History of Caledonia Township, Racine County, Wisconsin
From: Racine, Belle City of the lakes
and Racine County, Wisconsin.
Fanny's Stone, Supervising Editor
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago 1916


The Town of Caledonia is situated in the northeast corner of the county. On the north it is bounded by Milwaukee County; on the east by Lake Michigan; on the south by the Town of Mount Pleasant, and on the west by the Town of Raymond. It includes all of Congressional Township No. 4, Range 22, and fractional Township No. 4, Range 23, having an area of about fifty square miles. The Root River flows in a southeastwardly direction through Caledonia, and with its tributaries affords good natural drainage to the township.

Elam Beardsley always claimed to have been the first settler in the town, though it is quite probable that John Davis was the first to "stake out" a claim. Mr. Beardsley came to the county in January, 1835, and his wife was the first white woman to become a resident of the county. He and John Davis both settled in Caledonia early in that year. Not far behind them came Levi Blake and his three sons - C. H., E. S. and Lucius S. Blake. Judge Dyer relates the following adventures of the Slakes in looking for a home in Wisconsin:

"They set out from their home near Niles, Michigan, for some - place, they scarcely knew where. They arrived at Chicago on the 10th of February, where they provided themselves with supplies, and a Mackinac blanket. They left Chicago and at night arrived at Grosse Point, eighteen miles north, and were hospitably entertained by the French traders. The next morning they set out for the next point of prominence, which was Skunk Grove. It was a cold winter's day. The snow obscured the trail on which they were traveling, and they had a long, long, weary day, with apprehensions of a still more dreary night. Night found them in a grove about three miles west of the present City of Waukegan. The cold was intense; they kindled a fire with the last match that was left them. They spent the night standing around the fire and constructing a sled. In the morning, leaving behind them their wagon, they proceeded on their journey. At noon their eyes were delighted with the sight of a human being leading a pony. On his approach, he informed them that he and the pony were the United States route agents, on the way from Chicago to Green Bay with the mail. He gave them directions and informed of the landmarks that would guide them to Skunk Grove, which they reached after the darkness of night had fallen on them, and after much suffering from the severity of the weather.

"Arriving at the trading post at Skunk Grove, they were the recipients of the hospitality of Jacques Jambeau and his squaw, and remained over night. On the next morning they began explorations for a place to locate. At a point on the river, three miles northwesterly from Jambeau, they found John Davis, who had entered a claim and was residing upon it. They remained with him several days and looked over the country. The representations of the country which they had heard from others proved truthful. They took exceptions only to the climate, but Mr. L. S. Blake thinks the winter of 1835-36 the coldest he ever experienced in Wisconsin.

"On the 15th day of February they made their claim. They staked out, as they supposed, enough land for four; but when the survey was made, it was found that they had only secured a sufficient quantity of land for two claims. They then visited the Rapids and found there Mr. See, who was building his mill. Upon returning to their claim, they built a log shanty without a window in it. They soon returned to Michigan and removed to Chicago, where the family lived for two years. Meanwhile, Lucius S. Blake and his brother, A. H. Blake, came back to the claim and resided in their cabin two seasons. They plowed a portion of the land, made some fencing, and held the claim by actual occupancy until Levi Blake removed to it with his family in the fall of 1837. Captain Blake's capacious log house, which he built on his premises, was a landmark in the country. It was always open to the settlers and the hospitality of its proprietor gave it the appropriate name of 'Our House.' The farm now• owned by James Wilson constituted a part of the Blake claim."

Early in 1835 Edward Bradley and his brother located claims in Caledonia. Walter Cooley came to Racine in May, 1835, and the following September located in Caledonia, accompanied by Eldad Smith and Elisha Raymond. Sr., and his family. Early in 1836 Mr. Cooley discovered that he had located on another man's claim and removed to another tract, which he occupied for a number of years and after removing to the city of Racine called it his country home.

Eldad Smith built a peculiar looking house by rolling some logs together and putting on a roof made of white oak boards. While it was not an architectural masterpiece, it served to protect the inmates from the cold winds that came from Lake Michigan. Mr. Smith brought two barrels of flour from Chicago that fall, and enough other provisions to last the family through the winter. He occupied this house for the first time on November 1, 1835, and lived there until 1841, when he removed to the Village of Racine. During the winter of 1835-36, three bands of Potawatomi Indians encamped near his house and the wolves caused him some annoyance. But to offset these undesirable neighbors, Mr. Smith said that in those days they had neither rats, beggars nor thieves in the new settlement.

Other settlers who came to Caledonia in 1835, or early in the year 1836, were: Hugh and Hiram Bennett, Tristam Davis, Simeon, Isaac and Thomas Butler, Sheridan Kimball, Daniel Wooster and his son Aduey, Joseph Adams, John Wheeler, Joseph Cannon, Ezra Beardsley (father of Elam), Ira Hurlbut, the Fowler and Stillman families, and a few others.

In the summer of 1835, Sheridan Kimball, then living in Chicago, heard of a settlement on the Root River that offered splendid opportunities to those seeking homes in Wisconsin. The following December, accompanied by Stephen Sandford, Sanford Blake and another man, he set out for the Root River country. The first night out from Chicago they stayed at Petterson's tavern, having made only about eight miles, and the next morning resumed their journey upon a new wagon road through the woods. This road had previously been an Indian trail, and as they journeyed along they noted the coffin of a dead Indian child among the branches of a tree by the roadside. That night they reached Sunderland's tavern and late on the afternoon of the next day arrived in the Root River settlement. Taking breakfast the next morning with John Davis, they went on to the house of C. H. Blake, where they rested awhile, and then pushed on to the house of Simmer (or Simeon) Butler, on a small stream called Hoosier Creek. There they passed the night and when they were preparing to leave the next morning Mrs. Butler said: " When you get out in the woods, you will know the reason why my husband is so ragged; he has been running through the woods so much he has left a rag on every bush." Mr Butler may have been ragged, but he was hospitable, and that morning guided the party to a district where they could locate claims.

Mr. Kimball selected a claim and in February, 1836, went to Chicago to bring his parents to the Root River. Leonard Kimball, a brother of Sheridan, came in advance to make preparations. About the middle of March the family left Chicago with a wagon drawn by three yoke of oxen and were two weeks on the road. Mr. Kimball's first house in Racine County was a rude cabin, with shake roof, stone chimney and a floor of elm bark. At the land sale in 1839 he acquired a perfect title to his land, built a better house and lived there for several years, when he removed to the City of Racine.

Daniel Wooster and his son, previously mentioned, left the Town of Derby, Connecticut, on New Year's Day, 1835, to seek a location somewhere in the West, where he could make a home for himself and family. Traveling with a team and wagon through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois, he reached the Root River settlement in March and located in what is now the Town of Caledonia. A little later his son Julius and the other members of the family came via Buffalo and around the lakes. Daniel Wooster lived in Caledonia until his death, which occurred in 1867.

Among those who settled in Caledonia in 1836 were: William and Luther R. Sears, James Bussed, Joel and Emanuel Horner, Alexander Logan, Thomas Spencer and Rev. Cyrus Nichols. Judge Dyer says that Mr Nichols "had previously lived in Missouri, and there had but one room in his house and that the kitchen. On coming to Wisconsin he resolved to have a parlor. He kept his resolution and had a parlor, and lived in it; but that was the only room in the house." Once, while conducting religious services at Skunk Grove, he rebuked a number of the pioneers, who brought their rifles with them to church, but the settlers felt that it was always well to be prepared for emergencies in a country where the Indians were likely to give trouble at any time and accepted the rebuke of the minister in a friendly spirit.

In June, 1837, Daniel B. Rork came to Caledonia and bought the claim of Jacques Jambeau, the trader. Jambeau asked $2,000 for it, but finally accepted $525. Mr. Rork had come to the Town of Burlington about a year before and made a claim, where the City of Burlington now stands. Other parties "jumped his claim," but he succeeded in holding it and before removing to Caledonia sold it to Silas Peck for $200. Flambeau had fenced his claim in 1834 - the first claim, so it is believed, to be fenced east of the Rock River.

The first white child born in this township was Maria, a daughter of Joseph Adams, her birth occurring on September 2, 1835. She grew to womanhood in the county and married a man named Bacon. William See's saw mill at the Rapids was the first saw mill in Racine County. The first drove of hogs brought to the town was brought by James Kinzie in January or February, 1836. They were of the species known as "prairie racers," but they afforded the settlers an opportunity to supply themselves with pork.

Section 5 of an act approved by Governor James D. Doty on February 7, 1842, provided: "That all that part of the Towns of Racine and Mount Pleasant comprised in Town 4, in Range 22 East, shall be and is hereby set off into a separate town by the name of Caledonia." The act also ordered that the first election should be held at the house of Levi Blake.

Two lines of railroad pass through Caledonia - the Chicago & Northwestern, in the eastern part, and the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul, about five miles farther west. These lines connect Chicago and Milwaukee and afford excellent transportation facilities to the people of the town. The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric Railway also passes through Caledonia and its frequent trains give the people ample opportunity for visiting Racine, Milwaukee or Chicago. The population of Caledonia in 1910 was 3,073, and the property was valued for taxation in 1915 at $5,409,081, exclusive of that lying within the limits of the incorporated Village of Corliss, whieh is on the line between Caledonia and Mount Pleasant.


A few miles north of Racine, on the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, is the little Vilage of Caledonia, in the township of the same name. It was never officially platted and was formerly known as "Stern's Crossing." Polk's Gazetteer of Wisconsin for 1915 gives the principal business interests of Caledonia as two general stores, a coal yard, a harness shop and the express office. The postoffice has three rural routes, which supply the surrounding country with mail daily.

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