PITTSVILLE, WI (OnFocus) – James Quick Severns was the first white man in the Pittsville area, arriving in 1849. Oliver Pitts came to the area in 1856. His father, Luke, and family followed in 1858. They operated a saw mill near the Yellow River. The location became known as Pitts Mill, evolving over time to Pittsville.
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Several area men volunteered to serve in the military during the Civil War. After the war, saw mills and hub-and-spoke mills were started. Lumbering grew to be important, and railroads were constructed in the area. The promise of free land drew people to Pittsville.
A pickle factory, two cigar factories, and a canning factory were a few of the first thriving industries to come to town. Pittsville Pottery, established by Father Wilitzer, only operated for a short time. However, the pottery that was created still endures today.
The Pitts family established the first school in town. Along with the school, several churches were settled. In 1883, the town had its first newspaper. The Pittsville Independent was flying hot off the press. Several years and editors later, it transformed into the Yellow River Pilot. For the third and final time, the newspaper became the Pittsville Record. Originally bought in 1909 by C.M. McKee, this paper still remains in publication today.
The years of 1911, 1924, and 1928 brought devastating fires to Pittsville that destroyed large portions of the business district. The 1928 fire caused the reconstruction of businesses to move to 2nd Avenue (currently Highway 80), rather than the original Main Street.
In 1911, the Pittsville Record published that the University of Wisconsin had dubbed Pittsville the exact geographic center of the state. It was made official on June 27, 1952 when a proclamation from Governor Kohler was issued. The exact spot can be viewed from the east side of the County Highway E bridge.
Heading towards the 1950s, Pittsville had a booming downtown business area. It was the Saturday night destination for people looking to do some shopping or visiting. Grocery stores, hardware stores, car dealerships, a restaurant and five taverns were among the many prosperous businesses in Pittsville at the time.
Though the small town of Pittsville possesses only a fraction of those businesses today, the town is still full of great people and places. Pittsville remains a tight-knit community that brings together the best qualities out of every corner of Wisconsin.
- Information obtained via the official Pittsville website.
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