|Pages 85 and 86 of the Wisconsin
Gazeteer, published in Madison by B. Brown in 1853, offer the following brief but
detailed portrait of Fairwater early in its history:
|FAIRWATER, P.V., Fond du Lac county, on section 30, town 15 N., of
range 14 E.; being in the town of Metomen, 22 miles west from Fond du Lac, and 65 miles
northeast from Madison. It is situated on the road from Watertown to Ceresco and Berlin,
in a fine and healthy section, of good farming land, on the north branch of Grand river.
It has two good water powers, one of which is improved by a fine flouring mill; the other
is unimproved, with 28 feet head, and sufficient water for three run of stone. Population
40, 5 dwellings, 1 store, and 1 hotel.
As interesting as it would be to know
who those forty early residents were, there are no village, county, state, or federal
records to confirm their names. It is possible, nevertheless, to use existing records and
maps to make an educated guess. One place to start is with the census just preceding the Gazeteer's
publication, the 1850 federal census.
Census data is not recorded randomly. The order of
the1850 census for the town of Metomen reflects the route that George Williams, the census
taker, followed from September 26 through October 2 as he worked his way through the
township. With reasonable fidelity, Williams recorded a sequential dwelling number for
each residence he visited, whether it was inhabited or uninhabited (note several apparent
lapses, discussed below, for September 27). Each family also was assigned a sequential
family number, unless in William's judgment the family was living with another
family. In those cases only a single family number was recorded.
While it is sequential, the 1850 census does not
document the actual locations of families or their homes, and it is not possible from the
census alone to determine who might have been living in the Fairwater area. We can,
however, compare the census names with the federal land patents and with Coney's 1862 plat
map of Metomen, both of which document the ownership of property by sectional fraction
(e.g. the NENW 40 acres of section 30, township 15 north, range 14 east). For
early settlers who stayed in the area for a decade or more, we can somewhat reliably
locate the general area in which they lived in the township in 1862 as well as their
location at the time the patents were recorded (typically 1848-50). Using the census
dwelling numbers we can then somewhat less reliably interpolate the locations for some of
the other families who may not have stayed as long.
DAY 1: SEPTEMBER 26
George Williams began his census on Thursday, September 26, in the southeastern
corner of Metomen, just west of present-day Brandon. Although there is no record of the
roads as they existed in 1850, Coney's 1862 plat map documents a road system that with few
exceptions matches the present highways. Pending evidence to the contrary, therefore, the
rest of this discussion makes the assumption that Williams would have followed routes that
are familiar today. Thus, having completed his census of Alto township, he apparently
traveled north along the route of what is now Brandon Road until he reached the first
family in Metomen, at the intersection with current Highway 49. Based on his census
records, once in Metomen Williams spent the day traveling primarily west along the route
of Highways 49 and 44, drifting north and south at the crossroads, until he reached the
village of Fairwater.
The first census entry (dwelling number 1306) records Samuel Stanton as a farmer with real
estate valued at $1600. Where his farm was located and how much property he owned is
documented in the land patent records, which indicate that between February and July of
1848 Stanton was credited with two 40-acre parcels of land making up the southern half of
the SE quarter of section 27. The two parcels lie on the north side of the east-west
highway at the northwest corner of the intersection with Brandon Road. It is an assumption
that the Stantons were actually living on their land in 1850, although Williams' census
sequence argues that they were. The house presumably would have been close to the
The second household entry records the Thomas J. Norris family. Patent records indicate
that Norris was credited with 120 acres in section 35 in March, 1848 (W1/2NW and SENW), 80
acres in section 26 the same month (S1/2SW, although the name is spelled Morris), a
40-acre parcel in section 35 in July of the same year (NESE), and another 40-acre parcel
in section 35 in September (SESW), all just west of Brandon. Norris, himself, is
identified as a farmer with real estate valued at $3000, roughly $10-15 per acre for his
registered 280 acres, a figure that appears to be about average for improved land in
Metomen in 1850 and substantially greater than the original purchase price of $1.25. As
with the Stantons, the location of the Norris home is speculative, but the land patent
records indicate that the original parcels of the Norris farm lay both north and south of
the east-west highway adjacent to the corner of current Highway 49 and Brandon Road. If
Williams traveled north on Brandon road and first recorded the Stanton family, the next
entry,the Norris home, would probably have been located on the highway just east of the
The third household recorded was that of the Silas Danley family. Danley was credited with
80 acres of land in section 35 (W1/2NE) on July 1, 1848, although the land records spell
his name as "Danly." Williams identifies Danley as a farmer with real estate
valued at $400, a number that is not consistent with the $800-1200 his original 80 acres
would, on average, have been worth. By the time of the 1860 census, Danley listed his
occupation as "cistern maker" rather than farmer, so it is possible that even at
this early date he was not making a go of it as a farmer and had begun selling off his
land. As a consequence, the location of the Danley home is uncertain, but because the
northern edge of the Danley property abuts the highway, 1/4 mile east of the Norris
property, the marker has been placed there.
George Williams' 1850 Census: Day 1
4 The fourth
household in the census (number 1309) was that of the Abel A. Philips family. Identified
in the land records as Abel R. Phillips, Philips was credited with 80 acres of land in
section 34 (W1/2NW) on August 1, 1849 and a second 80-acre parcel in section 28 (S1/2SE)
the same day. He is credited with another 80-acre parcel in Section 29 on August 2, 1852.
No record of the Phillips farm is evident on the 1862 plat map, but the two original
parcels abutted the highway on the south and north respectively and fronted the N-S road
(current highway 49) on the east and west respectively. Based on census sequence, the
marker is placed at the corner of section 34 and section 28, the juncture of the two
5 Recorded as
the fifth family in Williams' census was the Solomon Harroun/Hanoun family. Identified as
"Solomon H. Hanoun" in the land records, the family was credited with 80 acres
of land in section 33 (E1/2NE) August 1, 1849. That location is consistent with the
general westward sequence of Williams' census along the highway. Harroun or Hanoun is
identified in the census as a farmer with $800 of real estate, consistent with the average
value of $800-1200 for 80 acres of farm land in Metomen, providong some confirmation that
the family still held the land in 1850, although tthe farm is not identified as Harroun
property on the 1862 plat map. The original property lay at the intersection of the
present day highways, just to the west of the Phillips farm, and.the Harroun marker has
been located there, just west of the junction of present day Highways 44 and 49.
next recorded the James Culverson family. The land records indicate that Culverson,
identified as "James Culbertson," consistent with later census records,
originally registered 40 acres in section 22. However, the 1862 plat map indicates that
the Culbertsons were farming 220 acres spanning sections 27 and 28, none in section 22.
Given that the census identifies the Culbertson property as having a value of $1000, it
seems probable that the Culversons purchased and as early as 1850 were living on the farm
southwest of their original property. The Culbertson marker has therefore been placed on
present day Highway 49, 1/2 mile to the north of the east-west highway.
There are no land records for the next two families in Williams'
census, the Thomas Zaelings and Chancey [Chauncey] Latimers. Both identified themselves as
farmers. Thomas Zaeling listed real estate worth $2500, a substantial property of between
160 and 240 acres. Latimer listed real estate value of $300, the equivalent of about 20-30
acres. A potential location for the Zaelings is the southwest corner of the intersection
of the highway and present-day Radio Road, two 80-acre parcels in section 32 registered by
Charles Lincoln and Nicholas Phillips, neither of whom appear in the 1847 or 1850
censuses. Zaeling does not appear in the 1860 census, while Latimer was working as a
painter in the Fairwater postal district.
The next family Williams recorded was that of Lyman Farnum. Land
records indicate that Eunice Farnam was granted the W1/2NW of section 32 on February 1,
1848. In 1850, Lyman Farnum listed property worth $700, the equivalent of about 50-70
acres at average land prices in the township. It is possible that the two properties were
the same, although Eunice Farnam is not listed as a member of the household. It is worth
noting that an early account of the Pond family living in section 4 of Alto, just to the
south, in the late 1840's indicates that a Farnum family were neighbors of the Ponds. In
1860, the Farnums were recorded as living in the Brandon area. Because the evidence is
sketchy and some evidence links the Collins family with the property (see below), no
marker has been placed for the family.
Without the evidence of additional land records, Williams' course
after the Culbertson farm is not completely certain, although it was clearly in the
direction of the village of Fairwater. Because, as will be shown below, the next family
group in the census, William Plocker's, can with certainty be placed just south of
Fairwater, it is possible that any of the three families not accounted for was resident in
the immediate Fairwater area. Based solely on the small amount of real estate owned, the
most likely Fairwater residents would have been the Latimer family. Based on numbering
sequence, the Farmums would be somewhat better candidates.
there are no patent records for William Plocker, the fact that Plocker identified himself
as a "tavern keeper" in the 1850 census, lived in his dwelling with five people
apparently unrelated to him, and listed real estate valued at $4000 makes him the leading
candidate for the owner of the "hotel" identified in the Gazeteer.
Other sources identify Plocker as the first postmaster of the Fairwater post office, which
also would confirm him as a village resident. The 1862 plat records indicate that Plocker
owned the property in Section 31 recorded in the land patent records as belonging to
William Stanton. In 1875 he sold the farm to Gottlieb Stelter, and the Stelter family
confirms that the inn was located on the proprty adjacent to the current county highway. A
portion or the original inn still stands there (see William
Plocker's Inn). If the inn's residents, included the census, were included in the
Gazeteer's total of forty residents in the village, it is unlikely given the transient
nature of inns that a real count or list of names for 1853 can be confirmed. Biographical
information about Plocker indicates, however, that Elizabeth Elmer, one of the residents,
was a long-time associate of Plocker's and should probably be counted.
Franklin Collins family followed Plocker in Williams' census. Collins identified himself
as a farmer in the census, with property valued at $1700, the equivalent of about 110
acres. Patent records do not include either Collins or his father, Joseph (living with the
family), but the 1862 map indicates that J. Collins owned 75 acres of land along present
County Highway A just south of Fairwater in section 32, the property originally granted to
Eunice Farnam, and that a Collins owned 10 additional acres a quarter of a mile to the
west. The census sequence suggests that the Collins' home would have been located
immediately across the county highway from or just south of Plocker's "hotel"
and a marker has been placed in that general vicinity.
12 Next in
the census was the Oliver and Sarah Brown family. Like Collins, Brown identified himself
as a farmer. However, he listed real estate worth only $40. In the 1860 census, an Owen
Brown and wife Sarah, ages not quite matching, were living in the Fairwater area and
identifying themselves as farmers, with real estate valued at $600. In 1850, Brown, age
57, may have been a farmer formerly (his origins were not identified by Williams) and may
have identified himself as a farmer by occupation without actually farming at the time of
the census. No Brown farm is identifiable in either the patent records or the 1862 map,
but it seems likely that Williams traveled north into Fairwater after the Plocker and
Collins entries and that the Browns were resident in or immediately adjacent to the
village. Their marker has, therefore, been located in Fairwater.
13 The Thomas
Handy family followed the Browns in the census. Handy identified himself as a grocer,
listed real estate of $6000, and seems likely to have been the Gazeteer's
"store" owner. Although the Handy family was no longer living in the village or
the town of Metomen by the time of the next census in 1860, their marker has also been
placed in the village.
Kinon, who identified himself as a farmer in the census but listed no real estate,
followed the Handy family in the 1850 census. The patent records do not identify the Kinon
family, although the 1862 plat map identifies an 80-acre parcel just west and north of
Fairwater as belonging to A. Kenyon and another 80 acres along the eastern border of the
village as belonging to R. Kinyon (land originally registered to William Dakin). The 1860
census identifies only the Austin Kenyon family, with real estate of $2000, consistent
with the total of the two 80-acre holdings. R. Kinyon was probably the Russell Kinon of
the 1850 census, living with brother Austin and listing $400 of real estate (25-40 acres).
The Kinon family of 1850 were most likely living at the edge of the village, but precisely
where is a difficult question. Had they been living on Russell's acreage, the census would
most likely have listed Russell as the head of household. Conceivably they were living on
the property that would later become the property of brother Austin. If that were the
case, however, it would seem likely that the census taker would have recorded them on
September 27, between the N. Holmes and J. Brewer households. It seems more probable that
Austin Kinon was farming another property in the area in 1850 and later purchased his own
80 acres with the profits.Possibilites include properties identified in the patent records
with William Foster and Charles Van Valkenberg, neither of whom appear in the 1850 census,
and the Kinon marker has been placed in that general area just south of Fairwater and
north of the Plocker property.
The last two families that Williams recorded on September 26, the
Henry Pointers and the Cyrus Hortons, both from New York, identified themselves as
laborers and listed no real estate. Neither family appears in the 1860 census, although a
Daniel Horton family from Ohio does. Given Williams' first census record on September 27
just south of Fairwater beyond the Plocker "hotel," however, both families
appear to have been Fairwater residents.
DAY 2: SEPTEMBER 27
Williams' second day of census taking in Metomen picked up south of the village
of Fairwater and followed the current County Highway JJ (Liner Road) eastward, back to the
vicinity of present day Brandon.
first entry of day 2 was the Woodbridge Sleeper family. Identified as a farmer with $1200
of real estate, 80-120 acres, Sleeper was credited in the patent records with 40 acres in
section 32 (NWSW) and appears in the 1862 plat map with a 140-acre parcel in the southwest
corner of section 32, a nearby 40-acre parcel in section 32, and another 20-acre parcel in
section 31. The Sleeper marker has been placed on the location of the largest of the 1862
parcels in section 32. Of interest is an error in Williams' numbering scheme that begins
with the Sleepers. He identified the Hortons (the last family on September 26) as family
number 1340. He identified the Sleepers (the first family the following day) as family
1336, the same number assigned to the Oliver Brown family. He also reused numbers 1337,
1338, 1339, and 1340. The most probable explanation is that this was simply a
transcription error as the information was transferred from a set of field notes to the
final census forms.
The following household, that of Charles Graves, is not reflected in
any of the land records, nor does the family appear in the 1847 territorial or the 1860
federal census. Graves himself is identified as a farmer with $500 of real estate,
possibly the value of his house itself.
19 The third
household of the second day of Williams' census raises an interesting question. Benjamin
Munson, a farmer with $1500 of real estate, is identified as living with the Graves
family, while his family is listed as a separate household also containing Walter Starbird
and his family.
||Place of birth
Does the numbering simply represent the second numbering error on
the census sheet, or does it reflect the actual living arrangements of the Graves, Munson,
and Starbird families? Starbird, himself, is credited with nearly 200 acres of land in the
patent records between September 1848 and March 1850 (SWNW section 31, as well as W1/2SE,
SESE, and NESE, all in section 29), but Williams' census credits him with no real estate.
The 1862 map indicates that a Starbird (presumably Walter, although there is also an A.
Starbird listed) owned 200 acres in sections 29 and 32. Furthermore, Munson is identified
in the 1847 census as maintaining a home between the James English family (section 32) and
the Sleeper family (section 31).
It seems likely, then, that the numbering represents an error.
Munson, an early resident of Metomen, probably was living with his family in 1850 just as
he was in 1847 and as he was in the 1860 census. A munson marker, therefore, has been
located in the area of the Munson farm in section 33. It is possible, on the other hand,
that the Starbirds were actually living in the Munson home, not yet having built their own
(they are not listed in the 1847 census, and so apparently were later arrivals). Because
the census almost exclusively listed real estate only for the head of household and not
for other residents in the household, this could also be an explanation for the the fact
that no real estate is atrributed to the Starbirds.
20 The next
household in the census was the Frank Wicks family. Wicks does not appear in the patent
records, nor does a Wicks farm appear on the 1862 map. However, the 1847 census does
identify an F. M. or H. M. Wicks living in the vicinity of both Munson and Sleeper. That
this was probably the same family is further indicated by the fact that Wicks' son, Frank
Jr., was born in Wisconsin in 1846. Without other records, it is guesswork as to where the
Wicks family was actually living, but because the 1847 census lists them following James
English and Benjamin Munson and before Woodbridge Sleeper, while the 1850 census list them
following both Sleeper and Munson, their marker has been placed on current Radio Road,
just north of Liner Road.
George Williams' 1850 Census: Day 2
21 The next
household in Williams' census was, in 1850, apparently not a family at all but rather, as
suggested by the census entries, a stopping point for some of the early settlers from
Holland. The head of the household, John Richar, is identified as John Rickarts on the
1862 map, owner of the farm at the intersection of current Highway 49 and Liner Road south
of Brandon, section 36. Rickarts does not appear in the 1860 census.
22 The John
Lockin family is the next census entry. Patent records identify a 40-acre parcel belonging
to John Lockin in section 25 (NENW). However, as a later census entry indicates, there
were two John Lockins living in the vicinity of what was to become the village of
Brandon.The two were father and son, John and John Jr., as indicated by the 1862 plat
entry that credits the NE corner of section 25 to John Lockin, Jr. An 1880 biographical
entry for the younger Lockin indicates that John Lockin Jr.'s eldest son was
William, credited with 80 acres adjacent to the village (SESW and SWSE) in the
1862 map, while his grandfather was credited with 40 acres (NESW) somewhat closer to the
village than the original land patent. Another 120 acres on the 1862 map adjacent to the
Rickarts property (S1/2SE and NESE in section 36) is credited to J. Lockin and Son.
Whether this refers to John and John Jr. or to John Jr. and William is uncertain. Because
of the uncertainty about where the elder Lockin was living, his marker has been placed in
the immediate vicinity of Brandon.
next family entry is the Ranson Pride family and identifies Pride as a "waggon
maker" with no real estate. Although no land records identify Pride, the 1880 History
for the county indicates, referring to Brandon, that:
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."
Based on that evidence, Pride's marker has been placed in the area
of present-day Brandon.
The following entry is the William Castine household. Castine is
spelled in numerous ways in the area records, including Casteen and Kastien. The land
records, however, do not attribute any property to Castine, nor is he identified in the
Brandon area on the 1862 map. Williams' census does not credit Castine, age 35, with any
real estate or with any identifiable occupation. The Castine household itself did not
reflect family, but rather two younger males (John, age 21, and Johannes, age 11) and an
apparently unrelated female (Mary Frank, age 40). No birthplaces are listed, except for
William's (NY). One conclusion is that the household represented a hotel or boarding house
in the area that within a few years would be transformed by the railroad into Brandon.
the Castine entry was one for the Elisha Gallup family. Gallup is identified as a farmer
born in Scotland and with real estate valued at $600 (40-60 acres). The family does not
appear in the 1847 census, nor does the property appear in the land records. However, the
1862 plat map credits Gallup with an 80-acre parcel in section 35 and a smaller 40-acre
parcel in the center of section 26. An additional, adjacent parcel of 110 acres is
credited to L. Gallup, and this could potentially also have been Elisha's (no L. Gallup is
identified in the 1860 census). The Gallup family marker has been placed north of the
highway in section 26, at the edge of Brandon, because the property in section 35 has
already been marked for the Danley family.
The following three household entries--John Riley, Cyrus Rensdid
(?), and George Folts--are not identified in the land records or on the 1862 map for the
Brandon area. Riley identified himself as a farmer with $150 of real estate. Rensdid
identified himself as a laborer with $400 of real estate. And Folts identified himself as
a farmer with no real estate holdings. None of the three appears in the 1860 census,
although three Riley children, born in Wisconsin, are identified as living in the
Nathaniel Brundige household. The woman of the household, Phoebe Brundige, could have been
the former Philia/Phoebe Riley. Their ages are consistent, although Philia/Phoebe Riley
listed ler place of birth as Canada, while Phoebe Brundige listet hers as Vermont.
following entry is the younger John Lockin family, discussed earlier. Lockin is identified
in the census as a farmer with $1000 of real estate, the equivalent of about 67-100 acres
at average values. An entry on the 1862 map credits 100 acres to John Lockin, Jr. in
section 25 (N1/2NE), and that is where the marker has been placed.
30 The next
household entered by Williams was the Oliver O.Harra [O'Harra] family. O'Harra and his
sons, John, Charles, and Henry, all identified themselves as laborers with no real estate.
However, the land records indicate an 80-acre parcel credited to J. Oharra in section 24
on September 1, 1849. The 1862 map identifies a 15-acre parcel belonging to J. Oharra just
north of current Sheldon Road in section 24 and a 100-acre parcel adjacent and belonging
to H. Oharra. The 1860 census lists father and sons as living in the same home, and
identifies Oliver Ohara as a shoemaker. For that reason, the O'Harra marker has been
placed on the site of the J. Oharra parcel along Sheldon Road in section 24.
31 The next
household was that belonging to Amos Pond, one of the original settlers and farmers in
Metomen. Pond listed real estate valued at $1000. The land patent records credit him with
a 200 acres in section 26 on February 1, 1848 (E1/2SW, SWSW, and W1/2NE) and another 80
acres on the same date in section 26 (W1/2NE). The 1862 plat map identifies a 10-acre
parcel in section 26, a 10-acre parcel in section 23, a 40-acre parcel in section 22, and
a 40-acre parcel in section 15. The Pond family marker has been placed along sheldon Road
in the W1/2NE of section 23, 1/4 mile west of the O'Harra marker.
the Ponds, Williams entered the Jacob Mason household. Mason was identified as a farmer
from Pennsylvania with real estate valued at $1000. Patent records credit Mason with 2
40-acre parcels in section 23 in February, 1848 (NESW and NWSE) as well as 4 acres in
section 23 in March, 1848 (SWSE). Those parcels are not in the Mason family on the 1862
map. The 1860 census does not list Jacob Mason, although two different Mason families were
living in the town of Metomen. The Mason marker has been placed along Sheldon Road in
section 22, site of one of the original 40-acre parcels.
The next household entry was for Cephas Daning, a farmer with $1500
of real estate, the equivalent of 100 acres. Danning does not appear in the patent records
or on the 1862 plat map, although an 80 acre patent in section 34 is credited to Lewis
Dunning. The Daning family does not appear in either the 1847 or the 1860 censuses.
Franklin Fisher family was Williams' next entry. Fisher was a farmer with $650 in real
estate, approximately 40-60 acres. That parcel of 40 acres appears in the land records for
section 23 and is credited to Fisher on February 1, 1848. A second parcel of 80 acres in
section 21 on the same date is also credited to Fisher (S1/2SE). There is no evidence of
them on the 1862 plat map, nor is there a record of the family in either the 1847 or the
1860 censuses. The Fisher marker has been placed on the site of the larger patent in the
SW corner of section 21.
35 The next
entry was for the Levi Yorti family, like the Ponds among the original settlers of
Metomen. Yorti is identified as a farmer from Pennsylvania with $2500 in real estate,
approximately 167-250 acres. The patent records credit Levi Yorty with 2 40-acre parcels
in section 27, although the 1862 plat map identifies the Levi Yorty farm as 160 acres in
section 27 and an adjacent 40 acres in section 22. The plat map identifies access to roads
for the Yorty farm as Brandon Road on the east and current Highway 49 on the west, just
south of the Round Prairie Cemetery. The Yorty marker has been placed on the west, in the
vicinity of the original 2 patents (SESW section 22 and NENE section 27, both dated
William Hargrave household was Williams' next entry. Hargraves is identified as a farmer
from Scotland with $1200 of real estate, 80-120 acres at average values. The patent
records, show a William Hargrave parcel of 160 acres in section 21. The 1862 plat map
identifies a 60-acre parcel in section 21 along Sheldon Road and adjacent parcels of 100
acres owned by R. Hargraves and 2 80-acre parcels owned by J. Hargraves. Neither of those
two owners is listed in the 1850 census, although it seems safe to speculate that they
were related to William. The 1860 census identifies a Robert Hargrave, 6 years younger
than William and born in Scotland, as well as a James Hargrave, 11 years younger than
William and born in Canada. The Hargrave marker has been placed in section 21, adjacent to
Sheldon Road, the site of the William Hargave parcel remaining in 1862.
next entry, the Oliver Birdsall family, raises some questions as to the census sequence.
Although no patent records exist for the Birdsalls, the 1862 plat map identifies an
"S. Birdie" parcel of 80 acres adjacent to Hargrave's in section 21 at the
corner of Sheldon Road and Highway 49. William's records indicate that Birdsall farmed and
owned about $800 of land, roughly 53-80 acres. It is possible that the Birdsalls and the
"Birdies" were the same family. However, the 1860 census indicates that
Birdsall's wife, Minerva, was living with and serving as housekeeper for the Samuel
Burdick family in the vicinity of the Hargraves. The patent records indicate that an
Erastus Burdick registered 80 acres in section 22 (W1/2SW). The "Birdies" of the
plat map could just as easily be the Burdicks as the Birdsalls. That the Burdicks were
still farming in 1862 and Oliver Birdsall was apparently deceased would argue that the
"Birdie" farm was in actuality the Burdick farm. Where that places the Birdsalls
during the 1850 census can only be speculated.
The 1847 census places Oliver Birdsall after James Culverson
and Levi Yorty and (heading east and south) before James English and Woodbridge
Sleeper . Given their entry after the Hargraves in 1850, it seems probable that the
Birdsall home was not the "Birdie" property, but rather one of the 40-80 acre
parcels on the 1862 plat map along Radio Road. For that reason, the Birdsall marker has
been placed south of the corner of Sheldon Road and Radio Road.
Williams' next three households--the Elias Stillwell, John Gasdines,
and Cornelius Davis families--are not reflected in the patent records or on the 1862 plat
map. Both Gasdines and Davis identified themselves as laborers and listed no real estate.
Stillwell, on the other hand, identified himself as a farmer with $2000 of real estate,
the equivalent of 133-200 acres and should not be confused with Alonson Stillwell, farming
in section 10. E. Stillwell is identified furthermore as being 71 and from Michigan,
certainly an unusual combination. The family unit is equally unusual. While Stillwell
himself was 71, the other members of the family (except 1-year-old Martha) were born in
Michigan, but the oldest was Maria at age 22. Most were clearly children, and five of them
were attending school. None of the family is identified in the 1860 census.
||Place of birth
Where Stillwell's farem was located cannot be answered. An
interpretation of the relationships in the Stillwell family itself is left as a challenge.
household following these was Abner Holmes'. Holmes was identified as a farmer with $1400
of real estate, between 80 and 140 acres. The patent records indicate that Holmes had
registered 80 acres in section 21 (W1/2NW, September, 1848) as well as another 80 in
section 20 (E1/2NE, September, 1848). These were the two 80-acre parcels north of Sheldon
Road and shown as belonging to J. Hargraves on the 1862 plat map. The Holmes family does
not appear in either the 1847 or the 1860 censuses, although they were almost certainly
related to the Nathan Holmes family recorded in the 1850 census. The Holmes marker has
been placed at the corner of Sheldon and Radio Roads, between the two adjacent patents.
The following family, that of L. Philips, is not identified in any
other other records for Metomen. It seems possible that the family was related to that of
Abel Phillips--both were from New York--but by 1860 neither family was residing in
next entry, the Jacob Carter family, is among the best known in early Metomen history. One
of the first handful of settlers in the town, Carter was also the first postmaster, as
described in the 1880 History:
In the spring of 1846, within a year from date of the first
family's arrival, a post office was established, named "Grand River," with Jacob
Carter as first Postmaster.
The 1960 history of the area compiled by the Fairwater Study Club
recorded the following:
The early settlers were the Daniel Egglestons who brought his
family the latter part of 1845 and settled on what is now known as the Beilke farm a mile
north of Fair Water, Wi. The family proceeded [sic] the Jacob Carters by just one
week. They located just a short distance, [apparently missing text] or one half
mile north of Fair Water, Mr. Carter erected what was considered to be the finest house in
Metomen township. This brick house still remains standing on County Trunk E one half mile
north of the village.
The patent records indicate that Jacob Carter was credited only with
one 40-acre parcel in section 18. However the 1862 map identifies the Carter farm in its
known location in section 20 (80 acres at N1/2SW). Carter is also identified as owning a
40-acre pacel and an 80-acre parcel in section 18, consistent with the $2500 of real
estate listed in the 1850 census. The Carter marker is located at the southeast corner of
the intersection of current County Highway E and Sheldon Road, the location of the
Carter's "brick house."
The following entry for the Samuel French family identifies French
as a farmer with $1000 of real estate. French along with Carter was one of the earliest
settlers of Metomen, but neither the patent records nor the 1862 map identify the location
of the French property. Although it is generally understood that the farm was south of the
Carter farm, no marker has been placed.
The John Shannon family was the next recorded by Williams during the
second day of his census. Like the French family, no patent record exists for the
Shannons. The later plat map identifies a J. H. Shannon farm of 80 acres in section 16,
but that clearly was not the case in 1850, when Shannon served as a blacksmith in the
immediate vicinity of Fairwater.
next entry, the David Newland family, is somewhat more identifiable. The land records
indicate that one 120 acres were credited to David Newland in section 30 on March 1, 1848
(E1/2NE and NWNE). An adjacent 40 acres was credited to Fernando Newland the same date
(SWNE section 30) A nearby 40-acre parcel in section 29 (SENW) was credited to
"Hernando" Newland on March 1, 1850. The 1862 map indicates that F. Newland
(Fernando, David's son) owned 160 acres in section 30, while D. Newland owned 80 acres in
section 29, indicating that the two had exchanged titles. The Newland marker has been
placed at the corner of Highway E and the now non-existent road between sections 30 and
19. At that time, that corner was nearly one-half mile north of the village, although the
southern edge of the Newland parcel touched the village near the course of the Grand
47 The next
entry, the Henry Kibbe family, including brother Abiel, indicates that the Kibbe brothers
were shoe makers with only $500 of real estate between them. The patent records also
identify 80 acres in section 30 as belonging to Abiel Kibbe (N1/2NW), which is not
consistent with the census entry. It seems probable that Abiel Kibbe had by 1850 sold his
original property (probably to the Holmes family, which follows) and that the brothers
were pursuing their business rather than farming. However, the patent records as well as
the 1862 map indicate that an L. Kibbe/Kibby owned an 80-acre parcel (N1/2NW) just north
of the Newland property in section 29. Because the value of that property again is not
consistent with the census entry, the Kibbe marker has been placed at the east end of
Abiel Kibbe's original patent, adjacent to the Newland marker.
next to the last entry for the second day of his census was the Nathan Holmes family.
Holmes was identified as a farmer with land valued at $800, roughly 53-80 acres,
consistent with the Kibbe property discussed above. Although no patent record exists for
Holmes, the 1862 map indicates that the Holmes farm consisted then of 20 acres in the
northwestern corner of section 30, at the junction of the now non-existent road and Searle
Road, the demarkation line between Fond du Lac and Green Lake counties. The Holmes marker
has been placed at that corner.
49 As he had
the day before, Williams ended the second day of his census taking in the neighborhood of
Fairwater. His final entry for the day was the James Brewer household. Brewer was
identified as a carpenter with no real estate holdings. The patent records contain no
entries for Brewer, although the 1862 map indicates that an A. Brewer owned 20 acres at
the junction of current Highway 44 and Searle Road in section 30. The 1860 census again
identifies James Brewer, still working as a carpenter and joiner, but does not identify an
A. Brewer. It seems likely, therefore, that A. Brewer and J. Brewer were the same man, and
the Brewer marker has been placed on the location of the A. Brewer parcel one-half mile
west of the village.
Although many of the families recorded on the first two days of
George Williams' Metomen census obviously were not immediate neighbors of the village of
Fairwater, the exercise of following the complete course of the census for September 26
and 27 is useful for two reasons. First, it appears to confirm the general geographic
sequence that the Williams actually followed. Second, it narrows the list of families who
were almost certainly living in the vicinity of Fairwater during the first part of the
decade of the 1850s.
While it does not with certainty identify the population mentioned
in the 1853 Gazeteer, it does let us construct the following diagram of what we can be
relatively sure of from the 1850 census and other historical materials regarding the
population in the immediate vicinity of Fairwater:
Residents in the village almost certainly included William Plocker,
tavern keeper and probable "hotel" keeper, and Thomas Handy, grocer. They almost
certainly did not include Nathan Holmes and David Newland--farmers in the immediate area
to the north--and Henry Kibbe (shoemaker) and James Brewer (carpenter).
The candidates for the remaining residents and owners of the five
houses mentioned in the Wisconsin Gazeteer would include the following:
||# in Family
||Farmer (1850); Fairwater painter (1860)
||Farmer (1850); Brandon farmer (1860)
||Farmer (1850 and 1860)
||Farmer (1850 and 1860)
Of these, the Farnum and Collins families seem least
probable, in part because they seem to have been farming in actuality south of the
village, although Latimer could also fit in that category. The most likely candidates as
village residents are the last 4. In addition, the Thomas Handy family could conceivably
have maintained a dwelling in addition to the store. Plocker clearly resided in his hotel
and his residence would not therefore count as a sixth house. The total number of
immediate family members in the five dwellings not including Plocker's according to George
Williams' 1850 census was 35 (33 if we exclude laborer Ralph Pease and wife who may or may
not still have been in the village in 1853). If we add the members of William Plocker's
household (eight in total in 1850, only two of whom were certainly still resident in
1853), we arrive at a population of between 35 and 43 in total, about as close to the Gazeteer's
total as it seems possible to come.