Town Trenton

Source: Washington County, Wisconsin : past and present; by Quickert, Carl, ed
Publication date : 1912
Publisher Chicago : S.J. Clarke Publishing Co.

As far back as 1836 the forest-clad undulations of this town, between which the Milwaukee river in many windings ate its way, attracted the attention of speculators. The land near the river bank, which now is the site of the village of Newburg, was especially desirable. Here Solomon Juneau, the founder of Milwaukee, Michael Anthony Guista, Charles Hunt, M. C. Johnson, James Duane Doty, Joseph R. Ward and others bought land on which they never settled nor changed anything of its primeordeal appearance. Only the realty records give notice of the erstwhile owners.

It was nine years later, in 1845, when the first real settlers arrived. They were: Peter Nuss, Ferdinand Nolting, Patrick Keown, Michael Bower, Edwin R. Nelson, Thomas Jessup, Moses Young, Emanuel Mann, Christopher Long and Fred Firstenberger. The vanguard on the spot, the main force of the pioneers, with axes and ox carts, brought up in the following year.

In the years 1847 and 1848 the remainder of the land was settled. In the winter of 1847 Newburg, the most important village of the township, was founded by Barton Salisbury. He was busy getting the village of Barton, some ten miles up the Milwaukee river, started, and sent a man by the name of Watson down to a place where the river's rapids invited some captain of industry, with directions to build a log house. Into this Salisbury moved with his wife in 1848. He built a dam, a saw mill, a grist mill, and also an ashery in which the potash gained by the settlers from the vast ashpiles of their clearings was converted into pearlash. Safisbury was joined by two of his nephews. Under his direction some more buildings were put up and it was at the construction of the first hotel that a poor rafter broke under his feet, and he fell and came to a tragic death.

The first town meeting was held on April 4, 1848, in the house of John Smith. The chairman was James H. Watson, and the clerk John A. Douglas. For roads $50 were appropriated, for the support of the poor $25, for general expenses $200, and for schools "as much as the law allows." A special tax was imposed on each freeholder for every eighty acres of land, consisting of five days road work, or five dollars in cash. As a polltax each had to put in two days' work for the community.

The first supervisors were John A. Douglas, Reuben Salisbury, and Turner Bailey. The first town clerk was Frederick Balch, the first treasurer Eli L. Hurd, and the first justices were Frederick Leson and James H. Watson. The office of the "Sealer of Weights" that since sank into obscurity was held by John A. Douglas. In the first general election, held in the town in November, 1848, 58 votes were cast.