Dewhurst Township

Clark County, Wisconsin





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Township 23N, Range 3W


Dewhurst was the thirtieth and last of the towns organized, consists of township No. 23, range 3 west. It was formed by order of the county board on the 15th day of Nov., 1901. Originally Levis Township encompassed all of Dewhurst,  Sherwood and Washburn Townships.
The first town meeting was held at Primmer school house in April 1902. It was first intended to be called the town of Mound, and that name first appeared in the order forming the town, however the board amended the order by substituting the name of Dewhurst for Mound, and in that shape it finally was passed. The town was named in honor of the late Judge Richard Dewhurst of Neillsville.
Richard Dewhurst was born near Manchester, England in 1826 and came to the U.S. when an infant. His family settled in Bristol, Massachusetts, then moved to Ohio where Richard studied law. He taught school early in his career and came to Clark County in 1856 after being admitted to the bar. He served in the Civil War for WI. Mr. Dewhurst founded the Neillsville Bank. He was a lawyer, judge, businessman, and also engaged in logging operations.
Richard Dewhurst, one of the notable pioneers of Clark County, founder of the Neillsville Bank, and a lawyer, judge and business man of high repute, now passed away, was born near the city of Manchester, England, May 12, 1826, son of Miles and Mary Dewhurst. His residence in his native land was short, as in the year following his birth his parents-he being then their only child-emigrated to the United States, settling in Bristol, Mass. From that place they subsequently removed to Lorraine County, Ohio, where they passed the remainder of their lives, and where three more sons were born to them-George, Joseph and Edmund. Richard Dewhurst spent a part of his boyhood and youth on his parents' farm, but his ambition lay in the direction of the law, which he studied at Oberlin, Ohio, under the direction of P. Bliss. He was admitted to the bar of Ohio, but in 1850 went to Jo Daviess County, Ill., where for awhile he worked, in the lead mines. Then for a year or two he taught private school in Scales Mound, Ill., from which place, about 1852, he removed to Potosi, Grant County, Wis.
In 1854 he was teaching school in Platteville, Wis., and in 1856 was admitted to the bar of Wisconsin at White Oak Springs, locating at Weston Rapids, Clark County, on May first of that year. He had now found the place which was to be the scene of his future activities, and so short a time did it take him to make his personality felt that in 1858 he was elected to the Wisconsin Assembly on the Democratic ticket. In the following year he became registrar of deeds of Clark County. It was in this year, on March 29, that he married Maria S. Curtis, who was born in Ohio, April 9, 1840, daughter of Caleb and Mary Ann (Hurd) Curtis.  Her parents, both natives of Connecticut, were married in Ohio and settled at Cottage Grove, near Madison, Dane County, Wis., where Mr. Curtis spent the rest of his life, following the occupation of contractor and builder.
During the Civil War he served in a Wisconsin regiment. The children in the Curtis family were: Maria S. Wheeler, who also served in the Civil War Francis, Catherine, and Robert, who went to the war as a member of a Wisconsin cavalry regiment and died in a hospital at the front. After his marriage Richard Dewhurst came to Neillsville, settling on the ban of the creek below the mill. The nearest markets were then at Sparta and La Crosse, and the roads were merely trails through the wilderness Mr. Dewhurst erected a frame dwelling, which stood on the present sit of the Emery Bruley home and here he and his wife began domestic life.  There were plenty of Indians in the vicinity who often came to the house begging and they were always given something. Mr. Dewhurst engaged somewhat extensively in logging, which was a wide-spread occupation in those days. He had already, in 1856, held the position of county judge of Clark County, and in 1864 he was elected to the legislature again, serving during the session of 1865, and being again a member in 1875, in which year he was also county superintendent of schools. On the death of William Hutchinson he :filled the latter's unexpired term as county treasurer and in the year 1877 was again county judge, serving on the latter occasion until 1879. Mr. Dewhurst built the fine colonial residence on Hewett in which his widow now resides, and also the block on Main street bearing his name.
He was a member of the Masonic order, which he joined at Sparta, while his religious affiliations were with the Universalist Church.

Judge Dewhurst and his wife were the parents of three children: Frank, who died, at the age of two years Mary, wife of W. L. Hemphill, and Lillian who died young. In 1874 Mr. Dewhurst, in company with Daniel, visited Oregon, Washington and California, and in 1876, with John Reed, visited England, Scotland, Ireland and the French Exposition at His death, which took place Oct. 13, 1895, removed from life's scenes one of Clark County's most useful and distinguished citizens, and an event deeply regretted in the community in which he lived. Mrs. Dewhurst, who for so many years has been one of the foremost ladies Neillsville, is interested in philanthropic and patriotic work, and is now interested in the work of the American Red Cross.



 Hon. Richard Dewhurst


Judge Richard Dewhurst died in Atlanta, Georgia, Sunday, Oct. 13, 1895.  He'd left Neillsville, Clark County, WI for Atlanta on Sept. 30th, intending to spend some days at the Exposition there and then proceed to his winter home in Florida.  He was taken ill on the following Saturday afternoon, with a slight nausea and intense headache. Against his wishes the hotel proprietors called in medical aid, but in a short time he was in a comatose condition and died at 6:15 a.m. that Sunday at the Delbridge Hotel.  His wife and son-in-law, Mr. W. L. Hemphill, accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. D. Dickinson, went to Chicago to meet the remains.  The funeral took place today from his residence, Rev. T. G. Owen and Rev. F. C. Davis officiating. A very large concourse of friends of the deceased were present, and all the places of business in the city were closed during the time of the funeral.

At the time of his death the Judge was president of the Neillsville Bank and held a like position in the German American Bank of Marshfield.


Sources:  Robert J. McBride's 1909 History of Clark Co., WI; 1918 History of Clark County, Wisconsin, by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge and published by H. C. Cooper, Jr. Co.; Obituary and family records.





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