Date in History: 1850s

One of the first married women in Wisconsin to own property in her own name was from the Fort Atkinson area. In 1838, Mariette Snell and her husband Erastus came to Fort Atkinson, eventually settling seven miles west of town on Red Cedar Lake in Oakland Township. Erastus worked in Fort Atkinson, leaving Mariette alone all week to take care of their property, livestock and their six children.

By 1840 Mariette was running an inn out of her home, which she called Red Cedar Lake House. Her home was located near a stagecoach route from Milwaukee to Madison and she did a very good business. In 1855, using her own savings, Mariette decided to buy 160 acres of adjoining land, but she had to petition the legislature to have the title put in her name. As she explained simply in her petition, since she had earned the money, she wanted to own the land. Mariette succeeded and would continue to prosper as an innkeeper until her death in 1877.

This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on 04/04/2005.