Date in History: 1836-7

The first white pioneers to settle in Aztalan near Lake Mills were Thomas Brayton and his family who left New York in September 1836 and arrived in Milwaukee at the end of October. While his wife and two daughters spent the winter in Milwaukee, Brayton headed out with Timothy Johnson, the founder of Watertown, and other men to make their claims. Brayton chose his land near what the early settlers called the “Ancient City” – the impressive Native American earthenwork now known as Aztalan State Park.

In the spring of 1837, Brayton built a sixteen by twenty foot log cabin on his claim and welcomed his family there on July 1st. The new village of Aztalan grew rapidly as others settlers joined Brayton. In fact, the territorial capital was almost located here instead of Madison. However, once the railroad bypassed the village, its population began to decline relative to other towns in the county, and by 1900 Aztalan was a sleepy little crossroads.

This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on 06/12/2006.