(Prepared by: Cindy Arbiture, President, Concord Historical Society, Inc. June 5, 2007)
A brief History of The Concord Area
The Pre-European settlement history of Wisconsin includes the following cultures: Paleo, 7,000 to 5,000 B.C.; Archaic (Old Copper & Red Ocher culture) 3,000 to 250 B.C.; Hopewellian 100 B.C. to 500 A.D.; Middle Mississsippian 1,000 to 1,300 A.D.; Woodland 1,000 B.C. to the arrival of European settlers. The Native American cultures that were displaced by European pioneers were the Sac, Fox, Potawatomi, and Winnebago (now know as the Ho Chunk). These are the descendants of the Woodland and Middle Mississsippian prehistoric cultures. Recently the rare remains of the Archaic culture have been found in the Town of Concord, and have been documented by the Wisconsin Historical Society, and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
Originally the Concord area was part of Brown County, which was later subdivided to become Brown and Milwaukee Counties, and then finally in 1839 a portion was set off to become Jefferson County. From 1839 to 1843 Jefferson County had five original townships; Aztalan, Watertown, Jefferson, Finch, and Bark River. The Town of Concord was originally part of Watertown Township.
Town of Concord Beginnings
On February 12, 1841, a new township composed of sections seven and eight north, of range 16 separated from the Watertown civil township to form the Town of Union. On January 21, 1846, Union township divided into two separate towns, Concord and Ixonia. The two towns took different paths in their future development. The railroad would be routed through Ixonia providing opportunities for commerce and industry. The Town of Concord remained a rural township with a focus on agriculture and dairy farming.
The first general meeting of the Town of Concord was held on the 1st Tuesday of April 1846, at the house of Austin Kellogg. The meeting was organized by the election of Luther Thayer for Moderator, and Jost D. Petrie for Clerk. Town officials were then elected for the ensuing year: Chairman of Board of Supervisors, Horatio N. Carlton; Assistant Supervisors, Luther Thayer and William Sacia; Town Clerk, Jost. D. Petrie; Treasurer, William Dunning Jr.
The Town of Concord grew because was a central stopping point between Milwaukee and Madison on the Wisconsin Stage Lines route along the old territorial road, Concord Center Drive. Territorial roads were the first roads that often followed Native American trails. Access to transportation routes has always played an important role in the development of any area. Concord had a population of 725 in 1850, which increased to 1,627 by 1870. By the turn of the century Concord was a growing farming community with a town hall, post office, general store, schools, churches, a sorghum mill, barber shop, broom factory, creamery, and cheese and butter factories. There are three remaining historic church buildings within the town, Concord Methodist, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, St. Stephan’s Lutheran Church; a small Jewish Synagogue also had a brief history in the south west corner of the town call Bakerstown. A school called Bakerstown School was also located in this area, and was later moved to the City of Jefferson for use as a museum.
Concord Township was also home to the families of the well known author Laura Ingalls Wilder. Laura’s grandmother Charlotte Quiner purchased 40 acres of land in Concord moving from Brookfield Wisconsin as a widow in 1848. Lansford Ingalls, Laura’s paternal grandfather also purchased land in Concord on December 31, 1853. Laura’s mother Caroline, a daughter of Charlotte Quiner grew up in Concord where she became a teacher and met her husband Charles Ingalls. Charles Ingalls and Caroline Quiner were married in Concord, by Reverend J. W. Lyman on February 1, 1860. Charles and Caroline moved to Pepin, Wisconsin in 1862, where Laura Elizabeth Ingalls was born five years later. Later in her life Laura wrote a series of books about her pioneer childhood days on the Midwest prairie. Her first book in the series is entitled Little House In The Big Woods which is a recollection of her family’s log cabin home in the woodlands of Pepin.
Concord Historical Society, Inc.
The Concord Historical Society, Inc. (CHS) was established in 1993, as a 501c-3 not for profit organization to preserve history in the Town of Concord. The society restored an authentic 1850’s log cabin from the Town of Concord. The William R. Look Log Cabin was dedicated and donated to the Town of Concord on August 10, 2003. The log cabin is located in Dahnert Park, in town. The society collects photographs, plat maps, and any documents related to the Town of Concord history. They also collect artifacts such as school books, or other school items, pioneer history items, and any items related to Concord Town history. The CHS is a member of the Wisconsin Council for Local History, which is an affiliate member of the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Conclusion: Historic Resources In Need
The 1850 census shows Austin Kellogg as the wealthiest man in town. He was the owner of the stagecoach stop, and went on to become a state & county leader. He was appointed Lt. Colonel of the 3rd Regiment of the Militia of the State of Wisconsin for Jefferson County. His Kellogg’s Inn survived for over 145 years in our town it was a prime example of Greek Revival Architecture, a neoclassic style that appears in many Yankee structures in New England. The Kellogg Stagecoach Inn was destroyed by fire in 1993. The land now sits vacant. William Sacia one of our first town officials claimed to be the first pioneer settler in the Town of Concord. His old farmstead is located on Hwy. E adjacent to the Oconomowoc River.
In the last twenty years the Town of Concord has lost many old homes, barns and out-buildings. A rare brick barn once stood on the corner of Hwy. F and Hwy. B. Many of the remaining historic buildings are in jeopardy with impending future plans for development or housing replacement. Some pioneer log structures still remain under clapboard farm houses in the town. Some historic barns still have original wood planking from trees that were cut in this area. There is a barn on Concord Center Drive, with oak plank walls and tamarack wood ceiling rafters. Many local barns still have unique historic features. There were at one time eleven one-room school houses in the Town of Concord. Some of the school buildings remain but have been converted to homes; and some still have their original exterior architectural features. Only one of these schools remains intact, the Old Concord Center School. It stands at its original location, complete with old chalkboards, original wood floor and tin ceiling. The Concord Historical Society has expressed their interest and desire to restore the school’s original features, and use the building as a local history museum. The society currently has some funds to start the restoration, but more fundraising may be needed.
Jefferson County was a leader in the dairy industry. Wm. Dempster Hoard published his national dairy farm magazine called the Hoard’s Dairyman, which had a significant impact on national dairy farm trends. Hoard went on to become Governor of the State of Wisconsin in 1888; and Wisconsin became the nation’s “Dairy State.” The Town of Concord was at one time part of this prosperous dairy industry in Wisconsin, and was dotted with butter, cheese factories, and a creamery. Most farms in town, up until the early 1960’s still had a herd of dairy cows.