One research source I've come to rely upon is the Wisconsin State Historical Society. The society has a search engine, where by one may view their vast collection of images. Many of the pictures are take from building surveys done in the late 1980's by many cites, Oshkosh being one of them. One day I was perusing the buildings of Oshkosh and was captivated by an image of an old house. The picture could well have passed for a prize winning photograph; high contrast black and white and excellent composition moving from the upper left to to lower right. I looked over the picture closely, feeling there was something familiar about the building. Perhaps it was because I had driven past the place years ago.
The address given for the house was 2175 W. 4th Street but it was obviously in a rural setting, unlike any part of 4th Street I could recall. Next I check the Oshkosh Public Library's address number conversion chart which show that there never was a 2175 W. 4th Avenue. Where was this place?, I thought to myself. I then check the city assessors office web site and the address, 2175 Witzle Ave. and got the name of the Oakhaven Church. I went to the church's web site which featured a slide show, one image of which was the barn that is now the church and the old house in the distance.
I was convinced the house was a Waters job and that I'd seen it somewhere before. I decided to revisit "Willie's Book", a collection of drawing gather by a young William Waters Jr. and pasted to the leaves of an old agricultural journal. There it was!, with a plan view and detail of the porch posts. In the photograph the porches have been removed but some pieces and shadows remained as witness to their existence. So whose house was it? An old atlas of Winnebago county revealed that the land belonged to Rodrick McKenzie. His biography states that McKenzie was a long time resident of Oshkosh and ran a feed and seed store located on Washington Street between Mt.Vernon and Broad Street. Further it said McKenzie retired to his farm in 1874 where lived until his passing in 1886, by which time his nephew William McKenzie immigrated from Scotland and ran the farm. The drawings in "Willie Book" date from the early 1870's and I would recon the McKenzie house to have been built in 1872 or 1873.