Ancient Philosophers stated, “There is nothing permanent but change.” And changes have come
bumbling in with ever increasing rapidity over the course of time. This booklet attempts to record for
history some of the changes a small section of the Midwest underwent to become the present- day
Bicentennial Township of Addison, Washington County, Wisconsin.
The glaciers of the Ice Age left their indelible mark molding the beautiful rolling hills full of gravel now
topped with forests of hard and soft woods. In the lowlands, are the life renewing streams and
tamarack marshes with the prairies rising gently to the hills. Part of the continental divide bisects the
land in Section 36. Here a bucket of water thrown to the east will travel down the slopes to Big Cedar
Lake onto Cedar Creek into the Milwaukee River and the Great Lakes system to the Atlantic Ocean. A
bucket of water thrown to the west from that point could reach the Allenton Creek, enter the Rock
River, discharge into the Mississippi River and reach the Atlantic Ocean via the Gulf of Mexico and the
No history of the area would be complete without some mention of the Indians who inhabited these
lands. They were banded together into tribes, and the tribes into nations. They were hunters of game,
farmers who raise potatoes, squash, corn, pumpkins and other vegetables and gleaners of the abundant
wild fruits, rice and grains. Theirs was a life of conservation, a closeness to nature. With the advent of
European man, the Indians eagerly bartered furs for guns and other European goods to the extent that
their whole lifestyle was changed and placed on a collision course with white man’s civilization. White
man, hungry for land, kept pushing the Indian’s further and further west. Naturally, there was
resistance with fighting and bitter reprisals. The Indians were decimated by white man’s social and
medical ills as well as tribal battles for territory. Finally, they traded their lands for stated amounts to be
paid annually to the tribes in money, goods or services. The Menominee ceded their lands in 1831; the
Chippewa, Ottowa and Potawatome, their territories thus opening up this area for expansion.
Early settlers continued to have frequent contact with the Indians although an 1838 treat required that
the tribes move further west. All of the contacts were friendly in spite of fears and rampant contrary
rumors. An incident was related about a woman who was alone in her cabin, hear a noise in the food
storage addition and fearing a bear or Indians, she waited until the noise stopped to investigate.
Everything was in order, only, salt was missing. Later that day Indians came with fish and wild fowl,
indicating by sign language that these were in exchange for the salt. Leonard Oelhafen in his
“Descendants of Baron Andreas Oelhafen” relates an incident whereby an Indian chief challenged
Andreas Oelhafen to life a certain stone located on land now owned by his great grandson Melvin,
section 36. Andreas accepted, lifted the stone and was made an honorary chief. Cornelius Gundrum
told of his grandfather’s trading horses. Several told of Indians who still remained in the area, as at
Hefter’s in Section 7, or of groups coming every summer to camp in the woods at Kauns in Section 14
where there are Indian Mounds. Today, these mounds are partially obliterated from Tilling. The Indians
must have missed their beautiful homelands.
Over these scenic hills covered with dense hardwood forests, through the prairies and the tamarack
swamps and the marshes, surveyors authorized by the United States government, plodded in 1833 to
1836 to lay out township lines and sections. A Gunther’s Chain of 100 links measuring 66 feet or 4 rods
was the basic unit of measurement. In that system:
80 Chains=1 mile (80 x 66 = 5280 feet)
10 Square chains = 1 acre (66’ x 66’ x 10= 43,560 feet)
1 chain = 6 rails (11 feet to the stand fence rail)
It was easy to estimate distance by fence posts in that system.
Two territorial roads were laid out crossing each other at the present Addison Center. These first roads,
constructed by the military, were little more than lanes through woodlands, pathways winding over
prairies, with bridges over the streams, and some of the swamps ditched. Most were built along the old
Indian trails, the Dekora Road from the lake at Port Washington to the Indian Village Dekora on the
Wisconsin River, and Fond Du Lac road on the Winnebago Indian Trail from Milwaukee to fond du Lac.
Town of Addison is made up of the unincorporated communities of Addison, Allenton, Aurora, Nenno,
and Saint Anthony are located with the town. The unincorporated community of Saint Lawrence is also
located partially in the town. The largest hamlet of the Town of Addison is Allenton, which is also
considered a village by some. The reason for being called a village, Allenton has its own Sanitary district
which is uncommon in an unincorporated town.
History of Allenton- Railroad
Allenton is also the home to the Allenton Elementary school, which in 2010 was honored with the Blue
Ribbon School Award by the National Department of Public Instruction for academic excellence in 2010.
The “Village” of Allenton is where you would find the Addison Town Hall, which is where our local town
meetings are held, where residents of the Town of Addison Vote. The same building is where the
Addison Hwy dept. is located, that maintains the town roads.
Town of Addison has multiple Zip codes, the Allenton 53002 zip code extends north in to other Towns,
the Hartford and West Bend zip codes serve Town of Addison residents too.