History of the Town of Lodi
The Town of Lodi is located in the southwestern part of Columbia County, south of Lake Wisconsin. It is north of Dane County, east of the Town of West Point, west of the Town of Arlington, and it surrounds the City of Lodi.
The scenic area had long been a home for Native Americans before the first Euroamerican settlers, Marston and George Bartholomew, staked their claim in March 1845. Fertile soil and the Wisconsin River soon drew others. By 1846 a county government was established which created Pleasant Valley Precinct. Its boundary lines were initially retained when the Town of Lodi was created in January 1849. Within a year it was divided into the current Towns of Lodi and West Point.
The first settler in Okee was Samuel Ring who built the first sawmill there in 1847. The community was originally called Ringsville, but later changed to adopt the Native Americans' name for the creek which flowed through it, now known as Spring Creek. Seth Bailey platted it in 1858 and become co-owner of the local sawmill on the creek's dam with partner Miller Blachley. The lumber business prospered with the river's transport of logs from the northern pineries which were snaked up the creek to their mill.
In 1875 the railroad was built to traverse the town, and it gave rise to new commercial ventures such as the area's first flour and grist mill. The area changed again dramatically after the turn of the century will the construction of a dam on the river at Prairie du Sac. It flooded sections of the town, including the millpond in Okee, and created Lake Wisconsin. Soon, the lakefront communities of Okee and Harmony Grove appeared which, over time, evolved from seasonal cottages to permanent homes.
In the latter part of the century the town experienced much growth and development. It faced the daily challenge of managing it while preserving its valued rural character and protecting its many natural resources, including wetlands, woodlands, creeks, streams, lake and river.