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MOTT, John
MOTT, Mayhew Daggett

MOTT, Wesley


Family Links

PORTER, Harriet Lavinia

MOTT, Wesley

  • Born: 28 Feb 1835, Rome, NY
  • Marriage: PORTER, Harriet Lavinia on 30 Jun 1871 in Chittenango, Madison, NY 1
  • Died: 24 Dec 1918, Neenah, Winnebago Co., WI at age 83
  • Buried: Oak Hill Cemetery, Neenah, WI

bullet  General Notes:

Extensive biography in MOTT written by his daughter Harriet Elizabeth Mott.

Also see 'Wisconsin Biography'. His biography is under that of his son, Wesley Mayhew. Small collection of his papers in the Manuscript section of the Wisconsin State Historical Society.

Wesley Mott was 18 years old when his father and mother decided to pick up stakes from Burnt Hills, New York and take the long trip down the Erie Canal, over the Great Lakes to join their former neighbors, Margaret and Peter Ham in Wisconsin. Two of his older siblings had died as youngsters, so this pioneer family consisted of 4, the fourth being his sister, Martha.

Arriving in Vinland, Wisconsin the Motts were able to purchase land and it was Wesley who did the backbreaking work of clearing land for crops. He also hired out to local farmers to supplement the family income. This work as a young man provided him with a strong and muscular stature, attested to by his son Mayhew when as a small boy he witnessed his father lift a 1300 pound horse off the ground, by kneeling on all fours under the horse and lifting it on his back.

Having attended school as a youth in Troy, New York, Wesley was of academic inclinations as well, and studied long into the night during this period to learn history, philosophy and literature, as well as mathematics and German, learning this language from his mother no doubt. His daughter, Harriet Elizabeth Mott, attested to his great command of the dictionary as well as his ability to recite from memory long poems and verses committed to memory as a young man.

In 1860, at the outbreak of the Civil War, Wesley remained on the farm, his father being 65 years of age and greatly dependent on him. Nevertheless, in February of 1865 he enlisted and served in the 49th Regiment of Wisconsin Infantry Volunteers until his discharge in October.

He returned to the farm, his father died in 1869, and in the following year he met the neice of the family's good friend, Margaret Ham. Harriet Lavinia Porter was visiting her aunt, and married Wesley in 1871. Three children were of this marriage, the first of whom was born a year later.

Almost from his first arrival in Wisconsin, Wesley was a leader in his local community. He took the census of 1870 for his area as well as serving on the Winnebago County Board of Supervisors at various times during his career. He attended the second 'founding' convention of the Republican party at Ripon, Wisconsin in 1854, even though he was not yet of voting age. He cast his first presidental vote for Fremont in 1856 and was proud his entire life that he had voted twice for Lincoln. In 1876 he moved his family to Oshkosh for two years to act as Deputy Clerk of Court. During this period he got the appellation around Oshkosh as 'honest Mott', having on one occasion challenged Senator Philetus Sawyer, the kingpin of local politics. Later, Wesley was an admirer of Robert La Follette, Sr., who 'broke the vicious hold of the Sawyer ring on Wisconsin politics." Becoming disenchanted with the politics of the Republicans in the 1878, he 'washed his hands' of politics for several years until he took up the banner of the Prohibition party several years later, becoming a regular candidate on the party ticket, usually for the office of Attorney General or State Senator. He voted the Prohibition Party ticket the rest of his life.

Always a religious man, his daughter stated that "During his early years, Wesley Mott came under the vitalizing influence of early Methodism. He, upon occasion, referred to a profound religious experience of his earlier years. He was, through the years, nostalic, as was his church, for those 'manifestations of grace' which characterized early Methodism in America and which were undeniably 'out of this world.'" This, no doubt, indicates a rather intense involvement in the Methodist Millerite excitement that affected Methodists in the middle decades of the 1800's. His cousin Amanda Jones, too, was affected by this movement in New York. Later in life, he, along with his wife, organize the Winchester Sunday School before their moving to Neenah in 1885. He abstained from harvesting on Sunday and took up the superintendency of the Neenah Methodist Sunday School not long after he moved to that town.

According to his daughter, Wesley was ever the student of law, and he became a Justice of the Peace upon his coming of age in 1856, an office he held until the family moved in 1885 from Winchester to Neenah. As we've seen, he was the Deputy Clerk of Court for two years and after passing the bar examinations, was admitted to practice in the Circuit Court of Winnebago County on April 23, 1881 and the Supreme Court of Wisconsin on June 3, 1889. He worked at his profession until his death in 1918, memorialized by the County Bar Association in 1919: "When Wesley Mott died, we lost a good lawyer, a good citizen, and a true friend." 2 3


bullet  Noted events in his life were:

He was employed. Attorney And Politician

Military: 1865. 2 Military: Private of Captain John H. Hauser's Company D, 49th Regiment of Wisconsin Infantry Volunteers. Enlisted Feb. 14, 1865. Discharged Oct 20,1865 at St. Louis by reason of Disablity. At the time of the Civil War, Wesley's parents were nearing their 70's, his father was in poor health, making it hardly possible for him to leave them alone on the farm. He finally enlisted and when he was mustered in, his company was entrained in open cattle cars in midwinter, a practice which caused much suffering and illness among the soldiers. He was stationed at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, and one of his duties was to keep the company's books. While in service he became ill with swamp fever and was hospitalized. p4

He appeared on the census in 1850 in Balston Spa, Saratoga County, NY. 4 Age 15.

He appeared on the census in 1860 in Winchester, Winnebago Co., WI. 5

He appeared on the census in 1870 in Winchester, Winnebago Co., WI. 6 Appears with his mother. He also signed the census sheet as the assistant Marshal for the Menasha census that Cornelius DuBois and family appears on.

He served in the military in 1865. 7


Wesley married Harriet Lavinia PORTER, daughter of Medad PORTER Junior and Charity DU BOIS, on 30 Jun 1871 in Chittenango, Madison, NY.1 (Harriet Lavinia PORTER was born on 30 Jun 1836 in Chittenango, Madison, NY and died on 24 Dec 1912 in Neenah, Winnebago Co., WI.)



1 Elizabeth Porter (1827-1913), probably, Family Register of the Porter Family.

2 Mott, Harriet Elizabeth, Mayhew Daggett Mott, Wisconsin Pioneer (Unpublished Manuscript).

3 Wisconsin - Stability, Progress, Beauty (Wisconsin Biography) (Vol 4, pp 579-80 (Chicago, IL, Lewis Publishing Co., 1946)).

4 National Archives, Images Online, Census: 1850 Balston Spa, Saratoga Co., NY.

5 Census Images Online, U.S. Federal Census, 1860, Wisconsin, Winnebago Co., Winchester Township (Page 187).

6 National Archives, Images Online, U.S. Federal Census: Wisconsin: 1870 Winchester Twn, Winnebago County, Roll M593_1745.

7 Wisconsin Historical Society, Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865 (Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, An Online Digital Book from the Wisconsin Historical Society Library. The volumes reproduced here list all the soldiers known to have participated in Wisconsin's Civil War regiments. Known as the Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865 , these two volumes were compiled in 1886 from original archival records, and their alphabetical index was published in 1914.
), page 702.

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