Brief Town History via Road Trip


Following this history is the Road Trip Narrative


A Brief History of the Town of Farmington

Once covered by a glacier, the area of Wisconsin that became the town of Farmington is rich in glacial deposits of fertile soil among the kettles and kames, rivers and streams.  Visitors as long as 10,000 years ago left their mark in the form of built-up mounds of earth in the shapes of animals, birds and simple geometry. Later Woodland native people migrated from the east, Potawotomie and Menomonee. French voyageurs came through in the seventeenth century, but did not stay. The tribal people were here when settlers of European descent began to claim land, ceded through treaties in the 1830’s. In 1835 the land was surveyed by an official government Deputy, William Burt. His notation of Stony Creek as a possible mill site aided speculative purchases of $1.25 per acre, former Governor James Doty, included.
The first settlers who took possession of their lands were Yankees, second and third generation Americans moving west across the continent to seek their own fortunes. Most of the flurry of purchasing and settling took place between 1845 and 1850. Americans, different Europeans from the upheaval in the Germanic states and Irish all came.
On February 11, 1847, the Wisconsin state legislature constituted a new town named Clarence. A year later the name was changed to Farmington. For a few months in 1854, based on the rumor of a deposit possibly containing diamonds being found, the name of the town became Carbon.
The first school, for which $15 was allocated by the town in 1847, was open winter and summer.  By 1880 there were 8 schoolhouses with 691 scholars, and 15 teachers. Early religious services were held in the homes of the pioneers until meeting houses were built – Methodist, Catholic, German Reformed, Free Will Baptist.
            Two small villages sprang up around industry and population centers in the mid nineteenth century.  In 1854, Harlow Bolton platted out Bolton’s Ville at the extreme north of the township.
Boltonville had grist and saw mills run by the power of Stony Creek, a cheese factory, shops and iron and wagon works, medical and mail services. Fillmore, named in honor of the US President o the day, was another community settled at the extreme eastern border. Christian Beger was the first settler, coming from Saxony in 1846.  Along with numerous other businesses, Fillmore had the first saloon with a bowling alley in the area.  Fillmore grew up around the Saxonia House Inn, an incubator of the early church, Turn Verein Society, post office, store and tavern. The Fillmore Brass Band entertained the community during the latter decades of the nineteenth century.
St. Michaels, Cheeseville and Orchard’s Grove are the three little hamlets of industry and settlement at crossroads in the community.
Other industries which made Farmington famous, now defunct,  were the many cheese factories and the two brickyards which manufactured a well-known and used golden-colored brick. Two volunteer fire departments were established in the early days of the twentieth century. In the 1960’s the small rural schools consolidated with the Kewaskum School District.
            At the dawn of the 21st century, Farmington prides itself on its rural heritage, with both large and small farms, dairy, organic, exotic game, and several industries. Our foundations are clearly seen in the many fine examples of unique stone architecture, preserved log homes and Lizard Mound County Park. We are a close-knit community served by Farmington Elementary School, St. Martin’s Church in Fillmore, St. Michaels Church in St. Michaels and St. Andrews Church between Orchard Grove and Fillmore. The Boltonville and Fillmore Fire Departments are among the finest. Four-H for the youth, Sportsman’s Club, Farmington Turners, and the Farmington Historical Society actively promote social heritage and preservation. Town government is run by an elected chair, two elected supervisors, an appointed clerk and treasurer.



Historic Places Road Trip
(Updates, corrections, further stories always welcome - contact the web designer - lisalickel-at-hotmail)

August 23, 2003

Town of Farmington Historical Society

            Approximately 2 hours, 30-35 miles

            Two main stops: up to ½ hour at Saxonia House, 15 minutes at Lizard Mound

 

Departing and Returning to Boltonville Fire Station, 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

            Water and snack will be provided – pit toilets are available at Lizard Mound.

 
We are proud to show four corners of Farmington, once known as Clarence, after an early settler’s male child born here; also called Carbon for a short time, when a deposit of coal was thought to have been discovered. The petition for incorporation was filed on February 11, 1847. Washington and Ozaukee Counties were once joined, separating in 1853 over a county seat dispute. These are a select few highlights.

 
Our tour begins through Boltonville, which was after Harlow Bolton who laid out a plat of the village, as did William Wendel and Elijah Duncan.  Bolton’s Ville stuck. 

Highlights on the way out:

·         The Reliance Roller Mill was built in 1854 or so on Stony Creek by Elijah Duncan, and was the reason the community built up around it. It still operates as a grist mill, grinding grain for local farmers, and selling custom pet foods, fertilizer and birdseed. Boltonville was once home to three hotels, two stores, a blacksmith, veterinarian and two general mercantile stores, butcher shop, cheese factory, and post office, besides the mill.

·         The gray block building was once a cheese factory, built in 1932

This “bypass” of Boltonville was built in 1940 and 1941, and was once part of the Old Fond du Lac Trail, a main route north.  Traveling north on Highway 144 we come to the Town Hall, once the site of a Potowatomie encampment. It was built in the 1970’s. Sophia (Sofeyea) Kraetsch, a neighbor, remembered playing as a young girl among the tee-pee poles left at the site during the seasonal migrations, and Louis Morbes, a former town chairman, spoke with the last remaining member of the local branch.

·         Returning south on Highway 144, we pass the home of Sophia Kraetsch.  Sophia is a legend in Farmington. At nine years of age, she contracted an illness which left her growth stunted and her hands and wrists deformed. Oddly enough, she became a seamstress to support herself, and operated a dress-making school out of her home, boarding a few students at a time. Sophia’s father built this home for her, making all of the appointments suited to her small size. One of our members, Shirley Stoffel’s, mother was a student, and Sophia made her wedding dress in 1918, which Shirley still has. Sophia died in 1941 and is buried in the Boltonville Union cemetery. Her home was sold and remodeled in 2012.

·         We turn east on Highland Drive to St. John of God Catholic Church, the center of Irish influence around Farmington.  On the far south side of Washington County is the other well-known Irish settlement, the town of Erin.  The Riley family donated the land for both this cemetery, as well as the Boltonville Union cemetery. This is the second church on site, built in 1890. The fieldstone structures once housing the convent and public school, which were on the National Register of Historic places, were taken down in 1994. The Order of St. Agnes sisters moved to Fond du Lac in 1870, and the school closed in 1906.  Some of the earliest burials in the cemetery are of people born at the turn of the nineteenth century.  One woman, Elizabeth Kenna/(Kenney), was born in 1791, making her and her husband in their late sixties by the time they emigrated from Ireland. Many of the stones make mention of which County in Ireland the people came from, like Galway, Cork, Louth, Claire and Wexford.

·         East on Highland to Boltonville Road, past one of the mega-farming operations in the county, the Enrights, one of the largest dairy farms in Farmington.

·         North to Highway 144 to Highway XX, on the left just after the intersection is a preserved log structure, once a back-yard fixture in most homes around Boltonville, used to house small animals. Also on this site was the Woog barrel stave factory, which operated between 1856 and 1877.

·         We pass the home of a Civil War veteran, Albert Duncan, who was the last living veteran of the era and was buried in 1932 in Boltonville.

·         Traveling east on XX to Kohler Road, we are at the former site of the Diesterhaupt Brickyards, which provided a rare, golden-color brick. These bricks were used to build many homes here and in West Bend. Only the deep pit where the clay was removed, and a left-over pile (over your left shoulder, behind) are left. 

We cross a bridge over the Milwaukee River and former Potowatomie encampment. A former owner, Mr. Vokes, wondered at the apparent scorched circles on his fields near the river, until it was determined that Potowatomies made arrowheads at this site, hardening them in fires.  Many chips and even a pipe made from material found in Minnesota have been excavated.

·         The Goldammer farmstead. The Goldammers lived here through four generations to 1987. The home was sold in 1990 and restored by the present owners, Henry and Barbara Kluever. The first Fillmore fire station building from 1923 is also preserved on this property. 

·         Highway H in Fillmore east through Fillmore, named for the 13th President of the United States, Millard Fillmore, as was common in those days in naming new communities. Fillmore was Zachary Taylor’s Vice President, and stepped into office upon Taylor’s death in 1850. Fillmore was the first organized community in Farmington, founded in 1846 by Christian Beger.

  

Highlights:

·         Wittig House (now Noenning’s) gray with red barn, was built in 1892. It also is fachwerk underneath, and the present owners uncovered corn cobs among other items stuffed between the timbers Witting emigrated from Saxony in 1850 and was a Civil War veteran and town clerk. Ernst Witting built the building across the street in 1893, a second building on the site.  It was once a general store, saloon, hotel, post office and funeral parlor.

·         St. Martin’s Church was built in 1891, where services were held in German until 1928.

·         The log cabin is not old, but built in the 1940’s by an elderly couple.

·         Saxonia House, built in 1855. 30 minute stop for Paul Williams, short tour. 

 

Return west through Fillmore.

·         St. Martin’s Cemetery, also the original site of the church was built in 1862, given by the Klessig family.

·         The Fire Escape, formerly Weinreich’s Recreation, just changed hands in 2002. It was built in 1863, and burned in 1929. For many years, Weinreich’s was the only store and gas station in the community. The store part closed in 1967, while the Friday Fish Frys still remain popular. The property was sold and is currently The Fire Escape and still serves food. 

·         Fillmore School, a state graded school built in 1884 is now a home. It once had a circular stair case and even tennis courts.

·         The Turner Hall was built in 1867 by the Turn Verein Society, whose object was the promotion of physical and mental well-being through exercise and a library.  Socials and community events are still held here to this day.  Baseball is popular throughout the summer. The Farmington Historical Society holds our annual Memorial Day program here each year.

Turn south on Trading Post Trail past the site of the former German Methodist congregation 1859-1906 -a modern ranch home sits on the old foundation) and existing cemetery.

·         Next to the Wittig building is the Birkholz Harness shop, which opened in 1897 and closed in 1920 due to that new-fangled contraption, the automobile. There was also another family business, a millinery shop, run from the building.

·         Across the road from the Fire Station is the Sim Albinger blacksmith shop, which eventually became a machine shop and auto implement dealership.

·         Also near this site was a trading post built in 1848 by William Kloetzch. Town meetings were held there until 1958.  In 1968, the building was sold to the Ozaukee County Historical society and preserved at Pioneer Village, where it is the first building on site. When the Town was determining names for the roads due to organized fire fighting ordinances, this road was named “Trading Post Trail” because of this building.

·         We cross the winding Milwaukee River, past the site of a children’s cemetery used hastily during an 1880 diphtheria epidemic

·         Through Meadow Lane where we see a preserved barn and elk farming operation

to Cheeseville, with its stone cheese factory built by Sheboyganite William Horner, and produced 45,000 pounds of cheese at one time.1881-1959 and first school, 1856-1964; the first in the county to have indoor plumbing, which is now a home. 

·         The beautiful fieldstone home was built in 1862. George and Kathy Muth hosted Breakfast on the Farm a few years ago.

·         The Gordon Michaels family farm is another huge dairying operation. The land along here was once owned by the Fredonia Canning Company, whose tenants grew peas.

We continue south on Trading Post Trail to Newark Drive, turning west

·         East is the Seideman Farms, home to Farmington’s centenarian, Ray, where family reunions are held each July. Ray has since passed away.

·         St. Peter’s Church & Green Lake.  St. Peter’s Church, this structure built in 1861, operated between 1855 and 1879.  The land was donated by the builder of the fieldstone home next door, Peter Schwinn, and a neighbor, Peter Wilger. The church was landmarked by Washington County. The school next door, now a private home, was leased to Farmington for fifty years, from 1874 to 1924. Green Lake, invisible to the north of the church, is Farmington’s largest and deepest lake.

·         Newark to Highway A, west Orchard Valley Road.  On the left is the site of a former experimental colony and home to Washington County’s newest park, Leonard J. Yahr  Erler’s Lake is nearly invisible behind the foliage. A favorite old-timer story tells the tale of little Huddah  Hartz, aged nine, was sent to fetch the milk cow during the 1860s.  She became lost, and friendly Potowatomies rescued her, bringing her back to Detmering’s Trading Post, which was once located on the lake shores. One Detmering child tried to build a match factory in 1873, but it failed. As far as the experimental community, in the 1850s a group of well heeled adventurers from Europe (think “Yuppie” hippies) thought they would like to try living off the land. They didn’t consider that none of them, ladies included, knew the first thing about building a log cabin and how to get food. All but one roommate bailed out when the going got tough  It’s fondly remembered as the “Latin” community. The Yahrs donated the property to the hCounty, and it is now a popular County Park.

Going north to Shalom Drive, we turn to Indianlore, and south on Indianlore to Highway A

·         The Hagner family is remembered fondly in the community for recognizing and saving many of the Indian mounds of the area. An approximately 15 minute stop at Lizard Mound County Park. Pit toilets are available. The Park underwent renovation and growth removal, and an interpretive center was built, 2011-2013.


·         We continue west on A across Highway 144 to Club Lane.  This is the site of Old Brick School, only recently reclaimed by the landowners, who invoked the right the right of the landowner to reclaim the land and building if the school is no longer used. Club 144 was built in 1945 or 1946 by Betty Erdmann and her husband, who had just sold Zwoschka’s Resort, up on Lake 12. Betty holds a copyright for the name “Brottlinks,” a form of bratworst made from veal, and served it with their popular Friday Fish Frys in their once famous and beautiful gardens.

·         North of here, at the intersection of Highways H and HH is the site of another little hamlet in Farmington known as Orchard Grove. The Wescott family once lived there, and their son, Glenway, wrote several novels of life at the turn of the century. There was once a cheese factory and a brick school which is a home. The Orchard Grove Cemetery was refurbished by the FHS beginning in 2008.

North on Forest View, through the farming communities, descendants of those who settled St. Michaels, a group of Prussians who arrived here in 1846. They were a whole community who picked up and moved their town, led by Michael Rodenkirch.  At the intersection is the Thull family farm, members of a popular local polka band.

·         We continue to Scenic Drive turning east through the beautiful Kettle country, topography left nearly as it was when the Cary Age Glacier receded 12,000 years ago, with deep kettle holes, rolling hills, eskers and moraines. 

·         We’ll pull over by St. John’s Church, once the Freewill Baptist Society, built in 1872, the first Protestant Church building in Boltonville.  Prior, the itinerant Methodist preacher came on horseback every month or so, and other services were held in the homes of the members. The  Boltonville School, another state graded school was built in 1885, after the first log building was outgrown.  It is currently a private home. The Modern Woodman Hall was built in 1881 by the International Order of Oddfellows, when the group’s membership, which met in Barton near West Bend, became more local.  In 1900, the Oddfellows disbanded and the building was sold to the Modern Woodmen, Sunrise Camp. In 2012, the wooden dance hall portion of the building was torn down.

·         Down the road to the south past the Woodman Hall is the current Mill Pond, which is no longer used to run the mill.  The pond was dredged and enlarged in the 1960’s and is currently owned by the Boltonville Sportsman’s Club.  At the intersection of Bolton Drive and Highway 144 is the Boltonville Union Cemetery, where the Boltons and other prominent citizens are buried.

 

  

THE FOOTPRINTS THROUGH FARMINGTON BOOK

Is the culmination of a nearly-year-long project, involving hundreds of volunteer hours spent interviewing, researching records around Wisconsin and Michigan in museums, courthouses and libraries.  The project came about as a result of our sesquicentennial celebration in 1997, and is meant for both reading enjoyment and as a historical document preserving our unique heritage.