Early Years in Wisconsin -William and Bridget

Summertime 1845, Bridget Connolly gave birth to a boy named William Rice Jr. Leading up to the birth, William and Bridget were starting their farm in the Wisconsin Territory. Over the course of the next 4 years, Bridget gave birth to 4 more children. Sons Charles in 1846, Francis in 1848, and twin daughters Bridget and Mary in 1849.
In the meantime, on top of starting a farm and family, William was establishing himself as a man of good standing in the community. He was elected a Town Supervisor on April 7, 1846. During his first term it is documented that town money was portioned out to support charitable applicants. In addition, the town money was spent on a visiting physician at the amount of 50 cents per visit, if he gave medication he received extra money. Ministers received $10.00 per month, school teachers $10 and $12 per month excluding board, and lawyers received $2 per case. William went on to be elected Supervisor again in 1848.

Cedarburg is red dot.

The family saw Wisconsin become the 30th state on May 29, 1848. They were members of St Francis Borgia Catholic church which was located in a log building on Pioneer Road. There was a large Irish community in the area with many of them being farmers. The Native American tribe The Sac also lived in the area who would hunt and fish. They were a peaceful tribe that would barter with the new settlers.

Between 1850-1861, Bridget gave birth to 7 more children. Owen 1850, Thomas 1851, Catherine 1852, James 1854, Peter 1857, Elizabeth 1858, and John 1861. During that time period, Owen passed away sometime after the 1855 Wisconsin census but before the 1860 census.
They built their home with quarried stone and timber from the property. It was built on a hill overlooking their land*. In addition to the 69.32 acres he purchased in Ozaukee County, an additional 80 acres was purchased in the adjoining Washington County bringing his total farm up to 149.32 acres. One wonders if William and Bridget came from farming families in Ireland. They had one of the larger farms in the area and they were prospering in the country.


History of Washington and Ozaukee Counties, Wisconsin: Containing an Account of Its Settlement, Growth, Development and Resources … Biographical Sketches, Portraits of Prominent Men and Early Settlers; the Whole Preceded by a History of Wisconsin … and an Abstract of Its Laws and Constitution. Western historical Company, 1881.

United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4D5-XCR : accessed 3 May 2016), Wm Rice, Cedarburg, Washington, Wisconsin, United States; citing family 406, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Wisconsin State Census, 1855,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MMMP-QVL : accessed 3 May 2016), Wm Rice, Cedarburg Town, Ozaukee, Wisconsin; citing line 15, State Historical Society, Madison; FHL microfilm 1,032,688.

United States Census, 1860″, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MW94-JZZ : accessed 3 May 2016), Wm Rice, 1860.

United States Census, 1870,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MNSM-BHY : accessed 3 May 2016), William Rice, Wisconsin, United States; citing p. 12, family 71, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 553,230.

Wisconsin map. Public Domain Wikipedia accessed 3 May 2016.

Nelander, Betty. Common thread of history runs through furnishings and home. News Graphic Pilot Cedarburg May 25, 1983 p 10

Wisconsin Historical Society, Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Cedarburg, Ozaukee, WI 13178.

*Although it has been added onto, the home is still standing. According to the article by Betty Nelander, “the original home is now used as a kitchen area with a small portion of the stone wall and log beams still exposed. There is a cistern under the floor.” In 1983 the home was part of a tour of Historic Stone Houses.


One thought on “Early Years in Wisconsin -William and Bridget

  1. Bridget appears to have been a sturdy woman! 12 children in a short time with a set of twins to boot! Wow! The Irish corner in us is impressive.


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