"Combination Atlas Map of Rock County, Wisconsin"

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


p. 8


Courtesy of Lori

[Continued from the atlas' HISTORY OF ROCK COUNTY]
[First in importance is] the seat of justice for Rock County, situated on Rock River,
in one of the finest and most productive agricultural districts in the State. The territory on which the city is built is high and bluffy, furnishing excellent facilities for drainage; a fact which has doubtless contributed much to the good health which has uniformly prevailed. The high ridges of land forming portions of the city afford views of both the city and surrounding country nowhere surpassed for extent of beauty. The municipal lines now embrace three miles north and south by two and a half miles east and west.
The Black Hawk War killed the Rock River Valley country for a few years, but was
the direct cause of settling up the country at a later date, as from it sprang up a knowledge of the beautiful country. All will remember with what interest we examined the maps of the South when our boys were there fighting for an undivided Union, and how we became familiar with the mountains, plains, and swamps through associations made ever memorable as being the last resting-place on earth that knew so many brave men: so it was with the Rock River Valley; as soon as the emigrant could be assured of safety and protection he was found pushing his way westward from Lake Michigan to what was then called the frontier.
As the names of those who first settled in and around Janesville have already been
mentioned, we will go back only tot he spring of 1837, when Mr. JANES first platted the land on the east side of the river and constituted the place a village. The first court was held two years after in the hotel called the Stage House; the grand jury sat in a small frame building adjoining. The first court-house was erected in 1841. The earliest settlers of the place had to go to Milwaukee or Racine for their letters; this, however, was not suffered long; through the perseverance of General W. B. SHELDON a post-office was soon established here, and Mr. JANES appointed the first postmaster. He was properly installed into his duties by Dr. B. B. CAREY, postmaster at Racine, on the 23d day of April. The first mail arrived carried by a Mr. PAYNE on horseback. For a long time Janesville was used as a distributing- point for several postal routes, and individuals came here for letters for a distance of twenty miles. The first store opened was by Mr. JANES in the third story of his log tavern; his stock soon became reduced, and Mr. J. abandoned the business. The first regular merchant doing business in a in a business-like place and manner was Mr. Thomas LAPPIN, now a resident of the place, and proprietor of one of the finest blocks in this city. He at first rented a room, but at a later date purchased the lot on which his block now stands, and in a short time got a building so far completed as to call it a store, and opened a general assortment, the entire stock costing one hundred and twenty five dollars. In a short time his trade increased, until his shelves were burdened with the best and finest fabrics in great quantity. Daniel A. RICHARDSON was the second merchant in Janesville; as evidence of his success in trade we have the fine commercial block erected by him. From that time to the present Janesville has had a constant and steady growth. The first buildings erected were of the most primitive character, owning to a lack of funds and the exorbitant prices paid for material; these, however were but of short duration, the growth of the young city soon outstripped its swaddling-clothes, and where these modest cabins once stood may now be seen palatial residences and handsome and costly business blocks, second in point of architectural beauty and intrinsic worth to those of no other town in the State of its size.
Janesville became a city with corporate powers in 1853, under a charter from the
legislature, and after the election of officers a new order of things was inaugurated: more attention was paid to sidewalks, a system of sewerage was commenced, and initial steps were taken toward a more complete system of schools than the place had before enjoyed. This was a wise step, as the scholastic advantages offered by a town are always carefully weighed in the balance by heads of families who contemplate a change of residence.
If there is any one thing more than another of which the citizens of Janesville are
justly proud, it is their schools; other interests have been made subservient to this cherished object, and every effort made to advance her educational interests by reaping the benefits to be derived from our free-school system. With this object in view, the city has erected several buildings, which are alike enduring monuments to their projectors and builders as well as ornaments to the city. It is a matter of pride to those now living that settled in an early day, to look back and see what gigantic strides have been made in a few years in educational and religious matters. Only a few years since, and our schools were kept in primitive log cabins, each father and mother being the tutors of their own children, imparting such rudimentary education as their facilities afforded; and at the same time our religious meetings were held in the cabins of private citizens, and those desirous of attending divine services often went many miles to avail themselves of an opportunity. No better evidence can now be had of the religious zeal of the citizens of Janesville than to review the number of religious societies and places of worship existing in the city, and the very gratifying evidence of growth and prosperity which these societies exhibit. The sound of the church bell, as often as it is heard on the Sabbath-day, does not fail to call together hundreds of devout citizens to listen to the truths of the gospel as they are proclaimed by the able occupants of the several pulpits. The system of public schools in the city, as organized and graded under the arrangement of the present able and efficient board of directors and accomplished corps of teachers, is equalled by that of but few towns in the State, and excelled by none. The course of study is thorough and complete, running through all the grades from a primary to an academic education. The course in the high school includes a graduating course fitting young men and ladies for college.
We deem it safe and beyond the show of contradiction to say that no town in the
State with the same population can boast of a better class of buildings than can Janesville; most of them are built of brick, are large, substantial, and expensive, while in style of architecture they are in keeping with the most modern designs. Very gratifying progress has been made in this direction in the past few years, old and more modest-appearing structures have been torn away to make room for more stately and expensive edifices. The new court-house, erected at a cost of over $100,000, is second to none in the State, proportionate in point of size and elegance to the business requirements and wealth of Rock County. The same might be said of the church and school buildings, several of which are among the finest in the State. We might make special mention of the Congregational, the Baptist, and the Court Street Methodist; these are all large and elegantly finished structures. The Congregational is perhaps the most expensive, erected at a cost of $50,000; it has comfortable room for the seating of about one thousand people. These buildings are all of Milwaukee brick; the furniture, frescoing, upholstering, etc., is complete in each of them. They all have good pipe organs, the one in the Congregational being, perhaps, as fine a one as is in the State. In addition to the three already mentioned there are nine other good church buildings, being twelve in all, and owned by the following-named societies: Methodist (two), Episcopalians (two), Congregational, Baptist, Presbyterian, Unitarian, Roman Catholic, German, and Universalist. All these buildings are of a creditable class, sufficiently large to comfortably serve the entire church-going community. The total value of church edifices and church property in Janesville will amount to $320,000. There are four large and elegant school buildings in the city, one to each ward. The buildings and school property all estimated will amount to about $120,000. All the buildings are equipped with the most modern conveniences, in the way of desks, school charts, apparatus, heating furnaces, etc.
In addition to those mentioned, there are many other buildings and blocks worthy of
special note, had we the space to go into detail. While all the business rows in the city are of the best, we would make special mention of the MYRE's House block and Opera House, SMITH's block, JACKMAN and SMITH's block, LAPPIN's block, First National Bank building, and Dr. MITCHELL's block; all these are imposing and costly edifices, and would do honor to towns of greater pretensions. In the city there are many beautiful streets and avenues, affording opportunity for driving surpassed by no city west of Chicago. The private residences are of the most modern architecture and would do credit to any city. This atlas contains lithographic views of many of the finest.
The State institution for the education of the blind is located at Janesville; the
buildings stand in a beautiful small grove on an eminence overlooking almost the entire city. Cost of building and grounds about $160,000. In this institution the blind of the State are educated in all the common-school branches and music free; the young men are also taught the trade of broom-making. There are ample accommodations for one hundred and twenty pupils.
It will not be presumed that within the limits of this short and broken review any
extended comments can be made concerning the various branches of business which are being carried on in the manufacturing departments in the city; such a demand would make it necessary to call attention to perhaps almost every branch of industry common to the West, for in point of manufacturing Janesville is second to no other city in the West having equal facilities; being located on Rock River, sufficient water-power is supplied for the propelling of all kinds of machinery, and the great abundance and consequent low price of fuel make the use of steam for manufacturing purposes very practicable. Among the manufacturing establishments might be mentioned flouring-mills, saw-mills, machine-shops, woolen-mills, basket-factories, breweries, bakeries, confectioneries, furniture manufactories, carriage- and wagon-shops, boots, shoes, barrel, wind and fanning-mills, sash blinds, and cigar manufactories. Prominent among these establishments we might make especial mention of the HARRIS Manufacturing Company as being the leading establishment of the place. They employ a large force throughout the year in the buildings of reapers, mowers, and grain drills; between $250,000 and $300,000 worth of these machines are turned out annually. Next to this is the DOTY Manufacturing Company, chartered in 1865; by careful management this company has grown in prosperity, and is now doing a very fine business in the manufacture of the celebrated "DOTY washer," punching and shearing machines, grain drills, and other miscellaneous articles. With a force of sixty men they turn out from $120,000 to $130,000 worth of these articles annually. The Clow Reaper Manufacturing Company are also doing an extensive business. In addition to those mentioned, there is the woolen-mills of PAYNE, HASTINGS & Co., at Monterey, on lower water-power, doing a fine business; their cloths are of the best, and find a ready market. WHEELER & Sons' woolen-mills, at the other power, are good, substantial buildings, well furnished with machinery, and doing a good business. There are two good furniture manufactories, each employing about forty men. Of the carriage manufactories, we will name as leading ones Messrs. HODGE & BUCHHOLZ, and S. L. JAMES; both of these firms are doing an extensive business, and by turning out first-class work they have built up an extensive trade. With the exception of the HARRIS and Clow Companies, they are all operated by water-power, the supply of which is practically inexhaustible. In this atlas may be seen lithographic views of the HARRIS, DOTY, HODGE & BUCCHOLZ, and S. L. JAMES' establishments.
There are a number of associations of different kinds established in the city, the
most prominent of which are the following. The Masonic fraternity is represented by two lodges,--viz.: Janesville Lodge, No. 55, organized in 1854: present officers are C. Loftus MARTIN, W. M.; H. B. SEXTON, S. W.; A. J. ROBERTS, J. W.; Thos. KIRK, S. D.; Henry WOOD, J. D.; J. A. BLUNT, Treasurer; J. B. CARL, Secretary. Western Star Lodge, No. 14, organized in 1847: officers, T. H. MARQUESEE, W. M.; J. C. METCALF, S. W.; M. M. CONANT, J. W.; Mr. PHILLIPS, S. D.; C. F. WRIGHT, J. D.; R. HODGE, Treasurer; R. L. BURDICK, Secretary. In addition to these are three divisions: Janesville Commandery, No. 2, organized 1856: W. W. MILLS, E. C.; C. Loftus MARTIN, G.; W. E. JONES, C. G.; Thomas KIRK, Treasurer; A. W. BALDWIN, Recorder. Janesville Council of Royal and Select Masters, and Janesville Chapter, No. 5: the present officers of the Council are C. Loftus MARTIN, G. M.; A. S. LEE, D. G. M.; C. C. CHURCH, P. C. W.; W. W. WHEELER, Treasurer; S. S. ST. JOHN, Recorder of the Chapter; A. W. BALDWIN, H. P.; C. Loftus MARTIN, K.; R. R. ANGELL, Scribe; Thomas KIRK, Treasurer; M. L. RICHARDSON, Secretary. These lodges each have a strong membership. Their room is on the third floor of Smith's new block, corner of Main and Milwaukee Streets, and, when completely furnished as anticipated, will be one of the finest lodge-rooms in the state. The fraternity of Independent Order of Odd Fellows is also strong in numbers, and in a flourishing condition; Wisconsin Lodge, No. 14, was organized February 1, 1847, and Rock River Encampment was instituted in August, 1849.
The only public library in the city is owned by the "Young Men's Association," an
organization chartered by the legislature in 1864. The association was originally formed for the purpose of gathering a library, procuring public lecturers, and affording the youth of the city an opportunity for improving their minds by debate. During the last year, however, the efforts of the association have been concentrated upon the library, and under their labors it is steadily improving. Twelve hundred volumes are now upon its shelves, and additions are constantly being made. The library-room is over the post-office. The officers for 1873 are--President, A. H. BAXTER; Vice-President, H. W. McELROY; Recording Secretary, E. W. LOWELL; Corresponding Secretary, H. A. SMITH; Treasurer, E. F. WELCH; Librarian, W. D. PARKER; Assistant Librarian, William SMITH, Jr.; Marshal, C. W. STOREY. Committee for 1873 are--Library Committee, W. S. BOWEN, T. S. E. DIXON, H. W. McELROY. Fitness Committee, J. G. REXFORD, Fred. PRENTISS, Fred. QUINN. Lecture Committee, H. A. SMITH, H. D. McKINNEY, John C. SPENCER, E. F. CARPENTER, J. KENT.

©2002 ALHN-Rock County, Wisconsin

Site Coordinator: Lori Niemuth