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).
Franklin French was born on October 26, 1845 in Jacob Carter's unfinished cabin. The French's own "hay-thatched cabin had been, the previous month, accidentally burned, and that can date first 'fire' in Metomen." (History of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Western Historical Company, Chicago: 1880)
The 1880 History describes one of the first significant milestones in Metomen, the creation of a post office, as follows:
In the spring of 1846, within a year from date of the first familys arrival, a post office was established, named "Grand River," with Jacob Carter as first Postmaster. At about the same time, the Post-Office Department had established another office called "Mansfield," with Daniel Eggleston as Postmaster. These were so near together that, as an old pioneer expressed it, "one cabbage leaf would cover both." "Grand River" was soon discontinued, but "Mansfield" remained for years the only post office in the town.
Jeremiah Murphy, Baptist minister, preached the first sermon in Metomen in Daniel Eggleston's cabin. William Stanton built his sawmill in section 31, just south of Fairwater. The first marriage in the town occurred between a Mr. French and a Miss Collins in April in the vicinity of Fairwater.
The 1880 History describes the 1847 origins of one of early Fairwater's major resources, the flour mill on the Grand River south and west of the dam:
|Dakin & Lathrop erected a flouring-mill in 1847 on the branches of Grand River, within the town limits and near Fairwater. The flouring-mill, remodeled, is now owned by Mr. Hurlbut, and has been "on duty" since its erection. The proprietors of the first flouring-mill, Dakin & Lathrop, were also the first merchants, having started a store at Fairwater in 1847.|
The Wisconsin territorial census identifies James English (section 32), Benjamin Munson (section 4, Alto), H. M. Wicks, Charles Travers, Woodbridge Sleeper (section 32), Joseph Collins (section 32), William Fletcher, J. H. Louks, John Elliott, Ezra Schofield, Thomas Love, S. Irwin, Jacob Mason, Carpenter Eggleston (section 18), Abner Holmes (section 20), Robert Johnson, B. Holmes, M. D. Wilson, David Newland, and M. G. Roberts as living in and around Fairwater.
The first post office in Fairwater was established, with William Plocker as postmaster.
The 1880 History describes the founding of the Free-Will Baptist congregation in 1850, as follows:
The first church in Metomen was built at Fairwater. The society was organized February 2. 1850, with the name of the First Free-Will Baptist Church of Fairwater, under the ministrations of Rev. William Mitchell; the first Clerk was Deacon R. M. Harwood.... The original membership was eight.
The First Regular Baptist Church of Metomen, at Fairwater, was organized March 30. The council was held April 30. Original membership: thirteen. Elder Peck was the organizing Pastor.
The 1850 federal census identified 138 farmers and 47 farm laborers in Metomen. Nearly half of them (43%) were born in New York. Other major origins identified included Ireland (8%), Canada (8%), Vermont (8%), Pennsylvania (6%), England (6%), and Scotland (4%). Wheat was the principal crop.
The federal census also identified 9 individuals with non-farm occupations, 7 of them living in Fairwater: James H. Brewer (New York, carpenter), Theodore Bruggeman (Holland, clerk), Thomas Handy (Scotland, grocer), Henry and Abiel Kibbe (New York, shoemakers), William Plocker (England, tavern keeper), and John Shannon (Vermont, blacksmith). Only Ranson W. Pride in Bungtown ("waggon maker") and Ephraim Harrison in the northwest corner of the town (joiner) were not located in Fairwater.
On April 28, George Soule was appointed postmaster in Fairwater.
James Besley was appointed postmaster on April 1.
Pages 85 and 86 of the Wisconsin Gazeteer, published in Madison by B. Brown in 1853, offers the following brief but detailed portrait of Fairwater early in its formative period:
FAIRWATER, P.V., Fond du Lac county, on section 31, 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. (For a discussion of who these 40 residents were, see Fairwater, 1853).
On August 3, Henry Boardman was appointed postmaster.
Oliver Besley was appointed postmaster on December 23.
Augustus Bisbee deeded the land for the first church building in Metomen to the Fairwater Free-Will Baptist congregation for $15. The site was the present corner of Church Street and Highway 44, later the location of Dr. Buckland's home and office. The deed as recorded follows:
|Augustus C. Bisbee of California, 1st
Rufus M. Harwood, Chas. D. Ramsey and John M. Milligan, Trustees of the 1st Freewill Baptist Church of Fairwater, 2nd Party
Consideration $15. Description: E ½ of the SE ¼ of Section 30, Town 15, N of Range 14 East bounded as follows: Commencing with the West side of the Highway on the East line of said East half at a point 20 rods North of the North side of the highway running East and West through said East ½, thence West parallel with said highway 7 rods, thence South parallel with with East section line 4 rods, thence East parallel with South line 7 rods, thence South along the West side of the highway 4 rods to place of beginning. The said land to be used for purpose of building a meeting house on the same for the use of the mentioned church and to revert to the party of the 1st Part when no longer used for that purpose. (County of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin Land Records Book 6, pg. 458)
The first church in the town was built in 1856 in Fairwater. The 1880 History documents that event as follows:
For several years all religious services were held in the settlers cabins or in the schoolhouses, but, in the summer of 1856, the Free-Will Baptists of Fairwater erected the first church edifice in Metomen.... Their church edifice was dedicated on the 10th of July, 1856, by Rev. Ransom Dunn. The cost was $1,600.
The Milwaukee and Horicon Railroad arrived in the town, passing through Bungtown (Brandon) and Reeds Corners on the route from Waupun to Ripon. A description of the event from the 1880 History 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 immediate impact on Fairwater was summarized succinctly in the same source:
In the southwestern part of Metomen, on the Grand River, in 1847, a flouring-mill was built by Messrs. Dakin and Lathrop; it was a favorable site for a village and was the starting-point of Fairwater, which rapidly grew and was for ten years the commercial center of a large tract of rapidly developing country. The railroad, in 1856, left Fairwater "out in the cold," and a decline was inevitable.
James S. Ritchie identified the "Post-Offices" in the county in Wisconsin and Its Resources, published during the year by C. Desilver, Chicago, W. B. Keen. Listed for the town of Metomen were Brandon, "Fair Water," and Metomen. This may have been the first publication using that spelling of the village's name. Other novel spellings on the list included Wawpun, Taycheeda, Newfane, and Oceola. Of local interest is the fact that both Black Hawk and Alto were listed as offices in the town of Alto.
The Reverend Johann Strieter, a traveling Lutheran missionary and circuit rider, recorded in his autobiography that he drove to different individual homes and traveled to Fairwater on second Christmas Day, 1859, to preach. He subsequently held confirmation classes during the summers in Fairwater at the Roske house. Worship services were held in the William Alwin home (later Gus Bloch's home). Strieter served Fairwater until 1865. (From Zion Lutheran Church, Fair Water, Wisconsin: Centennial Celebration, 1872-1972)
The First Regular Baptist Church building was dedicated in July.
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.
On the eve of the Civil War, the 1860 federal census identified 38 farm families in the Fairwater area, 224 in Metomen as a whole; 21 farm laborers in the vicinity, 111 in the town. It also identified the following citizens in the Fairwater post office district with occupations not immediately related to farming:
|Occupation||Last Name||First Name||Age||Birthplace|
|Black Smith||Pangborn||Henry||37||New York|
|Black Smith||Priest||R. H.||29||New York|
|Carpenter & Joiner||Brewer||James H.||38||New York|
|Carpenter & Joiner||Fairchild||David W.||47||Connecticut|
|Carpenter & Joiner||Fairfield||Joseph||32||Vermont|
|Carriage Manufacturer||Brown||Harris||56||Rhode Island|
|Clergyman F.W.B.||Smith||Saml F||38||New York|
|Com S Teacher||Batson||Mary||20||New York|
|Harness Maker||Lattimer||S. C.||24||New York|
|Mechanic||Holmes||N. L.||26||New York|
|Merchant||Harwood||N. D.||33||New York|
|Mill Wright||Bisby||A. C.||36||New York|
|Painter||Lattimer||C. B.||44||New York|
Civil War, 1861-65
Post-Civil War, 1866-1900
Twentieth Century, 1901-1975