Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Little has been written about our mayors through history. I have been compiling some notes over the years, and have decided to put the information together. Any other information would be much appreciated:

HARVEY GRANT (1858) - Grant was born in Connecticut in 1792, and moved to the Green Lake County area in 1848, after spending the previous 18 years in Ohio. He moved to Ripon in 1856 and built the first grain elevator the following year. He was elected the city's first mayor in 1858, and served one year. He died in 1863. An 1887 article in the Ripon Commonwealth noted that "it is just to say that no man was ever a resident of Ripon who gained a reputation for honesty of purpose, fair and square dealing with his fellow men, and intelligent, christianlike (sic) action in every phase of life in a greater degree than the subject of this sketch." He had perhaps the wife with the most notable first name - Experience Grant.

JEDEDIAH BOWEN (1859, 1868) - He was a successful businessman, the owner of the first knitting works in Ripon, and was active in forming the Republican Party in Ripon. Bowen was born in South Wales in 1817 and came to American with his parents when he was 13. He spent his youth in Carbondale, PA, until moving to Ripon in 1850. He had a very interesting and busy life:
1850-1858 - Operated a dry goods store on the northwest corner of the Public Square. When he came to Ripon, it consisted of four buildings.
1855-1857 - Owned a dry goods branch store in Brandon
1855-1856 - Built and operated a mill in Brandon
1857 - Owned two farms, but sold them shortly thereafter
1858-1864 - Operated another dry goods store
1859 - Elected mayor
1861-1864 - Owned a dry goods store in Waupun
1861-1866 - Served as the postmaster of Ripon
1863-1877 - Operated a hardware store with O.J. Clark
1864 - Entered the banking business with Charles Wheeler
1866 - Operated a dry goods store in Red Wing, MN
1867 - Partnered with J.D. Hamilton in the boot and shoe business.
1868 - Served another term as mayor
1871 - Served one year in the Wisconsin Assembly as a Republican
1872 - Took control of the boot and shoe business
Bowen was also instrumental in the founding of Ripon College, serving as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1851-1882 and as treasurer from 1855-61 and 1865-82. His home was located on the western edge of what is now called Bowen's Woods, on the present site of Scott Hall. The land was owned by Bowen until 1880 and was given to Ripon College in 1929 by Shirley Farr. He died in 1891.

HIRAM S. TOWN (1860) - He was born in Canada in 1833, and came to the Ripon area as part of the Ceresco experiment in 1844 with his mother and brother, after spending four years in Milwaukee. He was involved in the clerking business throughout his early years. Town enlisted in the First Wisconsin Volunteer Cavalry in October 1862 and reached the rank of captain. He was set to receive the rank of Major when the unit was mustered out of service in March 1865. Town was involved in education, serving as the clerk of the Ceresco School District, and was a member of the school board. He also served as Fond du Lac County Sheriff from 1868-1869. In December 1869, he was appointed by Governor Fairchild to a committee formed to visit the charitable and benevolent institutions of the state. In 1870, he defeated James Fairbanks (Dem), 3,289-2,996, to win a 2-year term in the Wisconsin Senate. He also served as Ripon's postmaster during this time. He eventually moved from the Ripon area, but the time is now known. He was appointed Superintendent of the National Cemetery in Lebanon, KY in 1896, then moved to the National Cemetery in Port Hudson, LA in 1900. He died there on july 7, 1901.

PHILO ENGLAND (1861) - He was born in Farfax, Virginia in 1799, and moved to Ripon in 1854. He died in 1871, and not much else is known about him.

CEYLON NORTH (1862) - He was born in New York in 1811. He and his wife Dolly moved to Ripon in 1859, where they became members of the Congregational Church, serving as deacon from 1861-1864. Little else is known about his time in Ripon, except that he moved back to New York sometime around 1865, then went to Green Bay in 1870, and died in Oshkosh in 1879. He is buried in Hillside Cemetery in Ripon

CHARLES F. HAMMOND (1863) - He was born in Vermont in 1821, and moved to a farm near Rosendale with his wife Eliza in 1848. Twelve years later, they moved to Ripon, becoming involved in the mercantile and sheep and wool growing industries. In 1860, he was credited with saving the Congregational Church, with Reverend J.M. Hawley, from financial ruin. He served two years in the Wisconsin Assembly (1861-1862) prior to being elected mayor. He eventually moved to St. Paul, MN to live with his daughter in 1886, and died there in 1894. His body was brought back to Ripon where he was interred in Hillside Cemetery

BERTINE PINKNEY (1864) - Pinkney was born in New York City on April 26, 1824. In 1847 he removed to Rosendale. His political career began in 1850, when he was elected to the State Assembly as a Whig. Two years later, he was elected to the State Senate as a Whig, then served as a Democrat in 1852. He was a candidate for Lieutenant Governor in 1853, on the Free Soil ticket with Edward Holton. They lost to Democrat William Barstow. He served as a trustee of Brockway College from 1855-1861, and was the college's ex officio president from 1858-1861. In 1861 he enlisted in the Third Wisconsin Volunteers and was elected Major of that regiment. Pinkney was assigned to the Army of the Potomac, and participated in the Shenandoah campaign and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. In 1863, was made Colonel of the Twentieth Wisconsin Volunteers and was ordered to the frontier. His military career came to an end when he was wounded by a shell in the Battle of Winchester and was afflicted with a stroke of paralysis. He returned to Ripon, where he served as mayor. He moved to Chicago in 1867, to St. Louis in 1869, and to Kansas in 1871. He died in Peabody, KS on December 26, 1909.

HENRY T. HINTON (1865) - Hinton was born on February 24, 1823, in Ripley, New York. His parents removed to Erie County, PA, when he was 11 years old, and came to Wisconsin in 1850. He sailed on the Great Lakes from 1838 to 1850. After his marriage in 1846, Hinton returned to Erie, PA, and lived there one year; then came to Milwaukee, where he resided five years. In October, 1852, he removed to Fall River, WI, and was engaged in the mercantile business for three years. Finally, in 1855, he moved to Ripon, and on July 13, bought an interest in the Ripon and Gothic Mills, and moved his family to the city in October of that year. He was in the the milling and produce business in Ripon until April 1873, when he moved to Winneconne and bought the Lake View House and an interest in the Winneconne flouring mills. He remained there until March 1878. His wife died on October 19, 1879, of hemorrhage of the brain. Henton was one of the delegates to the convention that organized the Republican party in the summer of 1854, and was one of the committee to appoint permanent officers for the organization. He was nominated and elected Mayor of the city of Ripon in the spring of 1865, while away from home, and, on returning, his first official act was issuing a proclamation calling a meeting of the citizens of Ripon to take action on the death of Abraham Lincoln. He held the offices of Chairman, Supervisor, Superintendent of the Poor, and several other offices in Ripon, and represented the village of Winneconne in the County Board. He died in 1913 in Marianna, FL at the home of his son.

ALBERT SKEELS (1866) - Skeels was born on February 27, 1813 in Cranston, VT. He eventually moved to Ripon in 1853, where he became a merchant and was the city's postmaster for seven years. He served two years in the State Assembly (1866-67) as a member of the Union Party. He was also a trustee and commissioner of the Insane Asylum in Oshkosh, and was a director and president of the Ripon Agricultural Association. In September 1873, he was stricken with paralysis, and two years later fell victim to an attack of apoplexy. He died January 5, 1876 and was buried in Hillside Cemetery.

SAMUEL SUMNER (1867, 1879) - Sumner was born in Appleton, Maine on October 21, 1819. He moved to Ripon in 1850 and became involved in the mercantile business. His was the second store to open in Ripon. He was town clerk for three years (1851-54), served ten years as treasurer of the school board, and was involved in the local temperance movements. In between his two terms as mayor, he spent three years on the Council (1871-73). He died on May 2, 1891.

WILLIAM WORKMAN (1869) - Workman was born in Scotland in 1822. He sailed to America in 1842, and moved to several locations, including Ripon. In 1852, he sailed to California via Panama. While in Panama, he built the first circular saw mill, but continued on to California, arriving on May 1st, where he apparently was a success in the gold mining business. He returned to Ripon in May 1854, and was involved in the cabinet making and seeding machine business. In 1866, he and two partner opened a firm to make sleighs, cutters and wagons. He left Ripon in 1878 to become the superintendent of the De Pere Iron Works. The company failed, and Workman lost $5,000 in the venture. He moved into the drug store business and was more successful in that venture. He died in 1900. Politically, he served several teams on the Ripon Common Council, two terms as Fond du Lac County Supervisor, ten years as President of the West De Pere Village Board and two years on the East De Pere Council. He also served two years as mayor of De Pere (1887-88) His son, William Junior, was also a successful businessman and politician in De Pere.

GEORGE FIELD (1870) - Field was born in New Berlin, NY in 1836. He moved to Albany, NY in 1852, then came to Watertown, WI and spent five years as a bookkeeper and teller at the Bank of Watertown (1857-62). He moved to Ripon in 1863, where he became a cashier at the Bank of Ripon. He moved to the First National Bank of Ripon when it was created in 1864. He died on July 20, 1912.

AARON EVERHARD (1871, 1874-78, 82-85, 90-92) - Everhard, the only man to be mayor on four separate occasions, was born on March 10, 1824 in Chippewa, OH. He graduated from the Western Reserve University (Cleveland) Medical School in 1848. He practiced one year in Medina County, OH and one year in Pleasant Valley, WI, before moving to Hamilton, WI in 1850. In 1855, he elected superintendent of schools in Pleasant Valley, before moving to Ripon the following year. He was appointed postmaster by President Cleveland and served four years (1886-90). He died in August 1892 in the middle of his final term.

ORRIN URIEL AKIN (1872) - There is some confusion over whether his first name is Orra or Orrin, but his tombstone at Hillside Cemetery says Orrin. He was born March 25, 1831 in Richmond, NY, and moved to Lockport, NY (1836-1850), Marquette, WI (1850-58) and Madison, WI (1858-62) before coming to Ripon, where he was involved in a drug store business with his brother. He served on the Council in addition to being mayor and died in Kansas City, MO on March 7, 1895.

ORLO J. WOLCOTT (1873) - Wolcott was born in Sandisfield, MA on February 2, 1815. He attended Amherst College for one year, then moved to Norfolk, CT to learn the jeweler's trade. Wolcott was prosperous in the business, and served one term in the Connecticut legislature. He moved to Cleveland in 1860, and then to Ripon two years later. He continued to prosper as a jeweler. He died January 8, 1883 and was buried in Hillside Cemetery.

ISAAC DAKIN (1880) - The Dakin family was one of the pioneers of our area. His brother, William was the first settler in the town of Brooklyn in Green Lake County, arriving on August 16, 1843. He and Satterlee Clark settled near the Center House. In fact, Dakin's home was near the creek which now bears his name. The first Post Office in the County was at Mr. Clark's. Isaac, who was born in New York City on April 25, 1842, joined his brother, along with his parents, in Wisconsin in 1849. He subsequently moved to Neshkoro (1852-62), back to Brooklyn, then New York, and finally to Ripon in 1864. He clerked for several businessman, before being elected City Clerk as a Republican in 1879. He also worked as a cashier at the German (then American) National Bank, and became the treasurer of the Soldier's Home in Waupaca in 1905. He died there on January 4, 1923, and was buried at Hillside Cemetery in Ripon.

ALLEN PENFIELD HARWOOD (1881) - Harwood was born on October 25, 1818 in Essex County, New York. His grandfather, Eleazer, was a solider in the Revolutionary War, and assisted in the capture of Fort Ticonderoga. After being a successful lumber and iron businessman in Vermont, he headed west in 1873 and, after traveling for a year, settled in Ripon in 1874. He served as a Republican elector for Benjamin Harrison in the 1888 electoral college. Ironically, he replaced former mayor Jedediah Bowen as a Ripon College trustee in 1882. He died in 1893.