History of the City of Waupun, Wisconsin (Part 2)
From: Dodge County, Wisconsin Past and Present
By Homer Bishop Hubbell
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago 1912


While no people of any community need take any pride in having as one of their show places a penal institution, still it cannot be gainsaid that the state prison at Waupun has many virtues per se, that call for commendation from all who take an interest in having the affairs of society properly cared for and their public establishments under good and scientific management.

The prison at Waupun has met with much favorable criticism from experts in various parts of this country, and as a penal institution stands high in the list. It was located at Waupun in July, 1851, by Messrs. John Bullen, John Taylor and A. W. Worth, who were appointed commissioners to determine such location under a law enacted that year. A contract was at once entered into for the construction of a temporary prison; in 1853 the contract was let for the mason work upon the south wing of the prison and additions have been made from time to time since that date.

From March 28, 1853, to January 4, 1874, the office of the prison commissioner was an elective office, the commissioner having full control of the management of the prison.

From January 3, 1874, to June 1, 1881, the management was in the hands of three directors appointed by the governor, with the advice and consent of the senate. In place of a commissioner, the directors appointed a warden, who had charge and custody of the prison, to serve three years.

In June, 1881, the management of the prison was placed in the hands of the state board, who have continued the control and custody as establhed by the directors.

The warden, steward, clerk, deputy warden and matron are appointed by the state board of control annually. All other officers are appointed by the board from time to time as vacancies occur, upon the nomination of the warden.

The convict labor was leased to M. D. Wells & Company, of Chicago, for the manufacture of boots and shoes, for five years, from January 1, 1878, and the contract was renewed with that firm for five years, beginning with January 1, 1883, at the rate of fifty cents per day of ten hours. Upon the expiration of the contract at the close of the year 1887, the contractors, by consent of the board of supervision, continued to employ the prisoners for several months, when the contract was renewed for five years without change of terms. On the expiration of said contract at the close of the year 1892, it was similarly renewed by consent of the board of control, for a further period of five years. On the expiration of the contract period at the close of the year 1897 it was again renewed on the same terms for a further period of five years.

On July 1, 1903, a contract was entered into with the Paramount Knitting Company of Chicago for the manufacture of socks and stockings. The state receives sixty five cents per day per convict employed. This contract provides that not less than three hundred convicts shall be employed. At present time convicts earn from $6,500 to $7,200 per month.

Manufacture on the part of the state was therefore discontinued on January 1, 1878. The prisoners' earnings for the two year period ending June 30, 1908, were $I56,889.06.

The grounds about the buildings embrace twenty four acres, and a farm of two hundred and eighty acres. The buildings comprise the center. 85x90 feet, occupied for offices, dining and lodging rooms for officers. kitchens, bakery, etc. The two wings, 50x200 feet each, contain five hundred and four cells, the deputy warden's residence and female prison with thirty six cells, a workshop 54x500 feet, two stories high, bath houses, blacksmith, carpenter shop, barn, etc., and warden's residence. A new cell wing was completed about January 1, 1900, with cell room for two hundred convicts.

The total amount paid from the state treasury for real estate, buildings, improvements, repairs and current expenses up to June 30, 1908, was $3,137,890.73.

The whole number of prisoners received since the opening of the prison is 10,291. The number in confinement June 30, 1908, was 655-621 males and 18 females. The average number of prisoners during the past year was 627 as against 640 the preceding year, and the current expenses were (not including prisoners' earnings) $120,437.84, as against $119,656.93.

The present (1913) officials are: Rev. Daniel Woodward, warden; R. E. Bloedel, deputy warden; Jacob Fuss, chief clerk; G. A. Benson, record clerk. The warden, a man of scientific research and large heart, has made a number of innovations in the prison. The men are accorded more liberty than is usually afforded inmates of penitentiaries. Recently, in the way of another industry, a binder twine plant has been added to the prison, the product of which is made by the inmates, but not under contract. The twine is made and sold direct by the state.


Chester is a small village on the Chicago & Northwestern road, about three miles from Waupun. Persons going to and from Fond du Lac by rail to Waupnn come and go by way of Chester, driving from Chester to the Prison City and back.

Atwater lies in section 29, and is a station on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul.


L. B. Hills was one of the early settlers of Waupun, and one of the first members of Telulah Lodge, I. O. O. F. About the year 1865 he prepared and read before the lodge the following historic sketch, relating to that body:

Waupun sixteen years ago was quite new and insignificant compared to its present extent of wealth and population. Yet it was then quite a city compared with the then villages and huddles, since grown to the dignity and importance of city charters and boards of aldermen, even in the counties of Fond du Lac and Dodge.

Those who have had experience in border life are aware of the heterogeneous, conglomerated mass of which society is made up. Every state, country, tongue. tribe, people and condition are represented and to one accustomed to the staid, uniform routine of eastern society, this social babble not infrequently caused a peculiar nausea at everybody and everything, - called homesickness, - which would have depleted the country of the salt of the earth, had it not been for a painful collapse of the purse, which aroused such patients to an active exertion to shake off starvation and the ague. With this state of things it was quite natural that men of genial tastes, habits and sympathies should fraternize together.

The first Odd Fellow known to have located here was Isaac Valentine. No more honest man in all his purposes ever breathed than Brother Valentine. He was a kind, considerate neighbor, a true, reliable and unalterable friend, generous to a fault, living in peace with all around him. None who were present ever will forget the scene in this lodge when he called for his card. We parted with him with as much sorrow and as many tears as with one called to bid adieu to earth.

The second one known was Joseph Dickinson - a small, good sort of a man, stoop shouldered, with one piercing black eye - who generally thought more of himself and his regalia than he did of anybody or anything else in the lodge room.

Of the third, modesty forbids me to say much. The old broad brimmed tile, fan tailed coat and dappled gray pants, that were determined to shrink away from all contact with the mud, however deep it might be, traversing the streets with a brief in one hand and a copy of the old territorial statutes in the other, attending Justice Norton's court in his old sawmill, astride of a log on the carriage way, trying to persuade the court to dispense justice and give its verdict for the right, with the old mill in full motion, are scenes not to be forgotten by the early settler.

The fourth was George Howe, an Alleghanian by birth and education, a rollicking, good natured fellow, whose broad grin was sure to greet one at every corner of the street. He was the first to discover the constitutional meanness and consummate depravity of Eli. The greatest and only trouble we had with George was that he could get his thin, lank frame outside of more bad whiskey and call it good than all the rest of us together.

The fifth was William Post, who arrived from New York city in the summer of 1848. He was very active and enthusiastic in all the preliminary work necessary to be done to organize a lodge. He was sick nearly the whole of the year 1849 with lumbar abscess. He was the first beneficiary of the lodge and your humble servant the last, with the same complaint.

There may be some here who may remember when our money was exhausted, also our frequent gatherings at his place to cut his wood, make his garden, dig his potatoes, etc.; but I think there are none here now but myself who witnessed the tearful eye and quivering lip of him and his good wife, when they tried to express their thanks for our humble efforts to make them comfortable.

The five above mentioned were the charter members of this lodge, and during the summer and fall of 1848 we had frequent meetings to consult about the propriety of petitioning for a charter. The great difficulty to overcome was to find a suitable room. The buildings were all occupied and full to repletion. No matter what a building was used for, it had from one to half a dozen families around in the corners and garrets. These five were a committee of the whole to secure a lodge room. Every old shed, barn and building were carefully scrutinized, examined and reported upon; but it was no go.

At that time there was the firm of T. & E. Hillyer, doing business at West Waupun, which was sometimes denominated the Upper Battery. (By the way there was no intercourse between the belligerents of the Upper and Lower Batteries, at least of a peaceable, friendly nature). There was also the firm of Bly & Ela. 'These firms were consulted with a view of enlisting them in the enterprise, but alas for our hopes! They gravely told us that the proposition coming from the quarter it did, namely, the lower town, smacked too strongly of the horse stealing and counterfeiting business, and the more so, as we were trying to start a secret society, with such a singular, halter stretching name. And so the enterprise was about to fail for want of a room. But George Howe, who was a bold, daring fellow, and fruitful in expedients, had somehow dared to venture alone to the upper battery sometime in the fall of 1848, and while there, learned that the firm of T. & E. Hillyer were going to build a stable. He advised that a second effort be made to conciliate these hostile parties and try and persuade them to enlarge the plan of the stable and see if we could not get a room. John N. Ackerman had been counseling these Upper Battery fellows and as he owned all the lots for sale, he thought it would have a strong tendency to concentrate business up there and increase the population of the town. So from the outside and inside pressure the Hillyers concluded to build such a room as we wanted. The room now used by A. D. Allis for a paint shop is the one in which this lodge was instituted.

Our petition for a charter was immediately forwarded. J. Lowther and E. Bridgeman, then distinguished members of the order in Milwaukee, came in response to our petition, arriving here by special conveyance in the afternoon of December 25, 1848. Brothers from Watertown and Fond du Lac came also. The thermometer stood 31 degrees below zero, and was exceeding cold at that.

Barnabas Hinkley, E. Hillyer, Francis Carter, J. T. Eagleton, H. L. Butterfield and Samuel K. Vaughn were the first initiates and were admitted that night. There were three from each town - a jealous fear of preponderance of power - the charter members having stipulated to abstain from any and all allusion to the town difficulties. Before those from the lower town could be induced to join up there, we had to give them the most solemn assurances and perfect guaranty of safety to life and limb.

Thus, through trials, tribulations and anguish Telulah Lodge was born, and from that time to the present, with the exception of one or two years, it has continued to thrive and prosper and has been and still is, one of the powers in this community for good deeds and ennobling purposes. For three years we continued to traverse the vast intervening solitude between the Upper and Lower Batteries, through storm, mud, snow and cold to attend lodge, till at length the population did not come to John N. and we so strongly outnumbered them that we resolved to procure a new hall down town. The upper story of the building where A. P. Phelps now resides was finished off for our use. That property after a year or two fell into the hands of Eli as administrator of the Brown estate, and as he could not wait for his rent semi annually, or even quarterly, he generally managed to have two or three bills for rent before the lodge all the time. This at length so disgusted every member of the lodge that it was resolved to erect a building of our own and rid ourselves of the nuisance.

Here we were again in a dilemma. Among the embers of the old flame there still remained living five, between the Upper and Lower Batteries. We had the members but they had the means. They could not sustain a lodge without us and we could not build a hall without them. A compromise was effected. Each came half way and on the then open prairie between the two villages, a hall was erected by the united efforts of all the brothers, and a happy day it was when we could counsel together under our own vine and fig tree, with none to molest or make afraid.

Telulah Lodge stands like a patriarch among surrounding lodges. There have been over two hundred and fifty in all who have been and are members. The roll has been imperfectly kept and the exact number cannot be ascertained without reading the minutes from beginning to end. We now number ninety six. About two hundred and thirty five have been made members by initiation and the rest admitted by card. Old Telulah rightfully claims the maternity of five lodges, namely: Kingston, No. 38; Waushara, No. 50; Granville, No. 64; Laurel, No. too; and Mermen, No. 107. Kingston and Granville lodges have ceased working, while the rest are bravely following in the wake of the maternal lodge and are in a strong and prosperous condition.

This lodge has paid out from first to last, as near as can be ascertained from a hasty examination of the books - about $1,500, sick benefits; about $350, funeral benefits; and about $150 to members of the order, not of this lodge.

Lot, building, furniture, etc. valued at $1,500
W. & O. fund invested $800
Cash about $300
Burial lot in the cemetery $35
Dues, notes, etc. not included in above $365
Total assets $3,000

But few lodges outside of the large cities can present a better statement.

Notwithstanding this fair record there is much in the history of the lodge sad to contemplate. From the first the lodge took a decided stand against the prevailing vices, as we are commanded in the ritual. But we made a few mistakes. Several of those whom we thought would yield a willing obedience to the laws of the order, thought it beneath their dignity to submit to restraints. Others either neglected or refused to pay their dues and consequently had to be suspended or expelled. I need not point out the men now living in this community who were formerly members of this lodge, but who could not fraternize with us. Their sordid selfishness, their utter want of sympathy in any enterprise for the good of the community, for the welfare of society, yet more their treason and hostility to the government which has given them a home, affluence and protection, point them out most unmistakably.

Death, too, has serried our ranks and done its work and taken many with whom it has been our pleasure and our joy to exchange fraternal greetings. William Post died at Sparta, Wisconsin; Frederick W. Miller, at Portage City; T. E. Ward, in California; Isaac H. Comstock, in Marquette county; Lucius P. Wedge, in Rock Island; Oscar Judd, in California; Rodney Serviss, in Australia; Francis H. Waters, in Cincinnati; Joseph W. Brown and James D. Tanner, both initiated the same night, at Waupun; William Euen, at Brownsville, Texas; Alexander Purdie, in the army; Barnabus Hinkley, at Davenport, Iowa; Charles Race, in Missouri; Lyman Beecher Tanner, in Waupun; Lyman Updike and Charles C. Ammach, both in the army; Andrew Clement, in Briggsville, Wisconsin; Samuel P. Pierce, in Fond du Lac; Samuel T. Randall, in Berlin; Herman McRobert, in Waupun; Henry L. Chapin, in the army.

Some of those named were not members of the lodge at the time of their decease, but none the less do we feel sad at their departures. Some died in foreign lands and others far from their homes, without a friendly hand to smooth the dying pillow. Others though among strangers were yet surrounded by sympathizing brothers who did all that mortal hand can do to alleviate their sufferings and followed their remains to decent sepulchres. Others have died at their homes, surrounded by anguish stricken friends and brothers, and to all we say "requiescat en pace."

Some. if not most of them, we have good reason to believe died in the full hope of a blessed immortality, and have been admitted to the grand lodge of the skies, where I trust we shall sooner or later meet them when our life's labors are done and we may greet them with a joy unspeakable and join our voices with theirs in singing that grandest of all odes, the song of redeeming love.

Brother P. G., John Ware, I have a few words to say to you. Most of the present membership of this lodge has been admitted since the lodge has accepted its present premises and are not aware that we are in fact indebted to Brother Ware for the success of the effort to erect a hall and a home of our own. Others it is true had an honorable share in the work. But his indefatigable energy in raising funds, superintending the construction of the building as chairman of the building committee, looking with careful anxiety after all the details of expenditure to the final settlement of all claims for that purpose incurred, will never be forgotten. And besides, for a period of about thirteen years since he has been a member of this lodge, he has been either a member of the board of trustees or chairman of finance committee, looking with unwearied diligence after all the interests of the lodge, at the end of every term devoting his time and careful scrutiny to the accounts of the officers. For all this, Brother Ware, we are not ungrateful, and as a slight testimony of our appreciation of all your efforts in our behalf, the members of this lodge have each contributed a small sum and have procured a past grand regalia and jewel which we trust you will accept as a token of regard and esteem.

P. G., D. S. Morse, is appointed a committee of one to invest Brother Ware with this regalia.


The first week in July, 1908, was Homecoming, at which time former citizens of the city and vicinity returned and helped make the occasion a joyous one. There was a big parade and exercises in the auditorium tent, music being furnished by the Prison City Band. Addresses were made by various men of prominence and a high class musical program was rendered.

Who does not remember Alonzo Baldwin? He had a good heart but his intellect was dull and he occasionally made a good hit, as the following incident will show. Miss Maria Hall was the guest of her aunt, Mrs. George Babcock, and, like the entire village, was awakened by the vigorous ringing of the church bell. The alarm was thought to be for fire, but as there was no call for fire, they were all puzzled. Miss Hall put her head out of the window as Alonzo was passing and asked "What is the bell ringing for?" He answered, "Miss Pebbles is lost." Maria said, "Lost? Where is she lost?" "Wa'll that's just what they are trying to find out." Maria drew in her head, saying, "Alonzo is not as big a fool as I am."

The facts of the case were that Mrs. Pebbles, who was temporarily insane, had wandered out into the night and was found at daylight standing knee deep in water in Rock river.

Who remembers Mike Splan? He built the store now occupied by Loren Hoard and had a saloon in the basement. He was ignorant of bookkeeping but had his own method of keeping accounts, which were usually penciled on the wall with chalk. One bill read thus: "Sam Quay 2 rubs for Mahaly." (Meaning whisky.) The Splans lived in a house on the corner where the Episcopal church now stands and Mike was walking down from the prison one day on the opposite side of the road from his house, and his wife seeing him, stepped out and cried: "Mike! Moike! I want a pail of wather." Mike paid no heed and again she called: "Mike! Moike! I want a pail of wather, don't you hear men?"

Mike looked neither to the right nor the left, but answered her very distinctly, "Go to the divil Lecty."

I hear you ask if there were none but foolish things said and done. O yes, at that time there was one of the finest debating societies with such men of talent as Deacon Bailey, George E. Jennings, Dr. Butterfield and many others as members. The ladies were always in attendance but never took a part, while today the ladies are the principal actors in the literary world and occasionally the gentlemen attend.

Among the first "Homecomers" to appear in the city was the old time grocery man, Ed. A. Padgham, and his wife, known in the early days as Addie Moore, daughter of Mills Moore; first a farmer of Chester and later a resident in the village. Mr. Padgham came to Waupun in 1861 and took employment as a printer in the office of Euen's Prison City Item. Scarcely had he got fairly well fitted in the position when the Civil war broke out and Ed, full of courage and patriotism, enlisted in the Tenth Visconsin Infantry and for three years and three months performed a soldier's full duty for Uncle Sam. After returning to civil life he clerked for various parties in the village until the land fever caught him and he "treked" to southwestern Iowa, but finding after getting a lot of logs together for rails that they were a certain kind of elm and unsplittable, and realizing that opening up a farm was very hard work and not very much to his choice, he sold out and returning to Waupun, entered the grocery business, which he successfully conducted several years, finally disposing of his stock to John Herman. Mr. Padgham then went to Milwaukee and later to California, locating in Pomona, where he made a success in the grocery business and finally retired to a beauty spot of southern California - Pasadena.

Warren Page was another Dodge county boy who attended the Homecoming festivities. He was a brother of C. W. Page and used to be one of the Mill Creek boys. He went into the army and acquitted himself in splendid fashion. Later he bought the Landon farm in the town of Waupun, now owned by his brother. Being a victim of asthma, he was compelled to change to a more favorable latitude and found the climate he sought in South Dakota, where he bought land and is living there at this time. His wife was Eliza Scott, daughter of W. E. Scott, of Lincoln street.

Among others who were here in 1908 was R B Landon, son of Luther Landon, deceased, who at one time owned the Clint Page farm. Mr. Landon now occupies a farm entered by his father near Russell, Kansas.

It is almost wonderful that relative incidents connected with the long ago bring the retrospective thought to see things "long since forgot," and recall to mind events as clearly as though enacted yesterday. People who have long since gone from this life into the eternal are connected with the so called pictures of memory - Dr. H. L. Butterfield, John Bryce, Dr. Jeremiah Look, R. W. Wells and others. The mention of them brings to mind an incident which will be well remembered by some who are living and who were connected with it - Dr. Sam Coe, Dr. L. C. Stewart and others.

In R. W. Well's drug store some of the "boys" had fixed an electric battery and it was the joke of each to get the start of the other in giving one of them a shock. Dear, staid, Dr. Look never dreamed the "boys" would pick him for a victim, even though he tried to victimize. All were seated about the store one day in a spirited conversation and Dr. Look allowed his pipe to go out. Some one slipped around the counter and attached the battery to the match safe, knowing the Doctor would go to it, as he did, and got quite a shock. But unwilling to admit it, he turned on his crippled foot in the peculiar way so well remembered, and shaking his fingers from the tingle of the shock, said: "You didn't do it; you didn't do it."

And how well we remember the famous "salt well" that John Bryce, Dr. Butterfield and others found and fooled the community with for quite a while.

John Bryce was a wondrous wag, but had a sober, honest face. Mrs. Peter Allen came into Thomas Oliver's store one time and asked Mr. Bryce, who was the clerk, and with whom she chose to trade because he was her countryman, "Ha'e ye ony raal guid treacle, Maister Bryce?" "Mistress Allen, we do na'e ca' it treacle, we ca' it molasses." "A w'eel ca' it what you like, but gi' us treacle."

There are so few left who can enter into the spirit of those days and yet what a delightful retrospect to those who can remember them.

The name of ex Governor W. D. Hoard recalls a bit of ludicrous history. Mr. Hoard, Dr. L. C. Stewart and Charles Carrington chose to delight their friends with some of their singing and one fine moonlight night they rode out to Ferguson's farm to serenade Jessie, now Mrs. Ben Stauffer, of Omaha, Nebraska. John Tait had brought over from Scotland a very valuable collie dog and just after the young men began singing, from the distance and growing nearer, came rushing toward them six or eight of the puppies, headed by the mother dog, each one barking with all its strength. Calls from the house failed to quiet them, and the serenaders were obliged to give up. It was some time before the story leaked out but it was considered a good one by all who heard it. All three of these gentlemen are still living.

[Return to Waupun History Part 1.]

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