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 Euromerican 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 with 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
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.