Growth of the County in Wealth is a far cry from the inception of things material and governmental in Sheboygan county to the present time. When this region was first chosen by white men as a place for their activity it was a wilderness of primitive forests, inhabited by wild beasts. The shores of the lake first caught the eye of the settler and here he pitched his tent and later on erected rude cabins. The fish of Lake Michigan was made to pander to his desire for gain, and then the mighty oak, pine and other valuable timber came under his ax, fit food for a crude sawmill. Soon the husbandman cleared a patch of ground here and there back from the waters of Lake Michigan, tilled the fertile soil and garnered crops of corn, wheat and potatoes, for which he had no market. But these industries grew. Money, of which there was little in the start, became more plentiful and the future of the newly-made and newly-settled county was assured.
For the first few years of the county's existence, immigration to its confines was slow. In 1840 there were but 133 souls in the county all told; and by 1844 the number had not increased over three-fold. In the latter year the expenses of running the affairs of the county was $1,014; the taxes assessed were $1,019; amount of cash in the treasury, $892.20. That was sixty-eight years ago and as compared to European countries, with their centuries of civilization, the period covered is but a mere bagatelle. But when we consider the rapid strides made in peopling this community and the steady, almost incredible, increase of the wealth and prosperity that have come to it, the older worlds sink into insignificance and are only to be used as mediums of comparison.
The growth in wealth and population of Sheboygan county make a splendid showing when other counties of the state are in the equation; and when all is told and boiled down into a single sentence, one finds that the present conditions are due to the sturdy, painstaking, frugal and industrious character of the people, who came here into the primeval forests and metamorphosed the land into fertile fields, magnificent farms and homes; building villages and cities at the same time.
The county has grown. There are now almost 60,000 people within its luxuriant borders. In 1844 the assessed valuation of property was but a few hundred thousand dollars; today it is $44,791,976. In the year above mentioned there probably was not a horse or mule in the county, few cows, no sheep and no mention of hogs. Today there are 12,240 horses, valued at $1,046, 990. Cattle, 48,499, value, $1,429,714. Mules, 44, value, $2,920. Sheep, 1,343 value, $4,169. Hogs, 12,823, value $73,382. Automobiles, $213,000; carriages, wagons, etc., $230,000. Pianos, $200,000, which latter speaks well for the musical tastes of Sheboygan.
If the reader desires, let him hark back to the figures first given in this article and compare them with the following:
Information gathered and adapted from History of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, Past and Present
Carl Zillier, Editor
Pubished by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912, Chicago, IL