ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin







Judy Quam, a guide and former manager of the Octagon House Museum,

joins volunteers in an annual spring cleaning effort at the local landmark. 

For several days each April, workers prepare the historic home for the upcoming tourism season. 

The former home of John and Eliza Richards was built in 1854.




Octagon House Museum opens May 1st

so mark your calendar to visit us this year.

╰☆╮GREAT DEAL: Become a member of our society now

and receive two tickets for free tour of

Octagon House and grounds on the day of your choosing.


Celebrate your wedding, anniversary, corporate picnic,

or other special event at the Octagon House Museum  for inquiries.





April 23:  History Show & Tell”

Annual Membership/2018 Season Kick-Off Meeting


The Watertown Historical Society invites the community to participate in a special history “show and tell” event on Monday, April 23, starting at 7 p.m. at the Watertown Senior and Community Center, 514 S. First St.


Attendees are encouraged to bring their favorite antique or unique vintage item to talk about at the event, where rarely seen collectibles from the archives at the Octagon House Museum will also be displayed.


Residents who found antique items in the Rock River during its drawn down last summer are especially encouraged to share them at this event, said Melissa Lampe, society president.  In addition to the show and tell, the historical society will present information regarding special museum projects in 2018 and conduct its annual Board of Directors election. 


The Octagon House Museum, which is owned and operated by the society, will begin its 79 th tour season on May 1.  There is no cost to attend the history show and tell event. For more information, please call the museum at (920) 261-2796 or email


August 4:  Special presentation on Joseph E. Davies 

Saturday, August 4, 5:30 p.m., at the Towne Cinema


Free admission (popcorn and refreshments may be purchased onsite)


Presentation on the life and career of Watertown Native Joseph Davies, former Ambassador to the Soviet Union, by Mia Grosjean.


Mia Grosjean is Davies’ youngest granddaughter and has conducted scholarly research and documentation on his career and complex life from WWII and the onset of the Cold War until his death in 1958.



Davies was born in Watertown, Wisconsin to Welsh-born parents Edward and Rachel (Paynter) Davies.  He attended the University of Wisconsin Law School from 1898 to 1901, where he graduated with honors.  Upon graduation, he returned to Watertown and began a private practice.  He moved to Madison in 1907 and became chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.


Davies played an important role in ensuring that the western states and Wisconsin gave Woodrow Wilson their vote at the 1912 Democratic National Convention. Wilson made Davies head of his entire western campaign.  As a reward for being critical in winning Wilson the election, Wilson named Davies head of the Bureau of Corporations. Davies was instrumental in the formation of the Bureau's successor organization, the Federal Trade Commission, and served as its first chairman from 1915 to 1916.


President Wilson appointed Davies to serve as an economic advisor to the United States during the Paris Peace Conference following World War I.


Davies went into private legal practice in Washington D.C. Davies most famous law case was when he defended former Ford Motor Company stockholders against a $30,000,000 suit the US Treasury Department brought against them for back taxes.  Davies proved his clients did not owe the government anything but that his clients were to receive a $3,600,000 refund.  The case—which took three years to litigate (from 1924 to 1927)—brought him the largest fee in the history of the D.C. bar, $2,000,000.


Davies was appointed Ambassador to the Soviet Union by Franklin D. Roosevelt and served from 1936 to 1938. 


Davies had been asked by FDR to evaluate the strength of the Soviet Army, its government and its industry and to find out if possible which side the Russians would be on in the "coming war."


August 5:  Annual 1st Brigade Band Concert & Ice Cream Social 

On the grounds of the Octagon House


For more information, call 902-261-2796


September 8:  Octagon House Antiques & Art Show (4th annual)

On the grounds of the Octagon House


For more information, call 902-261-2796


November 24-25:  A Christmas Carol”

11 a.m. – 3 p.m.    Performances every half hour.

A four-scene play set in the Octagon House Museum




The Octagon House Museum is located at 919 Charles Street, Watertown, Wisconsin.

Also on the grounds are the first kindergarten, pioneer barn and tour center gift shop.





12-3 pm, Sat & Sun (other by appointment)


June, July & August:

12-3 pm, Every day except Tuesdays (will be open of July 4th)



12-3 pm, Sat & Sun (other by appointment)



By appointment only


Tours are fully guided every hour on the hour in an air-conditioned museum.


For more information please call the Octagon House Museum at (920) 261-2796 or check the Events page of our website,






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History of Watertown, Wisconsin