- 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.