The late Jonathan Leighton, who for many years was engaged in agricultural pursuits in Sheboygan township, was one of the first settlers of this county, having located here in 1843. He was a native of Maine, his birth having occurred in Athens, that state, on the 31st of May, 1815. His parents were Jonathan and Nancy (Fowler) Leighton, also natives of Maine, in which state the father passed away before the birth of our subject. The mother subsequently married Avery Ricker, and they came west about 1849. She supported herself and her child for years by teaching.
Jonathan Leighton was reared and educated in his native state and there he also learned the carpenter's trade. In 1843, he came to Sheboygan, where he was employed in the construction of the first pier. Later he removed to Sheboygan Falls, which at that time contained only six houses, while seven families represented its citizens. There Mr. Leighton erected the first sawmill, which he operated until 1854, when he bought a farm of one hundred and thirty acres, and turned his attention to agricultural pursuits. He also built a sawmill on his farm and operated it in connection with the cultivation of his fields until 1861, when he went to Montana. The ensuing ten years he spent in prospecting in the gold fields of the west, but at the expiration of that time he returned to Sheboygan county and resumed the life of an agriculturist.
On the 11th of March, 1837, Mr. Leighton was married to Miss Elizabeth Littlefield, who was born in Bangor, known as Skowhegan, Maine, on the 2nd of October, 1822. Her parents were Aurin Z. and Betsey Littlefield, who were also among the pioneers of Sheboygan county. The father came west in 1843, and the mother and remainder of the family followed him a year later. Both parents passed the remainder of their lives here, the father passing away in 1847, and the mother in April, 1869.
Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Leighton, six of whom are still living, as follows: Frances, the wife of Melvin Gifford, of Canby, Minnesota; George, who is married and living in Lake Preston, South Dakota; Charles, a resident of Laguna Beach, California, who is also married; Charlotte, the widow of the Rev. L. J. Dinsmore, of Chicago; Isabelle, who was formerly a school teacher, but is now living at home and keeping house for her mother and brother; and Arthur, who is operating the home farm. He was formerly engaged in the newspaper business at Chilton, Calumet county, and for four years was county superintendent of schools of that county. He takes an active interest in all political affairs, giving his support to the republican party. Mr. Leighton passed away on the 19th of October, 1897, but he is still survived by his wife, who has nearly attained the venerable age of ninety years.
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