Walworth County Historical Society

Whitewater City

At the first town meeting, held April 5. 1842, besides the, officers named in the official lists for the town, Capt. Asad Williams and Azor Kinney were chosen assessors; William H. Wheeler collector; Doctor Magoon, Zerah Mead, Calvin Pike, road commissioners; Harrison Bishop, Drs, Clarke and Magoon, school commissioners; Leander Birge, Charles Robinson, William H. Wheeler, constables; Norman Pratt, Samuel Prince, Thomas Van Horn, fence-viewers; Sidney S. Workman, sealer of weights and measures. In that year Nehemiah B. Parsons and Jedidiah Brown opened a newly built hotel, the Whitewater Exchange. In the next year Brown withdrew from the business and the house was let to Daniel Niemann. In 1842 also a cemetery was laid out; Solmous Wakely bought the Stanton store; Freeman Liberty Pratt improved the Powers tavern and made it the Whitewater Hotel; Richard O'Connor came with another stock of assorted goods; Alender O. Babcock, Warner Parle and Frederick C. Patterson formed a lawyer partnership; Corydon Pratt moved his kit into his own shop from the Matthew Hicks dwelling; Mr. Patterson taught school; a debating society formed; the Baptists organized their society; several new houses were built. Mr. Cravath noted that in this year spring wheat sold at 36 cents to 40 cents; winter wheat, 40 cents to 46 cents; butter, 16 cents; eggs, 8 cents; calicoes, 18 cents to 37 cents. He also observed that fifteen calico dress patterns were sold within the year and that about fifty bonnets were charged at 37½ cents a piece and trimmed at 12½ cents to a half dollar each. Men of 1912 may well sigh for a return of that good old time, when a small family could live on $240 for a year.

Congregationalists organized in 1843, having already built a church. More merchants and mechanics came to add the enlivening element of competition to village trade. In this year stage coaches ran from Milwaukee through Whitewater to Janesville.

In 1844 there were six stores, two hotels, three smithies, two cabinet shops, a grocery, a grist-mill, a saw-mill, a law office, a wagon-maker, a tailor, a shoemaker, a gunsmith, a cooper and twenty-nine dwellings. At such steady rate, without reckless or indecent haste, Whitewater grew throughout the pioneer period, which may be held as having ended with the coming of the first jolting railway train from Milwaukee. In that year the assessed valuation of village lots was $2,761. Buildings thereon were exempted from taxation, as was all personal property except merchandise, which was then valued at $5,200. The late Henry George may have taken a leaf from the book of a Whitewater assessor. In this year, September 4th, Dr. James Tripp, the father and friend of the village, died at one day less than forty-nine years old.

Excerpt from History of Walworth County Wisconsin by Albert Clayton Beckwith

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