This town is situated in the extreme southwest corner of the county. It is bounded on the west by Dane county,
on the south by Jefferson, on the east by Shields and on the north by Elba. The town was originally all timber
land and when open for settlement the title of every acre was held by the government. Therefore, the early settlers
secured their claims under the homestead act. The Crawfish river traverses the town from north to south, with a
branch running through sections 26, 27 and 24. Waterloo creek washes a portion of its southern boundary and was
used to supply the water power for the mills in the village of Portland. It has an area of 23,040 acres, the greater
part of which is under cultivation.
The first settlement in the town of Portland dates back to the fall of o843. Alexander Campbell at this time located
his home on section 32. George Pomeroy, Cyrus Perry, D. V. Knowlton, K. P. Clark, D. Clark, and others, soon followed.
They experienced the same privations, endured the same hardships and suffered the same as others who came in at
an early day and with strong arms and courage felled the forests, cultivated the soil and made the wilderness blossom
as a rose.
From a sketch secured of Stephen Linderman the following facts are recorded. Stephen Linderman removed with his
father, William Linderman, from New York to the state of Ohio in 1832 and thence to Illinois in 1837. He came to
Dodge county in June, 1843, and made a claim on a farm in August of that year. He built the first house in Portland
and had the honor of being its first settler. If what is here stated is true, then Mr. Linderman's residence in
the town precedes that of Alexander Campbell, as it will have been seen that Campbell's settlement dates back to
the fall of 1843.
James Sheldon came west from New York in 1844 and settled on two hundred acres of government land in this town.
He had little to begin with and broke his way through the forests, doing genuine pioneer work in cutting, burning
and clearing the land of timber. Roads and bridges did not then exist and his nearest neighbor was seven miles
distant. His son Chauncey worked with him and helped clear the farm and make of it one of the best in the community.
Chauncey also had the distinction of taking an active part in the Civil war.
Moses T. Austin came from Jefferson county to Dodge county in 1846 and settled on the farm where his son Allen
was born in 1850.
A. C. Fisher took his chances in this western country in 1846, coming from New York and settling in the town of
Portland. He brought with him his wife and two children, Lafayette and Imogene.
Christopher Hodgson was an Englishman by birth and spent his early life in his native land. He came to the new
world in o843 and in 1846 bought a farm of the government in the town of Portland He returned to his home in England
and in the spring of 1850 returned with his wife and child to his purchase. Here he began chopping and clearing
the land of the timber in order to prepare it for cultivation. He had but a team of oxen and a few tools to help
him in his work. To show the vicissitudes of those early days is but to relate that the young couple, being very
poor, had scarcely anything but bread and cheese to sustain them during the first summer.
Asa Porter entered a farm in this town in the spring of 1846. His parents, Isaac and Betsey Porter, came with him
at the time and stayed until their deaths. The mother died in 1851 and the father in 1858.
John Storer was a New Englander and came to Dodge county with his parents in May, 1846. His father, Joseph Storer,
settled on a farm which was left to his son.
F. A. Wright was a native of New York. He settled in Dodge county in the fall of 1856 on a farm in this town. He
married Mrs. Chloe A. Knowlton, who was a Miss Brookins. Her parents came to Portland in 1849 and her first husband,
Daniel Knowlton, entered a farm in the town in 1844. He was one of the earliest settlers here.
VILLAGE OF PORTLAND
The first settlement made in the village of Portland was by Alexander Campbell, who selected one quarter of
section 32 as the site for his future home and for the purpose of laying out a village. Soon after his arrival
he was joined by George Powers, Cyrus Perry, D. V. Knowlton, K. P. Clark, E Clark, William Austin and others, who
chose land close to him and began clearing it of the timber.
Mr. Campbell had a survey and plat of the village made in 1844 and that same year a man by the name of Cone started
a blacksmith shop, while Mr. Chalmers opened a store. One Williams threw open the doors of his house as a hotel.
In the fall of 1844 a log schoolhouse was erected, which attracted the few children then in the neighborhood.
The growth of Portland did not come up to the expectations of its founder. In the early days before railroads began
to cut their way through timber and prairie, it seemed highly probable that it should be made a village of no mean
importance. In fact, at one time there were several stores, two hotels, shops and other necessary establishments
in the town, but the railroad never came. Hence, Portland remains a village of but few inhabitants.