In treating of the first settlement of a place that has afterwards grown to be one of some importance, many little incidents acquire
interest, if not significance, from their connection with the incipient period of the existence, of that place.
Upon the same principle, we sometimes listen, with interest to an account of the youthful performances, of a man of prominence, not that
these performances are anywise remarkable, except as being connected, with one whose after life has given interest to all such particulars.
So, also, where two armies have engaged in hostilities, incidents and facts that would not under ordinary circumstances demand a moment's
consideration, become of sufficient importance, to be adverted to with manifest interest in connection with the main event.
So, indeed, do all human events that are attended with any considerable results, interest our minds in looking after the minor, as well
as the more marked, particulars.
Assuming that Kenosha has obtained sufficient present and prospective importance to give interest to some of the minor details of her
infancy, it may not be considered, inappropriate to speak of some incidents in the early history of the place, which, under other
circumstances, might be thought too trivial to call for even a passing notice.
John Bullen, Esq., as the representative of a number of individuals of Oswego county, N. Y., who desired to, emigrate to the West, arrived
at Kenosha, on Sunday, the 14th day of June, 1835. With Mr. Bullen came also Messrs. Edwin C. Hart, William Bullen, and C. W. Turner; and
on the following day, Messrs. Hudson Bacon, Gardner Wilson, and Cephas Weed, part of whom were, associated with Mr. Bullen in looking up
a location, and a part, perhaps, of the number taking advantage of the opportunity to look up a new home for themselves on their own
individual account. These were the first white men who were known to have visited the place. Mr. Bullen and his associates, soon
deterinined to make Kenosha the point of location. They had with them, however, no tools with which to construct even a temporary
shelter, and, consequently, they encamped for several days, on the north side of the harbor, and in what is now the second ward of the
city. They were also destitute of cooking implements, and Mr. Bacon, who did the duties of steward on that ocassion, dug a trench
with his knife in the body of a fallen tree, into which he placed the meat and other articles of food as they were taken out of the fire,
and from that trench the party severally helped themselves to food.
At this time, there were three, or four Indian villages within a range of three miles of the place, but the principal one of which
was situated on the east bank of Pike creek, opposite the present Lake Shore Railroad bridge. This village was mainly built on the
creek bottom, and extended for some distance on that stream. The land now embraced in fractional block sixty-nine, was the focus and
centre of this Indian Metropolis.
The first double teams that came to Kenosha, arrived on Sunday, June 21st, 1S35. There were two wagons, to one of which, was attached a
span of horses, and to the other three, yoke of oxen. With those teams came Mrs. Gardner Wison, Jonathan Pierce, Orrin Jerome and Nelson
Gatliff. On the day after the arrival of these teams, the party commenced the erection of a building where Main, and Union streets now
intersect each other, in the, second ward. This was the first building put up in Kenosha; but, the building more nearly resembled an
Indian wigwam than a, habitation for civilized men. The main sides were laid up with what might be more properly called poles than logs,
and the roof was covered, with bark. The floor was also composed of the same material as the roof.
Mrs. Wilson, who was the first white woman who, lived at Kenosha, used one of the wagons for her sleeping apartment, for the first
two weeks after her arrival, and cooked for the party in the open air. The table was made of split logs, and the cooking and other
furniture, was all nearly of the same primitive character as the table.
For the purpose of marking the bounds of the Company's claim on the north, it was thought best to make something that would have
the appearance of an enclosure, and accordingly an enclosure was commenced on the 25th, and completed on the 28th day of June.
The enclosure commenced about three-fourths of a mile west, of the Lake, on Pike creek, and terminated on the Lake at Pike river,
making a distance altogether of something over a mile. It was constructed by falling trees, on the line of the proposed route, wherever
trees could be found standing in the proper position, and by drawing and carrying on the bodies of fallen trees and brush. The time from
the 28th of June to the 4th of July, was occupied in marking and defining, in one way and another, the outlines of claims on the south
side of the harbor, and perhaps, also on the west.
The harbor at Kenosha, as is known to all who have visited the place, lies in the, form of a crescent, having two outlets into the Lake,
one distant about three-fourths of a mile from the otber. The harbor also receives a small tributary, from the north-west, called Pike creek.
The estuary which forms the principal harbor, surrounds a piece of land on all sides except on the east, and on the east the land borders
on the lake thus forming an Island. This Island had not escaped the attention of the Company, in establishing the limits of their claims.
On Monday, the 6th day of July, Mr. Bullen commenced the erection of a log house, on the Lake shore, about fifty rods north of the
northern outlet of the harbor. In 1836, this building, with a small piece of land adjoining, passed into the hands of James R Beard,
who then commenced manufacturing brick. The log house, after being occupied for a period of about twelve years, was supplanted by one
of greater durability and pretension.
On the 7th. day of July, Mr. Samuel Resique arrived at Kenosha, and to use a squatter phrase, jumped the Island. Mr. Resique brought
with him a number of brothers by the name of Woodbridge, and others, and he accordingly had quite a formidable force to sustain him
in holding possession. This circumstance occasioned the first dispute about the right of Property that had occurred at this place. But
the dispute, which at one time threatened to cause some disturbance, was finally amicably settled, and Mr. Resique retained a portion of
the Island, either by purchase or by some other compromise. After camping on the Island for about two weeks, Mr. Resique commenced the,
erection of a log house, and shortly after completing it, opened it as a tavern. Although the accommodations that a public house is
supposed to hold forth were not in much requisition at that early day, yet the, "Resique House" became, after a time, quite, noted as
a public inn.
About the time that Mr. Resique jumped the Island, Mr. Gardner Wilson commenced the erection of a log house on the Lake shore, opposite
the north end of the Island. This, was the third building put up. This building was occupied for several years by Mr. Wilson, when he
moved back East.
The last vestige of the Wilson house, and also of the "Resique House," have long since disapreared. Not, a stone, a piece of wood, or an
indentation of the soil, marks the former foundations, of these buildings, once so famous in the history of the place.
Mr. Bullen, on behalf of the Company which he, represented, commenced putting up a log house on the south side of the harbar, about
the middle of July. This was the first building put up on that side of the harbor, and it stood on what is laid down in the city map,
at the present time, as lot one, block four, in the first ward. The building was put up for, the purpose of holding the claim. A day or
two after this building was commenced, Mr. Timothy Woodridge commenced putting up a small log shanty, a few rods south, and on what is
now called block five, for the purpose of jumping the claim. He finished his building, but abandoned any pretension to the claim.
In the latter part, of July, Mr. Bacon. put up a log house near his present, residence, on block eighty, in the second ward; and on, the
29th of July, Mr. Jonathan Pierce commenced hewing the timber for the first frame building; but, after the frame had been completed,
owing to some apprehensions that a claim the Company had made about one, mile north-west, would be jumped, the timbers were transferred
to that claim and put up.
The place was destined, however, not to be long without a frame building, and accordingly another frame was commenced in the first part
of August, which was put up on the lake shore, on the south side of the harbor. This building stood on what is now called lot four,
block four, in the first ward. It was built for Mr. John Bullen, and was used by him for a store, and was the first establishment of the
kind in the place.
Tbe first cargo of any kind that was ever landed at Kenosba, arrived on the 10th day of July, 1835. It consisted of
50,000 feet of lumber. The lumber had been bought at Sheboygan for Mr. Bullen, at a cost of $20 per M. It was tbrown into the Lake,
and floated ashore in rafts. The next arrival by Lake at Kenosha, was a part of a cargo of merchandize, also for Mr. Bullen. These goods,
were shipped by way of Oswego and the Lakes, and arrived at Kenosha, in August of that year. The arrival of this stock of goods dates
the opening of the first mercantile establishment in Kenosha.
Up to the middle of August, no religious, meetings had been held at Kenosha; but about that time Mr. Jonathan Pierce, ond Mr. Austin
Kellogg, both strangers to each other, happening to meet on the Island, agreed, in the course of five minutes conversation, to call a
religious meeting for the Sabbath next ensuing, and which meeting was, accordingly held in the log building on the Lake shore, on the
south side of the harbor, that was first put on that side. There were present at that meeting twenty-eight persons, of whom twenty-one
spoke at more or less length. During most of the year 1836, the religious meetings were all held at the house of William Bullen on
the Island. In the, latter part of the season of 1837, a block building was put up on South Main street and near the present market
square, for a school house and a place of worship, free, to all denominiations, and in 1839, a frame building, of considerable size
was erected in the second ward for an academy, and a place of worship, also free to all denominations. During these years, no regular
clergymen were employed, but, services were performed by itinerant and missionary preachers, and when no clergymen were present, prominent
members of the church read sermons from a printed volume. R. H. Deming and Rev. Abner Barlow, also preached at Kenosha frequently.
In 1840, the Methodist Society built the first church edifice that was erected at Kenosha. This building originally stood in the centre
of Main street, at that point where it intersects with Kenosha street, and fronted north. In 1855 this church was moved south of this
original site, about twenty rods, and fronts on the park.
On. the 4th of February, 1840, a Bible Society was first organized at Kenosha.
In 1843, the Congregational Society built a respectable sized church on lot four, block eigbty-four, in the second ward, which ten years
after they moved into the first ward and located on lot four, block thirty-four. Lot four, block eighty-four, however, seemed destined to
be the foundation of a church, and accordingly, we now find a neat but unpretending German Protestant church occupying the ground left
vacant by the removal of the Congregrational edifice. The Baptist Society also erected a handsome church in the same year that the
Congregational church was built. A few years later, the Episcopal Society also erected a small but neat church, in the first ward.
In 1845, the Irish Catholics built a brick church, of good size and proportions, in the third ward.
In 1848, a new religious denomination was inaugurated at Kenosha, by Messrs, C. L. Sholes, H. C. Train, Sheldon Fish, and others. It was
called the "Excelsior Church, and it was claimed to be founded upon purely democratic principles. Whatever a man's religious opinions
were, it was no bar to his admission into this church. Indeed, it invited together the most discordant elements; and each one regularly
attending, had the right to advocate with perfect freedom, whatever doctrine he may have chanced to hold. All classes, the high and the
low, the believer and the unbeliever, here met upon one common platform. Such discordant materials could not long mingle in harmony
together, and this church, after two years duration, added another proof to the many that had gone before it, that "a house
divided against itself cannot stand."
It may be proper to add, that the Rev. William Alanson, Episcopal, resigned his charge of the "Mission at Southport and parts adjacent,"
on the 27th of March, 1843.
In the first part of September, 1835, three northern tribes of Indians, on their way home from a payment at Chicago, encountered a
north-east storm when opposite Kenosha, and were driven by stress of weather to make the land, and discontinue their progress. They
effected their landing on the Island. The Lake shore side of the Island presented a lively and animated scene. Between four, and
five hundred Indians were landing simultaneously, and drawing their bark canoe's upon the beach. The canoes were strewn upon, the beach
from one end to the other of the Island. After the Indians had drawn out and secured their boats, they spread themselves over the Island.
Among them were to be, seen all ages, and conditions. The old Indian, upon whose brow was to be seen "wrinkled care" -the aged and
motherly squaw-the middle aged, and the young and athletic Indian lads, and the Indian maidens, dressed in their holiday garments...
These tribes of Indians remained on the Island for a period of three weeks, -before the weather became sufficiently settled to embark their
canoes on the Lake. The hunters of each tribe went out every day, killing and bringing in game, and the Indian women went, frequently
to dig a root of which they made a soup. These roots, or Indian potatoes, as they might be called, they dug at the, edge of a ravine, in
the second ward, near the old tavern, called the "Adam Schend Place," which is a little west and north of the present free school house.
It required no small amount, of food to supply such a body of Indians, and the hunters soon thinned out the game to such an extent, that
sufficient could not be obtained to supply the tribes, and the Indians began to suffer from want. While game was plenty, the Indians had
shown no disposition to interfere with the property of the settlers; but it is said that, "hunger knows no, law," and the Indians at last
appear to have been driven by necessity to the same general conclusion.
Mr. Bacon, previous to this time, had built a log house, about ten rods south-east from, the first, building put up at Kenosha, and had
received his family and got into it but had left in the original building, one full barrel of flour, and another barrel about half filled
with the same material. The Indians, now suffering the extremes of hunger, ...sent them across to the last named building to obtain food.
The detachment of eight or ten formed in front of the door of the building, and ...took the partly filled barrel of flour on his back, and
Mr. Bacon observing all these movements, pursued the Indians, and recovered his flour; not, however, without overcoming a dogged and almost
determined resolution on the, part of the Indian not to give it up. During all this time, the armed Indians in front of the door of the
building, stood like lifeless, motionless statues.
The settlers, moved by sympathy for the straitened circumstances of thhe Indians, drove an ox, on the following day, over to the Island,
which they slaughtered and divided in small pieces among them. The Indians, in many cases, threw down pieces of money as they received
pieces of meat although not called upon to do so.
Mr. Jason Lothrop, who, while living Elast, had been many years a Baptist minister, and afterward a school teacher, was next found, in
September, 1835, in the, "Far West," engaged in keeping boarding-house, at Kenosha. He was, a man of considerable talent, and of some,
eccentricity of character. Having no part of his family with him, he had necessarily to perform all the duties which pertain to such an
establishment,, such as cooking, washing, and general housewifery, and alas the accustomed duties of "host." Notwithstanding the Elder
was a man of fine education, and of more than average natural abilities, and had been accustorned at one time, of his life to elegance
of living, and for these reasons, not familiar with such avocations; yet he performed all the diversified offices which his new occupation
demanded, with aptness in one department, and with good address, in another.
After the organization of a Baptish church at Kenosha, Elder Lothrop was employed for several years as its minister, but disagreeing with
his congregation upon some cardinal points of doctrine, he became disengaged from the church, and afterwards withdrew himself almost
wholly from society.
In this month, also, (Sept. 1835,) the, first wedding took place. The bridegroom was Mr. Nelson Lay, and the bride Miss Marietta, daughter
of Waters Towslee. Mr. Bullen, who then held the office of Justice of Peace under appointment of the Governor of Michigan, performed
the marriage ceremonies.
Oil the 10th day of May, 1836, the schooner Van Buren, belonging to Mr. Bullen, arrived at Kenosha with a cargo of provisions and seed.
This was the first cargo of provisions that had been received at Kenosha. During the winter of 1835-36, provisions had been brought on
pack horses from Chicago, to some extent, for the supply of the settlement, and the arrival of a cargo superseded the further necessity
of such a tedious and expensive method of obtaining supplies.
The anniversary of our Independence was, first celebrated at Kenosha on the 4th of July, 1836. The performance took place on the Island,
and as this was the first time on which that day had been observed in this then new place, all ages and sexes turned out to do honor to
the occasion. One team, of twenty yoke of oxen, carrying various, flags and, devices, came in from an adjoining town. Elder Lothrop was
the orator of the day, and delivered an appropriate address. Mr. Tobey, who then kept the "Resique House," served the proper, refreshments.
Hiram Towslee, son of Waters Towslee, was drowned in the harbor in this month, (July, 1836.) This is noted from its being the first death
that took place at Kenosha. During the Summer of 1835, Miss Mary Ayer, daughter of Elbridge G. Ayer, was born at Kenosha. This is also
noted from the fact, that she was, the first, white child born in the place.
Mr. George Kimball, born in one of the Eastern States emigrating to Canada, where he advocated liberal political sentiments too freely
to suit the Government, and for that reason was in effect banished from the Provinces, arrived at Kenosha in the summer of 1836, and
purchased eighty acres of land of the Emigration Company, on the south side of the harbor. Whatever differences of opinion might have
obtained at the time, it is now manifest, that Mr. Kimball evinced liberality and good foresight in the disposal of his lands. He had
a certain sturdiness and independence of character, which rendered him unpopular in with some, and for that reason he was once defeated
when candidate for President of the corporation, and also again when a candidate for Mayor of the city. Mr. Kimball had no disguises to
cover up his views or compromises of them to make, whether in or out of the political field.
Hon. Charles Durkee, now U. S. Senator, also, arrived at Kenosha in the summer of 1836, and bought lands next south and adjoining to the
lands, of Mr. Kimball. Mr. Durkee evinced great liberality in the disposal of his lands, and was also for many years prominent, in every
useful enterprise. He has left the evidence of his industry in every part of the place, having built more buildings than any other individual
in Kenosha. He went from Kenosha a member of the first Territorial Legislature that convened in Wisconsin. Kenosha county was not then
organized, but formed a part of the county of Milwaukee.
In the month of October, 1831, the steamboat Detroit was wrecked at Kenosha. She had on her upper deck a protuberarice called a ladies
cabin, which was about twelve by sixteen feet in size. This ladies cabin was bought, by William Seymour, and placed on lot one, block
fourteen, on the harbor. It was first occupied by a colored man by the name of Joseph Hobbs. who divided it into two apartments, the
front of which he used as a barber's shop, and the back apartment for telling fortunes. In the double capacity of barber and fortune-teller,
he managed to make a living from the necessities of one class, and from the Credulity of another. Soon after, however, the ladies cabin was
opened as a medical office and botanical drug store... The Doctor could be heard after midnight, pounding up roots, and days he drove up and
down the streets and highways, a small lean horse, hitched to a heavy one-horse lumber wagon, in the hind end of which he usually had several
bundles, of roots, so arranged as to be in sight of those he might pass. ...
In the winter of 1838, the entire business establishments of the place, (with the exception of a block tavern, on Main street, kept
by Dea. H. Whitney,) were situated on Lake and, Pearl streets. There were four mercantile establishments, to wit: Hale & Bullen, Francis
Quarles, R. H. Deming, and William Bullen & Co., all situated on Lake street, north of Pearl. The Bullen & C post office was kept in the
store of William Bullen & Co. On Pearl street was located the Kenosha, Cepee House, (*'We learn elsewhere in this paper, that Kenosha was
the Indian name for Pike, and ce-pee, or se-pee, is the common Aboriginal designation for creek or river-hence, in plain English, the Pike
Creek House. L. C. D. ) kept by J. R Boardman, a blacksmith shop by David Crossit, a tailor, shop by Philander Dodge a boot, shop
by Nathan Dye, and R. B. Winsor had a shop, in which he manufactured harness, or window sash and doors, in such proportions as the wants
of his customers demanded. Mr. Dye, who made it a rule to make no pretensions that were not substantially warranted by facts, not to,
mislead the public as to the article they would obtain at his shop, put no other letters on his sign board except those composing the
two words, "Coarse Boots." But the business of boot making was but little in unison with Mr. Dr. Dye's taste or inclination. Singing,
and teaching others, to sing, were his peculiar delight. It mattered not how pressing the work in his shop might be, he would gather into
it all the little children in the neighborhood, and practice them in his favorite pursuit,.
Hon. Samuel Hale, since widely known as an enterprising and successful business man, and also in political life as a member of the
Legislature, then held the office of Justice of the Peace, under appointment of the Governor of the Territory.
The population of Kenosha at that time was two hundred.
In the spring of 1838, a bill was introduced in Congress to grant a special pre-emption to the lands embraced within the corporate
limits of Kenosha. The main features, of the bill were, that no one individual could enter more than ten acres --the price of the land was
fixed at $100 an acre, the money to be used in improving the harbor. It was supposed that any one who had ten acres enclosed at the time of
the final passage of the act, would obtain a, pre-emption. This circumstance led to more or less alarm among the owners of real estate,
lest they might by some fraud, lose a portion of their lands; and the uneasiness felt was not a little increased by reports, that obtained
currency, that parties outside the limits were preparing materials for making enclosures. Owing to these circumstances, a public meeting was
called, and after proper deliberation, it was agreed that all parties should turn out and split rails, and make a general enclosure;
consequently all the available inhabitants of the place were engaged for the next several days in splitting rails in all parts of the
corporation; but the bill being defeated, in Congress, the enclosure was not made.
The 4th of July, 1838, was celebrated at the Kenosha. Cepee House.
In 1839 the principal mercantile establishments before mentioned, were transposed from the south to the north side of the harbor. The post
office was also removed from the former to the latter locality, and the Wisconsin House, also on the north side, was opened as a tavern,
and was also the "stage house." The object was to transfer the business of the place from the south to the north side, which was measurably
accomplished for a time. But some differences arising among the business, men on the north side about the location of a bridge, and other
causes, the business receded again in 1841-42 to the south side, and settled, on Alain street. The post office was removed from the, north
to the south side, on the, 12th of April, 1841.
In 1839, Messrs. Devine, Lovell, and French, were practicing attornies at Kenosha. In this year also, Mr. Isaac George,, familiarly known
as "Bishop George," arrived at Kenosha, and opened a gun-smith shop, on the present site of the Durkee House. Mr. George was an original
and eccentric character. His life was so near an equal mixture of seriousness and jest, that one could hardly tell which dominated over
the other. He could preside over a public meeting one moment with dignity and grayity, and at the, next sing comic songs to the boys
gathered about the door of his shop acting out the "spirit of the song," with more than common appropriateness.
Mr. George soon found that the business of gun-smithing, in a place, containing only a few hundred inhabitants, would not bring him
sufficient means to answer the demands of a "growing family," and consequently he added the business of lock-smith to his employment. He
also occupied himself a part of the time in repairing traps for the musk-rat hunters, and in mending broken, and fractured unbrellas. All
these several occupations proving insufficient to answer Mr. George's desires, he next commenced the practice of medicine, adopting mainly
the hydropathic system, and after a time he added to his already multiplied employments the business of dentistry.
The "Bishop," as he was called, was a stroug advocate, of temperance, a man of good habits and generous impulses. He insisted that he was
born in the steerage, and consequently whenever he wrote letters, to his friends, or communications to the public journals, he always
dated them "from the steerage."
The first surgical case the Bishop was called to, was a man universally known by the name of Scip, but whose real name was Geo. Rodgers
Barlow. Probably not five individuals in Kenosha at the present writing know, or ever did know, what Scip's real name was. Scip had been
employed in some capacity about the shingling of Mr. Cahoon's warehouse. The side of the roof on which he was at work was next to the Lake,
where it was three stories to the ground. Scip had lain down, on the roof to rest himself, and as he had a great natural propensity for
sleeping, be soon fell asleep and slid off from the roof. He waked up to find himself on the ground, with two broken ankles. Scip was carried
to his lodging place, and Inmediately sent for Mr. George. He had never had any thing to do with the doctors, and had little idea about any
distinctions between surgical, and other practice, in medicine--When he came to see, what the treatment, was, Scip could not understand how
cold water was going to, mend broken ankles; but he had a great liking for the Bishop, and also, a good opinion of his ability to do things
generally, so he submitted, with quietness and resignation. After a time Scip found if he could not walk, he could shuffle around oil his
feet, and that his ankles answered him the necessary purposes of locomotion.
Scip was next employed as a, night watchman on the pier, to report the arrival of steamboats and vessels, and here again his unfortunate
propensity for sleeping well-nigh cost him his life; for one night he seated himself on the pier, with his feet dangling over the water,
where, be soon got, to sleep, and fell into the Lake.
Scip had been so often soused in water, in the treatment of his ankles, that he had lost more than half his natural fear of that element,
but after all he made up his mind that what would, if used in small quantities, cure even broken ankles, might deprive him of life, if
too profusely supplied, or furnished in immoderate quantities; consequently he seized hold of one of the piles that formed the pier, and
after calling sometime for help, at last attracted the attention of several persons, who rescued him from his perilous situation. ...
Mr. C. L. Sho1es arrived at Kenosha in the spring of 1840, and issued the first number of his paper, the Southport Telegraph, on the 16th of
June following. This was the, first paper published in the place. Soon after commencing the, publication, Mr. Sholes associated
M. Frank, Esq., with him in the editorial department. They were both men of high tone, of moral character, good education, and abilities,
and the Telegraph soon occupied a, respectable position among the western papers. The population of the place at that time was 337. The 4th
of July of this year was celebrated at the Wisconsin House. M. Frank was the orator of the day. A large circular "bough house" was erected,
just east of the building, under which the, table was, set, and wherein the, proceedings took place.
Up to and including, most of 1840, there had been no regular grain buyers at Kenosha, and it was, seen that the season of 1840 would
produce considerable surplus grain; and consequently the Temperance Societies, both at Kenosha and in the adjoining towns, apprehending that
the surplus, grain would be manufactured into whiskey, passed strong resolutions, against distilling, and the conversion of grain into
liquor. The gpneral meeting of the Temperance Society, which convened at Kenosha on the 18th of August, 1840, in their report, say: "The
increase of products, without a market, will afford strong temptations to convert it into liquid poisons."
Some grain, however, was bought for an Eastern, market, by merchants and dealers, during the fall of 1840; and the schooner Major Oliver
left Kenosha on the 15th of September of that year, with a cargo of 800 bushels of wheat.
In January following, Mr. Whiting issued the following. notice:
"The subscriber will be on hand to receive good merchantable wheat, at Durkee's ware-house, at Southport, on the 24th.
Jan. 18., 1841. W. L. WHITING.
"Durkee's Warehouse" was, the upper story of Jared Lake's store, situated on the corner of Main street and Market square, and was capable
of holding about 1500 bushels, of grain.
It may be proper here to remark, that Kenosha, was first known as Pike River, and afterwards, until it was incorporated as a city in 1850,
and was called Southport; but for the sake of avoiding confusion, I have in this, account, spoken of the place under its present name of
Kenosha. A portion of the inhabitants desired at all times to call the place after the Indian name of the stream which here empties into
the Lake;, and we accordingly find the principal public house kept in Kenosha, as early as I838, called the, "Kenosha Ce-pee House." Kenosha,
at that time, was almost as, variously spelt as there were different writers; by some it was spelled Kenosia, by others Kenozia, and by
others again Kenozha. Some spelt the word as it is now spelt, Kenosha, which manifestly gives, the Indian pronunciation most nearly. It
may also be well to add, that, Kenosha, in the Indian, signifies Pike, and Ce-pee, creek.
I make this explanation for the purpose of stating, that what is now called Kenosha, was incorporated into a village under the name and
title of Southport, in February, 1841; and officers were first, elected under a village charter on the 5th day of April next ensuing.
The village was divided into two wards, the north and the south. The north ward embraced all lands within the corporate limits, on the north
side of the harbor; and the, south ward, in like manner, all on the south side of the harbor. No, ordinance could be passed under tbis
charter by a majority vote; but five of the six Trustees must give, their assent to a measure before it could become a law. Thus, at the
end of every ordinance, it would read, "Passed by the vote of five, Trustees." But, the greatest peculiarity of this charter was, that it
constituted the Trustees of each ward, a Corporate body of itself, for the transaction of the business of the corporation, The Trustees of
the two wards, with their President and Clerk, met regularly for the transaction of business, and the Trustees of the north ward held stated
meetings by ordinance on the first, Monday of every month. They had also a Clerk, and in no way different from the general corporation,
except in not having a regular, President or Moderator. They also passed ordinances which appear to have, been of much the same general
nature, as, those passed in joint ineetings of the two wards. The same organization, and the same separate proceedings also took place in
the south ward; consequently we find three legislative bodies, in euccessful operation, at one time, in doing the political business of the
Soon differences having arisen as to the powers and duties of these several corporate bodies, the north ward enacted fines and penalties,
for the violation of any of their ordinances.
The first number of the, Southport American was issued on the 23d of September, of this year, (1841). Its editors were Messrs. N. P. Dowst
and Wallace Mygatt. The American was Whig in politics; and the Telegraph, which had hitherto been conducted as a neutral paper, soon took
the opposite ground.
In 1840, Mr. B. P. Cahoon commenced the construction of an outside pier, which was finished in 1842, and made available, for receiving and
shippling freight. The first boat landed at the outside pier on the 20th of April, 1842. Previous, to that time all goods and passengers
that landed from vessels on the Lakes at the port of Kenosha, had to be transferred from those vessels to the shore by means of a scow that
was kept for that purpose. This scow was generally owned by an association of individuals, and charged certain rates for the service. The
scow, when not in use, was drawn up onto the beach beyond the action of the waves, and when wanted was again launched, into the water. As
the scow was a heavy unwieldy affair, it required, especially in the earliest period of its use, all the available force of the place, to
get it off from the beach and fairly afloat, and afterwards to drag it back to its former position; consequently, whenever, a boat came to
anchor, and by the proper signal notification was given that the intervention of the scow was required, in the discharge of some part of
a cargo, or for landing passengers, general notice was given, and all parties, leaving their several employments, ran to the beach to aid in
the launch. The merchant left his goods, the blacksmith his hammer, the tailor his board, and the boot maker his partly waxed thread, to
render the necessary assistance. The pier superseded the scow, and the latter, like other human affairs, fell first to neglect, and finally
It may be proper to remark, that the outside pier built at Kenosha by Mr. Cahoon, was the first pier of the kind built on the Lakes, and the
project was considered eminently chimerical by most people, both here and in other places. The papers generally, on the Lake, ridiculed it
in the most extravagant manner. The captain of the steamboat Wisconsin, falling in with these general conclusions, on his way to Chicago,
gathered some of the business men from the ports north, to witness the crash, came along side of the pier, and after making fast his best
lines, started the boat. (The engines of the Wisconsin caused no perceptible motion to the pier, and the captain of the Wisconsin had the
satisfaction or dissatisfaction, whichever it might have been, to see, his lines parted and the obstinate pier still "holding its own."
The population of Kenosha in June, 1842, was eight hundred and seventy-five; but from 1842, Kenosha made rapid advances in heir business
and population. Between, November 1842, and November, 1843, one hundred, and sixty-five buildings were erected in the place; and by November
18th 1843, the population had increased to 1820. The increased business of the place, can also be estimated, from the fact that 71,500
bushels of wheat were shipped from the port of Kenosha in the fall of 1843.
Previous to 1843, it was supposed that lead and copper would be the principal articles of exportation from Kenosha. Where the copper was
to come from is more than at present appears, (Perhaps the copper was expected from Mineral Point, where, previous to this date, Gen. Charles
Bracken and others had formed a company for copper mining; and there had been prior to 1839, upwards of a million and a half pounds of
copper raised from these mines. L. C. D) but the books of dealers show some shipments of lead during the years 1841 and '42. In 1842,
C. I. Hutchinson & Co., gave notice of their readiness to "make liberal advances on lead and copper destined for an eastern market."
The winter of 1844, appears to have been prolific in Kenosha, in the formation of new political, social and other organizations. The
"Wisconsin Phalanx," a Fourier association, was organized at Kenosha during the winter of 1844, under the guardianship of
Messrs. Warren Chase and Lester Rounds; the Irish repeal party held meetings at least as often as once a week; and on the 13th of February
of that winter, the Liberty party held at Kenosha the first convention of that party that was convened in Wisconsin.
In the spring of 1844, Kenosha obtained the first appropriation from Government for its harbor. In this spring also, a new outside pier
and ware-house went into successful operation, under the management of Messrs. Lake, Fisk and Lay. During this spring, also, Mr. Simeon
King opened the first bookstore at Kenosha.
From 1848 to 1850, Kenosha realized some, serious reverses. The merchants of the place had adopted or yielded to the credit system in
disposing of their goods, more generally than the merchants of other places, and the failure of two crops of wheat, in succession, rendered
those to whom credits had been given, unable to meet their engagements, and a general crash among merchants was the necessary result. Time,
however, wrought changes, and Kenosha, soon again resumed her accustomed business and prosperity.
In 1850, Kenosha county was first organized as a separate County, and Kenosha itself Nvas organized as a city. At the first election under
the city charter, Hon. M. Frank was chosen Mayor, and after the occupation of the office for one term by D. C. Gaskill, Esq., Hon. C. C.
Sholes was twice elected to the same office. It is no more than a just tribute to these men to say that for integrity and other
qualifications, they were well fitted as the executive officers of a young and growing city.
I should fail to do justice to the place, if I should neglect to remark, that Kenosha has been fortunate, in having an influential class
who take a deep interest in schools. It was not, however, until between 1846 and 1848 that her free school buildings were put up, and her
plans for free schools were perfected.
In 1839, the first regular Academy was opened under the charge of M. P. Kinney, an accomplished scholar and gentleman. The Academy was next
kept with the exception of some intervals, by L. P. Harvey, until some time in the year 1844. A separate school was kept by the Rev. William
Alanson, in 1842, in the Episcopal church rooms. This was termed in the bills a "high select school."
After the completion of the first two free school buildings, Mr. J. G. McMynn was employed, first in the second, and afterwards in the first
ward school; and under his, charge and that of Mr. Coe, the schools at Kenosha soon took rank among the first in the State.
While such men as Hon. M. Frank, Hon. R. H. Deming, Hon. C. Durkee, Hon. C. C. Sholes, and Jon B. Jilson exist, learning will never languish
for want of a patron, or the cause of education perish for want of a friend.
No question, can be presented to the public of Kenosha, that will elicit such general interest as the subject of schools. Whenever anything
transpires, calculated either to raise or depress their usefulness, it causes a more general sensation among the inhabitants, than any other
question that is presented for the public consideration.
It only remains for me to speakof a. few of the earliest, settlers of Kenosha, whase, names have been introduced in the foregoing account of
the place. At the present writing, (March, 1857), Mr. Jonathan Pierce still lives, in Kenosha. Industry and frugality have placed him in
comfortable circumstances, and temperate habits of life have, given him a happy old age. Hon. William Bullen died many years ago, generally
respected. He was a prominent business, man, and as a pollitician, was known as an able member of the Legislature of the Territory of
Wisconsin. Hudson Bacon lost his health from the exposures incident to the first settlement, which has impaired, in some measure, his
usefulness and activity. He has erected a comfortable dwelling upon the site, or very nearly, upon, the site of his original log house, where
he now resides. Samuel Resique, died, in San Francisco,, California, in 1855. C. W. Turner settled about one mile north of Kenosha, where
he died in 1851.
John Bullen, Esq., who might be termed the founder of the place, was well fitted for a pioneer enterprise. Besides considerable physical
powers, he possesses commanding abilities, and great energy of character-all of them qualifications that are no where more essential than
in founding a new colony or home in a new country. Since 1839, Mr. Bullen, has been engaged largely in real estate and mercantile operations,
until within the last four or five years. He still resides mainly at Kenosha, though temporarily and occasionally at Lyons, Walworth county,