By Al Gruling
Troy Township is in the northern part of Walworth County. Troy is surrounded on the west - by LaGrange; east - East Troy; north - Waukesha County; and south - LaFayette townships. Early settlers named it after Troy, England, and also the city of Troy, New York.
The town has many different land terrains, in the northwestern and southern areas there are some prairies, the northeastern area is in the Kettle Moraine and the south central area has a large lowland or marsh of about 3,000 acres.
There are many lakes in the township including Booth, LuLu, Swift, Peters, Pickerel and many other smaller lakes throughout the township.
A stream of water flows through the town from west to east. The settlers found along its banks many trees with honeybees in them and named the steam, Honey Creek. Honey Creek was very important to early settlers for its waterpower. There were three mills built along the creek in the town of Troy. In 1839, Amasa Bigelow built the first mill in the town. It was a sawmill built at the LaGrange and Troy town line near the entrance of Honey Creek. Eliphalet Cramer an investor from New York built a flour and gristmill in the same area as the Bigelow sawmill. This gristmill was known as the Williams Mill and later as Leans Mill. In 1844, Major Jesse Meacham built a dam and flourmill just east of the village of Troy.
The first known settler to make claim in the town was Major Jesse Meacham, who came to the area in 1835 but did not move in until 1836. Meacham had earned his title "Major" in the War of 1812. He was a very prominent and determined pioneer, who was instrumental in naming the town "Troy." In 1837, Meacham became the first postmaster in the village of Troy (first known as, Meacham). Troy Center, Adams, and Little Prairie, (known as, Ray's Corners) also started a post office about this time.
W.P. Meacham was the first male child born on 27 September, 1836 in Walworth County. He was the son of D.D. and Prudence (Gidds) Meacham and the grandson of early settler of Troy, Major Jesse Meacham.
Adolphus Spoor also from the State of New York, made claim to land in the town of Troy about the same time as his friend, Major Meacham. His claim to land was on the townline with the town of East Troy. Here in 1851, he built house made of cobblestones gathered from the Booth Lake area. This House still stands in all its great glory, as it did in 1851.
Troy, Troy Center, Adams, Mayhew, and Little Prairie were the five villages in the township. They all had a school, church, blacksmith shop, store, lumber sheds, tavern/hotel or "Half Way Stop," for travelers going through the area. All the villages also had a creamery or butter-making factory.
Some other original early settler families were: Olds, Chapman, Baker, Chatfield, Porter, Kling, Coombe, Branfort, Andrus, O'Brien, Cook, Cox, Dingman, De'Vitt, Hubbard, Lumb, Nourse, Perry, Stratton, Mayhew, Matheson, and Murdock.
There had been a need for a railroad link between the Western Union Railroad going through Eagle and the Chicago & Milwaukee Railroad through Elkhorn. In 1869 they started to lay the tracks and drove the last railroad spike on July 26, 1870. In early August 1870 the first train made a round trip between the two towns. This was to be a big boost for the villages along the railroad link. Troy Center did grow by adding a lumberyard, stock yard, hotel, dance hall, and many other small businesses. This short railroad spur came to be known as "The Bobby Line." Many of the town residents used the train as their means of transportation to Elkhorn, Chicago, Milwaukee, Eagle, or anywhere they had to travel.
The railroad was much used to transport ice cut from Lake LuLu to Chicago. In the winter months after the lake froze, many area men worked with their team of horses to cut and store the ice. The ice was stored in a large icehouse and it would be shipped all summer by rail. This was put out of business with the coming of electric refrigeration. After the icehouse was not used for ice, some Bootleggers took over the icehouse and set up a distillery. Many barrels of whiskey were made and transported to Chicago. This went on for some time until the law came in with axes, made some arrest, and smashed the distillery and whiskey barrels to bits. That was the end of Lake Lu Lu's icehouse. The Bobby Line was used until October 31, 1932, when it became unprofitable to operate.
Adams School, 1840-1956, named after President John Quincey Adams, was ajoint district with LaGrange. It was located at the intersection of State Road 20, County Road J, and Adams Road. The first school was made of logs. The second school built was a frame building and used until 1881 when a new brick building was erected.
Little Prairie School, 1840-1961 was a joint district with the towns of Troy, LaGrange, Palmyra, and Eagle in the counties of Walworth, Jefferson, and Waukesha. It got its name from the surrounding terrain. The first school built in 1840 of oak slabs that were standing up on end. This building soon became too small and in the 1850's another larger frame building was erected. This building was used until that too became too small and a new 27 X 40 building was erected at a cost of 1,300 dollars.
Baker School, 1853-1951, located on the southwest comer, at the intersection of Bluff Road and O'Brien/Scout Road. There was said to be an earlier school building about a half mile from the 1853 building. The building was a frame with clapboard siding. It was used as a school until 1951 when the district closed the school and joined the East Troy Community Schools. The building was then used as a grain storage shed.
Ackley School, located at the intersection of Little Prairie Road and Sterman Road about one and three quarters miles west of Troy Center. Unknown when it was organized but closed in 1915. The district was then added to the Troy Center, Adams, and Baker school districts. The building was sold and moved to the village of Troy Center.
Troy Center School, 1840-1962, was first located about one half mile east of Troy Center on County Road J. This building was used until a larger two-room school was built on Briggs Street in the village and opened in 1907. After 1952 the district was consolidated with the East Troy Community Schools.
Quarterline School, 1839-1950, was located along State Road 20 near and across from the Evergreen/Quarterline Cemetery. The first school building was built of logs Then a frame school was built and used until 1878, when a larger frame building was erected. In 1950 the district was dissolved in joined with the Troy Center school district. Centerville School, 1910-1927, was located at the intersection of County Road J and Pickerel Lake Road. The building was first used as the Troy Center School. When Troy Center built a new school the old building was moved to this site and a new district was formed. After the school closed in 1927 the building was moved again across the road to the Schwartz farm where it was used for grain storage.
Troy School, 1848-1955, was located just east of the intersection of County Road ES and County Road N, in the village of Troy. This large two-story building was built as a church and school. At the time this was the second largest church/school building for a rural community in the state of Wisconsin. By 1937 the school building became antiquated and land was purchased for a new building. The old building was sold and razed. Frank Friemoth built a small replica of the old school as monument to the "Old Troy School." Friemoth included inside the replica the original old school bell. The new building was used as a school until 1955 when it joined the East Troy Community Schools and the building was sold and is used as an apartment house.
Troy Methodist Church, was the first church to organize in the township in 1837. It was served by the old Aztalan Circuit with Revs. Samuel Pillsbury and Jesse Halstead as their first preachers. The meetings took place in Meacham's Prairie, later named, Troy.
Congregational Church, was organized with twenty-five members August 17, 1839, in the village of Troy. The membership grew and in 1848 they built a large two-story building with a seating capacity of three hundred. This building was also used as the school for the area.
Troy Center Methodist Episcopal Church, was organized in 1890. The first services were held in the train depot. Rev. D.B. Coffeen was the pastor and soon launched a movement to build a church in Troy Center. In November 1894 the new church was finished and dedicated. All debts were paid at the day of dedication. The church is still used by the area Methodist.
Adams Methodist Episcopal Church, was first organized by Silas Chatfield and Hirand Nourse in 1881. Before this time settlers would go to neighboring villages for church services and sometimes services were held in homes and the school. In 1917 the members built their own church. This was quite a change from services in the schoolhouse. In the late 1950's the church building was sold to band was used as a private business. After that the members went to church in Troy Center or LaGrange.
Greenwood/Troy Cemetery, in Troy was issued a deed in 1843 for the cemetery purposes. There are many of Troy's first settlers buried in this cemetery. Major Jesse Meacham and his family are buried here as are the families of War of 1812 veteran, Daniel Hooper; Civil War Veteran, Hollister Baker Thayer; George Matthews, Hiram Medbery, George Hibbard and many other early settler families.
Evergreen/Quarterline Cemetery was first used as a burial ground in the late 1830's but it was not organized and recorded with Walworth County until the 25th day of March 1873. Some of the early names in the cemetery records are: Fowler, Watson, Hibbard, Brewster, Randall, Edwards, Rice, Hubbard, Dean, Richmond, Kling, Murdock and many others.
Adams Cemetery was first organized after CorreIa Porter died in 1849. It was a custom to bury the on their own land. The area families got together and organized and recorded the site as "Greenwood Cemetery." In 1854 Silas Chatfield's first wife, Mary died, and Chatfield donated a portion of his land and start a new cemetery near the Adams Comer. The cemetery was then reorganized, recorded and renamed as, "Adams Cemetery." CorreIa Porter was then moved to the newly developed cemetery.
Little Prairie Cemetery was first formed after the Ray, Landgrafs, and Farnums families donated land for burial of the dead in the early 1840' s. It was years after that the cemetery was formally organized and recorded in 1852, with the Walworth County Register of Deeds. Some of the first settler family names to be buried in the cemetery were: Ray, Farnum, Landgrafs, Baker, Chapman, Olds, Murdock, Chatfield, Adsit, Harlow, and many others.