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


Westford is one of the towns first settled in the county. It lies in the western tier, town 12 north, range 13 east. Its first settlers were principally from the east, the greater part from the state of New York.

The boundaries of Westford are as follows: On the west is Columbia county; north, Fox Lake; east, Trenton and Beaver Dam; south, Calamus.

The soil in this section of the county is of the very best and the farms are highly cultivated. A large part of Beaver Dam lake spreads itself over the northern part of the town and making a half loop at section 9, extends to 22. The Milwaukee, Sparta & Northwestern Railroad crosses the town from section 35 diagonally over to section 18. The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul follows the north border of Beaver Dam lake and makes its exit at section 6. There is one railroad station in the town - that of Randolph.

In 1842 Wilmot and Vincent Smith settled here and John Andrew. Tyler Thompson, Ralph Davis, Thomas Ransom, Daniel D. Ashley and others came in a short time thereafter. At a comparatively later date Charles Nutting, Abiel Stark and John Converse arrived.

James Knowles was one of the pioneers of the county. In 1843, resolving to try his fortune in the wilds of Wisconsin, he came to Fox Lake, Dodge county, with his brother George, who preceded him nearly three years as an emigrant to the state. He entered one hundred and twenty acres of land in section 13, town of Westford, and hence they were the first settlers here. James Knowles made this his home until 186o, when he disposed of his farm and removed to the village of Randolph. During the first few years of his life here he was known by the name of Dr. Knowles, because he brought with him from New York some bottles of ague medicine and a case of surgical instruments, so that when there was a severe case of the ague, which was not infrequent, or any one in the neighborhood received a severe cut or wound of any kind, there being no physician near, Mr. Knowles was at once sent for and usually gave his patient relief.

Among the other settlers in Westford were Daniel and Hettie Ashley, who came to the town from New York in 1844. At the time Daniel D. Ashley, their son, was six years of age. Cooper N. Ashley, another son, was nine years of age at the time his parents came here. They settled on section 8 and at the time there was not a house between them and Fox Lake. Beaver Dam then consisted of a few small shanties.

One of the early settlers of the town was Russell Welch, a native of the Empire state. He pitched his tent in Westford town in 1844, entering one hundred and twenty acres of land in section 25, where he lived the greater part of his life, and to which he added several hundred acres.

William and Lydia Link immigrated to Wisconsin in 1844 from Livingston county, New York. In the spring of 1845 they removed to the town of Westford and raised a family of children who witnessed the growth of the community. Their son, James T. Link, was at the time of their coming a young man of twenty four years.

Mrs. William Alward, a native of Norfolk, Connecticut, a widow with five children, had the resolution to try the wilds of Wisconsin and to make her home among the pioneers of Dodge county. She came in 1846 and bought a farm of one hundred and thirty four acres in section 6.

Ralph Davis, long since deceased, was a native of Vermont, who came to Westford and entered a farm of eighty acres in 1846, and soon thereafter bought another eighty in sections 5 and 8, where he followed farming until his death, which ocurred in 1879.

John S. Butterfield came to the town with his parents, Jonathan and Polly Butterfield, from the state of New York in 1850.

William and Elizabeth Lindley sailed from England in September, 1851, and arrived in America safely. Loading their household goods into one wagon at Milwaukee, they journeyed through the marshes to Fox Lake. Stopping here a few weeks, Mr. Lindley bought a farm of forty acres in section 25, town of Westford, upon which he erected a log shanty 20x24 feet and installed therein his family. They removed to the town of Burnett in 1853 but returned to Westford in 1854, where Mr. Lindley bought a farm of one hundred and sixty acres on section 22 and made that his home until his death, which occurred in 1865.

Charles Nutting came here from Vermont in 1853 and bought a farm of eighty acres in section 6. He held the office of justice of the peace in the town of Westford for many years.

Edward C. Stark came to the town with his parents, Abiel and Jane A. Stark, in 1851. He followed the profession of teaching and became one of Dodge county's successful instructors. Charles A. Stark, another son of Abiel Stark, was born in Westford in 1854. In 1878 he was admitted to the bar and began the practice of his profession in Randolph.

Benjamin Hammond located on a farm of eighty acres in section 6, in 1855. Before retiring he hand accumulated almost one thousand acres. Mr. Hammond was a native of the state of New York.


One of the charming and enterprising villages of Dodge county is Randolph, the greater part of which lies in the town of Westford. It came into existence shortly after the completions of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad and was made possible through the business acumen and loyalty of Abiel Stark, one of the pioneers of Westford.

At the time the railroad was built, the company proposed, after having been solicited by residents close by, to erect a depot and side tracks if sufficient ground for the purpose was donated. Thereupon Abiel Stark displayed a large public spirit and deeded to the railroad company the land desired. The necessary papers in transferring the depot site and right of way for side tracks were executed and delivered by Mr. Stark on the 3d day of March, 1857, and the village of Randolph was born. A temporary depot was erected the same month and was used until a more desirable structure took its place.

The first plat of the village of Randolph was made December 2, 1857, over a half century ago, and took in a part of Abiel Stark's farm, also five acres held jointly by Stark and John Converse. In May, 1858, Dickinson's addition was platted and in June, 1859, Abiel Stark made an addition.

The first building erected in Randolph was by John Converse in April, 1857, but a few days after Stark had made his deed to the railroad company. This was a residence. Soon thereafter other buildings went up rapidly and the village grew apace.

A building was erected by H. B. Converse early in 1857 and became the first business block of the place. This was soon followed by a warehouse, which was put up by S. Merrill.

The pioneer settler on the site of the village of Randolph was John Hopper, who owned forty acres of land on that part of the town known as Dickinson's addition. And, it might be here stated, that Randolph was originally settled by people from the east, many of them immigrating from Wales and finally coming here.

In 1859 Converse & Stevely erected a mill, which was destroyed by fire in 1861. Twelve years elapsed before another was built to take its place, then Fred Zollner, with the assistance of some $2,000 contributed by neighbors, erected a mill, that went the way of its predecessor in May, 1879.

Jesse R. Converse was the first child born in Randolph and the first school taught here was by Lura, a daughter of Abiel and Jane Stark. This was in the winter of 1858-9.


One of the founders of the village, John Converse, was the first postmaster to be appointed. His commission was dated November 11, 1851. James Knowles was his successor, receiving the appointment September 4, 1862. John Converse was reappointed January 7, 1863, and James Knowles succeeded him June 11 of the same year. In 1864 the name of the village was changed to Westford and James Knowles was his own successor in the office and remained until October 12, 1868, when again John Converse was appointed. February 1, 1869, Mary J. Converse took charge of the postoffice but handed it over to James Knowles March 15, 1869. Then the name of the office was changed to Randolph, it first having been designated as East Randolph. James Knowles continued in the office until 1873, when he was followed by the following persons: John E. Root, March 28,1873; J. Roberts, January 17, 1879; R. D. Evans, March 17, 1879; John E. Root, June 16, 1881; John G. Stark, January 11, 1883; John S. Lightner, June 26, 1886; G. C. Foster, July 1, 1889; John S. Lightner, December 19, 1892; Hugh Williams, April 26, 1897.


When the village first was named, John Converse, one of its founders, was honored and the place was for some little time known as Converseville. It was not so considered by the postoffice authorities at Washington, however, but was designated by them as East Randolph. This was changed to Westford in 1864, but when the village was incorporated in 1870 the name Randolph was adopted and se remains to this day, without any likelihood of it ever again being discarded.

In 1870 Randolph was chartered as a village and as such, was separated from the town of Westford. The first election was held March 8, 1870. and the officials chosen were: President, Dr. William Meacher; trustees, east ward, R. C. Penney and A. Jones; west ward, G. C. Foster and J. Binney; assessor, R. D. Calkins; treasurer, R. Ilsey; constable, Morris Taylor; justices, east ward, D. Kenyon; west ward, S. H. Smith; clerk, S. M. Smith.

Randolph is known as a stirring, up to date, modern little business center and here is produced a high grade of a product that has made Wisconsin famous - cheese. As a matter of fact cheese making in Dodge county is one of the principal industries, there being at this time at least one hundred and fifty factories turning out for an ever ready market various kinds of cheese that is unsurpassed in quality and flavor. The business houses of the place carry stocks of goods that meet the requirements of a busy, prosperous people, who come to the place from long distances. The schools are of the best, and its churches, two of them Welsh, a Baptist, Methodist and German congregations, are all well attended and receive liberal support. Fraternal societies also hold a place in the community.

The Randolph State Bank has been established a number of years and is a strong institution, capitalized at $40,000, with deposits of $300,000. E. W. Brandel is president; J. W. Hutchinson, vice president; and W. G. Jones, assistant cashier.

The officers of the village for 1912 were: President, E. W. Brandel; clerk. J. O. Jones; assessor, E. J. Hughes; treasurer, E. W. Schatz.

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