Incorporation of Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin

In 1822 it was enacted by the governor and judges of the territory of Michigan “that all the citizens of this territory, inhabitants of the borough of Prairie du Chien be, and the same are hereby ordained, constituted and declared to be from time to time forever hereafter, one body, corporate and politic, in fact and in name, by the name of the wardens, burgesses and freemen of the borough of Prairie du Chien.” Some of the provisions of the law were very curious; among other things a fine of $2 was assessed for allowing a chimney to blaze out at the top; $1 for hitching a horse to a fence; $2 fine for white persons to be seen skulking or sneaking about after ten o’clock at night, and $2 to $5 for “sharriveriers.” The borough passed and repealed by-laws for about three years, and stopped business in 1825. The first warden was John W. Johnson; M. Brisbois and Thomas McNair, burgesses the last were Joseph Rolette, warden; M. Brisbois and J. H. Lockwood, burgesses.

In 1872, Prairie du Chien became an incorporated city, having never been incorporated as a village, but always being governed by the town authorities, of the towns in which it was situated since the borough government, before spoken of, was done away with. A city charter was granted in April 1872, since which time the affairs of the city have been managed in a prudent manner as is shown by the finances. Prairie du Chien can now (1884) say what few places in the State can say truthfully, that they “owe no man anything,” and have funds on hand.

The following is a list of the city officers from the date of incorporation, to 1884:

1872. — Benjamin F. Fay, mayor; Nicholas Smith, clerk; Otto Georgii, treasurer; R. G. Mathews, marshal.

1873. — Same as those of 1872.

1874. — Benjamin F. Fay, mayor; W. Leclerc, clerk; Otto Georgii, treasurer; R. G. Mathews, marshal.

1875. — J. F. Williams, mayor; W. W. Seley, clerk; Otto Georgii, treasurer; A. B. Laroque, marshal.

1876. — Same as those of 1875.

1877. — Dr. John Conant, mayor; Joseph Zech, Jr., clerk; Otto Georgii, treasurer; D. L. Crawley, marshal.

1878. — Dr. John Conant, mayor; T. G. Brunson, clerk; Otto Georgii, treasurer; R. G. Mathews, marshal.

1879. — S. Rosenbaum, mayor; T. G. Brunson, clerk; Otto Georgii, treasurer; R. G. Mathews, marshal.

1880. — S. Rosenbaum, mayor; T. G. Brunson, clerk; Otto Georgii, treasurer; George E. Harrington, marshal.

1881. — James Garvey, mayor; T. G. Brunson, clerk; S. Rosenbaum, treasurer; George E. Harrington, marshal.

1882. — James Garvey, mayor; T. G. Brunson, clerk; S. Rosenbaum, treasurer; R. G. Mathews, marshal.

1883. — Henry Otto, mayor; J. E. Campbell, clerk; S. Rosenbaum, treasurer; G. E. Harrington, marshal.

Post Office

A post office was established at Prairie du Chien in 1824, with James Duane Doty as the first postmaster; he in about a year was succeeded by James H. Lockwood. In 1838 Thomas P. Street was postmaster and held the position for a number of years. Keeping the office in a little log house on Water Street. The following are remembered as having served as postmasters:

John S. Lockwood, Mr. Grace, H. A. Wright, Charles Brisbois, Charles Creal, Ira Brunson, S. N. Lester, W. B. Hunt, who served under James Buchanan’s administration, Fred J. Miller, who held the office during the rebellion and was followed by Edward Whaley, a major in the Union army and who lost a limb in the service during the Civil war. Mr. Whaley still (1884) is in office.

This point became a money order office in July, 1865. The first order was issued to Charles W. Clinton, in favor of Shaw & Clark, Biddeford, Maine, for $20, and was dated July 10, 1865.

The first order drawn on this office was remitted by Dragutt Scharff of Milwaukee, Wis., and payable to Julius Eakhardt, who was then in the hospital at Prairie du Chien.

The first postal note was issued to postmaster Whaley’s wife at Milwaukee, in October 1883.

History of Crawford and Richland Counties, Wisconsin: Together with Sketches of Their Towns and Villages, Educational, Civil, Military, and Political History, Portraits of Prominent Persons, and Biographies of Representative Citizens ; History of Wisconsin : Embracing Accounts of the Pre-historic Races, and a Brief Account of Its Territorial and State Governments, Part 1. Crawford County (WI): Union Publishing Company, 1884.

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