History of Horicon, Dodge County, Wisconsin
From: Dodge County, Wisconsin Past and Present
By Homer Bishop Hubbell
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago 1912


The city of Horicon was once a great. rendezvous for the Winnebago Indians; in fact they had a large number of tents and bark shacks here even at the time of the settlement of the town and in one part of the present site of Horicon they disposed of their dead, laying the bodies away in crudely hewn coffins, which were laid upon poles at an elevation of five or six feet. Several of these open air Indian tombs were found in existence by certain of the early settlers in this locality.

The first entry of land within the city of Horicon was made by Governor Hulbard, of New Hampshire, after the sale of government land in 1838. His claim was a tract of nearly five hundred acres of land, embracing all that portion of the village in sections 5, 6, 7 and 8, town 11 north, range 16 east. Part of this claim was sold by the governor to John B. Preston and others for town and water site purposes and the place became known as Hubbard's Rapids.

Joel Doolittle was the first actual settler at Hubbard's Rapids and his wife was said to have been the first white woman here. In December, 1845, Doolittle made a claim and built thereon a log cabin, on the west side of the river, just south of Marsh's Mill. He had undertaken to build a dam for Larrabee & Preston, proprietors of the water site, but finding the contract price too small, upon his solicitations he was absolved from his obligation. Martin Rich, of Juneau, finished the improvement in 1846.

In the summer and fall of 1846 J. B. Marsh, George H. Beers and S. N. Rice located here permanently and in October Beers and Garry Taylor built a sawmill, which by June of the following year was in active operation. The first lumber turned out was used in building a residence later occupied by William Rice.

H. B. Marsh built a structure and opened the first blacksmith shop in the place. He made the iron work for the sawmill and ironed the first wagon put up in Horicon. The wood work was done by William Rice.

William Larrabee built the first business building in the settlement and opened the first store. The structure was made of logs, 30x40 feet in dimensions, and stood on the corner of Vine and Main streets. The merchandise was brought by Mr Larrabee from Chicago, by way of the lake to Milwaukee, and thence overland, which meant a long haul over miserable roads.

William Sullivan erected a grist mill at the north end of the dam in the fall of 1848, on the site later occupied by the Van Brunt Seeder Manufactory. It was burned to the ground in 1847.

The pioneer physician was Dr. S. P. Thornhill. He came in the fall of 1847 and his services to his neighbors were much appreciated.

In June, of the year 1850, a public meeting was held to discuss the matter of making provisions for a schoolhouse. A tax of $400 was voted on the property in the district and by the end of the year a school was being taught in a building constructed for the purpose. Here many public and religious meetings were also held.

The Horicon House, not the present hostelry bearing that name, was built in the summer of 1848, by William Cady and George Gifford. The building later served the purpose of an office for Van Brunt & Barber, of the Seeder Company.

Owing to the splendid water power at this point and its increase in strength, factories were becoming more numerous.

The first sermon preached in Horicon was by Rev. Peck, a Presbyterian clergyman, in 1847. Services were held in Larabee's pioneer store. It is said the whole population attended the meeting.

Among the early businesses in the village not already mentioned was H. Winter's foundry; D. Winter's harness shop; M. Winter's wagon shop; Mrs. Merrick's millinery shop; J. Woods tailoring establishment; J. Parker's shoe shop; W. E. Croft's printing office; G. S. & R. Barnes' hardware store, and H. B. Marsh's livery stable.

From the fact that William Larrabee, with John B. Preston and Martin Rich first began improvements at Horicon, owning the water site and part of the town site, he is given the distinction of being the founder of the place. His former home had been in the vicinity of Lake George, in the state of New York, and being so largely interested in the village of Hubbard's Rapids and taking so large a part in its development, it is therefore no wonder that his desire to change the name to Horicon (signifying clear water) was readily acceded to. He had the felicity of witnessing the village grow to gratifying proportions and many industries were at one time the means of keeping a thrifty people busy and contented. In 1853, Martin Rich and Morris Grout built a foundry, which was in operation some time and then went into the possession of William Jones. In 1868 Schoenmann, Rich & Rising were manufacturing staves at a large mill they had built. The building was afterwards converted into a flouring mill and in 1878 was secured by F. Zollner, who continued for some time to make flour. The Johnson mill, built in 1857 by William Johnson, Charles H. Larrabee and Alexander Harper, was long a landmark and a particular point of interest, owing to its immense windmill. Jonas Schoenmanu built an elevator in 1863, at the junction of the two railroads, which later was owned by various persons, and in 1858 P. Dierleins built the first brewery. In 1864 John Groskop was operating a brewery in opposition to Dierleins and today there are still two breweries in the town.


The Van Brunt Seeder Company is the only one of any consequence that made a permanent footing in the industrial world of Horicon. In 1861, Daniel C. Van Brunt commenced the manufacture of a seeding machine, which he had invented, in a shed north of the present Horicon House. The first seeders were turned out in this modest shop and the machine was the first successful broadcast seeder used in the United States.

Daniel Van Brunt came to Wisconsin in 1848 and entered one hundred and sixty acres of government land in Williamstown. Within three years thereafter he was living in Mayville, where he worked at wagon making, and put up one of the first wagons in the county. In 1863, Mr. Van Brunt, desiring more space than his old quarters afforded, secured the property on which the present Van Brunt plant in Horicon is built, and here the great manufactory grew to its present proportions. Daniel Van Brunt died in 1901, having achieved the ambition of his life.

In the business of manufacturing seeders various men were associated with the elder Van Brunt: George H. Van Brunt, a brother; Samuel B. Kellogg, Judge Hiram Barber, and others. William A. Van Brunt, a son, was early in the business. While a young man, he organized the Monitor Company, for the making of seeder machines. He sold out in 1893, for a large sum of money, and the Monitor plant was moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Later, Willard joined hands with his father and since the latter's death has taken active part in supervising the large business and expanding the plant and its operations. The products are the Van Brunt drill and a fertilizing machine. Willard Van Brunt is president of the concern; Arthur Wilcox, secretary; John Bodden, treasurer. The factory gives employment to 700 men.


A concern of considerable importance to the community is the Horicon Windmill Company, which was first organized as a corporation. Here twelve men are employed by Gustaf Kalies in the manufacture of windmills, for which a ready market is found.

The Horicon Wagon Works employ about twelve people making vehicles. The proprietors are Julius and Oscar Hoernlein.

Horicon has good railroad facilities. The La Crosse & Milwaukee was built in 1856 and the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul absorbed it in 1863. A junction is formed here between the two roads.


The postoffice was established here in 1847 and on October 7, of that year, Sylvester N. Rice received his commission as the first postmaster. Mr. Rice kept the postoffice in Larrabee's store. His successors in the office were the following: Peter Winter, May 7, 1853; Jonas Schoenmann, March 17, 1857; John F. Randolph, April 12, 1861; S. Terry Henshaw, July to, 1863; John F. Randolph, July 31, 1863; Henry Bowers, November 30, 1867; W. H. Butterfield, January 6, 1869; E. M. Griswold, June 22, 1869; W. H. Butterfield. July 28, 1875; Edgar M. Griswold, February 24, 1882; Maria Griswold, October 24. 1884; C. L. Carr, January 19, 1886; Harry B. Marsh, December 6, 1889; Henry Lotz, June 7, 1894; Bernhard Peck, January 28. 1899; William W. Chapman, January 18, 1904; Lydia Chapman, July 24, 1905; Edward C. Rehfield, December 21, 1909.


On the 29th day of March. 1855, Horicon became a separate entity from the town of Hubbard, receiving a charter as a village, and on the 2d of August, 1855, the first election was held for village officers, with the following result: President, Peter Winter; trustees, Harvey Rice. D. F. Winter, S. T. Harshaw, E. V. White. H. Cook; treasurer, A. E. Hart; police justice, William E. Croft; constable, Thomas Baum; clerk, H. B. Marsh. W. H. Butterfield was preisdent of the village in 1856, Joel Rich in 1857, William Decker in 1858-9, and Amos J. Rising in 1860. They have had many successors.

Municipal affairs in Horicon are well conducted and have been since its incorporation as a city. The streets are well paved with macadam and cement walks have long since taken the place of planks. In 1902 a sewerage system was inaugurated and today there are over two miles of drainage, pipes. The town is an orderly one, but two policemen being necessary one for day service and one as a watchman at night.


The city building was built in 1890 and cost about $10,000. It is a brick structure. The ground floor is given over to the council chambers, office of the justice, and fire department, which latter is equipped with 1,800 feet of 2 1/2inch hose, hook and ladder truck, and chemical apparatus. The fire company is a volunteer organization. In the second story of the city hall is the opera house, which has a seating capacity of 300 people.


In 1902, the question of building municipal gas works was submitted to the citizens of Horicon, and was carried by a good majority. At the same time $10,000 in bonds were voted for the improvement and the plant was built that year. A brick power house was erected on the river bank, in the heart of the village, and a gasoline gas machine was installed. In the winter of 1912, a fatal explosion in the works took place, resulting in the loss of two lives. This unfortunate incident has set many of the citizens against gasoline gas and the system will most probably be changed. However, the utility has been self sustaining. The city also has its electric lights, which are furnished by the Beaver Dam Electric Light & Power Company.


The electors of Horicon in the spring of 1912, voted on the proposition of building waterworks and issuing $50,000 waterworks bonds. The majority for the improvement was about two to one and before the end of the year the work was practically finished. Six and one third miles of cast iron mains were laid, and most of them are 12, 10 and 8 inches. Wells were drilled, from which an excellent quality of water is obtained. This is forced from the power house, which is near the gas plant, to a stand pipe 15 feet in diameter and 85 feet in height, having a capacity of 100,000 gallons. The elevation is such that the pressure from gravity alone is equal to about seventy five pounds. Installed in the power house are two triplex pumps, driven by two 35 orse power gasoline engines. The works was delicated November 22, 1912, at which time there were already one hundred patrons of the innovation.

The following were the officers for 1912: Mayor, Charles Hawks; clerk, George W. Cutler; assessor, Charles Ward; treasurer, Paul B. Herker.


The first Lutheran sermon preached in the city of Horicon was delivered in the Presbyterian church in 1858 by a Rev. Fachtmann, who had a charge in the vicinity of Granville, between Horicon and Milwaukee and came here to minister to the spiritual needs of those of the Lutheran faith in this vicinity. After conducting services for a few weeks, Rev. Fachtmann was succeeded by Rev. Sauer, father of Rev. Christian Sauer, now pastor of St. John's Lutheran church at Juneau, Rev. Sauer coming here in the summer of 1858. He was at that time living in the town of Herman and came to Horicon once every four weeks to conduct services. Rev. Sauer was succeeded by a Rev. Schmidt, of the town of Theresa, who began his labors at the close of the year 1858. By this time interest had grown and there was quite a large attendance at the services, so that, while not a formally organized congregation, they determined to secure a regular place of worship. They rented a room in the Steidten house on the corner of Maple and Hubbard streets, later known as the property of Al Krueger. Here Rev. Schmidt preached every four weeks from 1859 to 1861. He was then succeeded by Rev. Kolb, of Woodland, services being conducted in the home of Julius Hoernlein. After a few months Rev. Kolb was succeeded by Rev. Moldakowski, also of Woodland, and it was during his administration that the congregation was formally organized, this being in 1867. The congregation was composed of the families of Julius Hoernlein, Sr., David Schmidt, Charles Denninger, Albert Wokaatsch, Carl Hanf, Henry Fischer and August Luebke. Other early members were A. Hoernlein, Charles Hanf, Christian Raasch, Charles Feuerhammer and William Wrucke. After services were held for three years in the home of Mr. Hoernlein, the congregation decided to erect a church and accordingly timbers were hewn from the tamarack swamps near by, the work being done by the members under the direction of David Schmidt, who was a carpenter by trade. This building was a small wooden structure and was the first Lutheran church in Horicon, it being located back of the present brick structure on Lake street. In 1872 this church was replaced by a new house of worship, which was dedicated in December of that year, the former structure being then used for school purposes, but this was later converted into a dwelling house and removed to lots south of its former location. At the time of the dedication of the new church the congregation numbered some fifty families, and the first resident pastor was Rev. Christian Berner. After six years' service he was succeeded by Rev. C. Hoist, who came in 1878 and remained for eleven years, during whose administration the congregation grew to quite an extent. Rev. Holst was succeeded by Rev. Georgii, who remained three years. In 1893 the latter was succeeded by Rev. O. Hanser, who has remained with the church to the present time, 1913. The congregation now numbers four hundred and fifty families and nine hundred and fifty communicants.

In 1905 the old church was replaced by an imposing and modern brick structure, and a substantial parsonage stands on an adjoining lot.

In connection with the church a parochial school was organized in 1866 by Rev. Moldakowski, the first teacher being Christian Arndt, his successor being a Mr. Goldman and later Henry Lotz took charge of the school, remaining until 1892, when he resigned to accept the appointment of postmaster of Horicon. In 1892 G. Strasen accepted the position of teacher and soon after the congregation purchased the former Methodist church on Maple street. The present teachers are John Oberdieck and Miss Ida Reinke, who are in charge of one hundred and four pupils.


This society was organized in the eastern part of the town of Hubbard as early as June, 1845, near the residence of John Andrews, Mr. Andrews and his wife and sister Elizabeth uniting by letter. This society was then included in the Horicon circuit, which also included Kekoskee, Mayville and Iron Ridge. According to the records Rev. Mr. Burton was the first pastor and Rev. Cornelius Smith was his successor. In 1850 Rev. R. W. Barnes was appointed to this circuit, his successor being Rev. N. S. Greene. A society was founded in the village of Horicon in 1853 by Rev. R. Cobban, services being held in private homes and in the schoolhouse. By 1855 the congregation had increased to such proportions that steps were taken toward the erection of a house of worship. This society was then known as Horicon circuit and Rev. O. E. Hall was the pastor. In 1856 Rev. Hall was returned by the conference and Juneau was connected with this charge and called Horicon and Juneau circuit. Rev. Hall did not remain throughout the year 1856 and N. S. Greene supplied the pulpit during the unexpired term. In 1857 Rev. D. O. Jones was the pastor and Juneau was separated from the Horicon charge. In 1858 Rev. R. M. Beach was appointed pastor in charge but he left before the end of the year and the pulpit was supplied by Rev. L. S. Martin. The church was then without a pastor from April, 1859, to October of that year, when Rev. W. J. Olmstead was appointed. In October, 186o, A. C. Elliott became pastor, and in November, 1861, he was succeeded by G. W. Delamatyr. In October, 1862, R. W. Blackburn was appointed as pastor, and his successors have been the following named: 1863, J. T. Suff ron; 1864, Walter McFarlane; 1865, E. H. Bushee; 1866, I. S. Eldridge; 1868, J. E. Grant; 1871, J. T. Suffron; 1872, C. D. Cook; 1873, Ashael Moore; 1874, J. T. Boynton; 1876, W. J. Olmstead; 1878, A. J. Marsh; 1879, Robert Blackburn; 188o, William M. Treaver; 1883, Henry W. Brown; 1885, E. G. Pelley; 1886, W. J. Fisher; 1889, William Clark; 1890 J. V. Trenery; 1891, J. M. Woodward; 1892, Thomas Sharpe; 1893, I. M. Wolverton; 1896, M. L. Eversz; 1898, William J. Corr; 1903, H. L. Houghton; 1905, Frank Miller; 1908, Rev. Ewing; 1909, Samuel Olson; 1911, Edwin M. Oliver, the latter being the present pastor, 1913.

The present membership is fifty, and the Sunday school enrollment is fifty ive. There is also an Epworth League and Ladies Aid Society. In 1893 the old church property was sold and steps were taken toward the erection of a new house of worship, the corner stone of which was laid in August of that year, but it was not until a year later, in August, 1894, that the church was completed and dedicated. It is a neat frame structure and the parsonage stands on an adjoining lot, the value of the church property being $15,000.

About three years ago this charge was separated from the Mayville circuit and Juneau was added to Horicon.


A meeting was called March 28, 1846, for the purpose of organizing a Presbyterian society in Horicon, but the class was not formally organized until April 25th of that year, in the home of Tunis Voorhees, in Burnett. The charter members were: Alexander McConnell, Mrs. Jane McConnell, Tunis Voorhees, Mrs. Sarah Voorhees, Miss Gertrude Voorhees, James Anderson, Mrs. Amanda Anderson, Henry C. Glover and Mrs. Sarah Brown.

In the year 1856, steps were taken toward the erection of a house of worship, the same being dedicated September 28th of that year. The dedicatory sermon was preached by Rev. J. M. Buchanan, of Milwaukee. The church is a neat frame structure and is still in use by the congregation. The present membership is forty five and the Sunday school has an enrollment of one hundred and forty. There is also a Bible School Society of forty members and a Boys' Club, a club house having recently been completed and equipped at a cost of $5,000. A modern, nine room parsonage has also been recently erected, and it is hoped that in the not far distant future a new church will be erected. The church is in a very prosperous condition and the congregation is one of the wealthiest in the city.

The following named pastors have served the church from the date of its organization to the present time. Rev. E. S. Peck, who gave half of his time from the organization until October, 1849, when he was succeeded by Rev. B. Phillips, December 15, 1855. H. M. Robertson came and acted as supply until October 6, 1856, when he was made regular pastor. He resigned October 12, 1858, and was succeeded by Rev. P. Camp, and it was during his ministry, December 17, 1859, that the name of the church was changed from Burnett and Horicon to Horicon Presbyterian church. June 1, 1862, John H. Carpenter began as stated supply, remaining until September 1, 1865. On the 21st of October, that year, J. Lynn Milligan began as stated supply and on the 21st of December was made regular pastor of the church. He remained until January 11, 1869, his successor being G. W. Lloyd, who assumed charge January 2, 1870. He remained until August 15, 1875, and on the ist of December, that year, Rev. David Street became pastor, remaining until the fall of 1876. In November, 1877, James S. Vestcott became stated supply. The church seems to have been without a pastor for some time as no record is given until October 1, 1884, when John Tenney became pastor, giving one half of his time to this church. He remained one year, and the church was again without a pastor until the summer of 1891, when W. J. Turner became stated supply. December 22, 1893, he became the regular pastor, but resigned in August, 1895. February 16, 1896, J. J. Simpson became stated supply and discontinued his labors here June 20, 1897. March 27, 1898, Fred L. Selden was called to the pastorate but he resigned October Sth of that year. In March, 1899, George Runsimon came and remained until 1900, when F. H. Maxwell came, taking charge in June of the latter year. He resigned July 13, 1902, and from May 1, 1903, to October 1st of that year the pulpit was supplied by D. K. Roberts. In September, 1904, H. Frank Reid assumed charge, remaining until June 23, 1907. February 9, 1908, the church called R. O. Thomas, who severed his connection with the church February 13, 1909. June 1, 1910, the present pastor, W. B. Macneil assumed charge.

It might be added here that A. W. Wilcox has served as superintendent of the Sunday school for the past twenty one years. He takes a deep interest in the school and each summer for the past three years has taken the school by chartered train to Fox Lake for a day's outing.


This society was organized in 1871 and was at first a part of Hartford charge. The first house of worship was a frame structure which was later replaced by a more modern and commodious brick structure, the corner stone of which was laid in 1899. The value of the church property is $6,000, while the parsonage is valued at $3,300.

The pastors who have served this church are: J. G. Kern, M. Gauerke, L. M. Siewert, John Schneller, E. H. Gassman and C. W. Weliso, who is now serving his second year. The present membership of the church is one hundred, and the Sunday school has a membership of sixty. There is also in connection with the church a Young Peoples Alliance, Ladies Aid Society and Missionary Society.

Rev. Wellso also has charges at Clyman, Juneau and Beaver Dam. The Clyman church was organized some forty years ago. The first church building was burned in 1881 but it was replaced by a neat frame structure, valued at $2,000.

The membership at Juneau numbers about twenty seven. They have no house of worship, services being held in the Methodist Episcopal church.


In 1855 Rev. Father Kundig came to Horicon from Beaver Dam and undertook the organization of a parish. In the following year, 1856, the Catholic people began the erection of a church, the site for the same having been donated by Mrs. Larrabee. The house of worship was completed in the summer of 1857, and is still in use. For many years this parish was attended as a mission from Mayville and some of the priests who have served the church are Revs. Schroudenbach, De Berg, Vahey, Allen, Tierney, Buckley and Robert Wall. The latter was succeeded by Father W. J. Hader, who served the church for many years but the first of the year of 19i2 he was succeeded by the present pastor, Rev. William Eggers.


The Horicon State Bank was organized September 6, 1896, by D. C. Van Brunt, John Little, A. W. Wilcox, C. A. Hart, Theodore P. Hemmy and Charles Hawks, with a capital stock of $25,000. The first officials were: President, D. C. Van Brunt; vice president, John Little; cashier, C. A. Hart; assistant cashier, Charles Hawks.

In 1897 Mr. Hart resigned the cashiership and Charles Hawks was made cashier. In 1901 Mr. Van Brunt died and John Little was made president and A. W. Wilcox was made vice president.

In January, 1902, Mr. Little disposed of his interests in the bank and Mr. Wilcox succeeded to the presidency, while S. N. Campbell was made vice president. In 1906 the death of Mr. Campbell occurred and W. V. Campbell was elected vice president. In 1907 H. G. Diekeltnann was made assistant cashier. In 1911 Charles Hawks and F. H. Clausen were elected vice presidents; H. G. Diekehnann, cashier; and H. V. B. Wilcox. assistant cashier, while A. W. Wilcox still retains the office of president.

The surplus and undivided profits amount to $25,000, while the deposits amount to $450,000. The bank owns its own home and has installed safety deposit boxes.


Horicon Lodge, No. 40, F. & A. M. was organized September 7, 1851. and the charter was granted June 11, 1852. The first officers were: Peter Winter, W. M.; John B. Redsell, S. W.; S. N. Rice, J. W.

The present officials are: Fred H. Clausen, W. M.; Edward H. Matthes, S. W.; Adolph J. Boehmer, J. W.; Herman F. Lange, Sec.; Charles Hawks, Treas. The lodge is in a prosperous condition and now has fifty members.

Horicon Chapter, No. 24, R. A. M. was organized June 6, 1864, and received its charter February 1, 1865. The first officers were: D. W. Hall, H. P.; Jams Alcox, K.; James H. Conkey, S. The present officers are: John M. Yorgey, E. H. P.; A. W. Wilcox, K.; John Coe, Jr., S.; Edward H. Matthes, R. A. C.; Fred H. Clausen, P. S.; Frank S. Forbes, C. of H.; F. A. Melcher, Sec.; John Little, Treas


Horicon Lodge, No. 87, I. O. O. F. was organized February 8, 1856, with the following charter members: J. B. Birge, N. B. Ward, Joel Rich, G. H. Beers, J. L. Albrandt, J. A. Roper. The first officers were: Joel Rich, N. G.; J. B. Birge, V. G.; J. L. Albrandt, Sec.; G. H. Beers, Treas.

The present officers are: Frank Hochschied, N. G.; W. Liebnow, Sec.; A. Discher, Fin. Sec.; Charles Laup, Treas.; G. A. Zempel, Martin Rich, W. Kuhaupt, Trustees.

In 1874 the Odd Fellows erected a building, in which they still hold meetings. The lodge, which now numbers sixty members, is in a prosperous condition and has money put out at interest.


The village of Iron Ridge is located on section 24 and came into existence on the completion of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad. Previous to this, however, two early settlers, John Graves and Solomon Crandall, each built a house on the site of the village in 1848. They were log structures. Mr. Graves built the first frame house in the place. In 1850 John Eaton opened a general store and in 1855 a schoolhouse was built, about one half mile west of the village.

The Methodists, having organized a society, built a house of worship in 1859. Most of the English speaking members soon left, the society was disbanded and the German Methodists came into possession of the church property. A hotel building was put up in 1860 by Nathaniel McDuffy, who attended to the needs of the traveling public for some time and then sold the property to S. Nehls. The first postmaster was Madison Miller.

Iron Ridge is in the vicinity of several thousand acres of iron beds. The ore is mined and utilized in its furnaces at Mayville by the Northwestern Iron Company.

Iron Ridge is quite a flourishing little village, with a good school and well attended churches. The Commercial State Bank is a conservatively conducted financial concern, and has a capital of $10,000 The last report of the bank showed deposits amounting to $140,000. John Kloeckner is cashier.

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