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Black Otter Lake ~ Hortonville, Wisconsin

History of Hortonville

“The Village of Hortonville was founded by Alonzo E. Horton in 1848 when he purchased land from the Governor of Wisconsin, which is now the Township of Hortonia and the Village of Hortonville. The land cost him seventy cents an acre! Later, in 1855, he traveled to California and there founded the City of San Diego. In his old age, Mr. Horton returned to Hortonville for a visit and was surprised to see how the Village had prospered. Alonzo Horton was born in 1813 and died at the age of 96 years.” (Village Directory and Commemorative History June 1976)

“Always an opportunist, Alonzo Eratus Horton saw the challenge of gaining riches in land speculation. He was born in Connecticut in 1813 and came to Milwaukee in May, 1836, later purchasing a home in Jefferson County about 1840 or 1841. His first wife, Sally Wright, whom he married in 1841, died five years later. He did not marry again until 1861, by which time he had left the area.

At the close of the Mexican War Horton went to St. Louis where he bought up land warrants issued to soldiers. After acquiring several for land in Wisconsin, he decided to move here. On March 25, 1848 he used Warrant Number 5896 to purchase 160 acres “on the Southwest 1/4 of Section 35 in Township 22 North, Range 15 East in the district of land subject to sale at Green Bay, Wisconsin.” In August and September he used two other warrants to buy additional acres in Section 36 T22N – R 15E. He paid the extravagant price of 70 cents per acre for the land.

One wonders how Horton was able to buy the warrants in St. Louis on February 26, 1848 and file the warrant in Green Bay on March 25, 1848, considering the difficulty of travel in late winter through dense woods. Before he could file he had to take an oath that he had seen and inspected the land and that no other settler lived on it.

The first thing Horton did was to build a cabin. Several crews were hired to build a dam on Black Otter Creek, dig a mill race, clear the site for a mill, and lay the foundation for the mill. One again wonders where the men were found willing to leave their homes and come to an unsettled area to establish a new settlement. Some came by themselves, but others brought their families as soon as land was cleared and cabins built. Not until November 5, 1849 did Horton lay out his first plat for the Village of Hortonville. He then began to buy more land and sell it off as lots in the area.

As the town grew and prospered a desire for incorporation was expressed. It was not until 1894 that definite steps were taken to bring about an organization apart from the Town of Hortonia. Leonard Graef was the census taker for the area. This counting was completed the 7th day of June 1894 with 813 inhabitants being registered. On June 18, 1894, this list was presented to the Honorable John Goodland, Circuit Judge, Outagamie County, State of Wisconsin.

Notice of application for incorporation was published in The Weekly Review once each week for six weeks. After the required publications, the incorporation was completed on the 11th day of August 1894. When in September an election was held to determine the will of the electors, 171 votes were cast. Of these 101 favored incorporation.

The first officers for the Village of Hortonville were elected November 3, 1894.” (Hortonville Centennial Village Directory 1994)