Hortonville History

Taken from New London Buyers' Guide/Hortonville Centennial, August 16, 1994. Posted with permission from the Press-Star, New London/Hortonville, Wisconsin.)

By Denise Morack

The village of Hortonville dates its origin from the earliest settlement of the Township of Hortonia.

alonzo.jpgBoth were named for the same man, Alonzo E. Horton. Not all the facts concerning Horton's early life are known, but what is known establishes him as one of the bold and adventurous breed that developed the West in the Mid 1880's.

Had he been ruthless and grasping he might have gained more fame and certainly more wealth. Ruthless and grasping he was not. He died a poor man, but with the love and respect of his fellow citizens. And with that he was content.

Are you ready for the library's Summer Library Program?!  We are!  We have been planning our programs and special events for months and now it's finally here!  Stop by the library to sign up for the Summer Reading Program, reserve seats at the exciting programs and performances we will be hosting, and start your reading!

"The Village of Hortonville was founded by Alonzo E. Horton in 1848 when he purchased land from the Governor of Wisconsin, which is now the Township of Hortonia and the Village of Hortonville. The land cost him seventy cents an acre! Later, in 1855, he traveled to California and there founded the City of San Diego. In his old age, Mr. Horton returned to Hortonville for a visit and was surprised to see how the Village had prospered. Alonzo Horton was born in 1813 and died at the age of 96 years." (Village Directory and Commemorative History June 1976)

"Always an opportunist, Alonzo Eratus Horton saw the challenge of gaining riches in land speculation. He was born in Connecticut in 1813 and came to Milwaukee in May, 1836, later purchasing a home in Jefferson County about 1840 or 1841. His first wife, Sally Wright, whom he married in 1841, died five years later. He did not marry again until 1861, by which time he had left the area.

(Taken from New London Buyers' Guide/Hortonville Centennial, August 16, 1994. Posted with permission from the Press-Star, New London/Hortonville, Wisconsin.)

Catholic families in Hortonville were visited by Oshkosh or Appleton priests and mass was held in private homes until 1861.

That year, a frame church was built on the corner of Nash and Cedar Streets.
Hortonville was attached to Greenville as a mission from 1870 to 1878.

From 1878 to 1897 a New London priest celebrated mass in Hortonville every other Sunday.

The present brick - Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church - was built by the Rev. P. L. Gasper in 1892. Five years later, Rev. Joseph Hemmer was the first resident pastor.

catholicchurch.jpg

(Taken from New London Buyers' Guide/Hortonville Centennial, August 16, 1994. Posted with permission from the Press-Star, New London/Hortonville, Wisconsin.)

Proceeds from the summer Hortonville Homecoming each year support community projects sponsored by the Commercial club.

The first homecoming were held on Main St. after the club organized in 1929.

Ten years later club members purchased park land known as the "Fair Ground" from the Outagamie County Agriculture Society. The first Homecoming on park land paid off the $1,600 mortgage.

World War II shortages suspended homecomings for two years. Except for those years, the celebration has always been the third weekend in June.

The Commercial Club was incorporated on April 17, 1929. Otto A. Reinke, Joseph P. Platten, Fred N. Torrey, Vincent M. Freiburger and Enoch C. Otis signed the original Article of Organization.
Reinke was the first club president with Walter L. Schroder, vice president; Leonard R. Schwartz, secretary.

From the Start, Commercial Club Projects were a success.

(Taken from New London Buyers' Guide/Hortonville Centennial, August 16, 1994. Posted with permission from the Press-Star, New London/Hortonville, Wisconsin.)

The earliest history of the Community Baptist Church can be traced back, practically, to the time of the first settlements in the village. Matthew McComb one of the founders of the Church, bought the first lumber sawed at the saw mill built in 1849 of what is now Mill and Bath Streets, and made a roof for his cabin in the woods.

During the early years of establishing their homes in the wilderness, the settlers did not neglect things of spiritual and religious. References indicate that they gave the building of the church early consideration. They met in the homes and in a school house until a church building was available.

The church was organized, after a series of revival meetings, by elder E. J. Keeville in 1954.

During the beginning period of in the history of the church, members of the Congregational church residents here, joined with the Baptist in the use of the building and shared the joint expenses in maintaining it.

(Taken from New London Buyers' Guide/Hortonville Centennial, August 16, 1994. Posted with permission from the Press-Star, New London/Hortonville, Wisconsin.)

By Leona Mech

In 1852, William W. Briggs, a lumberman, came from Maine, and went into the lumbering business when he arrived in Hortonville. It took $50 to start house-keeping and his remaining $100 went into his business, when along with David Briggs and H. B. Sanborn, they secured the unsold portion of the village plat, and the saw mills.

Briggs, with Ira Hersey and Sanborn, built the first grist mill at Hortonville, thus adding to the comfort of settlers.

Soon afterward the property was divided with David Briggs taking the saw mill and timber land, and William Briggs and Sanborn taking the grist mill and village plat.

At that time the finest lumber rafted down the Wolf and through the lake to Fond du Lac brought only $4.50 a thousand.

After 18 years Briggs moved to Appleton, where in 1874 he built the Brigg's house.

(Taken from New London Buyers' Guide/Hortonville Centennial, August 16, 1994. Posted with permission from the Press-Star, New London/Hortonville, Wisconsin.)

The Hortonville community Hall, 312 W. Main St., was entered on the "national Register of Historical Places" by the United States Secretary of the Interior on January 23, 1981.


Community Hall, Hortonville

This property is entitled to benefits and protections of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 as amended.

It will receive limited protection from encroachment by federally assisted or licensed projects or state facilities development projects, and is eligible to receive federal matching grants for research, restoration, acquisition or stabilization.

Criteria used in selecting sites for the National Register include those places that are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history.

(Taken from New London Buyers' Guide/Hortonville Centennial, August 16, 1994. Posted with permission from the Press-Star, New London/Hortonville, Wisconsin.)

According to the writings of Matthew McComb, the first marriage was contracted between Jahn A. Hewitt and Susan A. Sheldon, who came from north of Wolf River, then a part of Hortonia. The ceremony was performed by John Easton, justice of the peace, at Matthew McComb's cabin in the month of April, 1850.

The river was swollen by spring floods, and the bride and groom built a raft of driftwood, got on board and crossed the river. They became entangled in the trees and bushes on the south side of the river.

Finding they could go no further with their unwieldy craft, yet not willing to return unmarried, they joined hands and plunged in and waded forty rods or more through two and a half feet of water to the shore.

After the ceremony the groom, taking his wife by the hand, said, "Lets go home," and they returned in the manner they came. The narrator continues, "Many waters could not quench their love, neither did the floods drown it."

"One of the first match factories of the world was started in Hortonville. It was located on the corner of Lincoln and Nye Streets. The one story building had high windows and was unpainted because there was no paint available.

A gas plant, which was located on Mill Street just on the north side of Black Otter Creek, furnished the power to light the lamps that were on poles on the streets. These were replaced by electric lights in 1918.

The first road leading from Hortonville was the road to Appleton, built by Reeder Smith, a resident of Appleton. First it was a corduroy road, which means a road made of long pole, then it was planked, and later replaced by concrete.

In 1873, Hortonville was serviced by its first railroad, built by the Milwaukee Lake Shore & Western Railroad Company from Manitowoc. In 1885 it was purchased by the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad.

(Taken from New London Buyers' Guide/Hortonville Centennial, August 16, 1994. Posted with permission from the Press-Star, New London/Hortonville, Wisconsin.)

Hortonville has had a regular Lutheran preaching station since 1867.

But members of the Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church date their anniversaries from August 14, 1870 - the dedication of their first church building.

In January of 1897 the congregation voted to build a new church on the corner of Nash and Embarrass Sts. Five days later the first stones were hauled for the basement of the church.

Less than three months later bids were opened for the building of the church. The bid was let to the local Diestler Lumber Co. for $5,165. Later $500 was added to the total.

The cornerstone of the new church was laid Sunday, June 13, 1897. The church was dedicated Sunday, Nov. 28, 1897. That day, the second English service in the history of the congregation was conducted.

The present church is solid brick in Gothic style. The church tower is about 100 feet high. An extensive remodeling of the original building took place 1960.

(Taken from New London Buyers' Guide/Hortonville Centennial, August 16, 1994. Posted with permission from the Press-Star, New London/Hortonville, Wisconsin.)

Perhaps Hortonville's most famous citizen was Gerald Nye.

He was a former editor of the Hortonville Review who became a leading opponent of America's entry into World War II as a Republican senator from North Dakota.

Nye was born in 1892 in Hortonville but his family moved to Wittenberg when he was two.

He became editor of the Hortonville Weekly Review when he was 19 and stayed until 1913.

After leaving Hortonville he lived a short time in Iowa and then moved to North Dakota where he edited a country newspaper in Coopertown.

He was appointed to his first Senate seat in 1925 and gained fame as chairman of the Public Lands committee which investigated the Teapot Dome scandal.

As an isolationist he urged President Franklin Roosevelt to seek a negotiated peace in Europe before Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor.

After the attack, Nye voted to declare war with the rest of the Senate but said Roosevelt was responsible for maneuvering the country into conflict.

(Taken from New London Buyers' Guide/Hortonville Centennial, August 16, 1994. Posted with permission from the Press-Star, New London/Hortonville, Wisconsin.)

By Leona Mech
The city of Hortonville dates its origin from the earliest settlement of the Township of Hortonville.

Both were named for the same man, Connecticut born Alonzo E. Horton, who was also the first settler.

In the winter of 1847-8 settlers in the prairie or sparsely timbered counties to the south and southwest needed shingles. Knapp Brothers made hand-shaved shingles in a cabin on the site of Hortonville. At this place they were merely squatters, and it is doubtful if they were actually settlers in Outagamie County.

Supposedly, a small colony of settlers from Ohio, known as the "Buckeye Farmers" settled near Hortonville, early (1848?) but did not remain long in that area. They moved on to the west where presumably land was easier to clear.

"Father" Horton, as he was called, founded Hortonville on March 3, 1848 when he came to claim the land he had bought for 70 cents an acre on soldier land warrants he obtained at the end of the Mexican War.

Thursday, May 11, 2017 - 2:00pm

Tourist in Your Own Town will be visitng Old 45 Archery on May 11th to learn about the building's history, hear about the business, and test our skills with a bow! Stop in or call the library at 920-779-4279 to register!

Thursday, June 15, 2017 - 10:00am

Join Tourist in Your Own Town for a tour of Hortonville's old Opera House and a history walk of downtown Hortonville with a local historian!  Call the library at 920-779-4279 to register.

Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 10:00am

Tour the gardens at Whistler's Knoll and learn how the business was started with Master Gardener Holly Boetcher. There will be time to sit back and enjoy this beautiful location after the tour. Call the library at 920-779-4279 to register!

(Taken from New London Buyers' Guide/Hortonville Centennial, August 16, 1994. Posted with permission from the Press-Star, New London/Hortonville, Wisconsin.)

Since 1873, Hortonville has had a volunteer fire department, but for its first half century, people weren't the only volunteers.

The fire engine was horse drawn, but the village did not keep a team of horses for that specific purpose. So when the fire bell was rung to call the volunteers, any team of horses on Main St. was liable to find itself hitched to the engine and whisked away to a fire.

The Hortonville businessmen purchased the village's first fire department and Dite Collar was named the department's first fire chief.

It was equipped with an 8-man hand pumper and water was used from Black Otter pond or hauled in barrels and other containers. Besides Chief Collar some of the village's first firemen were August Schultz, Mike Ritger, Wenzel Gitter, Fred Herbst, John Hagen, Chris Hagen, Webb Collar and John Klien.

In 1881, village residents donated their own time to build the villages combined fire department and village hall, that was used till the new fire hall was built.

Pages

Wireless at the Library

Wireless-Network2.png

Wireless Internet is available at the Hortonville Public Library during regular library hours.