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Somers Municipal History
1843 Establish Town of Pike
The Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of Wisconsin signed an Act on April 15, 1843 to establish the Town of Pike in the County of Racine.
Original Town Boundary Description
"In Racine County, the Town of Pike was organized out of town 2, range 22, into a separate town; that part of the Town of Pleasant Prairie comprised in fractional town 1, range 23 east, was annexed to the Town of Southport; section 31, town 3, range 22, was set off from the Town of Paris and annexed to the Town of Mount Pleasant, and lot 5, in section 9, town 3, range 23, was excluded from the Village of Racine."
(Source: Moses Strong, History of the Territory of Wisconsin from 1836 to 1848, page 268, published 1885)
First Elected Officials
The Act would take effect on the first Monday of May, 1843, where on that date, there would be a general special election to elect officers. The election would be held at the house of Charles Leet, one of our earliest pioneer settlers. Town meetings continued at the Leet house for sixteen years until a new town hall was built in 1959 on the corner of Highway E and Green Bay Road.
About Charles Leet. Charles Leet's lineage can be traced back to William Leet, who served many public offices, among them the Governor of the Colony of New Haven from 1661 to 1665 and Governor of the Colony of Connecticut from 1676-1683. Charles Leet was born in 1793 in Saybrook, Connecticut, son of Allen Leet, a farmer in Chautauqua County, New York. Charles married in New York and after serving in the War of 1812, he kept a hotel at Delhi, New York for several years until 1837 when he came to Wisconsin to purchase Government land: two parcels of 160 acres each in Section 10 and 11.
Charles Leet house, Green Bay Road, Somers, Wisconsin
First Elected Officials
(Source: Scan of original Minutes)
Who were our first officials elected in 1843?
Chairman: Harmon Marsh
Born 1799 in Litchfield, Connecticut, Marsh is a descendent of John Webster, who served one term as Governor of Connecticut in 1656. He was appointed U.S. Postmaster at Pompey Centre, Onondaga, New York in 1831, and served until 1842 when he then came to Racine County. By 1843 he was serving on the Racine Board of Supervisors. In 1843 he was elected Chairman of the Town of Pike. In 1847, he was re-elected, and in 1856 he was elected as Treasurer of the Board of Supervisors in Kenosha County.
Supervisor: Joseph Post Hurlbut
Born 1788 in Westhampton, Massachusetts, Hurlbut came to Wisconsin in 1835 and settled in the Town of Pike. He is shown living in the Town on the 1850 census, but later took up residence in Racine where he held the office of County Treasurer. He was one of the first to purchase land in the town: 160 acres on March 3, 1843.
Supervisor: Richard Miller
Born 1781 in New York, he married and had one child, a daughter, Lucretia Miller, who was born in 1811 in Chautauqua County, New York. Lucretia married Fitch Allen Higgins (1843 Town of Pike Commissioner of Highways) in April 1842 in the Town of Pike. Richard Miller died in the Town of Pike in 1848.
Clerk: Oscar Hurlbut
Born 1819 in Pompey, New York, Oscar Hurlbut served in the 1850 Third Session of the Wisconsin Assembly from Dodge County. He enlisted in Company E, the 49th Wisconsin Infantry and died in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was the son of Joseph P. Hurlbut, born 1788 in Westhapton, Massachusetts, who in 1835 came to Wisconsin and settled in the Town of Pike. Oscar was the son of Joseph Post Hurlbut, Town of Pike Supervisor, and brother to Lucius Hurlbut, Town of Pike Treasurer in 1843.
Treasurer: Lucius Rockwell Hurlbut
Born 1812 in Pompey, New York, Lucius resided some years in Racine and afterward the family settled in Durand, Illinois. This daughter, Frances Valentia Hurlbut, was born in the Town of Pike.
Assessor: Hollis Whitney
Born 1793 in Marlboro, Vermont, Whitney arrived in Wisconsin with his wife Sarah, initially living in the Town of Southport. Whitney, along with F.J. Higgons, was part of an exploring party from Hannibal, New York who came to the Town of Southport for the purpose of establishing a Congregational Church in the new settlement.
Assessor: William H. Addington
Born 1808 in Paris Hill, New York, Addington lived in the Town of Pike as shown in the 1846 Wisconsin Census. By the 1850 Census, he moved to Dover, Racine County. He then lived in Burlington for a period of time until in 1870 he married the second time in Maysville, Dekalb, Missouri.
Assessor: Alvin Strong
Born 1808 in Stafford, Tolland, Connecticut, he came to Wisconsin and the Town of Pike with his brothers, David and Samuel, who were also land owners in the early 1830's. Alvin purchased 160 acres in Section 9 on December 10, 1840. Strong was also the owner of an additional 80 acres in Section 9. His daughter, Sarah Strong, married Mead O. Myrick (also a Somers pioneer) on 1876. Alvin Strong died in Somers in 1860.
Commissioners of Highways: Abram Bowker
Born 1804 in Vermont, he purchased 160 acres of land in the Town of Pike from the U.S. Government on March 31, 1843. He owned 80 acres in Section 18 and two 40 acre parcels in Section 17. In 1900 he sold his farm and in 1916 the Thomas Birchell family of Sylvania moved into the old Bowker place. Abram Bowker, in his declining years, went to live in Madison with his daughter.
Commissioners of Highways: Fitch A. Higgins
Born 1793 in Milford, Connecticut, Higgons was drafted in 1813 into the U.S. Army in the War of 1812 as a drummer. He served a term of 45 days. Fitch and family arived in Wisconsin in 1835 and was one of the first settlers in Pleasant Prairie where he built a log cabin and reared his family. According to the 1850 census, Fitch lived in the Town of Pike on 50 ares of improved land and he also owned 110 acres of unimproved land. In addition, he owned land in Section 30 of Pleasant Prairie and a good part of the present Forest Park subdivison in Kenosha.
Commissioners of Highways: Richard Miller
Commissioners of Highways: Peter Reas
Born 1800 in Corkland County, New York, he came to Wisconsin in 1843 purchasing 160 acres of land from the U.S. Government. He was living in Somers as of the 1860 census and later moved to Racine at age 81 by 1880. His daughter, Mary E. Reas married Horace T. DeLong, also Somers pioneers, owning 189 acres in Section 6 that were purchased in the 1840's.
Commissioners of Common Schools: Joseph P. Hurlbut
Commissioners of Common Schools: Ira Newman
Born 1800 in Pompey, Onondaga, New York, Newman owned two parcels in Somers: 60 acres and 80 acres in Section 26. In 1841, the first Hillcrest School building was located about a mile east of the present site on the then Ira Newman farm. It was a rude log structure. The quarter acre of land was to be used school purposes without charge, or rent, so long as it was occupied as a school. The first school was known as the Ridge School. In 1852, a roll was called for building of a new schoolhouse and $360 was voted for this purpose. The site chosen was the present one, now called Hillcrest. Ira Newman died in 1871. His brothers Urial, Joseph, and Philo all were farmers and among the first landowners in Somers. Years later, a descendant of Ira Newman, Frank Newman, one of the first officers in the newly established (1947) Somers Civic Association. Frank Newman also served as Clerk of the Town of Somers in the 1960's.
Commissioners of Common Schools: Peter D. Hugunin
Born 1782 in Mapletown, on the Mohawk River, Montgomery, New York, he fought in the Battle of Oswego in 1814. In 1833 he and his son Edgar stopped at Kenosha from the cutter "Westward Ho" upon which vessel they left Chicago to visit Green Bay and intermediate ports. Hugunin remained here and began agricultural pursuits in 1836 in the Town of Somers, owning land in Section 30. Peter died in 1865 in Chicago. The 1861 map of Somers shows his son, Edgar owned 50 acres in Section 24 , 110 acres in Section 24, and 27 acres in Section 25.
(Source: Ancestry.com and local newspaper articles)
1848 Wisconsin Becomes a State
On May 29, 1848, President Polk signed the bill accepting the Constitution making Wisconsin the 30th state in the Union. the first Governor was nelson Dewey, a native of Connecticut, who came to Wisconsin in 1836.
1850 Kenosha County Created
At the territorial formation of the State of Wisconsin in 1836, the state was divided into four counties - Crawford, Iowa, Brown, and Milwaukee. An Act passed by the legislative assembly in 1836 provided that several townships be erected into a separate county, one of them named Racine. By an Act of the Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of Wisconsin, Pike was created as a separate town in Racine County. By an Act approved January 30, 1850, the original County of Racine was divided and Kenosha County was created.
1850 U.S. Federal Census: Where did people living in the Town of Pike come from?
29.7% - New York
20.8% - Wisconsin (likely represents the first generation Wisconsonites born of immigrants from the 1830's and 1840's)
13.6% - New England
13.0% - Great Britain, excluding Ireland and British America
10.0% - Germany, excluding Prussia
5.4% - Ireland
4.5% - Northwest
1.0% - Middle States, excluding New York
0.9% - Bristish America
0.5% - Other states
0.5% - Other
0.1% - Prussia
1851 Town of Pike Name Changed to Somers
The people of the State of Wisconsin represented in senate and assembly, do enact the following: Section 1. "That the Town of Pike in the County of Kenosha shall hereafter be now known by the name of Somers." Approved March 11, 1851.
1850 - 1900 Total Town of Pike/Somers Population
1850 - 680
1860 - 1,278
1870 - 1,359
1880 - 1,458
1890 - 1,632
1900 - 2,044
(Source: U.S. Census Reports)
2005 Boundary Agreement
In 2005, the Town of Somers and City of Kenosha entered into a boundary agreement per Wisconsin Statutes 66.0307. The Agreement aimed to create a regular permanent boundary between the two municipalities that would facilitate planning efforts in both communities. The approximate boundary line, with some exceptions, began on the western side following County Highway S, east on County Highway L, north on 41st Avenue, east on County Highway E, south on Wisconsin Highway 32, around the northern edge of Carthage College, and east to Lake Michigan.
The boundary agreement's duration is 30 years from the agreement's approval date of January 18, 2005.
2015 - Portion of Town Incorporated to Village
The April 7, 2015 Somers election results approved incorporating a portion of the Town of Somers into a village by a vote of 676 votes "for a village" vs. 526 votes "against a village". Somers will now be known as the Village and Town of Somers. The certified election results were submitted to the Kenosha County Circuit Court, who then forwarded the same to the Wisconsin Office of the Secretary of State. A Certificate of Incorporation from the State of Wisconsin was issued on April 24, 2015.
2015 - Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement & Annexation Ordinance
The Village and Town of Somers entered into an Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement on October 20, 2015. It provided for many of the logistics regarding incorporation of the village, including apportionment of assets and liabilities, provisions for municipal services, employees and budgetary planning, and boundary line changes between the Village and the Town.
The Village Board adopted an Annexation Ordinance on October 20, 2015 to annex the remainder of the remnant Town of Somers, less the "B" area, to the Village of Somers. The Agreement provided for the boundaries of the Village and the Town to change as of December 31, 2015 so that all of the property included in the Annexation Ordinance becomes part of the Village, and the remnant Town will consist only of the "B" area.