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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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This article was contributed by Kay Reitberger

Sheboygan Press - May 14, 1929

(There are two photos of Harvard Giddings and one photo of the house in which he was born)

First White Boy Born In County Pays Visit To Scenes Of Boyhood

Sheboygan Falls for the past two weeks had been harboring Harvard GIDDINGS, the first white boy born in Sheboygan county. Coincident with the fact the Mr. GIDDINGS was born in Sheboygan Falls is another fact that the house in which he was born 86 years ago is still standing and on the site where it was originally built, at 829 Detroit street in that city.

The name of GIDDINGS is linked with the earliest settlement of Sheboygan county. In 1835, David GIDDINGS, father of Harvard, and Silas STEADMAN came into this region and the following year these two men returned and erected the first sawmill in what is now the city of Sheboygan Falls. The completion of this mill heralded the nucleus of the first settlement of that part of the county, and quite a village was built at the Falls long before there was a re-settlement at the port of Sheboygan.

Born In 1843

Harvard GIDDINGS was born April 4, 1843, the son of David and Dorothy TROWBRIDGE GIDDINGS. On October 6, 1864, he married Genevieve PARKER, daughter of John and Sarah HUNTINGTON WARD PARKER of the town of Sheboygan Falls. The same year Mr. and Mrs. GIDDINGS moved to Fond du Lac where they spent the early years of their married life on a large farm. It was on this farm that David GIDDINGS, father of Harvard, spent his last years.

After Mr. GIDDINGS sold his Fond du Lac county farm, the family which then included two sons, Harry and John, moved to Ourtown, at which place Mr. GIDDINGS operated a grist mill for a number of years. Later the family moved to Sheboygan Falls taking possession of the large estate now known as the Pinehurst Farms, which estate and palatial home was in the GIDDINGS family for seventy-five years.

After disposing of this home, Mr. and Mrs. GIDDINGS went to Antigo where they have lived quietly with their daughter, Mrs. Fred D. LEAVANS, up to the present time. Last October the couple celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary.

His recent trip from Antigo to Sheboygan Falls was made by automobile driven by his son-in-law, Egbert RICHARDSON, at whose home he is visiting at the present time.

In Excellent Health

Despite his advanced years, Mr. GIDDINGS' general health is good, although at times he suffers from rheumatism. Owing to impaired vision, he does not read, but he derives great pleasure in listening in on the radio. His mind is clear, and conversing with a representative of The Sheboyan Press referred to many incidents and landmarks connected with Sheboygan Falls. He was conveyed in an automobile driven by The Press photographer, to the house in which he was born, and identified the building as being the one erected for his parents almost ninety years ago. The house is now occupied by Charles J. HEULE, foreman at the Sheboygan County News plant, and his wife.

Among other matters of interest to Sheboygan county residents, Mr. GIDDINGS is positive that Mrs. Fay MANVILLE, who passed away several years ago, was the first white child born in Sheboygan county. There is some controversy regarding the first white child born in Sheboygan county which should be cleared up by the recollections of Mr. GIDDINGS.

Built Eight Mills

During his lifetime, Mr. GIDDINGS' father built eight sawmills in this county, one of which was a double sawmill on the site where the BRICKNER Wollen Mills warehouse now stands on the east side of the river. The senior GIDDINGS also built a small building near the river which he occupied as a real estate office, from which office he sold portions of his vast holdings of land. That building is now used as an interurban station by the Wisconsin Power and Light company. As a debt of gratitude to this pioneer who to no small extent, was responsible for the development of Sheboygan Falls, the people of that city have named one of its main thoroughfares GIDDINGS avenue.

As a matter of historical record, David GIDDINGS was a delegate to two conventions held in Madison for the purpose of framing a constitution for Wisconsin. The first convention was held in 1846, but the first constitution having been rejected by the people, a second convention was held later and another constitution was drawn up which was acceptable to the people of the state. Mr. GIDDINGS walked the entire distance from Sheboygan Falls to Madison, following Indian trails to Green Bay and from that point southwest to the state capital. Harvard GIDDINGS recalls that his father bought a new pair of cowhide boots before starting out to make the trek to the convention in Madison.

Routed Through Falls

When the government surveyors came into this territory to mark the military road from Chicago to Green Bay, Mr. GIDDINGS recalls that they intended to run the lines some distance west of the present city of Sheboygan Falls. His father's offer to build a bridge over the Sheboygan river if the road were routed through Sheboygan Falls, was accepted by the government, and as the result of this offer and acceptance by the government, the road was marked through the city.

Of the five children born to Mr. and Mrs. Harvard GIDDINGS, two have passed away. They were Henry P., who died in California several years ago, and William T., who passed away at the age of twenty years. The names of the living children follow: Mrs. Egbert (Genevieve WARD) Richardson of Sheboygan Falls, Mrs. Fred D. (Dorothy CHAPIN) LEAVENS of Antigo and John D. GIDDINGS of Fond du Lac.

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