The Town of Sherry was organized on November 10, 1885, effective April 6, 1886 at the first Annual Meeting. Part of the Town was a hamlet on County Road F at Mill Creek, where a saw mill, general store and blacksmith shop were originally located. The Town was named for Henry Sherry, part owner of a saw mill established there around 1880 by the firm of Sherry and Briggs. When the Sherry Lumber Company business failed, the Sutton-Sherry Manufacturing Company was formed. The company specialized in staves and barrels. Henry Sherry built a store, which later became a horse stable. He also had a planing mill that was destroyed by fire. Eventually, Henry Sherry formed a partnership with Norman and Charles Willard. Later the Willard brother purchased the business.
One of the landmarks of the town proper is the Anderton home. It was built by the Willard Brothers for their mother and later sold it to Henry Sherry. It has had only a handful of owners through the years, and was recently purchased by longtime local residents, Bob and Bev Peaslee. Mrs. Peaslee is the Town’s local historian and commented that she has always loved the Anderton mansion but never dreaming that she would live in it someday.
The residents of Sherry have long recognized the importance of education and built its first school in 1881, even before it was officially incorporated at a Town. One of the early colleges in central Wisconsin was in Sherry. The Northwest Collegiate Institute was built in 1906 and continued until 1921, when there no longer was enough money to keep the school open.
The Reverend W. J. Agnew was the founder and president of the school and pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Sherry. The school was moved from Poynette to Sherry with a lot of behind-the-scenes negotiating by Agnew. He convinced everyone that sherry was considered an ideal place because of the beautiful countryside and location in central Wisconsin. Also, it was just far enough from the railroad that the bustle of commercial life would not interrupt the quality of life needed on campus.
The school was located on 500-acre dairy farm on Mill Creek. Food for the institution was grown on the farm and students worked for part or all of their $125 annual tuition. The boys worked in the fields and the girls worked in the kitchen. The girl’s dormitory was located next to Mill Creek where Sherriland Ballroom is located today.
Subjects included classical literature, science, English, music and biblical preparatory courses beginning with sixth-grade subjects, and prepared students for the first year in college. Believing that a college is not simply a place to make scholars Northwest Collegiate Institute aimed at making men and women “manly men and womanly women.” It was felt that a Christian college would be the best place to reach that goes.