William Rhodes, one of Brighton's earliest settlers.

William Rhodes, one of Brighton’s earliest settlers.

The first settlers in Brighton were Dr. Johnson and Mr. Wightman who arrived almost simultaneously in 1838. In the early 1840s , a number of settlers bought government land at $1.25 an acre in the Town of Brighton – the Rhodeses, the Leaches, the O’Brien’s, the Tighes, the Rileys, the Stanleys, the Tobins, the McCormacks. Among the very first of these, after 31 days of sailing between Liverpool and New York, were Abraham and Thomas Rhodes, and Aaron and William Leach, with their families.

The old “shanty tree” stood on a farm owned by James Brooks. Under this tree was built of green logs a hut that first sheltered the Rhodes and Leaches – some forty all told. Here a common kettle boiled the potatoes for all, the portion of each family being tied in a separate bag. Mr. George F. Stanley was the first child born in the town on November 5, 1843. By 1850, the population of Brighton was 875 and the total population of Kenosha County was 10,177. Mr. Hugh Riley donated the site on which the St. Francis Church now stands.

Among the first to arrive were the Irish, and the church organization was named St. Patrick’s. Soon Germans came and mingled with them, and while both used the same church, the Germans insisted upon calling it St. Boniface Society. There was a good deal of “bickering” to and fro between these two elements, and the Germans were often reminded that “the Irish had so many pews in the church and paid for them.” However, a cyclone assisted towards harmony; for when a storm destroyed the church in 1883 all agreed to call it St. Francis.

Brighton's Word War and Civil War Memorial Park.

Brighton’s Word War and Civil War Memorial Park.

One of the most commendable memorials of the town is the Solders’ Memorial Monument – “Erected by the Citizens of Brighton in Recognition of the Patriotism Shown by All Who Answered our Country’s Call in the Word War – 1917-1919,” Martin Hahn, killed in action October 15, 1918 is the gold-star soldier. The memorial was erected in 1921, features the names of the 68 men from Brighton who died during the Civil War and the 37 men who died in World War I.

Sources:

Trenary, Otis L.
Souvenir, Kenosha County Courthouse : and bits of yesterday, foundations of today
1925
110 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.

Western Historical Company
The history of Racine and Kenosha Counties, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Historical Company, 1879
738 p. : plates, ports., map ; 26 cm.