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Ceresco was founded in the town of Ripon in the spring of 1844. The first settlers began arriving in Metomen the same season. Curtis D. Higley filed for 80 acres of federal lands in section 3 in May 1844. Colonel Eben Mansfield "squatted" in Section 19 at about the same time. Daniel Eggleston and family settled in section 20 in June, 1845. Other settlers in 1845 included Jacob Carter (section 20), Almon Osborn (section 2), S. H. French, Robert Jenkinson (section 17), John and Thomas Coats, William Worden (section 7, Alto), Matthew Wilson (section 17), and Adolphus Dart (section 17).

Settlement in the Fairwater and Reeds Corners areas of Metomen began earlier than in the Brandon area. By 1847, however, the Wisconsin territorial census identified Thomas J. Norris (section 35), Silas Danley (section 35), Samuel Stanton (section 27), Levi Yorty (section 27), Samuel Hubbell (section 24), and Amos Pond (section 26) as living in the vicinity of what would shortly become Bungtown, the forerunner of the village of Brandon. F. D. Bowman, referred to as the "Robinson Crusoe" of the area in the 1880 history of the county (History of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Western Historical Company, Chicago: 1880), had settled nearby in section 3 of the town of Alto as early as 1841.

Although the community of Brandon had not yet appeared, settlement was already under way in 1848, as documented in the 1880 History:

A Methodist class was formed as early as 1848, by Rev. H. Allen, a lay preacher and farmer in the north part of Metomen. Meetings were held at Union Prairie Schoolhouse [1 mile east of Brandon], which was one of a circuit containing three charges.

The 1880 History described the founding of the village and its first years as follows:

The first building within present corporation limits was built by R. W. Pride, in 1849, and stood on the site of F. M. Hillmans residence. The place was not improved nor continuously occupied for several years.... In its early history it was a lively place and known as "Bungtown."

The 1850 federal census identified Samuel Stanton, Thomas Norris, Silas Danley, Abel Phillips (section 33), John Lockin (section 25), Ranson W. Pride, William Casteen, Elisha Gallup, John Riley (section 36), Oliver Ohara, Amos Pond, Jacob Mason (section 23), and Levi Yorty as living in the vicinity of Bungtown.

Ranson Pride, one of only 9 men in the town identifying himself with an occupation other than farming or labor, listed his occupation as that of "waggon maker."

As the early 1880 History suggested, Brandon
"did not become a center of business until the completion of the railroad in 1856, when it began rapid strides toward the dignity of a city." The History decribes that pivotal development as follows:

The efforts of this township and others in this locality were successful in securing railroad connections, and the Milwaukee & Horicon Railroad was built through this township in 1856. It passes northwesterly, from Section 36 to Section 3, in its course through Metomen. The road is now owned by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Company. It was built by a construction company, who did not meet all their obligations, which caused some difficulties. Near Reeds Corners, the tracklayers were forcibly prevented from putting down the rails, by the unpaid workmen who had graded the road-bed. Civil and military aid was invoked and the rails were laid amid much excitement. The scene of the encounter is still known as the "battle ground." During the building of the railroad much freight had accumulated at Waupun, and some was sent over the line before the regular running of trains.

Way-bill No. 1 and first freight receipt were dated Tuesday, October 14, 1856. The goods were consigned to G. Perkins & Co., who were merchants, then located in the Walker House. The senior member of that firm is now County Judge of Fond du Lac County. Regular freight trains did not run until the 19th of October, 1856. The first regular passenger train which left Milwaukee for Brandon, and returned on schedule time, came into Brandon with flying colors about noon on Saturday, October 18, 1856. The event was an occasion of special rejoicing; Charles Larrabee, of Horicon, was the leading orator of the day; a public dinner and free drinks made it a memorable day. H. W. Gregory was the first station agent at Brandon. The express and railroad agent at the present time is W. S. Randall.

The same source documents the origination of the village's current name: "The station and village were named "Brandon" by William Lockin, in honor of many Vermont settlers." The first school in Brandon was established with a single teacher.

The Ripon Weekly Times [August 3, 1860] ran a story in its editorial column announcing the formation of the Metomen Wide Awakes:

The Republicans of Metomen had a meeting last Saturday evening to organize a Wide Awake Company. Owing to the unpleasant weather there was not a full attendance, and the meeting was adjourned to Saturday evening, the 11th inst, at the Round Prairie Schoolhouse.

In this, the first year of the Civil War, 6 men from the Brandon area enlisted in the Union Army. Of these six, one was killed in action, two died of diseases, and one was discharged with service disabilities (see also the Metomen Civil War Roster page).

Name Unit & Company Enlisted Personal Information End of Service
James Ivers 4th Wi Cav, B 4/19/61 Town of Alto Discharged 7/13/64
Frank Benbury 3rd Wi Inf, D 4/22/61   Musician, disability 5/29/62
Dennis Washburne 3rd Wi Inf, D 4/22/61   Killed Chancellorsville, 5/2/63
Eugene S. Pride 4th Wi Cav, B 5/8/61 Brandon laborer, age 17 Discharged 7/13/64 (see 1863 Fairwater)
Nicholas Myers 11th Wi Inf, I 10/5/61 Brandon laborer, age 16 Died disease, Pine Knob, Mo, 2/18/63
Leander D. Laughlin 11th Wi Inf, I 11/5/61 Brandon blacksmith, age 41 Died disease, St. Louis, 11/6/62

During the second year of the war, the society of the Congregational Church of Brandon relocated to Brandon from a schoolhouse in the center of the town. Eleven men enlisted in the Union Army:

Name Unit & Company Enlisted Personal Information End of Service
Marshall Tenney 18th Wi Inf, F 2/10/62 Brandon laborer, age 23 Prisoner Shiloh, died disease 3/18/65
George G. Shufelt 3rd Wi Cav, C 2/18/62   Bugler, transf to Co. H 3/23/65
Eugene H. Ely 3rd Wi Cav, C 2/21/62 Brandon, age 23 Discharged 12/22/62 for promotion to the regular army
Edgar M. Pierce 32nd Wi Inf, B 8/5/62 Brandon carpenter, age 30 Discharged 6/12/65
Benjamin F. Sheldon 32nd Wi Inf, B 8/5/62 Brandon, age 25 Died Hilton Head, S.C., 2/7/65
Cornelius Comstock 32nd Wi Inf, D 8/5/62 Brandon laborer, age 27 Prisoner Decatur, discharged 6/13/65
Wesley Ingalls 32nd Wi Inf, B 8/12/62 Brandon, age 18 Transferred to Vet. Reserves, 5/1/64
Dwight P. Hitchcock 32nd Wi Inf, B 8/15/62 Brandon, age 16 Died disease, Canton, Miss, 2/25/64
William C. Marsh 32nd Wi Inf, B 8/15/62 Brandon, age 22 Discharged disability, 2/22/63
Girden Webster 32nd Wi Inf, B 8/15/62   Died disease in Brandon, 9/24/63
Cyrus Benjamin 30th Wi Inf, G 8/20/62 Brandon farmer, age 32 Discharged disability 8/5/65

In the third year of the war, the first Brandon Methodist Episcopal Church building was erected in the community. Reverend Henry Requa was the pastor. During the summer, the Congregational Church building was also completed.

During the fourth year of the war, a new, two-story, wooden schoolhouse was constructed, containing four classrooms. Five men enlisted in the Union Army:

Name Unit & Company Enlisted Personal Information End of Service
Byron F. Pride 3rd Wi Inf, G 2/28/64 Brandon, age 19 Discharged 7/18/65
Albert Dresser 38th Wi Inf, D 3/31/64 Brandon miller, age 38 Discharged 7/26/65
Jacob C. Yorty 3rd Wi Cav, K 8/24/64 Brandon, age 22 Discharged 6/19/65
William Culbertson 3rd Wi Cav, K 8/24/64 Brandon, age 20 Discharged 6/19/65
Erasmus W. Pride 38th Wi Inf, F 12/16/64 Brandon miller, age 23 Capt, discharged 7/26/65

During the final year of the war, one man enlisted in the Union Army:

Name Unit & Company Enlisted Personal Information End of Service
James E. Thompson 50th Wi Inf, D 2/14/65 Brandon, age 27 Discharged 5/17/65

A class of German Methodists was organized by Reverend August Turnitzer. Meetings were held in the Congregational Church. The village's first newspaper, the Brandon Times, began publication. The editor was G. M. West. West's wife, Adella, was born in Rosendale in 1849 and is buried in Brandon, although she died in St. Andrew, Florida in 1904. (1880 History)

The German Lutheran Church was built during the year. (1880 History)

The building of the German Methodist Episcopal Church of Brandon was completed. (1880 History)

A cooperative store was established by area Granges, as described in the 1880 History:

In the autumn of 1877, the Brandon Grange, in connection with several surrounding Granges, organized a stock company for the management of a co-operative store in Brandon. They commenced with a capital of $4,050.

An incorporation notice for the village of Brandon was run in the late September, October, and early November issues of the Brandon Times, as follows:

     Notice is hereby given that the undersigned tax payers and residents of the territory hereinafter described, will on the 12th day of November, A D, 1877, at the opening of Court on that day, or as soon thereafter as the application can be heard, apply to the Circuit Court of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin in which county said territory lies, for an order incorporating said territory into a Village by the name of Brandon, under chapter 18S of the general laws of 1872, said territory being part and parcel of Sections Number twenty-five (25), twenty-six (26), thirty-five (35) and thirty-six(36), in Township number fifteen (15) north, of Range number fourteen (14) east, being in the town of Metomen, county of Fond du Lac, and bounded as follows, to-wit:
     Commencing at the south west corner of the north-east quarter of section number thirty-five, (35) thence east along line of forties sixty (60) chains to the south-east corner of the north-east quarter of the north-west quarter of section number thirty-six (36), thence north along line of fort es sixty (60) chains to the north-east corner of the north-east quarter of the south-west quarter of section number twenty-five (25), thence west along line of forties sixty (60) chains to the north-west corner of the north-east quarter of the south-east quarter of section number twenty-six (26), thence south along line of forties forty (40) chains to the south-west corner of the south-east quarter of the south-east quarter of section number twenty-six(26), thence west along section line five (5) chains, thence south parallel with east line of forty twelve (12) chains, thence east parallel with the north section line five (5) chains, thence south on line of forty eight (8) chains to the place of beginning; containing three hundred and sixty-six (366) acres of land.
     That we have caused a survey and map of said territory to be made and a census of the inhabitants residing therein to be taken, and that said survey, map and census will be left at the office of David Whitton within said territory, where the same may be examined by all persons interested in such application,
     Dated this 19th day of September, A D. 1877.
     RC Kelly,                 David Whitton,
     S. Weinstock,        L. J. Hall,
     C. W. Ferguson, C. Asmuth,
     J. E. Gee,                 A. J. Yorty,
                Martin C. Short.

The 1880 History states that Brandon was organized as a village on January 8 and indicates that "the first Trustees were J. Abercrombie, W. D. Ash, J. Lockin, L. Marsh, G. H. Paine, and J. Raube."

The population of Brandon was 800. In January, enrollment in the school was 211, and "the teachers are faithful, the administration quietly efficient, and the school enjoys public confidence." Also according to the 1880 History, the business district of the village contained:

four general stores, three hardware stores, two drug stores, two groceries, three milliners stores, one notion store, one jewelry store, one flouring-mill, one planing-mill, two wagon shops, three harness-shops, two shoe-shops, two meat markets, two hotels, one merchant tailor, two paint-shops, one cooper-shop, one cabinetshop, three blacksmith-shops, one barber-shop, four grain warehouses, two lumber-yards, five grain and produce buyers, two jobbers and contractors, two stonemasons, four agricultural-implement dealers, one drayman, two justices of the peace, one lawyer, three doctors, four ministers and four churches, three saloons, two insurance agents, one police magistrate, one broker, one newspaper and printing office, one money-order post office, one depot, one graded high school, and seven secret societies.

Last updated 3/7/1999


This site represents an ongoing project to document Brandon's history. If you have information to share, please contact Bob Schuster by email at rmschust@facstaff.wisc.edu or at 6020 Kristi Circle, Monona, Wisconsin 53716, (608) 221-1421.