From History of Reedsburg and the Upper Baraboo Valley, by Merton Edwin Krug, Publ. February 1929 by the author. Printed by Democrat Printing Company, Madison, Wis., Page 40-45
Rev. A. S. Dwinnell. Although the history of the church in Reedsburg is not treated in Part I of our narrative, we feel that Mr. Dwinnell deserves special mention here as a man and as a local fixture, rather than as a minister, for it is through his historical writings that much of our knowledge of the early days is obtained. This gentleman, doubtlessly the most energetic clergyman the city has ever known, came with his family, as has been said, July 2, 1851. They had come from Walworth County. It is a fact that Mr. Dwinnell had, at a much earlier date, visited Sauk County with the intention of locating here. The date of May 3, 1848, is given as that of his first visit.
We quote extensively from the Dwinnell writings:
On Tuesday, the 24th of October, 1848, I set out from my home in Walworth County on my second journey to the Baraboo valley. I had three passengers, all of who were, like myself, looking for homes. I had unexpectedly and providentially come in possession of several land warrants, and came to find land upon which to locate them. We reached Portage on Thursday evening. On Friday forenoon, October 27, we visited Fort Winnebago. We crossed the Wisconsin river by ferry, which was tended by a half-breed Frenchman. (At that date the ferry at Portage was owned by William Armstrong. The ferry was established about 1830 by the famous Pierre Pauquette, who was murdered by an Indian in October, 1832.)
In the afternoon we reached Baraboo and put up wtih Col. Sumner, where we unexpectedly found a company of four who had arrived there the evening previous from the same town in which we lived in Walworth County. Soon after we arrived a heavy rain set in, which continued until 9 A.M. on Saturday. As we learned that a man by the name of David C. Reed was building a mill and founding a village on the river sixteen miles above, we resolved to proceed thither. After leaving Lyons there was no house on the way except the board shanty of Thomas Shepard on Copper Creek. In what is now Reedsburg, we found the frame sawmill and five log shanties which stood in what is now Main Street. On Sunday morning our company engaged Mr. Reed to go with them to look for land, on the plea of necessity that he could not leave his work to go on a weekday. Mr. Reed inquired of me if I was not going with them.
"I am not!" I told him. "I have come here intending to settle, and I am coming with clean hands so I can reprove the people for Sabbath breaking and other wrong-doing."
"We are not going to break the Sabbath," he laughingly replied, "we only intend to bend it a little."
"Sooner than look for land on that day I will return home without any!" I told him.
I induced one man to remain with me. At the breakfast table I gave notice, with the permission of Mr. Powell, I would give a lecture in that room that evening. During the day I took a stroll by myself, on the only road that lead into the place from the north, crossing a part of what is now the Greenwood Cemetery. Near what is now called the Devereaux Place, the track turned west to the creek on which Reed and Powell had cut a quantity of hay during the summer, from which circumstance the stream was named Hay Creek. Upon the rocks, under the pines, I sat down and prepared my lecture for the evening service.
In the evening twenty-nine persons (the populace of the town) assembled in Mr. Powell's cabin, house No. 2 of Shanty Row fame. Elder Locke offered prayer and Mr. Dwinnell began his lecture. His subject was law.
"The law is not arbitrary as many suppose," he remarked, "but is founded in the nature of things. Moral law if founded in the nature of moral beings, and grew out of the relation they sustained to each other - angels with angels, men with men, and the whole with God, their Maker," he said.
This was Sunday evening, October 29, 1849. That Sunday and the succeeding days were spent by the land seekers for desirable locations upon which to settle. Incidentally, with the exception of Mr. Dwinnell, one of them, who had arrived on Saturday, the 28th of October, took up land. Mr. Dwinnell did, however, extensively, and was one of the earliest land takers.
"I know far better than I do," he said; "I was brought up by a Baptist minister, and well instructed by him and his wife. After I was married and they became superannuated I took them and cared for them as long as they lived. I know my duty better than I do it."
David C. Reed was candid. "How many of us are compelled to make the same acknowledgement!" wrote Dwinnell.
The snowstorm continued unabated upon the next day, which was November 2. On that day they were looking for locations upon Babb's Prairie, with the object of entering a quarter section for Mrs. Pamelia Tator, an acquaintance of theirs then dwelling in Delavan. By the next Sabbath the company were in Baraboo on their return trip to Walworth County.
In less than three months, on the 26th of February, 1849, Mr. Dwinnell set out from his home on Spring Prairie on his third journey to Reed's Burgh. Since his departure in early November he found that a number of changes had been effected. The dam had been finished, the mill completed and put into operation, although it was without roof or other covering. The family of Austin Seeley had moved hither from Delavan and had reared the frame of their house and covered it with boughs. In this frontier bivouac the family was dwelling and here Mrs. Dwinnell and whoever were with him obtained their dinner, although at that time Mrs. Seeley had in her "house" very little to eat. That same day, Friday, March 2, 1849, Mr. Dwinnell and the young man with him proceeded to Narrows Prairie and found lodging for the night with a settler named William Pitts. Saturday they selected a quarter-section of land (for Dwinnell) and rested Sunday, March 4, in keeping with the commandment. On Monday they selected a tract for the young man but he was cut down by death before he could improve his land. That was the day Zachary Taylor was inaugurated president of the United States.
On Tuesday, March 6, they reviewed DwinnellL's lands on Copper Creek (his 1848 claims) and journeyed on to Baraboo, where the night was spent. Then they proceeded to Matt's ferry which had just come into being at Merrimac, but there was no man at home to take them across. They journeyed on in the melting snow to Sauk City and put up for the night with Marcus Warren, a wealthy bachelor, and proprietor of the United States Hotel. During the evening Auguston Haraszthy, the Hungarian refugee count, came in and spent an hour. On Thursday, March 8, they crossed the old Wisconsin in no adventurous way. It was breaking up in the spring and the travelers crossed on a huge raft of ice, guiding their raft with long poles, and reached the opposite side in safety. Making their way to Lodi they passed a while. They had driven a horse and cutter that far on their trip up; now they recovered them and started toward Madison, arriving there in the dark of night amidst a pelting, thawing spring rain. The next day, through mud and running water, they reached Cambridge. The second day was Saturday. The snow had all turned to water and was on its journey seaward. Leaving their cutter, taking turns in riding and walking, they reached home late Saturday night.
Early in November of that same year Mr. Dwinnell made a fourth trip overland to Reedsburg. He was accompanied by two gentlemen. Several families had been added to the population of Reed's Burgh. The mill was covered, and a bridge had been made to span the river. Indian or Babb's Ford was no more. The mill-house which Austin Seeley had begun to construct that spring had been enlarged and D. C. Reed had moved his family into it. They were there and conducted a house of hospitality. As for the Seeleys they had erected a frame house, the first in the village, and Mrs. Seeley had shingled it. This house, two stories in height, served as a carpenter shop, and the family quarters were in the upper story.
And there were other new building: William McClung had erected a dwelling. Rev. Saxby had built a part of the building which some time later was turned into a tavern and became known as Green Tavern.
After a visit to the village Mr. Dwinnell went to inspect his lands, after which he returned thereto. He spent the Sabbath in the village, and heard a sermon by Rev. Saxby at the dwelling of Eber Benedict. The latter gentleman had just reared his house and had the second dance in Reedsburg. Saxby's sermon was the first regular preaching in this village, if we except the frequent exhortations of Alexander Locke. Mr. Saxby was a friend of Mr. Dwinnell and had come that summer with the intention of settling on some land the latter had entered for him on Copper Creek, the fall previous. After a short residence in the village during which his daughter, Amanda Saxby had conducted a private school, he moved onto his Copper Creek land where he spent several years.
Also Mr. Dwinnell found a man named John Clark. This man, that winter, 1849-50, erected the Clark Hotel, first edifice of its kind in the village. It was called Clark Tavern at first and Mr. Clark was proprietor. The structure was one and a half stories high, and the entire population pointed to it with pride as the first frame building of note in the place. The material of which it was constructed, was the product of the greatest institution for many miles about - the sawmill of Reed and Powell. Here young, courageous, fellow-adventurers would stop after a horseback ride from Baraboo, Sauk, Portage or Madison, dine and drink, talk and sleep, discuss the political unrest of the time (for serous debates on the subjects of slavery were then common in the senate), inquire into the best locations for land and dream of the days when this land should become a civilization. This building stood until destroyed by fire in May, 1877.
Alden Allen was one of the settlers whom Rev. Dwinnell found here in the autumn of 1849. This gentleman was a relative of Ethan Allen and a descendant, through is mother Priscilla Alden, of the Puritan youth and maiden who came to America in 1620. Mr. Allen was of Plainfield, Mass., birth and was a boyhood neighbor of William Cullen Bryant. Mr. Allen and Bryant were members of the Baptist Church of that town. After removing here he engaged in making shoes, and for several years did all the cobbling in the village.
Dwinnell appears to have been in the village at different intervals during the years 1850-51. That he was a resident here for a time in the late summer of 1851 is certain, from the fact that he was chosen president of the board of trustees when the Reed's mill was reorganized that year. He was in the village on Sunday, Oct. 5, 1851, for he tells of an event that occurred that day in one of his most graphic historical essays. (See article "The First Criminal Trial" page 45)
Return to Sauk County Biographies