Mystery Place: Early settler involved in local government, Underground Railroad

Comments Comments Print Print
Ginny Hall | January 12, 2017

You can see the beginnings of the former T.H. Fellows farm on the west side of the present Genoa City, on the south side of County Highway B and extending west into Section 34. It extends well beyond the PFI Fashions location.

This farm is shown on the 1857 plat map and the Fellows house is depicted in the 1873 plat book.

Part of Fellows' farm is show in the Genoa City plat of 1891. Here you also see that he owns 80 acres in Section 35 of the town of Bloomfield and 210 acres to the south in Illinois.

The 1882 “History of Walworth County” indicates that Timothy H. Fellows was born in Pennsylvania in 1812. He moved to Michigan in 1829. There he married Eliza Ann Duncan in December 1831. Eight years later he moved to the town of Bloomfield, Section 35. The history book indicates that he farmed 600 acres.

At the time of their move to Wisconsin, the Fellowses had four children, including sons G.D. and T.A. They had seven more children: Emma, Anna, Francis, Mary, William, Louisa and Katy. By 1882 Emma, Francis, William and Louisa had died. Anna was living in California and Mary was living in Illinois. Gilmore was living in Kansas and Theo was living in Colorado. Katy was married and living in Bloomfield.

T.H. represented the township as a vice president of the Old Settlers Society in 1870 and 1871. He was chairman of the town supervisors in 1846, 1868 and 1873. He served on the town board in 1856 and 1857. He was a member of the county board in 1873 and a member of the state Assembly in 1852 and 1853.

“The Portrait and Biographical Record of Walworth and Jefferson Counties, Wisconsin” has a brief biography of Timothy. It indicates that he was an abolitionist and helped with the Underground Railroad. One time he asked his oldest son to serve as an attendant, taking a runaway slave to the next station.

Timothy died on Nov. 5, 1894. He wife preceded him, dying on April 23, 1887.  

The 1944 plat book indicates the owner of this Bloomfield Township land was R.Z. Miller. I believe this is a relative of the one who built the octagon house in Genoa City. It is a part of this former farm.

The 1966 plat book shows the owners of this property as R. & J. Bottlemy and Wm. J. Hansen. This continues for several years. The 2014 plat book shows the owner as Hansen Farms LP.

Ginny Hall, a Delavan historian, is author of the “Walking around…” and “Meandering…” books, which highlight the history of Walworth County communities.

Comments Comments Print Print