Old Franklin Township Historical Society

History of Franklin Township

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White Mound known as "Billy Town"

The Franklin Township was organized in 1855 and named after American patriot Benjamin Franklin.  The first settlers were Dewitt Slauter, 1849; T. J. Morgans, Thomas Wells, the first school was at Plain in 1851, the first Church was the German Methodists they held services in 1844, the Catholics built the towns first Church building at Plain in 1861 and. F. Albertus was the first County Chairman.  Location of the first Post Offices were as follows: Logtown, 1859 - July 1860, White Mound, May 1859 - July 1919 and Plain, July 1860 - to present day.

   The ghost village of White Mound once sat on the banks of Honey Creek in the northern part of Franklin.  The stagecoach stopped at the tavern, farmers shopped at the general store.  On Sundays the Methodists held services at their small church.  When the auto replaced the stagecoach, what little there was of White Mound disappeared.  Plain has been a market center of the town and its history and that of Franklin are closely intertwined.

   In 1880, a testy local historian described the inhabitants of Franklin as”… principally foreigners… a very large German representation.  The social and moral condition is similar to that of other localities made up largely of Germans…Work hard all week and have a good time Sundays…” The writer apparently disapproved of the traditional German observance of the Sabbath that included church in the morning and a big Sunday dinner followed by music, dancing, singing, card-playing and beer-drinking.  The attitude reflected a cultural prejudice that existed in the county, but passed very quickly.  Of all immigrant groups, except perhaps the Irish, Germans were the most adept at adapting so-called American ways.  They may have clung to their language for two generations, as did other immigrant groups, but were as American as their native-born neighbors in a very short time.

   Sauk’s hill country soils have been subject to erosion ever since the first plow turned a furrow.  Flooding was also a problem in the narrow, marshless stream channels.  In 1911, a three-foot high wall of water came down Honey Creek and washed away farm buildings, fields and fences.  The flood of 1936 was so bad that Franklin farmer Joe Brickl put a boat in the water at his farm and rowed over a mile down to Plain without ever getting stuck on a fence.

   Conservation programs began in the 1930s and improved considerably in the late 1940s with the development of watershed conservation plan.  The town of Franklin is honeycombed with small streams that drain into three branches of Honey Creek.  Conservation plans were formulated for all the waterways, with the most dramatic plan designed for Honey Creek.  In the mid-1960s, the county soil conservation district outlined a project that would include strip cropping of fields on the slopes, diversions and waterways to control runoff from fields, tree planting and pond construction.  Three dams were to be built to control flooding.  One of these, near White Mound, would create a 104-acre lake to provide recreation as well as flood control.  It would be the centerpiece of a 1,093-acre recreation area with a public beach, picnic grounds and land for hiking around the lake.  The cost of the project, all of which was borne by the federal government, was just more than $1 million.  The park was named in honor of the lost village of White Mound, which stood about 1 mile away from the lake.  Other benefits of the project were realized upstream and downstream.  When heavy rains fell for the winter snow melt it quickly, water no longer rushed down at least one branch of Honey Creek.

 

The above text is taken from:  Many A Fine Harvest 1840-1990 by Michael J. Goc - page 164.

Village of Plain
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Village of Plain

You can find more information on the Franklin Township at the Sauk County Historical Society website. Click on this link.

Debbie Blau has an abundance of material on the history of the area on her website. Just click here to access the site.

History of the Village of Plain. Click here.

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Main street Village of Plain, WI

 

THE WEEKLY HOME NEWS; — SPRING  WISCONSIN Thursday, March 31, 1965

Elk Were Hunted, Beer Was Available at Plain Post Office, Cheese Factory "Didn't Pay" in Town of Franklin's Early Days

 

   The Town of Franklin celebrates the centennial of its organizing this week, but its history goes back several years earlier — to the days when the wilderness was "scarcely  intersected by even an Indian trail."

   Seventy-five years ago, a historian looked back on those days from "modern" vantage point of 1880 and wrote an entertaining account of some now-forgotten history.

   Frank Jensen loaned the Home News his treasured copy of the Sauk County History, from which this half-serious, half-humorous article by an un-named author is quoted. His account, published by the "Western Historical Society," follows:

 

Description

   Town of Franklin, geographically considered, is of the same dimensions and shape, that occupies same relative position in Townships 9 and 10 that Bear Creek does. It is bounded on the north by the towns of Westfield and Washington, on the south by Spring Green, on the east by the towns of Honey Creek and Troy, and on the west by the town of Bear Creek. Its physical configuration is somewhat similar to that of its twin, Bear Creek, only Franklin has more good tillable lands. What is known as the south branch of Honey Creek takes its rise in this town, it being made up of numerous small streams that flow from the springs among the hills, and go rippling merrily along to join the brimming river. There is certainly no lack of good water. Along the Honey Creek branch, and the streams, and in the pockets that lead out from the bottom, lands, may be seen splendid farms under an excellent state of cultivation. The soil is similar to that of Bear Creek, but with less stone or gravel, the result of glacial drifts and streams.

   The products are principally agricultural. There is a good deal of stock raised here, but not so much for dairying purposes as is the case in some of the towns. There is also some fruit raised, but only to a limited extent.

   The Inhabitants are principally foreigners, there being a very large German representation. The social and moral condition is similar to that of other localities made up largely of Germans. It is something after this fashion: Work hard all the week and have a good time on Sundays—or whenever you can, for that matter. They have churches and schools that are very well supported and patronized in the main, although the people are not extravagant in their devotion to those things.

   Franklin does quite a large importing business in the way of luxuries, but in all probability there will  sometime be an end put to this by its manufacture at home, by some enterprising Teuton. Headquarters for the article is Plain Post Office, commonly called Logtown, where a thirsty individual can get 92 per cent of bitter water fuddled with 8 per cent of alcohol, known as beer, on demand at almost any time.

First Settler In 1849

   Dewitt Slauter, formerly a settler in the town of Troy, and one of the first there, was the first settler here, and came in the fall of 1849 and settled in what was known as Sugar Grove, a forest of hard maples on Section 36, taking half a section, but not the pick of the country so far as the lay of the land end quality of soil is concerned: yet, on the other hand, he had splendid timber, and a fine spring burst out of the ground but a short distance from his cabin. He came originally from the Buckeye State, and brought a family of eight to endure the hardships of a new country, and to grow up with it and improve it. He lived to see the country partially settled and improved; then, in March, 1890, he died.

   T. J. Morgans was the second settler here. He first came to Spring Green Prairie in 1844 where he bought a claim of a Rev. D. M. Jones, one of the very earliest claimants there, and who left very early. In 1849. Mr. Morgans sold there, and soon after came up and located one quarter-section on the fertile bottoms of Sugar Grove Hollow, in the present town of Franklin, where he has since resided and developed one of the finest farms to be found in this section. Mr. Morgans is now (1880) the last and oldest of the first settlers here, and also undoubtedly the oldest permanent settler in the southwest part of the country. When Mr. Morgans came here, the county was a wilderness in toto, and gave little promise of its present condition. The land was covered thickly with brush, trees and grubs that were scarcely intersected by even an Indian trail, and the only road was a bee hunter's trail from Helena, on the Wisconsin, up through the Bear Creek country on, the ridge. Mr. Morgans is a native of Wales.

   Thomas Wells, one of the early settlers in Troy, settled here in the fall of 1850, on Section 8, but subsequently sold and moved to the town of Westfield. We also find that a few others came in during the above year or soon after.

   They were A. Davidson, Samuel Richards, John Smith, Charles Lamb, John Noble, Andrew Coot, Jerry, John and A. Cramer, William Harreman, N. Mitchell, J. Whitels and sons (H. J. and G. M.), A. Moss, L. Butt, and perhaps a few others whose names have not been ascertained.

   The first death in the town was Mary Morgans, a child of T. J. Morgans. She died October 4. 1849.

   The first birth is also recorded in the above family—that of Phoebe Ann Morgans, born June 22, 1851.

   The first religious services were held here as early as 1850, in Thomas Wells' house, the minister being a Rev. Mr. Bunce. He came only three or four times, as his patronage was not very liberal and, as he said, the people were not Methodistcal enough for him, and, besides, they did not shell out the wherewithal, not having it to shell. His weekly presence, it stated, was not considered a great loss, a his instruction was not the quality to create a gap by its absence.

Early Schoolhouse

   The schoolhouse of District No. 1 was built in 1851. The district included and drew its supplies from all the country around for miles. The first teacher was T. J. Morgans, who also taught several subsequent terms to the satisfaction of all parties, small boys not excepted. The compensation for a teacher that time did not exceed $15 per month.

   In 1850 or 1851 a notable event transpired in town in the marriage of James Davis and Catherine Wells. Davis was afterward, in 1856, shot at Sauk City by a man of the name of Millard, whom Davis threatened to kill for being intimate with his wife. Davis was shot dead, and Millard was sentenced to State Prison for life, but was pardoned out, after 22 months imprisonment, by the Governor. The wedding will be remembered as having been quite an affair for those days. A good dinner, consisting of chicken etc, was served, and, if they had no marriage bells, they were at least merry. Mr. Davis wrote out his wedding service, and Daniel Held, a new Justice, read it. While Daniel was tremblingly reading the ceremony, Andrew Cooper stood in the rear spurring him up to the scratch, not gently, with a pin. It is recorded of Held that he endured like a hero, neither running nor backing up.

   At first, the mail was distributed in town by John Cramer, the neighbors taking turns to bringing it until a post office was established at White Mound in 1859; then a Mr. Smith was appointed Postmaster, and Jacob Henry carried the mall. Jerry Carpenter is now (1880) postmaster at that point. There is also a post office at Plain, called Logtown, that has been established several (about 10) years. P. Stutz is now Postmaster there.

   The blacksmith business was started here as early as the fall of 1850, by G. M. Whitals. His first shop was mother earth for the floor and the skies for a roof. Before this the settlers had to go either to Sauk or Richland City to get their work done.

   The first store was opened at Logtown, formerly called Cramer's Corners, by Mr. Perry, in 1869. He sold to A. Huter in 1873 who, in turn, in 1875 sold to P. Stutz, the present saloonist. Then in 1879 Alois Huter built on the corner and started another store. There is also a blacksmith shop at this point, which may be denominated the metropolis of the town, in one particular (before mentioned).

   The first road in here was from Prairie du Sac, via Honey Creek, but in 1856 or 1857 a pretty direct road was opened by which the people could get over the bluffs to Spring Green.

   Deer were very thick here in an early day, and the wolves went for sheep and poultry in a way which they have not yet gotten over, for even now they are troublesome to sheep.

  The first bridge in the town was one of nature's formation, a sod causeway over a branch of Honey Creek, strong enough to bear the weight of a man.

   An elk was killed here in 1880, the only one ever seen by whites in the town. The antlers may now be seen at Prairie du Sac.

   A store war started at While Mound a few year, ago by Justin Carpenter, but there is none there now.

Long Way Home

   In connection with the above, an anecdote concerning one of the Carpenters will not come amiss. In the early time, when there were no good roads and settlers were few to direct a traveler. J. C. went to Sauk one day and did not start on his homeward way until quite late. Just in the dusk of the evening, when well on his way, he stopped at a settler's cabin to inquire the route, but the man, being a German, could not guide him. So he journeyed on awhile, then came to a house again. The proprietor was duly roused and the way inquired. Again a German, so he must needs journey on.

   Two or three hours again passed in traveling in the dark, and at last, thank fortune, he came to another cabin. Again he pounded the owner up, who very reluctantly arose, and again he had struck the wrong nation, Germany was still to the fore.

   What should he or could he do! Nothing but journey on, evidently. A while later, dawn broke over the wilderness, and lo! before him a settler's cabin! lucky circumstance! Now he would surely learn where he was! But what do these numerous fresh wagon-tracks about the house mean! and who is it that comes out? Only his "Nicht verstance" of the night before. What! Can it be? traveled all night after himself? Such are the facts.

   During the winter of 1852, E Mead and John Bear built a saw mill at the junction of Morgan's and Honey Creek, on Section 5. They were assisted by the people in the vicinity who, in order to get the mill ready for running as quickly as possible, turned in and helped them get out the timbers and erect it. It was started in the spring. They did a good business for two or three years, then sold out to T. Slinger, who has since run it, doing a poor business. There is talk of building a grist mill, as there is a good water power here and a mill needed here.

   George Claridge, on Section 17, was sufficiently enterprising to rig up a mill several years ago; although it is a sort of original affair in the get-up, nevertheless, it does pretty fair grinding, and the farmers in the immediate vicinity get work done there.

   L. Cooper, in 1877, opened a cheese factory, which ran a couple of years, then the property getting into litigation, the factory was closed, and besides, it is said that it did not pay.

   There is a sorghum refinery on Section 29, owned by George Morgan, established this year, which is doing a very fair business, which will probably be better the coming year. There are no other manufacturing establishments in town than these.

   There are two churches in town; one a Catholic, at Logtown, that has a resident priest, and a Methodist Episcopal Church at White Mound, that has been established for some time, and which is auxiliary to the Spring Green Circuit, being supplied with a minister from that point.

 

The History of Sauk County, Wisconsin - 1880 by Western Historical Company - pages 823 & 824

Biographical Sketches

 

JOSEPH BANDEL, M. D., Sec. 27; P. O. Plain; born in Wurtemberg, Germany, Sept. 21, 1830. In early life, he received an academic education, and afterward entered a medical college at Heidelberg, where he graduated at the end of five years; then was appointed a surgeon in the military service of his native country, a position he filled for nearly three years. In 1852, he came to Wisconsin, Sauk Co., which has been his home since. During the war of the rebellion, he was a soldier in Co. H. 37th W. V. I; was honorably discharged at the close of the war as Second Lieutenant. He has been Chairman of the Franklin Town Board of Supervisors four years. He is President of the Franklin Mutual Farmers Fire Insurance Co., a position he has filled since its organization in 1877. He was also Town Assessor of Franklin three terms. Mr. Bandel was married in Milwaukee, in 1852, to Christiana Phillip; they have ten children. He owns 300 acres of land; his farm is pleasantly located and well improved.

 

JOHN H. CAPTENTER, farmer, Sec. 18; P. O. White Mound; born in Richland Co., ILL, in 1843. He was educated, and spent the most of his early life in Morrow Co., Ohio. During the war of the rebellion, he enlisted in Co. F. 43rd Ohio V. I. and served in that regiment about one year.  In 1864, he came to Wisconsin, and enlisted in the First Wisconsin Heavy Artillery, in which he served until the close of the war. The war records of both States (Ohio and Wisconsin), show for him a good record, and that he was in active service. He married his first wife, Julia A. Culley, in Morrow Co., Ohio; she died in Wisconsin, leaving one child, Charles. His present wife was of Spring Green (this county), Carrie C. Uttendorfer. Mr. Carpenter owns a pleasantly located and well improved farm of 95 acres of land. In politics, he is a Republican.

 

GEORGE CLARIDGE, farmer, Sec. 17; P.O. White Mound; was born in Leicester, England, in 1843; in 1847, emigrated with his parents, William and Elizabeth Claridge, to Dane Co, Wis, thence to the town of Franklin, Sauk Co., in 1850. During the war of the rebellion, he enlisted in Co. A, 36th W. V. I.; was wounded at cold Harbor, and was afterward transferred to Co. A, of the 10th Reserve Corp, in which he served until the close of the war, when he was honorably discharged. He married in Richland Co. Wis., Miss Elizabeth Born, they have six childrenEllen, John W., George H., Annie,  Albert L, and Alice A. Mr. Claridge owns 280 acres of land; himself and wife are leading members of the M. E.

 

E. M. DAVIES, farmer, Sec. 32; P. O. Plain; was born in the town of Franklin, Sauk Co. Wis.,  Nov. 18, 1853; was educated at the high school at Spring Green, Wis. In 1880, was elected Chairman of the Franklin Town Board of Supervisors. He is extensively engaged in farming, being one of the leading agriculturists of the town of Franklin, his father, R. W. Davies, was a native of Wales; he married in his native country, Margaret Margins; they came to this county, and settled in the town of Franklin, Sauk Co., Wis., in 1851, thus becoming early settlers of that of that town; he died April 27, 1877; she is still living, and is a resident of the town of Franklin; their children are Thomas, who is married and resides in Franklin; his wife was Ella Carpenter. E. M., whose name heads this sketch, R. W. Davies, was a leading member of the M. E. Church; he was highly esteemed by all as a liberal and upright man.

 

RICHARD H. DOUGLAS, Sec. 34;  P. O. Plain; was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1815; when he was 14 years of age, he emigrated to Canada; studied surgery, and was appointed a Surgeon in the military service in Quebec, a position he filled several years, afterward went to Toronto, and was in the service of the Government, as Superintendent of Public Improvements, and other official positions until 1849, when he came to Wisconsin, locating in Sauk Co., Wis., which county has been his home since. He married in York, Canada, Miss Louisa Ferman; they have ten children. Mr. Douglas owns 120 acres of land; he is Secretary of the Franklin Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance Company, a position he has filled since its organization in 1877.

 

HENRY MITCHELL, farmer, Sec 5; P. O. Plain; is a native of Westmoreland Co., England; was born Oct. 4, 1832. His first wife's maiden name was Mary Taylor; she died in England; his present wife was Jane Baxter. Mr. Mitchell came to this country in 1869, and lived in Buffalo, N. Y., until his coming to Wisconsin in 1871, in which year he located in the town of Franklin, Sauk Co.; his children are threetwo daughters and a son; the daughters are married and reside in Buffalo N.Y.; the son, Isaac, is home. Mr. Mitchell owns well improved farm of 120 acres of land. He has been elected to local offices, and takes an interest in the progress and development of the resources of his town.

 

T. J. MORGANS, a leading citizen and farmer, Sec. 32; P.O. Plain; was born in Breckenshire, Wales, Jan. 24, 1814; he was 6 years of age, his parents removed to Glenmorganshire, where his early life was spent; in 1841, he came to this country living in Pennsylvania until 1843; then went to Galena, ILL., thence to Dodgeville, Wis., in 1844, and from there to Spring Green, then known as Helena Bottoms, in the same year, thus becoming one of the first settlers in the south part of Sauk Co. July 7, 1848, he married, in the town of Troy, this county, Phoebe Slauter; she was born near Willamsburg, Ind., and came to Sauk Co., Wis., with her parents, Dewitt and Phoebe Slauter, in 1845; her father, Dewitt Slauter, was the first settler of what is now the town of Franklin, this county; in 1849. Mr. Morgans and wife removed to the town of Franklin, which has been their home since; they are now the oldest settlers living in that town; their oldest son, John T., is a minister of the M.  E. Church, in Dane Co., Wis.; their second oldest son Dewit, is in Nora Springs, Iowa; their third oldest son Howell, is also in Nora Springs; David W., Isaac, Phoebe A. Daniel and Mary are at home. Mr. Morgans' quarter-section of land is most desirably located. He has been Justice of the Peace for over twenty-five years; is Notary Public, and has been at various times elected to local offices; he taught the first school in the town of Franklin, held many of the first offices in that town, and has always taken an active part in her public affairs.

 

A. RIEK, farmer Sec. 12; P. O. Plain; was born in Wurtemberg, Germany, Sept. 13, 1832; in 1853, he came to this county, living in Michigan until 1855; then came to Manitowoc Co., Wis., where he remained about one year then went to Richland Co., Wis., and was engaged in milling and farming in that county until 1860, in which year he removed to Franklin, Sauk Co., which has been his home since. His first wife, Elizabeth Lewis, he married at Richland City; she died in this town (Franklin); they had one daughter, Annie, now the wife of Frank Lunenschloss of Richland Center, Wis,; Mr. Riek married his present wife, Katrina Schmitz, in Ithaca, Wis. He owns 164 acres of land; is a member of the Franklin Town Board of Supervisors, of which body he was Chairman twice.

 

HUGH SCALAN, farmer and mason, Sec. 13; P. O. White Mound; was born in Sherbrooke, Canada, March 20, 1823; in 1838, he came to the United States and worked at the mason trade in various States, until the breaking-out of the Mexican war, when he enlisted in Battery L, U. S. A., and in active service until the close of the war. In 1849, he returned to Canada, and married, in Sherbrooke, his native town, Miss Mary McKeegan; in 1853, they came to Boone Co, ILL, where they were living when the war of the rebellion commenced. He then went to Beloit, Wis., and enlisted in the 4th Battery, W. V.  A. ; he was wounded at Ft. Monroe, and was honorably discharged at the close of the war. In the autumn of 1865, he removed to the town of Franklin, Sauk Co., Wis., which has been the home of himself and family since; they have three childrenWilliam, born in Montreal, Canada, in 1853; Mary (now the wife of William Kaley) born in Boone Co., ILL., in 1856; Hugh, also born in Boone Co., ILL., in 1858. Mr. Scallan owns 270 acres of land.

 

TEMPST SLINGER, farmer and proprietor of Slinger's Mill, Sec. 5; P. O. Plain; was born in England, in 1821; he came to the United States in 1856, and settled in Wisconsin in 1857; he has been a continual resident of the State since. His first wife Anna Riley, died in England; the maiden name of his present, wife was Margaret Dick; they have four children livingHenry, John, Fred and Dick. Mr. Slinger owns a pleasantly located farm. In politics, he is a Democrat.

 

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