William M. & Mary H. (Branch) Dutcher

Beaver Township, Clark County, Wisconsin


William was born in 1837 in New York to Ruloff and Sarah Dutcher.  In 1850, he was living in Springfield, Otsego Co., New York and in 1860 in Olive, Ulster County, New York.  In 1861, he became one of two hundred and twenty Union Soldiers who fought with Company K of the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry during the Great Civil War.  At the time of his enlistment, he was living in Washington Co., WI, and his regiment was organized at Camp Randall, in Madison, and mustered into service 11 Jun, 1861, leaving for Washington, D.C., June 20-26, 1861.  From there, they moved about the Washington, D.C., area and into Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.  He fought at Bull Run, the defenses of Washington D.C., Antietam, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.  William was mustered out July 6, 1864.  His regiment lost 10 officers and 228 enlisted men who were either killed outright or mortally wounded, and 77 enlisted men succumbed to disease.


William married Mary H. Branch in 1866, shortly after the Civil War.  Both of them were natives of the empire state. They were the parents of eight children: Willie who married Albins E. Castner of Loyal, 4 April 1888 and later resided in Rapid River, Michigan; Alice Laure who was born June 4, 1868 and married William Thayer, Jr.; Lavina who was born in 1870 and died in 1881; Lyda; Ruby who was born in 1875 and died in 1883; Rarda; Sophia (local teacher who married Fred Gross of Loyal, May 16, 1900), Viola who was born in April of 1883 and married Joe Cline.  Both Lavina and Ruby are buried in the Pine Grove Cemetery of Loyal, Wisconsin.


Any U.S. citizen, or intended citizen, who had never borne arms against the U.S. Government could file an application and lay claim to 160 acres of surveyed Government land. For the next 5 years, the homesteader had to live on the land and improve it by building a 12-by-14 dwelling and growing crops. After 5 years, the homesteader could file for his patent (or deed of title) by submitting proof of residency and the required improvements to a local land office.

Local land offices forwarded the paperwork to the General Land Office in Washington, DC, along with a final certificate of eligibility. The case file was examined, and valid claims were granted patent to the land free and clear, except for a small registration fee. Title could also be acquired after a 6-month residency and trivial improvements, provided the claimant paid the government $1.25 per acre. After the Civil War, Union soldiers could deduct the time they served from the residency requirements.  The Dutchers applied for such acreage in section 33 of Beaver Twp., Clark Co., WI.   The Dutchers, if not the first settlers, were the first homesteaders in that township.  Their second child, Alice Laure (Thayer) was born 4 Jun, 1868, with the distinction of being the first white child born in Beaver Township.


Both the 1875 Wisconsin State Census and the 1880 Federal Census records the Dutcher family's presence in Beaver Township, Clark Co., Wisconsin.  William was also found on the Special Veterans' Census for 1890 where his length of service during the Civil War is listed as three years, two months and seven days and indicates his departing rank was "2nd Sergeant".  The 1905-1910 Federal Census records indicate they had retired from farming and were residents of Greenwood, Wisconsin.  They were living between the families of Matilda Hogue and Hiley Pratt in 1905 and in 1910 between Alonzo Sheets and Rev. Charles E. Schrein.  They were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church and William was an active member of the GAR, John Eaton Post #210.  In 1918, the Dutcher Family contributed to the Red Cross effort for World War I.  As they aged, William and Mary moved near Granton to live with their daughter Alice and her husband, William Thayer, Jr. and it is there that we found them listed on the 1920 Census.  After residing in Clark County, Wisconsin for 52 years, William and Mary H. (Branch) Dutcher moved to Portland, Oregon to live with their daughter, Viola Cline.  William died there February 1, 1922.   Mary, having spent the remaining ten years of her life there, died August 15, 1929, at the age of 81 years.  She did not live to experience any of the great depression which hit October 29, 1929.  Her demise marked the passing of the last pioneer resident of Beaver Township.



Death Records


Dutcher, William M



Portland, Oregon

Death Date:

1 February 1922





Dutcher, Mary H.



Portland, Oregon

Death Date:

15 August 1929





Family Notes



George Dutcher (Brother)

Estimated Birth Year:

abt 1835

Age in 1870:



New York

Home in 1870:

Barton, Washington, Wisconsin





Value of real estate:

View Image

Post Office:

Household Members:
Name Age
George Dutcher 35
Henriette Dutcher 31
Ada Dutcher 11
Anna Dutcher 9
Hattie Dutcher 7
Louise Dutcher 4


Census Records


Aug. 8, 1850 Federal Census, Granville, Milwaukee Co., Wisconsin; by J. Tibbetts

Family  Name  Estate Value Gender Race Age Birthplace Occupation
362-367 Rudoff Dutcher 2,000 Male   53 NY Farmer
  Sarah Dutcher   Female   51 NY  
  G. W. Dutcher   Male   15 NY Farmer
  Wm. M.   Male   13 NY  
  H. J. Dutcher   Female   8 NY  
  Peter Root   Male   22 France Farmer


1880 Federal Census, Beaver Township, Clark Co., Wisconsin
 Name  Relation Marital Status Gender Race Age Birthplace Occupation Father's Birthplace Mother's Birthplace
 William Dutcher   Self   M   Male   W   43   NY   Farmer   NY   NY 
 Mary H. Dutcher   Other   M   Female   W   32   NY   Keeping House   NY   NY 
 Willie Dutcher   Other   S   Male   W   14   WI   At Home   NY   NY 
 Allice Dutcher   Other   S   Female   W   12   WI   At Home   NY   NY 
 Lovina Dutcher   Other   S   Female   W   10   WI      NY   NY 
 Lyda Dutcher   Other   S   Female   W   7   WI      NY   NY 
 Rarda Dutcher   Other   S   Female   W   4   WI      NY   NY 
 Sophia Dutcher   Other   S   Female   W   2   WI      NY   NY 

Previous Household: Orsamns, Mary J. and Maynard Matteson.

Next Household: Henry, Emma, William and Berton Smith.


Jan. 2, 1920 Federal Census--Granton, Clark County, Wisconsin-by Harry J. Rose
Family Name Relation Marital Sex Color Birth Year Birthplace Education Occupation Father Born Mother Born Ownership
20-22 Thayer, Will Jr. Head Married Male White 51 Wisconsin English Merchant, Hardware Store NY Canada Mort. Free
  ~Alice Wife Married Female White 51 Wisconsin English   New York New York  
  ~Alva Daughter Single Female White 24 Wisconsin English   Wisconsin Wisconsin  
23 Dutcher, William Head Married Male White 82 New York English   New York New York Renter
  ~Mary Wife Married Female White 1848-71 New York English   New York New York  


Land Records

Homestead of William M. Dutcher, Early Pioneer Settler

Section 33, Beaver Township


Land Description:

1 E½SE   4TH PM - 1831 Minnesota/Wisconsin No 27 N 1 W 33
2 SWSE   4TH PM - 1831 Minnesota/Wisconsin No 27 N 1 W 33
3 SESW   4TH PM - 1831 Minnesota/Wisconsin No 27 N 1 W 33
Property Owner Purchase Date Type Location



Homestead, Original Entry



Eau Claire





Homestead, Original Entry



Eau Claire





Homestead, Original Entry



Eau Claire



Military Records

William Dutcher


Union Army


Regiment State/Origin:


Regiment Name:

2 Wisconsin Infantry

Regiment Name Expanded:

2nd Regiment, Wisconsin Infantry




Washington Co., Wisconsin

Rank In:

April 29, 1861 as a Private

Rank In Expanded:


Rank Out:

July 6, 1864 as a Private (1890 Census says 2nd Sergeant)

GAR Member

John A. Eaton Post, # 210; Greenwood, Clark Co., Wisconsin

Related Links

Bio: Castner, John (History - 1835)

Obit: Dutcher, Albina (1870 - 1941)

Obit: Dutcher, Mary H. (1848? - 1929)

Obit: Dutcher, Mary N. #2 (1844 - 1883)

Obit: Dutcher, Samuel (1902 - 1944)

Obit: Thayer, Alice (1868-1932)

Obit: Thayer, Alice #2 (1868-1932)

Obit: Thayer, Alice #3 (1868 - 1932)

William Dutcher is also featured in the book, "Civil War Soldiers in the heart of Clark Co., Wisconsin."



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