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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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George Ballantine Surveyor

Hardy Pioneers Made First County Survey In The Fall Of 1834

Sheboygan Press August 13, 1921

(Milwaukee Evening Wisconsin June, 1888)

George Ballantine, of Blooming Grove, Grant county, recently gave the editor of the Lancaster Teller an account of his experiences as a pioneer surveyor at Milwaukee and Sheboygan. He arrived at Chicago in the spring of 1834, when the city was little more than a garrison of soldiers, and while waiting there for something to turn up, a man came along and said he wanted to hire some men to go with him to Sheboygan in a surveying party.

Sheboygan was the point, but there was no Sheboygan then. Having engaged a sufficient number of men, the party, with Mr. Ballantine at its head, sent out on their voyage along the shore in an open boat. At Milwaukee while stormbound, they surveyed a tract for Mr. Juneau, and Mr. Ballantine is confident that he drove the first "town lot" stake in this city. It was fall when they reached Sheboygan. They spent the winter surveying - subdividing government sections in the country around Sheboygan. That winter they never slept in a house. Their only assistants in traveling were a couple of pack ponies. At night they slept in their tents.

A man named Trowbridge built a sawmill at Sheboygan that winter which was the beginning of the lumbering business and of improvements in that country.

After various experiences that were not as amusing then as they are in the light of the present day, the party struck their tent in the spring of 1935 and returned to Chicago, traveling the way on foot.

It may be added that soon after that, came the "Sheboygan boom," that so nearly convinced Milwaukeeans of that time, that the place would outrank Milwaukee and become the metropolis of the state. After the speculation fever died out, several of the best buildings of Sheboygan were placed on scows and hauled to Milwaukee.

Mr. Ballantine says that one or two are still in existence, one at the least, serving as a residence on the West side. This building with its latter day attachments of veranda, etc., shows no signs of its age, and though far from being as noteworthy as its more stylish neighbors, was once "the pride of two cities."

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Transcribed by: Kay R.

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