Walworth County Historical Society

Lake Geneva

Solomon Juneau, in May, 1836, had told Charles A. Noyes, just arrived from Chicago, of golden possibilities lying between the lake and Rock river, and especially of the mill section at Geneva lake. He said that Hodgson and Brink had left two of their men to make such improvements as were needful to secure their claim to the whole section, and that as soon as their surveying contract should be finished they were going there to improve the water power and to build a town. The prospects looked fair to Mr. Noyes and with his cousin, Orrin Hatch Coe, he again left Chicago, reaching the disputed claim about May 21st, after much wandering in five counties. He found there three log houses, all occupied. One of these, just within the town of Linn, was Thomas Hovey's; one, southeast of the outlet, was occupied by Hodgson and Brink's men; and one, across the outlet, by Christopher Payne.

Ostrander and Henry explained that they had been to Milwaukee for provisions and had overstayed by three weeks for a "little spree with the boys." Returning, they had found that Payne and Mosher had been a fortnight in possession, within which time they had built their cabin, and that they were indisposed to heed an informal notice to quit. Payne some time afterward admitted that he had seen Brink's claim marks, but thought them somebody's tomfoolery. Noyes and Coe bought a quarter interest in the whole claim for five hundred dollars, of Ostrander and Henry, who acted as agents and in their own behalf as co-claimants. Hodgson ratified the sale, though he could not for some weeks return in treat or fight with Payne. Noyes having advised compromise, to which Payne was not averse, he staked out a race as a first step in mill building. In the following night, without consulting Noyes, Messrs. Ostrander and Henry tore out Payne's framework for a dam across the outlet. The next day Coe went eastward for money and Noyes soon set out for a millwright at Milwaukee. They had previously cut and hauled logs for two houses, and Noyes enjoined his men not to overstep the the north and south quarter line temporarily dividing the rival claimants. At his return from Milwaukee he found his caution had been disregarded and one house was finished.

Excerpt from History of Walworth County Wisconsin by Albert Clayton Beckwith

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