Wednesday, November 9, 2016

"Four Mile House" in Rolling Prairie, Wisconsin in 1930 -- Post 438 of (Not So) Wordless Wednesday

During our 2011 vacation to Springfield, Illinois and surrounding states, we had one day in Dodge County, Wisconsin  my Ranslow and Devier Smith home area.  I wrote about it in Day 10 on the Seaver Midwest Genealogy Tour (posted 15 September 2011).

Here is a photograph I obtained during our visit:

Anita (the Beaver Dam Library lady) told me that the Dodge County Historical Society had lots of old photographs, so we left at 3:15 p.m. to go there.  They close at 4, and Kurt Sampson, the archivist there, was closing up early.  I explained what I was after - a 1930 photograph of Ranslow Smith's Four-Mile Inn in Rolling Prairie, and we quickly found it in the photo files (which are separated by town in Dodge County).  He scanned it for me, gave me a print, and will send a digital copy by email tomorrow.  That was FREE (thank you, Kurt!) and was the "Catch of the Day" - no doubt!  

The note at the bottom of the photo says:

"Four Mile House, built in 1853 by Raslow Smith, Rolling Prairie, and operated as a "Stage Coach Tavern" for service between Watertown & Fox Lake before the R.R. came through.  S.W. corner Watertown Plank Road (Now County I) and Town Line Road just north of now Rolling Prairie.  Stage changed horses here and for a time stopped for Noon Meal."

It was named "Four Mile House" because it was about midway (four miles) from Watertown to Fox Lake on the north-south road.  It was also on an east-west road.  Four miles in a stage coach probably took two to three hours if the road was good - it was time to water and feed the horses, and the passengers.  

This Inn is one of my ancestral homes.  It was built in 1853.  My second great-grandfather, Devier J. Lanphear Smith lived  in this house between the ages of 13 and 27, and ran the livery station and stables that were nearby (I think across the road kitty corner).  The railroad came through Rolling Prairie in about 1856, and the stage coach business at the "Four Mile House" changed to serving railroad passengers who disembarked at the Rolling Prairie station and serving the community as a hotel and restaurant.

This was an unexpected find, to say the least, and demonstrates (again) the value of stopping at local libraries, museums and genealogical and historical societies where your ancestors resided.  You never know what you're going to find.  

This "Four Mile House" will appear in a later Wordless Wednesday post!


Copyright (c) 2016, Randall J. Seaver

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