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Dodge County Local History Web



From History of Dodge County, Wisconsin, 1880

   This is one of the oldest villages in the county, its history dating back to 1845. It is situated about the center of Williamstown Township, on the Rock River and on the line of the Fond du Lac, Amboy & Peoria Railroad.
   In the year above mentioned, Alvin and William Foster and Chester and S. P. May selected the place as their future home. these gentlemen came from Fort Atkinson in the early spring, traveling in a common lumber-wagon, and were searching for a good water-power. Isaac H. Chandler crossed them over the Rock River, at Horicon, on a raft. In crossing, the raft tipped up and the entire party were spilled into the river, just a little way from the shore from which they were starting. They were all large men, weighing in the neighborhood of two hundred and twenty pounds each. They sank in the water up to their arm-pits. Wading back to the shore, they first dried their clothes and rag money, which was then prevalent, and were crossed over one at a time. Proceeding on their way, they came to the present site of the village, and at once came to the conclusion that they had found the place which they were seeking, and that they were right in their surmises, a visit to the locality will convince the most incredulous, for a finer water-power cannot be found on the river between Rock Island and its head-waters.
   After making their claims, these gentlemen proceeded to erect cabins, which being finished, Alvin Foster and the Mays returned to their old homes, leaving William to superintend the building of a dam, the contract of which was given to William Goodrich. With the help of Mr. Chandler, who drew the trees to the place with his team of oxen, the dam was soon built, and a saw-mill also put in operation, the proprietorship of which was invested in the Fosters and Mays.


   In order to facilitate the formation of a settlement, the proprietors of the prospective village determined to offer inducements to all who would make their home among them. To that end, they first erected a building for the purposes of a general store, which they offered to any one who would open out of a general stock of merchandise. This offer was accepted by Thomas and Benjamin Palmer, who came to the place in 1847. At this time, there was not a road located, and with their stock of goods, the Messrs. Palmer had to follow the paths made through the timber, avoiding the underbrush as much as possible, and, through difficulties, seek the place of their future residence. Another offer, made by Messrs. Foster & May, was the gift of a lot to any one who would build and occupy a residence thereon. This offer was accepted by quite a number, and consequently the village grew rapidly at the start.
   Those who came to the place were principally from the Eastern States. It was not until about 1852, that the Germans began to make their homes here. This class now form by far the greatest portion of the community, and many of them, in the past score of years, have amassed considerable wealth.
   The village was first platted in 1847, the surveying being done by Alvin Foster, one of the proprietors. Other additions have been made from time to time, until now it extends over considerable territory.
   When it became necessary to give the place a name, many were suggested, but none seemed to meet the approval of the majority. Finally, one suggested that it be called Mayville, in honor of Uncle May, as he was familiarly called, one of the proprietors. The name was unanimously adopted.


   It was not until 1847, the citizens succeeded in having a post office established here, when Thomas Palmer, who, with his brother Benjamin, was engaged in the mercantile trade, received the appointment of Postmaster. He held the office some years and was succeeded by E. N. Foster, who in turn was followed by the following named, in the order given: E. B. Brown, E. P. Clark, H. Eiles, R. Sauerhering, A. B. Bonney, Mr. McFarland and G. Nary, the latter of whom tdininisters its affairs in a manner highly satisfactory to the community. The office some years since was made amoney-order one, and a large business is transacted.


   By a large number of American people, a place is judged by its school facilities. If they are good, the place is to be commended; if imperfect, it is to be condemned. Mayville will stand the test of righteous judgment. The first school was in the winter of 1847 in the cabin of a private family, and in the year following a log schoolhouse was built and school hold therein. As the demands of the country increased, other arrangements were made, until finally, a few years since, the village erected one of the finest and most substantial school buildings in the county--one in which her citizens take a just pride. In this the English language is taught exclusively. For their own convenience, and to keep up a knowledge of the mother tongue, the Germans support from private funds a good school.


   The religious element of the community is represented by German Lutheran, German Catholic and Baptist, each having a church building, the latter at present only being occasionally occupied, while in the former regular services are held to flourishing congregations.


   The first hotel was built in 1847, by H. G. Phelps, on the site of the present American House. From that date to the present time, a public house has ever been open there for the accommodation of weary travelers, and we believe its reputation has always been well sustained. It is now owned and controlled by D. Puls, a gentleman well and favorably known by the traveling fraternity.
   The California House is another candidate for public favor and is situated on the corner of Main and Bridge streets. J. J. Lauzenbach, proprietor.


   Two of the benevolent Orders are represented in the village, that of the Odd Fellows and Masons, both of which are in a flourishing condition, with live, active members.
   Vesper Lodge, No. 62, A., F. & A. M., holds its regular meetings on the first and third Saturdays of each month, in Masonc Hall, Saurhering's Block. Visiting brethren will always receive a cordial welcome.
   Mayville Lodge, No. 200, I. O. O. F., meets every Friday evening in Odd Fellows' Hall, over Reible's marble-shop. Brethren of the Order are invited to meet with them.