Fairwater Local History Web



Summaries of significant events in the village from the arrival of the first Yankee settlers in the town of Metomen in 1844:



Settlement, 1844-1860

Civil War, 1861-65

Post-Civil War, 1866-1900

Twentieth Century, 1901-1975



Bibliography of published and unpublished materials related to the history of the Fairwater area, its settlers and residents.




William Plocker's Inn: Established in 1848 at the southern end of the village to capitalize on stagecoach traffic between Milwaukee, Watertown, and points to the north, Captain William Plocker's tavern and inn was the first public lodging in the town of Metomen. In operation for more than 20 years, the inn was finally sold in 1875 to Gottlieb and Henrietta Stelter, and the property has been in the Stelter family since that time. Photographs, news clippings, and background have been generously provided by Oliver and Frances Stelter, the third generation of the family to occupy the site.


Residents of 1850-1853: In 1853, the Wisconsin Gazeteer reported that the "promising" village of Fairwater consisted of 5 dwellings, 1 hotel, 1 store, and 40 people. No public records identify the residents, but through an examination of census records, town plat maps, land records, and published biographies, it is possible to speculate about who they were.


Ripon's Booth War: Aftermath of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 in Wisconsin, 1860: Arrested in 1854 for his role in freeing an escaped slave, Joshua Glover, and freed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Sherman Booth, notorious Wisconsin spokesman for abolition, was the center of a six-year legal struggle between State and Federal governments. In 1860, after being rearrested, Booth was forcibly freed from the Milwaukee Custom House, and for two months was the subject of violent clashes between Federal marshals and sympathizers in the vicinity of Ripon.


James Pond's Markesan Journal:The John Parker Exchanges, 1861: James Pond, an Alto native, ardent anti-slavery advocate, and editor of the Markesan Journal, sparked a heated exchange of letters at the start of the American Civil War with an April 26, 1861, editorial titled "Traitors in Markesan."


The Third Wisconsin Cavalry, Company C, 1861-65: Company C of the Third Wisconsin was recruited primarily in the central Wisconsin communities of Fairwater and Kingston by E. R. Stevens, 37-year-old merchant and former U. S. Marshal in Green Lake County, and James B. Pond, 23-year-old editor of the Markesan Journal and former resident of Alto Township in Fond du Lac County. The company saw duty in the guerilla warfare of Kansas, Missouri, and the Indian Territory.


Reading the 1870 Census: As documented by the 1870 federal census, the decade of the 1860's was a watershed period in the composition of Metomen residents. Despite an 18% increase in population, the number of farm families in the township dropped 13% while men identifying themselves as laborers increased 80%. Yankees in the township decreased from 68% of the adult population to 47%, while German-born increased from 7% to 23%. Danes became a significant immigrant group in Fairwater, while Dutch immigrants in the town of Metomen concentrated in Brandon.


Pine Hill/Utley, 1877-1939: Florian Laper's history of the granite mining community formerly located on the Brandon-Markesan Railroad one and one-half miles west of Fairwater. [Temporarily offline, April, 2002]


Creation of the Brandon-Markesan Railroad Line, 1882: Markesan interests spearheaded the creation of a railroad spur line connecting the Brandon station of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad with Markesan in 1882. Transcripts from the Brandon Times (1882) and the Green Lake County Democrat (1881-84) document the frustration-plagued history of the birth of the line.


The Fairwater Free Baptist Church, Historical Sketch, Fairwater Register, 1904: Fairwater's first church, the Free Will Baptist structure constructed in 1856, was also the first church erected in the town of Metomen. By the turn of the century, the building was showing its age, and in 1903 a new building was constructed in "north" Fairwater next to the cemetery. On January 1, 1904, the Fairwater Register ran this history of the congregation and the old structure and this description of the new.


The Fairwater Free Baptist Church, 2000: Loma Knapp Klossner's summary of the Free Baptist Church records from 1850 to 1942. Klossner's grandfather, U. L. Johnson, and father, Walter Knapp, were deacons of the church and retained the church's records when the congregation dissolved in 1944.


The Fairwater Water Wheel, 1924-25: At fifty feet in diameter the largest overshot wheel ever constructed in the United States, the Laper Electric water wheel was erected on the Grand River below the Fairwater dam in 1925 to provide generating capacity for Jesse Laper's electric company. The company provided power for the villages of Fairwater, Brandon, and Alto. (See Florian Laper's history of the The Big Wheel for additional information and an extensive collection of photographs.)


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