1847 Wisconsin Territorial Census
Federal Census (Partial)
1920 Federal Census (Partial)
Town Plat Map*
Civil War Veterans Credited to Town of
1874 Patron's Directory**
The first settlement in the town of Byron was in the year 1839; John
Case and Oscar Pier, Patrick Kelley and William Stewart, selected a position and commenced
the improvement of a neighborhood a little east of the middle of the north line of the
town. Their location embraced a desirable variety of rich prairie, warm and fertile oak
openings, and a beautiful grove of forest timber, with a small brook flowing through it.
John Parsons, arriving direct from England, located upon a lot about a mile farther west.
James Balson and Samuel Butler settled in this neighborhood in the fall of 1842. In the
summer of 1844, John Potts, with his wife and four children, removed from the State of New
York to Mound Prairie, in Byron. He set up crotches, upon which he laid long poles. He
used prairie grass for a covering to this rude structure, and hung up blankets for its
sides. Here he and his family were domiciled until he could build a house, obtaining hands
from about ten miles distant to assist in rolling up the logs. Another settlement was soon
after commenced by Hiram Merriam, Jabez C. Clemens and Jonas C. Reynolds, the last
mentioned arriving in November.
These pioneers on Mound Prairie, were, many of them, nearly
destitute of capital when they arrived at their new homes. They were able, however, to
purchase some cows, which were then very cheap in Illinois. They put their cows together
for a team; broke up the prairie land, and planted corn on the sod in the spring. They
realized a good harvest, and, although they met with some inconveniences, felt they were
getting rich. In 1845, Messrs. Bullock, Churchill and Roan settled in the southeasterly
part of the town, and in the month following, Sumner Sweet and Joseph Nightingale came
into the same neighborhood. They were joined the same season by several others. Rev. Mr.
Vaughn and some friends from the county of Genesee, N. Y., settled near Oakfield, and
formed what was called the "Genesee neighborhood."
The early settlers in Byron shared in all the privations and
difficulties so common in new countries. They raised grain in abundance, but found it very
difficult to get it ground; the few mills in this region were small and could not supply
the demand. For several years the settlers went to Watertown, a distance of forty miles,
to get their grinding done. The roads were bad, and they had to wait several days to get
their grists. Mr. Vaughn once sent his son to mill, and told him to wait for his
"grinding ;" he was gone ten days. Mr. Reynolds once paid $14.50 for the milling
of twenty bushels, and did not think it more than an average cost.
Byron was organized in 1846. William Stewart was elected Chairman,
and Orrin Morris, at whose house the first election was held, Town Clerk. Its boundary
lines were run by Mullett & Brink during the first quarter of 1834 and the second
quarter of 1835. Hiram Burnham ran out the sections and quarter-sections in the third
quarter of the last-mentioned year. The town has for its territory the whole of Township
14 north, in Range 17 east, of the Government survey. It contains 23,122 & 67/100
acres of land. The town is bounded on the north by Fond du Lac; on the east by Eden; on
the south by Lomira, in Dodge County; and on the west by Oakfield. The face of the
country, before improvements began, presented a pleasing variety of prairie, oak openings,
marsh and timber land, undulated with gentle ascents and declivities. There is, however,
one bold elevation where " the ridge passes through the town, which, in several
places, breaks out with a rugged front. Springs and brooks are frequent, but not as
abundant in this as in some of the other towns of the county. The springs furnish some of
the headwaters of the east branch of Fond du Lac River. The southern part of Fond du Lac
Prairie stretches into Byron. Mound Prairie, near the center of the town, is more
elevated, lying above the ridge. The soil is generally fertile and easy of tillage, the
more elevated part of the town being dry and warm.
The first birth which occurred in Byron was that of Eliza, daughter
of William Stewart, about the last of the year 1840. The first school taught was in the
summer of 1843, in Mr. Butlers corn-barn, by Miss Mary Butler, afterward Mrs. F.
Tallmadge. The first death was that of a German woman, in the summer of 1845. She came
into the house of Joseph Nightingale - was greatly distressed ; said she had just drunk
heartily at the cold spring near by; lay down on a bench and immediately expired. Her name
or place of residence was never learned. The first religious societies formed in Byron
were Baptists, Methodists and Wesleyans. At the first town election, held April 7, 1846,
it was voted that the officers chosen serve gratis. There were 34 votes polled - 18 in
favor of a State government and 16 against it. At the second election, held April 6, 1847,
a motion to allow Orrin Morris $16.50 for stationery as Town Clerk was lost, as was also a
motion to allow C. P. Phelps $10 for serving as Assessor. At this election, 43 votes were
cast against and 26 in favor of license; 43 in favor of, and 71 against the Constitution,
and 43 in favor of and 33 against equal suffrage. Patrick Kelley and his family, who
settled in Byron in September, 1839, were the first Irish to make Fond du Lac County a
permanent home. The first German in Byron was Phillip Bodemar. The first schoolhouse was
erected at the expense of five men, in 1841, on land donated by Patrick Kelley. The first
preaching in the town was in this schoolhouse. The "Ledge" passes through Byron,
on which, in Sections 20 and 29, is located the M. E. camp-ground, not far from the
Narrow-Gauge Railway. In the vicinity of this camp-ground are many interesting natural
curiosities, in the line of mighty masses of rent limestone and winding passage-ways into
the "Ledge." Very large and cold springs are also found near this spot.
The Chairmen and Town Clerks have been: 1846, William Stewart and
Orrin Morris; 1847, William Stewart and D. W. Cruthers; 1848 - 49 - 50, the same; 1851, D.
C. Brooks and Franklin Nye; 1852, D. C. Brooks and Emerson Fay; 1853, Henry Conklin and E.
Fay; 1854, H. Conklin and Joseph Noyes; 1855, C. B. Brown and J. Noyes; 1856, B. R.
Harrington and J. Noyes; 1857, F. Nye and D. W. Cruthers; 1858, F. Nye and Alfred Bliss;
1859, J. M. Adams and A. Bliss; 1860, N. C. Lewis and A. Bliss; 1861, C. P. Phelps and A.
Bliss; 1862, N. C. Lewis and A. Bliss; 1863, D. D. Jones and A. Bliss; 1864, Henry Bush
and A. Bliss; 1865, E. A. Cook and A. Bliss; 1866 - 67 - 68 - 69, Delos Allen and A.
Bliss; 1870, D. D. Treleven and F. Nye; 1871, D. D. Treleven and A. Bliss; 1872, John Bell
and Delos Allen; 1873, John Bell and A. Bliss; 1874 - 75, John Bell and Delos Allen; 1876,
John Bell and George Radliff; 1877, John Bell and D. Allen; 1878, John Bell and F. Nye;
1879, John Bell and John Lonergan.
At Byron Post Office, on Section 22, is a good town hall.
History of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin,
Western Historical Company, Chicago: 1880***
* From W. T. Coneys, Map of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Bogert &
Haight: 1862 (Copied and Indexed by Sally Powers Albertz, Wisconsin State Historical
Society library Pam 93-3904 Mss Sect)
** From Harney and Tucker, Illustrated Atlas Map of Fond du Lac County,
Wisconsin, Chicago: Lakeside Pub. and Print Co., 1874 (Wisconsin State Historical
Society library micro-film P72-1175).
*** Like many similar publications of the period, Western's 1880 history
relies heavily on interviews with early residents conducted many years later. Narratives
were subject to selective, sometimes creative recollection, and the resulting work should
be appreciated for the historical publication that it is but viewed with a critical eye as
a history. We caution viewers to verify the data contained in these early stories.
Appreciation to Ron Friedel for transcribing the text.