W.B. Slaughter was an early settler in the Middleton area and he platted the area near the northwest edge of Lake Mendota to be called the “City of Four Lakes.” He dreamed that one day this spot would be the territorial capital, but other politicians soon thwarted his ideas. His name was initially given to one of Middleton’s major streets, but after a time the name was changed to Elmwood Avenue.
Thomas T. Whittlesey, another early resident, was a former member of Congress from Connecticut. Whittlesey soon acquired some of Slaughter’s land and began the settlement of Pheasant Branch, building his home around 1847 and soon thereafter a sawmill. The village of Pheasant Branch was platted by Whittlesey in 1853.
Whittlesey built a second home in 1855 on Elmwood Ave. and it remains today as one of Middleton’s historic landmarks. Later, he served as State Senator and was a practicing attorney for many years.
Whittlesey’s name can still be found on one of Middleton’s streets, not far from the site of Pheasant Branch; however, the first such designation honoring Mr. Whittlesey was changed many years ago to University Avenue.