Rock County, Wisconsin

History of Rock Township

Site Coordinator: Lori Niemuth

From: Wisconsin Gazetteer

by John Warren Hunt

©1853 Beriah Brown, Printer, Madison

p. 194

Courtesy of Lori

ROCK, Town, in county of Rock, being town 2 N., of range 12 E.; centrally
located, 6 miles southwest from Janesville. Population in 1850 was 553. It has 8 school districts.

From: A New Complete Gazetteer of the United States

by Thomas Baldwin and J. Thomas, M.D.

©1854 Lippincott, Grambo & Co. , Philadelphia

p. 998

Courtesy of Kathy Lenerz

ROCK, a township in the central part of Rock co., Wisconsin. Population, 553.

From: Combination Atlas Map of Rock County, Wisconsin

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

p. 45

Courtesy of Lori

This town is divided into two nearly equal portions by Rock River passing
through it from north to south. The portion lying east of the river is mostly all prairie, while that on the west is mostly timber, some of it being of excellent quality, yet the greater portion is oak openings. The soil of entire town is of most excellent quality, and well watered, especially that portion lying west of the river. Springs and running brooks of New England memory are abundant. Bass Creek passes through the town, entering Rock River at Afton; along its banks are extensive meadows of unrivaled luxuriance affording abundance of that Western staple, "marsh hay." For agricultural purposes and stock raising combined, this town is second to none in Rock County. The farm buildings are generally of a very creditable class, cuts of many of them may be seen in this Atlas.

From: The Portrait and Biographical Album of Rock County, Wisconsin


p. 1021-1022

Courtesy of Carol

By an act of the Territorial Legislature, and approved March 8, 1839, the town of
Rock was erected. Its boundaries were originally co-extensive with those of Rock County at the present time. Almost three years passed before it was organized. It was then reduced to almost its present limits; for the act of the Legislature, approved February 17, 1842, restricted it to "township 2 north, of range 12 east, excepting fractional sections 1 and 2, lying north and west of Rock River," which was "organized into a separate town by the name of Rock." It was also declared that the first election should "be held at the house of Jasper SEARS." As the city of Janesville afterward absorbed the whole of sections 1 and 2, in township 2, north of range 12 east, the town included, as now, the whole of the township just named, except these sections. The first town election was held April 5, 1842, when the following ticket was chosen: Supervisors: George W. BRITTAIN (Chairman), James HEATH and J. P. SEARS; Town Clerk, Ira WASHBURN; Assessor, Rufus WASHBURN; Treasurer, Richard S. INMAN; Collector, J. Wesley INMAN. Some of the earliest prominent settlers in this town are mentioned in the history of the city of Janesville. In November, 1836, Richard INMAN arrived with his family and entered land in section 27. Mr. CLAUSON settled on the YOUNGS' farm in 1837. The RATHERMAN farm was settled by Jeremiah ROBERTS the same year. The site of the village of Afton was settled by Hiram BROWN about the same time. Rufus and Ira WASHBURN and J. P. SEARS made the first settlements on the west side of the river in 1838, and the Major INMAN farm was settled by Mr. FOX; G. W. BRITTAIN settled in the town, and BRESTOL made the first claim on D. W. INMAN's farm the same year. In 1840, Ezekiel CLAPP and Prosper A. PIERCE settled on section 2, and Elijah NOURSE came into the town. In 1841 came Israel INMAN, John DOUGHERTY and Mr. BURT. "In 1842," wrote one of the pioneers, "Mr. VAN ANTWERP arrived." In 1841 J. F. WILLARD purchased Mr. WARREN's claim in section 10. The ANTISDELLs, COMSTOCKs and NEWTONs came about 1843-44. In 1850, a colony from Rensselaer County, N.Y., settled in the northwest part of the town. Among them were Z. P. BURDICK and his brother, M. L. BURDICK, A. P. HAYNER, Israel SMITH and subsequently, Mr. J. P. J. HAYNER. These arrivals added not a little to the agricultural reputation of the town, as they pursued the Eastern mode of farming, which contrasted very favorably with the loose Wisconsin method. The first "breaking' done in Rock, or in the county, was on the northwest quarter of section 11, upon the farm of J. F. WILLARD, by John INMAN, in the spring of 1836. It was 'cropped' with buckwheat, and produced a fair yield. He was compelled to go to Rockford to get his plow sharpened, it taking two days to make the trip. The first house erected on the west side of the river was by Ira WASHBURN, in 1838. The first wedding in the town of Rock took place at the house of Richard INMAN, March 30, 1840, the parties being George W. BRITTAIN and Miss Sylvania INMAN.
"If the opinion of speculators and large real estate operators from the East is entitled
to consideration and respect, the town of Rock stands number one, if not more, in regard to superior locations and natural advantages for building up cities and villages; for surely no town in the county has figured so largely in that department as the town of Rock. Its corner and water lots have made no small figure in Wall street; its lithographed city plats have been honored with a conspicuous place in all the great land-agency offices of the country. At one time, this town could boast of four cities and villages - 'Wisconsin City,' 'Koshkonong City,' 'Rockport,' 'Monterey and 'Afton.' Rockport was laid out by Thomas HOLMES in December, 1845, and was the first surveyed village (or city) in the county. 'Wisconsin City' was surveyed by INMAN, BREESE and SHEPHERD, in 1836; 'City of Koshkonong,' in the summer of the same year, by KENZIE, HUNTER and BOOBY; 'Monterey,' by Ira MILTIMORE, in 1850. By an act of the Legislature of Wisconsin, approved March 19, 1853, the city of Janesville was incorporated, and by its charter sections 1 and 2 of the town of Rock were brought within its limits. Consequently, 'Monterey and 'Rockport' are now a part of the territory belonging to the city of Janesville. With sections 1 and 2, there also passed from the town many of the localities "where the pioneers located."
Afton, near the southern border of the town of Rock, on the Chicago &
Northwestern Railway, six miles southwest of Janesville, first became known through the medium of the railroad, in 1855. J. ALLEN, John MOORE, Reuben DEUEL, and Mr. DIMROCK were the first to late on its site. It was laid out in 1855 by Joseph CHURCH (the land then belonging to TRIPP, HOYT and HODGSON) and speedily settled. The first birth was that of Sally, daughter of Charles PULKER, in 1855. Rev. Albert NEWTON (Baptist) and Elvira WAHSBURN were the first couple married. The first death was that of a non-resident young man who, while stopping there, took strychnine for quinine. The school was opened by Charles NEWTON in 1847, in the old Watts Hotel, a mile north of the village. The gristmill was built in 1872 by J. F. LEITEL and is now operated by UEHLING & BODDEN. The village also has a church and a creamery. Population, 140.

©2002-2004 ALHN-Rock Co., WI

Site Coordinator: Lori Niemuth