"The Portrait and Biographical Album of Rock County, Wisconsin"


Courtesy of Carol
"Settlement by Whites" (pp. 1004-1005)

The return home of soldiers who had participated in the Black-Hawk war, all
of whom told glowing tales of the beauty and fertility of the Rock River Valley, called the attention of the people in all the older portions of our land to the extraordinary natural advantages of this then virgin country. On the 14th of July, 1835, John INMAN, of Luzerne County, Pa., and William HOLMES, of Ohio, "started from Milwaukee to spy out the land in this much vaunted valley." Procuring a couple of Indian ponies upon which to pack their provisions, and armed with the trusty rifle, without which no one in the Northwest traveled in those days, they set out upon their explorations. Two days' march from Milwaukee brought them to Fort Atkinson, then just evacuated by the officer for whom it was named and his command, where they went into camp for the night. The next day they traveled west and south, and camped at night at the mouth of the Yahara (Catfish) River. When morning came, they found their ponies had taken French leave, and that they must either pack their own traps, or leave them behind. This was an inconvenience, to be sure, but not a disaster to hardy pioneers; so they shouldered their luggage and continued their explorations, following the course of the river southward till they reached the point now occupied by the city of Janesville, where they camped on the point of the bluff on Racine road. From this point they saw Rock Prairie stretching away in the distance to the east and south, till the verdant plain mingled with the blue of the horizon. They saw before them an ocean of waving grass and blooming flowers, and realized the idea of having found the real Canaan - the real paradise of the world. Continuing their journey to the eastward, they came within half a mile of a beautiful grove, in which they found unmistakable indications of its having been occupied not long before as an Indian encampment, to which they gave the name of Black Hawk Grove, which it still bears. Shortly after this they discovered their ponies, and having secured them, set out upon their return to Milwaukee, entirely satisfied with their investigations, and fully determined to make this magnificent and fertile prairie their future home. They reached Milwaukee on the 23d of July, having been absent ten days. In all their travels they had found but one white family - that of Mr. McMILLAN, who resided where Waukesha now stands.
On the 15th day of November, 1835, John INMAN, Thomas HOLMES,
William HOLMES, Joshua HOLMES, Milo JONES, and George FOLLMER started from Milwaukee with an ox team and wagon, the latter containing provisions, tools and other necessaries, and on the 18th day of the same month, arrived opposite the 'big rock.' The biting frosts of winter were at hand; no time was to be lost. The banks of the river on either side were lined with oaks, maples and ash. There was no scarcity of building material. The woodman's ax soon resounded from the forest, and within a week a log house graced the hillside. This was the first settlement in Rock County." A little more than a month after the arrival of John INMAN and his company upon Rock River, Samuel ST. JOHN and his wife came, and soon afterward Dr. James HEATH and wife joined the little colony. All wintered in the log cabin together. The names of other pioneers in the county are given in the sketches of Janesville, Beloit and Milton, at which points the earliest permanent settlements were made. Settlements soon followed in other parts of the county. About ten years before actual settlement began, one Thiebaut (pronounced TEBO) established himself at the "Turtle Village," (at Beloit) where he remained until the advent of the pioneer settlers of the county. His cabin is noted in the plat of the government survey of the township in 1834.

Towns & Villages (pp. 1010)
The County of Rock is divided into twenty civil townships, exclusive of the
cities. In this connection are given short historical sketches of each, together with an account of their respective villages. While short, it is to hoped the facts here presented will be of interest and value to the reader. The history of the country is but a record of the lives of its people, those who have wrought such a marvelous work in coverting the wilderness into a blooming garden. This most important history may be found in the biographical department of the Album.
(Please see the Township Histories section on the main index page of this site for the rest of "Towns and Villages")

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