There was an eccentric and humorous individual that lived in Horicon at this time. All times of the day, anytime, fun making, like spontaneous combustion, to stir the crowds up. He disguised himself as a tramp, or a minstrel, or to giving an oration from the house-top. Late summer or early fall, on a bright pleasant morning, there had been a birth of a daughter in the neighborhood and this man paraded the streets ringing a large dinner bell wearing a smoking cap, dressing gown and slippers. Singing
Sound the loud timbrel,
O’er valley and sea,
Has got a babee.
Everyone rushed to their doors to see who had gone crazy…
In the spring of 1855, a number of Baptists forming themselves into a congregation, built a chapel on Vine St which for years after was used for church services. Later it became Van Brunt dry house.
The building and completion of the railroad, in 1855-56, gave impulsion to the place and the ministers, lawyers, doctors and mechanics came here. Business 1856 houses were built and occupied as well as homes.
The Presbyterian church was built in the summer of 1856 and when raised a wind storm came and level it. It required reraising. The Winter House and the school house were built soon after.
In that fall of 1856, during the Fremont campaign, a barbecue was held on the ground of Mr. H. F. Krueger’s residence at 115 N. Cedar. John C. Fremont was the first Republican nominee for president. People came from adjoining counties and partook of the meat of an ox that had been roasted whole. With the other refreshments served on the same grounds, speech making, singing and instrumental music was in the order for the day. An enthusiastic and patriotic people bidding a long farewell to the Whig party.
In that same fall, after the completion of the Presbyterian church, a minister was secured, congregation formed and the church and Sunday school progressed finely for several years, as did the Baptist and Methodist societies.
The Winter House was soon finished and furnished, opened and dedicated by a social party and supper in which the residents and guests from adjoining towns participated.
Soon the school house was ready to be used and having two rooms in the basement for the younger grades, the first floor was used for the older classes. The second floor was reserved for the town hall until a few years later the number of pupils increased so as to need that second floor. Donations for a bell came in from the ladies holding a supper in the hall and they raised a good amount of money. The school soon gained a reputation, for being the first of its kind in the state. From some of those children taught in that school, at the time of this writing, we now have them as law abiding citizens.
The Horicon view was attractive as seen from the hill, east of the village, it presents a landscape worth the pencil and brush of an artist. The lake as seen from there was at its best. The water flowing in white capped waves southward into Rock River, looking across to the west was a vast rolling prairie with shades of green and foliage, the island timbered the river extending south and the partially timbered country in the southwest. That lake was never without its charm. It was useful as well as ornamental serving us for sailing and fishing in the summer and coasting and skating in the winter. The manner of spearing fish in winter with the many huts or cabins dotted the ice and their smoking chimneys was a reminder of a small settlement. Fishermen made themselves comfortable by means of a small sheet iron stove and catching the fish through a hole in the ice.