The name “Brigham” is familiar in Southwest Wisconsin. There is a town called Brigham, a Brigham County Park, and its name is on the side of our barn. For a while in the early 1800s, there was an inn called “Brigham’s Place” that was a hotel, trading post, and post office. It was owned by Ebenezer Brigham.
Ebenezer Brigham came to Wisconsin in the 1820s during the lead rush. He settled here in Blue Mounds in 1828. His nearest neighbor at the time was in Dodgeville, about 24 miles away. It didn’t take long for the excitement of the lead rush to set in.
It was never short of laborers or customers, so the tavern was usually kept by tenants. Brigham’s place was also popular with travelers on the Old Military Road. Before Brigham, the only available food supply came from Galena.
In 1836, Ebenezer Brigham was elected to council for Iowa County. He was in Belmont to discuss where the capital for Wisconsin was to be held. There were proposals for Helena, Milwaukee, Racine, Belmont, Mineral Point, Platteville, Astor (Green Bay), Cassville, Bellview, Koshkonong, Wisconsinapolis, Peru, and Wisconsin City.
One of the people to run the inn while Ebenezer was away was Rosaline Peck. After the voting of the state capitol at the first session in 1836, a rider came to town from Belmont and told this innkeeper that the council had decided upon the “Four Lakes” region as the site for the permanent territorial capital.
It is said that Mrs. Peck did not waste her time. She packed up an oxcart with the essentials including her son and traveled to Madison to build a home. Some stories say she left her husband behind at the beginning of this venture, others say he came with her. In April 1837, Mrs. Rosaline Peck became the first settler in Madison.
When Wisconsin became a state in 1848, a stagecoach route from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River ran alongside Blue Mounds on the Military Ridge Trail. Each day, the postal service would pass in a 4 -horse coach carrying mail and passengers back and forth daily. Blue Mounds was a post office and was a stop along this route.
One of the drivers of the time was named Andrew Bishop. To announce his arrival, he would sound his horn. Then he would unload his passengers and bring them up to the door of the Brigham Place for dinner.
It’s not noted when Brigham’s Place closed. It could’ve been when the post office moved in 1857 or when Ebenezer Brigham died in 1861. Today there are remnant features of Ebenezer near Cave of the Mound because he owned the land before the cave was found. However, he never knew there was a cave here because there is no natural entrance or active signs on the surface that a cave is below. Ebenezer’s original horse barn is standing next to our Historic Barn. Often it is overlooked and people pass by never knowing the history they are next to.
Irwin, Robin J. Blue Mounds, Wisconsin: A Selective History 1828-1987. 1987.