1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ripon, Wisconsin

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RIPON, a city of Fond du Lac county, Wisconsin, U.S.A., on Silver Creek, about 22 m. W. of Fond du Lac, and about 75 m. N.W. of Milwaukee. Pop. (1890), 3358; (1900), 3818, of whom 885 were foreign-born; (1905), 3811; (1910), 3739. Ripon is served by the Chicago & North-Western, and the Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul railways. The city has a Carnegie library, which also houses the library of the Ripon Historical Society, and is the seat of Ripon College (non-sectarian, co-educational), which was founded in 1850 as the Lyceum of Ripon, and was named Ripon College in 1864; in 1908 it had 23 instructors and 279 students. There are grain elevators and various manufactories, among the products of which are cheese and other creamery products, flour, knit goods, pickles and canned goods, woodenware, washing machines and gloves.

The site of Ripon was purchased in 1838 by John Scott Horner (1802-1883), of Virginia, secretary and acting-governor of Michigan Territory in 1835, and the first secretary of Wisconsin Territory in 1836-37, who named the village when it was established in 1849 from the seat of his ancestors in Yorkshire. In May 1844 a settlement, named Ceresco or “the Wisconsin Phalanx,” a Fourierist community,[1] organized in Southport (now Kenosha), had been established in the vicinity. A “Long House,” 400 ft. in length, was erected, which contained tenements, an amusement or lecture hall, and a dining-room where all ate at a common table, and where board was provided at cost, sometimes as low as sixty-three cents per week. The “class of usefulness” was divided into three groups, agricultural, mechanical and educational, with such subdivisions as necessity dictated, and an exact account of labour was kept. The community prospered materially from the start. In the second season it consisted of thirty families with property valued at $27,725; in 1846 there were 180 resident members, and the net profit for the year was $9029. Eventually differences of opinion arose as to the division of labour, and the common dining-hall did not prove popular. Rivalry developed with the village of Ripon, and the community gave up its charter at the close of 1850, dividing property valued at $40,000 among the shareholders. On the whole it was one of the most successful experiments in communism ever tried in America. In 1858 Ripon absorbed the village of Ceresco and was chartered as a city. At Ripon started one of the disconnected movements that resulted in the founding of the Republican party.

See D. P. Mapes, History of Ripon (Milwaukee, Wis., 1873); Consul W. Butterfield, History of Fond du Lac County (1880); W. A. Hinds, American Communities and Co-operative Colonies (3rd ed., Chicago, 1908), and F. A. Flower, History of the Republican Party (1884).


  1. The charter, granted by the legislature in 1845, contained the following features: (1) property to be held in common; and shares to be sold at $25; (2) land to be limited to 40 acres for each member of the corporation; (3) a unanimous vote of the managers necessary for admission; (4) an annual settlement of profits on the basis of one-quarter credit to dividend on stock, and three-quarters credit to labour; (5) free public schools, capital paying three-quarters and labour one-quarter of cost; and (6) complete religious toleration and no involuntary taxation for church support.