Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Landmark Old Western

Years before the village of Cuba City was planned in 1875, the area was known for an inn that welcomed many traveling the busy Mineral Point-Galena road by stagecoach and oxen cart.

The Western Hotel, as it was called, consisted of a large house, barn, and stables, and served as a rest stop and source of entertainment for miles around. It was located on the west side of what is today Cuba City’s Main Street, between Benton and Lafayette Streets, and would have occupied the site of Steve’s Pizza and a nearby residence.

 Location of the Western Hotel

No illustrations of the Western property have surfaced, but it must have been something to behold. A description of the inns and taverns along the Mineral Point-Galena Road describe the “Old Western” as “a monstrous hotel and barn” and “probably the greatest land mark on the whole route.”

Several well-known individuals supposedly passed the time at the Western, including Ulysses S. Grant and Jefferson Davis.

The hotel was built in the early 1850s by the Stedman Davis family, who moved to Wisconsin from Maine. Two of the Davis sons, Andrew and Josiah, seem to have been especially associated with the hotel’s operation.

There are conflicting accounts of the inn’s numerous later owners, but among those mentioned are a Mr. Blodgett, William Miller, William S. Cook, Robert Packard, and William Stephens.

By the latter part of the 1860s, fewer coaches and carts full of lead and other wares were passing by the Western as railroad expansion competed with earlier forms of transportation. This no doubt hurt business at the inn and, according to an early history, it closed by 1869.

In 1876, there was talk of moving the hotel closer to the village’s business district for use as retail and office space, but Cuba City’s centennial history claims that parts of the old building were retained when building the William Pascoe home, which still stands just north of Steve’s Pizza.

A 1949 article in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald revisted the history of the inn nearly one hundred years after its construction. At that time, a few reminders of the old hotel still remained near the home of Carl Wilberding, on the corner of Main and Benton Streets, including a root cellar and a depression in the front yard at the site of an old well.

For a more detailed description of the Western Hotel, check out this account by a long-time Cuba City resident, written in 1915:

Back When Cuba City was Western

Sources:

Crawford, George and Robert M., eds. Memoirs of Iowa County : from the earliest historical times down to the present. Northwestern Historical Association, 1913.

Cuba City Centennial
, 1975.

“Frozen coachman part of history.” Telegraph Herald, June 12, 1949.

Galena Daily Gazette
.

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