As I delve into the history of the men who returned to Horicon after the Civil War, I find that many went back to their farms and families, settling into life's routine much as it had been before. Some of the men became the leaders of the town, something that may have happened anyway, but their war experience may have changed their view of our area. One such soldier was Austin Ross.
Austin Ross was born in Vermont, but moved to Horicon at the age of five.
In August 1864, he answered his country's call and enlisted in the Union army for the remainder of the war. He was sent to the front lines from Plattsburgh with replacement troops and they were assigned to the 142nd Infantry regiment, which was recruited in St. Lawrence County.
Ross came back to Horicon after the war and spent the remainder of his life working as a farmer and lumberjack. He had three steamboats on Brant Lake, perhaps the only ones to ever operate on the lake. The craft were used to move logs from one end of the lake to the other. Ross' role as owner and pilot of the steamships, not the war, was what earned him the title of "Captain."
Ross and his workers built many of the lake homes, and he kept diaries of his life that depict him as one who knew no bounds in what he would try, including flying in one of the first airplanes in the area.
As a Republican, he served the town in every elected position. He was Horicon Town Supervisor in the 1880's, and Justice of the Peace for 25 years.
After his death, a news correspondent from Brant Lake paid the following tribute to Captain Ross: "This town mourns the death of a grand old man, Capt. Austin A. Ross, 86 years old, who passed away to his eternal rest last Thursday morning. As a soldier we knew him, as a soldier he passed away. He was always the same: cheerful, quick to respond to a joke, ready to take one; ready to give in time of trouble, ready to help whenever he was needed in a big place or a little one. His memory will live on."