Hales Corners Historical Society
5885 South 116th Street, Hales Corners, Wisconsin 53130

 Early Settlement
Hale Summer Kitchen

  Map of Hales Corners WI, c. 1850
  (Click on the map to enlarge it.)              

The Hales of Hales Corners

Three Hales--Ebenezer and his sons Seneca and William--were among the earliest settlers of Hales Corners.  They were all born near Pompey, Onondaga County, New York.  This made them "Yankees," as New Yorkers were called in those days.

Seneca Hale

Seneca Hale arrived first, in 1836, when he was about 24 years old.  He settled on land west of what is now Highway 100 and south of Janesville Road.  He raised wheat, which was a common crop in Wisconsin before the plains states were settled.  He also built and operated a sawmill on his property.  In 1840 he traveled back to New York to marry Helen Ehle, and returned to Hales Corners with his bride.

The first patent (deed) for land in what is now Hales Corners was granted to Seneca Hale on December 10, 1840.  He paid $1.25 an acre.

William Hale

William Hale and his wife, Bridget, arrived in September 1837, settling on land immediately north of Seneca's.  Their son, Napoleon Bonaparte, was the first settler's child born here (February 1838).  William, like Seneca, raised wheat.  He also had a fine fruit orchard which helped make Hales Corners famous for its fruit.  In 1848 he built one of the first hotels in Hales Corners.   When the U.S. Postal Service established a post office here in 1854, they located it in the hotel and named William the first postmaster.

Ebenezer Hale

Ebenezer Hale and his wife, Betsy, farmed and kept a country inn in New York.  They came to Hales Corners in 1838 and settled on the land just east of Seneca's.  The records do not indicate that they were involved in any other enterprise besides farming.  In 1855 they sold their land and returned to New York.


 Photographs of the Summer Kitchen Reconstruction,  Spring 1997.

Summer Kitchen Reconstruction and Relocation

The Hale summer kitchen was built by Seneca Hale in the 1850s.  It was located behind his house, which was on the west side of Forest Home Avenue (Hwy. OO).   During 1995-1997, the summer kitchen was reconstructed and relocated to Cobb Park (just east of the intersection of S. 116th Street and W. Janesville Road).  This was accomplished through the collaboration of the Hales Corners Historical Society, the Village of Hales Corners, and numerous volunteers.

The relocation to Cobb Park kept the summer kitchen within the quarter-section purchased by Seneca Hale in 1840, and on land donated to the village and dedicated to the memory of Seneca Hale and his grandson, Irwin Cobb.

About the Summer Kitchen

A summer kitchen was common in the 1850s. It provided a place to prepare meals, bake, and heat water for bathing and laundry.  More important, it kept the heat of a wood-burning stove out of the house during summer months and reduced the possibility of a farmhouse fire.

The Hale summer kitchen has exterior dimensions of approximately 12' x 16'.  The corners consist of large pieces of cut limestone.  The body of the two-foot-thick walls are filled with ordinary uncut fieldstones of various types and sizes.  The stovepipe is not vented horizontally through the wall, as was usually done.  Instead, there is a hollow cavity running vertically through the middle of the wall up to the peak and into the brick chimney.

Illustration of the flue for the stovepipe - a cavity in the wall.
(left is an end view, right is a cross-section view).

For cross-ventilation there is a window opening in the back wall, opposite the door.  There is also a loft, possibly for storage, with a small access door in the front of the building.  The ceiling (underside of the loft) was finished with lath and plaster, and the interior surfaces of the stone and mortar walls were covered with plaster and then whitewashed.  In 1995, before being moved to the new location, the floor was packed earth; however, it originally might have had a wooden floor which rotted away over time and was removed.

Visit the Summer Kitchen!

We hope you visit the summer kitchen and the accompanying outdoor interpretive display.   The kitchen is open to the public on the 4th of July from noon to 3 p.m.  Groups are welcome to schedule special tours at other times.  There is no charge for tours, though donations are always welcome!

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