HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF OREGON and THE VILLAGE OF OREGON From the 1880 History of Dane County, Western Historical Company, Chicago, pages 858-863.
TOWN OF OREGON
From the first Tuesday in April, 1846, to the first Tuesday in April, 1847, the territory now constituting the town of Oregon was under the government of the town of Rome, of which it was a part. By an act of the Territorial Legislature, approved February 11, of the last mentioned year, Township 5 north, of Range 9 east, was created a separate town and called Oregon. The first election was held at the house of L. S. Pratt.
The surface in most places is beautifully undulating, while in other places it is called hilly. It was principally covered with burr oak, among which stood large white and red oaks, and occasionally a large shell-bark hickory.
The entire town was covered with a sweet and nutritious grass, called blue-joint. As the grass was burned every fall, and there being no undergrowth of timber, a two-horse wagon could be driven through these openings with ease. As these annual fires prevented the roots of the timber from growing near the surface, the land was broken for the same price paid for breaking prairie; hence it was claimed the oak openings combined all the advantages of the prairie and timber land.
The first settler in Oregon was Bartlet Runey. He was born and married near Baltimore, MD, and landed with his family in Janesville March 4, 1841. In the fall of that year, Mr. Runey located on Section 24, but did not move his family from Janesville until the next spring.
This summer (1842), Garland Thomas settled on Section 23, and Robert Thompson, a native of Scotland, settled on Section 12. In the fall, James B. Earl and family settled on Section 26, Daniel Hess on Section 25, and James Smith on Section 34.
In July, 1843, Thomas Hook settled on this claim where on the 16th of April, 1844, his son Stephen was born, the first child born in Oregon. In that year Stephen Hook located on Section 27; C. Sargeant, and Fenton & Whipple, on Section 34; Pooler & Leonard, on Section 35; Abram Kirstead and C. P. Mosely, on Section 12; and Horace Watrous, on Section 1; Jerome Boswell located on Section 28; David Smith, on Section 18. C .P. Mosely’s house soon became the nucleus of the lively village of Oregon.
In 1844, Reuben Boyce and family of grown-up sons settled on Section 36, where his son Reuben still resides, one of Dane County’s best farmers. Soon after the arrival of Mr. Boyce, two of his sons died, the first deaths in Oregon. Wm. Cummings and Schuyler Gilbert located on Sec. 10; Wm. S. Bedford, on Section 35.
During the same year, Stoddard Johnson settled on Section 1; S. J. Pratt, on section 12; J. S. Frary and Elisha his brother, on section 24; and Wm. F. Lee and Ira Ames, on Sections 22.
In the spring of 1845, Nathaniel Ames, Ira Ames. Wm. F. Lee, his son-in-law, and John N. Ames, his grandson, settled on Section 22. Nathaniel Ames was born in Greenwich, R.I. in 1761. He was in the Revolutionary army, and was stationed at Norristown, N.J., in the cold winter of 1779-80. Saw Washington when he came to the huts of the soldiers, looked in and (in his own words) said “Howdy.” Mr. Ames witnessed the execution of Maj. Andre at Tarrytown, which he says was in front of an old stone church. Mr. Ames died in Oregon, August 27, 1863, aged one hundred and two years four months and two days. His pension paper was dated in 1833, and signed by Lewis Cass, which entitled him to draw a pension for his services as a private in the war of the Revolution. He was, previous to his death, the sole surviving soldier of that war in the Northwest. He has been for sixty-five years a member of the Masonic fraternity, and his body was buried by them at Prairie Mound Cemetery, near Oregon Village, on Sunday, the 30th, after his decease, at 11 o’clock in the morning. Delegations from the lodges of Madison, and from those of adjacent places, were present at the obsequies.
R. Underwood, with two sons, John and Henry, settled in 1845 on Section 3; Ira Hayes and two sons, Enos and Plimpton, on Section 5; Joseph, William and Bennett Devine on Section 23, Richard Castleman and Rufus Rawson on Section 12, where they started the first blacksmith shop in Oregon. R.P. Main settled on Section 13.
During the same year came Joseph Algard, Harry Brown, John Ellsworth, William De Bois, Amasa Salisbury, M.A. Fox, J.W. Scovill, R. Babbitt, Seba T. Lewis, Ephraim P. Newton, Joseph G. Fox, and James Fox.
In 1846 and 1847, L.M. Story, T. Storey, Samuel Shepherd, Smith Patchin, Daniel McKeeby, E.W. Dwight, Phineas Baldwin, and I.M. Bennett were among the settlers.
The first marriage in the town was that of David Anthony and Jane Runey, in 1843, by Rev. Mr. Miner, of Madison. The officiating clergyman, while on his way to perform the service, had the misfortune to lose his horse, which got mired in the Nine Spring Creek, and died before it could be extricated.
The first schoolteacher in Oregon was Miss Sarah Ardelia Simons. Her father owned a farm on Section 25.
The first meeting of which any record is left, was held at the house of Charles P. Mosely April 26, 1845. The Rev. Stephen Peet, agent for the American Home mission Society, and Rev. S.E. miner, of Madison, were present; adjourned for one day, then met, and organized a church with eleven members. The Congregational form of government was adopted. The church was called the First Congregational Church of Fairfield. John B. Prentice, was chosen Clerk. At a meeting held November 15, 1846, the following resolution was adopted:
“Resolved, that the connection of this church with the Beloit Convention cease, and that the church adopt the confession of faith, form of government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church of the United States, and that the church be designated the First Presbyterian Church of Rome.”
Near this time the Methodists organized a class of seven members, and chose Stephen Pratt their Class-Leader. Stephen Pratt was a native of Cornish, N.H., is now upward of ninety years of age, but a Class-Leader yet.
The regular Baptists next organized a church, and E.H. Vaughan became their Pastor.
A Free-Will Baptist Church was organized in Storytown February 12, 1848, by Elder Knapp with eight members. Moses N. Story was chosen Deacon, and Samuel Shepherd Clerk.
The United Brethren early organized a church and held meetings in a schoolhouse on Section 24, but finally moved their church to Rutland. The United Brethren have an organization now in what is called Storytown.
The town of Oregon lies in the south part of the county, on the line dividing it from the county of Green, about twelve miles south of Madison. The town is watered in the southwestern part by a branch or tributary of Sugar Creek, which has its rise in the town on Section 20, and flows south and southwesterly through the town of Exeter and Brooklyn in Green County, into the Sugar River. From this stream, on Section 20 there is a ridge that runs northeasterly into Section. 22. Badfish Creek rises in the town on Section 12, and flows easterly into the town of Rutland. The lands in the town are generally oak openings, with a very little prairie and are all of good quality.
The population of Oregon (town and village), in 1870, was 1,498; it is now 1,515. The Chicago & North-Western Railroad enters the town on Section 36, and, pursuing a northerly course, leaves it from Section 2, taking the village of Oregon on its way.
VILLAGE OF OREGON
The original plat of this village was upon the lands of Charles C. Waterman, William S. Bedford, A. S. Mygatt and John D. Tipple. Additions have since been made by S. S. Johnson, Abraham Kierstad, E. E. Bedford, Wm. S. Bedford and L. W. Parson.
The first house built in the village was by C. P. Mosely, in 1843, for the purpose of a tavern, around which has since grown the present thriving village of Oregon. The place was first called “Rome Corner,” but this was before it was duly laid out and platted.
Mr. Prentice, in the winter of 1845-46, sold the first goods here; followed by T. M. Bennett, who finally merged into the firm of Bennett, Winston & Co. The later house was more extensive than the former, and carried a large stock.
Post Office. -In 1848, an office was established at this place, with Egbert Bennett as the first Postmaster. Since Mr. Dudley’s day, the following named have held the office in order given: I. M. Bennett, John D. Tipple, C. P. Mosely, J. L. Brown, Wm. S. Bedford, John D. Tipple (second term) and C. W. Netherwood-the last named receiving his appointment on the accession of Grant to the Presidency for the first time. In August 1871, it was made a money-order office. The first order drawn was August 1, 1871, by Bella W. Beebe in favor of A.T. Riddle, Milwaukee, Wis. for the sum of $8.44. The first order paid was drawn in Cincinnati, by William Clendennin, in favor of Charles L. Thompson, to whom it was paid August 7, 1871. The first five months there were issued 196 orders, amounting to $3,548.88. For the year 1879, there were issued 1,313 orders, calling for $22,304.39. From year to year the books of the office show a healthy increase.
Fires. – The first fire of any magnitude was in the fall of 1864. The business house of Gilbert Johnson, situated on Main Street, west side of the public square was burned to the ground. Mr. Johnson occupied the lower room as a confectionary store, and the upper as a dwelling. His loss was in the neighborhood of $1,000.
The second fire was near the former one, two two-story buildings being destroyed. This was in the spring of 1870. The buildings were owned by Huntington and David Tipple, one of them being occupied by John B. Tipple and C. W. Netherwood, the former as a general store, the latter as a post office; the other by B.W. Beebe as a general store. The loss on the two buildings was $3,500; on stock, $5,000.
On the evening of July 4, 1873, the third fire occurred, on Main Street, Block 1, William Bedford’s Addition to the village. Three one-story buildings and two two-story buildings were burned, together with a large proportion of stock. The buildings were owned by Frank Nott, Patrick Nangle, and C. W. Netherwood. The loss on stock was $5,000, J. W. Scoville being the greatest loser. Loss on buildings, $4,800.
In September 1873, R. P. Main had his dwelling consumed by fire, in which a loss of $1,300 was entailed.
Thomas Zook, in the summer of 1874, was so unfortunate as to have his dwelling-house destroyed in like manner; his loss was $1,600.
On the 29th day of May 1880, the alarm of fire again rang out, when it was discovered that business houses on Main Street were being again consumed by fire. Three buildings were burned, owned respectively by Isaac Howe, Charles Howe and H. J. Smith, who suffered a loss of $3,500. The buildings were occupied by Isaac Howe, as a drug store; H. J. Smith, furniture; Case & Warner, general merchandise. The greater part of the stock was saved, the loss amounting to $3,000.
Presbyterian Church. -In the spring of 1845, a church was organized adopting the Congregational form of church government, with C. P. Mosely as Deacon. Among those composing the organization were C. P. Mosely and wife, Mrs. Alden, Mrs. Fox, Mr. and Mrs. Rawson, John B. Prentiss and wife, and Mrs. Graves. In about one year after, by a vote of the congregation, the Presbyterian form of government was adopted, with C. P. Mosely, Caleb Spooner and Mr. Prentiss, Elders; Mr. Prentiss, Clerk. Rev. Matthew A. Fox was called, and served as stated supply until 1856, when he was formally installed as Pastor, in which position he still continues to serve the church and congregation. A church edifice was erected in 1856, at a cost of $2,000, since which time twenty feet were added to its length, and other improvements made. The present membership of the church is eighty. Elders, Isaac Kierstead, Isaac Johnson, DeWitt C. Salisbury and A. L. Parsons; Clerk, Isaac Kierstead.
Baptist. – A church composed of twenty-eight members was organized in the spring of 1868, Elder Moses Rowley being instrumental in its formation. F. D. Powers was elected Clerk. Mr. Rowley was called to the pastorate, and served for eight months, preaching every two weeks. Elder Hiram Powers then assumed charge of the church, and continued to preach regularly every Sunday for one year and eight months, at the expiration of which time Elder Lucius Smith was called, preaching every two weeks. The present membership of the church is thirty-two.
Methodist-Episcopal. – A class was organized here at an early day, and a church building was erected in 1860, at a cost of $2,000. It was dedicated some time in the following year, Rev. Dr. Eddy, of Chicago, preaching the sermon. In size the church is 32×55. Since 1856, the Pastors of the church have been Revs. Samuel Dodge, 1856; John B. Bachman, 1857-58; Nelson Butler, 1859; Richard Dudgeon, 1860-61; W. H. Kellogg, 1862-63; John B. Bachman, 1864-65; Hiram Chadayne, 1866-67; Richard Dudgeon, 1868-69; James T. Pryor, 1870; J. C. Aspinwall, 1871 to 1873; Wm. Sturgess, 1874 to 1876; Wm. S. Wright, 1877-78; James Evans, 1879-80. The present trustees are James Day, D. J. Bailey, O. M. Palmer, J. C. Miller, T. B. Cowdry, Charles W. Netherwood. Stewards – O. M. Palmer, James Day; Augustus Herbert, Recording Steward. The present membership is 102.
Masonic. – Oregon Lodge, No. 151, A., F. & A. M. was organized under dispensation, July 20, 1865. A charter was granted, June 13, 1866, with C.H. Cronk (W.M.), William Bedford (S.W.), Egbert Bennett (J.W.), Wm. S. Bedford, Ira Boyce, H. J. Smith, R. P. Main, J. L Brown and M. M. Green as charter members. Since its organization, C.H. Cronk has held the office of W. M. ten years; C. W. Netherwood, four years; and H. G. Ellsworth, one year. Death has taken away four of its members-G. W. Morse, Wm. F. Lee, Alexander Cashore and Wm. C. Bennett. In 1877, the lodge fitted up a tasty manner, at a cost of $400, and moved into their present hall, in Netherwood’s block. Ninety persons have been initiated into this lodge since its organi-zation, and it has a present membership of 70, with the following named officers: H. G. Elsworth (W.M.), H. O. Gray (S.W.), G. M. Wilkins (J.W.), J. S. Frary (Treasurer), C. W. Netherwood (Secretary), M. M. Green (S.D.), Joseph Fox, Jr., (J.D.), E. R. Shepherd, J. Lindsay (Stewards), and P.C. Peterson (Tiler).
Odd Fellows. – A lodge of Odd Fellows was organized here in 1856, which was in a very flourishing condition for a number of years, but from removals and other causes, it suspended in 1873; known as Oregon Lodge, No. 84,I. O. O. F.
Temperance. – The temperance cause has always had come earnest advocates in this place, and various plans have been originated and societies started to aid in the work of reformation. The Good Templars, Sons of Temperance, Temple of Honor and Mendotas have each had flourishing lodges at times. The first named has seemingly accomplished more for the cause than any other.
Reformation Lodge, No. 5. I.O.G.T., was organized Sept. 13, 1855, with 22 members. The lodge was in a flourishing condition on the breaking-out of the rebellion, and, in consequence of the enlistment of many of its best working members, it was greatly weakened. The lady members worked heroically to sustain it until their brothers should return but without avail. Their charter was surrendered after ten years of useful labor. Those composing the charter members were C. L. James, A. S. Parsons, Adelia M. Waite, Helen M. Salisbury, Orrin Grout, Edwin J. Thompson, Orlo Reed, Samuel Wood, Ansel Sartwell, A. H. Salisbury, Peter Field, Hans Peterson, I. A. Kierstead, S. C. Kierstead, Huldah C. Bennett, Mary Freeman, Martha J. Rawson, Stephen Luther.
Reformation Lodge No. 3, I.O.G.T., was organized November 9, 1865, a number of the old members of the order returning from the war, and desiring once more to enlist under the temperance banner. It started with a list of 64 charter members. After three years of service, the charter was surrendered.
Oregon Lodge, No. 151, I. O. G. T., was next in the field. In February, 1874, James Ross, of Madison, came and delivered a series of public lectures, and, on the 5th day of that month organized a lodge with 94 charter members, as follows: O.M. Palmer, H.H Marvin, Charles Waterman, George Devine, Flora Richards, G.W. Richards, Mary Ames, Wm. Ames, Mrs. Lindsay, Ella York, Harriet Allen, W. Cramfield, Judson Marvin, Estella Allen, Martin Colby, George Martin, Mrs. Day, Ann R. Sayles, Mrs. Gray, Martha Coward, James Day, Walter Richards, Maggie Keller, Ella Devine, E.B. Owen, Arby Marvin, Frank Wolf, Richard Tipple, Frank Coward, E. Boise, Helen Marvin, Emma Waterman. A.A. Parson, Brevet Waite, Adaline Johnson, Julia Yager, E. Chamberlain, Horace Johnson, Stephen Van Ettan, Eliza Van Ettan, Susie Terwillager, William Terwillager, Sadie Terwillager, I. Wolfe, Lucy Terwillager, Minnie Parsons, A. McIntire, A. Boise, Elias Jacobus, Mrs. Jacobus, S. Pound, A Niles E. McIntire, H. Niles, Albert Pound, Ira Hayes, Emery Hayes, Emma Rucker, Kittie Jackson, Frank Hayes, Mrs. I. Coward, Norris Getz, L. Martin, Addie Gilbert, David Owens, Mr. Sutton, Wilber Allen, S.G. Abbott. The first officers elected were J.I. Lindsay (W.C.T.), Helen S. Jackson (W.V.T.), J.C Aspinwall (W.C.), Marion Ames (W.S.), Josie Travis (W.A.S.), Albert Pound (W.F.S.), Mary Kierstead (W.T.), John Ames (W.M.), Mary Howe (W.D.M.), Josie Moseley (W.I.G.), Horace Johnson (W.O.G.), Mrs. S.G. Abbott, (W.R.H.S.), Mrs. O. M. Palmer (W.L.H.S.), J. Richards (P.W.C.T.). These officers were likewise charter members of the lodge. Since its organization, 254 persons have been initiated into the lodge, but it now numbers but sixty-six. It has had its seasons of prosperity and season of adversity, but has continued on its way, endeavoring to exemplify the principles of faith, hope and charity. The only surviving member of Reformation Lodge who has ever remained with the order is A. S. Parsons, the present Lodge and State Deputy.
– On the 14th day of June, 1879, Oregon Lodge, No. 16, A.O.U.W., was instituted in this place with the following named officers as charter members: M. M. Green (P.M.W.), C. H. Cronk (M.W.), H. G. Ellsworth, (G.F.), C. M. Palmer (O), F. D. Powers (Rec), J. M. Doolittle (F), E. Jacobus, (Recvr), Joseph Fox Jr. (G), H. Waterman (I.W), G. Getts (O.W.). Twenty-nine members have been enrolled since its organization, its present membership being twenty-four. The present officers are G. N. Getts (M.W.), H. W. Draher (G.F), Joseph Fox Jr. (O), F. D. Powers (Rec.), H. W. Hayes (F.), J. A. Draher (Recvr.), J. A. Taylor (G.), E. Frary (W). Lodge meets in Netherwood’s Hall.
Literary Association. – In the fall of 1878, an association was organized, composed of adult men and women of the village, for literary improvement. During the fall and winter months, weekly meetings are held in Netherwood’s Hall, the exercises consisting of declamations, essays, oration and debates. In the debates of the association, a wide range of subjects are chosen, there being nothing in its rules of order to prevent the selection of any subject of general or local interest. The meetings are always well attended, and afford a means of instruction worthy the attention of old and young.
Netherwood’s Hall. – One of the most pretentious buildings in the village is that of Netherwood’s Block, the upper story of which has been converted into a public hall for concerts, theatrical and other purposes. The building was erected in 1873. The hall is seated with chairs, 225 in number; has a good stage, with scenery for the proper representations of plays, and is a credit to the village.
Chandler House. -This house was built by I. M. Bennett, in 1849, and has been in use as a hotel to the present time, having been owned and run, respectively, by Charles Waterman, Mr. Postle, A. L. Beebe and Richard Chandler, the latter becoming the purchaser in 1874.
Business Interests. -The village of Oregon has for many years enjoyed a lucrative trade, and business houses of all kinds have been well represented. For the benefit of the reader of the future, the following is given as representing the business of the place in 1880:
Terwillager & Lindsay general merchandise E.R. Shepherd general merchandise Tracy & Comstock general merchandise Case & Warner general merchandise Hays Bros. harness Mrs. Johnson & Beckley millinery and dressmaking Miss Marty Hartwell millinery and dressmaking Smith & Johnson furniture William Sodon wagons R.W. McIntyre spring beds George Fox druggist C.H. Cronk station agent T. Boyd Cowdry merchant tailoring and clothing J.M. Doolittle meat market C.E. Powers restaurant and confectionary Andrews & Marvin grain and poultry G.W. Getz wagons and carriages F.D. Powers attorney M.M. Green attorney E.L. Booth boot and shoemaker J.H. Coward boot and shoemaker Isaac Johnson confectionary, flour and feed H.H. Marvin hardware, tinware and agric. implements N. Emmons stock buyer Algard & Chandler stock buyers Lovejoy & Richards lumber P. Hayes Oregon Hotel Richard Chandler Oregon Exchange J.T. Hayes agricultural implements Reeves & Comstock agricultural implements B. McDermott groceries Edward Bishop blacksmith Mr. Wilkins blacksmith Charles Waterman livery E. Jacobus carpenter George M. Getts carpenter M.W. Lamont carpenter Charles Wolfe carpenter D.J. Bailey painter S. Neilson painter E.H. Osborn physician George H. Fox physician William Fox physician C.W. Netherwood Postmaster, and proprietor of Netherwood's Hall William Jeffrey drayman