Early Springfield settlers anticipated railroad’s arrival
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The south entrance into Springfield is where Wisconsin highways 120 and 36 separate. This community was platted by Henry T. Fuller in 1855. According to C.W. Butterfield’s “History of Walworth County,” Springfield had a population of around 125 in 1882.
Edward Warren came to this area in 1839 and settled here for several years before moving away. Next to come to this area was William B. Rose. He hired Charles Gillett to break land for him. Actually, Rose really didn’t come to this area at the beginning. He just bought four 80-acre sections. These sections are now a part of this community. After he learned that the railroad was coming through this area, he sold two of his sections to Herrick, Fuller & Co. of Racine.
According to Butterfield, the early settlers in the area also included Arnold Weeks and his family, J. Vanness, John Neil, Peter Orell and Joseph Dykeman. Some of these people stayed in the immediate area, some moved to other parts of the county.
At one time the village had a cheese factory, hotel, Episcopal chapel, post office, train station, district school, wagon factory, general store, hardware store, blacksmith shop and shoemaker shop.
C.B. McCanna built a cheese factory in 1878. It was quite successful. In season, the cheese factory turned out 500 pounds of cheese per day. In hot weather, cheese and butter were not made.
The post office was established in 1856; the first postmaster was William Frost. Beckwith mentions in his history that Ansel Knowles of Lake Geneva traveled his route to this community three times a day to deliver the mail. In 1882, the postmaster was E. Moorehouse. This community still has its own post office.
St. John’s Mission, an Episcopal society, was first organized in 1861. They held services in the old schoolhouse until their chapel was built in 1865. Reverend Shaw of Racine and the Rev. E.K. Miller of Oak Creek officiated at some of the early services. The Rev. R.T. Kerfoot of Geneva was in charge of the society. It was comprised of 12 members. Professor R.C. Hindley of Racine was the lay reader. He came from DeKoven Hall at Racine College. A ladies aid society also was formed.
Springfield owes its existence to the Racine and Mississippi Railroad, which passed through the area in 1855. In 1910, fire destroyed the depot building. After some delay it was rebuilt, bigger and better than before. This probably shows that the area was still important to the railroad.
In 1870, Springfield’s population was listed at 1,312.