The name of
There is generally a difference of opinion on the adoption of names that
occasions some strife, and there is evidence furnished by our correspondents
that the name
Among these are E. P. Cole of Kinnicinnic, Wisconsin, who was elected
assessor in the late 50's and whose personal recollections were recently
published in The Waterloo Democrat. Daniel
Storer of Sun Prairie was one of the early pioneers.
His marriage to Eunice Palmer was the first celebration of its kind in
Portland. The knot was tied by S. M.
Cone as Justice of Peace. But none
are better preserved than G. A. Cone who made York his home for a half century
or more. Writing from Marshall,
Wisconsin, under date of January 30, 1908, he gives his recollection of the
manner of naming Portland: "there
were two factions that settled in the Town of Portland; one called the Campbell
and the other the Kimball faction. The
Campbells were Canadians and they wished the town named Waterford, but the
Kimball faction proposed the name of Portland as this was the name of the
metropolis of their native State Maine. The
Kimballs being the stronger faction, the name of Portland was chosen".
This account is corroberated by others who recall hearing their parents
tell of the rivalry displayed in selecting the name of Portland.
Several of the first settlers were natives of Maine.
It would be of interest to know why the Campbells and their supporters
favored the name of Waterford as the original city of this name is a port of
Ireland named such by the Danes when they were conspicuous as pirates.
It is one of the very few Danish names that have come down to the present
to suggest the history of the Danes in Ireland ten centuries ago.
However, the more aristocratic name won out and has answered the purpose
as well as any other. The Kimballs
were quite prominent.
Jed Kimball was the first man to be elected to the Legislature from
Portland. It is pretty generally
conceded that Steven Linderman built the first dwelling house and became the
first permanent resident of the Town of Portland.
In 1843, he settled with his family in Portland.
He selected his farm from land lying in Sections 18 and 19 and built his
house on the County Line Road where he remained until his death.
He was physically and otherwise a typical easterner of the traditional
Yankee type. He was tall and lank
with spare features and a prominent bowed nose.
He was industrious, frugal and a good citizen which qualities made him a
successful farmer. About twenty
years ago, the writer prepared a few articles of this character which were
published in the Democrat. From
information then obtained from Franklin Giles, Cyrus Perry and K. P. Clark, it
was learned that Mr. Perry selected his farm in Portland in 1842.
It was claimed that K. P. Clark and A. E. Hays came in 1843, building the
first house in the Town of Portland on a site near the present residence of L.
P. Knowlton. The house they built
was later removed to the Burgess farm about one-half mile south of Daniel
Draeger's present residence. It was
still standing 20 years ago. Messrs.
Clark and Hays also claimed the honor of having sunk the first well in the town
which was doing service for the L. P. Knowlton household near the present home
of Ruel Knowlton. In a creditably
written booklet on early days in Waterloo, published by The Democrat when in the
hands of P. H. Bolger in 1897, there appears an interview with Joseph Gastin who
fished and hunted in the Town of Portland in 1843.
Among the items mentioned by him is that the first white woman to settle
in Portland was Mrs. Charlotte Linderman in 1843.
She was the wife of Steven Linderman.
He also speaks of Mr. Linderman as having built the first house in the
town. G. A. Cone also states that
Mr. Linderman settled there in 1843. It
is apparent that the memory of some of these informants is at fault.
The task of harmonizing whatever they present of a conflicting nature is
left to the judgment of the Democrat's readers.
The Village of Portland had its first settler in the person of Alexander
Campbell. For two years the growing
village was known as Campbell's Settlement.
On the east side of the marsh there was a territory now traversed by the
road leading to Hubbleton called Oregon. It
was in this section that the Kimballs first settled and the school district now
known as the Youker District was earlier named the Kimball School.
Alexander Campbell was the founder of the village and was the first to
plat land into small lots and sell them to new comers.
A sketch of Mr. Campbell by his daughter, Mrs. N. A. Polifke of Appleton,
has much in it of value in this connection.
It is as follows: "the
subject of this sketch, Alexander Campbell, came to Watertown, Wis., from upper
Canada in May 1841, coming by boat
to Milwaukee and from there by team, being a young man twenty-eight years of age
and bringing his wife and son Duncan, two years of age.
He rented the Boomer farm one and one-half miles south of Watertown and
lived there three years. Besides
doing his farm work, he drove a team for the Cole Brothers and hauled the first
load of goods from Milwaukee to Watertown, the Cole Brothers having started a
"In 1844, Mr. Campbell, with his wife and two children, Duncan and
Amelia, moved to Portland where he had entered the following described lands,
the S.R. Lot S. S. 1/4 of Sec. 32 of Township 9, and the N. E. 1/4 of the N. E.
1/4 of Sec. 5, Township 8, the latter portion being in Jefferson Co., and the
former in Dodge Co. Mr. Campbell and
his father, Duncan Campbell, had previously come through the woods on foot and
located this land, going to Green Bay on horseback to the land office there to
pay for land at $1.25 per acre". "On
the first day of August 1844, he drove to Watertown for lumber going by way of
Milford where he forded the Crawfish River.
With this lumber, he built a shanty, being the first habitation of what
later became the Village of Portland. He
moved his family into this shanty and lived there six weeks without doors or
windows, all household supplies being brought from Whitewater".
The next year he cultivated his land, sowing it to wheat, buying the seed
at Aztalan and sowing it by hand and dragging it in with brush.
When ripe, he cut it with a cradle and threshed it on a platform with
"In 1847, his father, Duncan Campbell, moved from Watertown and
bought of his son the land lying in Jefferson Co., in Section 5, Township 8.
The same year, Mr. Campbell and his father platted the land and commenced
selling lots in the Village of Portland to settlers who came in very fast.
Many weary strangers came daily looking for land and seeling homes in the
new country. As night approached,
they would ask to stay over night". "After
the evening meal, the furniture, including the cook stove, would be set out of
doors to make room for temporary beds made up on the floor.
Early the next morning, they would arise, pick up the beds and return the
furniture and cook stove, and Mrs. Campbell would prepare breakfast.
After partaking , they would go on their way rejoicing, feeling thankful
they had found friends in a new country".
"A little incident comes to my mind.
When my folks moved from Watertown to Portland, my mother had four hens.
Wishing to keep them, she put them in the cook stove and brought them all
right, but before my father could make a hen house of a dry goods box, they each
laid an egg, so there was no time lost with the hens".
"In 1850, Mr. Campbell bought from the government forty acres of
land one mile north of Portland on which he built a house and moved his family
there where they resided six years. At
this time, all the road between Portland and the farm was an Indian trail".
"After selling the forty acres, he bought eighty acres of his father
lying across the road where he again built a commodious dwelling bringing all
supplies, also carpenters, masons and painters,
With the coming of the
He worked under a large burr oak tree which was his shop and he had
plenty of room. His wife lived in a
board shanty near by". The
Kimballs purchased the old mill site and immediately began the erection of a saw
mill, which for many years sawed into lumber logs of oak, elm and basswood
hauled there from the banks of the Crawfish.
G. A. Cone states that Pollard Powers was a partner of Jud and Hanniball
Kimball in erecting the saw mill and in the construction of the dam across the
Maunesha. One of the carpenters who
worked at the construction of the mill was Edmund Gilmore, who was in 1846
selected the first Town Clerk. He
lived in the Village and had the reputation of being the only man in the
neighborhood who could make a good ax helve.
These improvements attracted the attention of the settlers to the village
making it a desirable place for stores.
In 1848, the first general election was held in the store of S. M. Smith.
Mr. Smith called to order the town meeting of 1847 which was probably
held in his store. This would
indicate that he was the first man to open a store in the village.
Mr. G. A. Cone speaks of Melvin Smith as the first and S. M. Cone as the
second storekeeper. There is no
doubt but the same Smith is intended. Later
others opened stores and some closed
theirs. About 1850, Jason and Thomas
Williams became merchants in
In the early 50's, Rhodes Lee opened a hardware store, and about the same
time, Dave Chalmers established a general store; his brother, Robert Chalmers,
did the same also. Dave Chalmers
became the first postmaster of
Speaking of the convenience of the William's store, H. P. Whipple, who
was then in his teens, says: "Williams
Brothers kept a small grocery store. We
boys used to trap and shoot quail and sell them to the Williamses and thereby
supplied ourselves with pens, pencils, paper and many other things which we
needed, and also tobacco which we did not need and mostly bought and
used on the sly".
From the late 40's to the beginning of the 60's,
In 1856, Oscar L. Ray of
Massina Cone was suceeded at the forge by
Speaking of school teachers, it is said by Mrs. N. A. Polifke that Martha
Kenyon was the first to be named such in the village.
Mrs. Polifke's aunt, Emeline Waterman, now 89 years of age and a resident
Near the mill site, Henry Cornelius established a cobbler's shop in the
50's. He was a jolly, good natured
Irishman who worked industriously. It
was a habit of his to whistle and work from morning until night, interrupted
occasionally by a customer and an occasional call from Janes Murphy, the Justice
of Peace, of whom H. P. Whipple states: "he
was a finely educated Irishman and was one of the best officers the town ever
had in its service". Frank
Parker, the poet, was a frequent caller on Cornelius to whom he recited his
Of this poet, Chauncey Sheldon writes:
"Poet Parker, another excentric character was conspicuous about the
country, always accompanied by his ever companion, his ax, and occasionally his
basket which he carried on his arm. He
would always conduct his business on a very genteel scale and made it a rule to
draw up at some convenient place about meal time or at evening for a nights
lodging. His rule was to cut wood
enough after each meal or nights lodging to pay for same.
During this time, he would always win the youngsters over by his story
telling, which used to make the youngsters blood run cold at times, then wind up
with a nice verse of poetry of his own composition.
Being a kind hearted old fellow, he usually was received with cordial
welcome and was well treated by all who knew him.
His home was near what we all knew as the Van Deldan Bridge.
It was built of logs and one room. He
had a small place built of logs near where he claimed to keep all of his
eatables. It was understood that he
was from some point in
In 1871, upon the occasion of his last visit, he wrote some poetry
prophetic of the writer's future in which ideas of greatness were suggested but
which have not materialized. Mr.
Parker was always pretty well clothed and made himself a very agreeable
companion for an evening at the family fireside.
A tannery was built in the late 50's by a Bancroft just across the creek
from the mill. It did a good
business but closed its doors with the general collapse of
It will be noted that as early as 1850 the foundation of a prosperous
village was laid. The location of
Scores of travelers put up at
As stated elsewhere, the bonds were not delivered, but the farm mortgages
were. They were later collected
although no effort was made to put the road through.
About 1855, the first hope of a railroad swelled the breasts of
James Freeman came from
In 1881, there was something of a revival of life in
The success of
The following communication is from Mr. H. H. Hyer of this village,
formerly an early resident of the Town of
lived there during the summer of 1845 and until late in the fall of 1846, a
period well known and long remembered by the early settlers as the ‘sickly
seasons’. There were very few
settlers who escaped the effects of the poisoned malaria.
Fever and ague were very prevalent, being found at nearly every home.
There were no doctors near and many suffered and died for lack of proper
medical care and attendance that it was impossible for them to get.
My father's family consisted of father, mother, four sons, and one
daughter. They were all sick at one
time. Two of my brothers succumbed
to the dreaded disease and both died in the fall of 1846,
and the other sixteen years of age.
I have heard my people tell of the family of Nathaniel Hamilton that
lived just across the road from us. They
were also all sick and Mr. Hamilton died the same fall.
Mr. Hamilton was the first overseer of highways elected in the Town of
There were no bridges across the streams.
To get their grinding done was no small chore.
I have hear them tell how they would make up a load in the neighborhood,
take two yoke of oxen and someone among them would make the trip to mill which
would often take three or four days.
I think it was the year 1844 that a number of families settled in the
It was about the year 1845 that several families by the name of
The Kimballs settled in eastern
Hannibal Kimball later on purchased 40 acres of land just north of the
Village of Portland, where the Portland cemetery is now located.
Of the Powers' families, I think that two brothers, Moses and Charles,
came in the year 1844. Moses settled
on the road between
In 1845, Captain Jonathon and his son Ambrose Powers came to
In the year 1845, the Cone families came from the State of
I remember he used to often preach in the old schoolhouse.
He had three sons that I know of: Melvin,
Gilispia and one that kept store in
I will not repeat. There is
one character, however, I will mention. That
was James McPhillips, commonly called "Big Jimmie".
He was a very large and powerful built man and had a shanty on his claim
It then necessitated his going to town so often to get his jug filled,
that he made up his mind he would buy by the barrel and keep a larger stock on
hand. Whiskey at that time was
brought out by team from
Before a final consumation of his well laid plan, a no small obstacle had
to be overcome and that was how he was to get his purchase home to his shanty, a
distance of two or three miles. He,
being on foot himself and evidently thinking it would not be hardly safe to
intrust it to the care of anyone else, set about to roll it home.
When he got down to the foot of the hill just west of the village, he
stopped and borrowed a gimlet and tapped the barrel.
After quenching his thirst, he proceeded on his way home where I
understand he reached in safety some time in the early morning.
But great was his surprise and indignation on arising a few mornings
later to find his whiskey barrel and all missing.
He at once started out on a diligent search which resulted in his
locating his property not very far away. I
don' t think he ever recovered his property, neither did he ever fully forgive
the perpetrators of the deed.
The first schoolhouse in the
My first teacher was a Miss Mary Burdick.
She afterwards became the wife of Mr. Harmon Wood and mother of Will Wood
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