History of Ottawa Prepared for the Ottawa 4-H group meeting June 14, 1962 by Donald and Clara Stewart
Ottawa is in the western part of Waukesha Co. approximately 35 miles west of Milwaukee, 60 miles east of Madison and 100 miles north-west of Chicago. It is in the Wis glaciated area. The land varies from level areas to abrupt hills. It varies in altitude from 800 to 1000 ft above sea level.
The Town of Ottawa was surveyed as a township and into 36 sections in 1836. It was then as well as other townships of Waukesha Co. a part of Milwaukee Co, Wisconsin Territory, as Wisconsin did not become a state until 1848. In 1846, when Waukesha Co. was surveyed into 16 townships Ottawa became Town 6, Range 17 E of Waukesha Co.'
The earliest settlers were German, Scotch-Irish, English and Welsh. They settled in neighborhood groupings of mutual interest, such as nationality, religion, school or economic problems. The Germans in the north-western or Scuppernong area, the Scotch-Irish in the central area, the English in the southern part of the town and the Welsh in the eastern or Moriah and Bethania areas. Some of them came from New York state through the Erie Canal and Great Lakes to Milwaukee and then to Ottawa. The Welsh and Germans came direct fom home lands.
Indian trails were used for travel. The first school was a log cabin across the road from the town hall near the Ottawa cemetery. Miss Mary Thayer was the first teacher.
Mr. James Grant, who lived on Pretty Lake farm is supposed to be the first white child born in the town., He was the father of Harvey Grant, who lived where the Tagatz's live.
The first town meeting and election was held April 4, 1843 at the home of Newmann Chubb, (the Thos. Cosgrove farm) Three supervisors, three road commissioners, three school commissioners, a treasurer, a clerk, a constable, an assessor, an overseer of highways, a sealer of weights and measures and three fence viewers were elected. Twenty five dollars was voted for the support of common schools. It was also voted to fine any person $3.00 for allowing a hog over 3 months old to run at large. One-half of the fine to go into the town treasury and the other half to the one who caught the hog.
The first assessment roll in 1843 shows 33 owners of 4330 accres of land with an assessed value of $6982.30 And personal property of $1450.00 Total tax was $127.13 of which $72.13 was Milwaukee Co. tax. (The 1961 tax was $150,745.60)
The first public highway was built in 1843 (highway C) from Waterville to the southwestern part of the town. Other roads were built in 1844 and 1845. From that time they developed faster.
Postoffices: The first in Ottawa was established July 13, 1848 by Peter Gifford in his house on Highway 67 across the road from the Harvey Aplin home. Later at Pretty Lake on Geo. Davey's farm and several other homes in the town at various times. On March 31, 1902 Rural Free Delivery service started in Ottawa. For a time there were two routes out of Dousman.
The farming history of this town has been similar to that of other sections in this part of the state. It has passed through the usual farming stages—the self sufficiency stage, wheat growing, general farming and the dairy farming stages. Sheep raising is no longer a part of every farm and hogs are missing from many farms. In 1961 there were 47 sheep and 50 hogs on the assessment roll. Cows seem to be getting less in number also - 2175 in 1961.
From 1843 to 1875 town meetings were held in homes or the school. In 1874 one acre of land was purchased from Ezra Lurvey for $50.00 and the Town Hall built. The records show $798.00 as the cost of the building. The inscription stone above the door and the stone steps cost $17.00. The benches cost $10.00. Last year, the new addition and concrete floor and new ceiling in the old part were done at a cost to date of about $15,000.00.
Schools: in 1844 four districts were formed. Later there were the Dousman, Utica, Moriah, Watervillle, Scuppernong, Bark River, Sandy Island No. 7, Ottawa No. 1, Ottawa No. 9, Palestine, Alien and Stone schools that the town children attended. Five of the above consolidated as the Dousman No. 9 in the Kettle Moraine area was dissolved and the area divided among the nearest districts. Alien school is a part of the No.Prairie school and Stone school is now in the Palmyra district.
Ottawa had two creameries at one time. One in Dousman and the other on the comer of 67 and 106. There are two cemeteries in the town—Ottawa and St. Bruno1 Catholic. The first burial in the Ottawa cemetery was Mr. Ruele Thayer in 1874 and a Mr. Mundschau in 1841 at St. Bruno's.
Churches: The First Presbyterian of Ottawa is now the only one within the town. The new St. Bruno's Catholic church is now in the village of Dousman. The Welsh Calvinistic M.E. church and the Libanus Congregational in the southwestern part of the town closed many years ago. The Ottawa Methodist which was near the Sandy Island school closed about 30 years ago. The Welsh churches—Moriah and Bethania Presbyterean closed within the last 15 and 20 years. The town people now attend the Ottawa Presbyterian, St. Bruno Catholic, Dousman Congregational, St. Mary's Episcopal, Siloam Methodist, No. Prairie Lutheran and Wales Presbyterian churches.
In the records an item concerning the Civil war reads "At a special meeting Feb. 27, 1865
it was voted to raise $1800.00 on taxable property to pay bounties to volunteers
who shall hereafter enlist and be mustered into the military service of the United States."
Also the following certification
Provost Marshall's Office Milwaukee, October 25, 1864
"This is to certify that the town of Ottawa has furnished fourteen(14) recruits to apply on the quota of said town, being in full the number assessed against said town under the call of July 18, 1864 as appears from the records of this office."
Capt. & Pro. Mar.
In 1939 the Wisconsin Conservation Department began the purchase of farms in the town for a State park known as the KettleMoraine Park. About eleven complete farms and parts of others were purchased. There are now 2565 acres of Ottawa in the Park. Many thousands of pines have been planted and several picnic areas are in this park Waukesha County has purchased the Lean farm and intends to develope it as a County park.
About 1920 Col. Gustave Pabst purchased 2000 acres adjoining Pretty Lake and stocked it with pheasants and partridge, hoping to make it a game refuge, but after a few open seasons of hunting many of the birds were killed and the farm land was sold with the exception of Pretty Lake farm, which was purchased by a real estate firm in 1948. The area around the lake was subdivided into lots and sold. At the present time there are 132 homes around the lake. About 45 families are permanent residents. The balance are summer and weekend residents.
Another recent subdivision—School Section Lake Park has 31 homes with 2 families living there permanently. Ddmar Park has 6 homes and 2 year round families.. The Gramling Homesites subdivision has 8 homes in the town. The Hunter Lake Park (a subdivision of long standing) has 45 dwellings around the lake.
The town is zoned according to the Waukesha Co.zoning ordinance., Most of it is zoned as agricultural or residential The land belonging to the Consumers Co. in section one is zoned as quarrying. The town has a contract with the Co. whereby when they finish an area they will landscape it and not leave an unattractive gravel pit.
Emery Owens employs the largest number of people on his farm. However, these are mainly migrant workers.