Remnants of Shottakee still remain
If you've ever driven from Delavan to Lake Geneva on Wisconsin Highway 50, you've driven through Shottakee. Another spelling of this early Indian name East Delavan was Shadigee.
East Delavan was a thriving community, complete with church, school, creamery and store plus a number of houses. It was known by its Indian name until it got its post office around 1872. By that time the community had around a dozen buildings and about 50 inhabitants.
The church was the Baptist Church, which was organized on Feb. 14, 1845. The Rev. Henry Topping of Delavan was invited to this organizational meeting. Their society had 17 charter members. In 1868 it was decided that the church was too small and run down so a new one was started. A white wood church was completed in 1869 at a cost of $2,327. Dedication was Feb. 16, 1870.
The current church had its groundbreaking on June 27, 1971. The first service was held on June 4, 1972. The old wooden frame church was almost 100 years old when it was razed and replaced. It stood adjacent to the current building. The East Delavan Baptist Academy, also on these grounds, opened in August 1976. The academy still exists and is located just south of the church.
The school was the East Delavan School, District No. 2, for the town of Delavan. The first log schoolhouse was built in 1845 and used until it was replaced by the frame building in 1870. Land for the school and church was donated by Chancey Woodford, who owned a blacksmith shop and farm.
Albert Beckwith's “History of Walworth County” indicates that around 1843, Truman Pierce, his son-in-laws Kirtland G. Wright, Calvin Carrington and Samuel Utter chose a location east of the church for a store and some repair shops. They were farmers living near this intersection.
Wright served as a town associate supervisor in 1849 and 1851. Utter served as a town supervisor in 1850, 1855-56, 1860 and 1862.
The creamery was on the north side of the road. According to Beckwith, the creamery burned in June 1911, but was rebuilt and continued operation, producing about 3,500 pounds of butter each month.
On the south side of this community there used to be an outdoor theater. In 1950 two investors from Illinois bought 22 acres and built an outdoor theater, which could hold 850 cars. The screen was 38 feet by 55 feet, large enough that all patrons could easily see the feature.
The theatre opened on May 26, 1950, with the movie “Cheaper by the Dozen.” Special “carload” nights cost $1 per car. Movies were shown here for more than 30 years. For many years, the large screen remained, even after the theater closed, but in June 1992 it was demolished. It is now the location of a recycling business.
Ginny Hall, a historian from Delavan, is author of the “Walking around ...” and “Meandering ... ” books, which highlight the history of Walworth County communities.
The intersection of Theater Road and Wisconsin Highway 50 marks the location of Shottakee, the old Indian name for East Delavan.