A Delightful Place To Visit!
Hartford is a charming community in rural Wisconsin, 30 minutes northwest of the fringes of metropolitan Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Downtown Hartford features historic old homes, the Wisconsin Automotive Museum, a multi-screen cinema, and an expanding new commercial area. Hartford is also the home of the Schauer Art's & Activities Center, and the performing arts theater.
Hartford has many opportunities and activities nestled into a quaint country-style setting. The uniqueness of Hartford begins with the downtown section. A variety of specialty restaurants, coffee shop, antique shops and unique gift shops, are located in restored buildings from the early 1900s attract customers from all over the state and beyond.
The town has several beautiful public parks, many beautiful golf courses, and Kettle Moraine Pike Lake State Park and the Ice Age Trail offer trails for hiking, biking and bird watching. Just 10 minutes from Holy Hill, enjoy climbing a steeple tower to see the breathtaking Kettle Moraine, countryside. Hartford has that quaint "small town" feel and is a great place to visit.
In 1838, just two years after the Wisconsin Territory was established, the boundaries of Washington county were set. In 1843, some 100 Potawatomi Indians lived on the east shore of Pike Lake and had friendly relations with the early settlers who had come to the frontier from the east. By 1850, mass immigration from Ireland and central European nations was beginning.
The Hartford area saw thousands of these hardworking settlers arrive in search of a new and better life, taking up homesteads and establishing businesses in Hartford and settlements like Germantown and Erin Township. Among them were John Thiel, from Germany, and Nicolas Simon, from Prussia, who arrived in 1844.
History credits these two surveyors with being the first to plat what is now Hartford in 1844. Simon's description of the place he and Thiel had found attracted James and Charles Rossman who immediately purchased 40 acres around the rapids of the river that flowed through the area and constructed a dam. Later, the Rossman's built a grist mill.
In 1847, the name Hartford was chosen for the area, by the toss of a coin, after Hartford, Connecticut. Hartford was incorporated as a village in 1871 and a dozen years later, with the population at 1,500, became a city.
In 1866, William B. Place settled in the community and opened a tannery. W.B. Place & Company's tannery and retail store still sells quality leather goods. Each September, it holds its Rendezvous and Buckskinner's Encampment, an event that has become a major tourist attraction.
Shortly after the turn of the century, the Kissel Motor Car Company was established in Hartford. Organized by Louis Kissel and his sons, the company built automobiles until the Great Depression hit the nation. In 1912, the company employed some 1,000 employees. In 1931, the company was reorganized as Kissel Industries to build outboard motors for Sears, Roebuck and Company. It was later sold, first to West Bend Aluminum, then to Chrysler Corp.
Today, Hartford is a thriving community with a diverse collection of prosperous retail stores lining Main Street and an equally diverse industrial base, centered primarily in three large industrial parks on the city's west side. It preserves its history in several homes, buildings, and districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places and in museums like the Hartford Heritage Auto Museum where famous Wisconsin built cars, including the Kissel, are displayed.
For more information, visit the Hartford, Wisconsin website.
The History of the Kissel Motor Car Company.