History of the City of Evansville

Union Township, Rock County, Wisconsin

EVANSVILLE, P.V., on Allen's Creek, section 27, town 4 N., range 10 E., Rock
county, 18 miles northwest from Janesville, and 23 miles southeast from Madison. It has a population of about 200 temperate and industrious people, with 25 dwellings, 2 stores, 1 hotel, 2 mills, 1 machine, 1 wagon, 1 shoe and 1 blacksmith's shop; 1 meeting house and 2 religious denominations, and a large and commodious school house. The Madison and Beloit railroad is located through this place.
 
[Source: Wisconsin Gazetteer by John Warren Hunt; ©1853 Beriah Brown, Printer, Madison; p. 84; Courtesy of Lori]

EVANSVILLE, a post-village of Rock county, Wisconsin, on Allen's creek, 18
miles N. W. from Janesville. It has 1 or 2 churches, 2 mills, and about 200 inhabitants.
 
[Source: The New and Complete Gazetteer of the United States by Thomas Baldwin and J. Thomas, M.D., ©1854 Lippincott, Grambo & Co., Philadelphia, PA; p. 367; Courtesy of Kathy Lenerz]

[Continued from the atlas' HISTORY OF ROCK COUNTY following Milton Junction]
 
EVANSVILLE,
so called in honor to Dr. J. M. EVANS, the first physician who settled in the village.
Dr. EVANS is still an influential and enterprising citizen of the place. The location of the place is one of the finest in the County, being on the border of a small prairie and in one of the finest groves in the County. Allen's Creek passes through the eastern portion of the town, furnishing an excellent water-power, on which is located a very flourishing flouring-mill. The village was laid out in 1855 by Messrs. H. G. and L. SPENCER and H. GRIFFITH. The post-office was located before the village was surveyed and, at the suggestion of Jacob WEST, called Evansville. The mail was carried from Union for two years by Mr. WEST on horseback. At present the village contains a population of about one thousand. The manufacturing interests of the place are represented by one flouring-mill, one cheese-factory, making annually from seventy-five to one hundred and twenty thousand pounds of cheese, one planing-mill, and furniture manufactory. The trade of the town is good. There are about twenty-five stores and shops, a very large lumber business, and an extensive tobacco trade. The inhabitants of the town are principally American. The society good. Church and school interests are zealously looked after. There are five churches in town, one seminary building, costing $10,000, and a public school building, costing $16,000. These schools are both in a flourishing condition. For lithographic views of these buildings, and many others, principally private, we refer the reader to the map within.
 
[Source: Combination Atlas Map of Rock County, Wisconsin, ©1873 Everts, Baskin & Stewart, Chicago, IL; p. 8½; Courtesy of Lori]

Evansville, in the south part of the town of Union, on the Chicago, St. Paul &
Milwaukee line of the Chicago & Northwestern Railway, twenty-two miles south of Madison and sixteen miles northwest of Janesville, was incorporated as a village in 1867. The first settler on what is now the village plat, was Amos KIRKPATRICK, in 1842. Wilbur POTTER came about the same time and started a little chair factory. Henry and Lewis SPENCER arrived a little later and erected the first frame dwelling. Up to 1848 the principal center of business between Janesville and Madison was at the village of Union, three miles north of the present site of Evansville. In that year, William WINSTON and C. R. BENT built and opened the first store at this point, which at that date had neither name nor post-office. The post-office was established in 1849 under its present name. Jacob WEST had the first contract for carrying the mail, and his son, James R. WEST, then twelve years old, carried it on horseback. The first postmaster was Curtis R. BENT. The village was platted in 1855. The first school was taught in a log school house by Levi LEONARD. The old seminary building was erected in 1855 and the graded school building in 1868-69. The bank of Evansville was organized as the First National Bank of Evansville, in 1870. It surrendered its charter in 1875 and was reorganized under the State law and soon afterward changed hands. The capital is $50,000, Lloyd T. PULLEN is president and George L. PULLEN cashier. Evansville is fast gaining that prominence as a manufacturing center, which its location and the liberal policy of its citizens justly entitle it to. Among the principal industries are a large pump and wind-mill factory, a carriage and wagon manufactory, a tack factory, a creamery and flourmill. There are five churches, two good graded schools and a public hall. Two weekly newspapers, the Enterprise and the Review, are ably edited. The population is 1,700.
 
[Source: The Portrait & Biographical Album of Rock County, Wisconsin, ©1889 Acme, Chicago, IL; p. 1023; Courtesy of Carol]

Union Township was first settled in 1839 by Stephen JONES and others, but
Amos KIRKPATRICK was the first settler within the present city limits. He built a log house in 1842, and the SPENCER brothers erected the first frame house that same year. The first store was built in 1848 by William WINSTON and Curtis BENT.
In 1849 a post-office was established under the name of Evansville in honor of J. M.
EVANS, a physician who had previously located here. The ground was surveyed and platted in 1855 and a village organization was formed at the same time. The railroad was built in 1863 and in 1867 Evansville became a chartered village by an act of the State Legislature. Daniel JOHNSON was the first president of the village board. In 1895 the State Legislature granted a city charter and in 1896 Dr. J. M. EVANS was elected the first mayor of the City of Evansville.
If Amos KIRKPATRICK could revisit the site where he first settled and take a
survey of the beautiful city which he founded, how his pioneer heart would throb and his aged face beam with astonishment as he beheld the improvements wrought in half a century of civilized life! Surely Amos would need a Directory to guide him along the various streets and avenues to homes numbered in city style.
The first school was taught by Mr. Levi LEONARD in a log structure. Mr. R. O.
KELLOGG commenced a select school in the Methodist church in 1855 and this developed into a seminary in 1859 under the direction of Mr. D. Y. KILGORE. In 1869 a six room public school building was erected, in 1877 a high school course was added and in 1897 a high school building was erected.
Evansville is noted for its excellent schools, its numerous churches, and its strong
moral sentiment. It has not had an open saloon since it was founded. The business streets are indicative of activity and prosperity. The residence portion is very beautiful. The streets are lined with shade trees, the lawns are most attractive and the homes are nearly all well kept. The inhabitants are almost entirely American and the society consists of intelligent and refined people. There are several manufacturing establishments located here; the BAKER Mfg. Company being the most extensive.
The C. & N.W.R.R. company had double tracks to Chicago so that the railroad
facilities are very good. The growth of the city has been steady but constant. The present population is about 2,000 and the rate of increase is about 100 per annum.
 
[Source: Directory of the City of Evansville and Town of Union, Wisconsin, ©1898 Judson Directory Co., Chicago, IL; p. 4-5; courtesy of Ruth Ann Montgomery]

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