APRIL 10, 1855 – I was in Milwaukee today to buy supplies and was introduced to a "drummer" from Chicago. He informed me that Chicago's inhabitants now number more than 80,000, a phenomenal fact when you consider that there was less than one-fourth that number when I stopped there en route to Milwaukee seven years ago. There is much talk in the Illinois metropolis, he said, about beginning work on a street railway system but as yet the project has not taken concrete form. Even more interesting to me was his report that the citizens of Chicago have just voted on whether to prohibit the sale of spirits. A newspaper in the gentleman's possession said that 2,784 persons were for the proposition and 4,093 against.
I must not forget to chronicle an amusing story which has gained wide circulation in Milwaukee. The Milwaukee and Watertown Rail Road, which I believe will ultimately consolidate with the Milwaukee & Mississippi, recently completed a section from Brookfield Junction to Watertown. Soon thereafter, a Mr. Michael O'Hara, a machinist and engineer, was called upon to operate his locomotive over the two-mile bridge just east of Richard's cut approaching Watertown. Mr. O'Hara, not convinced that· the bridge would support the weight of the locomotive, started it, then jumped off at the head of the bridge. The locomotive went over the bridge, alone and unattended. On the other side of the river the fireman was waiting to board it and bring it under control.
DECEMBER 17, 1856 – My good wife, accompanied by two neighbor ladies, has just returned after a day's shopping in Milwaukee, fired with enthusiasm for a new educational project which only recently has been started in Watertown, Wisconsin, a short distance from Milwaukee. According to the story related by several women of Milwaukee, Mrs. Margaretha Meyer Schurz, wife of Carl Schurz, the noted German reformer, has founded a school in Watertown for children too young for admittance to regular schools. It is called a "kindergarten," the first such institution of its kind in America, my wife was told. The first pupils consisted of six children, five girls and one boy. My wife observed that our son, a year or so hence, would be eligible to receive learning at such a "kindergarten" were there one in this vicinity. I assured her that even if such were the case I would prefer that my son delay any formal school and devote this formative year to a further appreciation of the great outdoors. I pity the father whose son finds himself the only boy among five little girls at the Watertown kindergarten.