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Early Oakfield Band, from the
photo collection at the Adams
House Resource Center, Fond
du Lac County Historical Society. Click on photo for a larger image (835K).

OAKFIELD TOWNSHIP
Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin

 

1847 Wisconsin Territorial Census for the Town of Oakfield
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Civil War Veterans Credited to Town of Oakfield

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Physicians in the Village of Oakfield up to 1905
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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, 1844.

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 schoolhouses.

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. Ripley.

In 1869, Strong & Hammond built the first cheese factory in the town.

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 town.

OAKFIELD VILLAGE

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 vicinity.

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


Last updated 3/4/99

This site represents an ongoing effort to collect information related to the history of the town of Oakfield. If you have information to share, please contact Bob Schuster by email at rmschust@facstaff.wisc.edu or at 6020 Kristi Circle, Monona, Wisconsin 53716 (608) 221-1421.