History of Yorkville 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 Yorkville is one of the southern tier. It is bounded on the north by the Town of Raymond; on the east by Mount Pleasant; on the south by Kenosha County, and on the west by Dover Township It embraces Congressional Township 4 North, of Range 21 East, and has an area of thirty six square miles. The South Fork of the Root River flows in a northerly direction through the central part, and this stream, with its tributaries, affords good natural drainage to the entire township. The surface is generally level, or slightly rolling, and the soil is above the average in fertility.

To Joseph Call belongs the distinction of having been the first settler in Yorkville. He located at what is now known as Ives' Grove in the summer of 1835, built a log house, and afterward conducted it as a tavern. The fall after he located there he sold 160 acres of his claim to Nelson A. Walker, whose family came the following March. When Mr. Walker bought his claim in the fall of 1835, there was not a single house between Ives' Grove and the settlement at Rochester, and Mrs. Call was the only white woman in the Town of Yorkville. Other early settlers were Samuel Daniels, Daniel Whitmore and Samuel Kerr, who all lived together in one cabin, though each had a claim of his own. In 1838 Mr. Walker sold his claim nad removed to Mount Pleasant.

Charles Nobles and George Nichols settled near the Grove in 1836. Late in that year or early in 1837, Marshall M. Strong, of Racine, and Stephen N. Ives purchased Joseph Call's claim, including his tavern, and in May, 1837, sold it to Roland Ives, from whom the name of the grove was derived About that time John Nobles settled at Ives' Grove and L. S. Blake made a claim in another part of the township, but soon afterward sold it to Cornelius Brezee, who settled upon it in June, 1837, and there passed the remainder of his life.

Alexander Gray, accompanied by Charles Waite, came in 1837. Other settlers of that year were: Robert Bell, Edward Buchan, Ebenezer Heald, Owen Campbell and Col F F Lincoln. Colonel Lincoln had been here in June, 1836, and selected his claim, but did not become a permanent settler until in September, 1837. In the early days he traveled through the different settlements threshing wheat with a flail, in the use of which he is said to have been an expert.

In April, 1838, Reuben Waite, father of Charles E. Waite, located near his son. He was one of the most public spirited of the early settlers Late in the year 1839 he concluded that the children of the neighborhood ought to attend school, so he fitted up part of his house for a school room and employed Levantia Barnum at his own expense as a teacher. Eight scholars attended the school, which ran through the greater part of the winter.

Another settler of 1838 was Arba B. Terrell, who located at Ives' Grove. He was a carpenter by trade and had no trouble in finding employment. One of the buildings he erected was the first barn of Elisha Raymond, in the Town of Raymond. He was something of an elocutionist, a great mimic, full of good humor, and was quite a favorite at entertainments.

In the fall of 1838 Owen Campbell purchased Nelson A. Walker's claim for $1,000, Mr. Walker removing to Mount Pleasant, as above stated. Mr. Campbell had first come to the county the year before with Roland Ives. Forty acres of his claim had been improved by Mr Walker. His family consisted of a wife and ten children. One of his sons, Homer Campbell, afterward studied medicine and practiced his profession for years in Racine County. Owen Campbell was one of the early justices of the peace of Yorkville.

The first white child born in the township was Mary Jane, daughter of Nelson A. Walker, who was born on May 13, 1838. A few months later her parents removed to Mount Pleasant, where she grew to womanhood and married a man by the name of George.

Yorkville Township was first erected by an act of the Legislature, approved on February 7, 1842. Section 4 of the act provided: "That all that part of the Towns of Mount Pleasant, Burlington and Rochester comprised within the following limits, to wit: Commencing at the southeast corner of Section 25, Township 3 North, Range 21 East; running west to the southwest corner of Section 27, in Township 3, Range 20; thence north eleven miles to the north line of the County of Racine; thence east on said line to the northeast corner of Section 1, in Township 4, Range 21; thence south to the place of beginning, shall be and is hereby set off into a separate town by the name of Yorkville."

The boundaries as above described included all the present Town of Yorkville, except a strip one mile wide across the south side, all of Raymond, the eastern half of Norway, and the eastern half of Dover, except Sections 34, 35 and 36. The act also stipulated that the first election should be held at the house of E. Adams.

When the Town of Raymond was set off by the act of February 2, 1846 - under the name of Black Hawk - Section 10 provided: "That all that district of country comprised in Township 3 North, Range 21 East, and the east half of Township 3 North, of Range 20 East, in Racine County, be and the same is hereby organized into a separate town to be called the Town of Yorkville, and the first town meeting in said town shall be held at the house of E. Adams "

By this act the southern boundary of the town was extended to what is now the Kenosha County line, and when the Town of Dover was created Yorkville was reduced to its present area. A division of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway system runs across the southern part of Yorkville and there are two stations in the township - Sylvania (formerly called Windsor), near the eastern boundary, and Union Grove, in the southwest corner. The latter is an incorporated village. In 1910 the population of Yorkville, not including the Village of Union Grove, was 1,146, and in 1915 the property was assessed at $3,164,022.

Looking backward over a period of four score years, one can not help recognizing the fact that the present generation owes to the pioneers of the several townships of Racine County a debt of remembrance and gratitude, that can only be paid by studying their achievements and cherishing their memory. They lived in rude cabins, wore homespun clothing, dined on homely fare, fought prairie fires, contended with prowling wolves and predatory Indians, and often suffered for the commonest necessities of life. But they conquered the wild wastes, improved their lands, opened roads, bridged the streams, built up villages and cities, established factories, inaugurated civil government in county and township, and gave to their posterity the splendid civilization that the people of the present day enjoy. All honor, then, to the pioneers, whose conquest of a trackless wilderness is as much deserving of a place in history as the conquests of Alexander the Great, or the victory of Wellington over Napoleon at Waterloo.

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