Historical Hartland

Planting Roots

A natural spring provided an ideal camping spot for the Potawatomi Indians in the early 1800’s. Near this camping spot, a small “growing place” developed and was named Shabaquanake by the Indians. Shabaquanake was situated on today’s Merton and Delafield town line. Many years later, that area came to be known as the Town of Warren, after Stephen Warren, Hartland’s first settler. Stephen came to this area in 1838 to file claim to the land between what is now bordered by East Capitol Drive to the north, Cottonwood Avenue to the west and Maple Avenue to the east.

A Town Begins To Germinate

In 1848, Stephen Warren sold part of his land to Christian Hershey who constructed a four and one half story grist mill that used water power from the Bark River and the mill race and dam that was constructed under East Capitol Drive. By this time, the Watertown Plank Road was completed through Hartland and was used by farmers as a “highway” for bringing their grains and hops to the Milwaukee breweries. To provide a place for rest and refreshment for its travelers, many hotels or “taverns” were built along the way. The Burr Oak Tavern still stands on the SE corner of Maple Avenue and East Capitol Drive.

Building a Community

Placing a high value on education, the early settlers believed that no child should have to walk more than three miles to attend school. As a result the area is populated with one room school houses such as Lakeside, Campbell (Bark River), Swallow, Pine Lake (Nashotah), Stone Bank, North Lake, Richmond and Hartland Schools. Many buildings started off as log buildings but were soon replaced by more permanent brick structures as Hartland did in the 1860’s. By the early 1920’s a need for an accredited high school became apparent. The above school districts worked together to build Hartland Union High School which opened its doors in 1924. Over 30 years later, Hartland Union High School was replaced by Arrowhead High School (South Campus).


The Village of Hartland was incorporated on January 18, 1892 but used the Fire House facilities for its board meetings until the first Village Hall was completed in 1930. It was known as the Community Memorial Building and honored Hartland’s soldiers of war. The building was razed in 1980 after a new Municipal Building was constructed.

Continuing Expansion

To this day, Hartland continues to offer the charm of a small town where residents take pride in their community. This is exhibited by the high quality of life found here and still is, as named by the Potawatomi Indians over 150 years ago, “Shabaquanake”, a growing place.

Additional information is found in this short history (PDF) from the Historical Society or by visiting the History room at the Hartland Public Library.

Historical and Architectural Heritage Tour of Hartland, Wisconsin (PDF) (print on 11" x 17" paper)