In 1832, a fur trading post was established by Wallace Rowan and Michael St. Cyr along the northern shore of Lake Mendota, near the area that is now Mendota County Park. Shortly afterward, his trading post was bought by a prominent resident named William B. Slaughter, who dreamed of the area becoming the capital of Wisconsin territory.
On March 11, 1848, the territorial legislature created the Town (Township) of Middleton (Town 7, north, Range 9, east); the same year that Wisconsin gained statehood a few months later.
The name Middleton was chosen by Harry Barnes, an early settler in the area; named after Barnes’ home in Vermont.
By the early 1840s a few early settlers had located in an area that would become Sections 26 & 27 in the Town of Middleton. This early community, near the junction of what is now Mineral Point and Junction Roads, soon became known as Middleton Junction (or East Middleton).
Pioneers also settled about 2 miles further west along Mineral Point Road, and called their community West Middleton. The exact location is a bit of a puzzle. It appears to be in Section 30 on the 1861 and 1873 Plat Maps, but seems to be in Section 29 on the 1890 and 1899 Plat Maps.
About the same time, another settlement began in Sections 1 and 12 along a small stream flowing into Lake Mendota. The community of Pheasant Branch, as it was soon called, developed along an established route (now Century Avenue) and houses, stores, a hotel and a brewery were built. Eventually, the early promise of Pheasant Branch was overtaken by the Village of Middleton. One of the most enduring establishments was the Pheasant Branch Hotel and Tavern, a popular dining spot to this day, now known as “1847 at the Stamm House.”
The Village of Middleton owes its start to the railroad that pushed westward from Madison in 1856. Township communities were disappointed when the railroad bypassed them in favor of a straighter route westward. A Depot was built along the rail line with residents and businesses soon following. This new settlement, called Middleton Station by some and Peatville by others (after the large peat marsh nearby), would someday become the City of Middleton we know today.
The first settlers were mainly of English descent, however, this soon changed as a huge German influx began in the 1850s. One early German family was the Toepfers, who arrived in the Middleton area from Mecklinburg in the late 1840s, but settled in what became the Town of Springfield. It is possible they could not find or afford suitable land in Middleton; although they did move to Middleton later on. By 1852, there were enough Mecklinburgers in the area to found the First Lutheran Church. After 1880, the population was largely German in origin.