Byron Historical Society Mission Statement
To affect such an understanding of the lives and times of the people of the Town of Byron so that present and future generations may understand, appreciate, and learn from these Americans. We will pursue this mission by preserving documents, photographs, artifacts, and other materials or objects that tell the distinct story of our history. In addition, the Society will make use of its resources to educate its members and the general public concerning its heritage through publications, displays, programs, tours, films, seminars, historical markers, and other educational activities.
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Summaries of the early years of the Town of Byron can be found in three published sources, all with fairly consistent accounts of events and individuals.
Key dates are:
· 1834-35: The town lines/boundaries are established. The Town of Byron contains 23,122 acres of land and is bounded on the north by Fond du Lac, the east by Eden, the south by Lomira in Dodge County, and the west by Oakfield. This area was characterized as having “a pleasing variety of prairie, oak openings, marsh and timberland, undulated by gentle ascents and declivities.”
· 1839: The first settlements/improvements are made by John Case, Oscar Pier, Patrick Kelly and William Stewart. A description of one such improvement reads: “…habitation was made of crotched poles, stuck in the ground and covered with grass and blankets.”
· 1840: The first white person is born in the Town of Byron. Her name was Eliza Stewart, daughter of William Stewart.
· 1841: The first school is established in Butler’s corn barn. Mary Butler was the first teacher. Soon after, Patrick Kelly donated land on which a dedicated school house/church was erected, paid for by five men in the town.
· 1846: Elections are held for Town officials. William Stewart was elected town chairman and Orrin Morris, at whose home the first election was held, town clerk. A total of 34 votes were cast.
· 1847: St. John’s Catholic Church is built.
With the exception of Patrick Kelly, who is the first settler of Irish ancestry, and Phillip Bodamer, the first German settler, Town of Byron pioneers were mainly from England, often by way of New York state and New England, aided by the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 and a road constructed by the United States Army from Green Bay to Portage and Prairie Du Chien. The first religious societies in the area were Methodists, Wesleyans, and Baptists. Despite privations and hardships, the first inhabitants felt they were “getting rich” as farmers. They obtained cows from Illinois and grew wheat in abundance. There were also important quarries and lime kilns in the township which provided employment and raw materials. As the nineteenth century continued, railroads played an increasingly important part in the settlement of the town. Hamlets of Byron with a station on the Wisconsin Central railway, South Byron on the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad, and Hamilton on the Wisconsin Central railway grew up to serve the farmers and the quarry families with general stores, black smith services, post offices, and other support.
Today, the Town of Byron remains rooted in dairy farming and rural life. The 2010 census lists the town’s population as 1,634. Census projections through 2014 show almost 96% of residents are high school graduates and median household income at $71,458. There are an estimated 666 housing units in the town.
History of the County of Fond du Lac, Wis., by Martin Mitchel. J. A. Smith, Fond du Lac, Printer. 1854
The History of Fond du Lac County Wisconsin. Chicago Western Historical Company. 1880
Fond du Lac County Wisconsin Past and Present. Maurice McKenna, Editor. S. J. Clarke Publishing. 1912