"Portrait & Biographical Album of Rock County, Wisconsin"

©1889 Acme, Chicago, Illinois


pp. 1024-1028


Courtesy of Lori

JANESVILLE, located nearly in the geographic center of Rock County, and about
three and one-half hours travel by railway from Milwaukee and Chicago, is the seat of justice of this county and one of the most important commercial and manufacturing centers in this part of the country. It is provided with fine water-power, afforded by the Rock River, which flows diagonally across the town, and excellent railway facilities, both of which have contributed largely to advance the city to its present acknowledged importance. Janesville was made the seat of justice in Rock County in 1839.
Settlement at this point was begun about fifty years ago. The first settlers in the
vicinity were John INMAN and some companions. In December, 1835, Samuel ST. JOHN and his family arrived. The wife and child of ST. JOHN were the first white woman and child brought to the Rock River valley. In January following Dr. James HEATH and wife came, and in February Henry F. JANES made his claim and went back for his family. In March came Judge William HOLMES and his wife and their daughter Catherine and their sons John and George. Other sons of George HOLMES had preceded them and lived in a cabin on the hillside. The HOLMES' constructed a rude ferry-boat to ply on the river and when they had built a large log house on the opposite side, employed the boat in moving over. Rock River Valley became widely known and the advance of settlement was so rapid that it became evident that at no distant period the place would develop into a large and thriving frontier town.
The energy with which the pioneers labored to promote the advance of civilization
was wonderful. Within a year and a half from the day of INMAN's arrival three distinct villages were located, surveyed and staked out in lots, blocks, squares and streets within the present limits of Janesville. The first of these was called "Rockport" and its plat was filed by Thomas A. HOLMES, Joshua HOLMES, G. S. HOSMER, George REED and H. L. HOSMER. The second was "Wisconsin City," the plat of which was filed by John INMAN, Jeremiah PRICE, Josiah S. BRASE, James S. SEYMOUR, John H. HARDENBURG, George C. SEELYE and Edward SHEPHARD. The third was surveyed and platted by Henry F. JANES, who called in "Janesville," in his own honor. Some of the events growing out of the strife between these rival villages were ludicrous. There was much speculating, and the speculative transactions in the southwestern "boom" towns of a more recent date scarcely furnish more interesting history.
An act incorporating the city of Janesville was approved March 19, 1853. The first
election was held on the first Tuesday in April, 1853, and resulted in the choice of the following officers: - Mayor, A. Hyatt SMITH; Clerk, J. H. OGILVIE; Superintendent of Schools, C. P. KING; Treasurer, J. W. HOBSON; Attorney, C. S. JORDAN; Marshal, W. F. TOMPKINS; Aldermen - B. F. PIXLEY, E. I, ROBERTS and W. P. BURROUGHS, of the first ward; J. J. R. PEASE, Timothy JACKMAN and George BARRIES of the second ward; E. A. HOWLAND, B. B. ELDREDGE and Charles H. CONRAD, of the third ward; and George H. WILLISTON, George W. TAYLOR and John CARLIN, of the fourth ward; Justices of the Peace - Moses S. PRITCHARD of the first ward, Abraham C. BAILEY, of the second ward; Lucius FIELD, of the third ward; and D. CLOW, of the fourth ward. The common council met on the evening of April 12, 1853, and B. F. PIXLEY was elected president of the board.
The present city government consists of the following named gentlemen: - Mayor,
John WINANS; City Clerk, P. S. FENTON; Treasurer, Michael MURPHY; Street Commissioner, John BROWN; Sealer, Levi CANNIFF. Other officers elected by the city at large are as follows: Justice of the Peace, M. S. PRICHARD [PRITCHARD] and F. M. SCANLAN; School Commissioners at large, Q. O. SUTHERLAND and S. B. SMITH. The common council is made up of the following named gentlemen: - First ward - Aldermen, D. P. SMITH, J. P. BAKER; second ward - Aldermen, W. H. JUDD, George HANTHORN; third ward - Aldermen, James H. FATHERS, C. B. CONRAD; fourth ward - Aldermen, Charles HORN, Sutton NORRIS; fifth ward - Aldermen, J. B. McLEAN, John CASEY. The members of the Board of Supervisors are as follows: - W. F. CARLE, first ward; Oscar NOWLAN, second ward; Fenner KIMBALL, third ward; Andrew PALMER, fourth ward and T. M. LYNCH, fifth ward. Supervisors are elected annually, one from each ward, also a constable from each ward.
Seth B. ST. JOHN was the first white child born within the present limits of
Janesville. The first death was that of his mother, Mrs. Samuel B. ST. JOHN. The event first mentioned occurred in 1836. In June, 1839, WARD & LAPPIN opened the first store. They dissolved partnership in July, 1849, and Mr. LAPPIN continued in business by himself. In 1841, the second store was opened, near LAPPIN's, by D. A. RICHARDSON. McCLURE & FELTON, a Milwaukee firm, also opened a store. They failed in 1844 and were succeeded by STOUGHTON, LAWRENCE & Co. The first later became LAWRENCE & ATWOOD. The principle citizens of Janesville in 1839 were John P. DICKSON, W. H. H. BAILEY, Henry F. JANES, Judge HOLMES, Charles STEVENS, Luke STOUGHTON, Dr. Guy STOUGHTON, John Langdon KIMBALL, General SHELDON and Thomas LAPPIN. In December, 1843, there were 157 dwellings and 855 inhabitants. Twenty-six of the buildings were brick, nine were stone, seven were log and the others were frame. A tri-weekly line of four-horse stages passed through from Milwaukee to Galena, two weekly two-horse stages connected the village with Madison, tri-weekly lines were run to Dixon's Ferry and Racine and a weekly mail wagon ran to Chicago. In 1849 the town contained 1,812 inhabitants and had the following mills: - A starch factory, a brewery, two plow shops, three cabinet shops, two fanning-mill shops, two chair factories, three carriage shops, nine blacksmith shops, one sash and blind factory, two jewelers' shops, two tin shops, a bakery, two lumber yards, three brick yards, two stone wharfs, and two saddlers' four tailors', three milliners', and two coopers' shops. The growth during recent years has been rapid and the present population is about 12,000. Janesville's manufacturing history would be interesting could it be written in full, and few inland cities exhibit a record of such rapid and substantial progress. The first mill was that of Charles STEVENS, built in 1845 and later remodeled and known as the "Old Ford Mill." The "Old Big Mill" was erected in 1846, by Ira MILTIMORE, for A. Hyatt SMITH, James McCLURG, Martin O. WALKER and Shubael W. SMITH. Other mills erected later were the "HODSON," "Farmers'," "Stone," and "Bower City" Mills. These and other enterprises marked the beginning of manufacture here. The earlier productive establishments have passed away to make room for factories of greater pretensions and wider resources, and a great variety of manufactures are turned out at this time, including boots and shoes, cigars, morocco, agricultural implements, machinery of nearly all kinds, carriages and wagons, woolen goods, brick, furniture, sash, blinds, and builders' materials, harness and saddles, lager beer, iron products of various kinds, brooms, perfumes and proprietary medicines and numerous other goods which find a ready market in all parts of the United States and in nearly every enlightened foreign land.
The Janesville Cotton Mills Company was incorporated in March, 1886, and is an
outgrowth of the Janesville Cotton Manufacturing Company. The first Board of Directors of the new company consisted of W. A. LAWRENCE, F. S. ELDRED, E. C. SMITH, George SUTHERLAND, E. W. FISHER, A. J. RAY, H. PARKER, William MACLOON, A. P. LOVEJOY, James SHEARER and H. REICHWALD. The first officers of the company were Henry PALMER, President; George SUTHERLAND, Vice-president; F. S. ELDRED, Treasurer; A. J. RAY, Secretary; John H. MYERS, Manager. These gentlemen have since filled the respective offices to which they were then elected. The present Board of Directors is comprised of H. PALMER, G. G. SUTHERLAND, F. S. ELDRED, E. C. SMITH, A. J. RAY, James SHEARER, H. REICHWALD, William MACLOON, John H. MYERS, E. W. FISHER and John J. R. PEASE. The new building of the company at Monterey, near the city, was erected in 1884 and opened for business in January, 1885. It is a 300 loom-mill, with a capacity of 16,000 yard of sheeting per day and employs 175 hands. The city, or upper, mill has 400 looms, employs 225 hands and turns out 35,000 yards per day. The capital stock of the new company is $150,000, including both mills, and the employes [employees] are paid each month the sum of $10,000.
The Janesville Machine Company was incorporated Oct. 7, 1881, the incorporators
being James HARRIS, Hiram MERRILL, William A. LAWRENCE, J. B. CRABE, J. D. REXFORD, S. C. COBB, A. P. LOVEJOY, David JEFFRIS and H. D. REICHWALD. The capital stock amounts to $100,000, and the company engages in the manufacture of mowers, seeders, disc pulverizers, disc corn plows, reapers and harrows. The annual business aggregates $250,000, and the principal markets are in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Texas and Kansas, extending into Montana and California. The first officers of the company were J. D. REXFORD, President; A. J. GLASS, Vice-president and General Manager; Isaac FARNSWORTH, Secretary; L. L. ROBINSON, Treasurer; S. C. COBB, Superintendent. The present officers are J. D. REXFORD, President; A. P. LOVEJOY, Vice-president; L. B. REYNOLDS, Manager; S. C. COBB, Superintendent; Isaac FARNSWORTH, Treasurer; and Collin C. McLEAN, Secretary. In the manufacturing department of the Janesville Machine Company from ninety to 130 hands are employed. This is a leading enterprise of the city and has had a prosperous existence from the beginning.
Janesville has three banking institutions. These are the Rock County National Bank,
the Merchants' and Mechanics' Savings Bank and the First National Bank.
The Rock County National Bank of Janesville was chartered and organized on the
24th day of January, 1865, by the proprietors of the Rock County Bank, one of the pioneer banking houses of the county. The original Rock County Bank was organized on the 16th day of October, 1855, by the following named business men of this county: John J. R. PEASE, L. E. STONE, Timothy JACKMAN, J. B. CROSBY, J. L. KIMBALL, Andrew PALMER, B. F. PIXLEY, M. C. SMITH, S. W. SMITH and J. C. JENKINS. Of the company Timothy JACKMAN was elected President; Andrew PALMER, Vice-president; and J. B. CROSBY, Cashier; while the capital stock was $50,000. Of these gentlemen only Mr. PEASE and Mr. PALMER are now living. Mr. JACKMAN continued to serve as President of the original bank during its existence and was chosen President of the National Bank at its organization. He was reelected and filled that position until his death, which occurred Aug. 13, 1868. He was succeeded by S. W. SMITH, who served until Nov. 9, 1881, when he declined to fill the position longer on account of failing health and was succeeded by B. B. ELDREDGE. The latter gentlemen served until January 17, 1887, when C. S. JACKMAN, the present president, was chosen to the position.
J. L. KIMBALL succeeded J. B. CROSBY as cashier of the old bank April 20,
1857, and yielded the position again to Mr. CROSBY on the 10th day of January, 1860. Mr. CROSBY then filled the office during the remaining years of the existence of the Rock County Bank and was chosen cashier of the National Bank at its organization, serving in that capacity until Jan. 16, 1872, when he was succeeded by Chester S. CROSBY, who served until Aug. 17, 1880, when C. S. JACKMAN was appointed to the position and served till Sept. 30, 1886, when S. B. SMITH, the present cashier, was chosen to the office.
On the 19th day of January, 1885, the charter of the bank was renewed for twenty
years. From its long and successful career this bank has won its way to popular favor and is recognized as one of the most important financial concerns of Rock County.
The Merchants' and Mechanics' Savings Bank was chartered in September, 1875,
with an authorized capital of $100,000, and a paid up capital of $20,000. After five years the capital stock which had been paid amounted to $50,000, and the entire capital was reduced to that amount. The principal incorporators of this institution were Frank LELAND, Henry PALMER, M.D., A. H. SHELDON, Capt. William MACLOON, A. A. JACKSON, and David JEFFRIS. The first executive Board was composed of David JEFFRIS, President; A. A. JACKSON and John McLAY, Vice Presidents; and H. G. REICHWALD, Cashier. The board of directors consisted of William MACLOON, David JEFFRIS, L. B. CASH, H. PALMER, H. G. REICHWALD, Frank LELAND, A. H. SHELDON, Seth FISHER and A. A. JACKSON. The present officers are Henry PALMER, President; A. H. SHELDON and F. KIMBALL, Vice Presidents; W. F. JEFFRIS, Cashier, and William BLADON, Assistant Cashier. The directors are H. PALMER, W. MACLOON, David JEFFRIS, A. H. SHELDON, F. C. COOK, F. KIMBALL, James SHEARER, George E. SUTHERLAND, and W. S. JEFFRIS. The Merchants' and Mechanics' Savings Bank is one of the leading financial institutions of the county, and does a general banking business. It consists of two departments - a commission bank and savings bank. The bank was first located in the LAPPIN Block on Milwaukee street, where business was carried on for ten years, when, in August, 1885, it was removed to the new office in the JEFFRIS Block, at the west end of Milwaukee street bridge. The room was especially fitted up as a banking office, and the vault is one of the most complete in the West. It is absolutely fire and burglar proof, measures 7x9 feet, is eight feet high inside, and line with chrome steel, drill proof. The solid masonry of this vault is two feet in thickness outside, with two air chambers between the lining and the outside wall. The doors are double, the outside doors weighing about 4,000 pounds. Inside this are steel folding doors, a 6,000-pound Hall safe, with a consolidated time clock, and, inside this safe, the reserve chest. The vault is also supplied with a nest of 143 deposit boxes, which are rented to persons desiring a safe place to deposit valuable papers, etc. These boxes are provided with single key locks, which are kept by the depositors. David JEFFRIS, the first president of the bank, remained in that position until he was succeeded by D. H. PALMER, the present incumbent. Mr. REICHWALD filled the office of cashier until July, 1883, when W. S. JEFFRIS succeeded to the position. The bank has had a prosperous existence, and is one of the leading institutions of the city.
The first school-house erected within the city limits was a log one. The charter for the
establishment of a free academy was obtained in 1843, and in 1844 a stone building was erected for the occupancy of the institution, on the site of the central school-house, and under the charter it became an important factor in municipal affairs. The second and fifth ward school-houses were built about 1856. Others have been added a required, until now the city has accommodations for 1,685 pupils. Last year's enrollment was 1,608. Thirty-nine teachers are employed. The Board of Education consists of seven members. Schools other than the public schools are the Catholic school of St. Joseph's Convent, The German Lutheran school, Mrs. C. A. HUNT's select school, Miss Lulu WILLIAMS' Shorthand school, W. J. SANDER's Shorthand and Typewriting school, the VALENTINE Brothers school of telegraphy. SILSBEE's Commercial College, and the Wisconsin School for the Blind, which was originally established as a private institution at the home of Mr. HUNTER on North Jackson street. The first superintendent of the institution was Joseph T. AXTEL, who remained in charge until Aug. 1, 1851, when he was succeeded by Mr. McDONALD, who served until 1853, when C. B. WOODRUFF was placed in charge. After three years, in 1856, he vacated the position, and William B. CHURCHMAN, who was himself blind, had charge of the institution from 1856 until 1861. Mr. CHURCHMAN, a noted teacher in various institutes, was a man of marked ability, and during his leadership, more than any other, the school increased in attendance, gained the favor of all and became a success as an institution. In August, 1861, Thomas H. LITTLE succeeded Mr. CHURCHMAN, having charge of the institution until his death, which occurred Feb. 4, 1875. Under his direction the school also prospered, and the advancement of pupils was rapid, and the management was satisfactory to all concerned. After the death of Mr. LITTLE his wife was appointed to fill the vacancy, and has remained in charge since, having the honor of being the only lady occupying a like position in the world. In the spring of 1881, the system of the school was changed and a State board was placed in charge of its business affairs.
Janesville will compare favorably with other cities of like population in the number,
variety and quality of its places of religious worship. It has twelve church edifices owned and occupied by the various Christian denominations. Of church organizations it has one Baptist, one Congregational, two Methodist Episcopal, one Presbyterian, two Protestant Episcopal, two Roman Catholic, one Unitarian, one German speaking Evangelical Lutheran and one Norwegian. These are all sufficiently strong and energetic to sustain the ordinances of worship, all but one having settled pastors who are wholly devoted to the work of the ministry. Church enterprise has fully kept pace with the general growth and improvement of the city. Sabbath congregations are good, Sunday-schools are prosperous and considerable earnest work is bestowed upon mission schools in neighborhood and school districts in adjacent towns.
All of the popular secret and social organizations are represented, numbering among
members of local lodges, many of Janesville's leading professional and business men.
The press is represented by the Janesville Daily and Weekly Gazette, the Janesville
Daily and Weekly Recorder, and the Signal, the latter being published weekly. The first named is the leading Republican paper of Southern Wisconsin, while the second is the leading Democratic paper. The Signal is independent and is edited by that veteran newspaper man, Garrett VEEDER, assisted by his accomplished wife.

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