This was the first township in the county to be settled. The first settlers were Asa G Sutlief and family, who
pitched their tents on section 35, in the month of August, 1854. The next to reach here were S. P. and James E.
Child, who arrived Feb. 2, 1855. Chris Scott and family came about ten days later, in February. Others followed
and before fall there were some ten families in the township. A precinct election was held in the fall of 1855
at the house of Chris Scott, on the farm now owned by Mr. John Carmody, Sr. The first election precincts were formed
regardless of town lines, and the township of Wilton, as it now exists, was not organized until the spring of 1858.
The first town meeting was held at the house of Joseph Doty, May 11, 1858. P. C. Bailey was chairman and stated
the object of the meeting. Buel Welsh was chosen moderator, and Thomas L. Paige, clerk. On motion of A. J. Woodbury,
the township, like the village, was named Wilton. The following were the first township officers; town board, W.
W. Robinson, chairman, John Brand, and A. J. Woodbury; town clerk, Tarrant Putnam; assessor, L. Curtis; justices
of the peace, J. B. Jackson and P. C. Bailey; overseer of the poor, A. Miller; constables, Peter Van Dyke and L.
The first birth was that of a child born to Mr. and Mrs. Plummer in July, 1855. This family soon after removed
to Wisconsin, being sick of the country. The first death was that of a child of Mr. and Mrs. William Wells, in
the summer of 1856. The first prairie broken was by Asa G. Sutlief, in August, 1854. The first sawmill in the town
and county was built by Colonel J. C. Ide. Rev. Mr. Hicks, a Methodist clergyman, in 1856, held the first religious
service in the township at the house of. Caleb Northrup, on section 36. The first school house was erected by Mr.
E. B. Stearns, in what is now the Carmody, or Brisbane, district, in 1858. It was a frame building standing on
the bottom land, half a mile south of the present school house site. The building was afterwards moved with ox
teams over the hill to the present site - a move that caused much excitement at the time.
The first Catholic Church built in Wilton stands at the southwestern corner of section 31, where some sixty families
- over three hundred people - meet for worship.
The town of Freedom and the west tier of sections in the town of Wilton were held by the Winnebago Indians until
1863. After the removal of the Indians, the lands were sold to white men under sealed bids to the highest bidder,
no bid being accepted at less than $2.50 per acre, Settlers crowded into the town rapidly, March 9, 1864, the people
of the two towns of Alton and Freedom petitioned the county commissioners to have the new territory organized as
a town, and the board granted the petition. The order of the board provided that the electors should hold their
first town meeting at the house of Stephen Robinson, situated at the place then known as Peddler's Grove, on the
5th day of April, 1864, At this meeting the voters decided that the name of the new town should be Freedom, It
is said that F. D. Seaman gave the casting vote making "Freedom" the name.
The town early took front rank as one of the prettiest and most productive in the West, Its people stand high morally
and intellectually, and in wealth they rank with the most opulent of farming communities.
Among those who setted at an early day in Freedom the following are noted;
Henry Chase was born in 1842, in the Green Mountain state. He enlisted in Company E, Ninth Vermont infantry, and
was four months in Libby prison, having been captured at the first Winchester battle, He was discharged in 1863,
went to Freedom in 1864, and remained there until 1869, when he moved to Janesville, this county, He is now a resident
of Wisconsin, although still interested financially in Janesville.
Luke Chase is said to have been the first white settler in the township.
Ed Steele and Steve Robinson moved to a grove of burr oaks on section 3, and, being traveling peddlers they
gave the place the name Peddler's Grove.
Delos P, Young, a native of Massachusetts, born May 11, 1838, came from Wisconsin in 1864, and made his home in
this town. He now resides in Mankato. F. D. Seaman, now a resident of Alton, came in April; 1864, He is a native
of New York, born Sept. 8, 1843. He enlsted in Company G, First Wisconsin cavalry, in the fall of 1861, and served
a year, In the fall of 1864 he again enlisted, this time in Company A, Second Minnesota infantry, and served until
July, 1865, when he returned to Freedom. Sept. 23, 1868, he married Phoebe Chase, who was born Sept. 24, 1849,
in Orleans county, N. Y.
William Davidson, Sr., now nearly eighty three years of age, and his two sons - William and J. D. - were early
settlers and still remain here.
Willet Tolles (deceased), Daniel Pierce, S. C. Brooks, Amos Waring, William Reid, Luther Ackerman, Simon Sackett,
now of Janesville, John H. Fields, Harry Scoville, and Ira Abell were among the settlers of 1864,
John J. Wilkins, born in New Jersey, July 13, 1827; William Orcutt, since deceased; Darling Welch, afterwards a
resident of Janesville, and later of Waseca; John L. Graham, deceased, late of Janesville; Arthur Graham, born
in New York Sept. 12, 1845; Captain Robert Earl, and others settled here in 1865.
Samuel S. Rollins, born in New Hampshire, May 1, 1836; F. W, Bromaghin, born in St. Lawrence county, N. Y., June
29, 1820; Hon. John Wilkinson, born in Wisconsin, Feb. 28, 1846; John Davis, and C, E, Graham were among the 1866
Sandford Hydorn, another St, Lawrence, N. Y., man, born July 24, 1841, who served the Union from 1862 to 1865,
settled here in 1868,
The Congregational church of Freedom was organized in November, 1878, and Rev. Robert S. Armstrong was its first
It is generally conceded that Uncle Sam Larabee, now deceased, was the father of Alma City. The village was
surveyed and platted by S, E, Stebbins in 1865, for Uncle Sam, who at once put up a hotel, then and for a long
time known as the "Larabee House." "Uncle Sam" and "Aunt Patty" were known far and
wide. Aunt Patty was thrown from a buggy and killed in 1885, and Uncle Sam died in 1900 at the advanced age of
eighty five years, of of heart disease, while eating supper. He was with his daughter, Mrs. Craig, at Blue Earth,
at the time of his sudden death.
The same fall Chase and Ames opened the first store. Mary Ann Johnson opened a store about the same time, In the
spring of 1866 A. H. Davis and O. P. Smith each opened a store, Rineerson & Morton opened a blacksmith shop
Alma City has always been a thriving village and the center of business for most of the people of Freedom and a
portion of the people of Alton. It has a thriving school and a successful creamery.