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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 new settlers, with many Native peoples, including the Ho-Chunk and Potawatomi, being forced onto reservations.
American settlers John Inman, George Follmer, Joshua Holmes, and William Holmes, Jr. built a crude log cabin in the region in 1835. Later that year, one key settler named Henry F. Janes, a native of Virginia who 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. Despite being named after a Virginian, Janesville was founded by immigrants from New England. These were old stock Yankee immigrants, descended from the English Puritans who settled New England in the 1600s. The completion of the Erie Canal caused a surge in New Englander immigration to what was then the Northwest Territory. Some of them were from upstate New York, and had parents who had moved to that region from New England shortly after the Revolutionary War. New Englanders, and New England transplants from upstate New York, were the vast majority of Janesville's inhabitants during the first several decades of its history. 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.
Some of the key settlers hailed from the burned-over district of western New York State, (an area notable for being a part of the Christian revival movement known as the Second Great Awakening). Some of those in that revival movement were also active in the abolitionist and women's rights movements. One of the settlers in Janesville 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. He established himself as one of the most influential and affluent members of the budding Janesville populace. He was passionate about 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 best known as “The place where Abraham Lincoln slept.”
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.
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.Thomas H. Ruger, of Janesville, served in the war, along with his brothers, Edward, William, and Henry, and he rose 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.
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, including 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. Farmers responded to this by planting tobacco, which became one of the most profitable and prolific crops grown in Wisconsin during the late 19th century.
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 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 in some other areas, in Janesville, 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. Only one German-language newspaper was founded in the town; it was known as The Janesville Journal, and began in 1889, printing for only a few years.
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.
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.
One of the most prominent turns 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 sign Germany'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.
Another important figure in Janesville's history was John 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.”
Janesville was the site of the first Wisconsin State Fair in 1851, attended by approximately 10,000 people.
Lavinia Goodell, Wisconsin's first female lawyer (1874), lived in Janesville.
A tree that once stood in downtown Courthouse Park was the site of a lynch mob that, on their second attempt, having been rebuffed by an opposing crowd the day before, hanged a convicted murderer in 1859. The location of a KKK rally in 1992 is now "Peace Park" with a playground and a peace pole, which when constructed was the tallest in the world and is now the second tallest.
The 1857 Lincoln-Tallman House, which models the Italian Villa-style architecture, is one of 34 sites on the Register.Abraham Lincoln slept there for two nights. The Columbus Circle neighborhood became Janesville's tenth historic district in 2005.
The old Janesville Public Library, located at 64 S. Main Street, was designed by J.T.W. Jennings, and opened to the public in 1903. It is described, in the NRHP Nominating Form, as "among the best Neoclassical Carnegie libraries in the state." The Courthouse Hill Historic District was added in 1986. In 1976, the Lappin-Hayes Block, once the site of the cabin belonging to Henry Janes, was added. The Lovejoy and Merrill-Nowlan Houses, the residences of two Janesville Mayors, including Allen P. Lovejoy, were added in 1980. During the following year, the Janesville Public Library building became part of the list. The Frances Willard Schoolhouse, partially built by Josiah Willard and named after his daughter, Frances, was added in 1977. The South Main Street Historic District joined the list in 1990 and the Jefferson Avenue Historic District was included in 2006. In 2008, the John H. Jones House was listed.
Janesville developed its first flag in 2015 in a design contest held in Janesville's schools. The winning flag was adopted by the city council in March 2015 and unveiled on June 15, 2015. The flag represents the community's past, present, and future, with 1853 representing the year Janesville was incorporated, four stars symbolizing the city's four original wards, a green background standing for the community's agricultural industry, and black representing both the rich soil for which Janesville is known, and the smoke that billowed from smokestacks as the community developed a manufacturing economy. The tree in the center is the city's logo, representing Janesville's slogan, "Wisconsin’s Park Place."
As of the census of 2010, there were 63,575 residents, 25,828 occupied housing units, and 16,718 families in the city. The population density was 1,877.6 people per square mile (834.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.7% White, 2.6% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 1.3% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 2.0% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. 5.4% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Of the 25,828 households, 30.4% had children under the age of 18 living in them, 46.6% were married couples living together, 12.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.3% were non-families. 28.2% of all households were made up of individuals, with 10.6% individuals aged 65 years or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 2.95.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 21.8% under the age of 18, and 13.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37.1 years.
As of 2015, the median household income was $49,001. Per capita income in past 12 months (in 2015 dollars), 2011-2015 was $25,461. Percentage of people living in poverty 2011-2015 was 15.2%.
Wisconsin is a southern U.S. state having coastlines on both 2 Great Lakes (Michiana and Wisconsin) and a very rich history. Milwaukee, the third largest city, is well-known for its Milwaukee Public Museum, having an excellent collection of re-built ancient villages and for the magnificent Milwaukee Zoo. Several other beer breweries are also based in Milwaukee. ― brushing aside New England, the heartland of American brewing, as well as the major manufacturing area for cars, trucks, aerospace, electronics, etc., Milwaukee stands to be the second largest producer of cheese in the entire United States of America.
The demography of Wisconsin is perhaps the most stable in the entire country. The most obvious reason behind this is the fact that there are very few people moving out to live in the areas around Wisconsin. This means that the birth rate is not too high, so there are plenty of young people to support the population. The people living in Wisconsin do not have difficulty adjusting to the place, being one of the most welcoming states in the union.
Wisconsin is very densely populated. A person will find himself in the Madison area approximately three times more often than in the rest of the state. Because of the density of population, Madison is considered to be the urban center of the state, along with Milwaukee. Both cities contain very large concentrations of educational and government institutions. However, the schools in Wisconsin tend to be better than those in other states.
The Wisconsin demography is undergoing rapid changes. The population is aging, but there are many baby boomers considering settling down in Wisconsin. The largest concentration of this population is found in Madison. Wisconsin is actually very diverse. It has two major ethnic groups Germans and the Americans. Due to the historical history of Wisconsin, many immigrants have settled down here over the years.
As we have mentioned earlier, Wisconsin was one of the last holdouts against big government. People were very suspicious of the New Dealers. The residents saw the government as a threat to their way of life and so they were naturally suspicious about accepting any measure of social responsibility. This is why Wisconsin was slower to embrace the New Deal.
Today, Wisconsin is one of the most socially stable states in the Union. The residents are quite happy with the social justice system of the state and enjoy good health and prosperity. This means that the Demography of Wisconsin is dynamic, changing only on a yearly basis due to the movement of people and their families. This means that no demography can stay static for a long time.
Over the years, the Wisconsin demography has changed, but not radically. There are many towns that have grown in population and become more populous. These include the Racine area, which became more popular as an industrial area; Madison, which became more upscale due to the growth of pharmaceutical companies; and the Wisconsin Dells, where tourists love to visit.
The real estate market is doing great in Wisconsin. The prices are reasonable, even compared to other industrial states like Michigan and Ohio. Wisconsin's location makes it ideal for building new homes. The population is aging but that too is a contributing factor. Wisconsin is working on ways to keep its young population moving in. The question is, will Wisconsin manage to keep its people, even as the rest of the country continues to shrink?
Wisconsin towns play a key role in determining the overall health of the entire demography. They are home to the most important businesses and most of the population. A town with a population of fifty thousand has just as much potential as a town with a population of three hundred thousand. Because the key residents will be staying in the same town, the demographics will continue to remain youthful and dynamic.
One thing that can help is the presence of an entertainment district in a town. The more commercial activity there is, the more it pulls in residents who will be more active and have things to do. This also encourages young families to move into the area. A growing town needs a mall, arena, movie theater or other form of entertainment to thrive.
Another thing that is helping Wisconsin's demography is the historic preservation act. This act encourages people to preserve the heritage of a town. Wisconsin Dells for example, has a rich history. It was one of the first towns in the nation to establish laws protecting historical landmarks. It has a National Historic Landmark and has protected its culture for over eighty years. Wisconsin Dells is a great place to live.