John H. Rountree

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John Hawkins Rountree (March 24, 1805 – May 27, 1890)[1] was a Wisconsin judge, pioneer farmer, and politician.

Founding Platteville[edit]

Born in Warren County, Kentucky, Rountree settled first in Hillsboro, Illinois where he served as deputy sheriff, and then went to Michigan Territory to the lead mines in 1827. There he staked a claim where the city of Platteville, Wisconsin is today,[1][2] and he did find lead. He built himself a sod house and the next year he opened the first lead-smelting furnace, a log boarding house for newcomers, and the first store in town. In 1829 he was appointed first postmaster and helped organize Platteville's Methodist Episcopal congregation, and in 1836 he established the first sawmill and built the first hotel. In 1841 he platted the original Village of Platteville. He also helped establish a creamery and a newspaper there, and had a hand in bringing the Chicago & Northwestern Railway to town in the 1870s.[3][4]

Rountree owned large parcels of land around the village of Platteville and every five or ten years would plat another addition to the city, selling the lots for businesses and homes. In 1853 he built his own fine home (now the NRHP-listed J. H. Rountree Mansion) on a large parcel south of the downtown. Despite its proximity to the downtown, his house remained the only house on that parcel until after Rountree died in 1890, when his heirs subdivided the parcel and the lots quickly filled. The fine homes of the Bayley Avenue Historic District now occupy part of Rountree's home parcel.[4]

Early service[edit]

Rountree served as judge in the Michigan Territory and later the Wisconsin Territory. He was a captain of the militia during the Black Hawk War of 1832, and was involved with Col. Henry Dodge's negotiations attempting to keep the Winnebago from allying with the Sauk.[5]

He served on the Council (equivalent to a Senate) from the newly created Grant County in the Second through Fourth Wisconsin Territorial Legislatures (1838–1846)[6] and as a delegate to the 1847-1848 Wisconsin State Constitutional Convention from Grant County (where he is recorded as insisting that a strong uniformity clause was "a matter of very great importance".[7]

State legislature[edit]

In 1850-1851, Rountree served as a Whig member of the Wisconsin State Senate from the original Sixth Senate District, succeeding fellow Whig George W. Lakin; in 1852, he was replaced by Democrat Joel Squires.

In 1863, he was elected as a Republican member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from the 1st Grant County district (Towns of Hazle Green, Smeltzer and Plattville) to succeed William Brandon, after a contested election result initially awarded the seat to Democrat John Harms; at that time, he characterized his profession as "farmer."[8] He was succeeded in 1864 by Hanmer Robbins of the Republican/National Union party.

In 1866-1867, Rountree served in the Wisconsin State Senate again, elected on the National Union ticket to represent the Sixteenth Senate District (Grant County), succeeding Milas K. Young (another Whig-turned-Republican elected on the National Union ticket); he still described his profession as "farmer". He was assigned to the standing committees on finance, agriculture, and benevolent institutions.[9] [10] He was succeeded in 1868 by Republican George Hazelton.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b 'Semi-Centennial History,' Henry Frank Tyrrell and George H. Noyes, Insurance, Life:1908, pg. 67
  2. ^ "Early days in Platteville". Wisconsin Magazine of History. VI (1): 3–6. September 1922. LCCN 24015737. OL 22879013M. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  3. ^ Lusignan, Paul R. (1986-03-25). "J.H.Rountree Mansion" (PDF). NRHP Inventory-Nomination Form. National Park Service. Retrieved 2016-05-23. 
  4. ^ a b Heggland, Timothy F. (2007-02-19). "Bayley Avenue Historic District" (PDF). NRHP Inventory-Nomination Form. National Park Service. Retrieved 2016-05-23. 
  5. ^ http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/dictionary/index.asp?action=view&term_id=2598&search_term=rountree
  6. ^ The Legislative Manual of the State of Wisconsin; Comprising Jefferson's Manual, Rules, Forms and Laws, for the Regulation of Business; also, lists and tables for reference Ninth Annual Edition. Madison: Atwood and Rublee, State Printers, Journal Block, 1870; pp. 195-202
  7. ^ Milo Quaife, Milo, ed., The Attainment of Statehood, vol. 4 of Constitutional Series Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1928; p. 402
  8. ^ Dean, John S.; Stewart, Frank M., eds. The Legislative Manual of the State of Wisconsin; Comprising Jefferson's Manual, the Rules, Forms and Laws for the Regulation of Business; also, lists and tables for reference Second Annual Edition. Madison: Atwood and Rublee, State Printers, 1863; pp. 89, 90, 128
  9. ^ The Legislative Manual, of the State of Wisconsin; Comprising Jefferson's Manual, Rules, Forms and Laws, for the Regulation of Business; also, lists and tables for reference Sixth Annual Edition. Madison: Atwood and Rublee, State Printers, 1867; pp. 166, 168-169, 177, 182, 185
  10. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-12-09. Retrieved 2012-07-13.