William Weaver

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Early settler’s claim became heart of Sussex

As the United States and Wisconsin were being settled, the way to get people to move into the wilds, starting in 1836, was the Homestead Act. In Wisconsin, one could claim land for $1.25 an acre by staking the land and registering it with the U.S. government.

William Weaver Sr. claimed 160 acres and later a series of other plats, to the tune of 320 acres.

Signed in D.C.

Recently the Sussex-Lisbon Area Historical Society Museum acquired one of the most important land grants in the settling of the Town of Lisbon, signed by President Zachary Taylor on March 1, 1850, by which Weaver obtained 160 acres in the township for $200.

Today this land is a half-square-mile that is enclosed by Main Street on the north, Maple Avenue on the west and roughly Clover Drive on the south. The eastern boundary is from Outer Circle Drive, south through the center of the Sussex Methodist Church, then south, bypassing the BP gas station on Silver Spring and ending at Clover Drive.

Today this land mass includes the Citgo station, Paul’s Service, the west parking lot of Sussex Methodist, the post office, the Sussex Community hall (Sussex Food Pantry), Piggly Wiggly and the local museum. It is the heart of the Village of Sussex today.


Weaver Sr. was born in Kent County, England, on Nov. 24, 1802. Married in 1830, he and his wife arrived in New York in early 1830, and by 1839 they had come to Wisconsin and the Town of Lisbon, and staked out a claim adjacent to his brother, James Weaver, on Maple Avenue. It took until 1850 for him to gain full title to the land, but early on he was already selling lots on Main Street to Charles Cooling for a blacksmith shop and later a grocery store. He also donated land for the first Sussex school.

Weaver Sr. exploited his land, raised four girls and three boys, and died July 26, 1896, at age 93.

The document survives – His lands were broken up, and August Manke acquired some farmland and in doing so acquired the 1850 land grant from Taylor. In March 2014, Betty Reimer (nee Manke), on right, a lifelong Lisbon resident, had the land grant professionally framed and donated it to the local museum; accepting it is Mike Reilly, assistant curator.

The former home of William Weaver still stands to this day at W239 N6202 Cedar Circle in Sussex.