The History of The Town of Lisbon

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The Town of Lisbon  is a Township of approximately 30 square miles surrounding the Village of Sussex. The Town is generally rural in nature with a 1999 population of over 9,000, but there are some fifty subdivisions and one mobile home park (Willow Springs).

Compiled and Edited by Michael R. Reilly

Last Revised 03/17/2014

History (Much of the following is reprinted from “The History of Waukesha County, 1880″, therefore the language and point-of-reference is from the year 1880. Additional notes have been added to further explain the text.)

By act of the Territorial Legislature, approved January 2, 1838, the land included in the present towns of Lisbon, Pewaukee, Brookfield and Menomonee, was erected into the Town of Lisbon [1838 – the Town of Lisbon is formed within the Milwaukee County Territory along with the Towns of Summit to the west), Muskego (to the southwest), and Mukwonago (to the south).  [Editor Note: Initially the first settlers called the area Head of Fox River”]

The following sections are taken from an act entitles, An Act establishing the several towns in the County of Milwaukee.”

Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of Wisconsin,

Sec. 4.That the country included within the following limits, to wit: beginning at the south east corner of town 7, north of Range twenty
east; thence west to the north west corner of town 7, north of Range 19 east; thence north to the north west corner of town 8, north of Range 19 east, north of Range 20 east; thence south to the place of beginning, be, and is hereby set off into a separate town by the name of Lisbon, and the polls of Election shall be opened at the House of Charles Skinner.

Sec. 37. This Act shall be in force from and after the third day of March next, and all Acts, and parts of Acts contravening any of the provisions of this Act, are  hereby repealed.
Source: Milwaukee Sentinel, February 20, 1838

Proceedings of the Board of County Commissioners, of the county of Milwaukee, at their Session in April, A. D. 1838, fixing on the place of holding Elections and defining the Road Districts in said County and the Counties thereunto attached, Ordered, That hereafter the Polls of Election in the several Towns in the county of Milwaukee and the counties thereunto attached, shall be held at the following points and places, until otherwise ordered by this board. In the town of Lisbon, at the dwelling-house now occupied by David Bonham, and also at the dwelling-house now occupied by J. De Wolf. Source: Milwaukee Sentinel, April 17, 1838, page 4

December 20, 1839 – the Town of Lisbon (which was 12 miles by 12 miles square) is split into the towns of Lisbon,  Menomonee (Township 8, Range 20, East), Pewaukee and Brookfield (each 6 miles by 6 miles square). This was approved by the Wisconsin Legislature, but not effective until after March 1, 1840. Each of the other three original Towns (see 1838) divided themselves up in like manner, but all still part of Milwaukee County.

ORDERED, that the Road Districts in the several towns in the counties of Milwaukee, Washington, and Dodge be formed as follows:
Lisbon – East half of town 8 range 20, District No. 1; west half of the same, District No. 2; east half of town 8 range 19, District No. 3; west half of the same , District No. 4.
Source: Milwaukee Sentinel, February 4, 1840, page 4 of 4

1846 – the Town of Lisbon becomes part of the newly created Waukesha County when the 16 western most towns split from Milwaukee County. ]; the first election to be held at the house of Charles Skinner. A Subsequent act, passed March 9, 1839, established the town lines as they are now.

(Editor’s note: A note on the word township: this word is used in several different ways in this text and in land descriptions in general. First and foremost it describes a six-mile square area laid out as part of the Public Land Survey System, this is also known as a congressional township because the land surveys were originally directed by congressional action, this can also be described as a survey township. These have a numerical description such as Township 7 North, Range 9 East. The word township is also used to describe a unit of local government, a civil township. Here the name is shortened to “town” and they are normally named as in the Town of Vermont, the Town of Rome, or the Town of Orion. While these civil townships often share the same geographic boundaries as a congressional township, sometimes they include larger or smaller areas. To confuse the issue even further, the word township is also used to describe the east – west line of six-mile square blocks between to adjacent township lines.
source: )

The homes of the first settlers looked something like this. Writing on the back of this photo identifies the cabin as the first home of Andrew Lauder Davidson. Source: Recollections from the Past: Sussex, Wisconsin, Presented by Farmers & Merchants Bank, August 4, 1972

The town possesses many very fine general features. All monotony is removed from the scenery by the endless variety of hills and valleys, woodland and prairie.

The town possesses many very fine general features. All monotony is removed from the scenery by the endless variety of hills and valleys, woodland and prairie.

The soil is clay and limestone marl, the substratum abounding in extensive beds of excellent limestone. It is what would ordinarily be called a heavy soil, being not easy to till. Farmers usually call this kind of land “white-oak land”, as white-oak timber grows particularly well upon it.

It is a steadfast, rich, and fruitful soil beyond that of lighter soils. There are very many fine farms in various parts of the town, and a general air of thrift, intelligence and industry pervades everything in all sections.

There are several churches and a number of schools in the town, all well attended and supported. The dwelling-houses are brick, grout or frame, and usually in good repair. There seems to be in this section quite a liking for grout houses, as grout, when carefully prepared, makes thoroughly substantial walls and at a very much less cost than any other material.

The inhabitants are principally English, American and Scotch, with a sprinkling of Irish and Germans.

To Thomas S. Redford, probably, belongs the distinction of having been the first one to drive his stake in this town. When he first came here, he accompanied the surveying party of Hudson (?), Garret Vliet and John Brink, who surveyed through the town early in 1836. In May of this year, he collated the claim which he now occupies, on Section 25.

In June of 1836, P. Ray, James Hanford and William Packard came out from Milwaukee and selected claims, and assisted T. S. Redford in erecting his first shanty, this being a sort of headquarters for all until each could get a cabin raised. Soon after, probably about the month of August, John Weaver, Lucius Botsford, Thomas Rolf and David Bonham came into the town. They at once made claims and proceeded with all dispatch to erect houses for their families, for they were all, but one, family men. Having got their houses up and ready during this fall and winter, they then went into the city of Milwaukee, where the women and children were staying, and brought them out before the snow was off the ground in the spring. A. A. Redford came in at this time also. These four women were the first in the town, as also were their children the first of the small folks.

First Settlers – Town of Lisbon

by Michael R. Reilly, May 25, 2013

According to Melinda Warren Weaver, the first families to actually live in the Township were:

John and Melinda Weaver & family

David and Rebecca Bonham & family

    Mr. Ralph (various spellings) and family

Note: These families travelled together on March 4, 1837 to their claims and lived together (in her brother-in-law’s, David Bonham, cabin) for nearly a month before their own cabins were ready about April 1, 1837.

Arthur Redford, wife and 6 children ; including Thomas S. Redford

Note: Melinda says they arrived the same day. Thomas Spencer Redford, Arthur’s son, wasn’t waiting their arrival, though it’s said he staked a squatter’s claim early in 1836.

Mr. Palmer and Mr. Rosebrook

Note: These two men also arrived on March 4th, w/o their families, to erect a shelter. Later their families arrived which included Mr. & Mrs. Palmer, Sr., who were the parents of Mr. Palmer, and that of Mr. Rosebrook’s wife.

Note: It’s known that John Weaver was the brother of David Bonham’s wife, Rebecca. It’s not known if there was any family relationship to Mr. Ralph, or his wife, or to any of the other same day arrivals.

Note: The next folks to arrive, together, were in mid-June 1837; they were:

James Weaver and family (brother of John)

Edward Smith and family

George Elliott and family

Note: Brother William Weaver arrived with his family and his father at a later date. It’s believed that the Smiths and Elliotts are family related to the Weavers. They also arrived in America onboard the Brig Emma with them, April 19, 1830 and afterwards lived in the same general area: Augusta, Oneida, New York.

Democratic Nominations

At a meeting of the Democratic party, convened at the Court House in the town of Milwaukee, pursuant to public notice, on the 29th day of March…

On motion, the following persons were appointed a Committee of Vigilance:

Mr. Bonham, Head of Fox River (Note: name of residence)

Source: Milwaukee Advertiser, April 1, 1837, page 2 of 4.


David Bonham – the town’s first business man, and the first business in the town.

Editor: April 1, 1837 David Bonham is advertising in a Milwaukee newspaper that his Public House (tavern) was open at “Head of Fox River”

[later Town of Lisbon].  The Head of the Fox River encompassed an area on the eastern edge of the Lisbon township and that which was

Willow Springs, later Lannon, then Village of Menomonee Falls.

Public House

The subscriber would inform the travelling public that he has opened a house of entertainment on range 19 town 8 section 36 the north-west quarter. It is on the Oconomowoc trail, at the head of Fox River, on the direct route to the Upper Rapids on the Rock River, where he will be happy to accommodate those may be disposed to give him a call.

David Bonham

April 4, 1837

Source: Milwaukee Advertiser, Milwaukee Advertiser, April 15, 1837


“Oconomeewoc Village” instead of “Public House” heading in the May 13, 1837 edition.

In the spring and summer of 1837, James Weaver, who now lives at Sussex; George Elliott, Edward Smith, Nathan Peso and Samuel Dougherty came with their families and settled here, making for themselves permanent homes.

The first one removed from the little community by death, was Stephen Bonham, a little son of D. Bonham, who died in October, 1837, and was buried on his father’s farm.

Lisbon had its first representative of a new generation in the person of Ruth Weaver, daughter of James Weaver, born November, 1837.

As early as 1838, Mrs. John Weaver began a school in her own home, a small log house. This served the purpose of kitchen, parlor, dining, sleeping and school room. Here, after she had attended to the duties of a mother, in waiting upon her family of little ones, she would storm the citadel of ignorance with A, B, and C. sometimes teaching as many as twenty pupils, many of whom had to come long distances.

On the third day of June, 1839, the first nuptials were solemnized at the marriage of Lucius Botsford and Miss Lucinda Denny, Elder Griffin being the officiating clergyman. [Editor’s Note: Miss Denny was the daughter of Joseph Addison Denny and Phebe Henshaw, born April 3, 1806. She was also a step-daughter Lucinda Henshaw Denny Daugherty, wife of Samuel Daugherty.].

Rev. Frink was the first preacher, and held the first service at the home of John Weaver, about 1838. Elder Griffin also began holding services in this section soon after.

The first schoolhouse was erected as early as 1841, and, some of the oldest settlers say, as early as 1839. It was built of stone, by Mr. George Elliott, and occupied the site of the present school building of District No. 1, on Section 35. In this building were held the first Sabbath meetings and Sunday schools; also public meetings. The town then comprised one district. From the report of Commissioners of Schools in 1842, it appears that there were 110 scholars in the town, 69 males and 41 females, with one male teacher and two female teachers, and $148.40 was raised by tax and $26.60 by subscription to defray the expense. Phineas Bissell was the first male teacher.

District No. 2 was organized in 1842, and comprised the southwest corner of the town. Among the teachers were Henry William Rodeman, Henry Clakins, Miss Small (now Mrs. Robert Rodgers) and Miss Julia Griswold (now Mrs. Austin Wheeler, of Pewaukee). The present schoolhouse of District No. 2 was built about 1853. About 1839 or 1840, Rice Gale came in and put up a blacksmith shop on Section 35, near the house of D. Bonham. Mr. Gale was followed by Mr. Nottingham, who built one nearby.

During the year 1841 and the year following, there was quite an influx of settlers, among whom may be mentioned, Robert James and Archibald Rodgers, John Small, Alexander Harris and a Mr. Moyes, all said to have come from Scotland; Thompson Richmond, George Cairncross, J. Reed, Thomas Bloor and family, John Muir, Henry Sears, Harrison and Henry Phillips, Ira D. Goodwin, Ira and Mark Rowell, Dr. John A. Willard, John Thompson, E. B. Quiner, and Elisha Pearl, and many other persons came during the following year. From this time forward the increase in population was steady, if not rapid.

According to the town records, the first election was held April 5, 1842, at the stone schoolhouse on Section 35, when Samuel Dougherty was chosen Moderator, and David Bonham, and Lucius Botsford, Side Supervisors. David Bonham was also elected Clerk; James Weaver, Treasurer; R. Blount, Assessor; George Comstock, Collector; D. Bonham, Ed Smith and School Commissioners; E. W. Fowler and Thomas Redford, Constables; John Weaver, Sealer of Weights and Measures; A. A. Redford, Samuel Dougherty, D. Bonham and William Weaver, Overseers of Highways; A. A. Redford, William B. Caldwell and William Weaver, Fence Viewers. The whole number of votes did not exceed twenty.

The earliest recorded assessment was made in the town of Lisbon, in 1843, when 4,920 acres were assessed: Value, $12,848.20; personal property, value, $1997; county tax, $101.61; town tax, $105. Total tax, $206.61.

About 1840, Levi Russell started a little store and shoe shop in his log house on Section 35. This point at that time was the most important place in the town; but after the nucleus nothing was added, unless the church and graveyard in the vicinity are mentioned.

The first field plowed in the town is said to have been on Section 36. In 1837, E. Smith, James Weaver, John Weaver and George Elliott sowed a patch of turnips a little east of Sussex, on the ground where now stands the feed mill, and the next winter turnips were used for apples.

The first plow is said to have been brought in by D. Bonham. At that time, the settlers went to Milwaukee to get their plows sharpened and repaired, which had to be done very frequently, for on much of the land grew what was called red root brush, and the ground, being literally filled with these tough roots, was very had to break.

The first sawmill was built a short distance north of the village of Sussex, by James Weaver, George Elliott, Edward Smith and Cooley Frarey, in the winter of 1842. It was designed to run by water, with an undershot wheel, but, owing to the nature of the bed of the stream, they would not confine the water. An engine was therefore purchased and moved out from the city, at an expense of about $1,200. It had not been set up a very long time before the boiler burst, while under the charge of Thomas Weaver. This difficulty was overcome, and the work went on for several years, but not in a profitable manner. The mill has been long abandoned, and nothing now remains.

The brewery, which now stands about one-half mile north of the mill, on the road from Sussex, was first built by Stephen Stone [Note: according to Fred Keller, c. 1846 started by Stone and soon sold to Ephram (Boots) of Maple and Main {then South St.} (Sts.)]. In 1862, Mr. Boots became the sole owner. Twelve years after, in 1874, Mr. Boots had the misfortune to lose the old brewery by fire. In 1875, it was rebuilt as it is now (c. 1880).

James Weaver was the first Postmaster, and had the office at his home on the old farm on Section 35. Subsequently, he resigned in favor of his son, Thomas Weaver, from whom, in 1849, the office was transferred to Sussex, and Richard Cooling became Postmaster. Mr. Cooling held it for two years, when it passed into the hands of William Weaver, where it remained until 1861, when Mr. Cooling again came into possession of the office, and held it until 1878; he then resigned in favor of his son-in-law, Mr. Templeton, who has had charge of it since {Note:  c. 1886. Mr. Templeton was the postmaster at Sussex when the Soo Line was built through East Sussex and when he moved over to his new home. He wanted to move the post office over, too, but Sussex protested that it was too far out of the way. Mr. Templeton had grown to be a power in local politics then, so he had a new post office established, had it named Templeton and had the railroad change the station name from East Sussex to Templeton

Sussex in 1864

South of Main St. (left to right): C. Cooling, J. Pettard, R. Russell, T. Campbell (Wagon & Blacksmith shops), J. Hickmot with R. Weaver (dealer in New York and Wisconsin hops) store and J. Brown in front, J. Andrews with C. Cooling (blacksmith and carriage factory) and R. Cooling (store and P.O.) in front, J. & C. Russell, W. Weaver, A. Davidson, J. E. Brown (carpenter and joiner).

North of Main St. (left to right): E. Champeney, parsonage, Town lot, R. Weaver, store, Jno. Reeve, C. E. Craven, Jas. Elliott, Episcopal Church (St. Alban’s), E. Boots, H. Boots, E. Boots, Jr. brewery, saloon, R. Cooling, J. Russell, W. Medhurst, Jas. Weaver, J. Russell, J. Stone, school.

  1. Otis, who came in 1837, built the first frame shell; but Sherman Botsford erected the first really substantial frame house built in the town. About 1850, the project of a (Lisbon) plank road (now County Hwy K or Lisbon Road) was started by many of the leading men of the town and county, the road to run from Milwaukee to Hartland, with a branch to run to the southern part of Lisbon and Merton. It was almost a total failure, so far as the interests of the majority of the farmers were concerned, for many of them lost all they put in, if any, escaped without a loss. The road, according to estimates, cost about $60,000.

The first lime was burned in a small kiln, built as early as 1848 or 1849, by Messrs. Smith & Elliott, on the farm now owned by Richard Craven. The old kiln of Thomas Weaver was built by B. Storms, who lived near it and ran it for several years. He sold to Mr. Weaver in 1853. Mr. Weaver rebuilt the following year and did a thriving business for twelve years or more.

The stone quarry of Mr. Davidson, Section 23, was opened about 1840, and the quarry of William Graves was opened about 1842. The stone taken from these is of excellent quality.

(Religion in the town)

The Episcopal Church Parish was organized in 1842, and was composed principally of English settlers. The congregation met and worshipped in the barn of James Weaver, and occasionally at the schoolhouse of District No. 1, until able to erect a church. The parish remained under the pastoral care of the clergy of Nashotah Mission, until the 7th of March, 1847, when Rev. William Armstrong took charge of it. At the organization of the parish, there were five families. The parsonage was erected in the spring of 1849. Rev. George A. Whitney is the present Rector (in c. 1880). The church has been much improved lately (before 1880) in appearance by the addition of a fine tower and bell, and the introduction of new chancel furniture and stained windows.

In June, 1841, a number of the people, principally Congregationalists, united and formed a society called Congregational, Rev. O. F. Curtis, from Prairieville (later Waukesha), assisting. This was the first regularly organized society in the town. Just at this time, the Rev. Spencer Baker came and conducted the first regular service. He was then engaged to preach during the year. Although barely able to live, the minister fared as well as any, at a time when none fared sumptuously, Mr. Baker remained there three years. The school-house was used by the Congregationalists until the erection of the Union Church. The Methodists united with the Congregational society in furnishing the money and materials for building this church, with the understanding that they were to have the use of it on alternate Sundays. They finally united, forming what is now known as the Bible Christian Society.

Portion of a 1846 map of Wisconsin Territory

The Lisbon United Presbyterian society’s church is located near the center of the town, on Section 21. The society was organized August 30, 1847, by Rev. James R. Bonner, of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, and was called the Associate Reformed Congregation of Lisbon, until 1858, when it took the name by which it is now known.

The first members (of the Associate Reformed Congregation of Lisbon)  were Robert Rodgers, Archibald Rodgers, John Muir, John Brown, Thomas Chalmers, John Gilmore, James Welch, Ann C. Gilmore, Agnes Templeton, Margaret Rogers, Elizabeth W. Booth, Margaret Muir, and William Small. They only had preaching occasionally from this time until January 4, 1851, when the Rev. G. W. Gowdie became pastor and remained with them nearly three years. On April 1, 1878, the Rev. T. E. Turner, the present pastor (c. 1880), took charge. The congregation now numbers forty-eight (c. 1880), there being five of the original members among them.

Lisbon Mutual Insurance Company

More to come…

Source: The History of Waukesha County, 1880; “Sussex’s timeline starts with blacksmith”, by Fred Keller, Sussex Sun, Tuesday, September 14, 1999, Page 2 B.

First Lisbon Turkey Shoot Was Held in Lisbon, and Without Beer
Although the beer for the event went astray, what was probably the first turkey-shoot in Waukesha county was a great success. It was held at Lisbon in 1839.

Turkeys for the “shoot” were obtained by David Bonham, one of the township’s first settlers. Men came from far and near and everyone enjoyed himself.

The blame for the missing beer lies on the poor roads of those days. Among his other preparations, Bonham had gone to Milwaukee with Thomas Redford, Lisbon’s first settler, for beer. Rattling back home over the rough roads, the beer was so shaken up it burst out the bung in the keg.

Whatever the turkey-shooters drank that day, it wasn’t Milwaukee beer. [Editor’s note: It would seem that Bonham may be still in the “public house” business if he was one of those to obtain the beer.]

Bride Changes Her Mind

From the earliest recorded history up to the present day, poets and bards have claimed that love has been driving man to his death. And it was love that caused the first of Lisbon’s three suicides during the town’s early years.

Intending to get married, a John Brown, rented a farm for five years. In 1848, bought furniture, and made all preparations to set up housekeeping. When everything was set, Miss Melville, his young bride, changed her mind at the last minute and put the wedding off.

Brown was so affected, says a history book, “the he hanged himself without delay.”

Jerry Stone, who swallowed a dose of strychnine in some beer, was the town’s second suicide in 1866. While temporarily insane, James McDonald cut his throat in 1869 for the third suicide.

Noted For Good Soil

A very pretty township, with its hills, valleys, woods, and prairies, Lisbon was noted for having good soil for farming. The pioneer farmers called it “white-oak land” because this type of timber grew particularly well on it. It was known as a heavy soil.

There seemed to be a particular liking for grout houses by the first settlers, although brick and frame houses were also erected. Grout was a type of thin mortar or plaster and cement used then.

Thomas S. Redford, Lisbon’s first settler, accompanied a surveying party when he first arrived in the area. After he had settled there in May of 1836, John Weaver, Lucius Botsford, Thomas Rolf, and David Bonham arrived in August.

During the winter they erected cabins and brought their families out from Milwaukee before the snows left the ground the following spring. Their wives and children were the first in the township.

Elections in 1842

Biggest influx of settlers was during 1841. Most of these settlers were either English, Scotch, or Americans, plus a sprinkling of Germans.

First elections in the town were held in 1842 with Samuel Dougherty chosen as moderator and David Bonham, clerk. Bonham was elected Chairman of the Board.

The earliest recorded assessment, in 1843, saw 4,920 acres valued at $12, 848.20. The total town and county tax amounted to only $206.

Mrs. John Weaver began the first school in her small log cabin, which also served as kitchen, [parlor, dining and sleeping room, in 1838. The first school building, made of stone, was put up by either in 1839 or ’41 by George Elliot.

According to a school commission report of 1842, there were 110 students at that time – 69 boys and 41 girls. The teaching staff consisted of two women and one man.

The town’s first plow was brought in by Bonham. Because of a red-root brush with tough roots that grew there, farmers were often required to go to Milwaukee to get their plows sharpened or repaired.

Brewery Burned in 1874

In the winter of 1842, the first sawmill was built near Sussex by James Weaver. The town also had a brewery, built by Stephen Stone. It burned down in 1874, but was rebuilt the next year.

Around 1850, a plank road project to run from Milwaukee to Hartland with a branch from Lisbon to Merton was started by the town’s leading men. Unfortunately it was a total failure.

Church organization started in 1841 when a Congregational; society was formed. The Episcopal church followed the next year and the Presbyterians organized in 1847.

Besides brewing, a stone quarry, lime kiln, and insurance company were started at various periods during the early years.

The pretty village of Sussex’ first resident was Richard Cooling, who came in June of 1843. Shortly after him, men by the name of Fray, Smith, Brown, Champeny, Sims, Stone and Weaver settled there.

Cooling opened the first blacksmith job and William Brown the first store. Farmers in the area started a Union store in 1854 which Cooling soon acquired. A school was organized in 1849.

Source: Waukesha Daily Freeman, Waukesha, Wisconsin, August 16, 1948, page 10.

The Town of Lisbon Gazette is the official publication though all legal notices, minutes of Board meetings and other information are published in the Sussex Sun. The Town is at Town of Lisbon

  • Lisbon – Lisbon Avenue began as a wooden plank road (in the era before paved roads) built by the Lisbon and Milwaukee Plank Road Company from Milwaukee to the Town of Lisbon (official town website) in Waukesha County around Sussex, west of Menominee Falls. The Town of Lisbon was in turn named after Lisbon, Portugal (the country’s capital and largest port city) SOURCE: Milwaukee Streets: The Stories Behind Their Names” By Carl Baehr] [Note: The name Lisbon more likely came from an early settler from a town or city called Lisbon or New Lisbon in New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Ohio or Illinois.]Plank roads are basically just what the name implies. The first construction step was the clearing and grubbing. In flat land the trees, stumps, roots, and other obstructions were removed from the width of road.The stringers, upon which the planks were laid, consisted of white oak boards, one and one-half inches thick, eight inches wide, and not less than twelve feet long. They were laid in trenches so that the upper surface of the stringer was level with the earthen road bed. The outside stringer was set one and one-half inches lower than the other, and eight feet in width was allowed between the two, though in portions of the road near Milwaukee the stringers were laid 12 feet apart. The space between stringers was filled with earth to one-half inch above the surface of the stringer.First turkey shoot held in Lisbon … without beerPosted: Nov. 16, 2010, Retrospect, Living Sussex SunAlthough the beer for the event went astray what was probably the first turkey shoot in Waukesha County was a great success. It was held in 1839, just three years after the first pioneer came into the township, Thomas Richard on May 15, 1836.Men came from far and near to the Lisbon shoot and it is reported that everyone enjoyed themselves.The 1880 Waukesha history book also said the county, and Lisbon, were noted for good soils. In Lisbon, with its hills, woods and valleys, it was noted for fertile ground good for farming. The original main crop was wheat for the Milwaukee flour mills. Then barley became important for the Milwaukee breweries. Raising hops, the ingredient that gives the tang to beer, was a successful venture for farmers in Sussex-Lisbon. And in time, wheat and hops were wiped out and non-growable because of diseases or bugs that afflicted the crops. The failure of these two crops helped to turn Lisbon into a dairy economy. In time, Lisbon would have two cheese factories and also two butter creameries.The pioneers noted that their Lisbon land claims were “White Oak Land” because this type of timber grew particularly well on their claims.Lisbon politicians Party, August,1901by Fred H. KellerThis is one of the all-time great Lisbon political photos, and we know it was taken in early August, 1901. The location was where today one finds Stoney Halquist Park near Quarry Road off Highway K on Lisbon Road. The occasion was a Lisbon Township picnic that nearly 500 people attended.The highlight of the picnic was reportedly a cricket game in which the two teams were the Married Men and the Single Men. A second high point was during the picnic as the first ever new form of transportation came on the scene as it chugged along Lisbon Road, and promptly stopped to be part of the picnic and “show in tell” (The very first auto show in Lisbon.)The U.S. Census of 1900 was official in 1901, at 1501 people.The vast majority of these men would be dead in the next 25 years. The probably last alive who would live 50 or more years is Frank Grogan (fourth from left, third row) who in 1924 became the first elected president of the emerging Village of Sussex, serving 10 years until 1934. He is buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in the front row near Waukesha Avenue.Several of these men fought in the Civil War. Most notable was John Watson, a former Town chairman, who was in the Union trans Mississippi Army that fought at Vicksburg, Helena, Mobile and in the skirmishes in Arkansas.Lisbon millennium bash to tout town history
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) – Monday, September 11, 2000
  • Readability: 8-12 grade level (Lexile: 1100L)
    Author: JACQUELINE SEIBEL, Journal Sentinel staff
  • The first Lisbon town chairman was a convicted murderer.The town was once part of Wayne County, Mich.Those are just a couple of historic facts that Lisbon residents can learn at a millennium celebration planned for Sept. 23.While much of the world celebrated the turn of the millennium last December, many people say the real turning point comes with the arrival of 2001, as counting of years starts with the number one.Not inclined to engage in such debate, Lisbon decided to celebrate somewhere in the middle.Town Clerk Jeffrey Musche said Sept. 23 has no historical significance for Lisbon but organizers wanted to celebrate before the winter.”Holding the event on New Year’s Eve just did not seem appropriate,” Musche said.The event is from 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 23 at the 5-acre park adjacent to the town garage, N72-W24958 Good Hope Road. The activities will include a softball game between the Sussex and Lisbon fire departments.

    A committee of community members wanted to hold the celebration when school was in session so students could participate. Students are writing letters to themselves and adults are writing letters to their children, all for a time capsule.

    The festivities include the dedication of the time capsule, a concrete vault donated by Schmidt & Bartelt Funeral Service, W250-N6505 Highway 164, Sussex . It is scheduled to be opened on May 15, 2036, the 200th anniversary of the first Lisbon settler.

    The Waukesha County territory was settled when Thomas S. Redford left New York in 1836 to settle the first land claim in Lisbon. Redford purchased 160 acres near Hamilton High School for $1.25 an acre.

    Fred Keller , a local historian, wrote a 100-page book on the history of Lisbon that will be distributed at the millennium celebration. The book will be given free to each household. Extra copies will cost $2.

    The book includes 146 pictures and five maps of Lisbon dating back to 1872, Keller said.

    Part of the book is dedicated to the 40 town chairmen who have served the community, including David Bonham, the town’s first chairman.

    Bonham worked as caretaker of a local sawmill. One night, an intruder, Henry Keene, threatened to destroy the place, so Bonham shot and killed him. Bonham, the first white man convicted of murder in Waukesha County, was scheduled to be hanged in 1847. He received a reprieve six hours before his execution.

    Bonham was later pardoned and settled in Missouri after Lisbon residents gave him a cold welcome home.

    Keller ‘s book also tracks Lisbon’s ties to other counties. It was first part of Wayne County, Mich., then Brown County, Wis., and Milwaukee County, from which it separated in 1846.

  • A fellow soldier from up on North Lisbon Road was Charles McGill (1818-1864) who while serving with Watson at Pine Bluff, Ark., died of typhoid fever and is buried in Arkansas. Charles McGill and his wife Elizabeth of Lisbon had a boy, William McGill, a mega future Lisbon politician who attended this 1901 picnic. The son, William was born in 1857 and died in 1934, and was buried at the Lisbon Central Cemetery.
  • A special guest at the picnic was the first Lisbon land claimer, Thomas S. Redford, who at age 17 walked from New York state to Wisconsin and Milwaukee, going out with the surveyors and claiming 160 acres on the west corners of Silver Spring and Town Line Road. His cost for 160 acres was $1.25 per acre, a total of $200. Today, he is buried also at Rose Hill Cemetery, near Frank Grogan.
  • Notable as a backdrop in this photo is a stack of tamarack poles, used for a the raising of hops in Lisbon. It had been a big money maker for Lisbon farmers, middlemen and a source of money for community women and children who worked at harvest time hand plucking the hop cones from the hop poles that held up the hop vines.
  • In 1901, Lisbon consisted of 36 square miles, six miles by six miles, with the corssroads of Maple and Main in the Village of Sussex, Main Street and Waukesha Avenue in Templeton and in Colgate, Lake Five Road and County Line Road.
  • Posted: Feb. 25, 2014, Living Sussex Sun
  • This is arguably one of the greatest Town of Lisbon photos ever taken. It was taken in early August of 1901 at the Elmer Weaver woods. It was a community picnic with no less than 10 former Town of Lisbon supervisors and chairmen attending. The Elmer Weaver woods was the former Thomas Weaver woods. It was north of the present day Stoney Halquist Park. The identity of those pictured are: (Front row:) Charles Buck Jr. McCartan, former chairman, Jeremiah Smith, Charles Beier, (second row:) August Busse, John Tempero, Jim Weaver, Charles Vick, unknown, Andrew Davidson, former chairman, Albert Brandt, Dave Tempero and Jim Loundsberry. (Third row:) George Howard, John Rogers, former chairman, Will Edwards, former chairman, Frank Grogan, Fred Haass, George Bates, host Elmer Weaver, and John Small, former chairman. (Fourth row:) Henry Howard, Charles Brown, George McKerrow, Robert Leadly, John Slicker, George Brown, August Mindemann, Perdergast, Charles Buck, former chairman, William Hurtgen, John Watson, former chairman, Richard Weaver, former chairman, and Richmond Weaver. (Last row:) George Russell, Charles Walters, Philip Stier, Herman Busse, William D McGill, former chairman and Rod Ainsworth, former chairman. In the background is a pile of tamarack poles that were used for the raising of hops, which at the time was a dying industry because of a bug called the “Hop Louse.” According to a newspaper report, 500 people attended the event, including the very first settler of the Town of Lisbon, Thomas S Redford.
  • Next week I will write more on mining found in the 1880 history book, an industry that was the start of Sussex-Lisbon from 1836-1880.
  • The pioneer farmers which were practically all early settlers were subsistent farmers to begin with and then they branched out to be able to sell their grain, hay, meat, milk and other products to a hungry industrialized Milwaukee and Chicago.
  • The blame for the missing beer lies in the poor rutted roads of 1839. Bonham, among his many preparations for the shoot, had gone to Milwaukee with Thomas Redford for beer. As they rattled back to Lisbon over the primitive roads, the beer was so shaken up it exploded out of the lung in the keg. Whatever the turkey shooters drank that day, it wasn’t Milwaukee’s finest.
  • Turkeys for the event, called a “shoot” were obtained by David Bonham (1809-1870). Bonham would serve as the first Lisbon Town Chairman in 1842 and also served on the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature and as a Waukesha County Supervisor. However, he killed a man at where today is Wanaki Park in 1845. He was sentenced to be hung but got a pardon and left Lisbon after the pardon for northwest Missouri … but that is whole different story.
  • The Sussex-Lisbon Historical Society has an original copy of the “1880 Illustrated History of Waukesha County.” There is a Lisbon section that tells of the first turkey shoot being held in Lisbon and this festival of pioneers failed to get the biggest item that was needed for the event – beer. It was not because of design but a failure of transportation.
  • by Fred H. Keller
  • The one remaining step was the placing of the actual planks. They consisted of oak boards three inches wide and eight feet long. They were placed on top of the stringers and pounded down with a heavy maul until they rested on the stringer. The planks were not nailed down or fastened in any other manner. This proved a disadvantage when the road was engulfed by high water, as the planks would float away. It was done because nails or similar objects would work loose and injure horses’ hooves. — SOURCE
  • After the roadway was cleared, it was graded for a width of 24 feet between ditches. The center of the road was raised six inches higher than the sides with a gradual inclination to the ditches. Before the actual grading was done, the roadway was ploughed to a depth of eight to twelve inches and thoroughly dragged to pulverize the earth.