History of Early Improvements (1863 – 1957)

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 on the west side 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 Cemetery Cottage

The Board of Trustees decided in 1877 to construct a building on the cemetery grounds.  The minutes read as follows:

A Special meeting of the Trustees and Officers of Evergreen Cemetery Association was held at the Office of M. H. Ganong on Thursday June 21st 1877. Present G. W. Webb, L. M. Roberts, D. S. Damuth, D. W. Curtis, A. Winslow, and M. H. Ganong, Trustees and E. Rankin, Treasurer & N. D. Hardin, Sexton. ………. Resolved that a suitable building be built upon cemetery grounds for its use. The Chair appointed as building committee M. H. Ganong, D. W. Curtis, and L. M. Roberts. On motion it was resolved that the Trustees and Officers of said association meet Friday, June 22nd at Eight O'clock A.M. for the purpose of locating the site of said building. On motion meeting adjourned. M. H. Ganong Secy

The minutes do not say what type of building the trustees were discussing.  The next reference to a building in the minutes is when the Board of Trustees decided in the summer of 1884 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 1899 (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 the veranda.

Over its history the cemetery cottage has fallen into disrepair from time to time.  When the cottage was in disrepair in 1936, the Board of Trustees decided to move the cottage to the property that the cemetery association owned across North Main Street on the east side.  But in 1937 the board reversed its decision and decided to repair and remodel the cottage, which included the addition of two toilets.  After the remodeling of the cemetery cottage in 1937, the board began holding its monthly meetings in the cottage.  And in 1943 the board began holding its annual meetings in the cottage.  The meetings continued to be held in the cottage until 1956 when the location of the meetings was changed to the Worcester Memorial Building which was built in 1956.

In 1997 the cemetery cottage was in disrepair again and some members of the Board of Trustees decided that the cottage should be removed. That caused quite an uproar in the community, some of whom sent letters to the editor of the Daily Union opposing the removal. The matter was settled to everyone’s satisfaction when Mark and Valerie Kerschensteiner stepped forward and offered to pay for the complete restoration and remodeling of the cottage.

Map of the cemetery 1899 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 must 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 above two newspaper articles reference both H. E. Southwell and Almira Foster. Almira Foster and her husband Dwight Foster were the first settlers in what is now the City of Fort Atkinson.  Almira survived her husband by 16 years and died on February 4, 1886.  H. E. Southwell married Dwight and Almira’s daughter, Celeste Foster.  He is the son-in-law of 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 remainder of the property was sold to the city of Fort Atkinson on April 13, 1955 for $4500 with the future plans to extend Cramer Street. The city agreed to let the Evergreen Cemetery Association continue to rent the Sexton’s residence until the city needed the property. The city also agreed to pay to move the building across the street to Lot 64 which was being purchased by the cemetery for that purpose.

In 1976 when the Sexton’s residence, located at 636 North Main Street, needed to be moved, the Agreement was changed whereby the city paid the Evergreen Cemetery Association $15,000 instead of moving the building to Lot 64.  The city then tore down the building so that Cramer Street could be extended from North Main Street in an easterly direction to Highway 26.

As mentioned above, the Evergreen Cemetery Association purchased Lot 64 from Harold Neis on April 13, 1955 for $1200.  Lot 64 is located immediately south of the south entrance to the cemetery.  The Board of Trustees contemplated moving the Sexton’s residence across North Main Street to Lot 64. When the city paid $15,000 to the Association in lieu of moving the building, the Association no longer had a need for Lot 64. The Association sold Lot 64 to Shirley J. Frentzel on May 26, 1977 for $4500.

The Soldiers Monument

The history began as early as 1885 in a meeting where the Board of Trustees set aside a section in the cemetery for the Soldiers Monument. The minutes from that meeting read as follows:

Fort Atkinson Wis. July 10, 1885. A meeting of the trustees of Evergreen Cemetery Association was held at the Cemetery Grounds. D. W. Curtis, Geo. A. Pratt, M. H. Ganong, D. S. Damuth being present.  It was moved and carried that Section two (2) be reserved for the purpose of the erection of a soldiers monument thereon..... The Board then adjourned. L. B. Caswell Jr., Secretary

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

The following article from page 4 of the Jefferson County Union dated Friday, January 7, 1898 describes the progress made in raising the donations and the names of the subscribers:

The Soldiers’ Monument.

The citizens of this city and vicinity have nobly responded to the call for a subscription to erect a soldiers’ monument in Evergreen cemetery. The amount, $2,000 is so nearly made up that arrangements can now be completed for its erection. Without doubt the monument will be in place before Memorial Day of 1898. We give the names of the subscribers to the monument and the amount that each subscribed.

N. S. Greene : $100
L. B. Caswell : $100
H. H. Curtis : $100
W. D. Hoard : $100
L. B. Caswell Jr : $100
N D M. Bradt : $100
Evergreen Cemetery Assoc. : $200
Catherine Bicknell : $100
A. R. Hoard : $100
H. E. Southwell : $100
F. I. Perry : $50
N. F. Hopkins : $50
H. B. Willard : $50
D. Bullock : $50
C P. Goodrich : $50
Zeugner & Hoffman : $50
L. B Royce : $50
Mrs O. S. Cornish : $25
F. C. Hausen : $25
Geo. W. Burchard : $25
H. P. Pettit : $25
A. Foote : $25
Geo. M. Allen : $25
D. S. Damuth : $25
Mrs. Algenioa S. Damuth : $25
W. H. Rogers : $25
G. P Klein : $25
C. A. Caswell : $15
G W. Wilson : $15
James I. Wilson : $10
R. T. Hunter : $10
C. B. Tousley : $10
Hager Bros : $10
John Ward : $10
Merriman Bros. & Co : $10
Chas. H. Marsh : $10
Milton Snell : $10
Carl A. Becker : $10
Hausen & Kahl : $10
Ferdinand Berg : $10
G. W. Caswell : $10
Wm. Whitney : $10
W. W. Snell : $10
A B. Conklin : $10
J. W. Gates : $10
A. B. Conklin : $10
J. W. Gates : $10
E A. Wigdale : $10
S S. Curtis : $10
W. W. Cornish : $10
McMillen Bros : $10
D. A. Bullock : $10
John Burnham : $5
H. J. Dexheimer : $5
Wm. Noel : $5
L. Gosselin : $5
Dewitt Wilcox : $5
Henry Schempf : $5
A. D. Haynes : $5
J. C. Damuth : $5
Geo. A. Pratt : $5
Geo. A. Landgraf : $5
Mrs. W. S. Greene : $5
Ole Wigdale : $3
C. L. Felbel : $3
F. C. Edwards : $1
S. Wolverton : $1
Fred Heuchel : $1
Chris. Hensler : $1
G. H. Horton : $1
C. B. Curtis : $1
Will Touton : $1
D. S. Morrison : $1
A L. Layton : $1
Slagg & Stanhope : $1
T. McComb : $1
B. L. Buckingham : $1
W. G. Brown : $1
The following gave fifty cents each: Charles Learned, Ebbott Bros., W. A. Pottinger, R. J. Stevenson, C. W. Smith.

The following committee has been appointed to carry out the object of the subscription: L. B. Caswell, Geo. W. Burchard, A. H. Downing, A. R. Hoard, N. D. M. Bradt, W. H. Rogers, D. S. Damuth. The members of the Finance Committee are: L. B. Caswell, A. R. Hoard, Geo. W. Burchard. Next week we shall publish the names of persons who did not give their subscriptions until too late for publication this week.

Found in the Evergreen Cemetery Association minutes ledger book is a list of the additional subscribers not mentioned in the newspaper article above. They are as follows:

M. J. & J. A. Manning : $2
Melvin Davis : $1
G. J. Hausz : $5
W. W. Stevens : $2
T. E. Ledoux : $2
Wom. Relief Chr: . $50
Catharine Bickwell : $100
J. Dexheimer : $1
J. I. Wilson : $10
J. Geiger : $3
Dexheimer & Co. : $10
A. H. Downing : $15
High School : $10
F. Sontag : $5
Coe & Converse : $5
H. L. Alling : $5

On Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, 1898 the monument was dedicated at Evergreen Cemetery. Located in the Soldiers Circle in section 2 of the cemetery, it is sometimes referred to as the Civil War Monument because of a Civil War soldier on the top of the monument and the Civil War dates (1861 – 1865) on the front of the monument.  The site on which the monument stands serves as the location of Fort Atkinson’s annual Memorial Day service.

The following article from page 2 of the Jefferson County Union dated Friday June 3, 1898 describes the magnificent event:

THE BEAUTIFUL SOLDIERS MONUMENT UNVEILED IN EVERGREEN CEMETERY

Thousands View the Handsome Pile and Pronounce It Fine Work of Art

The impressive ceremonies connected with the dedication of the soldier's monument, drew an unusually large number of visitors to this city Monday, variously estimated at from 6,000 to 7,000 people.

The memorial exercises at the City Hall filled it to overflowing, fully 1,000 people failing to gain admission. Long before the opening number of the program, there was only standing room at the rear. On the stage were seated Mayor F. W. Hoard, president of the day; Rev. H. W. Thompson, Past Senior Vice Commander Department of Wisconsin, of Fond du Lac, who was to make the address; Post Commander W. H. Rogers; Chaplain, F. B. Staff of the Congregational church; George Hausz, chairman town board of supervisors and W. D. Hoard Past Commander Department of Wisconsin.

At the rear of the speakers on the stage were seated the Fort Atkinson Military Band, which opened the program with an excellent musical selection. Rev. Staff made an eloquent prayer, followed by the speaker of the day in a very interesting address. Considering the many valuable and helpful thoughts it contained, it is to be regretted that so many were unable to hear him.

A quartette, Mrs. Jessie Learned soprano, Mrs. D. E. Roberts contralto, and Messrs Jos. Schreiner and D. E. Roberts tenor and bass, sang very acceptably, a war medley.

While the exercises were in progress at the City Hall, the G. A. R. society, the fire department, and the Arion cornet band, of Jefferson, arrived at the northern city limits, and alighting from carriages, formed in double file and marched through the city. It had been the intention of those in charge to reserve seats in the hall for these societies, but the committee, owing to the lateness of their arrival, had been unable to hold out against the crowd which
poured in and filled the hall in short order. However, in the parade which soon followed, from the hall to Evergreen cemetery, the Jefferson societies were given the places of honor. The make-up was as follows;

· Arion Cornet Band, of Jefferson.
· Military Band, of Fort Atkinson.
· Fire Department, of Jefferson.
· Fire Department, of Fort Atkinson.
· Ex-Members of Co. B, 1st Regiment. W.N.G.
· G. A R. societies, of Jefferson and Fort Atkinson, without division
· President of the day and speakers in carriage.
· Woman's Relief Corps in carriages.
· Old Soldiers in carriages.
· The City Council and Town Supervisors in carriages.
· Citizens in carriages and on foot.

On the march to the cemetery, the two bands played some excellent music, often in conjunction.

THE DEDICATION

At the monument, Rev. Staff opened the exercises with a beautiful prayer, followed by Hon. L. B. Caswell, who on behalf of the subscribers to the fund, presented the monument to the G. A. R. Post. In his address, Mr. Caswell stated that the statue was intended to stand in remembrance of the soldiers who slumbered in Lake View, as well as in Evergreen, in the cemeteries of surrounding cities and in remembrance, also, of our dead that lay buried, some of them in unknown graves, on the battle fields and in the national cemeteries at the South; and in this remembrance the brave boys of the navy should not be forgotten. Post Commander W. H. Rogers accepted the monument in a well worded speech, in which he pledged its careful preservation from the destruction of vandal hands.

Past Dept. Commander W. D. Hoard followed with a few remarks, urging upon all to remember the patriotic impulse, self sacrifice and heroic conduct that had inspired the rearing of this monument, and to treasure in their hearts the heritage of brave deeds that had saved the Union from destruction.

The exercises closed with the singing of America, led by the quartette, the band accompanying.
Soldiers Monument on Memorial Day
The Soldiers Monument

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, the 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 to the south of the cemetery.

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 Cemetery Cottage, 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

The Worcester Memorial Building

Mary (Southwell) Worcester (1861-1954) and her husband Charles H. Worcester (1864-1956) made substantial contributions to improvements in Fort Atkinson including the Dwight Foster Library.  Mary was the granddaughter of Dwight Foster, the first settler in Fort Atkinson.  Mary and Charles Worcester left a bequest of $20,000 to the Evergreen Cemetery Association in 1956.  In the summer of 1956 the Board of Trustees was considering the construction of a new office and maintenance shop.  The board decided to have Albert Hartel, a local contractor, construct the building for $10,500.  Upon receipt of the Worcester bequest, the board decided to use a portion of that money to pay for the new building.  It was completed in November of 1956 and named the Worcester Memorial Building.  In November of 1957 the board also honored Mary and Charles Worcester by placing a Colonial Tablet with their names on it in front of the building.

Worcester Memorial Building circa 1958
Worcester Memorial Building circa 1958