In June of 1837, 45 men forged their way from Milwaukee to Madison to begin construction of the new state capitol. Three of these men, Andrew & Zenas Bird and Aaron Petrie, made a mental note of an idyllic location to begin their lives. Many months of labor ended in October of 1838, when an autumn prairie fire destroyed a public building and the beginning of a sawmill. For more than a decade, the present day village was known as Bird’s Ruins.
Between June 1839 and 1847, many newcomers settled in this area called Medina. A two-room frame house served purpose for a general store and religious services. The first physician in the area completed the sawmill. During this time, a small red brick school, a milldam, a Baptist Church, Methodist Church, and the first postal service were developed.
The Township of Medina was formally organized in 1848. During the nineteenth century, the Village and Township continued to grow. In 1849, Bird’s Ruins became Hanchetville in recognition of Asahel Hanchett’s ability for luring several needed businesses to the Village. Hanchett added a gristmill, relocated the sawmill, and constructed a new dam.
As more and more settlers came to the area and began harvesting the fertile soils, construction of a plank road was commenced. This road was seen as a thoroughfare, connecting isolated districts with Watertown and Madison until 1856, when railway officials interrupted with their own ideals of promoting trade. Though the heated debate of the railway was defeated locally by a 2-vote margin, the railway had gathered their pledges and began construction, locating a depot in Hanchettville. In great anticipation of the vast things to come, the village residents changed Hanchettville to Howard City after one of the leading railway promoters. Prosperity failed to bless Howard City, and Asahel Hanchett sold his substantial land holdings to a pair of Madison Real Estate brokers, William F. Porter and Samuel Marshall.
Though little is known about Samuel Marshall, the William Porter family lived in Marshall until 1865, when Porter and his wife returned to his native Massachusetts. Their son, William H. Porter, remained a prominent and influential citizen in the community with family still living here.
By 1899 the village post office had been in existence for nearly 52 years. Rural residences, divided into four districts, began receiving mail delivery at their front door. Marshall was the second village in the state to inaugurate rural postal service.
The early 1900s brought about several changes to the community. On January 24, 1905, 119 votes were cast – 66 in favor, 53 against – to incorporate the village. A February election named the first village officers as: President, W. H. Tasker, Trustees, C.L. Palmer, G.L. Kaiser, Dr. Gibbs, J.H. Porter, A.J. Blaschka and J. F. Deppe; Clerk, Charles H. Lake; Treasurer, L.F. Kelley; Supervisor, Frank Pyburn; Assessor, William McNeill; Constable, Theodore Schueler; Justice of the Peace, John Fallows, and Police Justice, F.C. King.