1847 Wisconsin Territorial
Census for the Town of Oakfield
Civil War Veterans Credited to Town of Oakfield
in the Village of Oakfield up to 1905
Oakfield Tornado, 1996
This is a rich, prosperous and pleasant town. It was erected into
the town of Lime by an act approved February 2, 1846, and the name changed to Oakfleld
February 10, 1847. The extensive and rich quarries of limestone afforded by the
"Ledge," in Township 14 north, of Range 16 east, suggested the name of Lime, and
the beautiful oak openings suggested the present name of Oakfield. It is about equally
divided between the high oak openings arid prairie. That portion of Horicon Marsh which
extends into Oakfield has been drained, and is now mostly tillable land. The
"Ledge" is very prominent in this town. It furnishes lime, building material,
delicious springs and picturesque scenery - "Darlings Gap," a wild spot near the
village of Oakfield, being the most notable and attractive. Its winding crevices, deep
caverns, overhanging precipices and vast domes of disintegrated rocks attract thousands of
tourists and picnickers.
The first settlement was begun in 1840, south of the present village
of Oakfield, by Russell Wilkinson, who came with his family from Rensselaer County, N. Y.,
early that year, and built a log house. The Winnebago Indians were very numerous about the
"Ledge" then, owing to the abundance of game in its retreats, and were highly
displeased by the invasion of the paleface. They stole nearly everything he possessed that
was movable, and finally burned his home with all its contents. Mr. Wilkinson then
procured a yoke of oxen and removed his wife, who was in delicate health, to the house of
Edward Pier, at Fond du Lac. The Indians then held undisputed sway in that section until
October, 1843, when Mr. Wilkinson and his brother Robert returned to the farm and made a
permanent settlement. They were for some time the only white denizens of the town, but
were joined not much later by John Wilkinson, John Beirne, S. Botsford and Messrs.
Silvernail, Hubbard and Hazen. When once the richness and warmth of the soil, the beauty
of the location and the healthfulness of the climate became generally known, the town
settled with wonderful rapidity, and has always maintained itself in the front rank of
prosperous and populous towns.
The first town election was held in April, 1846, at Russell
Wilkinsons house, at which C. T. Rich was chosen Supervisor, and Lorenzo Hazen, Clerk.
In 1844, Lorenzo Hazen was one of the leaders in forming the
Washingtonian Society, the first regularly organized temperance society in the county.
The first birth was Martha, daughter of Robert Wilkinson, in May,
The first death was that of John Wilkinson, killed by the fall of a
tree in 1846. The neighbors, meager in numbers and poor as they were, massed their means,
and paid for the "forty" which Mr. Wilkinson had entered, but not paid for, and
gave it to his stricken family. Russell Wilkinson died suddenly May 4, 1847.
The first marriage was Thomas Burns to Elizabeth Stene in 1844.
The first school was taught in 1845, by Mariah Moore, afterward Mrs.
A. Hubbard, in a schoolhouse built that year on Section 14. The town now contains eight
The first sermon was preached in February, 1845, by Rev. Harvey
Bronson, at Russell Wilkinsons house. The first church was not erected until 1852, by the
Congregationalists, on Section 22.
The first post office was established at Avoca, one mile east of
what is now the village of Oakfield, on Section 13. Isaac Orvis was the first Postmaster.
Henry Cornell is the present Postmaster of Oakfield, as it has many years been called.
The first mill was a saw-mill, built in 1844 by J. Allen. In 1851,
Col. Henry Conklin built the first flouring mill, at a cost of $12,000, on the East Branch
of Fond du Lac River, near the village of Avoca.
The first store was opened in 1845, on Section 22, by William I.
In 1869, Strong & Hammond built the first cheese factory in the
In 1852, the Chicago & North-Western Railway was built through
Oakfield. It maintains two stations in the town - Oakfleld and Oak Center.
The town of Oakfield never granted license to sell liquors of any
kind as a beverage.
Oak Center is the geographical center of the town. It has a post
office, store and elevator.
The Journal of September 15, 1848, said: " A fragment of a bowl
or vase was presented to us last week, which was found in the town of Oakfield, ten inches
under ground. It is about a quarter of an inch thick, marked with parallel lines and dots.
The curve indicates the vessel to have been fourteen inches in diameter. The substance
appears to be a brown clay burned." Many other similar relics have been found in the
The first village in the town of Oakfield was called Avoca, and was
situated on Section 13, on the "old plank road." Here were opened the first mill
and established the first post office. When the Rock River Valley Union Railway was put
through the town the center of trade was transferred to the present site of Oakfield, one
mile west of Avoca. It is one of the most pleasant inland hamlets in the county. From the
residences on the hill, Fond du Lac, Lamartine, Mount Calvary Monastery, the whole sweep
of Lake Winnebago and a stretch of thirty miles of hill and prairie can be seen, and the
Ledge, only a few rods back of the village, is a resort of all pleasure parties in the
History of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin,
Western Historical Company, Chicago: 1880*
*Like many similar publications of the period, Western's 1880 history
relies heavily on interviews with early residents conducted many years later. Narratives
were subject to selective, sometimes creative recollection, and the resulting work should
be appreciated for the historical publication that it is but viewed with a critical eye as
a history. We caution viewers to verify the data contained in these early stories