Appendix C: Summit and Oconomowoc
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259 a p p e n d i x c Summit and Oconomowoc When the first pioneers settled in this region, about thirty miles west of Milwaukee in southeast Wisconsin and twenty-five years before the opening of this story, the Wisconsin Territory was already divided into townships, six miles square. Two of these townships were Summit and Oconomowoc.1 Summit was a center of commerce for both Summit and Oconomowoc until a freak tornado in the 1850s destroyed most of Summit Center and Summit Corners. The railway that planned to go through Summit instead built its station in Oconomowoc . In 1862 Oconomowoc was a village of a thousand people and had become the metropolis of the region. A Glance at the Oconomowoc Free Press The Free Press was Oconomowoc’s first newspaper, first published on October 14, 1858. Its final issue was August 1862 because its publisher, D. S. Curtis, enlisted in the Union army. On May 12, 1859, the Oconomowoc Free Press published an article headed “Oconomowoc ” that described the town from a tourism view. Heretofore, very little has been said concerning the many natural advantages of our thriving little town. Situated in the heart of one of the finest grain growing countries of the West; surrounded by numerous lakes, forming an immense water power whose waters abound with fish of the finest quality, and on whose placid bosom numberless flocks of wild ducks, geese, white swan, &c. abound, a¤ording unbounded facilities for the sportsman to display his skill; on the line of the Mil., Wht. & Bar. Val. R. R. [Milwaukee, Watertown, and Baraboo Valley Railroad], and only 33 miles from Milwaukee, the metropolis of Wisconsin, and immediate connection with which, was not only very desirable, but of which very few towns of our size can boast. We know of no place in the West which, during the summer season, a¤ords such natural advantages for enjoyment to our city friends, as Oconomowoc. Here you can obtain all if not more, than is found at our fashionable watering places. A fine Hotel capable of accommodating a goodly number, and under the management of G. W. Fay, Esq., who is acknowledged by those who have once broke bread at his bounteous table, to keep the finest house outside of Milwaukee. On our lakes, plenty of fine sailing boats as ever spread canvass to the breeze, can be found to take parties on excursions to the island or di¤erent points on the lakes. Take it all in all, we must say again, that there is not a more beautiful town in the West, where people may come to rid themselves of the dust and bustle of city life, than Oconomowoc; and we cordially invite those who wish to enjoy rural felicity as it is to come and try it. The following were printed in a section headed “News Items” in the Oconomowoc Free Press, May 12, 1859: —James Buchanan, President of the U.S., was 68 years old on Saturday, the 23d ult. —There have been four hundred cases of measles at Niles, Mich., within the past four months. —Mathew Gilroy, died at Deerfield, Oneida Co., N.Y., on Monday week, at the age of 105 years. —A bill to prohibit the marriage of white and black persons has passed the Wisconsin legislature. —Eighteen thousand herrings were caught on Monday week, at Squawbetty, near Taunton, Mass. —Steamboat navigation has been resumed on the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Quebec. Here is a sampling of news articles from the Oconomowoc Free Press between 1859 and 1862. These are wonderful for giving the reader a flavor of the town of Oconomowoc about the time the letters were written. REFORMERS:—There is a certain class in every community who make loud professions of devotion to Temperance and other reforms, but scarcely ever spend a dime or an hour’s time to help the work on or relieve those who are doing all they can. To such we recommend the 2nd chapter of James, 16–18 verses. (July 26, 1862) EXPLAINED.—The man who came through the upper end of the village so furiously the other day, stopped suddenly at Place’s grocery and provision store, and purchased sugar, co¤ee, tea, and other articles enough to last his family a year. That’s the place to buy cheap. (April 21, 1859) 260 Appendix C FINE BERRIES: A good lady friend has our thanks for a little pail of handsome, delicious Rhasberries...


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Subject Headings

  • Claflin, Gilbert -- Correspondence.
  • Claflin, Esther -- Correspondence.
  • Claflin family -- Correspondence.
  • Soldiers -- Wisconsin -- Oconomowoc -- Correspondence.
  • Wisconsin -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives.
  • Oconomowoc (Wis.) -- History.
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