In writing this extended account of early Valton. I have grown to appreciate more deeply the men and women who made a definite contribution to the business, social, physical and religious welfare of the community. They left a definite imprint on the lives of the people and their happiness.
This section will give sketches of some who made Valton their home for a life time and other who came
for only a short stay. The younger generation may never hear their names mentioned, but without their
having lived at Valton, the town would not be what it is today. And the people might not care to take a
stand for Moral and Spiritual principles, if it were not for the good influence of the people who built a life of character beyond reproach.
Doctor John Thompson a medical doctor and mill owner. When Dr. Thompson came to Valton in 1867 he was already an experience doctor and had left a practice elsewhere. He had also brought with him the experience needed to set up a Grist Mill and he immediately did so. The mill had been built earlier but he bought it and installed a stone for grinding flour. This would have kept the average person busy enough but Dr. John received more and more calls to doctor the sick folks. His sons who were beginning to grow up took the responsibility of running the mill so that their father could spend more time with his patients.
John Thompson was born July 1, 1818 in Perry Co., Ohio. When he was ten, the Thompsons moved to Miami Co., Indiana. Soon after the town of Jefferson sprang up about a mile away. Later Frankfort was laid out four miles from them. When John grew older, he taught a few terms of school. Then he turned his attention to mills, saw and grist. He went to New London, Howard Co. and built a Grist Mill. There he married the daughter of the man who helped lay out the town of New London.
Having a restless nature, John moved several times, but when he settled down again, he took up the study of medicine under Doctor Mathis of New London. Then he moved to Michigan town to build up a practice. In a few years he got the western fever so they moved to Dallas Co. Iowa. In the fall of 1853 on a wild prairie farm of 200 acres. But he still found time to Doctor. At this home they often heard Prairie Wolves within a few feet of the door howling in the lonely night hours.
After six years in Iowa, they moved to a farm on Carr Valley, Wisconsin. Later he heft the farm to take up the dry goods business in Ironton, Wisconsin. But he never dropped his practice of medicine. Then as been stated above the Thompsons moved to Valton and bought the Saw Mill. In 1877 he moved to a farm South of Valton after selling the Mill. After 1889 Doctor John retired from his profession he passed away January 30th, 1905. His wife Celia (Lamb) Thompson preceded him in death by four years. They had six children: George, Lydia, David, Jehu, Susan and Samuel. A grandson Leo still lives in the community.
Doctor Thompson was characterized by his extreme patience. He was a thoroughly good man. He was a student always. Although he was not privileged to have formal training in medicine, he kept up on the
latest discoveries. He took doctor magazines and owned one of the first books on Bacteriology ever
Jabez Brown teacher. The name of Jabez Brown might head the list of teachers of this community. For many years he taught in the schools of the community. For many years he taught in the schools of the valley within walking distance of his home in the Friendswood country between Oakes and Bethel. I mention him here because he taught several terms at the Valton school, around 1873. I mentioned to his daughter Melissa that her father once taught at Valton. She could not remember this, but his name is recorded on the school register and in the book recording payment of money to teachers.
Lydia Williams Cammack credits Mr. Brown with being the inspiration for giving 30 teachers their start. He not only taught the children in their beginning years but he urged the older students to advance into high school and would conduct classes for them also.
We can also give him credit for being a humanitarian. He knew quite a bit about the medicinal value of plants. He often made his own remedies and would offer them to anyone who might be ill, often going to
sit up the whole night with the sick person, or several nights if necessary. He planted a large orchard and preferred to give away the apples rather than sell them. When boys were caught taking his fruit, he would give them a stern lecture on the evil of stealing, then give them some to take home.
A great supporter of education for others, he was also convinced it was the best for his own children. Nearly all of his children (there were nine of them) became teachers and were sent off to College. He was
twice elected to the office of Superintendent of the schools of Marstan--then composed of Woodland,
LaValle, Ironton and Washington townships.
Melissa Brown tells some interesting things about her family, especially about her father Jabez in the State Historical Journal put out around 1946. You would enjoy reading it because it tells a great deal about Quaker Valley in those early days. She tells some interesting things about Uncle Jimmie Stanley. And she even included a picture of him and three others Quakers in her writings.
James Stanley Friends minister and Farmer. James Stanley, was the son of James and Agnes Stanley,
he was born December 9th, 1808 in Surrey County, North Carolina. When he was 18 years old, he moved with his family to Randolph County, Indiana. He married Jemima Mills, daughter of Richard and Nancy
Mills. She was born in 1812 in Ohio. Jimmy and Jemima were married in 1829 at a Friend's meeting in
Wayne Country, Indiana. They had born to them 6 children :
James and Jemima moved to Woodland in 1857 and settled in section 22 where he farmed for many years. He was a recorded minister of the Valton branch of the Friend's monthly meeting, after it's organization in 1873 and continued till the Church had its first Pastor with a salary about 1888.
Incidents in the life of this noble man have been given elsewhere. This incident should be added. There
was a ---------- family in the neighborhood who were divided in religion. The father was a Protestant but
the mother was a Catholic. When the mother became seriously ill, the husband finally got his wife's
consent to have Uncle Jimmy come and pray with her. Their son went along with his father to the hayfield where Uncle Jimmy was getting in hay. The boy took Rev. Stanley's place while he went to pray with the mother.
Uncle Jimmy was a tall, thin man, very erect with blue eyes. His wife Aunt Jemima was of slight build. Her eyes were black and her lips were unusually red. Aunt Jemima always made all of her husband's clothes, he always wore sailor pants with a flap in front and six buttons.
Lester Clemmens a proprietor of Valton's big store, moved to Valton to take up store keeping, He built a store on the corner that was later owned by Bert Mortimer and later by Arthur Bruce. Lester established a good business, selling dry goods and groceries provisions, boots and shoes and so forth. He bought and sold livestock and staves that were made at Valton. They were shipped as far as Chicago. He employees Wilson and George Mortimer also Lewis Lee. Later Lewis Lee married his daughter and took over business. Mr. Clemmens owned 28 village lots and thirty acres of land, while he was clerking he took
cold that led to Pneumonia and his death. He was well liked around the community. One person that knew him said that Valton was not the same town after Lester Clemmens passed on.
Nathan Harvey a farmer and leader in the township. He came to Woodland township when he was 20,
settled in section 22. He was the son of Caleb and Louisa (Cook) Harvey. He was born in 1837 in
Indiana. In 1856 he married Mary A. Kersry. To them was born Clementine, Wilson, George, Anna, Mary, Horace, Ed and Jane. Mr. Harvey saw service in the Civil War. In 1870 he moved to section 36 and contracted to carry mail from Cazenovia to Mauston. Then in 1873 he moved to section 32. He owned 240 acres while taking up the occupation of farming. During his life he held the following offices in the township: Town Chairman 5 years, Town Clerk 2 years, Assessor 1 year. Census enumerator 1880.
Eli Horton farmer and leader in town affairs, moved to Valton in October of 1860 and settled in section 23. He was born in Oswego New York in 1834. In 1854 he moved to Jefferson Co., Wisconsin. He married Ann Sherman in 1858. Four children were born to them. Loren, Lucy, Delly and George. Eli was severely wounded in the skirmish at Burnt Church, Georgia June 1864. Upon returning from the war he was elected town clerk in 1867 and was to continue in this office for many years. He served as postmaster at Oaks Post Office in 1879. In politics he was a republican. Eli died Feb. 8th, 1917.
Rueben Bunker Sawmill owner, established a thriving business up the valley, west of Valton on the
farm now owned by Elmer Henderson. He had a sawmill and finished much of the lumber in his planning mill. he was a devote Christian businessman, taking a leading part in the W. Methodist Church. He was on hand when the U. B. Church auctioned off and bought it for the Wesleyans. Mr. Bunker was a liberal hearted man and enjoyed sharing with others. He kept a bay team of horses that was known for their speed. He drove to Richland Center and back in one day with his team. Misfortune came to him when he lost his mill in a fire two different times He had a brother in the east who was an inventor. He invented the steam radiator and the accompanying heating system, but lost the patent rights so little was realized as profit. Rueben had one son, Arthur a cousin, Macy Bunker was a Wesleyan preacher in Bethel Valton, and later at Burr Ridge. Roy Bunker was a brother of Rueben. Roy left Valton and became an inventor. (He was also known as Leroy)
William and Laura Gibbons Were once active in the business life of Valton. They owned and managed a little hotel for traveling men. They gave him meals and lodging William also ran a livery stable. They managed a small store and went in for postal cards in a big way. Laura served ice cream on the lawn in the summer time, a big one was 5 cents. She learned to make cones too. Son, Ray got a work out in those days having to turn the handle of the five gal. freezer. Laura could not read, although she had the most beautiful flower garden Valton ever had. She managed to order all kinds of unusual plants. After her death these flowers were dug up to grace the of many. The only ones known to be still around are red peonies on her grave and two Spirea bushes in the yard of Ray Henderson. Laura was a daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Allen Fraizer. She was born at Rochester, Indiana April 3rd 1859 and passed away May 10, 1923.
Mrs. Lydia Cammack Who was an early resident of the Friends community at Valton, died on October 31, 1950 at her home in Whittier, California at the age of 93. When she was two years old, she came with her parents John and Eunice Williams from Indiana traveling in the true pioneer fashion, to the
Freindswood community below Valton. They moved to Whittier Calif. in 1892. In her latter years she
found a consuming interest in the neglected Japanese people. She conducted Bible and English classes for
them in her own home. Finally she and her husband started a Sunday school which grew into a permanent church for the Japanese. She was a birthright member of the Quaker church and a charter member of the W. C. T. U.
Miss Melissa Brown Daughter of Jabez Brown, was also raised in the Freindswood community. She and her twin sister Valerie, just celebrated their 92 birthday January 18th, 1953. They are believed to be the oldest pair of twins in the United States. Melissa was raised in the Quaker faith, having strict parents who were true to their religion. Last year at their birthday anniversary Valerie recited the whole poem of "Hiawatha". When Melissa was 87, she published a book, "The Jabez Brown twins" in which she tells the story of the early days of the family in the Quaker settlement of Freindswood. Some of the information in this history was taken from her writings on the Quakers as found in "State Historical Journal".
They came from a family of nine children. Melissa became a business woman, Partner-Manager to a
Madison book store and later cafeteria. While Valerie taught for over 50 years in the preparatory school
for boys which their brother Alonzo conducted in Philadelphia. In 1950 the twins came to Baraboo to
Simeon Mortimer wins the distinction for being the first of the many Mortimers to settle in the Valton Community. He came with his wife Sarah from Wiltshire, England in 1852. He was born in 1826, son of Michael and Mary (Roger) Mortimer. He married Sarah Bull, maybe spelled Buell in 1859, in England. Their children were: John E.; Mary; Noah and Albert. On the Simeon farm there was a spring below the house that was forced up to a barrel beside the door.
In 1855 two of Sarah's brothers came from England. Their names were John and James Buell, but after coming to Wisconsin, they had their names changed by legal process to Mortimer. In 1863, a third brother named Samuel came to America. He too changed his name to Mortimer. He brought his wife with him her named was Seline Chapman.
Doctor Philip Slack medical doctor and Friends Minister who came to Valton in 1880. Served the
community three years, also the Church. The Doctor's in Wonewoc tried to get him to join them in a clinic, but he definitely felt he was called to the Ministry. He never deserted his call. He felt that there was other rewards that was worth more to him than money.
When his son Philip Jr. was blinded by a discharge of a shotgun, Dr. Slack was again tempted to leave the Ministry, but the Lord spoke to him as he prayed saying, "If you keep on Preaching I'll take care of your boy." His boys life was saved and when he passed away in 1945, he was worth more than 150,000 dollars.
Dr. Slack graduated from the Medical department of the State University of Iowa. He took Post Graduate work at the AM. Medical College, in St. Louis. One of his daughters has an old account book of his which contains some famous names such as Eli Hoover, the Grandfather of Herbert Hoover; Frank Lowden, who was about his age, became the Governor of Illinois. He also doctored the Hinshaws. The elder Mr. Hinshaw was head of the Conservatory of music in Chicago.
Dr. Slack once engaged Carrie Nation, the Hatchet woman that address the Iowa yearly meeting of Friend's in 1909 at Okalisa. Dr. Slack paid her $50.00 and she signed a receipt with a pencil that has been cherished in the family ever since.
Here is an incident that Dr. Slack took part in while at Valton. Dr. Slack and another man made one 4th of July rather lively when they threw balls of fire back and forth. The balls were carpet rags that had been
soaked in Kerosene and set on fire. One ball was accidentally thrown among the crowd. When Dr. Slack
realized the danger he ended the game. While Dr. Slack was at Valton, the Friends built the Church that
they are still using as a place of worship. (Facts to this account were furnished largely by his two
daughters one who lived in California and the other form Iowa).
George F. Snyder a county Superintendent of schools was a native of Valton, went out from our midst
to make a name for himself. When he was campaigning for the county superintendent of schools position, he had this information printed on a small card.
Graduate from Milwaukee State normal 1897. Attended University of Wisconsin for two years: Sixth ward at Sheboygan, two years: Spring High School, three years.
As a boy he lived in Valton in a house once standing just across the road from the Levi Good house.
George was the first Principal of the Sauk County Normal School. This position he held for a number of
Rollin Clark Mullenix son of William Mullenix who taught at Bethel and other placed, was also a
teacher. Dr. Mullenix rose to the top in his profession and was showered with honors and degrees. While Professor of Zoology at Lawrence College his name appeared in "Who's Who". In this publication it tells of his receiving the Bowdoin Prize and Bronze Medal from Harvard University in 1909 for an outstanding essay on Zoological subject. A real discovery in science is accredited to him. For three summers Rollin was a guest lecture at the University of California. At that time came Valtonites who had migrated to California. They learned he was at the University so they invited him as a guest of honor of a gathering of former Valton people. It was thrilling to have such a guest give his recollections of the Valley of Valton. It was my privilege to meet Dr. Mullenix once when he was invited to speak at a Roundtable meeting at the teachers convention at Madison. After he had finished the lecture, I went to the front and introduced myself. He was pleasantly surprised to meet someone form the community of his boyhood and came back after a time of greeting others to ask about Valton and the people he used to know.
Spencer Mortimer, Ph. D. was Head of the Chemistry department of Illinois, Wesleyan University for 24 years. Spencer was always very modest about his achievements although they were such that one
might feel justly proud in attaining them. Whenever he returned to the old home during vacation, he
never made a display of his learning. Spencer worked his way through College and University. He attended high school at Penn Academy then he went right on to study for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Iowa City State University and was granted the degree of Ph. D. in 1926. When one realizes what intensive study is required, this was a remarkable feat. Winning such a degree in three years after College.
Dr. Mortimer began his career teaching at Penn College where he taught Chemistry for a year. Then he
taught three years at Iowa City University. Then he became Head of the Chemistry Department at Illinois.
Wesleyan University, Bloomington where he remained for 24 years. A year after this, death suddenly came as a shock to all who knew him. Many students and his teaching associates paid high tribute to him as a friend and leader of young people.
It should be added that credit should also go to Spencer's parents who stayed home and gave him moral
support during the years he was advancing in the occupation of teaching. And Valton we might add was
the community that must have contributed some fundamentals that made his success possible.
Will G. Ballentine who was Supernatant of the Menomonie schools for 33 years. Was also born a
Valton resident, when he was getting a start in life. He was born at Ironton, but moved with his folks, William Sr. and Sarah (Mortimer) Ballentine, to Valton when Will Jr. was about one year old. His father
who was a good carpenter built a house which they lived in while they stayed at Valton. This house is
now owned by William Gibeaut. Young William attended Valton school during his first year and Spencer
Mortimer was in his class. In 1896 the Ballentines left Valton when William was ready for high school,
he was near enough to attend Reedsburg. His College and University training in the following schools,
Milwaukee State teachers collage, Whitewater State College, University of Wisconsin and University of
Will's teaching experience began in a rural school in Sauk County, where he taught for three years. Then
he became Principal of the Union Center school for three years. During the early years of his teaching he
is credited with being the sole wage earner because of his fathers early death. Leaving Union Center, he
went to Jefferson to teach in the high school there and after two years he was chosen as Supernatant of the
city schools of Jefferson Wisconsin. He is also credited with putting his younger brothers and sisters
through school. In 1920 he received the offer of a higher position in Menomonie Wisconsin. This he
held successfully for the last 33 years and is still leading a active life. He has been head of the
Menomonie Red Cross and at one time President of the State Superintendents Association for two years.
George Ballentine a brother of Will, was in the First World War he entered in 1918 as a Private and
was discharged in 1919 as a Major. He commended the 513th Motor Transport Train. After his discharge he went to Washington and became employed by the Fox Film Corporation. He was soon advanced to sales manager and was in that position when he died in 1947 in California.
Paul Ballentine the youngest brother, studied Law and was admitted to the bar. He had a Law practice
Lee C. Beier at the time of his death, was a probation officer in the United Stated District court in Philadelphia and office that was held for many years. Lee grew up on farm Southeast of Valton and loved to come back to the farm on his vacation and help with the work. He attended Penn. College but during his second year he was called into service. Being registered as a Conscientious Objector. Lee was given civilian work in Iowa. After his discharge he went to Europe for a year where he helped in building up the was torn areas. This was in France and under the auspices of the American Friends service
When Lee came home he finished his College training and was awarded a scholarship in a Jewish Social
Service school in New York city. He married a Penn. Class mate, Eleanor Eves. Then they went to work
on a orphanage farm in, New Jersey. His next job was in juvenile court. Then he obtained a position in
the Pennsylvania Prison Society. He was given a years leave of absence to become a case worker in Eastern Penitentiary. A heart attack brought on his untimely death at the age of 54.
The sec. of the Pennsylvania Comm. on Penal Affairs had this to say about Lee. "I do not believe that
anybody had ever given more devotion or more quiet zeal in the field of Justice than did Lee. His life is
an example to all of us and it was a continued act of devotion to a great cause".
Henry P Chandler, Director of Administrative office of the United States courts, had this to say about Lee "I was impressed with his understanding of his work and his devotion to it. The Federal Probation service has indeed lost a valuable member in his passing". Another letter praised Lee's work with Alcoholics. This is a small sample of the letters written by those who knew Lee.
Ethel Jordan who spent twenty years on the African Mission Field, was born and raised just West of
Valton. She early showed her devotion to God and when he called her into Missionary work, she was supremely happy that the lord counted her worthy of the trust.
She prepared for her calling by taking Theological studies at God's Bible school in Cincinnati and a
correspondence course in Nursing. Then she had some practical experience by doing home mission work
for several years.
Ethel went out under the Foreign Mission Board of the Pilgrim Holiness church and labored under their
direction for all of the twenty years she was in Africa. She first went in 1928 and spent 131/2 years in Northern Rhodesia and 61/2 years in the Union of South Africa. In Northern Rhodesia she had charge of
a Boarding school for boys and girls. She also taught Bible two and a half hours a day and had classes in
sewing and knitting for the girls. In addition to this she prepared the schemes of work, examinations,
Sunday school lessons, etc. for the out Station schools. Over the week end and on Holidays Ethel spent
much time in village Evangelism after going to South Africa, she was in charge of the Bible school for
natives and gave full time teaching and training of native Preachers and Evangelists.
Ethel's experience in North Rhodesia was often exciting, she went there with three other Missionaries as a Pioneer. That means they were the first to go to that field of Christian Missions. They first lived in grass houses while mud houses were being built for them.
Their first school and Church services were held under a large tree and there were many natives who came and sat on the ground or on logs and stones that they might learn and hear the Gospel. When the mud houses were finished they had grass roofs. The floors were just plain dirt. Furniture was made out of packing boxes. Snakes often found there way in to these houses. One dropped from the grass roof as Ethel was walking through the room. Another was speared under her bed and another the cat located under the cupboard. Most exciting of all was a Spitting Cobra coiled up in the corner of the room behind a bread box. Another Missionary leaning over to get some bread from the box was struck in the eye by some of the poison shot from the snake. It felt as hot as fire. Men came with spears and killed the Cobra.
The burning eyes were bathed with a weak solution of permanganate, potash and milk.
In those early days there no roads and consequently all their traveling had to be done on foot. In one day
of walking she wore five blisters on her feet. She has seen some disheartening things in those years. She
watched two of her Missionary Associates die and helped bury them. The first to die was her Superintendent. Ethel and his wife were left alone then, except for the natives. Ethel had Malarial Fever
a good many times, but it was only once that she was obliged to call a doctor. It was fortunate that it was
only once because she was fifty miles form a doctor. Since 1950 she has been back in the United States.
At the present time she in doing deputation work going out from Indianapolis, Indiana.
Back - To Chapter 5
Valton in War, Page 12.
Forward - To Chapter 7
The coming of Modern Inventions, Page 14.
Back - To Chapter 5
Valton in War, Page 12.
Forward - To Chapter 7
The coming of Modern Inventions, Page 14.