM on Section 2.
1850 - Michael BYRNE on Section 10; George and Thomas CAIN on Sections 3 and 10; John HENSCHEL on Section 15; and C. ABBEY on Section 2.
1851 - John L. SEXTON on Section 12; Bernard McCABE on Section 2; Pat KEENAN on Section 11; P. FLYNN on Section 3; and P. SMITH on Section 13.
1854 - Jacob SINZ on Section 12.
1855 - George SIEGMUND on Section 1; John DELAHUNT on Section 11; and Dennis DELAHUNT on Section 2.
1856 - Anton TURBA on Sections 6 and 7.
1858 - John KEENAN on Section 2
1863 - George BRICKBAUER on Section 12
1869 - Jacob JUNG on Section 2
A nearly complete list containing the names of actual residents and those who owned land in the town of Russell in 1870, follows:
Section 1 - U. M. WREN; E. DIXON; D. LOFTUS; G. SIEGMUND; J. DOLLARD; and J SINZ.
Section 2 - L. HENSCHEL; J. FRANKMANN; P. BENSON; P. TRAYNOR; J. SUEMNICHT; J. KEENAN; D. DELAHUNT; Mrs. McCABE; and J. JUNG.
Section 3 - B. GOGGINS; P. CONRAD; C. MANNIER; J. G. GREGOIRE; and P. CAIRN.
Section 4 - L. FATKER; A. POOL; J. LEFFING; J. B. MARCK; J. FRANKMANN; H. LaCROIX; B. GOGGINS; Mrs. CARRAGHER; and J. HANNARD.
Section 5 - A. BOLL; V. and L. VOELKER; J. KLATZ; A. HEIN; F. KOCHER; J. HOFFMAN; and J. WILLIAMS.
Section 6 - J. GRONAS; J. F. MEYER; M. TURBA; M. HEIDERMAN; A. RAMMINGER; L. MAYER; and P. LAWRENCE.
Section 7 - M. HEINER; M. BERENZ; J. STEFFES; P. SCHNEIDER; M. TURBA; John BERTSCHY; and J. HOFFMAN.
Section 8 - John BERTSCHY; E.KOBER; J. B. MARCK; and N. HUBERTY.
Section 9 - J. B. MARCK; I. M. WAGNER; C. CONRAD; and Mrs. BEYER.
Section 10 - P. CAIN; C. MAURER (killed by a falling tree); G. SMITH; G. KEENAN; and M. BYRNE.
Section 11 - J. DELAHUNT; Mrs. McCABE; P. KEENAN; B. and M GROGAN; J. KESSEL; J. P. STRAUSS; J. DAHLHEIM; and P. MATHIES.
Section 12 - J. DOLLARD; H. RAMMINGER; A. RAMMINGER; J. STRUB; J. SINZ; John L. SEXTON; J. MATHIES; and G. BRICKBAUER.
Section 13 - G. POLSTER; G REICHERT; C. HENSCHEL; John BERTSCHY; M. BUCHANAN; J. KESSEL.
Section 14 - A. HENSCHEL; J. KESSEL; J. THALHEIM; H. HENSCHEL; and John BERTSCHY.
Section 15 - H. HENSCHEL; J. SCHURICK; A. HENSCHEL; and John BERTSCHY.
Section 16 - J. FISCHER and John BERTSCHY.
Section 17 - John BERTSCHY; A. STEFFES; and L. PEHRI.
Section 18 - B. WEHNER; J. DIEDRICH; B. HALL; M. HEARN; John BERTSCHY; and L. PETERS.
Section 19 - E. BERSCH; H. GREVEL; J. HOFFMAN; and P. MERLES.
Section 20 - P. KARL; M. LENNER; William SCOTT; and John BERTSCHY.
Section 21 - John BERTSCHY owned the entire section with the exception of 40 acres which was owned by B. COONS.
Section 22 - John BERTSCHY
Section 23 - John BERTSCHY
Section 24 - John BERTSCHY; J. L. SLATON; and L. SCHNEIDER.
The town of Russell now has one district and one joint district schools, the last school census showing there was a total enrollment of 148 pupils.
Copyright 1997 - 2005 by Debie Blindauer
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