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The Pioneer, a monthly supplement to the Sheboygan Press


Sheboygan Press - September 26, 1931

Sheboygan Pioneer Monthly Supplement

Lyndon Township Pioneers

By Mrs. Henry (Mable) Harling


In the fall of 1846, my grandparents, James and Lucinda Stone, and family, and great-aunt and uncle Jewett and family, bade farewell to their homes in the Berkshire hills of Vermont, and sought a new home in the then almost unknown western country.

Coming by way of Lake Champlain, the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes, a three weeks' journey, they landed in Sheboygan late in September.

Two years previous, two men had located land in Sec. 3, Town of Lyndon, and had laid up logs for a house. This was the objective of the travelers. From Sheboygan they were moved by Jacob Wilcox, who sometime later settled in Lyndon. Before they reached their destination, one of the wagons broke down, necessitating a delay, and the young people went ahead on the Indian trail until they reached the shell of the log house in the underbrush, with briars growing trough the openings for doors and windows. When the others arrived, they found the girls sitting on a log crying as if their hearts would break, "Is this our home? Let's go back to Vermont." there was no going back, and the real pioneer life began from that moment. Windows and lumber for doors and floors had been brought from Sheboygan, but first a shelter had to be made for the few animals they brought with them, as there were many wild animals around.

It was some time before the house could be inclosed and they could "rive out" "Shakes" for the roof, and they slept for many nights with quilts hung at the openings with the heavens for a roof.

They did not bring a cook stove, and none could be bought in Sheboygan, so the women cooked for sixteen people during six weeks on a log heap until a stove could be procured.

Two years previous to this, in 1844, Thaddeus Harmon and family had come from New York State and settled on a farm a mile east, and the were their only neighbors, excepting the Indians. There was a camp of about 200 Indians on the bank of the Onion River, near them. At first, the settlers were somewhat afraid of then, but they became friends quickly. The Indians came often with offerings of venison, fish and honey, and they always expected something in return - flour, meal or salt pork. As Grandfather Stone was quite a leader in the settlement, the Indians called him "Heap Big Chief Jim Stone" and my grandmother was "Jim Stone's Squaw."

Years after all the Indians had been sent to the reservations, stray bands, passing through would always visit Grandmother Stone and members of her family, especially Mary (my mother), as she was Jim Stone's little papoose."

Other families soon came and the settlement was named Winooski by Mr. Stone, for Winooski on the Onion River in Vermont.

Here the first post office in Town Lyndon was established, and James Stone was first postmaster, holding the office the remainder of his lifetime. He was also the first justice of the peace.

Mr. Stone was a millwright, and with his son-in-law, Sherman Comings, built all the mills in this section and as far north as Menasha. The Winooski mill was the first built, for Mr. Ellis, who had come from Massachusetts. Mrs. Ellis was a niece of Mrs. Stone, and her parents, Benjamin and Rhoda Wood, and Persis Danforth, all of Vermont, had joined the settlers. Persis Danforth afterward married Joel Wright.

Helen Stone taught the first school in Lyndon. The school house was in the northern part of the township. One Sunday she started from home in a snow storm, wearing her brother's boots. The store increased, the path was covered, and she was lost and wandered around in the woods until after dark, when she saw a light and went toward it and found it was the home of Deacon Samuel Reed, where she had boarded the previous week.

My mother, Mary Stone, and the other children went to school on the Indian trail. They often saw deer and other wild animals, and once the saw a bear.

The four Stone girls were some of the first teachers in Sheboygan county.

The original Stone farm is now owned by Richard Pfrang. Glanville Stone, the oldest son, was a Methodist preacher. He settled on a farm in Plymouth township. Hialmer on the farm adjoining his father's on the east. The daughters all married and settled in this locality. Elmina, Mrs. Sherman Comings, married in Vermont and came to Wisconsin the next year after the Stones came. Plantina was Mrs. Selden Akin; Maila, Mrs. E. P. Andrus, Helen, Mrs. Harvey Comings, and Mary, Mrs. Henry McMurphy.

These people had few luxuries in those days. Though they had money, supplies were hard to get. It was not unusual for the men to walk to Sheboygan and bring home flour and supplies on their backs. Sometimes they drove to Milwaukee with ox teams for supplies. The more provident brought a year's supply with them, as they knew they must first clear the land before they could raise a crop. They depended much on game and fish. Berries were plentiful; and they all made maple sugar, and much honey was found in bee trees.

Ox teams were used, as there were few horses. The Harmons brought a horse with them. When new settlers came, they were taken into the homes and shared the frugal store. The men would have a "bee" and build log houses, and it was not unusual to be able to sleep under their own roof the second night.

Their blessings were few, but they were well appreciated, and the God of their Fathers was ever their faithful guide. Every Sabbath they would gather in one of the homes for religious services. The first "meetings" were held in my Grandfather Stone's home. The Mulleton and Onion River churches are the outgrowth of this little society.

I was always interested in hearing my Grandmother Stone and Great-aunt Jewett tell of their pioneer experiences, - how they raised the wool spun the yarn and wove and dyed the cloth for dresses and men's wear, and how they worked nights by the light of a tallow candle.

In this early Winooski settlement, besides those already mentioned, might be added the names of others, Shadbolt, Roundsville, Tucker, Smith, Underhill, Johnson, Williams, Westland, Calwell, Ford.

The people of the present generation little realize the undertakings of their forefathers, who came from homes of comfort and culture in the east to this almost unknown western county; who came with brain, brawn and muscle, and with an undaunted determination; how hewed their way through the unbroken forests and established themselves here that future generations might reap the benefits; how they changed the face of nature by the toil of their hands and the sweat of their brows. When they had laid low the monarchs of the forests and transformed the wilderness into broad and fertile fields with homes of plenty, they rested from their labors, and their children and children's children took upon the work of advancement. All honor to whose pioneers, those men and women who overcame almost insurmountable difficulties!

I will close this with an extract from a toast given by a pioneer woman of Sheboygan county at a pioneer gathering in 1870:

"We are of many nations. Our homes were among the fields and hedgerows of England, the green turf of Ireland, or among the vineclad hills of the Fatherland. Some of us are proud to call New England home, and a still larger number wandered hither from the beautiful farms and valleys of the middle states. We were young in those times; life was bright to us. It held for us measureless stories of happy possibilities. We were willing to forsake our childhood's home, our kindred, our friends, and the thousands of nameless charms of an old civilization, to found a new home with the husbands whom we loved better than all these. The woods held no terrors for us. Life in a log cabin, far from neighbor or friend, inspired us with no homesick forebodings. Youth and hope were to sit always by our fireside; health was to sit at our hearth-stone, love was to abide ever with us. Happy it is we were inspired by such a beautiful faith, for without it, Sheboygan county would still remain, as in 1845, a desolate wilderness.


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