I found interesting the following book excerpts about our ancestor Philo Belden, and another early settler, J. I. Case, the farm equipment company founder who later became the largest employer in Racine County..

RACINE: Growth and Change in a Wisconsin County.

Edited by Nicholas C. Burckel. Published by Racine County Board of Supervisors. Two civilizations: Indians and Early White Settlement. Nelson Peter Ross. Page 37-38.
"One of the key individuals associated with the early development of Rochester, and indeed of western Racine County in general, was Philo Belden, whose career illustrates the pioneering role of the enterprising Yankee. Born in Connecticut in 1815, he was the descendant of early seventeenth-century settlers from England. In 1835 he left Connecticut, traveling west to Michigan, where he bought two hundred acres. In the spring of 1836, however, he visited Racine County, including the village of Rochester. He decided to settle in western Racine County and did so after selling his Michigan land late in 1837. In June, 1839, he married Mary Frances Belden of La Porte, Indiana, probably a cousin. After moving to Racine County, the couple raised a family of four sons. During his years in Racine County, from the late l830's to his death in 1889, Philo Belden contributed to the area's development as farmer, businessman, politician, and judge. He invested in land in the western part of the County, some of which he sold and some of which he farmed. At the same time, he participated in the development and sale of town lots in Rochester as one of the proprietors of the village. To promote Rochester's growth, he established the dam, sawmill, flour mill, and an iron forge, and invested in other manufacturing projects. He was active also in promotion of the plank road from Racine through Rochester to the Rock River valley and in attempts to make the Fox River navigable for shipping.
Philo Belden failed in his most ambitious venture-his effort to bring a railroad through Rochester. In 1855 he led in organizing the Fox River Valley Railroad, a company that attempted to establish a rail link from Milwaukee through Waterford, Rochester, and Burlington into Illinois. He won support from wealthy Milwaukee investors, and in January, 1861, the backers reorganized the project as the Milwaukee and Northern Illinois Railroad, with Belden as president. What attracted support was a scheme to run a line from Milwaukee southeast into Illinois with a connection to St. Louis, a more direct route than through Chicago. While the company did develop a right-of-way, it was never able to lay the line, and Philo Belden lost much of his modest fortune in the effort.
Belden experienced more success as a political leader. Before the Civil War he became an advocate of reform causes which were then gaining popular support, and after the war he held office as an honored member of the Republican establishment. These aspects of his career reflect much of the County's political history in the generations before and after 1860. In 1839 Democratic Territorial Governor Henry Dodge appointed Belden as Justice of the Peace for Racine County, and in 1842 Dodge's successor and opponent, James Duane Doty, allied to the Whig Party then in power in Washington, reappointed "Squire" Belden. He won elections at various times to the position of Town Supervisor and to five terms on the County Board, serving as Chairman of that body in 1854. He was an antislavery, pro-temperance advocate who ran for the State Assembly on the Whig ticket four times, winning only in 1852.
With the eclipse of the Whig Party, and with the shift of reform-minded individuals to the new Republican Party in the 1850s, Philo Belden became a Republican. He vigorously supported the Civil War and sent three sons to fight for the North. He won the western Racine County seat in the Assemblies of 1864 and 1866, and in 1870 he won election to the State Senate. Governor· Jeremiah Rusk appointed him to fill a vacancy as County Judge of Racine County in 1884. Subsequently he won a full term. As judge he established the County's probate system and handled a variety of cases. He resigned in 1889, within a week of his death, and was succeeded by his grandson, Ellsworth Burnett Belden, who became one of Wisconsin's more distinguished jurists."


Pioneering in American Agriculture.
Stewart H. Holbrook, Macmillan Co., NY, 1955. Page 30-31.

"Case worked away at his rented bench in the carpenter shop (in Rochester, WI). He went often to consult with Ela, (fanning mill manufacturer in Rochester, WI), over what turned out to be quite a problem. Winter passed to find it far from solved. Case worked on through summer and fall, disappointed that the machine was not ready to take on the neighborhood harvest of wheat, while the local wiseacres performed their predestined parts by tapping their heads knowingly whenever the subject of the crazy young inventor came up.

In the spring of 1844, however, Case had constructed some thing which he was pretty confident would thresh grain the way he wanted it threshed. At the invitation of Henry Cady, one of the most prosperous men in the county, he moved his machine into the farmer's barn in the village. A trial run on some wheat was successful. Cady then invited Case to take his rig out to his Cherry Hill Farm, less than two miles from Rochester, and thresh Cady's barnfull of wheat. Case gladly accepted the offer. One windy day in May a goodly crowd gathered at Cherry Hill to see what the new contraption could do. It is recalled there was no little betting among the spectators before the machine was attached to a two-horse tread power and the chaff began to fly. The thing actually worked. Clean grain came out the spout ready for the bag. Straw and chaff were blown out into a pile. Farmer Cady was especially pleased to be host to the first workout of this extraordinary machine. He suggested to Case that the rig be named the Cherry Hill Wonder.

Though the machine had worked well, and the grain proved to be clean as a whistle, Case saw where it could be improved further. All summer he worked over it, adjusting gears, changing sieves, and when harvest time came he was ready. The machine, along with its inventor, went out to do much of the threshing around Rochester and in other parts of western Racine County. All went well, and Case was given encouragement by the fact that several farmers for whom he threshed asked him to make them a similar rig. He had already come to the conclusion that he would rather make machines than run them. What he must· have, if he were going into manufacture, was shop of his own and water power.

Now, the boosters of Rochester were loud in declarations that all the town needed was a "little more enterprise and industry" to make it the outstanding metropolis of the Midwest This made a fine noise, but when young Case was of a mind to take them at their word, he quickly discovered the loud cries of Welcome to New Industry, to be mere bellows. The water-power rights on the Fox River that flowed through Rochester belonged to a tight little group which had a sawmill and a gristmill. They refused Case permission to install another millrace and wheel.

Young Case said not a word, but he acted with characteristic directness. Early next morning he hitched a pair of horses to his threshing machine, put aboard his tools, and drove out of Rochester over the newly completed United States Road to Racine, where the Root River enters Lake Michigan. Racine had water power. It was on the lake. It was then engaged in trying to become a port. Case rented a small shop on the riverbank."

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Racine, Wisconsin, USA. Design and material may be copied with permission.