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Plat map 1836

Plat Map of Madison (1836)

Wisconsin Historical Society Image ID: WHi-11709

Madison in 1843

The first group of workers arrived in Madison to build the Capitol building in June 1837. While only a handful stayed the first winter, the following spring permanent settlers began arriving in Madison. On June 23, 1843, J. P. B. McCabe passed through Madison collecting materials for a Gazetteer of Wisconsin. He took a census of the village.

Of the 342 individuals McCabe counted, 58% were male and 42% were female. Men outnumbered women in the most numerous age group, 20 to 40 years of age, by 105 to 48. The percentages were almost exactly reversed in the 10 to 20 age group, with 45 women and 28 men. Almost one in five Madisonians were under five years old. Twenty-seven of the 31 Wisconsin natives living in Madison, a whopping 89%, had been born in the village. Only 23 Madisonians were older than 40. In fact, the oldest male was 65 and the oldest female 66.

Eighty percent of Madisonians were natives of the United States, representing 14 different states. New York led the way, with 127 people. Wisconsin was second with 31, followed by Pennsylvania with 19 and Illinois with 17. Half of all Madisonians were from New England, 18% from the Midwest, six percent from the border and southern states, and seven percent from the mid-Atlantic region.

Just under 70 Madisonians were foreign born, the most numerous being natives of the English empire (England, Wales, Isle of Gurney, Scotland, Upper Canada, Lower Canada, and Ireland). There were eight individuals from the German kingdoms, as well as a smattering from Switzerland, Norway, and Portugal.

Madison itself consisted of 71 buildings, including the Capitol. Twenty of those had been built in the prior year. Twenty-three buildings, including two brick structures of three stories each, were being erected. There were four religious congregations: Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Catholic, and Methodist. The Catholics were planning to build a large stone church (the future St. Raphael’s), and attended occasional services performed by Milwaukee clergyman Father Martin Kundig at the home of James Sullivan (501 University Avenue). The other denominations held their services in the Capitol. There were two select schools (one run by Mrs. Gay and the other by Miss L. A. Smith), 11 lawyers, one physician “who has been many months destitute of a patient,” two justices of the peace, two printing offices, three stores, five milliners and dress makers, 17 carpenters and joiners, two lumber merchants, three surveyors, one livery stable, one cabinet maker, one saddler’s shop, one baker, two painters, two masons, one locksmith, three blacksmith shops, two shoe shops, two tailor shops, one wagon maker, one watchmaker, one plasterer, and one brickyard.

Mark Gajewski