Tag Archives: Janesville

Our Historical Markers

 

Rock County has many stories to tell. Some of these are points of interest marked by the state with Historical Markers. Like many people I’ve driven by more than one without taking notice. Then the history of our County took root in me, I began this blog, and decided to research the stories these markers have to tell. So, I begin this series of posts with the story of…  

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The Lincoln Visit

This roadside marker on Hwy 51 So. of Janesville discusses Abraham Lincoln’s two visits to Wisconsin. He traveled this same route both times but for vastly different reasons.

As a young man of 23 in 1832 Abraham Lincoln was working as a store clerk. He heard about a call from the Governor of Illinois for volunteers to join the militia in an effort to track down Blackhawk and a group of Sac Indians that were in violation of a treaty which called for them to stay west of the Mississippi. Lincoln joined the group of volunteers on April 21, 1832 and served three tours of duty before being released from his service in June of 1832.

His first enlistment found him voted Captain of a rifle company by his fellow volunteers. Although he had no previous military experience he was placed into the rifle company serving under Col. Samuel Thompson. Lincoln and his men tracked Blackhawk up the Rock River, through our county, spending a night near Storr’s Lake then moving north. He found himself in trouble a couple of times but after being mustered out it was said of him by his superiors that he was a very capable leader.

Lincoln’s second enlistment began in May of 1832 immediately after being released from his first. Replacement troops were not ready to serve and a call was put out to those leaving to re-enlist. He did and served under Captain Elijah Iles as a private this time.

The third enlistment was in June of 1832. Again as a private serving under Captain Jacob Early.

During these enlistments Lincoln did not take an active part in battle. His regiment was on site after the fact for the battles at Kellogg’s Grove and Stillman’s Run. To record and bury the dead.

The second time Abraham Lincoln came to Rock County was 27 years later in October of 1859. Lincoln was campaigning for his first term as president and had been invited to speak to the Agricultural Society at the Wisconsin State Fair. This was an invitation that he initially did not want to accept because of his busy September schedule. He did change is mind and on September 30 of 1859 he was in Milwaukee to deliver his speech.

An attorney named Matthew A. Northrup learned that Lincoln was going to be at the state fair and wrote to him requesting that he stop in Beloit and speak to the Republican Club. Mr. Lincoln accepted this invitation and on the morning of October 1, 1859 he boarded a train in Milwaukee and arrived in Beloit at noon.

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 He was met at the train a large group of cheering citizens and a band. It was a busy afternoon for Mr. Lincoln. He was taken by carriage from the station to Bushnell House to have dinner with the city leaders and attend an informal reception. At 2 o’clock they moved to the newly completed Hanchett hall to a packed crowd. The plan was to have his speech presented outdoors but it was quite windy that day so the event was moved to the third floor of the hall.

Hanchett Hall still stands today at the corner of State and Broad Street in Beloit.

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A.A. Jackson, secretary of the Janesville Republican Club saw a small announcement in the Janesville Daily Gazette on September 30th stating that Lincoln would be in Beloit the very next day to give a speech. He thought it would be wonderful if Lincoln could speak to the Janesville Republican club as well and took action.

On October 1, 1832 Mr. Jackson set out to Beloit with his companions William Tallman, Daniel Wilcox, publisher of the Janesville Daily Gazette, John B. Cassoday and J. H. Burgess. The group set out to hear Abraham Lincoln speak and to try to encourage him to return with them, that evening, to Janesville. At a gathering after the speech the gentleman approached Mr. Lincoln about their desire to have him speak in Janesville. Mr. Tallman offered a relaxing room in his home for the weekend and Mr. Lincoln agreed. On the trip back to Janesville Lincoln recognized the route and shared stories of his time in Wisconsin during the Blackhawk War.

Prior to the gentleman leaving for Beloit arrangements were tentatively made for his speech to be given in the Young American Hall of the Myers Hotel which was under construction on the corner of Milwaukee and Main St. The Myers Hotel is no longer standing, but a marker was erected at the edge of the parking lot of the Johnson Bank building to commemorate the event.

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 Word spread fast of the possible visit of Abraham Lincoln and when the group arrived that Saturday evening there was a fairly large crowd waiting considering the short notice. Dr. Treat, president of the Janesville Republican Club introduced Mr. Lincoln and he was greeted with cheers from the audience. Lincoln’s appearance, lack of formal education and political polish was apparent to the audience but once he began talking his knowledge and unexpected wit won the day.

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After the speech, hand shaking and political talk that takes place after this type of event, Lincoln joined Mr. Tallman at his home, where he spent two nights with the family. The following Monday he boarded a train and returned to Illinois. He was elected our 16th president just a few short weeks prior to the beginning of the Civil War in 1861 and never again came to Wisconsin.

Thank you for stopping by
See you next time ~ Sharon

 

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Rotary Botanical Gardens

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Today’s post is not one of our County Parks and it’s so much more than just a park. It is, like so many others, one I had never been to and I must admit that the Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville is a fantastic place to spend an afternoon. It’s filled with one stunning internationally themed garden after another. So much love and care goes into maintaining the grounds. It takes your breath away when you step out of the reception building and look around.

The gardens are located on Palmer Drive just south of the golf course. Parking is free. The lot is a very generous size and admission to the gardens is a reasonable $7.00 for adults over the age of 16 with seniors paying $6.00, children 6 to 15 as well as veterans $5.00, and under 6 is free. After paying, visitors are given a paper wristband to wear that indicates admission has been paid but also gives visitors access to the park throughout the day. If for some reason you must leave the park then wish come back that same day, it isn’t required to pay again as long as you have your wristband on! How cool is that?!  From May through August the Botanical Gardens are open from 8:30am to 8pm. Much of the park is wheelchair accessible making it a lovely outing for the whole family.

There are special events going on at the gardens throughout the year. Coming up on August 30 is a seminar on ornamental grasses. The gardens are available to rent for special events. I am told the Christmas Light Show is quite a spectacular sight. I will definitely check it out this December! You can find out more about upcoming events on their website they also have a Facebook page.

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The idea for what would become such a magnificent refuge from the outside world began with a retired Orthodontist named Dr. Robert Yahr in 1988. His dream was to create an internationally themed garden the community could enjoy. He contacted the two rotary clubs in Janesville at the time to see if they would be interested in joining together for the project. They did and in 1989 this absolutely stunning 20 acre complex of 25 themed gardens is the result.

My son and I were at the Botanical Gardens for about two hours and were not able to see all the gardens, so plan on making it a day. You won’t be sorry.

I will leave you with a slide show of the gardens we visited.

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Our County Parks

Walt Lindemann
Sportsman’s Park

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Continuing my goal of visiting and blogging about all of Rock County’s parks. We come to Walt Lindemann Sportsman’s Park. I’ve been aware of this park all my life, driven past it too many times to count but never checked it out. Well, a couple of days ago instead of driving by, My son and I went in and I must say I was pleasantly surprised.

This park area was created in 1967 and prior to 1979 was known as Sportsman’s Park. In February of 1980 the name was changed, adding Walt Lindemann. Mr. Lindemann served as county clerk from 1941 to 1972 and was concerned about the counties parks and recreational facilities.

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Sportsman’s Park is located on Hwy 51 in Janesville across from the County Health Department, south of Hwy. 14. It’s not a real large park, just nine acres, but it is quite a nice place. The parking lot is long, extending well into the park and is surrounded with a lovely rock border. There was a party being held in the pavilion when we were there and plenty of parking spaces were still available.

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The park amenities include a covered pavilion which can be rented for parties. There are a few grills and quite a number of picnic tables, some are handicap accessible. There is a drinking fountain, restrooms and trash bins at both ends of the parking area. The park also has a very nice playground area that is handicap accessible as well as some open areas for games. The park is nicely shaded by many large trees making it a nice place to sit on one of the wood benches and enjoy mature.

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There is also a pay telephone in the park! You don’t see them much anymore. Dogs are allowed in the park but must be on a 6 ft. leash and are only to be in the extreme eastern part of the grass at the edge of the park.

There are a couple of interesting things we discovered while visiting. Adjacent to the park are a deer enclosure and an old cemetery! The deer enclosure is a nice size and has from our count seven doe and three buck whitetail deer. The deer are owned by Scott, Jim and Nancy Schoonover which are Mystic Whitetails and are kept safe by two layers of fencing. In order to keep the deer safe it is requested that dogs not be in this area. The grass was quite tall and all we could see at first was heads sticking out. The enclosure has a couple of shelters allowing the deer to get in out of bad weather.

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It appears that at one point in time there was a pheasant brood and pen in the park. The pen is open for the deer now.

At the back of the park, tucked behind some trees is a fenced in area. I did a bit of research and discovered that back in the 1881, Rock County opened an asylum. In time it was apparent that there was not enough space and 350 acres was purchased and a larger facility was built that encompassed the insane asylum, county poor farm and county hospital. This cemetery must be what was a part of that complex. (future Rock County blog post topic!) You can’t see many marker stones and it was difficult to see if they were gone or replaced with flat markers. The area appears to be well maintained and I am glad of that.

Walt Lindemann Sportsman’s Park is a wonderful little gem tucked in the north west part of Janesville. Well worth a drive to enjoy. Like all county parks there is no fee to enter and is open from dawn to dusk. To rent the pavilion or seek more information about the park call the Rock County Parks Department at 608-757-5450. Have a great day!