Walworth County Historical Society


The highlands which bound and overlook Geneva lake are at its head continued in wanton curvatures for about a mile southwestward in section 15 of Walworth. Recession of the water by some prehistoric bursting of the eastern wall left a very uneven bottom about a half-mile wide, whose numerous springs suggest the probable character of the whole lake floor. In or near this basin-like part of section 14 James Van Slyke built his cabin in 1836 and marked claims wheresoever he listed. In July. 1840, he sold part of his domain to John Cumming, who, in January, 1845, sold it to Richard Montague, from whom Carlos L. Douglass bought in 1856.

It is not now known at Walworth when or where James Van Slyke went from that town or from this earth. Tradition preserves an impression that his wife was in most ways his superior. This may do him much less than justice. As Mr. Payne's friend in 1836 he was in small favor with the Brink party. At Fontana he may not have stood as high as his half-heroic wife in Bigfoot's esteem, but the noble red man's standards of measurement are his own. From the scanty record of the family as landowners it is learned that in March, 1845, Charlotte Van Slyke bought for twenty-five dollars, of R. Wells Warren, lot 8 in block 19 (next west of the park), in the village of Geneva; and that in March, 1859, Dolphus S. Van Slyke and Lovina, his wife, Fernando D. Joy and Mary S., his wife, James S. Chambers and Rosalie W., his wife, and D. J. Van Slyke, as "sole heirs of Charlotte Van Slyke, of Walworth, deceased," sold the same lot to Dan Wright. Also, that in 1851, Catharine Van Slyke received a deed of real estate in Walworth from Elizabeth Cummings, and that in one or more papers Catharine's name is joined, her name placed first, with that of Dolphus S. Van Slyke. The child born at Geneva in 1836 died in 1856, but it is thought not at the home of her parents.

Excerpt from History of Walworth County Wisconsin by Albert Clayton Beckwith

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