Fairwater Local History Web

ABOUT THE FAIRWATER WEB

Over the years, Fairwater has been known variously as FairWater by the Brandon Times, as Fair Water by the U. S. Postal Service and many residents, euphoniously as Faerwauttear on a letter delivered successfully in the 1880s, and as Fairwater on the village's 1921 incorporation papers.

 

The village was founded auspiciously in 1847 near the crossroads of Wisconsin's Military Road and an early north-south route from Watertown and took shape around the water power of the Grand River. It was one of the earliest communities established in Fond du Lac County, the first in the town of Metomen.

 

A promising commercial center in the midst of the rich wheat lands and prairies of western Fond du Lac County, Fairwater was dealt an economic setback in 1856 when the Milwaukee-Horicon Railroad was routed 4 miles to the east through what would become the village of Brandon. Nevertheless, the community distinguished itself during the American Civil War with two Medal of Honor winners and prospered around its flour mill, three churches, early businesses, and prosperous area farms. Railroad service was established in 1882 and stimulated the development of a new commercial district in "Jim Town," sparking a rivalry with the early, by then heavily German, "Bill Town" district.

 

Paralleling national economic expansion at the turn of the century, the village grew from a population of 150 in 1895 to 450 by 1910. At the time it incorporated in 1921, Fairwater boasted two creameries, two automobile agencies, two churches, two hemp mills, and two grain elevators. Jim Town had the community bank and a canning factory; Bill Town an electrical generating plant, a dance pavilion, and an "opera house." Four years later old Bill Town would also claim the world's largest overshot waterwheel.

 

Over recent decades, the village has lost much that is representative of its progressive, often colorful, 155-year history. The Fairwater Local History Web is sponsored by the Fairwater Historical Society to preserve and disseminate information about that history and the immediate area.

 

Advised by its research committee, the Society also maintains the Fairwater Historical Society Website, the James B. Pond Collection for information about area native James Pond, and the Fond du Lac County Local History Web. The Society also maintains and contributes to the information clearinghouse Website for the Wisconsin Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

Questions and information can be directed to Bob Schuster at 6020 Kristi Circle, Monona, Wisconsin, 53716, 608-221-1421, rmschust@facstaff.wisc.edu.

 

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