Historic Blooming Grove Township

   Historic Blooming Grove Township
Dane County, Wisconsin

from History of Dane County, Wisconsin
Chicago: Western Historical Society, 1880
Pages 926-929

   When this township first came under town government, it was a portion of the town of Madison. This was in 1846. It remained a part of the last-mentioned town until the spring of 1850, when it became a separate town, and was named Blooming Grove. This town was the only one in the county which, when constituted a separate town, and named, contained less territory than one township. It first lacked all that part of Township 7 north, or Range 10 east, lying north of Lake Monona. The part thus wanting was a portion of the town and city of Madison until March 30, 1861, when Section 5, the east half of the southeast quarter of Section 6, all of fractional Section 7 lying east of the city of Madison, and the northwest fractional quarter of Section 8, were attached to and made a part of the town of Blooming Grove. It thus assumed its present size and shape, which is quite irregular, owing to the fact that a considerable portion of the town is covered by Lake Monona, which belongs to the city of Madison.
   On the 2d day of April, 1852, the first town meeting was held at the house of R. W. Lansing, when the town was organized, and the following of officers elected: N. J. Tompkins, Chairman, W. J. Reece and J. L. Lewis, Supervisors; Dr. H. A. Tiffany, Clerk; B. W. Caswell, Treasurer; J. Lansing, Assessor; Rev. J. G. Miller, Superintendent of Schools. Mr. Miller resigned soon after, and R. W. Lansing was appointed in his place.
   The surface of this town is somewhat hilly and marshy in the south part, while in the northern portion it is principally gently undulating and arable prairie land. The soil throughout, especially in the north part, is fertile, being, for the most part, a rich clay loam and marl.
   A part of the town is covered by water. Lake Monona takes considerable off from the west side, and in the south part Lake Waubesa covers a portion of four sections. These lakes with the Yahara, which unites them, and the Nine Springs Creek in the southwest part, and one other small stream that crosses Section 5, together with the springs in town, constitute the water supply.
   There are but few natural curiosities in the town to attract the eye, but the general scenery is sufficiently charming to engross the attention of the most fastidious, while the lakes furnish excellent sport for ambitious Nimrods and disciples of Walton. In an early day, there was but little timber in this town in common with localities adjacent, and what there was was used with the utmost prudence. Some of the farmers sowed locust seed to raise timber, but nature soon supplied the want, and now there is enough and to spare of white, black and red oak and other kinds.
   The people generally follow agricultural pursuits, and they succeed well is attested by their fine farms and comfortable-looking houses and barns. There is a large amount of excellent stock raised in the town, and one farm, owned by C. R. Clark, is devoted entirely to raising thoroughbreds. Foreigners constitute a majority of the people, they are largely Germans and Norwegians. The population in 1870 was 1,010; it is now 929. The town has a good brick hall built in 1870, located on Section 17.
   The first white settler was Abraham Wood, who came into this town certainly as early as the first part of the year 1837, for, during the spring of that year, he was employed to superintend the building of the first house inhabited in the city of Madison, and which was erected for Eben Peck, and first occupied by him. Wood had for his wife a daughter of the famous Winnebago chief, DeKaury, on the northeast fractional quarter of section 19, which contains fifty-two acres. This land, which juts into Lake Monona, has been variously known as Old Indian Garden, Wood's Point, Strawberry Point, Straw Point, and a portion of what is now called Winnequah. The first name was derived from the fact that the Indians cultivated the land in this vicinity before the advent of the whites, the evidences of which have not entirely disappeared.
   Francis Barnes christened the point Winnequah, and several years ago erected a dancing-hall here, and fitted up grounds for picnic parties.
   Mr. Wood remained there until the summer of 1839, when he, with Wallace Rowan, then living at Poynette, went to Sauk County and built the first saw-mill at Baraboo.
   Wood was a natural borderer, being a large powerful man, of a fierce, turbulent and adventurous nature, and well suited to pioneer life and experiences. He was peaceable enough when sober, but when tipsy he went prowling around the country in a lawless way, helping himself to anything he desired, and taking vengeance on those whom he did not like. One night, he entered a cabin belonging to a family by the name of Webster, and carried off a keg of beer. He was discovered in the act by Mrs. Webster, who grabbed him in the back by his shirt, he being coatless, and demanded that he should relinquish the beer. This he showed no disposition of doing, and, her grip being a firm one, he dragged her a considerable distance, bawling out the while at the top of his voice, "Keep fast hold, madam, and I'll take you straight to h--l!" His taking of a Mississippi River steamboat in an early day is quite amusing, and shows the fearlessness of the man's nature. He and three others, who styled themselves the "Baraboo Rushers," took passage on a steamboart for St. Louis. On the way, one of the boatmen took ill with the cholera, which was raging at the time. The idea of cholera on board caused much consternation, and it was decided to leave the sick man on shore. But none of the crew would venture near him, so great was their of the disease. Then up spoke Abe: "Give us a blanket, and we, the Baraboo Rushers, will take him ashore. We ain't afered of man or devil, much less a gripe in the stomach." A blanket was furnished, and at the next landing the four men took the victim off, carrying him straight to the hotel. "We want a bed for a sick man," said Abe to the landlord. "Beds all full," was the reply. "Show me one, I'll empty it d--ded quick," retorted Abe. But the landlord was not disposed to do so. Meanwhile the captain, considering that the "Baraboo Rushers" were exposed to the infection, concluded that then was his time to get rid of them; and without a touch of the bell put the boat out from the landing and continued the journey. The "Rushers," seeing the state of affairs, dropped the sick man on the hotel porch, and started after the boat. They were all good swimmers, and in a very short time they "overhauled her." To say they were angry does not half express what their feelings were. As soon as he touched the deck, Abe began to swear, and such swearing even those boatmen had never heard. He cursed all the crew from the highest to lowest, up and down and every other way. At last, the captain threatened to put him ashore. This was the signal for a row. The "Rushers" were armed after the manner of backwoodsmen, with tomahawks, knives and revolvers. Flourishing these, the sprang forward for a battle. The suddenness of the attack and the daring of the men, so surprised the captain and crew that they surrendered without a struggle. When he had them completely at his mercy, Abe flourished his tomahawk over the captain's head and cried: "We don't want your d--d old rickety boat, but we intend to teach you that the Baraboo Rushers are not to be trifled with. This craft never lands again until we say so, nor starts until we ger ready. If that don't suit you, we will run her to h--l in spite of you." The captain was very willing to agree to the terms, and for the remainder of the trip the "Rushers" had things their own way.
   Some years later he was killed, not far from Baraboo, by being pitched backward in a wagon, and thus having his neck broken.
   The next comer in the town was W. A. Wheeler, who located on Section 5 in the spring of 1841, bringing his family with him. During the summer of that year, Mr. Wheeler, in conjunction with Simeon Mills, erected a dam across a small stream that flows into Lake Monona, and built a saw-mill, which was abandoned many years ago. Scarcely anything now remains to mark the spot.
   Soon after Mr. Wheeler came, the Taylor brothers made a claim not far from the mill, where one of them lived for several years. The first breaking in town was done here. About this time, Elisha Wheeler also settled in the town.
   In 1844, Philo Dunning, who had assisted in building the old mill, became purchaser of the property, and a resident of the town, with his family. Previous to this time, however, a large family of Nelsons came in.
   From 1844 to 1850, a good many settled here, of whom we are enabled to mention E. Grover, S. Catlin, O. and B. W. Caswell, S. Eastman, E. Smith, J. and R. W. Lansing, M. J. Reece, John Adams, G. Zink, C. Ulmer, M. J. Thompkins, Mr. Robbins, J. G. Wolf, George Nichols, R. and D. Gallagher, Rev. J. G. Miller, J. W. Barrett, Dr. Tiffany and J. S. Lewis.
   Dr. Tiffany settled in the town about 1848, and was one of the first physicians in the county.
   The Rev. J. G. Miller came into the State as a missionary for the German Evangelical Association as early as 1845. The town received its name from him, the title being suggested as appropriate at a time when the groves of oak were interspersed with waving grass and blooming flowers.
   The first birth in the town was a child of W. A. Wheeler, born in 1842.
   The first marriage occurred in 1850, when Albert Barker and Alida J. Lansing were married, the Rev. J. G. Kanouse performing the ceremony.
   A post office was established in the town before 1850, with R. W. Lansing as Postmaster. After having been continued for several years, it was suspended, and there is now no post office in the town.
   The Cottage Grove Fire Insurance Company, which includes Blooming Grove and other towns, was organized March 24, 1875, with thirty-five incorporators. The first officers elected were William T. Uphoff, President; Daniel Bechtel, Secretary; J. S. Daily, Treasurer; M. E. Emerson, Henry Peters, G. Timmerman, James Bell and J. S. Gallagher, Directors. The company began business with a capital of $100,000, which has since increased to more than three times that amount. The losses thus far have been light, and the company is in a flourishing condition.
   A German Evangelical Association was organized in 1853, the Rev. J. H. Ragatz officiating as the first Pastor. The congregation has a church and cemetery in the southeast part of the town. The Rev. J. C. Brindle is the present Pastor.
   There is a Commonwealth Cemetery on Mr. Dean's farm.
   Tonyawatha Spring Hotel.--This delightful summer idling-place was opened to the public in 1879. It was erected by Dr. William Jacobs, as an adjunct to the Park Hotel of Madison. It is situated opposite to Madison, commanding a splendid view of the city, and is surrounded by a beautiful forest. The hotel is furnished with bathing facilities, and the general appointments are first-class throughout. During the summer, a steamboat goes back and forth to Madison, hourly each day. Besides, there is a telephone connection with the city. Near the building a large spring called Tonyawatha (healing waters), gushes forth to gladden the sight and heal the infirm.
   There is a Grange in the town, the Blooming Grove, No. 250. It was organized in 1874. Weekly meetings are held at the town hall. There was a Good Templars' Society here a few years ago, but it has been discontinued.

Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society