The first U.S. public land survey in the territory was completed in 1836, paving the way for land claims and the settlers who would forge a community from what might have then been considered the “Wild West.” The survey, established by an act of the Continental Congress in 1785, formed the basis of local and county government and provided for an orderly transfer of property from the Federal Government to private citizens.
Palmer Gardner, the first European settler, claimed a parcel of land on May 2, 1836 in what was to become the Town of Spring Prairie. He was a farmer, planting wheat, barley, oats, corn and potatoes, marking the beginning of the community’s rich agricultural heritage. The Town of Spring Prairie was created by the Territorial Legislature on January 2, 1838. By that time most of the Indians had moved or been moved to lands further west and the area was ripe for settlement.
Other early settlers included Jesse James Strang, who came in 1844 and began to build a city and temple, calling his settlement Voree. A Mormon, Strang had about 300 disciples who followed him to the area. The settlement was located at what is now the intersection of Mormon Road and State Highway 11, near the White River. Honey Creek, located along the banks of its namesake, straddles the county line in Section 1. The only post office in the Town is located here.
The Methodist society formed in 1837, the Baptist Church organized in 1841, and the Congregationalists first met in 1840. Today, the Spring Prairie Methodist Church is located in Section 30 in the settlement known as “Spring Prairie.” There is a German Methodist Church in Section 2. The Honey Creek Baptist Church is over the border in Racine County in Honey Creek.
Hickory Grove Cemetery is in the southwest corner of Section 30. The land for the cemetery was donated by the Amon family. The first burial was the wife of William Baumis. There is also a cemetery at the German Settlement Church in Section 2. Mount Hope Cemetery is located in Section 23 and will again become a public burial ground when archeological mapping is completed. The cemetery will be managed by the Town of Spring Prairie.
The Town Hall is located in the former Arrow Lodge School at the intersection of Potter Road and State Road 120. Names still familiar today included Whitmore, Kniep, Williams, and Prout, among others. Other schools in the Town were located on County Road D in Section 6, on State Road 11 in Section 34 and on Spring Prairie Road in Sections 21and 26. There was also a school in Honey Creek in Racine County.
Sugar Creek traverses the town, entering on the west through the golf course at Alpine Valley and exiting on the east through Honey Lake. Honey Creek crosses the town, entering from the Town of East Troy to the north, and eventually emptying into the White River above Burlington. Honey Lake is surrounded on three sides by a lake community originally called Vienna. The original settlement included a house built to the west between Kearney and Potter Roads.
The Town provides no services to its residents. Fire, rescue and ambulance services are provided by the East Troy Emergency Services District and the Lyons Fire Department. The Walworth County Sheriff’s Department provides law enforcement in the Town. Public schools serving the Town include the Burlington Area School District, the East Troy Community School District, the Elkhorn Area School District, Lake Geneva Joint School District No. 1 and the Union High School District of Lake Geneva.
There are no major retail or manufacturing businesses in the Town, which functions primarily as an agriculture-based, rural residential community.