History of Early Improvements

The Initial Acquisition of Land

The Evergreen Cemetery Association was established in 1863.  The initial acquisition of land was adjacent to the north side of the Frederick Boldt farm and west of what is now North Main Street.  Land was purchased from Newton Snell in 1863, John Taylor in 1863, George Turner in 1865, and others.  As the association acquired land, the Board of Trustees hired surveyors to create plats setting forth sections, lots, and graves.  The plats were then recorded at the Jefferson County Register of Deeds Office.

The Cottage of 1884

The Board of Trustees in the summer of 1884 decided to build a cottage in the cemetery.  At that time the association only owned land on the west side of Jefferson Road, now North Main Street.  At their meeting on August 12, 1884 the minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Evergreen Cemetery Association read as follows:

A meeting of the Trustees of Evergreen Cemetery was held at the office of Cornish, Curtis, and Green [sic] Aug 12th 1884 voted to build a cottage on the Cemetery grounds 14 x 22 feet.  The President appointed A. K. Downing to solicit subscriptions for the same.  S. S. Curtis Secretary

The minutes from following meetings over the next few years do not indicate whether the cottage was actually built as discussed in 1884.  However, there is a map from 1889 (see below) that shows a building on the cemetery grounds west of North Main Street near where the present day cottage is located, and it matches the 14 x 22 feet dimensions stated in the minutes above, excluding veranda.

Map of the cemetery 1889 with cottage and Sexton's residence indicated

The Sexton’s Residence on Land Purchased in 1886

On July 20,1886, a warranty deed shows that the Evergreen Cemetery Association purchased land from J. W. Hatch for $200. The land was located on the east side of North Main Street across from the southeast entrance of the cemetery.  The board’s intent was to build a residence for the Sexton. The house was sometimes referred to as the Sexton’s residence or cemetery dwelling.  Over the years, sextons for the cemetery lived at the house across from the cemetery as part of their compensation.

Two weeks after the purchase of the land on the east side of Jefferson Road (North Main Street) the Board of Trustees held a meeting on August 6, 1886. The minutes from that meeting read as follows:

Moved by D. S. Damuth that plans for building as shown by D. W. Curtis be adopted and that he be instructed to procure plans and specifications, Carried.  Moved by H. A. Porter that cellar be made 8 feet deep under upright part of building and that the wall be made 5 feet high and 18 inches wide, then 3 feet, one foot thick, then 4 inches of brick inside of stone wall leaving space of 2 inches between brick and stone wall, and hatchway 3 1/2 feet wide, and that the President be authorized to advertise for bids for digging the cellar and laying the wall.  The motion was seconded by D. S. Damuth.  Carried.  Adjourned.
M. H. Ganong, Secretary Pro Tem

Another meeting was held four days later on August 10, 1886.  The minutes of that meeting read as follows:

The following bids were received for digging cellar and building wall, furnishing frames.  B. McCann $144, Edward Reimes $148.75, John Becker $145.50, Theodore Jung $209, Thos. McComb $147.06.  The job was let to B. McCann.  Adjourned.
L. B. Caswell, Jr.  Secretary

Apparently B. McCann was slow in getting the cellar started.  On August 24, 1886 the minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Evergreen Cemetery Association read as follows:

It was moved and carried that the Secretary be instructed to notify B. McCann that if he did not begin work on the cemetery building next week that the job will be let to another party.  It was moved and carried that we advertise for bids to build building according to plans and specifications, the association reserving the right to reject each and all bids.  Bids to be in the hands for the President or Secretary by Sep 10th and the building much be completed within 60 days from that date.  The meeting then adjourned.
L. B. Caswell, Jr.  Secretary

With the construction of the cellar underway, the board sought bids to construct the house on top of it.  On September 11, 1886 the minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Evergreen Cemetery Association read as follows:

The meeting was held for the purpose of receiving, considering and accepting or rejecting bids for the erection of the proposed cemetery building.  Only one bid was received which was as follows, to wit:

"Fort Atkinson Wisc 9-11-86.
Mr E Meyer
To the Building Committee of the Evergreen Cemetery Association. I the above signed promise to put up the Building according to Plan & Specifications, above the foundation for $1135.
E Meyer"

After due consideration this bid was accepted and the meeting adjourned.
L. B. Caswell, Jr.  Secretary

The following article from page 5 of the Jefferson County Union dated Friday, September 17, 1886 confirms that the building being constructed as a residence for the Sexton was across the road from the cemetery:

The Sexton’s Residence.

Ground was broken last week for the new residence of the sexton of Evergreen cemetery, on the lot purchased just across the road from the southeast corner. The officers of the association purchased one and a half acres of land from J. W. Hatch and are putting up a frame dwelling, 22 x 29, with an eight ft. frost proof cellar under all, designed to store valuable flower bulbs from the cemetery during the winter months. The total cost will be about $1500, the money being furnished the association by H. E. Southwell, of Milwaukee. The mason work, which was taken by B. McCann, was finished the middle of the week, and the contract for the balance calls for completion in sixty days.

The following article from page 5 of the Jefferson County Union dated Friday, October 29, 1886 makes reference to the progress being made on the construction of the Sexton’s residence on the new property:

The little cottage on the Jefferson road [North Main Street], that is being built for occupancy of the Sexton of Evergreen Cemetery, is a cosy [sic] little affair, and very nearly completed. We understand the money used in building it, was part of a legacy bequeathed the Association by the late Mrs. Almira Foster.

The new Sexton’s residence on the east side of North Main Street was completed in November, 1886.  On November 24, 1886 the Board of Trustees met and the minutes of the meeting read as follows:

It was moved and carried that the building recently built at the cemetery grounds by E Meyer be accepted as it stands, and that an order for $1135, the contract price, be drawn on the Treasurer in payment of the same.  It was moved and carried that the matter and settling for building the privy, and other Extras, be left with the president D. W. Curtis.  It was moved and carried that Cornish, Curtis, and Greene bill for $10.89 be allowed and an order drawn for the same.
Adjourned.  L. B. Caswell, Jr.  Secretary

The Evergreen Cemetery Association no longer owns the property on the east side of North Main Street.  The south part of the property was sold to Robert J. Wagner for $500 on September 10, 1943.  The remaining portion of the property which included the Sexton’s residence at 636 North Main Street was sold to the city of Fort Atkinson on April 13, 1955 for $4500.  It was the city’s plan to extend Cramer Street from North Main Street in an easterly direction to highway 26.  The Sexton’s residence was located where East Cramer Street now intersects with North Main Street.

The Soldiers Memorial Monument

At the Evergreen Cemetery Board of Trustees meeting on October 13, 1894 the board  resolved to construct a soldiers monument in the cemetery.  The minutes from that meeting read as follows:

Whereas - It is the sense of this Board of Trustees that the present is the opportune time to devise ways & means to the end that a soldiers monument be erected in the Evergreen Cemetery.  Therefore - Resolved that the Trustees solicit subscriptions for that purpose and use their best efforts to secure the immediate erection of such a monument. . . Meeting then adjourned.
L. B. Caswell, Jr.  Secretary

It took a few years for the Board of Trustees to solicit the subscriptions (donations) to pay for the monument.  The erection of the monument was completed by Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, 1898.  On that Memorial Day several thousand people attended the dedication of the Soldiers Memorial Monument.  For a more extensive historical account see the Soldiers Memorial Monument page.

Hook up to City Water and Cement Sidewalk

On April 25, 1902, the Board of Trustees decided to lay a 1 inch iron pipe to connect the cemetery to the city water system.  On the same date, Board of Trustees decided to build a 320 foot long cement sidewalk from the southeast entrance of the cemetery which would connect to a cement sidewalk in front of the Frederick Boldt farm.

The following article from page 7 of the Jefferson County Union dated Friday May 9, 1902 makes reference to the sidewalk:

Mrs. Henry May has broke ground for a new residence on the east side of the Evergreen Cemetery Road [North Main Street]. According to present indications it will not be long before there will be an unbroken row of neat homes on that thoroughfare clear to the farm of Mr. Boldt [the Frederick Boldt house is at the corner of Frederick Avenue and North Main Street].  A continuation of the cement walk to the Cemetery gate is now being laid.

Stone Pillars and Iron Fence

On May 1, 1902, the Board of Trustees decided to install two stone pillars for the gateway at the southeast entrance of the cemetery for $150.  The pillars are still located there today.

On July 21, 1906, the Board of Trustees decided to purchase an iron fence from M.H. Hickey Ironworks for $636.  The fence was to be constructed along the east side of the cemetery to serve as a border along North Main Street.  It was referred to as a “handsome iron fence” in the June 29, 1906 edition of the Jefferson County Union. The fence is still located there today.

The picture below was taken after the above improvements were made.  It shows the Sexton House, the two pillars, the iron fence, and the cement sidewalk with curbs circa. 1910.

Evergreen Cemetery Main Entrance circa 1910 showing pillars and iron fence