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Janesville, Wisconsin

HistoryEdit The Janesville area was home to many Native American tribes before the settlement of people from the East. With the Indian Removal Act of 1830 many Native American peoples were uprooted and forced out of their homelands to make room for the American settlers, with many Native peoples, including the Ho-Chunk and Potawatomi, being forced onto reservations.[6] American settlers John Inman, George Follmer, Joshua Holmes, and William Holmes, Jr. built a crude log cabin in the region in 1835.[7] Later that year, one key settler named Henry Janes, a native of Virginiawho was a self-proclaimed woodsman and early city planner arrived in what is now Rock County. Janes came to the area in the early 1830s and initially wanted to name the budding village “Blackhawk" after the famous Sauk leader Chief Black Hawk, but was turned down by Post Office officials. After some discussion it was settled that the town would be named after Janes himself and thus in 1835, Janesville was founded.[8] Despite being named after a Virginian, Janesville was founded by immigrants from New England. These were old stock Yankeeimmigrants, who were descended from the EnglishPuritans who settled New England in the 1600s. The completion of the Erie Canal caused a surge in New England immigration to what was then the Northwest Territory. Some of them were from upstate New Yorkand had parents who had moved to that region from New England shortly after the Revolutionary War. New Englanders and New England transplants fromupstate New York were the vast majority of Janesville's inhabitants during the first several decades of its history.[9][10][11][12] Land surveys encouraged pioneers to settle in the area among the abundance of fertile farmland and woodlands. Many of these early settlers established farms and began cultivating wheat and other grains. As the population grew in the Janesville area, several new industries began cropping up along the Rock River including flour and lumber mills. The first dam was built in 1844.[8] Some of the key settlers in the Janesville hailed from the burned-over district of western New York State, an area marked by its abundance of Christian revival and awakening groups during the mid-19th century. These groups were also active in abolitionist and women’s rights movements.[8] Of these settlers was William Tallman who hailed from Rome, New York. Tallman came to the area in 1850 and bought up large tracts of land in hopes of inspiring his fellow New Yorkers to settle in the fertile Rock County. Tallman established himself as one of the most influential and affluent members of the budding Janesville populace. He was impassioned by the call for abolition and became a supporter of the Republican Party. One of the crowning moments in Tallman’s life was when he convinced the up-and-coming Illinois Republican Abraham Lincoln to speak in Janesville in 1859. The Tallman house is now a historical landmark and now best known as “The place where Abraham Lincoln slept”.[8] Janesville was very active during the Civil War. Local farms sold grains to the Union army, and Rock County was one of the counties in Wisconsin with the highest number of men enlisted.[8] Thomas H. Rugerof Janesville served in the war, along with brothers Edward, William, and Henry, rising to the rank of brigadier general. Ruger later served as military governor of Georgia and commandant of West Point. He is memorialized at Fort Ruger in Diamond Head, Hawaii.[13] After the Civil War, Janesville’s agriculture continued to surge and a greater demand for new farming technology led to the development of several foundries and farm machine manufacturers in the area. Among these were the Janesville Machine Company and the Rock River Iron Works. With the boom in the farm service sector and establishment of a rail system, Janesville soon began to ship goods to and from prominent eastern cities, including New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. After decades of rigorous grain farming, the soil quality around Janesville began to degrade. The farmers responded to this issue by planting tobacco which became one of the most profitable and prolific crops grown in Wisconsin during the late 19th century.[8] Another development during the mid-19th century was the establishment of a women’s rights movement in Janesville. The movement was founded in the 1850s and was continued after the Civil War. One of the key focuses of the group during the 1870s was the Temperance movement. In the late 1880s German immigrants began to arrive in Janesville in large numbers (making up less than 5% of the town before this time). They were the largest non-English-speaking group to settle there. Unlike other instances, they experienced virtually no hostility or xenophobia. Janesville's founding English-Puritan-descended Yankee population welcomed them with open arms, with many writing back to relatives in Germany enthusiastically. This led to chain migration which increased the German population of the town.[14] Only one German-language newspaper was founded in the town known as The Janesville Journal, which began in 1889 and only ran for a few years.[15] In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the Milwaukee Road and Chicago and North Western railroads had freight and passenger rail connections to the city. Passenger rail service continued until 1971.[16] One of the key developments in Janesville’s history was the establishment of a General Motors plant in 1919. The plant was initially established to produce Samson tractors, a company acquired by GM co-founder William C. Durant. Durant was encouraged by Joseph Craig, the president of Janesville Machine to build a plant to produce the Samson tractors in Janesville, to which Durant agreed. In the years following World War I the demand for tractors plummeted and the plant shifted its focus to the production of automobiles.[8] One of the most prominent turn of the century figures in Janesville was George Parker who developed new pen technologies and styles and eventually established the Parker Pen Company. His developments included the “lucky curve” ink feed system, and the “trench pen” a pen commissioned by the U.S. Army for use in World War I. Parker designed and established a headquarters and factory in downtown Janesville. The Parker Pen Company was handed down to George’s son Ken who developed the revolutionary “Parker 51” in the 1940s. A Parker pen was used by Dwight D. Eisenhower to signGermany’s Armistice agreement to end World War II in Europe, and subsequently General Douglas MacArthur used his 20-year-old Parker Duofold in the signing of Japan’s surrender at the end of the War in the Pacific. The Parker Pen Company was one of the top employers in the area for over 70 years. The company was eventually sold off in a leveraged buyout in the 1980s.[8] Another important figure in Janesville's history wasJohn Nolen, who was hired by the city in 1919. Nolen was a city planner who saw the Rock River as a focal point for community and park development. His park planning established Janesville as the “City of Parks”.[8] Janesville was the site of the first Wisconsin State Fair in 1851, attended by approximately 10,000 people.[17] Lavinia Goodell, Wisconsin's first female lawyer (1874), lived in Janesville.[18] A tree that once stood in downtown Courthouse Park was the site of a lynch mob that hanged a convicted murderer in 1859.[19] The location of a cross burningin 1992 is now "Peace Park" with a playground and apeace pole, said to be the world's tallest at 52 feet.[20] National Register of Historic PlacesEdit Twenty percent of Wisconsin's buildings listed on theNational Register of Historic Places are located in Janesville.[21] The 1857 Lincoln-Tallman House, which models the Italian Villa-style architecture, is one of 34 sites on the Register.[22] Abraham Lincolnslept there for two nights.[citation needed] The Columbus Circle neighborhood became Janesville's tenth historic district in 2005. The former Janesville Public Library,[23] a Carnegie library built in 1902, was designed by J.T.W. Jennings. The Courthouse Hill Historic District was added in 1986.[24] In 1976, theLappin-Hayes Block, once the site of the cabin belonging to Henry Janes, was added.[25] TheLovejoy and Merrill-Nowlan Houses, the residences of two Janesville Mayors, including Allen P. Lovejoy, were added in 1980.[26] The Frances Willard Schoolhouse, partially built by Josiah Willard and named after his daughter, Frances, was added in 1977.[27]

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