History of Green County, Wisconsin

Before the days of newspapers in a new country, the county and family records are almost the only means by which the dates of important occurrences are preserved. Nevertheless, when a county has been settled fifty years, each man, by reference to the dates set down in his family Bible, and to the year in which he came, is able to fix a great many other dates, thus: "Barber and Newcomb had been here a year when I came, in '37. Holland came the next spring. Smith came the year our baby died, and that was '38. Brown must have come in '37, for it was the description of the country, in his letters, that induced the Smiths to leave Illinois. Jones came the 10th of Sept. '39. That was the day Tom was born, and I remember Jones was camped right in front of my house, because some of his cattle had given out."

Alas, that the good mother of the house must shake our faith in her husband's chronology in this way! "No, Pa, that was the day Mary was born. I know, because Mrs. Jones said 'twas a pity she wasn't a boy, she had such a good head." There is always a possibility that dates arrived at by the course just illustrated may be wrong; but usually there is also a great probability that they are right, and when the same dates are obtained in two or more families, the probability becomes almost a certainty. In proportion to their number, their correctness is disputed not nearly so often as the correctness of later dates which are verified by the newspapers of their time.

In the effort to make this history correct, a great many letters have been written, and a great many visits have been made in the several towns. Assistance has been received from over two hundred persons, more than one-fourth of whom came to the county before 1840, some of them before 1830. With all the avidity of Dryden's reaper, who " ---- ---- fills his greedy hands. And binds the golden sheaves in brittle bands." I have seized upon these individual gleanings from memory's field, and bound them together. The result of this labor has recently been submitted to a number of old settlers, in the hope that a comparative view of the recollections of many persons might lead to the detection of errors which escaped those who had fewer data to guide them.

One of the main objects of the following pages is a faithful delineation of life and manners in the early days of the county. With' this object in view, record has been made of some incidents which are, in themselves, so trivial that one who knew of them said he supposed they were put in to fill up.

I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude for the kind assistance which has been rendered me both by old friends and by those to whom I was hitherto a stranger. It has made my task one to be remembered only for its pleasures. I am under special obligations to the town clerks and to the county officers for information contained in the records under their care, and to Col. Edwin E. Bryant, Adjutant General of Wisconsin, who allowed me to examine all the muster rolls in his office.

With the greatest diffidence as to their judgment upon it, and with just one plea in its behalf, the history is now submitted to the people of Green County. The plea is this: It is often said, though whether the saving originated with an unsuccessful historian cannot now be ascertained, that that people is most fortunate whose history is most wearisome to read. Will those to whom this history is the dullest and most monotonous of books have the charity to infer that Green is the most fortunate of counties?


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Green County is a square of sixteen townships. It is one of the six counties in Wisconsin that border upon Illinois. Eighty miles from its eastern boundary is Lake Michigan; forty miles from its south-western, and sixty miles from its north-western boundary line, is the Mississippi. The counties bounding it in its own state are Dane on the north, Rock on the east, and La Fayette and Iowa on the west.