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


Town 9 north, range 14 east, contains a less area of land than any other in the county, comprising only 13,954 acres. It was originally all timber land and was almost exclusively settled by foreigners, Germans and Irish predominating. The town was named in honor of General Shields, the Irish statesman, who had the unprecedented distinction of having represented three different states in the United States senate - Illinois, Minnesota and Missouri. The town is located in the southern part of the county and is bounded on the south by Jefferson county, on the west by Portland and Lowell towns, on the north by Lowell and on the east by Emmet town. The town is well watered by the Beaver Dam river, which makes a complete loop in the northwest corner. Sections 20 and 16 have the greater part of what is known as Mud Lake marsh but the rest of the town is tillable and quite fertile.

Judge Richard Mertz was among the first Settlers to locate here, coming in 1849.

It is stated that in 1850 there were quite a number of Indians living within the confines of what is now the town of Shields. They were not disposed to be particularly mischievous but on the other hand a friendly feeling existed between them and the whites. The chief of the tribe had a lovely squaw, whose amours with Captain John D. Griffin of the local militia was well known among the members of his command as well as by the chief. In course of time the chief's anger got the better of him and he gave the Captain a drubbing. The jealous chief, realizing what he had done and not knowing the extent of Captain Griffin's injuries, with fear in his heart, gathered his band about him and fled from the village. In the meantime Captain Griffin, with his brave followers, bade good bye to his family and set out for what he anticipated would be a battle with the chief and his band, not knowing that the Indians were in retreat, but when he and his company arrived near the anticipated spot of conflict, it was discovered that no Indians were there and but one solitary tepee remained where the gallant Griffin had been so severely and unwarrantably punished. "Let me reconnoiter," said the gallant Captain, calling a halt. Leaving the company under command of Lieutenant Richard Mertz, Captain Griffin cautiously approached the tepee and finally ventured to peer within. Returning to his command, he said, "Boys, please stay. behind; I will charge the enemy myself." The chief in his flight had forgotten to take his squaw with him.


It seems from looking over a personal sketch of Lawrence Barry, dictated by himself, that after coming to America from Ireland in 1845, he spent a couple of months in the fall of 1846 in the town of Shields. He left the country but returned in 1852 and settled here in that year. He bought eighty acres heavily covered with oak, basswood and other timber, made a small clearing and built a shanty. Here his family took up their habitation and Barry, with great energy and perseverance, soon had a well improved farm.

William and Bridget Dolan, with their son Philip, came from New York to Dodge county in 1849 and settled in Shields, where Mr. Dolan bought eighty acres of government land, from which he cleared the heavy timber and soon had a number of acres under cultivation. He died in 1875.

Michael Donegan was one of the early settlers of this town, coming here from New York in 1847.

One of the early settlers in the town of Shields was A. McCaig, who came from Ireland to America in 1839, and in 1845 removed to Shields with his family, buying heavily timbered land, which was long known as the McCaig homestead. This was one of the pioneer families of the county, the members of which first lived in a log house, cleared up the farm and made a good home. James McCaig, who was a young man at the time of the coming of his parents, remained with them until 1859, when he went out in the world for himself.

Philip Riley was a native of Ireland. He came to the United States in 1837. After spending eight or nine years in New York as a quarryman, he came to Dodge county in June, 1845, with his family. Here he bought a farm of one hundred and sixty acres, getting his government certificate in Milwaukee. The farm was a wilderness, as was the country around it. Mr. Riley reached his farm by the aid of blazed trees. On trying to revisit it later, he lost his way in the forest. He was wont to tell that roads, bridges and neighbors were scarce, but that deer, bears and Indians were plenty. The latter were peaceable, however, though they killed a neighbor to the north of him, which brought out a troop of cavalry and created much excitement. Mr. and Mrs. Riley were compelled one night to barricade their doors against a half drunken crowd of Indians. Mr. Riley was a frontier settler for years and was glad to welcome Peter Higgins as his first neighbor. He married Margaret McCaig, also a pioneer of this community.

Michael Fagan added to the Irish colony in Shields by his presence in 1846. That year he purchased one hundred and twenty acres in the town.

John Driscoll was a native of the green isle, who left the "ould sod" in 1836. In September, 1847, with his family, he removed to Shields, buying and settling on government land which was covered with oak, maple, basswood and other timber. The Driscolls were among the first families to settle in this town. John Driscoll was closely identified with the early history of the town, serving as town superintendent of schools, justice of the peace, supervisor and in other offices.

F. Uehling left Germany for the United States in the fall of 1847 and located on a farm in this town on section 24, consisting of two hundred and forty acres. He married Margaret Krugg, daughter of George Krugg, also a native of Germany. They had eleven children.

Michael and Mary O'Connell came from New York and settled in Shields town in 1848. At the time his son Nicholas was three years of age.

J. C. Smith was a son of Erin and came to America in 1842. In 1849 he joined his father in Shields, lived here a short time and resided three or four years in Chester, but eventually returned to Shields.

James Higgins, Sr., a son of Ireland, left his native country for the land of the free in 1851. After landing at New York he headed for the west and coming at once to Shields with his family, located on a farm in this town. The farm was one that had previously been purchased by his father, Peter Higgins. On it was a log house amidst a forest of oak, hickory and other timber. Father and son cleared the farm and made it one of the best improved estates in the country.

Michael McDonough was born in County Clare, Ireland, in 1821. He came to America in 1845 and to the town of Shields in 1852, where he located on eighty acres of land, of which ten acres were cleared, and in the midst of the clearing was a log shanty. Here the family lived fifteen years in pioneer fashion but soon improvements were noticeable by the erection of modern buildings and a more comfortable home.

Michael and Mary Kelley settled in Shields town in 1853 on a farm heavily timbered, but provided with a log house. These were the parents of John Kelley, the present county superintendent of schools.

Patrick Solon with his family came to this country from Ireland in 1847. The mother died in Buffalo and the father and only remaining son, John, settled in Shields township in June, 1847, where the elder Solon had purchased a farm of eighty acres. This farm was broadened to many acres more by the industry and perseverance of the two men. The elder Solon again married in 1849, and had two sons. John Solon was elected supervisor in 1865 and 1866. He held other township offices and was in the legislature in 1873, was a member of the board four years and in 1879 was elected county clerk.


Richwood is a station on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad It is located on section 24.


This society was organized in 1864 by Rev. H. Roche, and is attended as a mission from Watertown. In 1872 Rev. McGuirke took charge, remaining until 1877, when he was succeeded by Rev. Thomas J. Maher, who remained until 1879, when he in turn was succeeded by D. Tierney, who remained from 1880 to 1887. D. J. Spillard then came, remaining until 1889, his successors having been James Gleeson, 1889-90; Richard Maher, 1890-92; John P. Thillmann.

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