A Story of The Village of Sharon (This information was discovered at a local
church as they were researching their history).
Section thirty-three of the Township of Sharon, County of Walworth,
State of Wisconsin, has been nothing but forest land.
It is 1842. Wm. Van Ostrand and Mr. Southern settle in this
section. No one has any idea of beginning a village. By 1848, six years later, a school house becomes a necessity and a fact,
located in section thirty-three.
Seven more years pass. It is 1855. A right of way for the Chicago and North-western Railroad
has been surveyed and acquired. Just after crossing from Illinois into Wisconsin it intersects section thirty-three almost
diagonally. Someone has a practical idea and fortunately for our story, acts on it. Robert Campbell of Oshkosh knows what
is going on, has the foresight and the funds to purchase the entire section, to lay forty acres of it out in village lots,
and to have the plat duly recorded.
It is now a year later. To be exact, it is October 22nd, 1856. the railroad has
been built and Sharon has a depot. The depot agent has bought the first lots from Robert Cambell. John Gochey is building
a blacksmith shop. Seymour Rice is about to open his two story hotel. $2,000 has built a Methodist church. George Malmine
has built and opened a grocery store.
Wages ran from one dollar to $2.25 a day for the construction crew; but unskilled workers
receive from fifty to eighty cents a day. Corn brings ten to twelve cents a bushel, hogs two cents a pound, eggs six to eight
cents a dozen, bacon or butter six cents a pound. Coffee is a dollar for eight pounds and this is in Sharon.
a town is about to be born there ought to be a doctor present. There Was. At least Mr. Wilson did not only blister and bleed,
he also had an adequate supply of calomel; a remedy that seems to have been more frequently indicated a century ago then it
is now. If attending to all legal matters makes an attorney, Sharon also had an attorney, Mr. F.P. Arnold.
first anniversary was in 1867. To enjoy normal growth a town must have children. By selecting Sharon as her birth place Belle
Low achieved the distinction of being the first child born here. However, this increase in population was off set by the first
death in Sharon. Small pox took Dr. Rosser’s boy the same year.
December 22nd, 1862. –
Don’t look now, but that little baby boy that was just born to the Goodland’s will be Governor Walter S. Goodland
some day. When Sharon will celebrate its centennial in 1956 they will name a park after him and prove from history that there
are advantages about having governors who are seasoned in years.
“1864” The “Vedder House”
Hotel, three stories for $8,000. March, 1866, Do you see that new depot agent? When he worked for the New York and Eric
Railway Company he was the first telegraph operator in history to send train orders. What is he doing just now? He is conducting
services in the depot. He will be long remembered as Reverend George F. Brigham, and because later he will give a centrally
located and beautiful piece of real estate and two thousand dollars for a free library they will in 1927 name the new $5,000
colonial library building in his honor.
June, 1867. This is the first edition of “The Mirror”, Sharon’s first weekly
newspaper. Four years from now it will be “The Gazette.” And two after that it will be “The Sharon Inquirer”.
Finally three years later it will become “The Sharon Reporter” and keep that name.
December 1867. What’s
over there? That is “Sharon Academy”, a normal institute, organized by Pastor J.G. Schaefer last year and built
this year by popular subscription. Ninety-six students are enrolled for this first session.
1870, the largest cheese
factory in Wisconsin has just been completed by Robert Pearson and H.H. Bent. It cost $5,000 and uses the milk from 1,500
cows, produces about three thousand pounds of cheese (47 cheeses) every day. Seven men handle up to 30,160 pounds of milk
daily. Cheese produced on a scale up large commands a good market, especially in the east.
1874, eighteen years
after the town has been laid out in lots, The Sharon Bank, established by J.M. Yates and Howland Fish, opens for business.
Work begins on “Sharon’s second hotel, the $15,000 “Yates House”. The hotels are good investments
now; but they will not be needed when cars are invented and cover many more miles a day than trains and carriages can now.
Sharon, twenty-six years young, now has seven physicians, four general stores, one grocery, three drug stores, tow hardware
stores, one variety store, two shoe stores, three restaurants’ (besides the two hotels), one flour mill, one cheese
factory, five pastors, and a number of machinists. $10,000 has constructed the first brick high school building.
10th, 1884, Sharon has a $35,000 fire, in which almost the entire east side of Baldwin Street is reduced to ashes.
John Byrne of Sharon invents and patents the tire bolt wrench. About this time James H. Phelps of Sharon patents among other
things the Phelps Harmony pedal, which will become standard on all pianos.
1890, population 878.
May 17, 1892, election
day. Sharon, platted and laid out in lots thirty-six years ago, decided (130 to 60) to incorporate.
1895, population 906.
water works with a 110 foot water tower at the “Point”, the junction of Martin and Baldwin “Streets.
23, 1899, Sharon organizes a fire department. Twelve tailors are kept busy at Wolf and Brownson’s Store.
population 945. The Sharon telephone company organizes. It will continue to remain independent throughout the years. Four
different secret societies organize in addition to the four that already exist.
1901, another secret society organizes,
to make it nine in all.
January, 1902, The Sharon Reporter publishes the “Souvenir Edition of Pictorial Sharon”
(From which much of this material was taken).
1916, Sharon has had two of the state’s finest hotels, Hotel
Wells and the Yates House, but has them no more.
Tuesday, March 28, 1916, all the lights in the village go out
and an instant later a tremendous explosion, the exact cause of which will probably never be known, is heard all over town,
kills the new water works superintendent, Frank D. Rich, and by fire destroys the power house which has so far furnished the
water, gas and electric light for the village. Since we had come in just before this part of the picture, and since the lights
are out now, let’s go out here
Overheard at the EXIT, “It has been a long time since George Malmine in Sharon’s
first store sold eight pounds of coffee for a dollar. I wish I had a cup of it now.”