Hales Corners is a small village in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, with a population of just over 7,000 people. Despite its small size, Hales Corners has a rich history that dates back to the early 1800s. In this blog post, we will explore the history of Hales Corners as a settlement, including how and when it was settled, who the early settlers were, and how the community grew over time.
Hales Corners was first settled in 1837, when three families from New York arrived in the area. These families were the Hales, the Grange, and the Janes families. The Hales family, which included brothers-in-law Gilbert Hales and Benjamin Janes, purchased 160 acres of land in the area that is now known as Hales Corners. The Grange family purchased 80 acres nearby, and the Janes family purchased 160 acres to the west of Hales Corners.
The early settlers of Hales Corners were primarily farmers who were attracted to the area by the fertile soil and the abundance of timber. They cleared the land and began farming, primarily growing wheat, oats, and corn. In addition to farming, the settlers also established a sawmill, which allowed them to cut and sell timber from the surrounding forests.
The settlement was originally called Whitnallville, after the Whitnall family, who owned a large amount of land in the area. The name was later changed to Hales Corners in honor of the Hales family, who were prominent members of the community. The Hales family was instrumental in the development of the settlement, and they donated land for the construction of a school and a church.
The first school in Hales Corners was built in 1840 and was a one-room schoolhouse. The school was used for both religious and secular education, and the teachers were often members of the local church. The first church in Hales Corners was built in 1843 and was a Congregational church. The church was used by several different denominations over the years, including Methodist and Presbyterian.
As the community grew, it became a center of commerce for the surrounding area. In 1851, a post office was established in Hales Corners, which allowed residents to send and receive mail. The post office also served as a gathering place for the community, where people could catch up on news and socialize.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Hales Corners continued to grow and develop. The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company, which provided transportation to and from Milwaukee, established a station in Hales Corners in 1907. This allowed residents to easily travel to Milwaukee for work or entertainment.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Hales Corners became a popular destination for tourists, who were attracted by the natural beauty of the area. The Whitnall Park, which was established in 1929, provided visitors with an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, and the Hales Corners Speedway, which operated from 1938 to 1958, was a popular attraction for racing enthusiasts.
Today, Hales Corners is a thriving community with a rich history. The village is home to several historic buildings, including the Hales Corners Lutheran Church and the Hales Corners Library. The community continues to grow and develop, while also preserving its history and heritage.
In the early 20th century, Hales Corners also became a popular tourist destination, with its natural beauty and attractions like Whitnall Park and the Hales Corners Speedway drawing visitors from near and far. The Hales Corners Speedway, which operated from 1938 to 1958, was particularly popular and drew racing enthusiasts from all over the region.
Throughout its history, Hales Corners has been a tight-knit community that values education and religion. The early settlers established a one-room schoolhouse in 1840, and by the 1860s, the community had several schools serving different age groups. The first church in Hales Corners was built in 1843 and was used by various denominations over the years, including Methodist and Presbyterian.
The Hales Corners Lutheran Church, which was built in 1869, is one of the most historic buildings in the village. The church was founded by a group of German immigrants who had settled in the area, and it continues to serve the community today. The Hales Corners Library, which was established in 1939, is another important institution in the community, providing resources and programs for residents of all ages.
Today, Hales Corners is a thriving village that continues to grow and develop while preserving its history and heritage. The village has a strong sense of community, with events like the Hales Corners Farmers Market and the Hales Corners National Night Out bringing residents together. The village is also home to several parks and recreational areas, including Whitnall Park, which covers over 600 acres and is a popular spot for hiking, fishing, and picnicking.
In conclusion, the history of Hales Corners as a settlement is a fascinating story of a small community that grew and prospered over time. From its humble beginnings as a farming settlement in the early 1800s to its current status as a thriving village, Hales Corners has always been a place where people come together to work, learn, and celebrate their shared history and traditions. Whether you’re a longtime resident or a newcomer to the area, there’s always something new to discover and appreciate about this unique and vibrant community.