Town of Georgetown History
Of all the towns in Madison county, Georgetown is the most imitative
of the entire county's history. Georgetown history corresponds closely
to county history except that, in the case of hop farming, Georgetown
got started considerably later than the other townships. In A Brief
Illustrated History of Georgetown, John A. Courtright wrote:
The history of Georgetown naturally divides itself into four
periods. First-- The Period of the Pioneers or the Ascendency
of the Log Cabin, extending from 1803 to about 1825. Second--
The Period of Transition or the Passing of the Log Cabin and
the Entrance of the Frame Buiding from 1825 to about 1870. This
was also the period of Manufacturies [sic]. Third-- The Hop
Period when particular attention was given to the hop industry
from 1870 to about 1890. Fourth-- The Present Period, or the
Dominance of Dairying...
Writing tongue in cheek, the writer Lloyd Upham remarked in a newspaper
clipping that "Courtright notes that the third period was one of the
rise of manufacturies [sic], although two tanneries, a carriage concern,
a carding mill and two cheese factories seem to have marked the extent of
Georgetown's industrial revolution."
Although developed later, Georgetown matured with an aura all her own.
In a chapter of her History of Madison County Luna M. Hammond wrote, "No
building was raised in those days without ardent spirits." Such must have
been the case at the occasion of erecting the first mill in Georgetown,
One of the men fron Eaton remarked that the village of his town
boasted three log houses and therefore... was named "Log City" ...
Appolos Drake [exclaimed] "We have three slab-covered houses; this
must be called 'Slab City"--and so it was called for a joke.
Although the humor soon wore off, the name stuck for upward of 70 years.
When the town was created (1815), residents wanted to call it Washington
in honor of the Father of Our Country, but the state legislature said
there were already too many place in the state so named. The residents
then settled for the first president's first name.
In character with the town's recounted heritage, Georgetown has had two
unusual residents who have been major figures in country history and
folklore for generations. The first settled here during the Period of
Pioneers. He was one of the most mysterious pioneers of Georgetown--
indeed of all Madison county--Louis Anathe Muller. Sylvia Maxon, who
compiled town histories for publication at the tune of the county's 1906
Centennial celebration, wrote in a newspaper clipping:
In 1808 Lewis [sic] Anathe Muller, a French refugee, purchased
about 2,700 acres of land in Georgetown, most of it lying west
of Otselic [Creek]. He possesed great wealth employ[ing] a
large number of men in clearing the land and converting the
wilderness into a magnificent estate... After clearing about
three hundred acres of land, he erected a spacious dwelling,
the walls of which were of solid cherry. [The house was] quite
handsomely finished with mahogany and other rich woods; [the]
fireplaces [were] trimmed with black marble and [the rooms
were] furnished with rich mirrors and costly furniture. A fine
library was also installed.
Upon completion of this house [Muller] removed his family
from Hamilton. He lived here a few years, spending his money
lavishly in building a village, with all that goes to make an
estate beautiful, when he left as suddenly as he came, going
back to France, leaving his family in New York city [sic]. He
returned to dispense of his property, but found nothing of value
left. All the fine furnishings and everything valuable had
disappeared... (I)t is said that of the $150,000 he first brught
here, he [returned to] France with only about $1,500. Although
much research has been done no one has ever found a sure answer
as to his identity.
The other resident of almost legendary stature bore the rather plain name
Timothy Brown. He arrived in the township during The Period of Transition.
During the Civil War a spiritualism movement swept the country from the
White House (the Lincoln family engaged a series of mediums in efforts to
contact their son Willie who had died of typhoid early in the Great
Emancipator's administration) right down the line to Georgetown. It was at
this time that Brown (1815-85), a native of Rygate, Vermont, and a
self-avowed medium began building the Spirit House.
The Spirit House or Brown's Temple, as it was called, was a mecca for
spiritualists for several years until a medium lost a notebook he consulted
in the "dark room". His notebook was found to contain names, dates,
epitaphs, and other information gleaned from old county records,
graveyards, and conversations with local residents. The dark room (now the
kitchen in the house) was where the visiting mediums contacted the spirits.
After Brown's death, his widow Sarah occupied the house until 1899 when
she sold it to the family of Alice C. Cossitt, who has lived in it most of
her 88 years.
As for the more ordinary side of life in Georgetown, the primary means of
making a living was through agriculture local, retail business milling,
tanning and cheese manufacturing which were the staple commercial
activities throughout the middle and last quarter of the nineteenth
century. Courtright noted further:
About the beginning of the period 1825-1870, sheep raising was
quite extensively carried on, the sheep for a number of years
taking precedence over the cow for two very good reasons: the
only market was a limited local one for the product of the cow,
butter and cheese, as these were not then as now, shipped to
distant markets. Wool found a ready market. Another good reason
was that sheep kept down the briers that kept springing out of
the new soil. Nearly every farmer had his flock of sheep, from
50 to 400 according to the size of the farm and [the farmer's]
By the time of the Civil War the cow began supplanting the sheep as
producer of agricultural products. Georgetown's first cheese factory was
built, according to Courtright, in the spring of 1863. It continued through
the early 20th century, operated primarily by the Brown family (whether
or not this was the Spiritualist family, Courtright does not specify). In
county history, as a rule dairy farming came into its own as hop farming
died out, killed off by blue mould, embalmed by the rising hop farms in
the Pacific Coast states and buried by Prohibition.
In Georgetown, however, dairying and hop farming arrived almost
simultaneously after the decline of sheep raising. John B. Morrow was the
earliest resident to plant hop seeds in Georgetown soil. As the price
rose from 12 cents to $1 per pound, so did the acreage devoted by farmers
to the main ingredient of beer and to the number of pounds raised. Philo
Parker was, Courtright wrote, "the largest single grower with over forty
acres devoted to the crops as the 1870s and '80s wore on. Throughout the
1890s, as prices fell and competition from western states grew stiffer,
farmers dug up their hop plants and proceeded with dairying and other
activities. By 1900 Arthur Perry was the only major hop farmer left in
Date: Sunday, January 03, 1999 09:23 PM
Song playing "Under the Double Eagle"