Once covered by a glacier, the area of Wisconsin that became the town of Farmington is rich in glacial deposits of fertile soil among the kettles and kames, rivers and streams. Visitors as long as 10,000 years ago left their mark in the form of built-up mounds of earth in the shapes of animals, birds and simple geometry. Later Woodland native people migrated from the east, Potawotomie and Menomonee. French voyageurs came through in the seventeenth century, but did not stay. The tribal people were here when settlers of European descent began to claim land, ceded through treaties in the 1830’s. In 1835 the land was surveyed by an official government Deputy, William Burt. His notation of Stony Creek as a possible mill site aided speculative purchases of $1.25 per acre, former Governor James Doty, included.
The first settlers who took possession of their lands were Yankees, second and third generation Americans moving west across the continent to seek their own fortunes. Most of the flurry of purchasing and settling took place between 1845 and 1850. Americans, different Europeans from the upheaval in the Germanic states and Irish all came.
On February 11, 1847, the Wisconsin state legislature constituted a new town named Clarence. A year later the name was changed to Farmington. For a few months in 1854, based on the rumor of a deposit possibly containing diamonds being found, the name of the town became Carbon.
The first school, for which $15 was allocated by the town in 1847, was open winter and summer. By 1880 there were 8 schoolhouses with 691 scholars, and 15 teachers. Early religious services were held in the homes of the pioneers until meeting houses were built – Methodist, Catholic, German Reformed, Free Will Baptist.
Two small villages sprang up around industry and population centers in the mid nineteenth century. In 1854, Harlow Bolton platted out Bolton’s Ville at the extreme north of the township.
Boltonville had grist and saw mills run by the power of Stony Creek, a cheese factory, shops and iron and wagon works, medical and mail services.
Fillmore, named in honor of the US President o the day, was another community settled at the extreme eastern border. Christian Beger was the first settler, coming from Saxony in 1846. Along with numerous other businesses, Fillmore had the first saloon with a bowling alley in the area. Fillmore grew up around the Saxonia House Inn, an incubator of the early church, Turn Verein Society, post office, store and tavern. The Fillmore Brass Band entertained the community during the latter decades of the nineteenth century.
St. Michaels, Cheeseville and Orchard’s Grove are the three little hamlets of industry and settlement at crossroads in the community.
Other industries which made Farmington famous, now defunct, were the many cheese factories and the two brickyards which manufactured a well-known and used golden-colored brick. Two volunteer fire departments were established in the early days of the twentieth century. In the 1960’s the small rural schools consolidated with the Kewaskum School District.
At the dawn of the 21st century, Farmington prides itself on its rural heritage, with both large and small farms, dairy, organic, exotic game, and several industries. Our foundations are clearly seen in the many fine examples of unique stone architecture, preserved log homes and Lizard Mound County Park. We are a close-knit community served by Farmington Elementary School, St. Martin’s Church in Fillmore, St. Michaels Church in St. Michaels and St. Andrews Church between Orchard Grove and Fillmore. The Boltonville and Fillmore Fire Departments are among the finest. Four-H for the youth, Sportsman’s Club, Farmington Turners, and the Farmington Historical Society actively promote social heritage and preservation. Town government is run by an elected chair, two elected supervisors, an appointed clerk and treasurer.
Written by Lisa Lickel