buttonblgrey_fdllogo.jpg (3089 bytes) TOWN OF ALTO CHRONOLOGY
Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin
   

alto_1stchurch_1850_tdb_sm.jpg (13379 bytes)
A picture of Alto's first First Reformed Church, drawn by
William Gysbers. From Alto Reformed Church, Alto,
Wisconsin, 1855-1955: One Hundredth Anniversary of the
First Reformed Church of Alto.

Click on image for additional
information about the church.

1841
Francis D. Bowman, from Rochester, N. Y., settled in section 36. (History of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Western Historical Company, Chicago: 1880)

1842
Francis Bowman's daughter was born, the first birth in the area. (1880 History)

1844
Francis Bowman's son was born, the second birth in the area. William Talcott settled in the town of Alto early in the year and was followed by Silas Miller (lay preacher of the Methodist Episcopal Church), Marcus Thwing, Dr. Green, and the Hillyers. Martin Grider entered his land and sowed a wheat crop. (1880 History)

1845
Francis Bowman sold his property to F. F. Davis (later county sheriff) and subsequently relocated to section 3 . Silas Miller built his sawmill on the Rock River near Waupun. (1880 History)

1846
In the summer, Miss Angeline Booth taught the first school in Alto in the Davis house. (1880 History)

1847
The town of Alto was organized on April 6. According to the 1880 History, the organizational meeting,

[was] held in the schoolhouse near Miller's mill, in the southeast part of the town. Townsend Green was Moderator, and Benjamin Davis and Frederick Talcott were Clerks. The north half of Alto had previously been connected with Metomen, and the south half with Waupun, for town purposes. The first town officers elected were: Chairman, M. Talcott; Side Supervisors, J. R. Matthews and William Talcott; Town Clerk, G. W. Sexmith; Justices of the Peace, F. F. Davis, G. W. Sexmith and Henry Boardman; Assessors, Daniel W. Briggs; Treasurer, Zephaniah Miller; School Commissioners, David Adams, T. Green and F. Talcott. At this first town meeting the proposition to confer "equal suffrage to colored people" was voted down by five majority. The "anti-license" ticket was carried at the same election by twelve majority.

1848
S. A. Carpenter and G. W. Sexmith served as town chairman and clerk respectively. (1880 History)

1848
Henry Boardman and G. A. Russell served as town chairman and clerk respectively.(1880 History)

1850
Daniel Wilcox and R. M. Harwood served as town chairman and clerk respectively.(1880 History)

The first school district was organized March 18. According to the 1880 History:

The first officers were: George W. Sexmith, Director; A. McMasters, Clerk, and John L. Sargent, Treasurer. The first schoolhouse, a frame building, 24 x 18 feet, was erected, that season, on Section 23, and Clara F. Pierce taught the first school in it, during three months, at $5 per month. The tax first raised amounted to $85 for all purposes.

1851
H. Boardman and A. McMaster served as town chairman and clerk respectively. (1880 History)

1852
James McElroy and R. M. Harwood served as town chairman and clerk respectively. (1880 History)

1853
William Brisbane and R. M. Harwood served as town chairman and clerk respectively. (1880 History)

1854
R. M. Harwood and D. Adams served as town chairman and clerk respectively. (1880 History)

1855
R. M. Harwood served as both town chairman and town clerk. (1880 History)

1856
R. M. Harwood served as both town chairman and town clerk. (1880 History)

Land was purchased in Section 23 on February 13 for a church building to be organized as the Reformed Church.The 1880 History notes that:

The first Trustees of this church were M. Mensink, F. Beeuwkos, M. Duven, G. Duitman, G. Stilsel, C. Landaal, J. Straks, J. Landaal, L. Sligster and J. W. Kastein. The first settlement of people composing this church, who are Hollanders, in Alto, was in 1846, near the center of the town. They immediately began to hold religious services in private houses, building a church of logs in 1848, which building, 16 x 26 feet, was also used for a schoolhouse.

1857
O. L. Olmstead and R. M. Harwood served as town chairman and clerk respectively. (1880 History)

1858
R. M. Harwood served as both town chairman and town clerk (1880 History)

1859
J. Mcelroy and A. J. Mattoon served as town chairman and clerk respectively. (1880 History)

1860
J. McElroy and A. J. Mattoon served as town chairman and clerk respectively. (1880 History)

1861
Following the fall of Ft. Sumpter in April, men of the town of Alto began to enlist in the army. James B. Pond, son of Willard E. Pond, a farmer in section 4, began to recruit in the area for Company C of the Third Wisconsin Cavalry. Pond, brother of Homer and George Pond, was later awarded the Medal of Honor, as was his youngest brother, George. He would subsequently go on to a career as the premier lecture agent in the country, booking celebrity speakers like Mark Twain, P. T. Barnum, Booker T. Washington, Thomas Nast, and Henry Ward Beecher. (The James B. Pond papers are in the collection of the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan.)

Among the enlistees during the first year of the war were the following, all of whom enlisted in Fairwater in the town of Metomen. (from the enlistment records in the Wisconsin State Historical Society Veteran's Museum database in Madison):

Name Unit & Company Enlisted Personal Information End of Service
Chester McDowell 8th Inf, D 7/18/61 Town of Alto Discharged, disability, 4/21/62
Joseph Jeffers 3rd Wi Cav, C 11/14/61 Town of Alto Deserted 6/11/62
Homer W. Pond 3rd Wi Cav, C 11/18/61 Town of Alto farmer, age 21 Discharged 2/17/65
Silas B. Tenny 3rd Wi Cav, C 12/9/61 Town of Alto Discharged 2/17/65
Reuben Smith 3rd Wi Cav, C 12/26/61 Town of Alto Bugler, discharged 2/12/65
Elwin Webber 3rd Wi Cav, C 12/26/61 Town of Alto Discharged 2/17/65
Henry Wentworth 3rd Wi Cav, C 12/26/61 Town of Alto Discharged 2/17/65
George F. Pond 3rd Wi Cav, C 12/27/61 Town of Alto, age 16 Medal of Honor, discharged 2/17/65

1863
The 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry saw some of its worst fighting of the war. According to the James Pond papers at the University of Michigan:

The 3rd cavalry served in Kansas and Missouri throughout the war, engaged in some of the nastiest guerrilla warfare. The 3rd Cavalry Regiment and 2nd Kansas (Colored) Infantry were victims of a brutal surprise attack and massacre by William Quantrill's irregulars in October, 1863, during which Pond distinguished himself for his courage in single-handedly manning a howitzer and repelling the raiders. Despite his efforts, Quantrill's men killed Maj. H. S. Curtis and 65 Federals at Baxter Springs and many more at the camp Pond defended, many of whom were executed after they had surrendered. Pond and both his brothers came through unscathed, a fact they attributed to the prayers of their devoutly religious mother. Pond was later promoted to Captain.

1880
Town officers were G. H. Downey, chairman; John Bruins and William J. Boom, side supervisors; John Gysbers, treasurer; John W. Kastein, assessor; William H. Smithers, clerk. According to the 1880 History, by 1880:

Alto has two stores, but neither a village, nor a saloon, nor a post office; though in early days, a post office, called Black Hawk, was located in the center of a large prairie of the same name, on a spot which the celebrated Indian chieftain and warrior of that name is said to have once used as a camp.

There are now seven churches in Alto, and all, save one, are well sustained. The First Reformed or "Ebenezer" Church was first organized. The others are the Second Reformed or "Ebenezer" Church, which was recently built, mainly at the expense of Henry Bruins; the Dutch Presbyterian and the Dutch Congregational, the German Methodist and the Methodist Episcopal Churches, and one Congregational Church, in which no regular meetings are held, the society being much reduced by deaths and removals.

Alto now has nine schools, of which three are in union districts.


Last updated 3/3/99 This site represents an ongoing effort to collect information related to the history of the town of Alto. 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.