Term: Pewaukee [brief history]
Pewaukee is located 20 miles west of Milwaukee in Waukesha County. Pewaukee is surrounded by the Fox River and Pewaukee Lake, which was formed during the glacier period. Pewaukee means “lake of shells” in the Potawatomi language. The Sauk, Menomonee, Winnebago tribes also lived in the area.
Isaac B. Judson and Elon Fuller are credited as settling the town of Pewaukee in 1835. Deacon Asa Clark built the first sawmill on Pewaukee Lake in 1837, as well as the first hotel and the first church.
Settlers were attracted to Pewaukee’s proximity to Milwaukee and the open prairies for cultivation amidst dense forests and grassy slopes. Some of Pewaukee’s agricultural products include plums, blackberries, strawberries, grapes, raspberries, flour, wheat, and corn.
The completion of a stop alongside the Milwaukee and Mississippi Railroad in 1851, and the Milwaukee and Watertown railroad in 1856, facilitated the growth of the city. The depot was located on the lakefront and also served as the social center of the community.
An influx of residents, including German and Welsh immigrants, allowed Pewaukee to be incorporated as a village in 1876.
Pewaukee was a summer resort town in the 1880s where wealthy tourists stayed at the Oakton Springs and Health’s hotels. In the winter, the Armour Company would harvest ice and send it throughout the country via the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul, the Chicago and North Western, and the Wisconsin Central Railroads.
The Village of Pewaukee on the east shore of the lake was incorporated in the 19th century, and the Town of Pewaukee incorporated as a city in 1999; the two remain separate governmental bodies.
View more information in Theron W. Haight's 1907 history of Waukesha Co.
[Source: WHS Library-Archives staff, 2009]