Articles and Documents
Recollections of Madison
George W. Stoner (1830-1912) arrived at what would become downtown Madison
on September 6, 1837, as a little boy. In this series of recollections written
many years afterwards, he describes coming overland from Cleveland, meeting
the handful of other settlers, including the Peck family who were the first
white residents, the construction of the first buildings and businesses,
roads, and noteworthy events such as the first election and the first suicide
(caused by a broken heart).
The Surveyor Who Laid Out Madison
Recalls His Days in the Field in 1837
Franklin Hatheway first visited Wisconsin in August 1835, when he was 17
years old. He returned home to New York, learned surveying on the Genessee
Valley Canal in 1836, and the next summer (1837) he returned to Wisconsin
and conducted the surveys described here. His memoir is one of the earliest
accounts of Madison.
An Early Day Tragedy: the Shooting
in the Territorial Council
On February 11, 1842, the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature was interrupted
by the shooting of one member by another. After Representative Charles C.P.
Arndt implied that fellow member James R. Vineyard had lied in the chamber,
Vineyard drew a pistol and shot Arndt in the chest. English author Charles
Dickens, who was traveling in the U.S. at the time, used the incident as
an example of the brutality and barbarity of frontier Americans in his book,
A Visit to John Muir's UW Dorm
Room, ca. 1862.
In this short reminiscence, Grace S. Lindsley recalls visiting John Muir in his room on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison in the early 1860s. She describes how he had invented a combination bed/alarm clock that tipped him onto the floor each morning, and how he dumped her and her young brother out of it. She also briefly recalls a visit he made to Madison in 1896, and his opinion of receiving an honorary degree from an East Coast university.
The First Comprehensive History of Madison to 1874
Daniel Steele Durrie was the Wisconsin Historical Society's first librarian,
holding the position from the mid-1850s until his death in 1892. From all
of the books, newspapers, pamphlets and related materials that came into
the Society, Durrie assembled this history of Madison, including, as Durrie
minutiae of our early history." He also managed to speak to many of
the first settlers, such as Roseline Peck, who provided reminiscences of
life in early Madison. Durrie's book is also richly illustrated with drawings
Loveliest of the Lawn — Madison
is Promoted as a Tourist Destination in 1877
This fanciful history and description of Madison touted the area for its
healthful lakes, romantic woods, and social and educational institutions.
Intended to lure tourists, the article provides information on travel, hotels,
and area attractions.