Biographical Review of Dane County, Wisconsin

Biographical Review of Dane County, Wisconsin (1893)

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DANIEL G. SHELDON, one of the pioneers of the great city of Madison, and a man worth of mention in every walk of life, is the subject of this sketch.

Mr. Sheldon was born in Pittsfield, Otsego county, New York, August 10, 1823.  His father, Gardner Sheldon, was born in Rhode Island, and his father, Isaac Sheldon, was born in the same State.  The great-grand-father of our subject was also named Isaac, and his father was born in England, and came to America in the seventeenth century, and settled in Rhode Island.  He was one of three brothers, the others being named Isaac, William and John.

The grandfather of our subject was reared to agricultural pursuits.  He removed from Rhode Island to New York, and lived in Saratoga county a few years, then moved to Otsego county, but spent his last days in Sherburne, Chenango county.  The father of our subject went to New York when eighteen, and resided in Saratoga county a few years; from there he went to Pittsfield, Otsego county, and lived there until 1833, then with his family moved to Genesee county, making the journey overland with teams.  He located in that part of Genesee now known as an included in Perry, Wyoming county, and purchased a farm and resided there many years.  At the time of his death he was living retired in Bethany, Genesee county.

The maiden name of the mother of our subject was Nancy Gorum, born at Ballston Spa, New York, a daughter of George and Sarah (White) Gorum.  She spent her last years with a daughter in Middlebury, New York.  Our subject was ten years old when his parents moved to Genesee county.  At that time the country was but sparsely settled and but little improved.  There was no railroad or canal there, and Albany was over 200 miles distant, and it was the principal market and depot for supplies.  Wheat at that time sold as low as 40 cents a bushel.  The mother used to card, spin and weave, and dressed her children in homespun.  She spun and wove the cloth for the first overcoat our subject ever wore, and then made the garment herself.  Farming was conducted on a very different plan from that of the present.  All grass was mown with a seythe; all grain was cut with a cradle and bound by hand.  Farm labor was cheap; for ordinary farm work 50 cents a day was given; for haying, 60 cents a day; for harvesting, $1 a day.  His mother used to cook by a fireplace, and his earliest recollection is of having no lamps, and even candles were a luxury.  Evening work was done by the light of the fire.

Our subject resided with his parents until he was twenty-one, then began life for himself, working on the farm at $10 a month.  He remained a resident of New York until 1849, when he came to Wisconsin.  He jour-

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neyed by team to Buffalo, thence via the lake to Detroit, thence on the lake via Chicago to Milwaukee, thence with a team to Dane county, where his uncle, Daniel Gorum, had previously settled.  At that time his entire wealth was $400, and he looked around for a place to invest his money in a home, and in December of that year he purchased eighty acres of land, which is included in his present home.  He had no team, and used to change work with his uncle, and in that way got a team to break a portion of his land.  he worked out by the month, and was finally enabled to buy a pair of oxen.  With those he did his farm work and marketing.  Milwaukee was the principal market for some time.  Wheat would sell for from 35 to 40 cents a bushel, and corn at home would sell for from 10 to 12 cents, and oats from 7 to 10 cents.  People who in later years have obtained so much larger prices can realize little what struggles he had to go through with before he could build and equip his farm.  He was very industrious, and success crowned his efforts.   He was at one time owner of 240 acres of land, 160 of which he still retains.  His place has a beautiful location, overlooking the lakes and capital city.

On October 8, 1851, our subject was married to Miss Adeline Curtiss, who was born in Middlebury, Wyoming county, New York.  Her father, Levi Curtiss, who was born in Berkshire county, Massachusetts, in 1805, and his father, Comfort Curtiss, was born in Massachusetts, of Scotch ancestry.  He removed from Massachusetts to Genesee county, New York, in 1807, and made the removal with team.  He was one of the pioneers in the town of Middlebury, and bought land from the Holland Purchase Company, and erected the log house in the wilderness.  For some years bear and wolves were plentiful, and all stock had to be placed in pens at night to preserve them from harm.  Here he improved a farm, which he occupied until his death.  The maiden name of his wife, the grandmother of Mrs. Sheldon, was Priscilla Whitney.  She was born in Massachusetts, and died on the home farm in Middlebury.  The father of Mrs. Sheldon was reared on a farm, bought land adjoining that of his father, and resided there for many years.  He then moved to Wyoming village, where he died on year later.

The maiden name of the mother of Mrs. Sheldon  was Climena Roberts, a daughter of Ebenezer and Mary (Stanhope) Roberts, both natives of Massachusetts, the former born in Greenfield, Franklin county; and the mother died in 1890, at the home of her son, in Saunders county, Nebraska.  Mr. and Mrs. Sheldon have three children living; Levi, Mary and Bertha.  Levi married Miss Roxy Benson, and lives in Chicago and has two children; Cora and Curtiss.  May married Jerome Holt.

Mr. Sheldon is independent in politics, and has officiated as a member of the Township Board of Supervisors.

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CHARLES STUART SHELDON, A.M., M.D., Madison, Wisconsin – The subject of this sketch was born at New York Mills, Oneida county, New York, January 14, 1842, the son of Stephen Smith and Lemira (Harris) Sheldon.  His parents were married at Rupert, Vermont, and removed first to eastern Massachusetts and subsequently to New York Mills, where his father was secretary of the New York Mills Manufacturing Company.  Mr. Sheldon’s health failing he purchased a farm near Brockport, New York, where he removed with his family when the subject of this sketch was three years old.

After reaching a suitable age, Charles assisted in the work on the farm during the summer months and attended school during the winters, so continuing until he graduated from the Brockport Collegiate Institute in 1858.  In the fall of the same year he began his studies at Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, then under the care of the eminent scholar, Dr. Samuel H. Taylor and graduated in the following summer.  In the fall of 1859, with a majority of his Andover classmates, he entered the classical department of Yale College, at which he graduated

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in 1863.  This class was the largest that had ever graduated from Yale and contained many who are now widely known for their usefulness and ability.  Among them may be mentioned, Hon. William C. Whitney, ex-Secretary of the Navy, and Professor William G. Sumner of Yale College.  Our subject received the degree of A. M. in 1866,

After graduation, our subject removed to Madison, Wisconsin, where his parents had previously gone, and in the fall of 1863 accepted the position of principal of the First Ward Grammar School, where he taught until the following June.  At that time he became the principal of the State Reform School at Waukesha, Wisconsin, where he remained until January, 1865.  He then began the study of medicine at Buffalo, New York, in the medical department of the Buffalo University.  He attended three courses of lectures and graduated in February, 1867, with the degree of M. D. During the period of his studies at Buffalo he acted in the capacity of resident physician to the Buffalo General Hospital, remaining until the fall of 1867, when he went to New York city for the purpose of attending a course of lectures at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and in the spring of 1868 he graduated from that institution, receiving an ad-eudem degree of M.D.

Our subject’s first choice of location for the practice of his profession was at Winona, Minnesota, where he removed soon after graduating at New York.  He here spent three years, gaining money warm friends and succeeding admirably in his practices.  In January, 1872, he left Winona and removed with this family to Greenville, Michigan, and here found a partnership for the practice of medicine with Dr. John Avery, for many years past president of the Michigan State Board of Health and at present a member of Congress from the Greenville district.  He remained in Greenville for thirteen years, building up a large practice and actively engaging in the affairs of the place.  During twelve years of his residence in this place he was Superintendent of the Congregational Sunday-school.

In March, 1885, Dr. Sheldon removed to Madison where he has since practiced his profession most successfully.  He has been secretary of the Central Wisconsin Medical Society for the past six years, and secretary of the State Medical Society for the past three years.  He is the medical nominator of the Equitable Life Assurance Society of New York for Southern Wisconsin and is a member of the Council of the American Academy of Medicine.  He also served on the Board of Examiners for pensions at Madison from January 1, 1889 until June 14 of the same year.  He find his time among the engrossing cares of a successful practice to be an occasional contributor to the medical journals.

Politically the doctor is a Republican, but he has never sought political prominence and has never held office.  Dr. Sheldon was married at Buffalo, New York, October 30, 1868, to Miss Emma L. Hodge of that place, niece of William Hodge of that place, one of the early settlers of Buffalo.  Mrs. Sheldon graduated at the Buffalo Female Academy in 1867.  To this union have been born four sons and one daughter, as follows:  William Hodge, born October 8, 1869, who died April 22, 1874; Sidney Roby, born April 11, 1873, now a member of the Junior class in the electrical engineering course of the Wisconsin State University; Walter Hodge, born December 3, 1874, now a freshman in the ancient classical course of the same institution; Stuart, born August 23, 1876,

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and Helen Miriam, born December 3, 1884.

Dr. and Mrs. Sheldon are members of the Congregational Church and are both actively engaged in the work.  The Doctor is one of the Deacons of the church and was for five years Superintendent of the Sunday-school.  He is known for his public spirit and is deeply interested and actively engaged in temperance and all other movements, which have for their object the benefit of the community at large.

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RUSSELL A. SHELDON – The life of a farmer is an independent one.  That he can exist without the aid of outside help was demonstrated thousands of times by the hardy pioneers who lived year in and year out upon the produce of their own land, and it is certainly true in this day that the agriculturist gives more to mankind than he receives.  Were it not for our farmers the great land of plenty would be turned into a howling wilderness in a very short time.  A good specimen of this class of men is the gentleman shoe name heads this sketch.

Mr. Sheldon was born in Pittsfield, Otsego county, New York, March 20, 1822.  His great-grandfather was a native of England, who, with two brothers, William and John, came to the new world in early colonial times and settled on Rhode Island.  The great-grandfather of our subject was Isaac Sheldon, and his son Isaac was the grandfather of Mr. Sheldon of this notice.  The grandfather was a native of Rhode Island, but removed from that State to New York, settling in Saratoga county.  After some time spent there he removed from Saratoga to Otsego county and finally settled in Sherburne, Chenango county, New York, where he finally died.  The father of our subject, Gardner Sheldon, was born in Rhode Island, but removed from that State to New York when eighteen years of age.  After his marriage he settled in Pittsfield, Otsego county, where he remained until 1833, then removed to the town of Perry, Wyoming county, purchased land and engaged in the improvement of the same for many years.  At the time of his death he was living retired in the town of Bethany, Genesee county.  The maiden name of the mother of our subject was Nancy Gorum, born in Ballston Springs, New York, daughter of George and Sarah (White) Gorum.  The latter died at her daughter’s home in Middlebury, Wyoming county, New York, in 1855, at the age of eighty-five years.

Our subject was eleven years of age when his parents removed to the western part of the State of New York and he went to live with his uncle, Augustus Sheldon, in Otsego county.  He made the best of the opportunities offered him to attend school, in the meantime assisting on the farm, remaining with his uncle until he was sixteen years of age.  At that time he went to Oneida county, where he found employment on a farm at –

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$11.50 a month.  In 1840 he joined his parents in Wyoming county, making the trip by the most convenient and expeditious route, taking the stage to Madison, New York, where he boarded a canal-boat for Rochester, thence by stage to Moscow, and from there on foot to Perry.  It was his intention to go farther west, but he remained there for some time, working by the month, until 1846, and on shares until 1851, when, having obtained sufficient money he came to Wisconsin, via the railroad to Buffalo, thence by lake to Detroit, where he again took the railroad to New Buffalo, from which point he sailed on the lake to Milwaukee.  He intended to walk from Milwaukee to Madison, but found that his health would not permit of the exertion, therefore started by railroad to Waukesha, then the western terminus.  He then went by team to Summit and started to walk from that point, but soon overtook a team and secured a ride to Watertown, from which place he walked to Milford, and from there secured a ride via Cottage Grove to Madison.  Here he joined his brother, Daniel G.  Here his aunt took care of him and his health rapidly improved.  So much better did he become that he was able to look around for land on which to commence farming for himself.  Very soon he purchased eighty acres of land on section 32, paying $6.50 per acre.  There was a log house on the land and forty acres were fenced.  A little of the land was broken.  After about three weeks he returned to New York, but in the fall of the same year returned with his wife and moved into the log house, beginning at once his career as an independent farmer.  In time he purchased eighty acres adjoining his first purchase and soon built a frame house and a granary, living on this property until 1885, when he sold it and purchased his present home of five acres.  On this little farm he has a good set of buildings, pleasantly located, about two and one-half miles from the State House.

At La Grange, New York, in 1846, he married Mary A. Doane, born in Washington county, New York, November 13, 1824.  Her father, Hiram Doane, was born in the same State, and his father, John Doane, was, as far as known, a native of the same State also.  He spent his last years in Washington county.  He married a lady of Scotch birth.  The father of Mrs. Sheldon learned the trade of tanner and shoemaker.  In 1836 he removed to Livingston county, where he lived two years before he removed to La Grange, Wyoming county.  There he established a tannery and shoe shop, continuing the business there until his death.  The maiden name of the mother of the wife of our subject was Melinda Dyer, born in Shaftsbury, Vermont, daughter of Benjamin and Mary (Clark) Dyer.  She died in La Grange, New York.  Mr. and Mrs. Sheldon have had five children: Edward E., Stuart D., Charles F., Walter W., and Hattie B.  Edward married Clara Bell and lives in Baltimore, Maryland; Stuart married Mattie Eley and lives in La Crosse, and has one child, Minnie E.; Charles F. married Mary Richardson and lives in Texas, having three children; Roy, Jessie and Maude; Walter married Alice Fiddler and lives in Baraboo, Wisconsin, having one child, Edna M.   Mr. and Mrs. Sheldon are members of the Baptist Church, in which they are very prominent.  In politics he is a stanch Republican, upholding party principles upon any and all occasions.

By |2022-01-13T21:55:35-05:00January 13, 2022|Comments Off on Biographical Review of Dane County, Wisconsin

About the Author:

Dale has been studying genealogy heavily for over 30 years, since the age of 10. Although he does not seek professional clients, he has helped a family regain property lost during the Holocaust, and has assisted to obtain historical preservation status for a building in San Francisco. He is a co-admin of the ftDNA Sheldon DNA Project. He lived most of his life in California but has recently moved to upstate New York. He works in the travel industry.
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