"Combination Atlas Map of Rock County, Wisconsin"

©1873 Everts, Baskin & Stewart, Chicago, Ill.


pp. 8-8½


Courtesy of Lori

[Continued from the atlas' HISTORY OF ROCK COUNTY following the City of Janesville]
This place was originally called New Albany; the name Beloit originated with a
committee appointed by a convention of citizens who were not satisfied with the old name. The committee having the matter in charge being in consultation, one of its members was laboring to shape a French word to an English termination, when Mr. L. G. FISHER, a member of the body, catching a sound somewhat analogous, pronounced the word "Beloit," which was at once agreed upon, and adopted as the name to be worn by the city in the future. Some one has said that the more he saw of the West the more he was convinced that the wise men came from the East. To none is the truth of this remark more vivid than to him who, having spent most of his life among the rocky and almost barren hills of New England, has finally chosen the valley of the beautiful Rock River as his home and field of future effort. The Western Eden--the Rock River Valley--has lost none of those attractions which Margaret Fuller Ossoli once rendered classic with her charming verse and still more charming prose. Forty years, it is true, have worked wonderful changes in the beautiful regions of Wisconsin. Then it had been frequently said that the country bore the character of one that had been inhabited by a people skilled in all the arts of landscape gardening. Villas, castles, and inclosures only were wanting. Everywhere were velvet lawns, flower-gardens, and stately parks, as if scattered by the hand of art, with frequent deer and peaceful cattle, yet all suggestive more of man than of prodigal nature.These lovely features of landscape still remain, only the peaceful herds have multiplied a thousand fold, the villas have arisen as by enchantment, the inclosures have been built, and field and lawn and garden do not waste their fragrance now as then. The stately thickets have grown to luxuriant forests, from which the deer have fled, and what was then a paradise to the eye, has become the fruitful garden of the West. Little more than a decade had then passed since Black Hawk had made these beautiful regions romantic with the memories of Indian warfare; but the unexampled progress of civilization, the advent of almost numberless strangers, and later events that drained the blood and energy of a nation, are fast dimming the recollection of this romantic strife, and the traveller, as he whirls over the country in a palatial car, is no longer pointed to the spot where the red man last fought with the white usurper for the home of his fathers. The valley of the Rock River, abounding in all the advantages of water and wood and soil and climate, stretching out through a good portion of two States, watered by a clear, rapid stream, which affords a water-power scarcely equalled in this country, and upon whose banks are located many beautiful and thriving cities and towns, in the space of a few years has become one of the richest and most flourishing sections of country in the United States. Among the many beautiful towns located in this valley, perhaps there are none which for beauty of location surpasses Beloit. It is situated on either bank of the river, and is nearly equidistant between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River, eighty-seven miles from Chicago, seventy-five miles from Milwaukee, and forty-eight miles from Madison, the capital of the State. The present population is about six thousand. The city is about equally divided by the river, which passes through from north to south with a broad, rapid, and clean current, with high banks, furnishing within a distance of two miles two large water-powers, one of which has been improved since the earliest settlement of the place, and the other soon to be improved. The city has also two other water-powers on Turtle Creek, which empties into the river near the city; these are both improved. On one of these powers is situated the "Old Red Mill," built in 1836,--the first grist-mill erected in the State, by Mr. GOODHUE, now owned and operated by his son, W. M. T. GOODHUE. The early settlement of the city does not date back of the recollection of many of its inhabitants, as many of the first settlers are yet alive and reside in the city. They have lived to see and to reap the fruits of their early toils and hardships in commencing the building of what has proven to be a flourishing town, equalled by few and surpassed by none in the Rock River Valley for beauty of situation, for morality, for educational, social, or religious advantages, or as a manufacturing or shipping-point.
Beloit as a manufacturing town offers inducements not surpassed anywhere. The
supply of water-power is practically inexhaustible, and, with railroad lines radiating in four different directions, the material for use can be easily procured, and the manufactured article shipped to all points in the West with the greatest possibly dispatch. To give an idea of the freight handled at Beloit, we will present the figures of export for one year, beginning on the 1st day of May, 1871, and ending the 1st day of May, 1872. On the W. U. Railroad, 15,233,889 pounds were shipped, and over the C. and N. W. Railroad, 23,581,649 pounds. The amount of freight received was correspondingly large. The manufacturing of the place is represented by O. B. OLMSTED & Co., who employ twenty-five to thirty men in the manufacture of windmills, etc.; John THOMPSON & Co., who employ about fifty men in the manufacture of plows and wagons; Beloit Reaper and Sickle Works of Messrs. PARKER & STONE, who employ about seventy-five men in the building of their popular machines, which find a market all over the Northwest. The leading manufacturing establishment of the city is that of O. E. MERRILL & Co., engaged in the manufacture of the celebrated turbine water-wheels. There is, in addition to those mentioned, the Northwest Paper Company and the Rock River Paper Company, doing a very extensive business in the making of all kinds of paper. The Rock River company employs about sixty men; their buildings cover an area of about three acres; they average about twelve tons of manufactured paper every day. The Beloit Strawboard Company, I. WILLIAMS president, is one of the leading paper companies in the West. They employ twenty men, and turn out about three and a half tons of paper daily.
This institution is the pride of the city. It originated in the deliberations of ministers
and lay representatives of the Congregational and Presbyterian churches. A charter was obtained from legislature in 1846. In the summer of 1847 the corner-stone was laid of the first building. The college occupies a beautiful and commanding site, embracing about twenty acres near the centre of the city. On this site has been erected the middle building, devoted to recitations and lecture-rooms; the north and south buildings furnish rooms for students; the chapel, the first story of which is for the preparatory department; and the memorial hall, in which are stored the library, consisting of about seven thousand five hundred volumes, and cabinets with mementos of the war. The last building was erected in memoriam of nearly five hundred of the sons of the college who were engaged in the late war for the preservation of our National Union. The building cost about $26,000, and was mostly contributed by the alumni and other friends of the college. The entire property of the college is estimated at $230,000. The average attendance of students for the past ten years has run over two hundred annually. The institution has justly merited a widespread fame for the thoroughness of its mental and moral discipline, and for the breadth and practical efficiency of its general culture. In addition to the educational facilities offered by the college, there are three public school buildings. The high-school building is one of the finest in the country, costing about $35,000. It is a beautiful structure of Milwaukee brick, three stories high above the basement, including the attic elevation under the Mansard-roof. It stands on quite an elevation on the west bank of the river, and commands the finest view in the city.
Beloit is not behind her sister towns in the erecting and maintaining of her churches,
of which there are at present nine. The First Congregational is perhaps the finest structure in the city; it is of brick, and cost about $35,000. The Catholic is next, built of brick also, at a cost of about $20,000. There are also the Second Congregational, Presbyterian, St. Paul's, Methodist, Baptist, Spiritualist, and German Presbyterian.
The city is mostly very beautifully laid out, containing many fine streets and avenues,
affording splendid drives; and along these streets are as fine a lot of buildings, both public and private, as can be found in any town in the State of equal pretensions. The church and school buildings are already mentioned as being of the best,--a credit to the city and a monument to the memory of the builders. The business houses mostly are good, build of the celebrated Milwaukee brick. CARPENTER & Sons' block, the GOODWIN Hotel, and Opera House are among the most costly. The GOODWIN House, kept by that popular landlord Wash. SALISBURY, is one of the finest hotels in the country.
There are the usual number of these. Myrtle Lodge, No. 10, Independent Order of
Odd Fellows, meets every Monday evening in their hall in DURHAM's block. There is one division of this order, - viz., Beloit Encampment, instituted December 17, 1850. The Masonic fraternity have a very fine hall at the corner of State and Broad Streets, well furnished; and among the members are found many of the best men in the city. Morning Star Lodge, No. 10, chartered January 16, 1847; Beloit Chapter, No. 9, chartered February 12, 1852; Beloit Council, chartered October 15, 1857; and Beloit Commandery, chartered January 6, 1864. These lodges are all in a prosperous condition.

©2002 ALHN-Rock County, Wisconsin

Site Coordinator: Lori Niemuth