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Goc, Michael J. / From past to present : the history of Adams County
(1999)

County government,   pp. 58-77 PDF (14.0 MB)


Page 58

County 
Government 
Why Adams County? 
A dams County was created by the 
legislature of Wisconsin Territory 
on March 11, 1848. Reportedly 
named in honor of both John Adams, the second 
President of the United States, and John Quincy 
Adams, the sixth President who died in February 
1848, the entire county was west of the Wisconsin 
and south of the Lemonweir Rivers in what is now 
southern and western Juneau County. The non- 
Indian population of this area was less than 200, 
far too small to justify or support a county govern- 
ment. So why was Adams County created? 
Therein lies a story. 
In the 1840s, Sauk County was involved in a 
dispute over the site of its county seat, which the 
legislature had placed at Prairie du Sac in 1844. 
Since Prairie du Sac was located on the southern 
edge of the county, it was expected that county 
residents would someday relocate the county seat 
to a more centrally-located site. In fact, one 
limitation the legislature placed on counties 
selecting a site was that the county seat be located 
reasonably near the center of the county. 
As expected, settlers moved into central and 
northern Sauk and demanded that the county seat 
be moved out of Prairie du Sac. The leading 
contenders for the honor were two new villages on 
the Baraboo River, Reedsburg and "Adams." In a 
hotly-contested election in 1846, county voters 
selected "Adams" for their county seat. 
Reedsburg boosters refused to accept the loss 
and worked to reverse it. They suffered a setback 
when the legislature, led by Delano Pratt of 
"Adams" village, created Adams County just north 
of Reedsburg. No connection between the naming 
of "Adams" village and Adams County has been 
found--yet. Perhaps it is only a coincidence. 
When the new boundary lines were drawn, 
Reedsburg found itself on the northern edge of 
Sauk County and less eligible for the county seat. 
Reedsburg then countered by electing one of its 
own, Caleb Crosswell, to the legislature in 1850. 
He persuaded the legislature to change the borders 
and shift nearly all of the original Adams County 
58 
Above: An 1849 
map of Wiscon- 
sin depicting the 
original Adams 
County west of 
the Wisconsin 
and south of the 
Lemonweir 
Rivers and the 
village of 
Adams in Sauk 
County. 


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