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Mequon History

The following is taken from "Histories of Washington and Ozaukee Counties", Western Publishing, 1881. It is copied exactly from the book except that I have capitalized surnames.

This large and populous town forms the whole of the southern boundary of Ozaukee County, and comprises all of Town 9 in Range 21, and a fractional township in Range 22.


The first white settlers of Mequon were Isaac BIGELOW and Daniel STRICKLAND, who emigrated with their families from the British possessions and settled in the town of Mequon in 1836. The territory at that time was one dense wilderness, the only thoroughfare, if such they could be called, were the Indian trails, leading in different directions through the vast country which lies north and west of the village. The pioneers followed one of these trails north until they came to Mequonsippi or Pigeon Creek, where they proceeded to erect for themselves rude shanties out of such material as could be found until they could replace them with more substantial log structures. In 1837, James W. WOODWORTH and his brother Ephraim came and took up claims near by. In 1838, William WORTH, Taylor HAVERLIN, John WESTON, Peter TURCK, Reuben WELLS, Isham DAY, Joseph LOOMER and several Irish families made settlements in the town. During the month of August, 1839, William F. OPITZ, in company with his father, mother, sister and brother-in-law, Adolph ZIMMERMANN, came and settled in what is now known as Mequon proper, one-half mile south of where the village of Thienville is now situated. They were the first German settlers. A month later, they were followed by five German families, consisting of Andrew GEIDEL, Michael MUELLER, Andrew LANZENDORF, W. SCHUMANN and Gottfried BAER. During the same year, the BONNIWELLS, William, George, James, Charles, Henry and Alfred came from England and settled that portion of Mequon now known as the Bonniwell District. Next after the BONNIWELLS came the Friestadt Colony, numbering about sixty families. These people sheltered themselves at first in tents. Timothy WOODEN, the first settler in the town of Grafton, and a neighbor of his, helped the Germans to erect their log houses. A year later, the colonists erected a log meeting-house, the first structure of the kind built in old Washington County. In the month of May, 1840, Edward H. JANSSEN, Henry HEISEN and John THOMPSON located in Mequon, and at once set about clearing the lands and interesting themselves in the general welfare of the community. Edward H. JANSSEN was the first German school teacher in the town. He was a man of great enterprise, and soon became an active worker in the politics of the county. Besides holding important offices in the town, he was made a member of the Constitutional Convention, was elected for two terms to the office of Register of Deeds, and, in 1851, was elected to the important office of State Treasurer. In 1854, he in company with his brother and a man by the name of GAITSCH built the Hamilton Grist-Mill, a large stone structure located on Cedar Creek, a mile south of the village. He was afterward elected County Superintendent of Schools, which office he held at the time of his death, which occurred during the year 1877.


The Methodists were the first to hold services in the town. The first religious gathering took place at the house of Isaac BIGELOW in the spring of 1838, when a number of old settlers met for the purpose of forming themselves into a class. Rev. FRINK, an Indian missionary preached the first sermon at the house of Jonathan LOOMERS, sometime during the same year. Peter TURCK, a native of Pennsylvania, and a zealous pupil of the Baptist faith, endeavored to press upon the minds of the early settlers the importance of immersion; but, according to the statement of James W. WOODWORTH, did not meet with much success in making converts. TURCK was a man of considerable enterprise during his early life, and sought to measure his genius with men of almost every profession. Besides preaching the gospel, he undertook to rival the students of Blackstone, at the same time endeavoring to perform the important functions of a physician. He held for quite a number of years the office of Justice of the Peace, and was elected by the county to the State Legislature. He erected the first saw-mill in the town of Mequon in 1838. With age came the derangement of his mind, and he finally died in an insane asylum.

The German Lutherans and Catholics are the only two sects now holding services in the town of Mequon. The Catholics have now only one meeting-house in the town located in Section 24, Range 22. In early times they had a log meeting-house on the town line of Cedarburg and Mequon, but of late years this place has been abandoned, the congregation now making the village of Cedarburg their place of worship. The German Lutherans have erected meeting-houses at convenient points throughout the town, the most important being at the Friestadt settlement.


The first school held in the town of Mequon was taught by Miss Helen UPHAM in a log house owned by James W. WOODWORTH. The school was opened during the fall of 1839. The first schoolhouse, a log structure, was erected by the BONNIWELLS in 1840. Miss Elize BONNIWELL, William WORTH and Edward H. JANSEN were the pioneer teachers of Mequon. The school reports made for the town of Mequon for the year 1844 were as follows: Bonniwell District, No. 1 - Male children under the age of sixteen, 37; female under the same age, 19; total 56. Public money $49.50; by tax $19.02; total $68.82. Harrison School District, No. 2, had 32 scholars. No further report.

Van Buren District, No. 3, 85 scholars
Washington District, No. 6, 36 scholars
Friestadt District, No. 7, 104 scholars
Attenberg District, No. 8, 27 scholars
New Berlin District, No. 9, 35 scholars

The whole number of scholars enrolled for the year 1844 were 375. Daniel STRICKLAND and Levi OSTRANDER were the first School Commissioners; their jurisdiction extended at that time throughout the who county. In 1849, Mequon adopted the Town Superintendent system. Frederick STOCK was appointed Superintendent.


In 1839, John WESTON and Timothy WOODEN took a contract for cutting out the Green Bay road. Previous to that time, WESTON had entered one hundred and sixty acres of land, which he sold to John WILLETT. He then bought a quarter section, the site on which the village of Theinville is situated; this he afterward sold to Henry Thein. WESTON was the first Postmaster, and kept the office in a little log house located on the old Milwaukee and Green Bay road, about sixteen miles north of Milwaukee. The mail was delivered twice a week by a carrier on horseback. WESTON remained in Mequon for several years, when he emigrated Westward. It is thought by some that he is still living, but in what part is not known. The first Justice of the Peace in the town was Frederick W. HORN, who came into Mequon in 1841. He has figured more prominently in politics than any other resident of the county, and is still a leading citizen, residing at present in the village of Cedarburg. John Henry THEIN, the founder of Theinville, first located in Mequon in the year 1842, where he erected the first grist-mill in the town, and proceeded to lay out the village. A year later, he built a storehouse and saw-mill. He continued in the flouring business until the time of his death, which occurred July 6, 1863. The grist-mill, a large stone structure, is now in charge of of Frederick MEMMLER, of Cedarburg. An excellent water-power is obtained at this point from the Milwaukee River. Besides the mill, the village contains two stores, two wagon and two blacksmith shops, one tailor and two shoeshops, three saloons, one hotel and a post office. The latter is now in charge of William CARBYS. A large cheese-factory was erected near the village, in 1880, by Louis C. WAGNER. The dwelling-houses of Theinville number about fifty, all handsomely set in fine yards, bordered with shade trees. There is also a public park, where the people meet at various times to quaff the favorite beverage, and spend an hour or two socially. The village is very cozily situated on the north bank of the Milwaukee River, and on the line of the Wisconsin Central Railroad, sixteen miles north of Milwaukee City. One-half mile south of Theinville, on the old Green Bay road, is the home of Adolph ZIMMERMANN, the oldest German settler now living in the town of Mequon. His house is surrounded by a dozen or more cottages, forming a little hamlet, which is known as Mequon proper. It was here that W.F. OPITZ, brother-in-law to Mr. ZIMMERAMANN, built the first hotel for the accommodation of travelers. The building is still standing, but since the railroad displaced the old stage line, the hotel has been abandoned. The Friestadt settlement is the only other place in the town of Mequon which can be called a hamlet. It contains two churches, one store and post office, kept by Charles SCHNEIDER, two blacksmith and wagon shops, with about two dozen dwelling-houses. The land is now mostly all under an excellent state of cultivation, the county at large presenting the appearance of one vast chain of gardens, with good, substantial frame and stone dwelling-houses, and, as is characteristic with the Germans, most of them have elegant yards decorated with neatly arranged walks and flowerbeds, while the ever famous cottonwood commands a prominent place in front of the houses. The farmers have adopted the Eastern custom of building large barns for the storing of grain and other purposes.

The town was incorporated by act of the Legislature January 21, 1846. Prior to that time, there had been a voting precinct in the township, but no town organization distinct from the comprehensive organization of the “Town of Washington,” which embraced all the townships in old Washington County, with voting precincts here and there, as new settlements sprung up. Below is a copy of the records of the


"At a town meeting held pursuant to law in the town of Mequon, at the house of Henry THEIN, on the first Tuesday in April, A.D. 1846, it being the 7th day of said month, the meeting was called to order at 10:30 o'clock, A.M., and it was on motion resolved that a Moderator and Clerk be chosen by the electors now present, by acclamation. Patrick DOCKERY was chosen Moderator, and Edward H. JANSEN, Clerk. The officers chosen appeared and took the oath of office before F.W. HORN, Justice of the Peace, which is prefixed to the poll-list. On motion of F.W. HORN, resolved, that the wages of the town officers not settled by law by $1 per day. On mother, resolved, that the Boards of Town Supervisors are hereby authorized to prescribe the necessary amount of taxes to be raised in this town for the different purposes not voted upon by this meeting. Proclamation of the opening of the polls was now made. Resolved, that this meeting do now vote by ballot for the different officers. On motion, resolved, that one-half of 1 per cent shall be raised for the support of common schools."

"The whole number of votes polled at the election was 140. For State Government, 128; against State Government, 9. For town officers, 71. For county seat at Hamburg, 35 votes; Port Washington, 65; Cedarburg, 22; Middle, 13; West Bend, 2; Centre, 2; County Lot, 1. The officers elected were: Supervisors, Edward H. JANSEN, Patrick DOCKERY, J.M. CLARKE; Commissioners of Highways, Charles KAUFFUNG, Samuel C. McEVONY; School Commissioners, Edward H. JANSEN, J.P. BAILEY, Adolph ZIMMERMANN; Assessors, Stephen WESTCOTT, Andrew GEIDELL, Henry KEOMER; Fence Viewer, Philip HERBOLD; Constable, Jacob M. SUTTON; Town Clerk, James CLEARE; Collector, W.F. OPITZ; Justice of the Peace, F.W. HORN."

Number of votes polled at second election, April 6, 1847, were cast as follows: For license, 110; against, 4. For equal suffrage to colored folks, 4; against, 219. For Constitution, 275; against, 13. For town officers, 126. The officers elected for 1847 were as follows Supervisors, Edward H. JANSEN, William F. OPITZ; Town Clerk, James CLEARE; Treasurer, Frederick MILBRATH; Road Commissioners, Charles MILBRATH, Michael HEUTER; Collector, Adolph ZIMMERMAN; School Commissioners, Edward H. JANSEN, Gottleib ROEDELL, Michael GEIDELL; Fence Viewers, Edward H. JANSEN, James TUPHAM, Michael MILLER.

Town officers for 1848 - Supervisors, Edward H. JANSEN, Ephraim WOODWORTH, James CLEARE; Treasurer, John BUBLITZ; Collector, John W. MILBRATH; Road Commissioners, Martin TANDY, Stephen LOOMER, Simon McGRATH; School commissioners, John SCHAUS, M. MILLER, Joseph B. LOOMER; Assessors, John BONE, John FEDERSPIEL, Ludwig ZIMMERMAN; Fence Viewers, Edward SIMLEN, F. FALKNER; Pound Keeper, William F. OPITZ; Town Clerk, James CLEARE.

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