Eden, Wisconsin, Local History Web Fond du Lac County Local History Web
Eden, Wisconsin, Local History Web
HISTORY OF EDEN TOWNSHIP  

 

History of Eden Township
Jenny Tripp Sievers, 1926

In a southeasterly direction from the city of Fond du Lac, bounded on the North by Empire, east by Osceola, south by Ashford, and west by Byron, lies the town of Eden in Fond du Lac County named after the habitation of our first parents.

Upon research we find that probably Ebenezer Dacon was the first settler in the Town of Eden in 1843, and in 1845 Joseph Carr and Adam Holiday settled here very nearly at the same time. In the following February Samuel Rand and Peter Vandervoort came with their families. Also Quimby Hayes settled here in the year of 1846. Archie Bishop and brother Stephen A. purchased 300 acres of land in Eden in 1846, part of which Ebenezer Dacon was living upon. Soon these were followed by E. Foster, Charles Mitchell, H. J. Carter, James Mahoney, James Odekirk, E. McEnroe, Aaron Walters, Patrick Brennan, Joseph & David Denniston, George Averill, Isaac Adriance, A. Pierron, W. S. Cogshall, P. Ryan, Nicholas Martin, Lucine Batterson, Eugene St. Mary, Peter, James, & Christopher Flood and many others. The town was first settled by the Irish in the south, while many from New York, New England and Germans were among the early settlers.

The first white child born in the Town of Eden was a daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Adam Holiday in 1847. The first boy born in the town who also voted in it was John L. Martin.

The first crops were raised in 1847, which proved to be much more abundant than expected. In early days there were no roads. The route of travel lay along Indian trails, twisting here and there and marked by "blazed" trees leading from the hut of one settler to that of another around a hill or swamp.

Milling was usually done at Watertown or Mayville, the journey being made by ox team. But many times a large coffee mill in the neighborhood would grind wheat, corn and buckwheat for their flour. The principal diet was potatoes, wild game, bread or biscuit made in many instances of unbolted meal ground in a huge steam-boat coffee mill. Tea was substituted by leaves of a small shrub known in those days as "prairie tea" and a better article than the poor Japanese tea of today. Coffee was expensive – corn, barley, rye, and acorns were used instead. "Boughten" coffee was a luxury. Before the year 1850, many settlers hauled their grain to Sheboygan market and incoming families and their household goods, if any, were brought to this locality in this way. The price received for grain was indeed small compared to prices of today. Edward McEnroe who settled here in 1847 raised 500 bushels of oats, which he sold for 10 cents a bushel. Money was scarce and many settlers had but a few cents left after paying the government for their land.

At what is known as "Vandervoort’s Big Spring" near the village of Eden was once an Indian village, and since the white man has tilled the soil, great numbers of copper and flint spear and arrowheads, stone axes, ornaments and grinding tools have been found. There were encampments of Indians in the town in early days. Nearly every instance they proved to be good neighbors. In the integrity of the red men we have one example. During the winter of 1847, an Indian named Ki-A-mek (Falling Snow) called at a settler’s shanty and noticing a splendid rifle hanging on its hooks, desired the loan of it for "Two Moons". He made his request in broken English and showed that he was blind in the right eye, where a papoose had shot an arrow. The rifle was given him and nothing more was seen of the Indian or gun until the day that the two months expired. Then old Ki-a-mek came wallowing through deep snow to the white man’s "wigwam", delivered up the gun and presenting a large deer, "slain", he said proudly, "by my squaw". It is said that a small patch of the original Indian planting ground can still be distinctly seen in the eastern part of the township never having been disturbed since the Indians planted their corn.

In the year 1848, William and Thomas Kelly settled in north Eden and started chopping trees. About 4 o’clock every afternoon they would hear an unusually strange noise issuing from the dense thicket. William would say to Tom, "Let’s be going, it’s a bear or a wolf". They would at once stop work and go home. Charles Clark, the hunter, chancing to go that way hunting stopped where the Kelly’s were chopping. They told Clark that if he would wait until 4 o’clock, that he would be rewarded by securing a large bear. Clark, of course, waited and about 4 o’clock the noise commenced. "There," exclaimed Kelly, "that’s him". "Why you fools" said Clark, "that is only a screech owl, I can see him" and he pulled the trigger and the huge bird tumbled to the racket. "Well now" said Kelly to Clark "if we had known that last fall we would have had 4 acres more land cleared."

There were no pumps in early days, a windless was used, or either the quaint sweep and pole, with the old oaken bucket attached. The dress of the pioneer often was unique buckskin coat and pants, a squirrel or fawn skin cap, and buckskin moccasins. Buckskin was obtained from the Indians for a mere trifle. The boys wore shoes made of boat legs by the neighborhood cobbler. These shoes would last the wearer two years. Young men of those days didn’t wear ready made clothing. Clothes were manufactured by their good mothers and sisters and were often misfit.

George Averill who settled in the Town of Eden was the first shoemaker for miles around. A number of people came from other towns to have their shoes made. The first marriage in the town took place at George Averill’s in 1847. The contracting parties were a man by the name of Baldwin and Miss Margaret Bell, Reverend M. L. Noble of Fond du Lac tied the knot. For pass time, the young people had their spelling, singing school, and debating clubs. Old time "shindigs" where the old and young people would dance the Virginia Reel, Scotch Reel, Money Musk, Firemen’s Dance, Devil’s Dream and Jigs all were heartily enjoyed.

The first schoolhouse was built of round tamarack logs, rough benches lined inside. This school was located just north of the present Village of Eden at the four corners on Hwy 55. The first schoolmaster was Anthony Briggs in 1849. Miss Charlotte Berry ( Mrs. M. Briggs) was the first school mistress who taught in the same school in 1850. She was the mother of F. O. Briggs, present postmaster of Eden. The system of teaching school was simple-reading, writing, arithmetic and geography were the studies. Peter Vandervoort was the first local preacher in Eden, holding services at the settler’s log houses. St. James Catholic Church held services in a log house built in 1849 until Rev. J. McGowan built the present structure in 1865. This church is now served by Rev. J. B. McFarland, who resides in the Village of Eden and has been priest at St. Mary’s church there for over 25 years.

In 1847, a meeting was called to name the town, after proposing and voting on many names, Adam Holiday arose and said "that Adam dwelt in the Garden of Eden" and he proposed the name of Garden of Eden. W. S. Cogshall said the name was too long and argued to leave off "the Garden". His suggestion was carried unanimously. The first town meeting was held at Vandervoort’s in 1848. Peter Vandervoort was chosen chairman and Samuel Rand town clerk.

A Post Office was established by Peter Vandervoort in 1850. He had charge of this office until 1872. A post office was also established in east Eden in 1853 with Egbert Foster as postmaster. This office was an important one until the building of the railroad. It had daily mail, besides twice a week distributing office for Osceola, Mitchell, Armstrong Corners, and Rathburn. Work on the Airline Railroad was started in 1871 and before the end of the year the road was sold to the Chicago Northwestern Railway Company and was completed in 1873. This railroad runs diagonally across the town and Eden was made a station. M. L. Batterson plotted the village and erected an elevator. The first wheat from this station was by Isaac Adriance who settled in the town 1848. Stores were built by A. Edelman and N. Altenhofen and a hotel was erected by John Botzen. In 1880 a large lime quarry was opened in the northwestern part of the town operated by Nast Brothers with railroad switches into the quarry making carload shipments of lime and stone to different parts of the country. The first Protestant Church in the town, built 1861, in the north central part of the town by Rev. J. A. Davenport who came to Eden in 1849, who was always ready to deliver a sermon. This church was rebuilt twenty years ago and is now owned by the German Evangelic Society. Rev. A. E. Happe of Fond du Lac is pastor. Eden Station is now considered a good marketing center. Seventy-three cars of livestock were shipped from this point during 1925 for the cooperative shipping association besides a number of other cars shipped by local buyers. It is also a good potato and grain market. Sugar beets are being raised quite extensively in the past few years. In 1925, a pea canning factory was built in the Village of Eden. Farmers harvested their first crop of peas, thus adding a new industry. The village now has a church, depot, post office with a rural route, three general stores, two hardware stores, one meat market, one hotel, a bank, a town hall, two blacksmiths, two garages, one restaurant, a concentrating plant, two elevators, harness shop, telephone office, Modern Woodmen, and Foresters Hall, also several modern dwellings.

Both the Foresters and Modern Woodmen had large membership. There is also a Royal Neighbors Society and a Community Club of about 50 members. There are now nine school houses in the town, some of them modern, every equipment for carrying on school work. Teachers are hired for nine months, salaries average $130 a month.

In the year 1923, State Hwy 55 was built across the township, which now is one of most traveled highways in the state from north to south. It is the only concrete road in the eastern part of the county. There are also a number of county highways in the town. At the time of the Civil War, many from our town answered the call to serve. Those of whom returned have since passed away. We do not know of one Civil War veteran living in the town now who went to war from here. Several boys went to World War, many of them were in some of the most important battles fought. Those of us at home helped our country by buying Liberty loans and subscribing to Y. M. C. A., Salvation Army, and etc. Our town had one of the largest Red Cross chapters in the county. Old and young helped to make this society a grand success. Nearly all the farms are occupied by their owners. There are very few rented farms in the town. Nearly all the farms are equipped with modern machinery and tractors. As yet, there are very few farms with electric lights, running water, but practically every one have an automobile, while some have farm trucks. The population of our town today is about 1450.


Jenny Lind Sievers was the wife of Fred Sievers and the daughter of Chester E. Tripp and Miss Hannah Keys . She wrote this story in 1926. She was a life long resident of the Town of Eden. She was born on Sept. 24, 1887 and died on May 5, 1984. She had one son by the name of Gordon.