Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Smith, William

Photo Courtesy of the American Geographical Society
Partial Map of 1861 Plat Map of the Township of Somers, Kenosha County, Wisconsin

This 1861 map shows four parcels owned by William Smith; 120 acres (Wm Smith), 160 acres (Wm Smith), and 2 parcels of 55 acres (W. P. Smith) each.  Of significance is the location of his parcels; the location being the intersections of Highway E (Somers Road) and Highway 31 (Green Bay Road), the site of the earliest settlements in the Township of Somers.  Please take special note of the school, town house, and cemetery on this intersection.

About William Smith
"William Smith, a farmer in Somers Township, was born in Scotland in 1802. He came to America in 1834 and in the fall of that year went to Milwaukee.  In the spring of 1835 he purchased 160 acres of land where the city of Milwaukee now stands.  In the fall of 1836, Mr. Smith burned a kiln of lime of 300 barrels, in what was probably the first lime kiln built in Wisconsin.  He sold his land in Milwaukee in 1836, and repurchased it in 1838.
In 1836, he came to Kenosha County and at the land sale the following spring, he purchased 320 acres in what is now Somers Township, (see map above) and began cultivating it.  Mr. Smith married in Burlington, Wisconsin in 1842, Miss Arvilla Dyer, a native of Herkimer Co., New York.  Mr. Smith, some years ago, while ordering from his premises two young men who were shooting pigeons, on a Sunday morning, was fired upon by one of them, shooting his right arm entirely off, from which Mr. Smith has since suffered very much, being quite old at the time of the occurrence."
(Source:  The History of Racine and Kenosha Counties, Wisconsin, Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1879)

William Smith - 1860 Awarded 2nd Prize from Wisconsin State Agricultural Society
A judging committee, appointed by the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, assembled to judge six farms that were entered in the statewide competition.  Awards would be given for "superior tillage, proper rotation of crops, and general good management, calculated to be economical and profitable, than, to costly buildings or large outlays of an amateur or fancy nature".  Examination was made between the 15th of June and the 15th of July, 1860.  The written report for William Smith of Somers is as follows:

"Mr. Smith's farm is located in the Town of Somers, in Kenosha County, nine miles from Racine.  Mr. Smith, a Scotsman by birth, having landed in this country in 1834, coming to the territory of Wisconsin soon after, and stopping for a time in Milwaukee.  In 1836 he located on the farm upon which he now lives, and have ever since devoted himself to farming, and with excellent success.  His farm, at present, consists of 280 acres, 200 of which is under a good state of cultivation, the balance being timber land.  The portion under cultivation is upon prairie - of an excellent soil naturally, and which has lost nothing of its excellence under the judicious management of Mr. Smith.
His farm is subdivided into lots of 28 acres each, and each lot is provided with a good spring, rendering it convenient for pasturing stock in its regular turn, and a regular rotation of pasturage, meadow, and tillage is kept up with the various lots.
The fencing upon this farm is mostly of boards.  Five boards with a cap of scantling about two by five inches.  These caps are spiked firmly to the posts, and where the ends come together, they are coupled with a scrap of iron some four inches long, and spiked through the cap pieces into the posts.  This makes the fence remarkably firm, and protects the lots against the most vicious animals with entire certainty.  We are thus particular in this description, as it was new to us, and we were very favorably impressed with it, and would be glad to see the example followed by others.  The crops upon this farm are very fine, and the appearance of the whole farm gives abundant proof that the director of the operations upon it, is worthy to rank with the finest farmers in the State.  Mr. Smith's herd of cattle is among the best, as a whole, that we have seen in the State.  In his buildings, Mr. Smith has shown good taste, having in both economy and utility."
(Source:  Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, Reports and Awards of Premiums, Report of Committee on Counties, Vol. VI 1860).

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