Wednesday, September 28, 2011

1877 Map and Minnie Ozanne Somers History

Partial Plat Map of 1887 Somers Township
The purpose of this blog page is to identify (1887 Map) some of the earliest settlement in Somers - along the Green Bay Trail.  The Green Bay Trail can be identified on the map above as the center north-south road in the middle of the map.  The intersection showing the "M.E. Church" is Highway E or Somers Road.
A few historical building photographs are shown below and are considered some of the oldest evidence of our historic settlement.   Although the landscape and structures have changed, you can take a ride and see for yourself where our history began.  I hope you enjoy finding the names on the map!
Click on this link to read Somers history written by Mrs. E.G. (Minnie) Ozanne, one our pioneers,  published in "Souvenir, Kenosha County Court House: and bits of yesterday, foundations of today" by Otis L. Trenary. 1925.

"Among the early settlers of Somers (1835) were Benjamin Felch, Hugh Longwell, Griffin and William Allen, Charles Leet, and William Smith.  Jacob Montgomery and his two sons built a log cabin near the present site of E.G. Ozanne's residence, the first in the town and in the county.  In the southeast part of the town Cephus Weed began his farming and on Pike River, Thomas Parsons built a sawmill (near Berryville).  This early immigration followed the Indian Trail which later became the Green Bay Road.  The plank road running from Racine and connecting with the plank road west out of Kenosha followed part of the old Green Bay Trail and ran near Petrifying Springs in Somers.  A toll gate was placed near the present home of George Leet.
In 1836 a weekly stage began to run from Chicago to Milwaukee over this Green Bay Trail, and the first Post Office was established at Willis's.  This tavern was located in the southwest corner of what is now the intersection of the Prairie Avenue Road with the Green Bay Road, Maxwell's Corners.  In this year, too, the first school taught by Miss Brizee was held in the Hugh Longwell house.  In the spring of 1837 the Kelloggs' - Chauncey, Seth H., and Thaddeus - with their families built their shanties and held their first religious meetings.  The result of the first Sunday School is shown when in 1860 a festival was held with an attendance of 300 children.
The Methodist Episcopal Church completed in 1840 was not only the first in the town of Somers, but we believe, the first in the state.
A Government observatory was built in 1860 on the William Robinson farm to a height of 72 feet.  This is on the present John Salentine farm on the hill about one mile south of the Somers Cemetery and Town Hall.  It is the highest point between Chicago and Milwaukee on the Green Bay Trial.  A pile of stones shows today where the tower stood.
The first frame barn built in the town was built for Rev. James Ozanne, and a part still stands.  By act of the state legislature, the town was named "Pike", April 15, 1843.  In 1851 "Pike was changed to "Somers".
On May 1, 1843, the first town meeting was held in the house of Charles Leet.  Joseph P. Hurlbut was chosen moderator of this meeting and Oscar Hurlbut, Clerk.  Tax raised in 1843 - $372.39; 1924, $96,594.  A farm of 88 acres in Somers in 1836 was valued at $1,040, the amount of taxes on this farm was $10.79."

Charles Leet Home
Contributor:  C.E. Dewey
This home was built in 1842 and it is believed that this picture shows the house in its original state.  It was remodeled in the 1860's at the close of the Civil War.  This property had been in the Leet family for one hundred years at the time this slide was produced. (1940).
(Source:  Photo Courtesy of Minnie Ozanne Family)

The Longwell House, residence of Hugh Longwell.
Southern Wisconsin's first public school building, erected in Somers Township in 1836, was held in the Longwell home with a Miss Brizee as the teacher.  In 1846 the Pike River school district was formed.  A new school building was constructed and opened in 1849.  Mr. Hugh Longwell, the first settler of Somers made a claim in March 1835 and settled where he resided with his family until his death.
(Source:  Minnie Ozanne Family)

Hugh Longwell Biographical Sketch
Hugh Longwell was born in New York about 1798.  He married his wife Letta in New Jersey and the couple had six children.  Hugh Longwell's sister, Sarah Maria Longwell, was born in Somers Township in 1841 and married William Toase (a neighboring land owner in Section 2).  William's mother married a second time to George Haigh of Somers Township, a substantial farming family in Section 8.

Methodist Episcopal Church
Built by Austin Kellogg and his brothers around 1837 and was completed in 1840.  An addition was added at the front of the building some years later.  The church was torn down around 1910.  The timbers were hand-hewn out of solid oak.
(Source:  Photo Courtesy of Wisconsin Historical Society, Wisconsin Historical Images)


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