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The History of Janesville, Wisconsin

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From the time of its early settlement, residents have been committed to excellence in commerce, education, recreation, and culture. For more than 150 years, the city known as Janesville has been progressive in its outlook and growth, and responsive to the needs of residents and businesses.

Brothers Joshua and William Holmes, Jr., John Inman and George Follmer were the first permanent settlers in Janesville in 1835. Soon after, Henry F. Janes settled on the east side of the river, platted his settlement and applied for a post office. In 1836, the postmaster general assigned the name "Janesville," to the post office. Thus began Janesville's proud history.

Residents, from the earliest point of our city's history, have been employed in manufacturing, retail and agricultural commerce. Businesses, both small and large, provide a diversified economic base. A strong work ethic and well trained labor force contribute to Janesville's robust economy.

The natural beauty that first attracted settlers has been preserved and nurtured through the years. With nearly 2,000 acres of parks, Janesville is known as "Wisconsin's Park Place." The Rock River, many nearby lakes, parks, and recreational facilities offer a myriad of recreational opportunities throughout the year to residents and visitors.

There is a great interest in and dedication to the preservation of the historic character of homes and buildings in Janesville, and approximately 20% of Wisconsin's buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places are located here. A commitment to excellence in culture includes lectures, exhibits, musical and theatrical performances.

Janesville's city government has provided leadership and guidance in managing the city's growth, while preserving its character. Forward Janesville, a private, membership-driven economic development organization, is instrumental in encouraging the growth of existing businesses and attracting new industries to serve those businesses. Forward Janesville and its members take an active role in local government and the educational system. Janesville has a proud tradition of excellence which ensures a high quality of life for those who live and work here.

For more information on the history of Janesville, contact the Hedberg Public Library or the Rock County Historical Society at (608) 756-4509.


Janesville is filled with fun and exciting memories and new ones in the making. Here are a few examples of what our city is known for:

- Camden Playground is he largest park in the world that is accessible for individuals with disabilities.

- Our Rock Aqua Jays are an internationally known championship water ski team.

- Janesville can claim the first public high school built in the state of Wisconsin.

- The Janesville Country Club is the oldest country club in Wisconsin and sixth oldest in the nation.

- NFL Hall of Famer Bart Starr threw his first touchdown pass as a professional football player in Janesville.

- Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi gave his last speech as a Green Bay Packer and his first as a Washington Redskin in Janesville.

- Janesville hosted the first established 4-H youth fair in the country.

- The first Wisconsin State Fair was held in Janesville.

- Carrie Jacobs Bond wrote the classic song "I Love You Truly" while residing in Janesville.

- The Gideon Society began at the Janesville YMCA in 1899.

- Janesville's Peace Park is the site of the World's tallest Peace Pole, which is at 52 feet tall.

If you would like to add to our fun facts list, send us an email