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


This community is known as town 10 north, range 16 east, and is one of the wealthiest in the county. The town of Hustisford is bounded on the north by Hubbard and Oak Grove, on the west by Ciyman, on the south by Lebanon and on the east by Rubicon. Parts of sections 4, 5, 8 and 9 are covered by Sinissippi, or Hustisford Lake, and in a zigzag manner Rubicon river waters the eastern portion of it.

The Dodge County directory of 1872 contained a well written article from the pen of Hon. John Hustis, relating to this locality, which is here appended:


"In former times Rock river divided the territory of the Indians, the Menominees occupying the east side and the Winnebagoes the west, each having a village on the present site of the village of Hustisford. The adjacent country abounded in deer and furred animals and the streams were full of fish. The Fox tribe of Indians formerly occupied this country and Hustisford was known as the city of the Foxes. A tradition among the Indians represented that this country in former times was occupied by the Mandau tribes who were expelled by the Foxes and they in turn were driven out by the Menorninees and Winnebagoes.

"On digging the canal for hydraulic purposes at Hustisford large quantities of Indian bones were unearthed, as if buried in a trench after a battle. On a high ridge in the southwest quarter of section 10 the property of Charles P. Lovell is a remarkable series of very large mounds. Indian tradition could give no account of their origin but they are supposed to have been the work of the Toltecs. who formerly worked the copper mines of Lake Superior and were in alliance with the Mexicans and abandoned this country, the valleys of the Ohio and of the Mississippi, at the time of the invasion of Mexico by Cortez.


"The first settlement in the town of Hustisford was made in 1844 by one Beardsley, who located himself on the 'Wild Cat,' where John W. Cole afterward laid off his addition to the village of Hustisford. In June, 1845, Mr. Hustis commenced the erection of a tree dam across the Rock river under a charter procured from the legislature but the graveling of the dam was not completed by his contractor, Harvey Butler, until the following year. During the spring and summer of 1845 the fine character of the maple timbered land east of Rock river and oak openings and small prairies on the west side of this town attracted the attention of settlers, and Sybrant Hall, Daniel Fletcher, William Jacob, David Cardwell, Runy Sawyer, Ira Bickford, Enoch Straw, James McDermott, George W. Martin, Rauford Lovell, Creel Thompson, settled on the east side of the river, and Symmes Butler, Harvey Butler, Ira Jones, Benjamin Randall, Benjamin Gauger, George Baker, Frank Rider, Isaac Burgess, Obed Freeman, Roswell Gates, Edmunds Wiltse and many others made settlement on the west side.

"In 1845 the firm of Gale & Porter erected a sawmill on Wild Cat creek near its junction with Rock river, and the next year John Hustis completed a sawmill on the canal below the dam. In 1851 he constructed a flour and grist mill further down on the canal below his dam. The lands of this town are equally adapted to grazing and grain growing and there is no portion of the state where the farmers are more thrifty, many of them having large sums of money loaned out at interest and others are purchasing additions to their farms. Among the productive industries of the town are the cheese factories, some of which have been in operation a number of years and command high prices for their products."

The first death in the town was that of Mr. Porter, one of the owners of the mill on the Wild Cat, who died in 1847 during his canvass as a candidate for membership in the constitutional convention.

The town of Hustisford has a number of churches and well constructed schoolhouses. The roads are well kept up, as are the fences, and altogether the topography is very pleasing.

John Hustis wads born in Phillip town, Putnam county, New York, October 22, 1810. He was fitted for college and graduated among the foremost of his class in 1833. Mr. Hustis then studied law at Yale and was admitted to the bar in 1836, after which he came to Milwaukee, where he engaged in the real estate business and speculation. It is said he erected the first brick block of the city. This was in 1840. It stood on the corner of Third and Chestnut streets. In August; 1845, while on a prospecting trip he encamped sixteen miles from any house and built a log shanty and bought three hundred and twenty acres in this town. That same fall he sowed some wheat. In 1846 Hustisford was laid out and named by him. The town was also given his name. In 1845-46 he built the first dam across the Rock river at this town and also built the first sawmill and in 1851 built the first flouring mill. In that same year he brought his family to the village of Hustisford. He was one of the historic pioneers of the state. He delivered the first Fourth of July oration in Milwaukee in 1838 and was associated with such well known historic characters as Juneau, Walker and Kilbourn. He was elected one of the Milwaukee and Rock river canal commissioners by the territorial legislature in 1840, and journeyed to Columbus, Ohio, with $100,000 in territorial bonds in his possession, for the purpose of negotiating a loan. The enterprise failed although the Milwaukee dam and two miles of canal were built. His wife, Laura A. Ludington, of New York, was a cousin of a former governor of the state by that name.


Ira Jones, a native of New York, came to Wisconsin in 1843 and spent two years in Watertown. In 1845 he preempted one hundred and sixty acres of land in this town, when there was not a house between him and Watertown. Having a yoke of oxen and a cow he was enabled to secure credit for a plow, which he brought from Watertown on his shoulders. Few men in the community advanced more steadily than this substantial old pioneer, as he not only raised and educated a large family but gave his sons such aid that they also became classed among the most worthy and progressive farmers of the township.

S. B. Jones came with his parents, Ira and Penelope Jones from Renssalaer county, New York, to this town in 1845. He of course was but a lad at the time and was enabled to witness the growth of the community and is entitled to be entered in this record as one of its pioneers. S. R. Jones, another son, came with the family. He lived with his parents on the farm until twenty four years of age, when he settled on a place of his own consisting of one hundred and twenty acres. He became a fancier and breeder of fine stock.

Isaac Burgess came to Hustisford in 1845 from Washington county, New York, and settled on eighty acres of government land, upon which he built a log house and lived therein a number of years. In May, 1848, he married Sarah, daughter of John Chandler, who settled with his family on section 1, town of Oak Grove, in 1845. The Chandlers built the first brickyard in Dodge county, furnishing the brick for many of the noted old buildings. Mr. Burgess bought his first plow of S. S. Bushnell and carried it from his blacksmith shop, four miles east of Beaver Dam, to his farm. He became one of the leading citizens of the community and died September 10, 1872.

Daniel and Emily Fletcher came from New York state to Hustisford in 1845, took up a farm and cleared it, raised a large family of children and retired from active life with the consciousness of having done their work thoroughly and well. Their son, Charles N. Fletcher, may be considered a pioneer, as he was born in Hustisford, March 4, 185o. Daniel Fletcher's farm was bought of the government. A few acres of timber had been cleared and a log shanty erected. Mr. Fletcher had money enough to pay for his land and a team and went at the work of clearing. He built the first frame barn in the town in 1847 and a good frame house in 1849. To reach Watertown he was obliged to unyoke his cattle and draw his wagon over the river by hand.

Barber Randall is a son of Benjamin Randall, who settled in Lebanon, Dodge county, in 1845. About 1851 Barber Randall settled on a farm in this town and added to his possessions until he had attained about a thousand acres of land in the towns of Hustisford, Lebanon, Ashippun and Rubicon. He made a specialty of breeding fine horses and hogs, taking prizes at the state fair and other places of exhibition. Mr. Randall also took an active part in the political affairs of his community and represented it on the board of supervisors.

George Barber was born in Erie county, New York, and lived there until 1845, when he bought two hundred acres of government land in Hustisford, on which he settled in 1846. The land was quite heavily timbered but he began clearing at once and broke ten acres the same summer. IHe worked for some time by the month both in Dodge and Valworth counties and by this means was able to have part of his farm broken, his labor being the means of payment. In 1848 he married Deborah M. Van Blaricum. He was a breeder of fine stock and in all was a progressive farmer.

G. W. Martin, a native of New York, with his family settled in Hustisford in 1846, having previously bought forty acres and built a log house in 1815. He was a millwright by trade and worked for some time in Fond du Lac, Neosho, Hustisford, Waukesha and other towns. He met with a fair measure of success and ended his labors in 1873.

Eleazer Wales, of Madison county, New York, came to Hustisford in 1846 and settled on government land covered with timber and brush. This he cleared and improved, building a house, in which the family lived a number of years. In 1856 the homestead went into the hands of his son, Allen Wales, who married Harriet E. Tuttle, a resident of Dodge county since 1854.

Arthur Salisbury first settled in Hubbard in 1846, where he bought eighty acres of government land heavily timbered with black and white oak and maple. After making improvements he sold this eighty and spent about fifteen months in New York, his native state. He returned to Dodge county in 1854 and settled on a farm of forty acres in this town. It was rough, stony, unimproved land, but he was able to make it productive and through his labors and good management increased his possessions.

Asa Cole was a Vermonter. who came to the county in 1847 and settled in Hustisford. He bought one hundred and sixty acres of land which he soon sold to William Lehman, and then purchased another hundred and twenty acres. With his son A. M. Cole he cleared this farm of its heavy timber. Father and son became quite well known as breeders of full blooded stock.

Freeman Gates came to Hustisford in 1847 from Oneida county, New York, and settled on eighty acres of government land. At the time there were but five or six people in the township east of the river. Mr. Gates built a shanty and went to work clearing the land' and making a home, in which he was very successful. He owned and improved several farms in the town. Beginning with little or nothing he acquired a competency.

James Hooker was born in England and came to America in 1836. He reached Dodge county in 1847 and settled on a farm in Hustisford township, consisting of eighty acres of government land. Here he built a log house and accomplished a full share of genuine pioneer work in clearing and improving the land. He was a fair type of the successful pioneer of the county, as he began with but a pair of oxen and but a few dollars. His first load of wheat, part of which belonged to neighbors, was drawn to Milwaukee by oxen and sold for fifty one cents per bushel.

J. C. Ryder was one of the many who came to this county from New York. His advent into Dodge county was in 1847, at which time he took up eighty acres of land in Hustisford. He lived three years with his brother in law, George Baker. He employed his time by clearing up his land in the summer and fall and working for John Hustis as a sawyer in the mill two winters. Mr. Ryder married Mary Van Blaricum, December 1, 1850. The young couple lived for some time in a small, one story shanty, which Mr. Ryder built himself.

Ahira Chapin, a native of New York, settled with his family at Hustisford in 1848, buying eighty acres of heavily timbered government land and working as a pioneer settler in clearing and improving it. Indians and deer were then plenty and the family endured many privations, going over rough roads to the Watertown mills and other places. Mr. Chapin improved the homestead and, in 1866 when he died, left his family in good circumstances. His sons. E. W., Delanson, Isaac and Ahira, were also pioneers of the community and grew with its growth.

Patrick Curley was a native of Roscommon. Ireland. He came to America in 1838 and worked at his trade as tanner in Greene county, New York, until 180. In April of that year he reached the town of Hustisford and settled on eighty acres of wild land. Mr. Curley cleared the land of timber and a dense growth of brush and it was but a comparatively short time before his family removed from the log shanty into a large farm house and gave every evidence of the prosperity attained.

James Hall came to the township in 1848, bringing his family with him and installing them on a farm of forty acres of government land. Mr. Hall worked diligently and industriously that he might gain a place in his new home. He was successful and later engaged in business in Hustisford with J. McRae, which was that of a general merchant.

William Lehmann, a native of Rhenish Prussia, was educated in the universities of Bonn and Tubingen and was one of the earliest German patriots who formed secret societies with the object of establishing a united Germany. The society was betrayed, Mr. Lehmann arrested, tried and convicted of "constructive high treason" in 1824 and sentenced to sixteen years' imprisonment in Fortress of Zulich, since razed to the ground. In 1826, having been employed as instructor to the son of the commandant of the fortress, the son, in the absence of his father, showed Mr. Lehmann the plan of the fortress. Retaining the plan in his mernory, he drew a map, by the aid of which he made his escape soon after. Bidding the fatherland goodbye, he reached New York in November, 1826, and soon found employment in the Berkshire high school, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, as a teacher of classics, as he was conversant with Hebrew, Latin, Greek, English, French, Spanish, Italian and German. After two years he was called to the chair of ancient and modern languages of Athens College, of Athens, Georgia. During his professorship he numbered among his pupils such noted men as Alexander H. Stephens, A. L. Yancey, Howell Cobb, General Barteau and other noted leaders of the rebellion. Professor Lehmann returned to his native land in 1845, spent two years there and came again to America. In 1848 he settled in this township on a farm of one hundred and sixty acres, installing his family in a small log house and enduring all the vicissitudes and hardships of the settlement.

Edwin F. Underwood came to Hustisford with his family and settled on an unimproved farm in section 17 in 1853. They were almost penniless and met and surmounted many privations. Within the short space of five years Mr. Underwood made a farm and home of that which was then a wild tract of brush and scrub oaks.

O. D. Nims removed with his father, Loyal Nims, from New York to Hustisford in the fall of 1850 and bought one hundred and seven acres of wild, heavily timbered land, of which only one acre was cleared. On this was a log house.

E. B. Hart, a New Yorker, came to Wisconsin in 1836 and settled on government land in Milwaukee county. He reached his claim by the aid of marked trees and lived with two other pioneers in a small shanty. He brought his family the same fall and built a log house the next spring. Mr. Hart carried mail for about a month between Port Washington and Sheboygan, traveling the thirty mile route by blazed trees and Indian trails and fording the streams. In 1855 he came to Hustisford and bought a farm of one hundred and eighty five acres. Only twelve or fifteen acres of this land was improved, so that he was compelled to do the greater part of the clearing himself and made all of the improvements and brought the place to a high state of cultivation.


The village of Hustisford is situated in sections 9 and to, town 11, range 16 east. The original plat of the village possessed a most generous provision for the possibilities of the future, and the town has grown until it has at the present time a population of 615. Unfortunately, it has been overlooked by the railroad builders and is therefore isolated and alone in so far as transportation facilities are concerned. However, the roads leading into it are among the best in the county and this, in a measure, is a consoling feature.

Quite a number of people settled near the present village in 1845. John Cameron built a store, which afterwards became the property of Jacob Rapelye, who operated it as a branch of his Milwaukee store. It is said that eggs were so cheap at this time that one could go to the store and procure a well heaped half bushel of fresh eggs for thirty cents.

The first hotel was opened in Hustisford by William T. Ward in 1846. In that day many immigrants traveled in this direction to look for homes and would stop at this hostelry.

The first schoolhouse was built in 1846 by Wales & Hustis. Here a select school was taught until 185o, when a public school was inaugurated, with James Hall at its head. Mr. Hall later became one of the leading merchants of the village. At the present the schools of Hustisford rank high among the educational institutions of Dodge county. There are parochial schools, largely attended, where the children receive instruction from men of character and ability.

Hustisford also has its churches, which are well attended and liberally supported. The first 'religious services here were conducted by a Methodist preacher. Then came a Congregational minister, who organized a congregation, which has long since been abandoned. The German Lutherans were next in the vineyard and have a large working force in the cause.

Sawmills and flouring mills were early established here, and Ferdinand Steinborn and Frederick Zilisch established a furniture manufactory.


In 1847 a postoffice was established in Hustisford and on September 13th of that year Symmes Butler received his commission as postmaster. His successors were as follows: John McCrea, August 23, 1849; John G. Daily, December 26, 1856; Hiram S. Huse, May to, 1861; John G. Daily, October 1, 1866; James Hall, April 12. 1869; E. E. Atkins, December 17, 1883; August Roeseler, November 12, 1884; F. H. Mathes, March 8, 1890; Henry Rex, February 19, 1894; F. H. Mathes, January 17, 1898; Mrs. Emma A. Mathes, June 13, 1910.

Hustisford has a well edited paper - The News. It is a six column folio and has a good circulation. The State Bank of Hustisford is capitalized at $25,000 and has deposits of $160,000. Edgar Boeing is the president; S. B. Jones, vice president; Richard Roll, cashier; and Anna Fletcher, assistant cashier. In the early fall of 1912 the bank suffered a loss of $30,000 through the destruction of its bank building and other property by fire. At the same time the handsome little village was seriously damaged by the same cause.

The present officials of Hustisford are as follows: President, Edgar Boeing; clerk, B. S. Randall; assessor, August Klemp; treasurer, A. E. Roeseler.

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